The Pokémon Trading Card Game has already introduced a number of exciting changes to the meta since the XY series of cards was released: the brand new Fairy type, mega evolutions, and Ancient Traits in Primal Clash to name a few. And with many new cards that offer plenty of strategies to toy around with, there has never been so many ways to play.
With the release of Roaring Skies, the latest expansion in the TCG, we have come to expect even more. In this article, I am going to look at what I think are the most interesting cards in the set, and analyse what they do for a player looking to build a new deck or modify an existing one. I hope that this list will be enough to inspire you, if not to make use of any of these cards in particular, then to look more into this set and see what else it can offer.
At first glance Shedinja might send you running in horror, not because you’re afraid it will take your soul, but because of how terrible the card appears to be. Most small attacks in the game can knock out Shedinja instantly; with a lowly 30 HP it is one of the few, perhaps the only Pokémon to have less hitpoints than its previous evolution.
However, I believe that Shedinja has potential, if only as a rather niche Pokémon. Its second attack, Hopeless Scream, does 50 damage times the number of damage counters on Shedinja. This attack can reach a fairly middle of the road 100 damage on its own (if you aren’t knocked out in one hit), but this number starts to add up when one considers the options available to boost Shedinja’s HP. Floette from the Flashfire set released last year has the ability Flower Veil, which boosts the HP of any Grass type Pokémon in play by 20, enough to potentially double Hopeless Scream’s damage. Not too bad for just one energy!
Attacks requiring coin flips usually come with a positive effect for one result of the coin flip, and a negative result for the other. Thundurus-EX is lucky enough to have attack that requires a coin flip, but doesn’t suffer any negative effects for either result. This attack, Headlock, does a base 30 damage plus 30 extra damage if the coin you flip afterwards comes up heads, and paralyses your opponents active Pokémon if the coin comes up tails. Paralysing your opponent’s Pokémon can really help you out- they will be unable to attack or retreat on their next turn, giving you more time to set up and avoid being knocked out. Between this and dealing 60 damage instead of 30, Headlock really is a win-win attack.
If you find yourself needing one result of Headlock over the other, you could always pair up Thundurus-EX with Victini from the Legendary Treasures set, which allows you to ignore the results of coin flips for an attack once per turn, and then flip those coins again.
Deoxys is one of the two Pokémon in this set, the other being Latios-EX (58/108) which I won’t be analysing here, with the ability to attack on the first turn of the game. Whilst Latios-EX uses this unique ability to deal damage, Deoxys’ attack, Close Encounter, takes a supporting role, allowing you to draw 2 cards. At the cost of one colourless energy, this card can be used in any deck to get an extra 2 cards’ worth of options in your hand, ready to use when you start dealing damage. If used in a psychic type deck, Deoxys can utilise Dimension Valley from the Phantom Forces set, which reduces the energy cost of Psychic type Pokémon’s attacks by 1 energy. With this card in play, Deoxys can use Close Encounter for no energy cost at all on the first turn, allowing you to play the energy you would have spent on Deoxys elsewhere and be even more prepared to attack the following turn.
The new type added in the XY series, Fairy, has already received plenty of useful cards. Togekiss is Roaring Skies’ gift to Fairy decks, with its Ancient Trait, Delta Evolution (also introduced in this set) and its ability, Serene Grace.
Stage 2 Evolutions have always been risky to play in today’s fast paced meta-game as they take two turns to evolve before they act (without the aid of items or supporter cards). However, Togekiss’ Delta Evolution trait allows it to be played straight onto its previous evolution on the same turn you evolved, speeding up play and allowing you to make use of its ability as soon as possible.
This ability, Serene Grace, triggers when you play Togekiss from your hand, and lets you take any basic energy cards you find in the top eight cards in your deck and attach what you find to any of your Pokemon already in play. The Fairy type benefits from having a lot of energy in play: Aromatisse from XY Base Set lets you move any fairy energy already in play between your Pokémon however you like, whilst M Gardevoir-EX from Primal Clash has the lethal Brilliant Arrow attack, which does more damage the more Fairy energy you have in play. Bringing more energy into play allows Togekiss to synergise excellently with these cards, making it a wise addition to any Fairy deck. Remember also that its Serene Grace ability does not specify a type of basic energy that can be retrieved from your deck, so it can provide energy acceleration to any deck that can find room for it!
Dragonite as a Pokémon might look cuddly (well, I think so), but this card doesn’t play gentle! Its Wrapped in Wind attack provides some much needed energy acceleration for its second attack, Heavy Impact. Heavy Impact costs a whopping five energy to pull off, but dealing a base 150 damage in return.
Dragonite isn’t just a big hitter though. Where I think this card gets interesting is its Ancient Trait, Delta Plus, also a new feature of this set. Delta Plus allows you to take an extra prize card when Dragonite knocks out a Pokémon, meaning that it’s well worth pulling off that Heavy Impact attack if you want a quick victory. Knock out an EX card with Dragonite and you take three prize cards, meaning the game is already half way over!
M Rayquaza-EX (76/108)
Reference: M Rayquaza-EX
Rayquaza and its mega evolution are the mascots of Roaring Skies, and are therefore well worth a mention. There are two variants of Rayquaza in this set, a Dragon type and a colourless type; the latter being the one I am going to focus on here.
Like Togekiss, M Rayquaza-EX has the Ancient Trait Delta Evolution, meaning that you can mega evolve Rayquaza-EX on the same turn you put it into play. If you have the first turn of the game and have Rayquaza-EX in play, you can afford the immediate end of turn that results in mega evolving without a spirit link, as you are unable to attack on the first turn anyway. But if you do happen to have Rayquaza’s spirit link, you can start powering up M Rayquaza-EX immediately.
M Rayquaza-EX’s only attack, Emerald Break, does 30 damage for each benched Pokémon you have in play, which can hit for 150 damage if you have a full bench. You can also boost this to an insane 240 damage if you have the Sky Field stadium card in play, also included in Roaring Skies, which lets each player have up to eight benched Pokémon. With this stadium card and plenty of draw support included in this set, it’s frightening how quickly this monster can set up.
While most EX cards are designed to be heavy hitters with lots of HP, there are a few that can take on support roles. Shaymin-EX is one of those cards, offering some of the best draw support of the lot, whilst also being versatile enough to find a place in plenty of decks due to its colourless typing.
Its ability is (without a hint of originality) called Set Up. It lets you draw cards until you have six in your hand every time you play Shaymin-EX from your hand to your bench. This ability can be essential; I find all too often that a bad hand can be the difference between victory and defeat in a tight game, so having the option to refresh my hand is helpful.
Shaymin-EX’s ability is supported well by its attack, Sky Return, which for two colourless energy allows you to deal 30 damage and then put Shaymin-EX and all cards attached to it right back into your hand, ready to play again next turn and draw up to six more cards! Thanks to the Double Colourless Energy card from XY Base Set, this strategy can keep up almost indefinitely, since it covers the energy cost of Shaymin-EX’s attack in a single attachment. Colourless typing also means that any type of energy can meet the criteria, allowing this Pokémon to find a place in any type of deck.
Sky Field (89/108)
Reference: Sky Field
This card works wonders for M Rayquaza-EX as I mentioned, and it also hepls any card which deals damage based on what cards are on your bench: Raichu from XY Base Set and Florges-EX from the Flashfire set, for example. The fact that discarding Sky Field also means discarding the extra Pokémon from your bench also makes for an interesting play for decks that deal damage based on how many Pokémon you have in the discard pile, like Night March from the Phantom Forces set; playing Sky Field and then disposing of it can be a quick way of getting more Pokémon into the discard pile, ready to use.
Trainers’ Mail (92/108)
Reference: Trainer’s Mail
The ability to refresh your hand is essential in the Pokémon TCG, and if you run out of options you could find yourself in trouble. Most cards that allow you to take more cards into your hand are classed as Supporters, meaning that you are limited to using only one per turn. This is why Item cards that offer the same thing, like Trainers’ Mail, are so handy, since you can normally play as many Item cards as you like before an attack. Trainers’ Mail lets you search the top four cards of your deck and put one of any trainer card you find (except another Trainers’ Mail) straight into your hand, potentially giving you a lot more options to play with if you find yourself in a tight spot.
Double Dragon Energy (97/108)
Reference: Double Dragon Energy
Until now, Dragon type Pokémon have been notoriously hard to play successfully. They tend to have much stronger attacks than other Pokémon, but in exchange for this their attacks require multiple types of energy. This drawback has become increasingly difficult to accommodate in a meta in which running just one type of energy is preferable. Thanks to Double Dragon Energy though, things are getting easier.
This special energy card provides two energy at a time, much like Double Colourless Energy, but uniquely it provides any type of energy you might need. Dragon type players no longer need to worry about not pulling off an attack because they don’t have access to all the energy they need, they can just attach a Double Dragon Energy (or two!) and then make up the rest if necessary. This card benefits Pokémon like Roaring Skies’ Dragonite, mentioned earlier in the article, since it provides two energy towards its five energy cost attack. Double Dragon Energy also allows dragon types to be played in decks which would normally not sport the energy they need, thus opening up a lot of new play options.
Thomas High enjoys playing Pokémon and writing articles. He played the Pokemon TCG when he was younger and rediscovered the game with the release of Black and White. His favourite Pokémon is Ampharos. His other gaming interests include Weiß Schwarz, the X-Wing miniatures game, and tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons.