BIG Changes - Pokemon GX
by Aaron Clarke
It’s been three years since we were first introduced to Kalos; now the sun rises on Alola. The new Sun and Moon series brings with it huge changes to both the current and future meta. Take a look at my analysis of what will be shaken up with the new release!
Since Reshiram and Zekrom were first printed in Black and White, the meta has focused around big basics. This was further reinforced with the reintroduction of EX’s, which this time were exclusively basics. Previously great cards like Rare Candy have been put to the side this entire time, but now rise once more.
Sun and Moon focuses on stage 1s and 2s more than any set in a long while, with all but two of the new GX cards being evolutions. These are the real powerhouses of the set, and are being printed alongside support cards like Timer Ball and Rare Candy, which are only useful in decks with large numbers of evolved Pokémon.
Power Creep – Reversed
As of late, Pokémon games have lasted for maybe four or five turns per player, every one of them seeming to take an eternity. Sun and Moon hopes to change that. Just looking at the Trainer cards, there are a few that are noticeably absent. Both Professor Juniper/Sycamore and Lysandre have been staples in the meta longer than most cards are in Standard. Neither of these cards make an appearance in Sun and Moon, and there is no easy replacement. This set is lacking in draw support, meaning most turns will see a lot fewer cards played. On top of it, the new GX Pokémon take longer to set up than usual, indicating a slower format. Pokémon attempted this once before back in Heart Gold Soul Silver. It worked beautifully for a few formats, largely due to the mass rotation that occurred shortly after it was released. This situation is very similar to that, and could be precipitating another large change such as the mass rotation to usher in evolutions once more.
Sun and Moon brings with it the change from EX Pokémon to GX Pokémon. They come with two differences: GX Pokémon can be evolutions, and also have a powerful attack attached to them. This attack can only be used once per game, which cannot be cleared by effects like Pokémon Ranger. Players need to be careful to use keep track of when an opponent uses one of these attacks, as evidence of such can quickly become lost in the game.
From the official site:
What Players Need to Know about Pokémon-GX
A player can use only one GX attack per game. (That's one total, not one per Pokémon-GX!)
Each Pokémon-GX has a maximum of two attacks in addition to its GX attack.
Pokémon-GX have strong attacks and high HP, so they can overwhelm the opponent's Pokémon without needing to rely on the GX attack.
All of this power comes at a price. When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes two Prize cards. Think carefully about how and when to use your Pokémon-GX in battle.
|Card Number / Rarity:||100 / Ultra Rare|
|Card Type / HP / Stage:||Colorless / 180 / Basic|
|Attack 1:|| Rage (20+)
This attack does 10 more damage for each damage counter on this Pokemon.
 Mad Bull GX (30x)
This attack does 30 damage times the number of damage counters on this Pokemon. (You can't use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
|Weakness / Resistance / Retreat Cost:||Fx2 / None / 3|
This appears to be one of the best, if not the best, card in Sun and Moon. All of its attacks are usable for just one Double Colorless Energy, something that is played in almost any deck. These attacks are easy to activate and can be used in any deck that runs energy cards. Both of its important attacks scale off of damage counters on Tauros-GX, meaning it is hard to make a deck exclusively around this Pokémon. However, it has the potential to shine when snuck into other decks. Using Ninja Boy as an activator, any basic that has taken damage can become Tauros-GX for just one card. With just 80 damage on Tauros-GX, Mad Bull GX swings for 240 damage, killing almost everything in the game. VS Seeker makes this combo very viable in decks with large basics like Dark and Volcanion. Tauros-GX provides value on a damaged Pokémon that would otherwise have been dangerous to invest in. Playing against these decks will require a new layer of caution to avoid being one-shot by a Tauros-GX.
|Card Number / Rarity:||15 / Ultra Rare|
|Card Type / HP / Stage:||Grass / 210 / Stage 1|
|Attack 1:||[G] Flower Supply (40)
Attach 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way you like.
|Attack 2:||[1GG] Solar Blade (120)
Heal 30 damage from this Pokemon.
[G] ChloroScythe GX (50x)
This attack does 50 damage times the number of Grass Energy attached to this Pokemon. (You can't use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
|Weakness / Resistance / Retreat Cost:||Rx2 / None / 2|
This card is very obviously strong. For just one energy, the ability to accelerate energy has been proven to be effective on cards like Yveltal, Volcanion, and to a lesser extent, Carbink BREAK. These cards set up for bigger attackers, while still not being easily taken out. Lurantis-GX provides the same function, but goes one better. Up to this point, energy attachers have been weak on their own, and are used only for their ability to set up. Lurantis-GX can be a powerful attacker even without the support of a stronger Pokémon. For three energies, 120 with a 30 damage heal is no joke, and neither is the large damage on the GX attack. Luranits-GX boasts a massive 210 HP, and that is without any tools. With an Assault Vest, Lurantis-GX has the health to withstand most attacks, and at the same time can dish out large amounts of damage. This is further amplified by the effects of the Eeveelutions from Ancient Origins. They allow Lurantis-GX to hit for weakness on Lighting and Water, both key types. For the time being, however, Lurantis-GX is checked by one of the most popular decks in the format. Volcanion hits for weakness, easily one hitting the otherwise tanky Pokémon. Even with a glaring loss, Lurantis-GX has quite a large potential.
|Card Number / Rarity:||12 / Ultra Rare|
|Card Type / HP / Stage:||Grass / 240 / Stage 2|
Ability — Feather Arrow
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may put 2 damage counters on 1 of your opponent's Pokemon.
|Attack 1:||[2G] Razor Leaf (90)|
[G] Hollow Hunt GX
Put 3 cards from your discard pile into your hand. (You can't use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
|Weakness / Resistance / Retreat Cost:||Rx2 / None / 2|
This card has received much more hype than would usually be expected from a Stage 2. The ability places two damage counters on any of your opponent’s Pokémon. Twenty damage quickly adds up, especially when it is supporting a much larger attacker. Currently, Decidueye-GX can utilize Forest of Giant Plants to get out quickly, if not turn one. This allows Decidueye-GX to be a combo deck, using Devolution Spray to loop Decidueye-GX damage, which can clear multiple low HP basics or Shaymin-EXs in one turn. However, the damage falls off rapidly after turn one. Decidueye-GX itself has a very weak attack pool, meaning that it will rely on another Pokémon to attack for it. It is no small task to splash a Stage 2 into a deck, even one that uses Forest of Giant Plants. Overall, this card seems too slow to fit into the current format, although it may re-emerge once the meta slows down.
This card has a very hit or miss effect. While the ability to draw up to three cards seems weak, it counters an N to one quite efficiently. Even still, Oranguru has few uses outside of that circumstance. With Shaymin-EX in the format, there is no obvious home for Oranguru. Early in the game, it has no value preceding a Set Up, and has little room to follow after one. To make matters worse, Oranguru constantly takes up a bench slot that is not necessarily available. Most decks would love to use that spot for an extra Shaymin-EX, or even another support Pokémon like an extra Volcanion-EX. This is further complicated by the prevalence of Parallel City, when Oranguru is likely to be discarded in order to save an attacker. Insurance from an N isn’t enough to justify the play of Oranguru.
The new professor provides a dramatic upgrade to Giovanni’s Scheme. Instead of having to choose between the two effects, Professor Kukui makes it easy and gives you both. Professor Kukui allows the attack that was 20 damage short to K.O. the opponent’s active. This effect is even more powerful in decks that don’t have access to a damage amplifier like Fighting Fury Belt. At the same time, it provides the same traditional supporter draw. While he may not be as powerful as Professor Sycamore, Professor Kukui may see some fringe play now, and he will almost certainly be good once the XY series rotates.
Sun and Moon is one of the strongest sets in a long time with its plethora of playable cards that at the same time manage to slow down the format. It still follows Pokémon’s tradition of throwing far too many Ultra Rares into one set, but this time they are actually playable. If this trend continues throughout the Sun and Moon series, it could have the power to completely reshape the meta.
Aaron Clarke is a four time Pokemon TCG World Championship competitor, including one Top 8 performance!