Written by Zach Lesage on 1/23/2024 at category Top Cards
Partying in Paldea
What’s poppin’ PTCGL Store readers? Are you excited to party with popular Pokemon and Trainers from the Paldea Region in Pokemon TCG’s latest set, Scarlet and Violet: Paldean Fates? I know I have my party hat on! I’ve been looking at the Japanese translations from this set, theorying how these cards can create new archetypes, and how they might fit into previously established decks! My goal of this article is to share all of this new set hyped with our community, and give you some reasons to celebrate the release of this new set! Paldean Fates features many shiny “reprints” to bling up your collection, and new collection grails, like Special Illustration Rare shiny Charizard ex [Paldean Fates] originally featured in Obsidian Flames. Wanna build up a collection of many Ultra Rare Pokemon cards? There are approximately 100 shiny versions of popular Pokemon TCG cards in the set that feature alternative colors to showcase the uniqueness of each card in the set. On top of that, there are shiny versions of Pokemon ex in the set, like Pidgeot ex [Paldean Fates] originally from Obsidian Flames, for players and collectors alike. Wanna up it to another level? Try to pull the Special Illustration Rare shiny Mew ex [Paldean Fates] originally featured in Pokemon 151, or even better, the new watercolor art of Iono [Paldean Fates] originally from Paldea Evolved. Wanna add these cards to your collection? Use code zlesage5 to save 5% on your order of Paldean Fates Pokemon TCG online code cards at the PTCGL Store! Let’s jump into my number 5 pick!
5. Espathra ex
Kicking off this list is Espathra ex [Paldean Fates], and this card might be better than you might expect. I like this card for a few reasons, so lemme break those up for you. Its Ability can cause your opponent a headache by making their attacks cost one more Energy. It might not seem like a lot, but would we be attacking with Sableye [Lost Origin] if it cost two energy to use? I have some wild thoughts on utilizing this card with Pokemon League Headquarters [Obsidian Flames] to increase their Basic Pokemon’s attacks by an additional cost, and maybe throw in a few copies of Crushing Hammer [Scarlet and Violet] to add an Energy control element to this idea too.
The coolest part of the above Ability is that it works well with its attack that does 30+ for each Energy attached to both Active Pokemon. It might not seem like much, but imagine yourself playing against a Gardevoir ex [Scarlet and Violet] deck that accelerates Energy in play? Or maybe even a Baxcalibur [Paldea Evolved] deck splashing all of those Energy down? Espathra ex can punish those huge Energy ramp decks by doing extra damage for a minimal Energy cost, and that might be helpful from time to time.
On top of all of that, being a Grass-type Pokemon is a great option in this metagame because of Charizard ex [Obsidian Flames]. In our Standard format, Charizard ex is considered the best deck in format, and it has a glaring Weakness to Grass-type. With the extra Energy requirement from Espathra ex’s Ability, Charizard ex’s Weakness, and the option to attach extra Energy to do extra damage can be quite handy. As long as being Grass-type is relevant in our format, Espathra ex is an option for competitive play.
While it might not seem like much, Frigibax [Paldean Fates] is a welcomed addition to competitive play. Why? That’s a great question! Chien-Pao ex [Paldea Evolved] / Baxcalibur is one of the more competitive decks in our format, and Baxcalibur is the final Evolution of Frigibax [Paldea Evolved] - we have a new Frigibax to Evolve from. It’s really the difference between Evolving from a Pokemon that does minimal damage, or a Pokemon that can draw a card, but will that matter?
I could see the argument going either way, but I’m personally on the side where drawing a card might be more impactful than the 10 damage. The whole fundamental strategy of the Chien-Pao ex deck is to get a Baxcalibur on board as quickly as possible, and then splash a bunch of Energy into play to powerful attackers. Most of those attackers, like Chien-Pao ex, already can scale their damage output, so the extra 10 or 20 damage from a 70HP Frigibax might not end up mattering. In a world where you’re struggling with a rough hand of cards, drawing that much needed Rare Candy [Scarlet and Violet] or an Irida [Astral Radiance] might change the fate of an individual match.
We’ve seen in other archetypes, like Charizard ex / Pidgeot ex [Obsidian Flames], where the inclusion of a new Basic Pokemon to Evolve from can be hugely impactful to the success of the deck, like the Pidgey [Pokemon 151] that searches for Basic Pokemon. While this Frigibax might not be as impactful as Pidgey, it could play a very important role over other Frigibax options that only do damage, or have a lower amount of HP. Time will tell if this card is as impactful as I’m making it sound to be, but I’m a huge supporter of having that option. Plus it’s totally a cute card, so why not?
In a similar position as the above Frigibax is Charmeleon [Paldean Fates] - one of the better unique cards from a set that is otherwise filled with “shiny” reprints of previously existing cards. So you might be wondering why Charmeleon, a simple 90HP Pokemon, is the third-best Pokemon TCG card in Paldean Fates, and lemme explain! I might sound like a broken record talking about Charizard ex, but lemme talk about Charizard ex one last time. Charizard ex, the best deck in our current Standard format, gets a new vessel to Evolve from. We already have strong choices from Obsidian Flames, Pokemon 151, and even Pokemon Go, but this Charmeleon might be the best one yet!
It has 90HP which means we can fetch it out of the deck with Level Ball [Battle Styles], and that card is already played in Regional winning Charizard ex lists. So not only do we get a new Charmeleon to test out in our decks, but we don’t need to change any other functions of our deck to make it work, which gives this card a high chance of seeing success. It’s attack does a mid 50 damage, but that might be enough to bite into a Pokemon ex with a large amount of HP to finish with Burning Darkness the next turn.
Where I think this card truly shines is its Flare Veil Ability because that is what sets it apart from the rest. It stops effects of attacks from hitting Charmeleon which makes it immune to Sableye’s Lost Mine or other random effects you might run into. It might seem slightly specific, but it might protect itself in the event where you can’t find a Jirachi [Paradox Rift] to protect your Benched Pokemon, at least Charmeleon can protect itself. And as an added bonus, there are both regular and “shiny” versions of the new Charmeleon in Paldean Fates so you have options regardless of how you decide to test this new card.
2. Technical Machine: Crisis Punch
We’re finally getting into the truly impactful cards, and Technical Machine: Crisis Shot [Paldean Fates] certainly shakes up the metagame. It might seem oddly specific to complete, with the requirement being your opponent only having one Prize Card left, and it costs three Colorless Energy to use, but it hits for a whopping 280 damage - enough to OHKO a Giratina VSTAR [Lost Origin]. Even though we have Pokemon that can do 330 damage for only two Energy, ok, that was my actual last mention of Charizard ex, there is a world where this card changes the Standard metagame.
Queue in Cramorant [Lost Origin], a Pokemon that has an Ability that allows it to attack for free if you have four or more cards in the Lost Zone. This card is a staple in popular Lost Zone Box archetypes, and it is really easy to meet the requirements with the use of Colress’s Experiment and Comfey [Lost Origin] using Flower Selecting. That means you can slap on a Technical Machine: Crisis Shot on a Cramorant when your opponent only has one Prize Card left, and swing for 280 damage for free.
It’s still up in the air if this strategy is going to be a mainstream inclusion, or too difficult to pull off consistently, but the option is actually interesting to test. If we use Giratina VSTAR as an example again, it costs three Energy to do 280 damage on that card, and it comes at the cost of Lost Zoning two Energy in play. Sure, Giratina VSTAR might be a bit more stable, but a Lost Zone Box build with Town Store [Obsidian Flames] might be able to make great use of this card. I’m personally excited to test this card out for myself, and see if it will make a splash at some of the Regionals it is legal for before Rotation.
1. Moonlit Hill
We are here at last, the best card in Paldean Fates, Moonlit Hill [Paldean Fates]. Moonlit Hill won’t be played in every single major Pokemon deck, but it will find a home in Gardevoir ex decks, and that might make one of the best decks in the game even better. There are a variety of reasons why Gardevoir will definitely run this card, so lemme jump into them.
In order to use Moonlit Hill to heal 30 damage from each of your Pokemon, you need to discard a Basic Psychic Energy from hand, and that gives us another way to ramp up Energy in our discard pile to use with Psychic Embrace. Sure, we still have access to Kirlia [Silver Tempest] using Refinement, and Radiant Greninja [Astral Radiance] using Concealed Cards, but you can never have too many options to ramp up your discarded Energy in a Gardevoir ex deck.
The other big strategy with this card comes from healing your Pokemon, and that works magically well with the forced damage you take from Psychic Embrace. Both Gardevoir [Chilling Reign], and Zacian V [Celebrations], will enjoy healing a little bit of damage to load up even more Psychic Energy. That means you can hit higher damage caps when it comes to attacking Pokemon with a large amount of HP, and that could mean a world of a difference in gameplay. Gardevoir ex is already one of the top decks in our Standard format, and now it might actually become the absolute best deck in Pokemon! If there is any card on this list to pick up, Moonlit Hill is it!
Leave up to Fate
With all of these new cards to explore, I always get hyped up, build a bunch of decks, and start testing games as early as possible. Gardevoir ex, Chien-Pao ex, Lost Zone Box, and Charizard ex are the big winners out of this set for adding to those archetypes, but maybe Espathra ex will appear as a viable “control” deck. At this point, it's too early to decide, but either way, I’m sure that Paldean Fates will change the metagame at least a little bit. Are you hyped for this set? Use code zlesage5 at the PTCGL store to save 5% on PTCG Live codes to spice up your Pokemon TCG online collection! That being said, I gotta get back to the lab, and cook up some really cool ideas from Paldean Fates! I’ll catch up with you later!
About the Writer
Zach Lesage is a contributing writer for ptcglstore.com. 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 the 2020 Players Cup 2 Champion and 2020 Oceania International Championships Finalist, he has proven his success in the game. Outside 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 https://twitter.com/ZachLesagePTCG.