Bulbagarden is proud to announce our affiliation with the Pokémon TCG metagame and strategy website, SixPrizes. To begin our affiliation, we are posting parts of their most recent article: a review of the next English TCG expansion, Dark Explorers, which comes out May 9. Our article here only scratches the surface of what cards were explained in the SixPrizes article. For the much more in depth article, please head over to SixPrizes.
Dark Explorers Set Review + How to Troll the Meta
Like Next Destinies before it, Dark Explorers promises to once again give our metagame a good shaking up. I’m saving the Pokémon-EX for an in-depth look at end, so don’t worry if they aren’t talked about much at first. So, without further ado, let’s get on to the review!
Venusaur weighs in at 140 HP, which is pretty average these days for Stage 2 Pokémon, and has a 4 retreat cost. It can only deal 70 damage for the cost of . Not to flattering so far, but Venusaur’s Ability is where it shines. With Venusaur, you can search out any Pokémon and put it into your hand. This is a great Ability that can really help when you need to get set up quick.
However, there are a couple a major problems that Venusaur has to face. First off, being a Stage 2 slows down Venusaur, and so it tends to slow down whatever deck it is in as well. Venusaur is also a prime Pokémon Catcher target, and its retreat cost makes it a pain to get out of the active spot without switch.
And with a format dominated by big Basics and fast decks, it almost seems like all the effort it takes to set up Venusaur might not pay off in the long run.
I personally don’t think Venusaur is cut out for this format, but it is an interesting card that could still see some play.
Accelgor is quite an interesting card. Free retreat is nice and 90 HP is okay for a Stage 1, but Accelgor’s second attack is why he deserves attention. The awesomely-named ”Deck and Cover” attack deals 50 damage, as well as both Paralyzing and Poisoning the Defending Pokémon, all for . The drawback is that you have to shuffle Accelgor and all cards attached to it back into your deck after attacking.
When paired with Sunflora and Vileplume, Accelgor could keep your opponent on lockdown, and Sunflora could pull Accelgor back out of your deck. While it most likely won’t be Tier 1, this could make for an extremely annoying and fun lock deck.
Hailed as the Chosen One who is destined to kill Durant forever, Heatmor is a Basic with 90HP and a single retreat. Heatmor’s first attack, which usually only does 10 damage for , states that the attack deals 50 more damage if the Defending Pokémon is a Durant. The fact that this is so specific to Durant makes this card rather hilarious, and also deems him one of the biggest trolls in the entire metagame.
The fact that this guy is splashable into any deck means that decks that struggle with Durant (or anyone that just hates Durant, which is a lot of people) can now run the best Durant killer in the game.
While many people have said that this spells the end of Durant, I think that the annoying ant will be hanging around. Durant is a very versatile deck, and I’m sure that Durant players will find a way to get around Heatmor.
And of course there is the fact that Heatmor is useless in every matchup that isn’t Durant, which can be especially annoying if you start with him. However, if your deck has Durant problems, Heatmor can really help you out.
Allow me to introduce one of my favorite cards in the set, Empoleon. Our penguin friend is a Stage 2 sitting at 140 HP and carrying a retreat cost of 2. Weakness to Lightning hurts a lot, since Zeels is currently the BDIF and is looking to only get stronger after Dark Explorers. However, there are a couple of traits that Empoleon has that could allow it to see some play.
First off, it carries a nice Ability that allows you to discard 1 card from your hand in order to draw 2 cards. This is like a more universal version of Ninetales, which has proved to be a great card in almost any deck running Fire Energy. Empoleon’s attack costs only , and deals 10 damage for every Pokémon in play. This attack is almost identical to Jumpluff‘s Mass Attack, which pretty much operates the exact same way.
With a built-in draw engine and a swarm attack, Empoleon could very well see play in its own deck - possibly paired with the likes of Cinccino, which also focuses in swarm tactics and uses Colorless Energy. While weakness and being a Stage 2 do weaken and slow down Empoleon, I feel in this case that it is still a great card and could very well see some competitive play.
Ah, Darkrai. The poster-Poke of Dark Explorers has been hyped since its reveal in Japan, and it is set to make as big an impact as predicted now. Darkrai-EX has 180 HP and a retreat cost of 2, which is fairly average considering. Weakness to Fighting gives Terrakion and friends even more targets, but a resistance to Psychic is a resistance to Mewtwo-EX, which is also really nice. Darkrai-EX’s Ability is the main reason that he is so hyped.
The Ability, Dark Cloak, grants every Pokémon on your field with a Darkness Energy attached gains free retreat as long as Darkrai-EX is in play. This Ability is awesome, and when you combine it with the new Darkness Trainers and the fairly large range of viable Darkness-type Pokémon, Darkrai-EX is already very viable.
But that’s not all Darkrai-EX is capable of. Its attack deals 90 damage and snipes a Benched Pokémon for 30 at the cost of . Keeping in mind that this attack can be powered up with Special Darkness Energies and Dark Claw, Darkrai-EX is actually quite threatening offensively as well as being a support Pokémon. Darkrai-EX is, in my opinion, the best EX card since Mewtwo-EX, and is almost guaranteed to see play in the new Dark.dec after this set is released.