The set rotation and format for the 2014-15 Pokemon TCG season has been announced. The upcoming season will be Boundaries Crossed-on, meaning the Next Destinies, Dark Explorers and Dragons Exalted will rotate out of the format, in addition to a small group of BW Promo cards. While not always the case, traditionally Play!Pokemon rotates the oldest 3 sets each year, which is exactly what they did and what we at the Gym were anticipating.
Now, if the rotation was cut and dry, with all cards from those sets gone, then there would not be much else to say. However, over the last few years, Pokemon has developed a trend of reprinting cards throughout various sets with different artwork or as “secret rares”. Adding to that, the final Black & White set, Legendary Treasures was a set comprised of many reprintings of various cards that have appeared throughout the Black & White series. So, what we will try to do for you in the course of this article is to lay out a guide, of sorts, by set, of what goes out and what stays in for the upcoming season. Keep in mind, however, as you sort your cards out, that Pokemon has announced a special Black & White-on format that will see use in Premier Tournaments next season (to what extent has not been finalized)…, so, don’t bulk sale all of your cards from these sets, as you will still be able to use them. That is a topic for another post. On to the topic at hand.
For those of you that are not familiar or are new to the game and have not experienced a rotation before, here’s a quick explanation of “reprints” in the pokemon TCG. Any card, when reprinted in another set that is still legal for play, also stays legal (even if the set it is in is rotated) as long as its name/HP/attacks are reprinted the same, even if the artwork/picture changes. Look at the “Inferno Fandango” Emboar, for example. All 3 printings are still legal for use, because the only thing that is different on each of the 3 cards is the artwork.
Just to clarify before we talk about specific cards, this rotation does not go into effect until September 3, 2014. Those of you planning on attending the 2014 World Championships in Washington DC and trying to grind in or those competing in the main event are still playing Next Destinies-Flashfire through that event.
Speaking of Next Destinies, the 1st set to bring the “big basic” EX to the TCG is the 1st to go. The Gym Leaders hope that the following way of cataloging these cards will make it easy to reference for everyone. For each set, we’ll list “Trainer” cards that are rotated out, “Trainer” cards that remain in the format, then do the same for Pokemon. Instead of listing all pokemon from each set, we will focus on those that see regular use in competitive play. If any special energy are lost in these sets, then we will list them with the Trainer cards. Here we go.
Next Destinies – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- EXP Share
- Heavy Ball
- Level Ball
- Pokemon Center (Stadium)
- Skyarrow Bridge (Stadium)
- Prism Energy (Special)
Next Destinies – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
Next Destinies – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Regigigas EX
- Chandelure (secret rare reprint, “Cursed Shadow”)
- Zoroark (secret rare reprint, “Foul Play”)
- Hydregion (secret rare reprint, “Dark Aura”)
Next Destinies – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Emboar (secret rare reprint, “Fandango”)
- Mewtwo EX
- Kyurem EX
- Shaymin EX
- Reshiram EX
- Zekrom EX
All of the pokemon from Next Destinies that stay in the format do so thanks to being reprinted in the Legendary Treasures set. Thanks to LT, there are not many major hits to pool of pokemon that are commonly used from this set. Regigigas EX has made its way in and out of decks with limited success, but is probably not considered a major loss. The same can be said of the “Foul Play” Zoroark. While an interesting “tech” in many decks, its loss will not impact the current format. Gym Leader Joel will mourn the loss of Hippowdon (one of the best “uncommon” cards ever printed) from this set, as it was his favorite Dark-type deck destroyer, especially with the addition of “Silver Bangle” & “Muscle Band” (allowing it to 1-hit Darkrai EX). Its days became numbered when dark decks gained the fighting-resistant Yveltal EX, but the gym leader will miss the portly hippo nonetheless.
The biggest hit to the current format with the loss of Next Destinies comes to the heavily used list of Trainer cards from this set. “Level Ball” is in almost every list that uses non-EX attackers and provides for a fast set-up in Stage 1 and Stage 2 decks. “Skyarrow Bridge”, while not used as much at the moment as it was, still sees use in decks like Virizion/Genesect. Perhaps the biggest loss from the set is “Prism Energy”. This special energy card is a staple in most “Plasma” decks, “Fairy” decks and decks that use a mixed assortment of EX attackers. “Prism” has a replacement in the form of the current “Rainbow Energy”, but we are pretty sure most players prefer the “Prism” version.
While the loss of Next Destinies will have a limited impact on the Standard Format, the 2nd set to rotate out, Dark Explorers, will leave many competitive players broken-hearted. Darkness-type decks will surely still remain at the top of the cometitive scene, but not as they exist at the moment (they will likely play more like plasma decks). The “dark engine”, so to speak, loses all of its major components. Let’s look at what goes and what stays.
Dark Explorers – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Dark Claw
- Dark Patch
- Enhanced Hammer
- Hooligans Jim & Cas
- Twist Mountain (Stadium)
Dark Explorers – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
- Cheren (full art reprint in BCR)
- Bianca (reprinted in BCR and LT)
- N (given BW promo #100 as league promo)
- Professor Juniper (reprinted in PLF )
- Random Receiver (secret rare print in PLS)
- Ultra Ball (multiple reprints)
- Rare Candy (multiple reprints)
Dark Explorers – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Entei EX
- Raikou EX
- Kyogre EX
- Groudon EX
- Accelgor (“Deck and Cover”)
- Sableye (“Junk Hunt”)
- Gardevoir (“Psychic Mirage”, secret rare)
- Archeops (“Ancient Power”, secret rare)
Dark Explorers – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Darkrai EX
- Empoleon (“Diving Draw”, secret rare in PLF)
- Tornadus EX (“Blow Through”, BW promo 96)
- Zoroark (“Brutal Bash”, reprint in LT)
It doesn’t seem like 3 cards should have such an impact on the format, but the loss of the combination of “Dark Claw”, “Dark Patch” and Sableye’s “Junk Hunt” attack (along w/”Energy Switch”, which is not from this set) completely dismantle current builds for competitive dark decks. “Enhanced Hammer”, another staple of most dark decks, leaves the game, making plasma decks surely a little more comfortable in its absence. The EX pool takes a little hit, but most of those rotated from this set are in the category of “those that were played, but aren’t right now”. Gym Leader Joel loses another favorite in Groudon EX, whose playability diminished with the emergence of Keldeo EX and plasma Kyurem thanks to Goudon’s water weakness. However, to the gym leader’s delight, “Deck & Cover” Accelgor will leave the format with this rotation. We’re sure that new, equally annoying ways to lose a game will emerge, but no one at the Gym will mourn the loss of this little ninja ghost.
The poster-ghost of Dark Explorers, Darkrai EX, lives to see another day thanks to its reprinting in LT. Darkrai will surely remain at the core of most, if not all dark decks. Empoleon, who made a strong showing at the 2014 National Championships, also survives thanks to its secret rare printing on PLF. Tornadus EX was reissued as the pre-release promo card for the LT set, so with its new BW96 number, it also sticks around. As we went through the cards in this set the 1st time, we thought that the Trainer card “N” was gone, which would have been a huge change to the format, as it has been, and still is one of the most powerful cards in the game. However, the league promo “N”, unlike previous promos, received a new #, BW100 (most league cards keep their original set #, like “Enhanced Hammer”). We guess someone at Play!Pokemon was not ready for the green-haired activist to leave the game yet.
The 3rd and final set that leaves the format at the end of this season is Dragons Exalted. This set is home to some of the Fincastle Gym’s favorite cards, several of which are cards that led to our gym leaders’ greatest accomplishments in competitive play. The poster child of this set, Rayquaza EX, is like an old friend to Gym Leader Joel. Over the last 2+ years, Joel played, what was at the time considered “rogue”, his Emboar/Rayquaza at tournaments ranging from Battle Roads to the 2013 National Championships. Midway through this season, players and deck sites “discovered” the deck and as a result, it saw heavy play through most of the Regionals. Despite facing several mirror matches, Joel piloted his deck to a 16th place finish at the 2014 Virginia Regionals, which he feels could’ve been higher in the pre-“best of 3”, 50 minute, tie-rich format that, unfortunately now seems to be here to stay. “Ray” is not the only card to go with this set, so lets look at what goes and what stays.
Dragons Exalted – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Devolution Spray
- Giant Cape
- Rescue Scarf
- Tool Scrapper
- Blend Energy (both GRPD and WLFM)
Dragons Exalted – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
Dragons Exalted – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Terrakion EX
- Registeel EX
- Ho-oh EX
- Rayquaza EX
- Giratina EX
- Bouffalant (“Gold Breaker”)
- Roserade (“Le Parfum”)
- Gabite (“Dragon Call”)
- Reuniclus (“Damage Swap”, secret rare)
- Manetric (“Energy Crush”)
Dragons Exalted – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Mew EX (reprint in LT)
- Rayquaza (“Shred”, reprint in LT)
- Sigilyph (“Safeguard”, reprint in LT)
- Garbodor (“Garbotoxin”, reprint in PLF & LT)
- Emolga (“Call for Family”, reprint in LT)
- Garchomp (“Mach Cut”, reprint in PLF & LT)
- Altaria (“Fight Song”, secret rare in BCR)
- Hydregion (“Dark Trans”, reprint in LT)
- Drifblim (“Shadow Steal”, BW Promo 64)
- Ninetails (“Bright Look”, BW Promo 66)
- Serperior (“Royal Heal”, reprint in LT)
The rotation of Dragons Exalted doesn’t hit the Trainer card/energy card pool very hard. The most significant loss is that of the 2 “Blend” energies. The loss of these 2, coupled with the loss of “Prism” energy, limits energy moving decks like Darkrai/Hydregion and the Fairy-type decks. Some plasma decks also use the blend versions. Looks like, for the time being, its “Rainbow” for all.
Outside of Rayquaza EX, the biggest loss in terms of pokemon comes from the non-EX cards in this set. Bouffalant, especially with the recent additions of “Bangle” and “Muscle Band”, has been the best counter to EX pokemon in the game. Roserade with its ability has made for an interesting “tech” in a variety of decks. Another of our favorites, this one on the competitive side, the Stage 1, Gabite, and its “Dragon Call” ability, will be missed by many players. Garchomp/Altaria decks are still viable, but they thrived on Gabite‘s ability and will become much harder to build without it. We also mention Manetric in this article because we feel it is the best counter to the new & powerful Yveltal EX. Deck list sites tout XY Raichu as the only way to counter Yveltal. Gym Leader Joel plays the overlooked Manetric in several decks in the TCG online game, making match-ups with Yveltal decks almost laughable. I guess those deck sites must know something we don’t (or maybe its the other way around….).
EX blocking is alive and well, as Sigilyph survives the rotation thanks to a pair of reprints. Ability locking also marches on as Garbodor (love him or hate him) also has a pair of reprints keeping him around for at least another season.
While this category does not fit into any specific set, the final group of cards that rotate our are the BW promo cards. This year’s rotation cuts the BW group to BW55 and newer (or higher, if that is an easier way to think about it). Most of the EX’s (or other cards, for that matter) that would have been lost because of their BW #, stay in the format from being printed again in the Legendary Treasures set. We are not going to list all of those again, as they were covered earlier. The only potentially confusing part of the BW promos is that there are several #’s below the cut number, that are still valid because the sets they are from (like Boundaries Crossed & Plasma Storm) are still in. These cards were promo cards for pre-releases and we’ve listed them below to hopefully help keep that issue with the #’s clear. Here are the cards of significance.
BW Promo – Cards That Are Rotated:
- Tropical Beach (Stadium)
- Battle City (Stadium)
- Rayquaza EX
BW Promo – Cards That Remain In Format:
- N (BW 100)
- Tornadus EX (“Blow Through”, BW 96)
- Flygon (BW 53, BCR 99)
- Crobat (BW51, PLS 55)
- Altaria (BW 48, BCR 152)
The biggest hit to the format with the promo cards is obviously “Tropical Beach”. The 2-time World Championship promo card has been a source of controversy for some players, mainly because they did not have access to it. The strength of the stadium card has been its usage in Stage 2 decks that require fast set up to keep up with the Big Basic dominated format. The card will likely not loose its value, however, as it will be sought after for decks in the extended format coming next season.
The Dragon Vault mini set is also lost with this year’s rotation. In terms if pokemon, there are not any major losses in the mini set. The “baby” Rayquaza reprint keeps on trucking thanks to its Legendary Treasures version. The most significant losses from Vault are a pair of older item cards. “Super Rod” and “EXP Share” received reprintings in this set. “”Super Rod” is widely used, but will likely be replaced by the new “Sacred Ash” item card. “EXP Share” was an amazing card, but “Scrapper” and now “Megaphone” have driven it competitive play.
We at the Gym know that somewhere in here, we probably missed a significant card or 2. For that, we apologize in advance. We hope that this article covered most of the bases and is helpful in your quest to keep up with what is still legal for play in this era of random reprints. We won’t be so bold as to predict how this year’s rotation will affect the format as a whole and which decks will be the one’s that will dominate. These changes, with new sets that will be released in the coming year, always cause big shifts in what the popular plays are. The Fincastle Gym Leaders always approach upcoming seasons with open minds, searching our binders for something interesting to try out. We hope that all of you, before you turn to a deck site for list that you “must” play, will explore the new card pool as well and see what you come up with. Innovation and originality are what we feel make this game so fun to play. If you have any questions about the rotation, feel free to contact us at our league email or find a gym leader at league. Until next time, see you at the Gym!