Talkin’ ’bout Generations – Reviewing the Pokemon Generations Set
One of the little talked about aspects of the format headed into State Championships has been the impact that the Generations special collection set will have on the format. With an official release date of Feb. 22, the set will be legal for the entirety of State Championships.
The set is very similar to the Legendary Treasures set, which was a set of mostly reprinted cards with a few new ones thrown in.
Generations is off to a bit of a controversial start because of limited availability. The set is only available in special box sets, and not available in blister packs or booster boxes at the current moment, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see it made available in those formats at the end of the year as this set will be very popular for collectors and casual fans because of the emphasis on popular first generation Pokemon, meaning that it could probably sell very well for a long time. Additionally, the set has a lot of reprints of very good cards, so it is a good set for players to get as an entry point into the game.
The limited availability has led to very high prices for singles on the secondary market because some of the cards are very good for competitive play.
In this article, I am going to take a look at the Pokemon Generations set. This will be less comprehensive as usual set reviews as most of the best cards are reprints, and a lot of the newer cards don’t seem very powerful, so they’re not worth talking about too much.
First, lets take a look at the reprints that we have in the Generations set. The reason these reprints are of interest is because these cards will not only keep these cards legal in Standard format for the prospective Primal Clash-on rotation this year, but it would also keep them legal for a prospective BREAKthrough-on rotation the following year.
Here is a list of the most important reprints that we have in Generations.
- Charizard EX, Blastoise EX, and Venusaur EX from the original XY rotation as special promo cards in some of the box sets with new arts.
- Pikachu EX, while not confirmed, is probably a reprint of the Pikachu EX released in the Pikachu EX collection last year.
- Raichu XY
- Golbat PHF
- Gengar BKT
- Jynx FFI
- Machamp FFI
- Mr. Mime BKT
- Dodrio BKT
- Wobbuffet PHF
- Meowstic FLF
- Yveltal XY
- Gardevoir EX and M Gardevoir EX from Primal Clash
The most interesting are going to be format mainstays Yveltal XY and Raichu XY. Yveltal will be able to give future dark decks acceleration into the future, even after Yveltal EX presumably rotates. It’s not confirmed that Yveltal EX will actually rotate, as there is a shiny Yveltal EX being released later this year, and it could potentially be a reprint of the original Yveltal EX.
Raichu XY will last another season, but should also exist past the rotation of Roaring Skies and Sky Field, which means Raichu will at some point stop being the basis of a deck, but can still be an effective counter against Lightning weak Pokemon in that future format.
We are getting a reprint of Golbat from PHF, but not Crobat from PHF. This seems fine, as Crobat decks have had plenty of time to shine, and this will move us away from Crobat damage acceleration decks into something new. We will be getting a new Crobat in the next English set, and this Golbat will likely be the best one available giving you some utility while you work on evolving into Crobat. There will also be a Crobat BREAK in the next set.
As far as Trainer reprints, we get the following:
- Crushing Hammer
- Energy Switch
- Max Revive
- Poke Ball
- Pokemon Center Lady
- Pokemon Fan Club
- Red Card
- Team Flare Grunt
Nothing too crazy here, mostly rarely utilized Trainer cards. The annoying Energy removal cards will stay within the format, but they won’t be that annoying moving forward as the primary one sided Item lock cards, Seismitoad EX and Trevenant XY will be rotating out of the format.
A Mega Omission
One glaring omission from the set that is sure to disappoint most fans is the omission of Spirit Link cards for the Kanto Starters, Venusaur, Charizard, and Blastoise. A lot of competitive players were really hoping for Spirit Link cards to make these cards playable.
I think the reason we don’t see a Spirit Link card for these cards is because of the ridiculous power level of the original M Venusaur EX, which both paralyzes and Poisons your opponent’s Pokemon. Combined with Forest of Giant Plants turn 1 M Venusaur EX/Vileplume AOR decks would be a possibility, and they would probably be a bit difficult to stop.
Unfortunately the lack of Spirit Link cards will make the new Mega EX Pokemon from this set mostly unplayable.
New Trainer Cards
We do get a few new Trainer cards in this set. Most of them will remain on the fringe of competitive play because they’re not that powerful, but they could see some niche use.
As of right now, the only really good use of this card would be in Magnezone BKT decks. Cilan did see some play in Blastoise BCR decks to get Energy cards out of the deck, although most versions of Blastoise chose against running the card.
Fisherman is probably a better option for the time being with Battle Compressor giving an easy out to get Lightning Energy into the discard pile, but Clemont does become more attractive for getting Energy into play after Battle Compressor rotates.
Your Active Pokemon is now Confused.
This will likely never see the light of day in a competitive deck, although it’s always possible a new Ability or attack is released on a new Pokemon that combos well with the card.
This could be interesting as a mobility option in Vileplume decks and could become a nice option for switching via VS Seeker. As of now, AZ is a better and more versatile card, but after AZ rotates this could become a solid 1-of.
Put 2 [G] Pokemon from your discard pile into your hand.
This card is perfect for Forest of Giant Plants decks for some instant recovery. If you have Forest of Giant Plants in play, it would essentially give instant recovery. If you have a Basic Pokemon in play, for example, it could easily allow you to recover the Stage 1 and Stage 2 for an instant evolution into a Stage 2.
Forest of Giant Plant decks aren’t exactly popular at the moment, but if some more interesting Grass Pokemon are released, I could see this card helping them out immensely.
This card doesn’t seem very good as preventing damage in the first place with something like Hard Charm or Assault Vest seems better than taking the damage and then healing it at the end of your opponent’s turn. The only thing this card has going for it is that it can stack over the course of multiple turns to replenish a Pokemon’s health.
The card could have been more interesting with a Basic Pokemon with the Recovery Alpha Trait, but we don’t have one besides a bad Bidoof, so this card will probably never see play.
There are quite a few new Pokemon in this set. I’m not going to waste your time covering all of them, as I believe most of them aren’t that good, but I will take the time to cover the ones that I think will have a chance to show up in some decks.
First the cards that I believe just aren’t good enough for play:
- Venusaur EX
- M Venusaur EX
- Charizard EX
- Ninetales EX
- Vaporeon EX
- Golem EX
Now moving onto the cards that could see some good play.
[L] Swift – 30 – This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness, Resistance, or any other effects on your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[L][C][C] Flash Ray – 70 – During your opponent’s next turn, prevent all damage done to this Pokemon by attacks from Basic Pokemon.
When talking about the Generations set as a whole, all discussion has to start with this card. It is already very popular in the online meta game, and it is fetching north of $50 on the secondary market as players are scrambling to get this card in time for State Championships because it is very playable.
The reason this card is good is because of Flash Ray, which prevents Basic Pokemon from attacking. Basic Pokemon make up the majority of the meta game, with some decks playing exclusively Basic Pokemon, so there is no reason to expect this card from being anything except good.
This card is so disruptive that it will change the way players have to build decks to be able to co-exist in a format alongside it. Now players will have to think about putting a counter into an all Basic Pokemon deck. For example, a Manectric EX/Crobat PHF deck, which is primarily built around attacking with Basic Pokemon may consider slipping in M Manectric EX to deal with this card. While the deck does play evolutions, there is no way that the Crobat line would be able to take this card down, especially if it is healing with Rough Seas. Other decks may look to find a way to fit in the Maxie’s engine for Gallade BKT.
The one good thing about this card is that it isn’t being released into a format without good counters for most decks. Most decks have a Mega Pokemon they can play in the deck, a logical Stage 1 that could be included, can fit in the Maxie’s engine, or plays something like Tyrantrum EX which can go through the effect.
Something important to remember is that just because counters exist, doesn’t mean the card is a bad card because of them. The fact that a card can push other decks to have to counter makes a card good in its own right. Additionally, it would be naive not to expect dedicated Jolteon EX players to find ways to properly counter your counters.
Lysandre is a good soft counter to the card, but if they realize you don’t play a counter they can easily stop benching stuff so only Jolteon EX is on their field.
The card is a logical inclusion as a 1 or 2 of in M Manectric EX decks. I have also seen players using the card in Max Elixir variants with Regirock AOR or Yveltal EX as alternate attackers. While this is how players are using it now, I wouldn’t expect the best Jolteon EX decks to emerge until later in State Championships.
The card is most fearsome in the Expanded format where it can be paired with Archeops NVI to prevent opponents from evolving. While that combo is very good, it’s not game breaking. Yveltal EX/Maxie’s is one of the top decks, and would be a solid counter to this concept. Additionally, Wally exists for evolving into evolutions, and something like Virizion EX/Genesect EX has G Booster to go through the effect.
As far as State Championships go, the decks this probably hurts the most is Seismitoad EX decks which don’t usually play evolution cards and which would have trouble dealing with Jolteon EX’s healing from Rough Seas anyhow.
M Charizard EX
[R][C][C][C] Heat Typhoon – 100+, Flip a coin for each [R] Energy attached to this Pokemon. This attack does 50 more damage for each heads.
Because Jolteon EX is such a disruptive force, it makes this otherwise lackluster card suddenly something players might want to include into their decks.
For example, a deck like Entei AOR/Charizard EX is an all Basics deck that would lose to Jolteon EX if you chose not to counter it. You can include a M Charizard EX as a 1-of as a Jolteon EX counter. With a Muscle Band, you would just need one heads on Heat Typhoon to take a OHKO on Jolteon EX.
With no Spirit Link, you will be wasting a turn to Mega Evolve, so you have the time to Blacksmith to it twice to get four Fire Energy to give you more opportunities to hit your coin flips for the OHKO.
I think this is probably the best M Charizard EX to include in he deck. It only needs four Energy to attack compared to five for the Flashfire one, and it doesn’t have a negative effect on itself. The problem with the Flashfire one is that it causes 50 damage to itself, which means that if they Lysandre it up, and hit it once before you’re attacking with it they can respond to it with a second Jolteon EX easier.
[W][C][C] Hyper Whirlpool – 60 – Flip a coin. If heads, discard an Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[W][W][C][C] Hydro Press – 100 – This attack does 20 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)
This could be the partner for Palkia EX that people have been looking for to try to create a Water type Virgen deck. Its Hydro Press attack is even the same thing as Megalo Cannon, it just happens to take one more Energy to get off.
I don’t think the four Energy cost will make it less playable than Genesect EX in the context of Hydro Press, as hitting a Double Colorless after powering one up with Palkia EX wouldn’t be too difficult, but the lack of other powerful attributes, like Red Signal and G Booster, will pretty much leave a prospective Palkia EX/Blastoise EX deck a very poor man’s version of Virgen. I think more waiting is required before we find a truly good partner for Palkia EX.
M Blastoise EX
[W][W][C][C] Dread Launcher – 180 – Flip a coin. If tails, discard 2 [W] Energy attached to this Pokemon.
This card in a vacuum is a very good card. A guaranteed 180 for that Energy cost when it can be powered up with Mega Turbo is very strong. Unfortunately we didn’t get Spirit Link cards, so this card will mostly be unplayable.
Maybe someone comes up with an Archie’s variant that uses this card to good effect, although I’m not sure how that would be any better than an Archie’s Primal Kyogre EX deck, which isn’t very good itself.
File this away as another Mega that won’t see play because of a lack of a Spirit Link. If we get something that helps Mega Pokemon without Spirit Links come into play then this card could become very good.
Ability – Shadow Ear – Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon, you may move 1 damage counter from 1 of your Pokemon to 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon.
[P][C] Mind Shock – 60 – This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness or Resistance.
This card actually belongs on that list of unplayable cards but I thought it was worth a comment that this is a Pokemon that could have been really cool if they had altered the Ability a bit by making it work from the Bench.
It would have been overpowered if it worked as is from the bench as over the course of a game that would lead to it doing too much. Think of something like the Seismitoad EX/Jynx FFI deck from State Championships last year with this card instead of Jynx FFI and Rough Seas for healing. That would probably be overpowered against anything that wasn’t a Grass Pokemon.
How I would have liked to see them design this card is make it usable from the bench, but put a limit on how many uses you could have, probably keeping it to one use per a turn, no matter how many you have on your bench. I think an Ability that moved 1 damage counter per a turn on a Basic Pokemon would have been balanced, but could have opened up for some very skillful manipulation of damage counters.
Ability – Flash Fire – Once during your turn (before your attack), you may move a [R] Energy from 1 of your Pokemon to this Pokemon.
[C][C][C] Blaze Ball – 50+ This attack does 20 more damage for each [R] Energy attached to this Pokemon.
We have seen attacks like Blaze Ball be good in the past. For example, Keldeo EX and its Secret Sword attack, which is the same attack, just for Water Pokmeon, has seen a lot of success with Blastoise. Flareon EX could be used in a similar role in Expanded with Emboar BLW, although Stage 2 decks generally don’t work well without some way to break the general game rules of evolution, and the Blastoise deck has that with Archie’s Ace in the Hole, and Emboar does not.
This card could be deceptively strong in Entei AOR decks. With 3 Fire Energy attached and a Muscle Band it would do 130 damage, good to knockout a lot of the non-EX cards. On the following turn, you could Blacksmith to it again and now you’re doing 170 damage.
The card has some decent interplay with Charizard EX and its Combustion Blast attack. Charizard EX can’t use Combustion Blast on consecutive turns, so it can become a lame duck in the Active spot. You can retreat the Charizard EX, then Blacksmith to Flareon EX and then move a Fire Energy from Charizard EX to power it up in one turn.
The card also could see good use with Camerupt from Double Crisis. You would be able to use both Camerupt combined with Flash Fire to do some of the powering up of Flareon EX’s as well as Blacksmith. The one neat thing here is that you can use Flash Fire on a benched Flareon EX to start powering it up while you’re attacking with your Active one.
Ability – Drag Along – If this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon and is Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack, flip a coin. If heads, the Attacking Pokemon is Knocked Out.
[C][C][C] Snowy Drop – Put 4 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like.
Pokemon already tried entering this effect into the format with Chandelure PHF, but no one was biting on a Stage 2 with this Ability, so they tried again putting the same Ability onto a Stage 1.
This card would have to be played in some type of hit and run deck, as it doesn’t have a good enough of an attack to really justify being played by itself. It could potentially see play with cards like Gengar EX or Donphan PLS. Not sure if it will ultimately be better than their other wall options, but by putting the Ability onto a Stage 1 Pokemon it does become a legitimate option for such decks.
Basic, Fairy type, 170 HP, Metal Weakness, Dark Resistance, two retreat.
[Y][Y][C] Precious Ribbon – 100 – Move a [Y] Energy from this Pokemon to 1 of your Benched Pokemon. If you do, heal 50 damage from that Pokemon.
This is one of the cards that seems to be the most underrated from the new set. With a Tool attached, Dress Up can provide a quick and efficient attack for knocking out pre-evolution Pokemon for all decks.
Precious Ribbon is very similar to Y-Cyclone, only it does 10 more damage and has a healing effect at the cost of a tougher to power up Energy cost. I can see this card having a solid place in Aromatisse decks, it provides solid 2HKO’s on EX Pokemon, can knockout lower HP Pokemon, and helps protect your Energy by moving it to the bench.
Aromatisse decks haven’t been too strong as of late, but with Max Potion being reprinted into the Standard format they could see a comeback, and in a straight Fairy deck this card seems like a very strong inclusion.
This article should give you everything you need to know about the Generations set as we head towards State Championships. The set has enough good reprints and good new cards to be worth buying. From my experience with the set, the pull rates are very good from the set, with EX or Full Art cards appearing in about every other pack.
In addition to all of these cards talked about there are also some Full Art versions for cards like Articuno, Zapdos, and Pikachu. The Articuno and Zapdos aren’t very playable cards, but the Full Art cards do look very cool, and are something I’m sure collectors would like to have.
The Pikachu Full Art is actually a reprint of the Nuzzle Pikachu, so it gives a really good artwork of the card for max rarity players to include into their decks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Full Art Raichu reprint, so it is a bit underwhelming when you do evolve your Pikachu into Raichu.
There is also a new print of Basic Energy cards in the set with a new design and they look pretty good. They do come in holo versions, so the set also gains value from people who like playing with holo Energy.
Overall I think Generations is a successfully designed set. The artwork on the cards is great, pull rates for EX’s and Full Arts is very good, so I think it will do a good job of satisfying new consumers who are looking to buy the Generations pack to feel a bit of nostalgia. If the Generations set piques their interest in actually playing the game, good cards like Raichu and Yveltal being included in the set, will give them decent cards as they start their journeys into the world of competitive Pokemon.