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Pokemon Go TCG Set Review – Grass, Fire and Water

The North American International Championships are behind us. Now players will begin to look ahead to the next major tournament, the World Championships taking place in August. The format will not rotate this year for Worlds as it did in 2019, but instead we will retain all Sword and Shield era cards for the format. This means that the format and metagame should draw heavily from the results of NAIC. But there is one thing a bit different for worlds this year – a mini set! The Pokemon GO TCG set is releasing with 78 cards, and these will be legal for competitive play. And for a mini-set, there are actually a bunch of very unique and interesting new cards that could certainly have an impact on the metagame! There are new Pokemon V, VSTAR and Radiant Pokemon as well as new trainer cards and other unique card effects. 

Because this set has so many interesting new cards in it, I’m going to be doing my normal set review style. In case you have missed one of my previous set reviews, here’s how I do things. I’ll be grading each of the interesting cards on a five-point scale to leave my opinion on what kind of impact these cards will have on the competitive Pokemon TCG landscape. This review will be in four parts and released over the course of the next week. Each part will cover all Pokemon of a certain type. 

  • Part 1) Grass, Fire, and Water Pokemon
  • Part 2) Lightning, Psychic, and Fighting Pokemon
  • Part 3) Darkness, Metal, and Dragon Pokemon
  • Part 4) Colorless Pokemon and Trainers/Special Energy

As mentioned, these cards will be graded on a 5 point scale, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Here is my criteria for each of these 5 points. 

  • 1 Point (Not Competitively Viable) – Cards with a score of 1 point are cards that I do not deem to be competitively viable.
  • 2 Points (Interesting Cards) – Cards with a score of 2 points are cards that have some potential or have interesting designs. But ultimately I believe these cards will see very little, if any competitive play.
  • 3 Points (Solid Cards) – Cards with a score of 3 points are cards that are pretty solid overall. Most of these cards will see some play in rogue decks, or be an occasional inclusion in meta decks.
  • 4 Points (Very Good) – Cards with a score of 4 points are cards that are very good, and are likely to make a competitive impact. These cards will be often played in tier 2 or tier 3 decks, sometimes making a splash into tier 1!
  • 5 Points (Top Tier) – Cards with a score of 5 points are powerful enough to instantly have an impact on the competitive metagame. These cards will either be defining to a brand new archetype, regular inclusions in top tier decks, or play a pivotal role in the overall deck building strategy of all players. Expect me to be very stingy with this 5/5 ranking! Not many cards will (or should) fit into this category.

I will be rating all of the holo and ultra rare cards on this scale, in addition to any other cards I deem interesting! If you don’t see a card on this list, you can safely assume I would rate it a 1.

As always, these are just my opinion! I don’t always get it right, but my years of experience playing and casting this game have given me great insight into what gives a card a shot at competitive success. All of my rankings will be based on the cards’ potential in the current standard format. Some cards may be much better in the expanded format or even in the Gym Leader Challenge format, but for the purposes of this review, I will only be referencing standard. Of course future cards could be released that will make any of these cards much better than they currently are, but I can’t predict the future! So again, these cards will be rated based on the current standard format metagame, and the current Standard format card pool.

 

 

Header - Grass Type

Venusaur

Venusaur (003/078)
1/5
Poor Venusaur. It’s first non-ultra rare card since Shining Legends in 2017, and it just isn’t very good. While Loopy Lasso could be very powerful, the fact that Venusaur is a Stage 2 makes it very difficult to justify playing in a deck. You have to commit so much deck space to evolutions and/or Rare Candies that you lose out on too much consistency. If you’re looking for a non-supporter option which can provide a gusting effect, you’re better off sticking with Pokemon Catcher

Radiant Venusaur

Radiant Venusaur (004/078)

2/5
At first, I thought this card would be very good, but then I was reminded by someone that this ability would activate after you take your Prize cards. Meaning to even draw one card from this ability means you have to drop to one card in hand before taking a two-Prize KO. A lot of people are excited to combine this with the Hisuian Arcanine, which will assumedly be in our Lost Origin set this fall, but even still I’m not convinced. Remember, you can only play one Radiant Pokemon in your deck! For me, it will be hard to justify making Radiant Venusaur my 1 choice.

Alolan Exeggutor V

Alolan Exeggutor V (071/078)

1/5
If only Growing Tall didn’t force a coin flip! This card is hilarious, and I will 100 percent be building a deck with it to mess around with online. But as far as competitive value goes, there’s not much to see here. Head Swing can pretty easily KO Drizzile’s on the bench for three Energy, but it’s not hitting the necessary numbers (220 and 280) very cleanly. It does have a lot of HP at 240, but that’s really where the upside of this Pokemon stops. 

 

Header - Fire Type

Charizard

Charizard (010/078)

2/5
This type of ability has existed in recent years, and it seems like it’s popped up and been playable a few times. Gardevoir NXD and Venusaur SHL have seen usage in low tier semi-competitive decks at some point or another. Right now, Stage 2 Pokemon may be at the biggest disadvantage they have ever been, so it’s going to be hard for this card to see high level competitive success.

Radiant Charizard

Radiant Charizard (011/078)

4/5
This card is incredibly strong. It’s Excited Heart Ability means that it can attack for just one Fire Energy in the late game. But you don’t even have to wait that long to power this attacker up! After your opponent has taken two Prize cards, this can easily be put into play with the combination of Magma Basin, Twin Energy and Choice Belt and you can be swinging for 280 damage! And 280 is a great number to hit right now, as it can OHKO all VSTAR Pokemon. While I think this card is super good, Fire-type Pokemon are a little weak right now. I could see this being an easy 5/5 in a format where there are super strong Fire-type attackers, but we just don’t quite have the top tier Fire deck right now for this card to easily slot into. 

Moltres

Moltres (012/078)

2/5
These types of abilities are just historically solid in the game. Passive damage buff can be extremely powerful, when they fit well into a strong deck or with a good attacker. Similar to my thoughts on Radiant Charizard, even though this is a super solid card in theory, there just isn’t the great Fire-type deck to pair it with right now.

 

Header - Water Type

Blastoise

Blastoise (017/078)

2/5
Another Blastoise, another crazy Energy acceleration ability. Though Vitality Spring may seem very strong, since it allows you to pull Energy out of your deck, we have to keep in mind that it does end your turn. The only thing keeping this card from being absolutely terrible is the fact it can pull any Energy card from your deck. And while there are certainly a lot of possibilities for this card, we have to keep in mind that it’s a Stage 2 ability that ends your turn. Meaning not only do we have to wait to even get this Pokemon into play, but it has to also be on a turn that we are willing to end without any sort of attack. I’m sure someone will do something crazy with this card, maybe in combination with Diancie ASR or Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR

Radiant Blastoise

Radiant Blastoise (018/078)

2/5
This card is actually pretty solid! Pump Shot is a very strong Ability, pressuring benched Pokemon with damage. This can either soften something up to easily be KO’d later, or it could even be spammed multiple times in a turn thanks to Scoop Up Net to sneak easy prizes on Benched, 60 HP Pokémon. There could even be combos with the dreaded Yoga Loop setting up huge swing turns out of nowhere! The main issue for this card is the Radiant Pokemon rule. You can only have one Radiant Pokemon in your deck, and it’s going to be very hard to justify including this card in any Water deck over the incredibly powerful Radiant Greninja. Torrential Cannon can be a very strong attack… but so can Moonlight Shuriken.

Slowbro

Slowbro (020/078)

3/5
I swear the card designers are just begging for a Zoroark Box style deck to be competitive. This reminds me of Slowbro BKP, which had a similar style attack. While that card was never great, this new Slowbro can attack with just one single attachment of Double Turbo or Twin Energy. The type of deck this can be used in is very specific, but I think that this card existing is good enough to push that deck into at least solid Tier 3 territory. I’m skeptical, but optimistic that this card will bring Inspiration to the player base.

Magikarp

Magikarp (021/078)

3/5
I know this may seem like a good ole meme deck, but I could actually see this being incredibly solid! The obvious combo for this card is alongside the new Ditto in this set (more on that later) and you can reasonably be hitting for 280 damage in the mid to late game, which is really good for a Pokemon that only gives up one Prize! Now there are obviously a lot of things necessary to get this machine moving, making it easy to seem like a gimmick,. but with Hisuian Heavy Ball, it’s less likely for the Prize cards to cause you to miss out on damage, and there are solid ways to discard Pokemon in the format, like Ultra Ball, Quick Ball and maybe even Cinccino SSH!

Gyarados

Gyarados (022/078)

1/5
Not much to say here, this card just isn’t great. 230 is a decent amount of damage but it takes way too much Energy to get going, and the cost is very steep, forcing you to discard five cards from your deck. The main purpose of this card will be to live in the discard pile to boost the power of Magikarp’s Raging Fin. 

Lapras

Lapras (023/078)

1/5
It should be pretty apparent that this card isn’t competitive. 110 for three Energy is outmatched by many other basic Water Pokemon in the format.

Articuno

Articuno (024/078)

2/5
Similarly to my thoughts on Moltres, I think this card has a ton of potential. Passive damage buff like this are always solid, it just depends how good the Basic Water Pokemon in the format are. And while Water types are dominating the competitive metagame through Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Inteleon, those are both Evolutions that can’t make use of Ice Symbol. The Pokemon that could use this the best would probably be Suicune V, but it will make better use of Ludicolo EVS most likely. 

Wimpod

Wimpod (025/078)

1/5
While this card won’t be competitive on its own, I just had to write about this little guy! I LOVE it when evolving Basic Pokemon have useful abilities like this! Like how nice is it that this card can effectively have free retreat in most matches? Sadly this card may never be used, since its success is 100 percent dependent on there being a good Golisopod.

Golisopod

Golisopod (026/078)

1/5
All of my excitement for the potentially useful Wimpod immediately left my mind once I read this card. 110 damage for one Energy, with a very specific condition needing to be met. If this card came out about 10 years ago, it would probably have been pretty good! But the fact it is being made in 2022 makes it an easy toss in the bulk box. 

Well that’s a wrap on part 1! There are so many cool cards in this first section that have really gotten me excited to try out the new set. Parts 2 and 3 will probably be a little shorter than normal since there are less cards in this set, but there are still plenty of things that have me excited through the rest of this review! You won’t want to miss the remaining parts of my complete Pokemon GO TCG set review coming very soon! 

Remember, if you’re ordering singles or sealed product from the newest set ChannelFireball.com has got you covered! The marketplace is an amazing place to pickup any cards you may need.

Thanks for reading!

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