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Old 04-26-2011, 02:17 PM   #1
Yougirasu
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You ask for one. You get one free. (Black and White as well as an announcement).

Well then, I promised another Article and well, I'm late. What can I say, I was enjoying my easter and bank holidays by being really lazy. But today, I'm not just bringing you one piece of news, no, I have something extra, recently announced and shocking to all those who like their TCG.

But firstly, let's get down to what I was planning to bring you originally. Thoughts and analysis (as best I can) on the new Black and White expansion based on my experiences within the two pre-releases that I got to go to over these past weekends. I should start by saying that people didn't hold a whole lot of hope for this opening set. They believed that most of the cards weren't that outstanding and wouldn't make to much of an impact to the game... Boy, were they wrong.
The set itself comes off as a background expansion, nothing special but has a few redeeming qualities, but a few cards that make the redeeming qualities are looking to forge out their own decks already. The set's most interesting pokemon were initially the 5 pokemon with abilities, but experiencing the set first hand, you quickly see where the real power will lie.

Looking at the expansion and it's notable cards, I'll be putting it into 4 categories and covering each one separately. Starting with info on the Ultra Rares, I'll then follow on into the Pokemon with Abilities, regular Rare Pokemon and then finally, Trainers. In each section I'll be looking at all the best cards that are noteworthy (and in a few of them not so noteworthy) to give anyone looking to get in or looking into buying the set some good ideas on the better cards.

Okay, let's kick things off with,
Ultra Rares.

The set itself includes 3 Ultra Rares, the two main legendaries from Black and White as well as the secret rare of Pikachu and it's with the Kanto pokemon I'll start.
  • Pikachu comes under the not so noteworthy category, only really being noted for it's general rarity. However, it's moves are nothing to stick your nose up at. For a single electric energy, you can draw a single electric energy from your discard and attach it to Pikachu. Then, for an electric and two colourless energies, you can deal an impressive 80 damage with Pikachu, but you also have to discard all the energy that Pikachu holds. Overall, not shabby for a Pikachu, but if you plan on using it, it'll probably be to gather the energy before evolving into Raichu.

  • Next up, I'll cover Reshiram. One of the pair of legendaries within the set and honestly, an impressive looking card. The ultra rare version of this card features full card artwork that's impressive, whilst it is also available as a holo rare but doesn't have the same artwork. Reshiram, along with Zekrom have received considerable hype within pre-releases and Zekrom even had a deck designed for it before then, and I can honestly say that these cards can live up to the hype. Having used one version in each of my pre-releases, you notice how well it can sweep within that tourney set-up and the plan for any deck using the legendaries would aim to do the same.
    The card itself boasts 130HP, which is impressive when considering some of the legendaries we've seen before and has 2 retreat cost as well as a water weakness. Now, the attacks are the meat of the card and quite impressive. For two colourless energies, Reshiram can deal 20 damage, plus 10 more damage for every 10 damage that it's takes. With 130HP, that can reach a total of 140 damage just for two energies. It's second attack requires two fire energies and a colourless one and requires you to discard two fire energies, but in turn it deals 120 damage to the opposing pokemon. With cards such as Typhlosion and Ninetales around, Reshiram is a beast to contend with.

  • Zekrom also boasts a lot of the same qualities as Reshiram, having 130HP, 2 retreat and a weakness to fighting. It also have the same double colourless attack, Outrage. The only thing that sets it apart, except for it's bionic appearance, is it's second attack that requires two electric and one colourless energy. For this cost it also deals 120 damage, but it will deal 40 damage to itself, effectively powering up it's Outrage attack whilst dealing large amounts of damage.

Another thing worth noting with Zekrom and Reshiram is that they can really throw a spanner in the works against Sabledonk. With 130HP, it's very difficult for the deck to KO one of these pokemon and considering you could have 4 of each, all basic, you improve your survivability quite a bit if you have one or more out on the field.

Abilities.

With 5 pokemon, each getting Abilities in this new set, I'll be providing a brief look at all of them, starting with the evolutions of the three starters in order.
  • Serperior seems to be one of the superior ones so far when it comes to its ability and it's attack isn't to be shot down either. As a stage two grass type, it's 130HP and fire weakness are fairly standard whilst it's retreat cost of 1 is great. The ability itself is reminiscent of Nidoqueen's Pokebody in Rising Rivals by allowing each of your pokemon to heal 10 damage between either players turn. A great thing if your deck involves damage placement or inflicts recoil damage. It's attack deals 60 damage for a grass and a colourless energy and allows you to move your grass energies around in any way you'd like. A solid effect for a reliable card.

  • Emboar is an interesting cookie, taking Feraligatr and Blastoise's Rain Dance and turning it on it's head slightly. At 150HP, it's likely to last a fair while, but with a massive 4 retreat cost, if it's active it's going to be there a while anyway. The weakness to water is fairly standard. Now, getting back to that ability, Inferno Fandango is just like Rain Dance, but with fire energies. Allowing you to place as many as you like from your had before your attack, meaning you can spread the power around quickly provided you have the energy in hand. Whilst it's attack is a bit lack-luster when compared to others around, two fire energy and two colourless energys result in 80 damage, plain as.

  • Samurott, a card I used in my second pre-release is a stage two version of Donphan when it comes to Abilities, but we'll get to that in a second. 140HP, 2 retreat cost and a weakness to electric are all the norm, but the ability can cover for this. Samurott's Shell Armor reduces damage done to it by 20 (after weakness and resistance have been applied), which can be helpful in situations. It's Hydro Pump is a decent attack, that works best in any water deck but can be applied to any deck. For 3 colourless energies you can deal 70 damage, but that damage is increased by 10 for each water energy with no limitations. This means that in a water based deck, Samurott can dish out 100 damage as soon as it can attack.

  • Reuniclus falls next in the card list and doesn't reach its full potential in this expansion. It's 90HP is pretty sub-standard whilst it's psychic weakness and 2 retreat cost are standard. However, Reuniclus is likely to stay on the bench for it's Ability. Damage Swap allows you to move damage counters any way you want across your pokemon during your turn, this is a pretty good thing if you want to keep your active pokemon swinging. However, we currently have no reliable healing method to remove the damage. Originally the set had Max Potion in Japan, which removed all damage in exchange for all the energy on the pokemon which would have worked well here due to the ability to move the damage onto a pokemon with no energy. It's attack, Psywave, does 30 damage for 3 psychic energy and does 10 damage more for each energy attached to the defending pokemon. Another good reason to keep it on the bench.

  • Finally, we have Klinklang, a card that likes to shift things round. It's 140HP and fire weakness are standard, but the 3 retreat does let it down somewhat. It's ability, Shift Gear, allows you to move your steel energies around during your turn, which can be useful. Whilst it's attack is decidedly luck based, for a steel energy and two colourless you get to flip two coins, dealing 80 damage for each heads.

And that covers all the card with abilities, now I'll cover the noteworthy,
Rare Cards.

With Reshiram and Zekrom already covered in the Ultra Rares section, the number of cards to mention in this section is cut. But here's some of the noteworthy pokemon that have appeared in the set and are just Rare cards.
  • Starting from the top of the list, we find Maractus. There are two different versions, but since we're coving the rare one, it won't be to difficult to distinguish. As a Basic, it has 90HP, a fire weakness, water resistance and 2 retreat cost making it heavy to retreat, but generally usable. It's first attack requires just 1 grass energy and can deal up to 60 damage, depending on the results of 3 coin flips. It's second attack which takes 3 grass energy deals 50 damage, but also heals Maractus for the same amount of damage that it dealt. Overall, a decent rare for a basic.

  • Looking at Sawsbuck, we can see how he would fit well into any grass deck. 90HP, fire weakness, water resistance and 1 retreat make it fairly easy to use and it's initial attack proves good after building up your field. For a single colourless energy, Sawbuck deals 20 damage, but this gets increased by 10 damage for each grass energy in play on either side of the field. The second attack uses a grass energy and two colourless and deals 60 damage as well as healing Sawsbuck for 20 damage. This isn't as great as Maractus's attack, but has less restrictions when applying energy to Sawsbuck to make it more versatile.

  • Popping in on the list is the second Emboar, a card easily obtainable in bulk from the theme decks available. It has 150HP, water weakness and a massive 4 retreat cost, just like it's Ability counterpart but it has more impressive attacking power. For a fire and two colourless energy it can deal a simple 50 damage with it's first attack, but the second is where it's at. For two fire energy and two colourless energy, Emboar can deal 150 damage by discarding all fire energy attached to it. Not a good move if you're running pure fire, but with the ability version of itself, it can recover the energy fairly fast.

  • I was in two minds about including Darmanitan in here, but after seeing it at pre-release, it's just scraped a mention. At 120HP with a water weakness and 2 retreat cost, it's decent for a stage 1 pokemon. It's first attack uses a fire and colourless energy to deal 20 damage and burn the opponent, meaning that there's a chance of an extra 20 damage between each players turn. Add an additional colourless energy to that and you deal 70 damage and flip a coin. If you flip heads, you deal an additional 20 damage, but if you flip tails, Darmanitan gets 20 damage in recoil. The burn can be useful if you opponent flips tails often, but overall it's reliability can be questionable in my opinion.

  • Skipping a few types down to dark, we meet Zoroark. It has 100HP, a fighting weakness and 2 retreat cost to make it fairly usable, but it's attack are the most interesting part about it. For a single dark energy, you can search your deck for any 1 card and put it in your hand, which can be useful in the early game. For two colourless energy however, Zoroark can select one move that the defending pokemon has and, provided it meets the requirements to use it such as discards, uses that attack as it's own. As a card, it might be a nice searcher, but it's attacking capability entirely depend on it's opponent.

  • Sticking with the dark type, we meet my favorite rare of the set and one I hoped would be in, Mandibuzz. It has 90HP, an electric weakness, fighting resistance and 1 retreat cost making it usable, but vulnerable to attacks. It's first attack uses a dark energy but can strike any of the opponents pokemon with damage on them for a nice 50 damage. Adding two colourless energies to that dark allows Mandibuzz to deal 40 damage, nothing special unless it happens to be against a stage 2 pokemon. Then that 40 damage gets a +60 boost to deal 100 damage. Impressive for a fairly fragile bird.

  • Just two more to go in this section and I'm looking at the friendliest pokemon in the set, Cinccino. Having 90HP and a fighting weakness makes Cinccino fairly vulnerable, but it has 1 retreat to leave should it need to. It's first attack uses a single colourless energy and deals 20 damage for each heads from 2 coin flips. The second attack is where it's all at however, using 2 colourless energies, Cinccino deals 20 damage for each of your benched pokemon. That means you can reach 100 damage for two energies if you have a full bench.

  • And finally, the revenge seeking pokemon, Bouffalant. Having 100HP, 10 more than Cinccino, a fighting weakness and 2 retreat, it's a fairly settled basic pokemon. Now, for two energy, you can have a revenge kill, so to speak. The attack itself deals 20 damage, but gets a boost of 70 damage if your opponent KO'd one of your pokemon in their last turn. Give Bouffalant 4 energies and it can deal a reliable 80 damage, but you need to flip a coin and should you get tails it'll receive 20 damage in recoil.

That just about wraps up the Rares, a notable mention goes out to Scolipede and Krookodile but with no experience of them I can't really pass my opinions on, all that's left to mention now is the
Trainers.
  • There's really just the two trainers of note to me in this set, most of the others are re-prints of cards that have already been out in the format.
    Firstly, there's Professor Juniper which is the equivalent of Professor Oak from the base set. It's a supporter, so you only get the one per turn, but it forces you to discard your hand and draw 7 new cards when you use it. In situations where you have a low card count in your hand, it can be quite useful, but if you're later in game and looking for a specific card then you're less likely to want to use it due to the amount you'd have to discard.

  • The other card of note is Revive and is great with both Reshiram and Zekrom. The card itself brings a basic pokemon out of the discard and places it on your bench. With Reshiram and Zekrom both being basic and quick to power, depending on the deck build, they really benefit from this card.

There you are, my thoughts on the notable rares and such from within the newest set to grace the TCG. But don't leave us just yet, there's one last thing to do.

B-B-B-BBB-Bonus Feature.

Yes, I said I'd bring in something extra and here it is.
An announcement yesterday on Pokemon.com (the main reason no-one knew about it) informed the players of the next rotation and how they were reacting to the players who had concerns about the new rulings.
The rotation notice announced that from the rotation onwards, we'd all be using Heart Gold and Soul Silver cards onwards. This caught a number of people off guard and at the same time made a number happy (you sure can't please everyone), a lot of people had been expecting a regular 4 booster pack rotation compared to the 7 pack rotation that has been announced. This means that come rotation, a number of widely used cards, such as Bebe's Search, Spiritomb and Expert Belt to name but a few, will be no longer usable. Instead, players will be required to seek out new ways of drawing their needed cards from their deck. One problem with doing this is the concept of trainer lock, which will still be around in the form of Vileplume and the eventual print of Gothitelle.

In addition to this, it was announced that the rotation may come earlier than expected, with the possible rotation being in July rather than September. The decision on this will be made in June and will be based on the competitive environment and (I'm guessing) how Sabledonk will affect it. This announcement is probably due to many players complaining to Pokemon about how powerful the deck will become, even before the rules and Black and White were released.

Furthermore (because that wasn't enough), certain Premier events in Europe (I've heard so far that this will only affect the nationals) will end up playing with the previous rulings and without Black and White cards. There's no explanation as to why they've intended to do this and I can't really comment on any speculation yet. But it's going to happen and there's nothing we can do about it.

I've thought about this all day and summed the possible early rotation and restrictions in tournaments in one sentence; A questionable solution to a poor reaction from a bad decision.

Last edited by Yougirasu; 04-26-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:38 AM   #2
Talon87
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Cool, cool. Neat to hear that they've brought back Professor Oak (in the form of Professor Juniper). The last time I talked with some current-gen PTCG players, they laughed at me when I bemoaned how the days of Prof. Oak were long gone. They said "Dude, that card was way too powerful." Maybe. But it's great to see that they've brought it back. That card taught me a lot about TCG strategy. I remember when I was just 15 years old, really green around the ears when it came to card games, and I thought Professor Oak was this double-edged sword that swung more bad than good. Sure, he gave you seven new cards: but at what cost!? You'd lose the treasure in your hand! And you'd thin your deck! I didn't yet appreciate the importance of card draw. And the PTCG was sorely lacking in card draw back in the day.

Given all the card draw you've talked about in these last two threads, I'm guessing that there are tons of ways to search and/or draw from your deck besides during your draw step. And that's cool. Maybe that's why they decided it would be okay to rotate Professor Oak back in.

Or maybe they just decided they wanted to throw back things to the way they used to be.
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #3
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Very nicely written and certainly some interesting cards. Like Talon I find it nice that Professor Oak was brought back, pretty much the equivalent of Wheel of Fortune in Magic. Fun looking stuff, like I've said earlier I may pick up Pokemon cards again sometime soon.
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