Lost Thunder Set Review, Part 1 of 4 - Grass and Fire
Lost Thunder is our November expansion set for the Pokemon TCG which will have 214 cards in it, making it the largest set in the history of the Pokemon TCG to my knowledge. Credit to limitlesstcg's proxy generator with translations. I will review the set while doing my best to look at every card objectively and in relation to the standard format I’ll note if I think a card will have an exceptionally different potential in expanded format. If a card is a pre-evolution with nothing special about it or just a filler card that is objectively bad I will simply put FILLER.
Pre-evolution for a likely useless card.
While Tangrowth’s first attack can hit 160 for one grass and double colorless energy, it has to have already had damage on it and then be healed. I doubt this would be worth it as there are much easier ways to deal that amount of damage for equal or lesser energy costs.
We have a better Scyther from Celestial Storm which searches out more Scyther, so this card likely won’t be used.
This card has a small amount of potential due to its first attack. If 20+30 with Band (100 on something that is grass weak) and the defending cannot retreat next turn ever sounds appealing, I imagine Pinsir might have a shot at seeing some fringe play.
Pre-evolution that may be the optimal choice for the line because it has 70 HP
Pre-evolution that may be the optimal choice for the line because it is searchable by Professor Elm and it accelerates an energy.
Pre-evolution with no significance
This card is interesting and different, but unfortunately I believe it is destined for the bulk box. You have to set up Chikorita to then rare candy into Meganium to skip the Rare Candy step for another stage two pokemon, when you could have just set up the desired stage two Pokemon in the first place instead of Meganium. This along with Meganium’s mediocre attack leaves it having little to no potential. However, I’d love to see someone prove me wrong on this one.
Spinarak’s first attack is actually very thought provoking and could potentially have control/mill utility. I’ve already thought of a few things you could send up in its place when it goes to the lost zone like Shuckle-GX (Which we will get to soon), Wobbuffet GEN (Expanded), Slaking CST. The downside of course is that you couldn’t loop this for more than 4 turns because Spinarak sends itself to the lost zone and cannot be retrieved from there. On the surface, I see a bit of potential in this card.
Like its preevolution Spinarak, Ariados has a unique attack that I think has potential. Trap Thread prevents the defending Pokemon from being affected by trainer cards next turn, thus not being able to leave the active spot by any means other than natural retreating. This means that Guzma, Acerola, Switch, Escape Rope, etc. would not have any effect on your opponent’s active Pokemon. Since the attack also deals damage and would eventually KO the Pokemon if you successfully locked a high retreat Pokemon in the active, you would also need a Pokemon that moves damage off of the defending Pokemon and on to others if you wanted the lock to be infinite until the game was won. Like with Spinarak, I think this is a card to keep in the back of your head if you are ever brewing up a control/mill deck, especially in Expanded Format.
Pre-evolution. This is the optimal choice for the evolution line as it has 40 HP as opposed to 30 HP.
This is the worse Hoppip of the two in the set as it can be KO’d by Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch while on the bench due to its 30 HP.
Skiploom is one of the most important components to the new Lost March archetype, in which the attackers do more damage per Pokemon in your lost zone. Skiploom not only puts itself and Hoppip into the lost zone, but it searches out your Jumpluff onto the board. This card has as much potential as the Lost March archetype does. The Lost March archetype will definitely see play, so be sure to keep these out of your bulk pile when you are opening packs.
Free retreat, resistance to fighting, has a stage 1 that accelerates the evolution process, AND it has the Lost March attack for only one grass energy. This card is sure to see play and is beautifully designed along with its pre-evolution Skiploom.
Shuckle’s ability is very useful for any deck that wants basic energy in the discard pile. I posit that this will be partnered with Rayquaza-GX as it also has a one energy attack that accelerates energy. It can also be used in any deck focusing on Alolan Exeggcutor (FLI) in order to put more types of basic energy into the discard pile. This card has potential and I expect it to see a fair amount of play upon release.
I have been putting a lot of thought into the potential this card has as a wall in a deck like Zoroark-GX/Control. In theory, your opponent will never be able to damage Shuckle-GX due to its ability if you can keep your opponent’s energy managed with cards like Enhanced Hammer, Crushing Hammer, Plumeria, Team Skull Grunt, etc. Of course, this strategy would be ineffective against decks with energy acceleration at their disposal like Malamar variants and Rayquaza-GX, so this theorized control deck would need other plans for those kinds of matchups or take the probable losses. At the very least, it seems like a great Lost March counter as Lost March decks will run a moderately low amount of energy cards and their attackers only need 1-2 energy each to attack. I expect Shuckle-GX to see some play as a Lost March counter if necessary and for players to experiment with it as a control option.
Heracross is another one-prize attacker that deserves consideration when choosing your backup attackers in Vikavolt/Rayquaza-GX. As you should expect to have a Vikavolt out in most games, Heracross will be dealing 120 damage for two energy. This has a(n) equal/similar damage output to already existing attackers in Vika Ray like Shining Lugia, Shaymin (SHL), and Dhelmise (CST).
#19 Celebi Prism Star
Devolving your own Pokemon has fringe use from time to time, but using your attack for turn to do so is less than optimal. Cool card, but likely will not see play.
Pre-evolution with an alright attack.
This ability is awesome to have on a Pokemon that would normally only be included in a deck for its next stage of evolution. The added consistency Grovyle brings is a bonus to running a line of either Sceptile CST or Sceptile-GX.
I like this card for several reasons. 230 HP is on the low side for a Stage 2 GX, but it is not a number that our Standard meta has demanded decks to reach. Mach Cut is very efficient, dealing 60 damage and removing a special energy from the defending Pokemon. Leaf Cyclone deals 130 for two grass and moves one energy to another of your Pokemon. I like this reallocation of energy for two reasons: first because Sceptile CST prevents damage done by Ultra Beasts to all of your Pokemon with grass energy attached and this potentially spreads energy to another Pokemon that previously had no energy, second because this card has potential to work well with several Max Potions in a deck with it and you will remove one less energy from Sceptile-GX after moving one with Leaf Cyclone. Onto the GX attack, Jungle Heal GX heals all of your pokemon that have any Grass Energy attached to them (another reason why the reallocation of energy with Leaf Cyclone is good!). This GX attack is about average as far as GX attacks go. I think it is a nice utility to have, especially against spread variants and any deck that plays Shrine of Punishments. Also note that it does not say basic grass energy, so Jungle Heal GX would also heal Pokemon with Rainbow Energy attached if you were to use Rainbow Energy in a deck with Sceptile-GX. I am hopeful for the playability of this card, but it is a Stage 2 Pokemon which is always a large hurdle to get over.
Pre-evolution with a solid attack.
120 for one grass energy is impressive, but the requirement is too steep. Something as simple as wiffing a 5th basic grass Pokemon or your opponent playing Sudowoodo (Road Block) can stop this card from doing anything.
I like the overall grass support and the potential synergy this has with bulky grass Pokemon + other healing, but I’m not sure that it is worth the bench spot.
In theory, if a Sceptile-GX deck works out then Virizion would be nice to have as a basic attacker that can hit 130-160 with Sensitive Blade (Choice Band attached and Supporter played for the turn). Double Draw isn’t a bad attack to have around early. However, its mediocre GX attack and low HP makes me say its potential is rather low.
#37 Tapu Bulu
This card’s first attack seems okay if your goal is to attach Counter Energy and then hit for weakness. Other than that I don’t see this being played.
Although this Slugma has 10 more HP than the Slugma from CST, I prefer the old Slugma because it has an attack that is useful in fringe situations.
Magcargo-GX’s Crash Charge ability has direct synergy with CST Magcargo: Smooth Over an energy to the top of the deck and then Crash Charge to attach it to one of your Pokemon. Lava Flow has the potential to do a lot of damage, but I don’t think I like the idea of needing multiple Magcargo-GX set up and at least one Magcargo also set up for the deck to function turn after turn. I think this card will see some play, but I do not think a deck built around it will ever be higher than Tier 2.5/2.
I have a similar opinion for Victini as I did for #37 Tapu Bulu. It could see use to hit for weakness/be a one prize attacker, but it is not a very impressive card and I don’t expect it to see any amount popularity.
Blacephalon-GX is a good card, but I don’t believe that it is very impressive on its own. WIth the help of Naganadel (from later in the set) and Beast Ring, Blacephalon-GX will be one of the strongest new archetypes that come out of Lost Thunder. I expect it to see a lot of play and a lot of success.
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