Pokémon Standard Meta: Top 10 cards we are losing in the 2023 rotation
April 12, 2023
Elena - Gaia Storm
The 2023 rotation has just happened and that means we will no longer be allowed to play cards from the early sets of the Sword and Shield era. This block included very powerful collections like Sword and Shield base set, Rebel Clash, Vivid Voltage and Darkness Ablaze. Now, remember that not every card that appears in one of these sets necessarily rotates out because many of them have been reprinted so don’t panic thinking that Rare Candy is no longer going to be in this format.
What is clear is that we are now facing a new scenario, something that we are not used to and, in a way, limited in terms of options. But I think we can all agree that Sword and Shield has been a ride and I wanted to pay my personal homage to it with this article by sharing with you the 10 most powerful cards that have shaped our format and to which we have to say goodbye…
Before you say anything, this was a hard article to write because there were a lot of good cards. Honorable mentions include Training Court, Eldegoss V, Zacian V and even Weezing but I could only choose 10 at the end of the day. I prioritized cards that have been played in the majority of the strategies and that don’t have a clear substitute in the current card pool. With that being said, let’s get started!
Pokémon: Top 10 cards rotating out of the meta in 2023
10. Air Balloon
This is the example of a card that has never been broken per se but, because of the context, has always been a very good addition to any sort of deck. Air Balloon helped give our Pokémon in the field free retreat cost, which is huge to save energies and other resources in the long term. The only downside of this card is that it was a very watered-down version of the Float Stone but it worked just fine. True that with Scoop Up Net there was no need to run as many Air Balloons as one might think and you see that reflected in Lost Box decks.
But Air Balloon has always done its job just fine. I am a bit concerned about the post-rotation format as we don’t have any similar tools (unless they reprint something soon?) apart from the Stadium that acts like the old-school Skyarrow bridge. The loss of Air Balloon and Scoop Up Net happening at the same time might force players to include more copies of switching cards to ensure nothing gets stuck in the active position.
9. Crobat V
What a fantastic card Crobat V has been and how useful for every deck! It is not unusual that from time to time we get a card that allows us to draw until we have 6 cards in our hand but with Crobat V it seems that Pokémon learnt the lesson from Shaymin V and it was decided to limit one effect per turn. Crobat was an immediate addition to many decks as it provided the much needed consistency to find the cards that you needed and was a great target for Quick Ball. We even saw Eternatus VMAX playing 4 full copies of Crobat V in the same deck!
It is also worth pointing out that Crobat sometimes turned into an interesting attacker, especially when combined with the VMAX card. In fact, don’t forget that some versions of Arceus VSTAR ran the 1-1 line of Crobat VMAX in order to attack over Mew VMAX and have a better match up. Now, I think that Crobat’s popularity decreased over time as decks became more consistent and Lumineon took a more prevalent spot and that is the reason why Crobat V is not higher on the list.
8. Capture Energy
Yes, energies are also cards, you know, and they have feelings. Jokes aside, the reality is that we’ve had amazing special energy cards over the past few years and Capture Energy has been one of the best ones. This card helped a ton when it came to consistency and setting up a field without needing to invest additional resources. It was played in many different decks that could afford to attach a colorless energy in the first turn: Eternatus VMAX, Lugia, Regigigas, Lost Zone, Arceus VSTAR and many more. Perhaps the deck that will miss it the most is Lost Zone as it was the perfect turn 1 attachment get yourself a Comfey and start playing. The card is not higher because I think that we still have ways to set up our field properly and, while this has been a good addition to our format, it has never truly made things revolve around it.
7. Twin Energy
Another Energy card! And this won’t be the last one on the list, so keep reading! Twin energy was a bit restrictive in the sense that it only worked with non-V Pokémon. But contrary to the double turbo energy, it had no drawbacks. It has been a card that made Mad Party relevant (for a brief period of time), helped a lot of control strategies, helped Regis to attack with Regigigas and was an addition in certain Lost Box strategies to power up Snorlax with less resources.
I think this card has been a very solid inclusion to non-V decks and that’s why I am sad to see it go because it is a pity that the format is only centered around two-prizers. However, who knows if something better is coming our way…
6. Ordinary Rod
I must confess that I am a bit scared of losing items to recycle Pokémon for the next few months. Ordinary Rod was a fantastic addition to the "Rod" family, a series of cards that allowed you to recover a combination of Pokémon and/or Energy cards. While you can argue that we’ve had better Rods in the past, I think Ordinary Rod was, precisely, quite good. The flexibility made it a great addition to many decks in the format and the fact that you could recycle up to 4 cards made it very, very powerful.
It's true that we still have some recycling cards like Klara or the upcoming Miriam from Scarlet & Violet but remember that they are supporter cards and it is just not the same. My gut feeling tells me that we will see a Rod reprint very soon (Maybe Super Rod?) but, for the time being, Klara is most likely going to be the go-to supporter for the early stages of the post-rotation format.
5. Aurora Energy
A card that provides every energy type with little to none drawback is just amazing and that is why Aurora Energy has been so popular since it became legal. I think it is always very positive to have some sort of card that allows you to attack with multiple Pokémon and have a more flexible approach to the game. In the past, we’ve seen things like Rainbow Energy, Prism Energy or Blend Energy, all of them with their advantages and disadvantages. I feel that Aurora Energy was the best after the Rainbow Energy since it could be attached to any Pokémon for a very easy cost.
Aurora Energy has had different degrees of popularity depending on the strategies that dominated the meta. It was the Mewtwo & Mew Tag Team’s best friend and it then acquired a whole different dimension with Lugia VSTAR and Regigigas. Another special energy card that can act as different types has recently been announced but, in comparison, it is much more restricted than Aurora, which has become such a core pillar of Lugia and Regigigas that I am not sure of what they are going to do post rotation…
4. Evolution Incense
I wanted to rank this card higher but the competition at this point becomes very fierce. Evolution Incense, I feel, is one of these cards that are "taken for granted" but if you look at it, you will see that it is one of the most effective tutors we’ve ever had. The possibility to search for any evolution with just one card is just amazing because until now the alternative was to use Ultra Ball, which of course forces you to discard two cards from your hand.
Evolution Incense had been a key item since its release, helping to set up your board with minimal effort. It was the main engine for Inteleon decks but also saw a lot of play in other strategies like Lugia (where 4 copies are played) and Arceus variants. I think it is a pity that this card rotates precisely when the ex Pokémon are making an appearance and the format will be, most likely, revolving around them. But maybe that means that we will be getting other item cards to access our turn two Rare Candy + Stage 2 Pokémon combo. I would imagine that some decks might decide to include Capturing Aroma from now on but it is not going to be the same.
3. Scoop Up Net
A format-shaping card, without any doubts. Scoop Up Net has been, in my opinion, the most powerful item card we’ve recently had. Scoop Up Net allowed you to do multiple things like having a free retreat but the most important one is probably that it helped you reset the ability of a Pokémon. This is just nuts.
I could spend a lot of time naming the incredible combinations we’ve seen over the years with Scoop Up Net but just to highlight a few of the most popular ones: Zizgagoon to reach the necessary amount of damage counters, Jirachi (Team Up) or Mew (Celebrations) to find the cards that you needed, Inteleon lines to search your deck all over again, Comfey to keep sending cards to the Lost Zone… the list goes on and on.
The deck that will miss Scoop Up Net the most will be Lost Box, as it was the perfect way to get things going and allowed you to save your switching cards for when you truly needed them. I was kind of hoping that Scoop Up Net would be reprinted but it is clear that they couldn’t allow it to coexist in a format with ex Pokémon as they would become near invincible.
You hate it or you love it. Sometimes both. I think there has not been a card in the Sword and Shield era that has caused so many hard feelings over the past 2 years and if you’ve played competitively or casually, you can totally understand why.
Marnie is a very powerful supporter card that has the potential to turn a game upside down. The main advantage if you compare it with other hand disruption cards is that it can be activated at every moment of the game, regardless of the game state (Roxanne for example is a dead card until your opponent has taken at least 3 prizes). Because Marnie forces your opponent to place their hand at the bottom of their deck and draw 4 cards from the top. The implications are multiple and all of them very impactful.
First, you are taking resources away from the opponent. If you happen to know that they have a Boss Order in hand, play Marnie and watch how they struggle finding it in the following turn. Second, only allowing them to draw 4 cards can have devastating effects as it is easy that they dead-draw. In fact, one of the scariest scenarios you could face was your opponent using Path to the Peak + Marnie to lock you out of the game. And on top of everything, it was a great supporter to preserve resources and to avoid deck out. Instead of playing Professor Research and discarding your entire hand, you could just play Marnie to keep advancing in the game without renouncing to the cards in your hand in the long term. For all of this, Marnie clearly deserves the Silver Medal in this rank. The question that I have is… will it be missed?
1. Quick Ball
I was considering placing Marnie in the number one position but if I look at the impact and how cards have been able to shape decks, I think we can agree that Quick Ball has been, globally, a more popular card than Marnie. In fact, I invite you to find a bunch of successful decks in the past 2 years that have not run several copies of Quick Ball (I am aware that there are exceptions but you know what I mean).
Something to point out about Quick Ball is that it was not a never-seen-before card. It was first released in the 2007 set Diamond and Pearl and, as you probably know by now, it is very usual for Pokémon to reprint certain search cards every once in a while. In fact, we are living in the same situation with Nest Ball, which was first introduced in Sun & Moon. But hey, I think I am deviating from the point here.
When I first saw Quick Ball, I was immediately relieved because until that moment we basically had no way of searching for Pokémon and setting up our field. It made everything just easier and it was not strange that most decks ran 4 copies right from the start. With the arrival of new sets, Quick Ball became even more powerful, especially because it was the perfect option to search from Crobat V and draw some additional cards or go for Lumineon and search exactly for what you needed at that moment.
Even now, at the very end of the format and with many different options, I think it is rare to find a lot of decks that don’t rely on Ultra Ball. True, some of them run the Battle VIP Pass engine but it still remains the best cost-effective card to find what you are looking for. It will be greatly missed and we are now going to be left "only" with Ultra Ball and Battle VIP Pass, both of which are more costly and situational to play.
So, that is it! These are my particular top 10 cards. Do you agree with me or is there something that you would add? I hope that you enjoyed the article but hey, don’t be sad because I think that the future is going to be even better.
Elena - Gaia Storm
Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.