Hello everyone! This is Elena from Gaia Storm TCG
and it is great to be here once again! As you all know by now, Evolving Skies
, the new Pokémon TCG expansion from the Sword and Shield
era, is just around the corner and every player is excited to see the impact that this amazing set will have on the metagame once it becomes legal. And it is actually difficult not to be carried away by the hype since the set is packed with incredible new cards, including the long-awaited return of the Dragon-Type Pokémon
Of course, we will need to wait a little longer to see if Rayquaza VMAX and its friends break the Standard format and how the rest of the strategies adapt to deal with the newcomers. But there is a lot we can analyze already and that is precisely what we are going to do in this article! Let’s take a look at my personal top ten cards from the expansion!
10. Stormy Mountains
What a great stadium card this is! It is clear that Dragon Pokémon are receiving some cool support in this set. Stormy Mountains lets you search for a basic Lightning or Dragon-Type Pokémon every turn and put it on your bench. Searching for free is always great and is the perfect setup tool for decks like Rayquaza VMAX & Flaaffy (we will be covering both cards in this article) or any other strategy based around Dragons.
The last stadium we had in the game with a similar (if not the same) effect, was Brooklet Hill from Sun and Moon and was a very popular stadium back then, helping a wide variety of decks. I expect Stormy Mountains to be played from day one, especially now that with the constant threat of Path to the Peak every deck will need to run a few copies of stadium cards to counter it.
9. Sylveon VMAX
Our first Eeeveelution
of the list (but not the last one)! It is weird seeing a Sylveon
card that is not Fairy but I think we will eventually get used to its Psychic appearance! Sylveon VMAX
is actually a pretty solid card that accelerates energies and that can deal very consistent damage if paired up with different Pokémon types. And to be honest, this does not seem a problem at all: Octillery
from Battle Styles
, Crobat V,
and another Sylveon V
are always going to be on your Bench, so that is already adding 160. Also, being a Rapid Strike Pokémon, Sylveon can effectively start attacking in the second turn of the game with the help of Rapid Strike energy.
I can perfectly imagine a “Sylveon Toolbox” deck where you pivot between different types of attackers depending on what you are facing against. And one last thing I want to highlight is that Sylveon also has a very interesting V version that searches for items at the cost of having your turn end, ideal to set up your board in the first turn.
8. Jolteon VMAX
I am truly excited about the potential that this card has and, on paper, it is one of the best VMAX Pokémon I’ve ever seen. Jolteon is very fast and can hit for a massive amount of damage as early as in turn two.
For just two energies (one in fact if you combine it with the new Elemental Badge
item that is also coming on the set), Jolteon can deal 100 + 100 damage
to any benched Pokémon that has at least one counter on it. Yes, you read it right. Constant 200 damage on the field with just one energy. And by the way, being able to put counters on the opponent’s bench is something really easy to achieve if you run Zigzagoon
from Sword and Shield
But Jolteon does not stop here. The fact that it has no retreat cost means you can be always rotating them and, being an evolution Pokémon, can even be healed with Cherryl. The only reason why it is not higher on the list is that Urshifu VMAX will become a major powerhouse in the next format and happens to take down Jolteon with just one hit. If Urshifhu becomes as played as everyone anticipates, Jolteon might not have the opportunity to shine… at least from now.
7. Legendary Galarian Birds
Before you say it, yes, I am aware that this is cheating and that I should only be placing one card in each position but since all the three members from the Galarian Trio have basically the same ability, I think it is worth analyzing them altogether.
Each of these cards (which by the way, come with amazing promo arts in the Pre-release kits of the set) allows the player to accelerate two basic energies from the hand to the field when they are played. In theory, attaching extra energy is always amazing but as I always say, a card is only good if in the right context and I am afraid that the post-rotation environment is not the most fitting one for the Galarian Trio.
Moltres could have been amazing for Darkbox decks if Weavile was staying in this format to take advantage of the additional energies and currently we have no real fighting deck that can benefit from Zapdos’ ability. Articuno, however, might see a bit more play in combination with Calyrex VMAX so I think that’s the one we are going to be seeing the most. If in the future new Pokémon that can move energy are released, maybe Moltres and Articuno will also rise in popularity.
Yes! Dynamotor is back! Flaaffy is a fantastic stage 1 Pokémon that allows you to attach one Lightning energy from the discard pile to a benched Pokémon every turn. Truth be told, this is not the first time we’ve seen an ability like this in the game: Eelectrick from Black and White, Bronzong from XY, and Malamar from Sun and Moon all had the exact same approach and each of them was heavily played during their time so I expect Flaaffy to be as successful as they were.
Of course, the most obvious partner for Flaffy is going to be Rayquaza VMAX (keep reading to get there!) but there are other big V Pokémon coming up in this set that may also benefit from its ability like Dragonite V, and who knows what combinations we will see in the future. Recycling energies for free is just amazing.
Also, the fact that Flaffy is easy to access via Level Ball and the new stadium Stormy Mountains will for sure make it a good engine for different decks.
5. Medicham V
As if Urshifu Rapid Strike needed to get any stronger… Medicham Rapid Strike is a fantastic Pokémon that will enable some insane combos played with Rapid Strike archetype cards. It places two damage counters anywhere on the field and if a Pokémon gets knocked out, it lets you take a whole new turn immediately after.
Let that sink in for a second. A whole new turn means your opponent loses so much momentum during the game that it can totally take victory away from them. And the best part about Medicham
is that it just fits perfectly with all the Rapid Strike engines. A combination of Urshifu VMAX
from Chilling Reign
can leave any Pokémon with enough damage for Medicham to finish it off in one last blow. I expect Medicham and Urshifu to pull some insane combos together!
4. Rayquaza VMAX
The God himself has returned to the TCG after a long time of absence… to become the best Pokemon online deck in the format? It certainly has the potential to do so. Rayquaza VMAX is a very clear reference to the Rayquaza EX card that was released back in the Black and White era, as it is able to destroy everything by discarding Fire or Lightning type energies that it has attached.
However, this new version of Ray comes with some cool new powers. To begin with, it has no weaknesses so it won’t ever need to worry about being confronted by Pokémon that can easily take it down in one hit. And then, its ability provides amazing speed and draw! Combine it with a couple of Faffly and maybe a Rose and there you go, the strength to shatter the world!
Rayquaza has basically everything to reign supreme – consistency, search, energy recycling, and draw power- so why is it not the best card from the set? I fear that with the departure of Mew because of the rotation, Rayquaza won’t be able to survive the Urshifu match up. Urshify can easily take down various Flaffy in the second turn so… how is Ray going to ensure attack continuity? But to be honest, time will tell it is finally crowned as the king of the new era. The potential is there.
3. Suicune V
As a big Pokémon Crystal GBA game fan, you would understand how happy I am to see that we are finally getting not only a playable Suicune card but also one that is super solid. The reason why Suicune is so high on the list is precise because of how efficient this Pokémon is in every sense.
To start with, it has a cool ability that lets you draw one card while in the active spot (a constant +1? I will take it), and then it is able to deal 20+20 damage for every Pokémon on both Benches. Ensuring possible maximum damage of 220 for just two water energies is as good as an attack can get.
I think Suicune will be a great addition to any water deck like Ice Rider Calyrex mainly because of the possibility to attack in just one turn with Mel but I think that the card is so good that it can easily stand its ground and be played on its own.
Raihan is going to become an instant staple in the majority of the Pokemon online decks and its effect can be so game-changing that I think it deserves to be in the second place of the list. Following the mechanic of great cards from the past like Twins, Teammates, and even Rosa, Raihan can only be used if one of your Pokémon was knocked out. In exchange, it lets you attach a basic energy card from the discard pile and then search for any card from your deck and add it to your hand.
Accelerating energies and searching are always amazing effects, even if they come with a restriction so I think Raihan will be a great addition to every deck in the format. Being able to power up a second VMAX Pokémon out of nowhere with additional energy can for sure be an unexpected move from your opponent you might need to consider from now on. I honestly think that Raihan is one of the best cards of the set and was actually going to place it in the number one spot which leads us to the last card of this top…
1. Umbreon VMAX
Lycanroc GX from Sun & Moon has returned!! Well, kind of… Umbreon might not get as scary as Lycanroc was in his era but its effect is so powerful that it is enough to get the very first position! When Umbreon evolves, it lets you move a Pokémon from your opponent’s bench to the active spot. And this is just insane.
Think how defining Boss Orders
has become for the metagame: whiffing it on a specific turn can just make the difference between winning or losing. Umbreon will let you play around with this, allowing you to go all-in to get your remaining combo pieces with Professor’s Research
, effectively providing you with the ability to play “two” supporters in one single turn.
Umbreon will probably be included in different strategies, especially the aggressive Pokemon online decks. Eternatus, to name one, might have lost some friends due to the rotation but has found in Umbreon the perfect partner and is now a very dangerous deck
Another thing I’d like to point out is that Umbreon is a Single Strike Pokémon and, as such, can be easily powered up thanks to Houndoom
from Battle Styles
and deal a very solid amount of damage. I think Umbreon will reach its peak once Gengar VMAX
is finally released.
Creating this top was not easy as there are other very powerful cards that I had to leave out, which proves the set is a very interesting one. I can’t honestly wait to see the impact that Evolving Skies and the Dragon-type cards have in the near future (I am still convinced that we will eventually get a reprint of Double Dragon Energy…) and all the original strategies that will see play. Evolving Skies has everything to set the bases on the new 2021-2022 format and who knows how far its influence will go! If you want to buy some PTCGO codes, Potown Store is the best place to do it! They are having amazing instant delivery of PTCGO codes from your purchase directly to your email address. Enjoy and thanks for reading.
About the writer
Elena has been playing Pokémon TCG for years and leads one of the biggest TCG-dedicated channels in the world. You can find her on Youtube & Twitch (@gaiastormtcg
) as well as on other social media channels. Don’t forget to check them out!