Pokémon Standard Rotation 2024: What cards do we lose? | Pokémon

It's this time of the year again! And no, I am not talking about Christmas. I am talking about something feared and welcomed (equally) by Pokémon TCG players: The rotation! This is not the first time we talk about this in this blog. If you want to read a bit more about what the rotation is, feel free to check this article.

Battle Styles, Chilling Reign, Evolving Skies and Fusion Strike … they are all disappearing from Standard. As you can imagine, losing 4 entire sets is quite a lot and that has a massive impact on the metagame. From staple cards that are played in every single deck of the format to entire archetypes, the rotation is going to be pretty hard this year unless last-minute reprints are suddenly announced. I am a bit worried because some of the items cards that we are losing were one of the main pillars of the entire format, so I really wonder if the builds are going to be approached differently from now on or if a replacement will be shortly printed.

It will be a bit complex to cover everything that we are losing in one single article, but I will try to do my best and go over the most important cards that will no longer be legal in a couple of months. In order to do so, I have divided them by themes (I was planning to go with the old-school Pokémon/Trainers division but I figured out this would be funnier). Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Pokémon Standard rotation 2024: What cards (and decks) do we lose?

Mew VMAX: Goodbye to the king | Pokémon

If you know me, I am pretty sure you saw this coming. I have been playing Mew VMAX for ages and even if I don’t consider myself to be a pro player, some of my best competitive placements have been led by Mew VMAX. I cannot stress how incredibly good Mew has been during these years. It has not only won the Pokémon Worlds Championship 2023, it has proven time after time that not even the most direct counters could stop it from being one of the most broken decks in the history of Pokémon.

In Mew’s particular case, there isn't even the question to be asked whether it will survive the rotation, because the entire deck rotates. All of the Pokémon and corresponding items and supporters came out in the same set (Fusion Strike) and are leaving together. If that is not poetic, I don’t know what is. I don’t have the stats at hand right now but I would dare to say that no other deck has topped so much since it was released until its very final moments in Standard.

Mew V, Mew VMAX, Genesect V, Meloetta, Power Tablet, Elesa’s Sparkle and the rest of the gang - they are all leaving, but they will for sure not be forgotten. Oh, and just so you know: Even if Expanded is not a very popular format, bear in mind that Mew VMAX is a pretty good choice there …


Single and Rapid Strike Archetypes | Pokémon

Another set of archetypes that go down. Single and Rapid Strike were not very popular in the past few months, but it is important to acknowledge how powerful they were two years ago when they first came in.

Single Strike was all about pure strength: very powerful Pokémon, devastating attacks, and energy acceleration left little or no time for your opponent to react. The early builds were focused around Urshifu VMAX and other single-prizers that could benefit from the power of Single Strike Energy. While these types of decks were very popular, they always had the issue of properly setting up. After a while, everything kinda evolved and the single strike cards found their place with a surprising new partner. Lugia VSTAR could and did greatly benefit from Tyranitar, Yveltal and the rest and was one of the most popular plays for a while until the meta shifted into something different.

In absolute terms, I have to admit that Rapid Strike has been way more popular than its relative. When Rapid Strike Urshifu was first released, it suddenly became one of the most popular decks with the help of Jirachi, Scoop Up Net and Zigzagoon. The only problem it had was called Shadow Rider Calyrex (more to come in the next section), but it was a very solid choice nonetheless. With time, Rapid Strike evolved and became more like a toolbox deck, getting the incredible addition of Inteleon VMAX and Medicham. This deck always had a very unique playing style in which it will spread damage counters across the board and would then checkmate the game with a well-timed Yoga Loop. While it was never the most powerful deck in the entire format (it was difficult to pilot and Mew was out there …), it for sure did well at lots of tournaments.


Shadow and Ice Rider Calyrex | Pokémon

I have mixed feelings talking about the two horse riders. Shadow and Ice Rider Calyrex had everything they needed to be Pokémon TCG flagships, but they lost momentum very soon. Right after they were released, they both were absolute beasts. For a brief moment in time, Shadow Rider Calyrex was the deck to beat and it even forced decks to tech darkness-type attackers against it. And let me tell you, it was a crazy expensive deck to build.

It took a bit more time for Ice Rider to aim for the stars, but he ended up in a very decent position after last year’s rotation. The deck seemed to have everything: a great attack, a great bulk, great typing, and the help of a great supporter like Mel. How could it not be successful? Well … Palkia happened. It was a much better and versatile card and could deal similar amounts of damage. While it is true that certain versions of Palkia played Calyrex, the reality is that Calyrex stopped being the center and became more like a support attacker for water decks. While we all thought that Ice Rider Calyrex couldn’t do anything at all (it had absolutely disappeared from the metagame), it managed one last comeback and was able to win an European Regional - of course with Palkia by its side.


Gardevoir takes a deadly hit | Pokémon

One of the most common questions whenever rotation is about to happen is: "Will certain decks be able to survive?" This is exactly what I am asking myself right now with Gardeveoir. See, some decks can adapt after they lose a couple of cards and while they might not maintain their S-tier status, they can still be very decent choices. This is exactly what happened to Lugia VSTAR a couple of months ago, that remained viable by swapping the colorless attackers with Single Strike ones.

Right now, Gardevoir is one of the top decks of the format and I would dare to say that it is the most consistent deck in Standard. Recently, thanks to the release of the latest expansion Paradox Rift, it has gained even more flexibility and support Pokémon that help it go hand in hand against every deck. The only issue with Gardevoir is that it is a slow deck, so it is prone to tie frequently. But that is a discussion for another time.

How does Gardevoir get affected by the rotation? Well … it is affected so much that I am really doubting it can continue to be played. It is by far the (still existing) deck that takes the biggest hit. In terms of attackers, it loses Shining Arcana Gardevoir and Zacian V. While Zacian V might have become an optional card lately, Shining Arcana Gardevoir was absolutely crucial to reach big numbers and does not have a replacement.


Then, there is the problem of the set up. Gardevoir is a deck that relies a lot on benching multiple Ralts in turn 1 and, in case that is not possible, it could always use Mirage Step Kirlia to still create a dominant board position. But guess who also rotates? Considering that Gardevoir loses Battle VIP Pass, Level Ball and Fog Crystal, I am now left wondering how on earth the deck is going to be played from now on. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here your go. This is the list that won the Brisbaine Regional just a few months ago and the list of the cards that can’t be played any longer ...

I don’t want to be radical and say that Gardevoir will never ever see play again. Maybe it will evolve into something different and will adapt its play style around other attackers. But what is clear is that if you are a Gardevoir player, you should really enjoy the deck while it lasts.

No VIP Pass … no turn 1 set up? | Pokémon

What can I say? I knew that this was coming and now I don’t know how to feel about it. I am seriously concerned about the future of the set up for the year 2024. Anyone that plays the game can tell you that right now, most games are defined by how well you open up. And yes, you can argue that you need a strong opening hand to win the match up in the majority of the other TCGs, but in Pokémon, the difference is simply absurd. There are some decks that can directly lose if they don’t open with Battle VIP Pass. In fact, Battle VIP pass had become one of the most defining cards in the entire format. That we are losing it means that 75% of decks are now without their main way to set up in their first turn. If that alone was not enough, we are also losing a great card that was meant to help evolution decks: Level Ball. I can’t believe Level Ball is gone just like that but I have the feeling that it will eventually come back in a reprint.

So … what happens now? We are left with a generic searcher in Ultra Ball (that is by no means enough) and Nest Ball. I would imagine that now all decks are just going to evolve and play 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Nest Ball, 1 copy of Squawkabilly ex and a couple of Artazon City. And even with that, I wonder if that is going to be what the format needs.

I think it would be so great if Pokémon decided to just reprint some cards we’ve had in the past like Quick Ball or maybe even Dual Ball, but I am more inclined to think that they are going to keep the format as is for the time being. It is actually very typical that when a new format is created, it stays slow for the first couple of sets.


Lost cards in the Pokémon Standard rotation 2024: Honorable Mentions

What we have discussed so far are the big cards and themes that go away in 2024, but that does not mean that they are the only ones. There are other cards that will for sure be missed.

I would say that one Pokémon that was included in many decks is Mew from Celebrations. The ability to set up and grab Battle VIP Pass was absolutely huge, especially in evolution-oriented decks. We also lose Flaaffy, a fundamental pillar for Ligning decks and Kyogre, who was the ultimate game finisher in certain Lost Box builds.

There is one card that I don’t know if we are going to miss or celebrate its farewell: Path to the Peak. I think this was one of the most powerful stadiums I’ve seen in years and it had the power to just win games by itself. There was a time (well, there is still) when all your opponent had to do was play Path to the Peak, follow it with a Judge or a hand-disruption card and literally just win the game. The power of Path to the Peak has been absolutely incredible over these past 2 years, and while it never was a toxic card, it really was the difference between winning or losing. I personally think that having these types of control cards are good for the game, but I am not going to say that I don’t feel kind of relieved to see it go.

Perhaps the last card I want to talk about is Escape Rope. I am a big, big fan of this card since it allows so much flexibility during the games and I think it is a pity that we are saying goodbye. I am not concerned, because in terms of switching cards we still have a lot of options available, but Escape Rope sometimes worked like a pseudo Boss’s Orders and it was great to finish the game. I do really believe that it will eventually come back again, because it has already been reprinted 3 times since I started playing Pokémon.

Of course, there are many more cards I could be exploring today but I just can’t fit all of them in one single article.And I feel we have really covered the most impactful ones.


Pokémon Standard rotation 2024: Conclusion

A rotation is always something that people react to differently. Some of them love it, some of them hate that the game is going to evolve. To me, I try not to get ahead of myself and wait until I have been able to properly test things - but I’d rather look at this as an opportunity. At the end of the day, it is a matter of adapting to a new world, because if we were always stuck with the same cards, where would be the fun in that?

Anyways, we still have a couple of weeks left until the rotation, so make sure you enjoy your favorite decks as much as possible!

Author: 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.