The latest Pokemon TCG expansion, BREAKpoint, is set to release in a couple of weeks. The set builds on BREAKthrough by being the second set that will include the new BREAK stage of Pokemon evolution cards. Additionally, with Reverse Valley and Puzzle of Time, the new set also continues on with an additional card that gives the player a choice in how they want to play the card.
The only overarching theme that I saw in the set is that the set is heavy on disruption cards. Among the new disruption effects found in BREAKpoint are effects that discard from your opponent’s hand, discard from your opponent’s deck, move Energy around, put Pokemon to sleep, as well as a card that will make your opponent question whether they even want to attack at all.
One of the biggest problems with the current Standard format is that with the rotation of N, players haven’t felt that there was any good disruption. Ace Trainer is too situational and not strong enough and Judge ultimately proved largely ineffective. With BREAKpoint I think we will see the type of disruption effects needed to make for a healthier Standard meta game.
As we did with both our Roaring Skies and Ancient Origin set reviews, this review will be divided into two parts. Part 1, the article that you are reading right now, will cover the Special Energy and Trainer cards in the new set. Part 2, which you will read in the near future, will focus on the Top 20 Pokemon cards in the new set. As was the case with our Ancient Origins set review, we will focus on how the cards interact with both the Standard and Expanded card pools.
As is the case with every review I do of Trainer and Special Energy cards, I will state my personal philosophy that you should pick up at least one play set of nearly every new Trainer and Special Energy card printed in the new set. They are generally cheap when a set is newly released and you never know when new cards that combo with them will be released in the future. Look no further than the Night March decks that have been ripping through City Championships that have been making use of Target Whistle, a card that previously saw very little competitive play.
Splash Energy (Special)
If the Water Pokemon this card is attached to is Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack, put that Pokemon into your hand. (Discard all cards attached to it.)
If this card is attached to anything other than a Water Pokemon, discard this card.)
Splash Energy is essentially a reprint of an older Special Energy from the Heart Gold Soul Silver era, Rescue Energy. While Rescue Energy only provided a Colorless, it could be used with any type of Pokemon, while Splash Energy gives you a Water attachment, but can only be attached to Water Pokemon.
From what I remember of Rescue Energy in the year that I played where it was legal, the decks that I remember it clearly being played in were some Durant NVI lists, Chandelure NVI/Dodrio UD/Vileplume UD, Vanilluxe NVI/Victini NVI/Vileplume UD, and Mismagius UL/Vilplume UD decks.
This creates two clear situations from the past where Rescue Energy had been played.
The first situation is swarm decks. A swarm deck is a deck that wants to swarm multiples of the same Pokemon onto their bench to trigger some type of effect that makes an attack stronger. These decks generally want to attach with the same attacker through the entirety of the game.
This was the case with the Durant deck which was able to discard a card from the top of the opponent’s deck for each Durant in play. The deck wanted to use Devour for the entirety of the game. An interesting thing to point out about the Durant deck is that Durant needed a Metal Energy to attack, so the Rescue Energy was a second attachment that didn’t fulfill the attack cost and was solely used to return a knocked out Durant to your hand so you could play it down instantly during your next turn.
An example of a swarm deck in the Expanded format that can make use of Splash Energy would be the Round deck. Seismitoad NVI has the Round attack, which costs [C][C], and does 30 damage times the number of your Pokemon that have the Round attack. Palpitoad NVI as well as the new Tympole from BREAKpoint also have the Round attack, so if you have a Seismitoad with a Splash Energy that gets knocked out, you would be able to pick up the entire Seismitoad line, using the evolution cards to evolve other Tympole and Palpitoad that you already have in play, as well as play down the Tympole again to keep that +30 from having another Round Pokemon in play.
The other example of decks that used Rescue Energy were strategies based around Vileplume UD, which Item locked both players with its Poke-Body. Under Item lock, you are unable to use typical Item based recovery cards such as Super Rod, Revive, and Buddy Buddy Rescue, so Rescue/Splash Energy can be used to pick up a Pokemon so you have immediate access to another copy of your main attacker.
This is generally less needed with Basic Pokemon decks, although it can still be a nice option as seen in the Mismagius deck, which used Basic Pokemon, such as Darkrai EX, Mewtwo EX, Terrakion NVI, and Shaymin EX to attack. In decks based around evolved attackers, such as the Chandelure and Vanilluxe decks, it can be especially strong for letting you stream a Stage 2 attacker throughout a game.
With Vileplume being reprinted in AOR with the same Item locking strategy, only in Ability form, Splash Energy will once again be able to used like Rescue Energy was in before it.
Interestingly enough, the entire core still exists to rebuild the classic VVV deck in the Expanded format now that Vileplume has been functionally reprinted. I looked at the Vanilluxe/Victini/Vileplume deck in an article in July, so you can take a look at that deck here. Will Splash Energy be enough to make it a relevant deck once again?
Another deck, that works in both Standard and Expanded, that could make use of Splash Energy is the Regice AOR/Vileplume AOR deck that saw some success at early Fall Regional Championships. I don’t think the deck really had much trouble with streaming attackers in a game, but Splash Energy is a new addition that could be put into the deck.
I wouldn’t expect Splash Energy to have much impact on either the Standard or Expanded meta games, but it is a nice option that decks based on Water attackers will have which could open up the possibility of some creative new deck builds.
On the reprint front we get most of the reprints we tend to get. I would guess that BREAKthrough will probably be the cutoff for a rotation for some point, so reprints of core cards will keep them Standard legal when that rotation happens.
The only really exciting reprint is the new Skyla, which we get in the form of a new full art card. I still prefer the Boundaries Crossed full art to the new one, but something tells me this new one will be very popular among the player base at large.
Standard Legal Reprints: Great Ball, Pokemon Catcher, Potion, Professor Sycamore, Skyla, Tierno.
And of course we will also be getting Spirit Link cards for the new Mega Pokemon printed in the set, M Gyarados EX and M Scizor EX.
Spirit Links: Gyarados Spirit Link, Scizor Spirit Link
10. Misty’s Determination
(Supporter) Discard a card from your hand. If you do, look at the top 8 cards of your deck and put 1 of them into your hand. Shuffle your deck and put 1 of them into your hand. Shuffle the other cards back into your deck.
Just as Misty shows little determination of ever making another meaningful appearance in the Pokemon anime, in this card, Misty shows little determination of being part of a good Pokemon card.
This card simply isn’t very good and appears to only have been printed to excite fans of the Red/Blue era gym leader.
There are some situations where this card could be good, such as when you have 8 cards left in your deck and playing a Professor Sycamore could lead you to not drawing that card you need to win the game, or other very limited situations, such as needing to discard an Energy to play a Dark Patch, or discard a Night Marcher under Item Lock, but playing this card in those types of decks would be nonsensical to fill very specific game situations.
There aren’t many game situations where the effect of Misty’s Determination would be worth playing a Supporter card for when there are so many other Supporter cards that can do so much more for you. Why play this when you could play a Professor Sycamore and draw 7 of those 8 cards you would be looking at? Similarly, Skyla can search your entire deck for a Trainer card, and with Trainer cards that are able to get Pokemon and Energy cards there isn’t a card you can’t get (especially in Expanded when you can expand your search to Special Energy with Computer Search) with Skyla.
The only reason to get this card will be for collections purposes.
9. Psychic’s Mind Reading
There is a lot to like about Psychic Mind Reading, unfortunately I think it’s being released in the wrong period of time to be a truly effective Supporter card.
I always like cards that let you look at your opponent’s hand. Having information on what your opponent specifically has in hand allows you to change your plays from being based on the probability of what your opponent probably has in hand, and thus will probably do, to a state of certainty of their current hand. Anyone who has a decent amount of experience with Ghetsis knows that the information from this secondary effect can be game changing in what lines of play you end up making.
The primary effect is also solid in some regards. It opens up new avenues of play, especially under Item lock. Night March and Vespiquen decks can use it to discard Pokemon from their hand under Item lock and Bronzong decks would be able to discard Metal Energy from their hand under Item lock.
However, this effect while solid in those situations, doesn’t seem like it would actually pan out to being an effective play. This isn’t a Supporter that can be used for the core consistency of a deck, so it would most likely be relegated to smaller counts in decks. Without access to VS Seeker under Item lock, you would have to draw into one of the few copies that you do play to actually be able to use it to access your strategy. Against any non-Item locks, commonly played cards like Ultra Ball will get the job done for you.
Another big issue I have with this card is that it maintains your hand size, not growing it. This will make any player who uses this as their Supporter for the turn vulnerable to their opponent’s Delinquent, another new Supporter card in BREAKpoint which will be covered below.
8. Reverse Valley
Side 2: The attacks of this player’s Dark Pokemon do 10 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
Continuing off the new dual Stadium cards set off in BREAKpoint by Parallel City we get another dual Stadium with Reverse Valley, a card aimed to give boosts to both Dark and Metal decks.
I would guess that the card will probably see most of its play with Dark Pokemon decks, as adding damage tends to be easier to build strategies around then denying damage, especially when the denial is only 10.
Nonetheless, Reverse Valley could find its way into some Metal decks as they don’t really have a preferred Stadium outside of Sky Field to support Hoopa EX/Shaymin EX setup engines. Reverse Valley could be a solid Stadium for Metal decks based around Metal attackers to bounce Sky Field. This card will be very meta dependent on its effectiveness, but it’s not hard to envision a meta game where a popular deck can hit for 180 damage, but not 190 damage, making this card useful with something like Dialga EX for knockout denial.
The card is much stronger with Dark Pokemon, primarily because of Yveltal XY (which will be reprinted in a coming set) as Reverse Valley lets Yveltal hit the all important 60 damage mark when a Muscle Band is also attached. Many of the pre-evolution Pokemon have 60 HP, so a Reverse Valley would allow an Yveltal to knockout these Pokemon in one hit.
The card also fits nicely with Zoroark BKT by allowing it to jump up to 170 damage when your opponent five benched Pokemon, opposed to 160, which isn’t a magic knockout number.
The card also functions well with Yveltal EX, allowing it to jump up 10 damage which could allow it to hit damage numbers to knockout Pokemon with odd HP numbers without having to attach another Energy to it.
7. All-Night Party
This is a nice little Stadium card which can be played in a variety of Expanded decks as a counter to the sleep effect of Hypnotoxic Laser for decks that don’t otherwise have a Stadium that they want to play, as well in either format to get around any sleep effects that may become prevalent in the meta.
What makes this card especially great in the context of BREAKpoint is that it is releasing alongside a couple cards that combo excellently with it. The new Hypno puts both Active Pokemon asleep, and then the new Darkrai EX gets a major 80 damage boost when the Defending Pokemon is asleep. You can use Hypno to put your opponent’s Active Pokemon and Darkrai EX to sleep, wake Darkrai EX back up with All-Night Party, and then swing for 180 damage with a Muscle Band.
This is one of the best combos to come out of the new set and I would be shocked if Darkrai EX/Hypno doesn’t become a very good deck in the Standard format.
6. Max Potion
This is a reprint of a card that just rotated out of the format in the latest rotation. It’s a little annoying to see this card reprinted back into the format so soon after rotating out, it would be nice if we got more new experiences in the Standard format instead of having the same stuff recycled over and over.
The card is already legal in the Expanded format and has seen very little play, with only M Manectric EX decks currently playing it in low counts.
However, the card has seen a lot of success during its lifespan, so it will probably have an effect on the Standard format, and probably the Expanded format again at some point.
The card has been played in the past in a variety of different decks.
It has been played in Energy Transfer decks which can move the Energy off of its attackers to avoid having to discard Energy because of Max Potion’s secondary effect. A deck such as Aromatisse could be very interesting with a card like Fighting Fury Belt, which would give Basic Pokemon +40 HP making them better tanks, so the combination of Fighting Fury Belt and Max Potion might bring Energy Trans decks back to the forefront of the Standard format. (Klinklang BLW, Hydreigon DRX, Aromatisse XY, and the new Golduck BREAK)
It has also seen play with Energy Acceleration decks which can quickly replenish the Energy that was discarded from Max Potion. (Emboar BLW, Eelektrik NVI, Blastoise BCR, Bronzong PHF, M Manectric EX, Magnezone BKT)
The card has also seen play with cards that require no Energy to be attached allowing these cards to use Max Potion to tank with no negative effects. (Flygon BCR, Wailord EX)
Finally, the card has also been played with attackers whose best attack takes a single Energy attachment allowing you to remove an Energy with Max Potion and simply attach another to keep on attacking. (Landorus EX)
One thing to note is that these types of decks have generally moved to Super Scoop Up. In the case of Landorus EX, the primary user of Max Potion in this type of deck in the past, it now has access to Strong Energy which is better than a Basic Fighting Energy, giving more incentive to pick up the Strong Energy for re-use instead of being forced to discard it. Landorus EX also is mostly played with Crobat PHF now, so the Super Scoop Up plays a dual purpose of being able to pick up a Crobat line to re-use its Ability.
Outside of Energy Trans and Energy Acceleration decks, I’m not sure where else Max Potion really fits in the format for immediate use, but the card has proven strong in the past, so I think it will probably pop up in successful lists once again during its new Standard rotation.
5. Fighting Fury Belt
This is a card that is hard to make sense of as it gives a weaker damage amplification than Muscle Band, but also increases the HP of your Pokemon. I will do my best to break down situations where I would play Muscle Band and situations when I would instead look to play Fighting Fury Belt.
Typically cards that boost a Pokemon’s HP have been ineffective, because as soon as the effect is no longer valid (whether by removal or an Ability) the Pokemon becomes knocked out if it had damage greater than their normal HP.
With that in mind, I would focus on choosing Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt based on the damage numbers you need for the cards to be effective. If the 20 damage matters, play Muscle Band, if doing 10 more damage is all you need, then Fighting Fury Belt becomes the obvious play.
I think the existence of this card in the format will make cards such as Tool Scrapper, Startling Megaphone, or Xerosic be played in most decks. When Tool Scrapper first came out in Dragons Exalted, it wasn’t that uncommon to see players play 2-3 copies to counter Garbodor. If Fighting Fury Belt is dramatically affecting knockout numbers, I would expect players to begin using multiple Tool removal cards to deal with it.
Of course, cards such as Banette ROS and Yveltal BKT can also be used to negate its effect with their Abilities which make all Tool cards in play have no effect.
As noted in the Max Potion section, I expect Fighting Fury Belt to combo very strongly with decks that are able to make use of Max Potion. Fighting Fury Belt makes your Pokemon harder to knockout, and by removing the damage completely, you aren’t at risk of giving up prizes when the tool is removed.
All things considered, I would expect to see a healthy mix between Fighting Fury Belt and Muscle Band being played in decks. Which of the cards gets played will be dependent on the damage numbers a deck is in need of hitting. Once Muscle Band rotates out, Fighting Fury Belt will become the de facto damage amplification tool
4. Puzzle of Time
- If you played 1 card, look at the top 3 cards of your deck and put them back in any order.
- If you played 2 cards, put 2 cards from your discard pile into your hand.
This is another one of those Pokemon cards with a split personality, having two separate effects, only this time the effect of the card changes based on the number of copies that you play at the same time.
The first effect is a nice side effect for the card, but not something that makes it worth playing on its own merits. Its weaker than Pokedex, which looked at the top 5 cards of the deck, and that rarely saw play.
The meat of the card is the second effect, which lets you get back any two cards from your discard pile. This is a very strong effect when we have great Special Energy cards like Double Colorless and Double Dragon in format, and will also combo well with powerful Energy acceleration trainers like Max Elixir and Dark Patch.
I would expect in most games you would only get to use the second effect only once in a game, although pairing it with search cards like Korrina or Skyla could increase how often you’re able to successfully use the second effect twice in the game.
Discarding just a single copy of the card, or getting a copy stuck in your late prizes will instantly limit you to only being able to use the second effect once.
I expect the card to be much more potent in the Expanded format because of Colress, which lets you focus more on Shuffle and Draw (Standard is dominated by repeatedly using Professor Sycamore and discarding hands down to use Shaymin EX), as well as get large hand sizes of 10-16 cards which makes it more likely for you to get both pieces of the combo in hand at the same time.
One big issue I foresee with this card’s current playability is that VS Seeker is legal, and in my opinion a better card because it automatically works and is often part of a deck’s core consistency engine. The reason this could be problematic is that you actually have to play cards in your decks that are meant for building a strategy, so I’m not sure if most decks will actually be able to devote 8 spots to cards that are playing out of the discard pile, although I’m sure some will.
It’s worth noting that VS Seeker will rotate out with Roaring Skies, so it’s possible, and perhaps probable that this card becomes a staple we see in every deck when VS Seeker rotates out of the format.
One place where this card will immediately become deadly is in Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX decks. The way it works in Sableye decks is that they can use Junk Hunt to get back both pieces of Puzzle of Time. While this may seem pointless at first since you can grab two Items anyhow, it gives Sableye decks an insane amount of prize denial ability. With Puzzle of Time, the Sableye player would be able to get back Life Dew every single turn with Time Puzzle allowing them to create an endless stream of Sableye that can only be knocked out for 0 prizes.
This creates a very unhealthy meta game where players may become forced to either play Sableye decks themselves or play some form of Item lock (Seismitoad EX or Vileplume AOR) to counter it. These cards aren’t sure fire counters as Seismitoad EX decks are heavily reliant on DCE and can be run out of Energy with Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic, and if the Sableye player goes first and attaches a Float Stone (or later plays a Hex Maniac) to Trubbish, and then evolves to Garbodor, then that Item lock is null.
My personal prediction is that Sableye will join Shiftry and Lysandre’s Trump Card on the ban list for creating an unhealthy tournament environment. If not Sableye, then Life Dew will be the card hitting the ban list.
I think Sableye is probably the correct call on the ban. As is, without Puzzle of Time shenanigans, it is already one of the least fun decks to play against (albeit very skill oriented) and is completely unneeded in the Dark Patch based decks it originally was played in. Life Dew, on the other hand, can still serve a purpose in other decks, such as Vespiquen AOR/Flareon PLF and Tool Drop.
3. Burst Balloon
When the Pokemon this card is attached to is damaged by an opponent’s Pokemon’s attack, put 6 damage counters on the attacking Pokemon. (Pokebeach Translation)
This is one of the most overlooked cards from BREAKpoint, but it’s one of the best cards in the set in my opinion.
Rock Guard is a very strong Ace Spec, but rarely sees play because it can be removed via Xerosic or Startling Megaphone and once it’s gone in the decks that play it, it was gone, as playing Eco Arm for a 1-of isn’t a very effective use of deck space. Burst Balloon fixes this issue of Rock Guard, at the cost of discarding itself at the end of your opponent’s turn.
The card reminds me a lot of Defender, a card that saw a little bit of play when it was last legal. Defender was attached to one of your Pokemon and reduced damage from attacks by 20, and then was discarded at the end of your opponent’s turn. Defender could be played in certain spots of a game to deny a knockout and push the prize trade into your favor.
Similarly, I expect Burst Balloon could have an impact, even in lower numbers if it is well times for taking a free prize on something smaller, softening something up for a knockout, or forcing your opponent to have to play around it to not negatively impacting themselves by attacking into a Pokemon with a Burst Balloon attached.
I’m not sure exactly what this card will see the most play with, but I feel confident that at some point a deck playing 4 Burst Balloon and 2+ Eco Arm will win a major tournament. There is just too much free damage to be had for this not to end up being part of something really, really good.
The card provides one of the most effective Night March counters that Pokemon has printed. Both Pumpkaboo and Joltik have less than 60 HP, so they would be knocked out when they attacked a Pokemon with Burst Balloon attached. They could play a bunch of Fighting Fury Belts to increase their HP, but then they’re clunking up their deck and will get worse through lowered consistency.
If players try to play around a Pokemon with Burst Balloon attached by using Lysandre or Pokemon Catcher then Burst Balloon will have served a purpose to protect the Energy attached to that Pokemon.
One of the most exciting aspects of Burst Balloon to me is that it will make sudden death games more common. If this card catches on, players may find a situation where they have to take a knockout that knocks out both Active Pokemon, letting both players take their last prize cards, triggering a sudden death game.
One of the most notable features of the Standard format is that the format lacks a good disruption card. I believe that Delinquent is a strong enough disruption card to stop games in the standard format from snowballing out of control in favor of the player who takes an early lead and allow for proper comebacks to happen.
The trigger effect of having a Stadium Card in play should be easy to fulfill as most decks play solid counts of Stadium cards and Stadium cards in play during most turns of the game.
One of the nice things about Delinquent is that it gives us a Supporter card that can be searched out VS Seeker that can remove one of the dual Stadium cards from play allowing us to play down the same Stadium card in a more favorable direction.
The effect of forcing your opponent to discard cards from their hand is where Delinquent will really shine. Players will have to be very careful about how they play their hands with Delinquent in format, if players let their hands sink below four cards they can soon find themselves without any cards to play. There are a lot of turns in a game where a player may play down their entire hand except for a draw Supporter or VS Seeker they plan on using for draw during their next turn. If they do this, they will leave themselves open to losing that card.
Even if you can’t get rid of your opponent’s entire hand, it can still disrupt your opponent out of having enough resources to execute their strategy. For example, in the late game, a player playing a Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF deck could have a hand of VS Seeker, Double Colorless Energy, Crobat, Golbat, and a Muscle Band. Under normal game circumstances, during their next turn they would want to evolve the Golbat and Crobat for +50 damage, attach the DCE to another Seismitoad EX attach a Muscle Band during either turn, and then play the VS Seeker for a Supporter. If you hit a player with hands like that with a Delinquent they will have some hard choices on how to proceed forward, and you could disrupt them out of being able to execute their strategy to change a game.
Delinquent becomes especially strong in Standard format as the cap on cards that your opponent will have after playing one of the Supporter cards that are currently seeing play is 7. Every card they play down out of those 7 will make them more vulnerable to a devastating Delinquent. Delinquent can affect your opponent’s play without you even playing it by pre-emptively limiting what they play out of their hand to avoid being completely screwed over by Delinquent.
To work around Delinquent, players may need to turn to playing Pokemon with hand growing Abilities, such as Octillery BKT and Slurpuff PHF.
1. Max Elixir
(Item) Look at the top 6 cards of your deck. You may choose a Basic Energy card you find there and attach it to 1 of your Basic Benched Pokemon. Shuffle the remaining cards back into your deck. (Pokebeach Translation)
In 2012, Pokemon released Ether, a card that was meant to give Energy acceleration to every Pokemon type. Unfortunately, looking at the top two cards of your deck proved to not be far enough for consistent acceleration so Ether was soon sent to the bulk party.
In 2016, Pokemon is releasing Max Elixir, a second attempt at such a card. By raising the number of cards that you look at, Pokemon has substantially increased the probability that you will be able to accelerate a Basic Energy card. Simply put, Max Elixir is a better version of Ether that should actually work.
The great thing about a card like this is that it is entirely probability based, so you can simply calculate out situations where the card will be effective, and I’ve done just that for you. Below is a chart showing the probabilities of successfully using a Max Elixir based on the number of cards left in deck, as well as the number of Energy left in the deck.
If you would like to download this chart in a PDF form, you may download it here.
To simplify reading the chart I have highlighted the cells different colors based on the probabilities of success. Probabilities less than 25% are red, 25-50% yellow, 50-80% light green, 80%-99.99% darker green, and 100% in blue.
As can be seen from the probability chart, with proper amounts of Energy played in a deck, Max Elixir should be able to successfully accelerate Energy for all types of Pokemon with some pretty darn good reliability.
Cards like Super Rod and Energy Recycler can be used to boost up late game probabilities.
All of those Basic Pokemon whose attacks you thought had potential, but who didn’t have an effective means of Energy Acceleration will now all have a chance to see some serious play. I expect Max Elixir to be seen in a wide variety of decks with all Pokemon types during its lifespan.
The Trainer cards from BREAKpoint look fantastic. I think they will do a lot to help add new layers of skill, and should hopefully make the Standard format both more skill based and more fun to play.