May 15, 2017

Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising Card Highlights

Check out some of the most anticipated cards found in the latest Pokémon TCG expansion.

Each Pokémon TCG expansion comes packed with powerful and exciting cards, but every once in a while, there are cards that have the potential to change everything. So each day through the end of the week, we'll be taking a closer look at one of these impactful cards from the new Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion.

Card Highlight: Drampa-GX

Previous Card Highlight: Garbodor

We wrap up our look at new cards in the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion with the crafty Colorless-type Pokémon Drampa-GX.

Usually, great cards do one thing particularly well. For example, Mega Rayquaza-EX excels at doing a lot of damage to the opponent's Pokémon quickly, and Shaymin-EX does an exceptional job of drawing extra cards to help execute a strategy. But some cards are good at a lot of different things, and their flexibility is what makes them useful. Drampa-GX looks like one of those cards.

In three different situations, Drampa-GX can be very helpful. When you need to slow down the opponent, the Righteous Edge attack can discard a Special Energy to disrupt their plans. When you just need to attack for big damage, the Berserk attack can get the job done. And when you need to draw more cards to get going, the Big Wheel-GX attack gets you a new hand of 10 cards! And since all these attacks require Colorless Energy, any deck can use this 180-HP Pokémon-GX.

The main reason to use Drampa-GX will be its Berserk attack. It starts off doing just 80 damage, but it gets boosted to 150 damage if your Benched Pokémon have any damage counters on them. Using Rainbow Energy or Team Magma's Secret Base, you can damage your own Benched Pokémon to get the bonus damage. Slap a Choice Band onto Drampa-GX, and Berserk can do 180 damage to an opposing Pokémon-GX or Pokémon-EX, which is enough to take down many of them in one attack.

Drampa-GX might not be a superstar Pokémon that creates a powerful new strategy, but it has plenty of uses to see competitive play. Expect to see plenty of Drampa-GX in the future!

Card Highlight: Garbodor

Previous Card Highlight: Choice Band

The fourth card in our review of powerful Pokémon TCG cards in the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion is Garbodor, a Pokémon that continues to torment opponents.

Item cards are a major part of nearly any competitive deck: Ultra Ball, VS Seeker, Trainers' Mail...the list goes on. It's not unusual for a deck to have over 20 Item cards, and it's likely that more than half of them will end up in the discard pile over the course of a game. And that's where Garbodor comes in.

Garbodor's Trashalanche attack seems pretty unexciting at first glance. For the attack to do any damage at all, the opponent has to put an Item card into their discard pile—so if the opponent isn't running any Item cards, or chooses not to play any, Trashalanche does nothing. But the reality is that nearly every competitive deck relies on Item cards to execute its strategy quickly. The main methods of finding cards quickly are Ultra Ball and Professor Sycamore, both of which require discarding more cards.

It's easy to play four or five Item cards in a single turn, especially on the first turn of the game. Now imagine a scenario where the opponent has 10 Item cards in their discard pile—Garbodor's Trashalanche attack would do 200 damage for a single Psychic Energy! There are even ways to force your opponent to discard Item cards, such as Field Blower discarding Pokémon Tool cards or Delinquent discarding cards from the opponent's hand. The Garbodor with Garbotoxin is already used frequently in competitive play, and it seems likely that Trashalanche will also be something to watch out for.

Garbodor's Trashalanche attack will be incredibly powerful as long as decks rely on Item cards to set up. Will this force players to use fewer Item cards in their decks? It will be interesting to see how this new Pokémon affects the metagame.

Card Highlight: Choice Band

Previous Card Highlight: Aqua Patch

We continue our look at the powerful cards from the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion with Choice Band, another potent Trainer card.

Over the past few years, Pokémon Tool cards have been a big part of generating extra damage to Knock Out opposing Pokémon. Silver Bangle, Muscle Band, and Fighting Fury Belt all made a major impact on competitive play. In the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion, there's a new Pokémon Tool card that could have a similar effect: Choice Band.

Choice Band is reminiscent of Silver Bangle, but it comes with two major differences—it gives bonus damage against both Pokémon-GX and Pokémon-EX, and any Pokémon can use it (Silver Bangle has no effect if it's attached to a Pokémon-EX). 30 additional damage is a significant amount, often enough to push attacks to the point of one-hit Knock Outs rather than requiring two attacks. For example, Golisopod's Resolute Claws attack would do 150 damage to Darkrai-EX, which isn't enough for a KO. But with Choice Band in the equation, that gets bumped up to 180 damage—the perfect amount to take down the big Pokémon-EX in one attack.

The big question is whether Choice Band will replace Fighting Fury Belt in the Standard format. Currently, Fighting Fury Belt is used in nearly every deck that uses Basic Pokémon-GX and Pokémon-EX, especially because the extra HP gives those Pokémon some added durability. But what's more valuable: extra HP or extra damage? It may depend on the strategy, or perhaps some combination of both will be used. This will be something players need to figure out during their practice.

Look for Choice Band to be a big part of competitive play in the future. Whether you're using Pokémon-GX and Pokémon-EX or trying to beat them, it will be a valuable tool.

Card Highlight: Aqua Patch

Previous Card Highlight: Tapu Lele-GX

The next new card from the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion we'll take a look at is Aqua Patch, a Trainer card with all kinds of potential for Water-type decks.

Back in the Black & White—Dark Explorers expansion, one Trainer card sparked a wave of Darkness-type decks for years to come: Dark Patch. Even today, Darkrai-EX and Yveltal-EX continue to have success in the Expanded format because of the incredible speed provided by this Item card. In the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion, Water-type Pokémon get their own version of this powerful Item card: Aqua Patch.

There's no denying that Aqua Patch provides an incredible effect. Being able to attach multiple Energy in a turn has been a key to many successful strategies in the Pokémon TCG, and doing it at the low cost of an Item card is exceptional. The only hurdle is getting Water Energy into the discard pile, and that can be achieved easily with Ultra Ball or Professor Sycamore. But the one big question remains: which Pokémon can take advantage of this newfound gush of Water Energy?

The early frontrunners for the two best partners for Aqua Patch are Lapras-GX and Alolan Ninetales-GX. Lapras-GX has already seen some success in competitive play, and it could get a boost by being able to attack quickly with Blizzard Burn. Alolan Ninetales-GX has a similarly powerful attack in Blizzard Edge, and it also has the Ice Blade attack to start weakening Pokémon on the opponent's Bench. Its 210 HP makes it difficult to take down in one attack, and the Ice Path-GX attack plays off that beautifully: after Alolan Ninetales-GX takes a big hit, use its GX attack to move that damage onto the opponent's Pokémon.

Aqua Patch is sure to be a cornerstone of many Water-type strategies. As more expansions are released, be on the lookout for more Water-type Pokémon to pair with this amazing Item card!

Card Highlight: Tapu Lele-GX

We kick off our survey of great cards from the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion with Tapu Lele-GX, the guardian of Akala Island.

Much like Shaymin-EX, which has been a centerpiece of competitive play for ages, Tapu Lele-GX's strength comes from supporting the rest of your strategy. The Wonder Tag Ability allows you to search your deck for a Supporter card and put it into your hand, so you can find the right card for the situation: Professor Sycamore for a fresh hand of cards, Lysandre to target an opponent's Benched Pokémon, and so on. In the Expanded format, Jirachi-EX has been used for years for its Stellar Guidance Ability, and Wonder Tag has the same effect.

Shaymin-EX and Jirachi-EX both come with the major drawback of having low HP, which means they're easy targets for giving up two Prize cards to the opponent. With 170 HP, Tapu Lele-GX does not share that problem. It also packs the powerful Energy Drive attack, which is similar to Mewtwo-EX's X Ball attack and Lugia-EX's Aero Ball attack, both of which have had lots of success in competitive play. For any deck using Psychic Energy, the Tapu Cure-GX attack can also come in handy (but much like Mewtwo-EX's Psydrive attack, it likely won't be used very often).

The power of Tapu Lele-GX is in its flexibility. Any deck that uses Ultra Ball can add this Pokémon and gain access to a Supporter card at will. The Energy Drive attack only needs Colorless Energy, so any kind of deck can use it. Expect to see a lot of Tapu Lele-GX in decks for quite some time!

Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising
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