Ahhh… another year, another rotation. The Fincastle Pokemon Gym is proud to be THE place to outline the annual rotation and help walk you through its immediate impact on the Pokemon TCG. Play!Pokemon just announced the Standard Format for the 2016-2017 season will be Primal Clash-on. Consequently, the following sets will be rotated out of the Standard Format: X&Y base set, Flashfire, Furious Fists and Phantom Forces. As for as the promo cards go, black star promo cards will rotate to XY36 and higher numbered cards. Cards released in the 2 XY Trainer Kit sets (Latias/Latios and Suicune/Pikachu Libre) will also remain legal for the Standard Format. We want to emphasize the words “Standard Format” regarding the announced rotation, as all of the sets listed above will still be legal for use in Expanded Format events. If tradition holds, the Expanded Format will only rear its ugly head at a few select tournament series. The Standard Format remains the structure for the majority of local events and major championship tournaments.
So what does all of this mean? That’s what we are here to help with. Card set rotations occur in the TCG once a year, every year. Even though rotation announcements come in July, the rotation does not take effect until September 1st, after the World Championships are completed. In past seasons, we have seen Play!Pokemon remove as few as 3 sets at once, and more than 5 sets on occasion. So, this year’s rotation of 4 sets is on par with previous years. Why does it vary? The decision on where to rotate is usually made based off of the opinion of Play!Pokemon towards the health and diversity of the format, meaning that if they believe a card or set has “narrowed” the format to where one deck in particular dominates it, then that may be their focus.
Sometimes set rotations are pretty cut and dry. However, when Pokemon releases “reprint” sets, which they seem to do every other year, things get a little hard to sort out. Unfortunately, this year is one of those years, as we in the U.S. received the Generations set in February 2016. While the sets contained some cards with some beautiful artwork and a few new cards that have had a significant impact on the format, it also contained a random smattering of cards that were originally printed in the sets that are rotating, which allows them to remain in the format.
In addition to cards reprinted in Generations, there are many cards that were printed again in sets that survive the rotation. These “reprints” are the only thing that make this time of year a little confusing, especially if you are fairly new to the TCG and perhaps have not weathered a rotation before. If that is the case, the following is a quick rundown of reprints and how they work. If a card from any set ever, all the way back to Base Set, receives another printing in a newer set, all versions of that card are still legal for use in the Standard Format if (and only if) its name and card text are the same. Take for instance the Item card “Energy Switch”.
“Energy Switch” has been printed 13 different times since the inception of the TCG. Each time both its name and text have remained exactly the same, meaning every version of this card, from its 1st printing in Aquapolis to its most recent in Generations are all legal for use in Standard. On the flip side, when a card is brought back with the same name but it functions differently (i.e. the item card “Computer Search” being reprinted as the ACESPEC “Computer Search”), then the older version may not be used.
With all of that being said, let’s get you to the details of what the 2016-2017 rotation consists of and what it means to you. The Fincastle Pokemon Gym Leaders believe that the following is the easiest reference for everyone. For each set, we will list “Trainer” cards that are rotated out, “Trainer” cards that remain in the format, and then we will do the same for Pokemon. Instead of listing all pokemon from each set, we will focus only on those that see regular use in competitive play. If we miss your favorite card, then we apologize, but we don’t think most of you want to read a discussion on Corsola and its impact on the Standard Format. If any special energy are lost in these sets, then they will be listed with the Trainer cards.
The first set to go is the mother set of the current Standard Format, the X & Y base set. Let’s look at the cards.
X & Y – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Hard Charm
- Muscle Band
- Roller Skates
- Shadow Circle (Stadium)
- Super Potion
X & Y – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
- Evosoda (reprinted in GEN)
- Fairy Garden (reprinted in FCO)
- Great Ball (reprinted in BKP)
- Max Revive (reprinted in GEN)
- Professor Sycamore (reprinted in PHF & BKP)
- Professor’s Letter (reprinted in BKT)
- Red Card (reprinted in GEN)
- Shauna (multiple -> FCO)
- Team Flare Grunt (reprinted in GEN)
- Double Colorless Energy (multiple -> FCO)
- Rainbow Energy (reprinted in BKT)
X & Y – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- M Blastoise EX (“Hydro Bombard”, regular & full art)
- M Venusaur EX (“Crisis Vine”, regular & full art)
- Emolga EX (regular & full art)
- Skarmory EX (regular & full art)
- Trevenant (“Forest’s Curse”)
- Delphox (“Mystical Fire”)
- Greninja (“Water Shuriken”)
- Aromatisse (“Fairy Transfer”)
X & Y – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Raichu (“Circle Circuit”, reprinted x2 in GEN)
- Yveltal (“Oblivion Wing”, reprinted in GEN)
- Xerneas (“Geomancy”, will return soon)
- Yveltal EX (“Evil Ball”, reprinted as XYP 8 & 150)
- Xerneas EX (“X Blast”, reprinted as XYP 7 & 149)
- Blastoise EX (“Rapid Spin”, reprinted as XYP 122)
- Venusaur EX (“Poison Powder”, reprinted soon)
Looking at these lists, its seems to us that the impact of the cards (both Trainer cards and Pokemon) that remain in the format greatly outweighs those that actually rotate out. Out of all of the Trainer cards released in X & Y, you can see that reprints save almost all of the significant cards, save one… the tried and true “Muscle Band”. “Muscle Band” has been as much of a staple card in the Standard Format as any other card you can name. Whether attached to a Seismitoad EX or an Entei, it is a rare occasion talk walk by a game-in-progress and not see one on the field. It’s intended replacement, “Fighting Fury Belt” has pushed “Band” aside a bit lately, as players look for answers to make their EX’s try to survive hits from “Night March”. However, many decks still need the extra 10 damage provided by “Band”. The other Trainer cards that do rotate may find their way as a “tech” card into a few decks, but will not be missed in the same manner.
The same cannot be said when you look at the Pokemon that rotate out. Oddly enough, it will not be the EX’s on the list that have an effect on the format. The biggest loss comes from Trevenant. Trevenant only saw some intermittent use upon its release. However, with the recent addition of its “BREAK” evolution, Trevenant has become one of the most played cards in the format, as many believe it to be the best counter to “Night March”, while offering solid match-ups to most other decks. Trevenant BREAK will likely see some play by fans of the card, but without XY 55’s item locking ability “Forest’s Curse”, the deck will lose its edge on faster and harder hitting decks.
This rotation also dismantles the “Fairy Engine” that drives multiple versions of straight Fairy-type decks and “Fairy Box” decks that try to take advantage of type weaknesses. While most of the good Fairy attackers remain in Standard, they lose their speed and versatility with the rotation of Xerneas (XY96) and Aromatisse (XY93). One won’t have to bear the loss of Xerneas‘s “Geomancy” for long, as this card looks to return in Steam Siege, the next set to be released in the US, but losing the ability to move your energy around freely with Aromatisse slaps some serious handcuffs on the Fairy-types. Its seems that most players that carry a Greninja BREAK deck like to include a copy of the XY41 frog. However, that deck will not lose any consistency with this rotation, as the Breakpoint version is the stronger of the two. Losing the XY version may actually make the “BREAK” deck more consistent. The draw support once offered by the XY Delphox had been dwarfed by the entrance of Shaymin EX, so its loss has little impact. As in the Greninja decks, those trying to make the Delphox BREAK deck work often include a copy of the XY fox for extra draw power, but the deck’s viability does not hinge on this card.
While Steam Siege will revive the Fairy set-up pokemon, Xerneas, the reprint gods decided to save its counter-part, Yveltal, in Generations. Yveltal (XY78) is the definition of the word “staple” in Darkness-type decks. Both EX versions of Yveltal and Xerneas stick around thanks to “shiny” printings in XY Promo collector’s tins. Joining the “why not” random reprint list from XY is the “Circle Circuit” Raichu, who received both an exact reprint and a “Radiant Collection” reprint in Generations. As you work your way through this article and see some of the other random reprints of cards from sets rotated this year, you are likely to join the Gym Leaders in wondering if the “higher-ups” at Pokemon have offices adjacent to a liquor store… or with a gas leak. We don’t look for logic anymore when it comes to reprint sets.
The 2nd set to leave the Standard Format this year is XY-Flashfire. Again, lets take a look at the list of cards, then we’ll talk about what is lost and what stays.
XY-Flashfire – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Fiery Torch
- Pal Pad
- Magnetic Storm (Stadium)
- Protection Cube
- Sacred Ash
- Startling Megaphone
- Trick Shovel
XY-Flashfire – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
- Lysandre (reprinted in AOR)
- Pokemon Center Lady (reprinted in GEN)
- Pokemon Fan Club (reprinted in GEN)
- Ultra Ball (multiple -> FCO)
XY-Flashfire – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Kangaskhan EX (“Triple Draw”, regular & full art)
- M Kangaskhan EX (“Wham Bam Punch”, regular & secret rare)
- Charizard EX (“Stoke”, regular & full art)
- M Charizard EX (“Crimson Dive”, regular & secret rare)
- M Charizard EX (“Wild Blaze”, regular & secret rare)
- Toxicroak EX (regular & full art)
- Magnezone EX (regular & full art)
- Pyroar (“Intimidating Mane”)
- Druddigon (“Revenge”)
- Miltank (“Powerful Friends”)
- Dragalge (“Poison Barrier”)
- Forretress (“Thorn Tempest”)
- Dusknoir (“Shadow Void”)
- Milotic (“Energy Grace”)
- Shiftry (“Leaf Draw”)
XY-Flashfire – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Charizard EX (“Combustion Blast”, reprinted as XYP 121)
- Golem (“Stone Edge”, reprinted in GEN)
Flashfire obviously was a set meant to be centered around several Charizard cards and support for them and other Fire-type pokemon. The cards that Pokemon surely thought would impact the format at the time, namely the EX’s and their Mega Evolutions, saw little successful play. The fault with this round of Mega pokemon was the same fault that hindered the X & Y Mega Evolutions. The mechanic of having your turn end after evolving one of the monsters was just too slow and clunky to succeed (thus, the eventual entry of the “Spirit Link” cards in Phantom Forces). Mega Kangaskhan EX played its way into the final rounds of the 2014 World Championships in a Fairy-type deck, but that was the last hurrah for the Flashfire Mega. Much like the X & Y set, the non-EX pokemon will leave more of a void than the EX’s from this set.
Pokemon like Shiftry, Druddigon, Dragalge, Forrestress, Milotic and Dusknoir have all found their way into some fun and clever deck lists. However, 2 of the non-EX ‘mons from Flashfire, Miltank and Pyroar were able to take players to another level. Miltank (currently going for around 75 cents each) has truly been a powerful friend to many since its release. Miltank was heavily played alongside Empoleon before its rotation from the format. It still finds its way into many Stage 2 decks as a back up attacker, as its Colorless typing allows it to fit into any deck. Pyroar entered the format as the card to stop the most powerful EX’s in the game and as the #1 counter to the powerful Virizion/Genesect deck that was dominating most tournaments. To the mighty lion’s chagrin, his reign was ended 2 sets later when viable Mega Evolutions entered the game.
The biggest loss to the current format is the loss of the Supporter card “Blacksmith.” The “Blacksmith” Supporter has provided amazing energy acceleration to the like of Pyroar, Charizard EX, Entei and now even Delphox. Entei centered decks made strong runs through the City Championships and still make an appearance from time to time. The speed and recovery of the Entei deck will not carry on, post rotation, at least not as it is played now.
We saved mention of the “Combustion Blast” Charizard EX until last because it is the only Pokemon from Flashfire that lives on thanks to a reprint. This Charizard was reprinted in the “Red and Blue Collection” Generations box, in which we in the US got a figurine, while those across the Atlantic got a jumbo sized card. The XYP 121 version is the full art that everyone wanted in Flashfire. Charizard EX has partnered both Pyroar and Entei in very successful decks and will surely pop up again, as the Generations printing gives it several more years of life.
Next on the chopping block is Furious Fists, a set that we at the Gym will not mourn. And its nothing personal about the set, it all comes down to one card, Seismitoad EX. If you’ve ever read a post here before, then you should know our opinion on this card by now. Printing a card that provides such mindless item lock is THE worst decision that Pokemon has ever made… period. Before we spend time celebrating its execution, lets look at the set first, as it does contain some strong cards that will actually be missed.
XY-Furious Fists – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Battle Reporter
- Focus Sash
- Fighting Stadium (Stadium)
- Fossil Researcher
- Full Heal
- Super Scoop Up
- Mountain Ring (Stadium)
- Tool Retriever
- Sparkling Robe
- Training Center (Stadium)
- Herbal Energy
XY-Furious Fists – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
- Energy Switch (reprinted in ROS & GEN)
- Maintenance (reprinted in GEN)
- Strong Energy (reprinted in FCO)
XY-Furious Fists – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Seismitoad EX (“Quaking Punch”, regular & full art)
- Dragonite EX (“Bust In”, regular & secret rare)
- Lucario EX (“Missile Jab”, regular & full art)
- M Lucario EX (“Rising Fist”, regular & secret rare)
- Heracross EX (“Guard Press”, regular & full art)
- M Heracross EX (“Big Bang Horn”, regular & secret rare)
- Hawlucha EX (“Counterattack”)
- Hawlucha (“Flying Press”)
- Landorus (“Shout of Power”)
- Meinshao (“Aero Turn”)
- Beartic (“Igloo Hold”)
- Noivern (“Ecolocation”)
- Tyrantrum (“Chew Up”)
XY-Furious Fists – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Machamp (“Fighting Fury”, reprinted in GEN)
- Jynx (“Victory Kiss”, reprinted in GEN)
Furious Fists provided some pretty crazy support cards for Fighting-type pokemon (thus, the name). At the center of this support stands what will probably be the biggest Supporter card lost in this rotation, “Korrina”. The effect of “Korrina” (searching 1 Fighting-type pokemon and 1 Item card) has driven everything from Lucario EX to Primal Groundon EX to Mienshao to Hawlucha into the competitive ranks. “Korrina” partnered up nicely with “Strong Energy”, “Focus Sash” and “Fighting Stadium” to make the core of several mono Fighting-type decks. The much, much lesser-played Supporter card, “Fossil Researcher”, was probably the best attempt at a card in the format to make the very poor “fossil engine” work (which, unfortunately for fans of the “Restored” pokemon, is still an unplayable group of cards). The other big loss as far as Trainer cards go is “Super Scoop Up”, a heavily played card in many “bats” decks and Seismitoad decks.
Speaking of that lumpy devil, Seismitoad EX leads the way on impactful pokemon lost to this rotation. Whether you view its impact as negative or something else, there is no denying the power of its impact. What the Gym has always found so aggravating about the card is that if you do not build a way to counter Seismitoad EX into your deck, you can literally be shut down from turn 1, unable to do anything for the match, simply by watching your opponent attach an energy card and announce an attack. “Quaking Punch” has robbed the TCG of the skill and creativity that attracted us to the game years ago. No one at the Gym likes to lose, as we are all very competitive minded people. However, we find losing a match a little easier to swallow when you know that you outplayed, not locked from playing. We know that we are not alone in our frustration, as this past year, especially during Expanded events, is the only time since we’ve been playing that we’ve seen players vocally express anger during and after a match, including several incidents of shouting, throwing a deck on the floor and almost flipping chairs and tables over. We know that there are scans of a reprint of Seismitoad floating around in Japan. We at the Gym hope that the powers that be will think about the health of the game, especially regarding player enjoyment before they give any more life to this mistake.
Lucario EX and his little flying partner, Hawlucha, are the other most notable losses to this rotation. Lucario EX, while being the center piece of the most recent version of “fighting/bats”, has also functioned as a strong back-up attacker in many other mono-fighting decks. It is doubtful that any semi-successful Fighting-type deck over the last few years has functioned without at least 1 copy of Hawlucha. Hawlucha provides both a free-retreater and a cheap EX counter. Landorus has also found a place in many decks as a set-up pokemon and an energy recovery pokemon. Although its appearance was brief, many players found success using the fighting support to beef up the “hit & run” Mienshao. Mega Lucario EX and Mega Heracross EX are another pair of Mega Evolutions that had a chance to shake up the Standard format, but like all of their predecessors, they had their hands tied, as they lacked the spirit link cards that would make them playable. Pokemon finally received the message that players were sending (that the Mega cards needed some kind of help to see any use) with their next release, Phantom Forces, where they printed the first link cards of the format. Furious Fists is the only set of this rotation that does not have any significant reprints of pokemon. The reprints of this set fall into the rather broad “What the heck?” category of ‘mons that got a curious reprint.
The final set to go in this year’s rotation is the set that is currently the most influential on the format, Phantom Forces. Let’s get into the list of cards and we think you’ll see pretty quickly why the loss of this set is so game altering.
XY-Phantom Forces – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:
- Battle Compressor
- Dimension Valley (Stadium)
- Hand Scope
- Head Ringer (TFHG)
- Jamming Net (TFHG)
- Robo Substitute
- Roller Skates
- Steel Shelter (Stadium)
- Target Whistle
- Trick Coin
- Mystery Energy
XY-Phantom Forces – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:
- Enhanced Hammer (reprinted in PRC)
- Professor Sycamore (reprinted in BKP)
- Shauna (reprinted in GEN & FCO)
- Tierno (reprinted in BKP)
- VS Seeker (reprinted as secret rare in ROS)
- Double Colorless Energy (reprinted in GEN & FCO)
XY-Phantom Forces – Pokemon That Are Rotated:
- Manectric EX (“Assault Laser”, regular & full art)
- M Manectric EX (“Turbo Bolt”, regular & secret rare)
- Gengar EX (“Dark Corridor”, regular & full art)
- M Gengar EX (“Phantom Gate”, regular & secret rare)
- Malamar EX (“Hyper Hypnosis”, regular & full art)
- Florges EX (“Bright Garden”, regular & full art)
- Dialga EX (“Full Metal Impact”, regular & secret rare FA)
- Aegislash EX (“Slash Blast”)
- Joltik (“Night March”)
- Pumpkaboo (“Night March”)
- Lampent (“Night March”)
- Pyroar (“Flare Command”)
- Crobat (“Surprise Bite”)
- Gourgiest (“Gourgantic”)
- Bronzong (“Metal Links”)
- Heatran (“Steel Drop”)
- Slurpuff (“Tasting”)
- Regigigas (“Daunt”)
XY-Phantom Forces – Pokemon That Remain In Format:
- Wobbuffet (“Psychic Assault”, reprinted in GEN)
- Zubat (“Skill Dive”, reprinted in GEN)
- Golbat (“Sneaky Bite”), reprinted in GEN)
That’s quite a list for 1 set. What’s most striking is that if you look over our list here and compare it decks lists from this weekend’s National Championships, you will see a LOT of the same cards. Where do you start? How about “Battle Compressor”, or “Dimension Valley”. These 2 cards are key in what was surely the most played deck at Nationals, “Night March”. Speaking of which, this rotation takes out all of the attackers of “Night March”, Joltik, Pumpkaboo and Lampent (not an attacker, but part of that team…). “Battle Compressor” is not just for “March” decks, though. The combination of “VS Seeker” and “Compressor” allows many decks to run fewer copies of needed Supporter cards, as they can discard them early and retrieve them later with “Seeker”.
Not all decks at the moment make room for a copy of “AZ”, but many competitive decks use this card to re-use both Shaymin EX’s “Set Up ” ability and Hoopa EX’s “Scoundrel Ring”. Although the usage of the Crobat line has declined recently, decks like Manectric/Bats and Lucario/Bats ran 1 or 2 copies of “AZ” as well. Disruption decks will surely miss cards like “Xerosic” and “Head Ringer”. Those who enjoy knocking out Shaymin EX will also miss “Target Whistle”. While the other Trainer cards listed above are not quite “staple” cards, many of them find their way into various rogue decks.
As we mentioned above, the most notable pokemon rotated from this set are also the cheapest and most common cards used in competitive play. The trio of “Night March” pokemon are probably the main reason that the rotation went as far as Phantom Forces. The combination of cards out at the moment that pair up with the deck makes it a little too easy achieve massive amounts of damage on the 1st few turns of games. “March” does not quite dominate the format, as currently there are ways to counter it. However, the loss of Trevenant and Seismitoad EX would let “March” run unchecked, which would quickly lead to a pretty stale format. It was nice to have an easy-to-build, easy-to-teach, affordable deck that allowed many new players to see success on the competitive scene, but we think Play!Pokemon sensed that players have had enough of it.
The “Night March” pokemon are only a fraction of major players that go down with the loss of Phantom Forces. Bronzong, the stout little bell that drives everything from steel decks to M Rayquaza EX decks, is a huge loss. One of its favorite partners, Aegislash EX, has been an excellent counter to anything reliant on special energy. Have you ever watched a Vespiquen/Vileplume player sit down across from someone playing Aegislash? Careful, you might miss it. It’s usually over pretty quick, unless the V/V is really stubborn. Manectric EX and its Mega Evolution have seen a lot of play, despite some very strong Fighting-type decks that usually obliterate them. Florges EX, Dialga EX and Gengar EX have had their moments as well, but not much as of late.
Wobbuffet survives the rotation thanks to a slightly more frightening reprint in Generations (that thing looks like that weird aunt with too much lipstick). We’ve always felt that Wobbuffet is an underrated card… whether or not it has any life without “Dimension Valley” and “Mystery Energy” remains to be seen. Generations also kept the Zubat and Golbat from PHF, but not the Crobat. We know there is Crobat BREAK on the way, which will bring a new Crobat, we’re just not sure why the Basic and Stage 1 stayed.
The X&Y Promo will cut at XY35, meaning that cards number XY36 and higher stay in the Standard Format. The only notable cards in the XYP series are cards that survive the rotation. Here’s a list of cards that will rotate that some players may use, whether out of affection for that character or simply because they are decent substitutes for cards they do not own.
XY-Promo – Notable Cards That Are Rotated:
- Krookodile EX (“Second Bite”)
- Delphox EX (“Wonder Flare”)
- Greninja EX (“Sharpshooting”)
- Chesnaught EX (“Pin Missile”)
- Charizard EX (“Mega Ascension”)
- Garchomp EX (“Dual Chop”)
- Metagross EX (“Magnetic Laser”)
- M Metagross EX (“Gatling Slug”)
- Trevor (supporter card from BA decks)
- Champions Festival (Worlds Promo Stadium card)
We’ve toyed with using “Trevor” from time to time, as a way to search for pokemon under item lock, but it has never made it into a competitive deck of ours. M Metagross EX would have been very playable, if Pokemon had only provided the spirit link card to go with it. Unfortunately, Pokemon would not give a promo Mega a link card until the recently released M Aerodactyl EX, leaving several other sets of promo Mega Evolutions in everyone’s binders.
We at the Gym hear rumors from players about many of the “power cards” lost in this rotation (like Seismitoad, the “Night March” set, etc) getting reprints in future sets. To that we can only say, “Why?” Players currently seem to enjoy the diversity that 2 different formats (Expanded and Standard) bring. This year’s pool of decks at Nationals was as diverse as we’ve ever seen. As Gym Leader Joel battled his way as high as table #4 at the 2016 Nationals, he was continually surrounded by different decks, and he only played one “mirror” match in 9 rounds. With that being said, we feel that reprinting already rotated cards in Standard only pulls the 2 formats closer to becoming 1 giant format. We prefer the separation and we don’t think we’re alone on that front. Pokemon has done a good job over the last several years in adjusting to what players want. We hope that they continue to do so. What we want is for the Standard Format to be changed by new cards, not recycled cards that belong in Expanded.
The Fincastle Gym Leaders strives to create what we hope is an easy guide to follow the yearly card rotations. Keep in mind, the Standard Format does not change until September 1, 2016. The 2017 Play!Pokemon season starts on July 11, 2016, which means any local events after that date count towards the new season. However, those who did qualify for the 2016 World Championships will play the current Standard Format (plus cards from Steam Siege coming out August 1st), as Worlds is an extension of the current season. The 2017 season will have some pretty significant changes (again) in terms of tournaments structures and formats. However, we can not elaborate on those changes until we are authorized to do so. When that time comes, we will do our best to inform you about what the changes are and how they may (or may not) affect you.
If you have any questions, feel free to email us or seek us out at league. This rotation may be a little hard to navigate, especially if you are new to the game. Until next time, see you at the Gym!