How Paldean Fates Impacts the Metagame | Pokémon


Hello from Paldea! We are heading on a new, yet familiar, adventure to the Paldea Region! Why? To celebrate the release of Scarlet and Violet: Paldean Fates of course! The latest Pokemon TCG set mostly functions as a greatest hits of our Scarlet and Violet-on block of cards, a handful of new cards for competitive play, and endless "shiny" cards for collectors to enjoy.

While the new "shiny" Ditto from this set has stolen my heart, this article will focus on the new cards released in this set that will affect competitive play. With this set being a focal point for only a couple months, largely due to our April 5th 2024 Standard legal rotation date looming, we better get started. Let’s kick it off with the latest Technical Machine available, Technical Machine: Crisis Punch!

Technical Machine: Crisis Punch: A New Tool for Lost Zone Box

Kicking things off is Technical Machine: Crisis Punch, a Pokémon Tool card that might seem costly, but the solution for that will become clear in this article. You can slap this card on any of your Pokémon, load up three Energy on it, and hit for 280 damage if your opponent has only one Prize Card left! Wait, that seems kinda bad right? You’d be right to think that because there are so many ways to do 280 damage for less, like attacking with Giratina VSTAR. Where this card gets its chance is by slapping it on a Cramorant from Lost Origin. Cramorant attacks for free if you have at least four cards in the Lost Zone, and you should be able to easily achieve that after a few Flower Selectings on Comfey, and a Colress’s Experiement.

Being able to do 280 damage for free at the end of the game is enough to OHKO a Pokémon VSTAR, like Arceus VSTAR, to win a game. Most Lost Zone Box decks are already dealing with minimal damage output, like the Sableye + Radiant Charizard build, and this might help those decks reach new heights. I can’t tell which Lost Zone Box deck to tech this card into, but my first thought is Lost Zone SableZard, or maybe even the Lost Zone tech box that plays Supereffective Glasses. Only time will tell how this card will play out, but I see the potential, and I’m gonna have to take it back to the lab to test things out! Definitely makes Lost Zone Box a little bit more interesting in our current Standard format!

With Technical Machine: Crisis Punch having an orange background, I envision myself winning games with style with some Orange Cortex Sleeves that you can pick up here!

Chien-Pao ex Becomes Better

Chien-Pao ex / Baxcalibur has an almost cult-like following, and the players that love to play with this deck seem to always choose it over other options. Whether or not you decide to play this deck or not is up to you, but it should be said that this archetype becomes marginally better. It might not be much, but we do get to use the new Frigibax from Paldean Fates that replaces the other one-of Frigibax with 70HP. You might be wondering why we are swapping one 70HP Frigibax for another one, and that is a valid question for sure! The new Frigibax can use Collect to draw a card for an Energy instead of doing 10 damage for an Energy. 

The difference is extremely small, but if I’m ever going to attach, Frigibax, and pass, I would rather draw a card than do 10 damage. There are arguments for other decks, like Charizard, but in this case, Chien-Pao ex has a nearly unlimited damage output so the 10 damage isn’t getting us too far. The difference isn’t much, but what if that card is a game winning Rare Candy, or even an Irida to search out whichever pieces you are missing? I’ve worked on a rough list based on Regan Retzloff’s list from Charlotte, so let’s check it out.

You can copy and paste the below decklist right into Pokémon TCG Live!

Pokémon (9)

1 Spiritomb PAL 89
2 Frigibax PAL 57
3 Chien-Pao ex PAL 61
1 Frigibax PAF 17
2 Bibarel BRS 121
2 Baxcalibur PAL 60
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Manaphy BRS 41
2 Bidoof CRZ 111

Energy (1)

8 Basic {W} Energy SVE 3

Trainer (12)

1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
4 PokéStop PGO 68
4 Irida ASR 147
4 Nest Ball SVI 181
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
1 Iono PAL 185
4 Superior Energy Retrieval PAL 189
2 Super Rod PAL 188
4 Ultra Ball SVI 196
4 Cross Switcher FST 230
2 Canceling Cologne ASR 136
3 Rare Candy SVI 191
If you wanna protect your Chien-Pao ex / Baxcalibur deck in style, be sure to store it in a Blue / White Synergy Sidewinder.

New Option for Charizard ex

Charizard ex is one of the best decks in format, and it gets a slight buff from Paldean Fates in the form of Charmeleon. Like the Chien-Pao ex deck above, we could choose from a handful of Pokémon to Evolve from, but this new one might be the best one. Since it has 90 HP, we can still search it from Level Ball, and that means we don’t have to change a single card from our current list. Instead of focusing on the damage output, we gain access to Flare Veil, which prevents random effects of an attack from affecting Charmeleon.

While effects of an attack are rarely popular, there are a few cases for our Standard format. You can prevent Sableye from sniping it with Lost Mine without a Jirachi in play, Technical Machine: Devolution might be another valid option to block, and of course Special Conditions are always looking for an opportunity to strike. I personally like it as an insurance policy against Sableye incase I can’t Bench Jirachi from Paradox Rift right away, and that is usually enough for me to toss it in my list. There are also some thoughts on adding the Gengar from Paldean Fates into the deck as a small 1-0-1 line instead of Switch, but that needs to be tested a little bit more. When a deck is as “solved” as Charizard ex, changing a singular card can be huge for the archetype as a whole! Only time will tell how Charizard ex adapts to Paldean Fates, but it will be tier one either way.

Wanna protect your Charizard ex deck in style? Be sure to check out the Black / Red Sidewinder to match Charizard ex’s Darkness type, and Fire Energy attack costs!

Gardevoir ex Becomes BDIF?!

Gardevoir has been one of the best decks in format since its release in Scarlet and Violet, and it might’ve become even better with the release of Paldean Fates. Moonlit Hill from this set allows you to pitch extra Psychic Energy to utilize with Psychic Embrace, and you can heal your Pokémon too. While the healing element may not seem like much, it does allow you to load up more Energy onto either Gardevoir, or Zacian V, and swing for even more damage! The rest of the list hasn’t changed by much, really just cutting two cards to add in a couple of Moonlit Hill, but sometimes that's enough. I’ve cooked up a rough list based on Bodhi Robinson’s list from Portland, so let’s check it out.

You can copy and paste the below decklist right into Pokémon TCG Live!

Pokémon (12)

1 Cresselia LOR 74
2 Gardevoir CRE 61
1 Mew CEL 11
1 Jirachi PAR 126
1 Scream Tail PAR 86
3 Kirlia SIT 68
1 Kirlia CRE 60
4 Ralts ASR 60
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Manaphy BRS 41
2 Gardevoir ex SVI 86
1 Zacian V CEL 16

Energy (2)

2 Reversal Energy PAL 192
10 Basic {P} Energy SVE 5

Trainer (13)

2 Counter Catcher PAR 160
4 Level Ball BST 129
1 Professor's Research SVI 189
2 Fog Crystal CRE 140
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
1 Boss's Orders PAL 172
4 Iono PAL 185
2 Moonlit Hill PAF 81
2 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
3 Ultra Ball SVI 196
2 Rare Candy SVI 191
If you need to sleeve up your Gardevoir ex deck, Purple Cortex Sleeves would match this deck in an aesthetically pleasing way!

Time to Test!

I would be lying if I said there were many cards from this set that could go on this list, and that's because Paldean Fates is mostly a set for collectors. Sure, Great Tusk ex, Espathra ex, Nemona’s Backpack, and even Donphan could see some light success, but the four cards listed in this article have a serious shot at seeing some competitive play. With Dortmund, Utrecht, Goiania, and Vancouver major events coming up, I expect the few competitive cards from this set to see success at the highest level. Once I have some more experience in this new format, I’ll be sure to release a few articles that focus on lists, in-depth strategy, and more! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch up with you next time!

Author: Zach Lesage

Zach Lesage is a contributing writer for Ultimate Guard. As a Toronto local, he has been playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2005 and creates Pokémon content as his full time career. With multiple prestigious accomplishments in the game, such as 2020 Players Cup 2 Champion and 2020 Oceania International Championships Finalist, he has proven his success in the game. Outside of the game, he travels the world, enjoys the culture of designer streetwear, and is a professionally trained chef. You can catch him at most Pokémon events and follow him on Twitter.