Pokémon TCG: EX Team Rocket Returns
Wherever darkness lurks, Team Rocket may rise again... With the reappearance of Dark Pokémon in the Pokémon TCG, Team Rocket blasts onto the scene with its mysterious Secret Machines and its own ferocious Pokémon!
Dark Pokémon are Pokémon that are Darkness-type versions of standard Pokémon. Dark Pokémon once had slightly weaker attacks and slightly lower HP than their normal counterparts, but the Dark Pokémon of EX Team Rocket Returns are the strongest ones ever seen! Many Dark Pokémon have the same amount of HP as their non-Dark versions, as well as unique and powerful attacks or Poké-Powers. Most of the Dark Pokémon in EX Team Rocket Returns are dual-type Pokémon, so they are more versatile. Dark Pokémon also tend to team up well with other Dark Pokémon.
Dark Ampharos' Darkest Impulse suppresses evolutions by your opponent. Whenever an opponent plays an Evolution card from his or her hand to evolve his or her Pokémon, that Pokémon gains two damage counters. Dark Ampharos also has a Shock Bolt attack that does 70 damage. It requires you to discard all Lightning Energy attached to Dark Ampharos, but it only requires one Lightning Energy and two Colorless Energy, so if you have multiple Energy types in your deck, you can minimize your Energy loss and do lots of damage (especially if it's Darkness Energy!).
Dark Ampharos can be a good teammate with Dark Tyranitar (#20). Dark Tyranitar's Poké-Power causes your opponent's Benched Basic Pokémon to gain one damage counter between turns. If your opponent doesn't evolve Pokémon, they get damaged, but if they evolve with Pokémon in his or her hand, then they still take some damage. And since Dark Tyranitar's Second Strike attack becomes stronger if the Defending Pokémon is already hurt, it'll be smashing and crushing in no time.
Dark Electrode and Dark Dragonite are another great team. Once per turn, Dark Electrode's Darkness Navigation Poké-Power lets you find a Darkness Energy card in your deck and attach it to Dark Electrode. That helps you attach Darkness Energy to it fast, but you can only use it if Dark Electrode has no Energy attached. That's where Dark Dragonite comes in: Dark Dragonite's Dark Trance Poké-Power lets you move Darkness Energy between your Pokémon! You can have all of your Darkness Energy out in just a few turns. Even better, Dark Electrode's Energy Bomb attack lets you distribute all Energy attached to Dark Electrode to any of your Pokémon. That means you can move four Darkness Energy cards to Electrode with Dark Dragonite's Dark Trance, and then use Energy Bomb for 70 damage instead of 30. Next, you can move the attached Energy back to someone else to protect the Darkness Energy. If your opponent Knocks Out Dark Electrode, the Darkness Energy is already safe on another Pokémon, and that Pokémon can return a vicious counterattack!
Dark Crobat and Dark Weezing make a good 2-on-2 Battle team. Dark Crobat's Black Beam Poké-Power lets you automatically Poison a Pokémon, and Dark Weezing's Methane Leak Poké-Body amplifies Poison damage. Each turn, you could Poison one Defending Pokémon with Dark Crobat's Black Beam and use Dark Weezing's Smog to Poison the other. If one Defending Pokémon Retreats, just Poison it the next turn and use Dark Crobat's Dark Drain or Skill Dive to injure all of your opponent's Pokémon. In a couple of turns, each of your opponent's Pokémon will be badly hurt!
Another good Pokémon for 2-on-2 Battle is Dark Octillery. Its Black Suction Cups attack damages both Defending Pokémon, and it may even Paralyze both of them. Since Darkness Energy cards would increase the damage done to both Defending Pokémon by the attack, you can do an amazing amount of damage to each Defending Pokémon per turn!
It's Rocket Time!
Although Dark Pokémon are powerful, they're still not quite good enough for some Team Rocket members. Beware: not only are Rocket's Pokémon dangerous, but they've developed some of their most powerful Pokémon into Pokémon-ex! Although Rocket's Pokémon are more powerful, most of them have sacrificed their original types and are now purely Darkness-type Pokémon. Rocket's Wobbuffet is an excellent card to start a battle with. It has 70 HP, so it will survive a few turns. It has Amnesia, so you can disable your opponent's attacks. Its best capability, though, is its Dark Aid attack. Dark Aid lets you re-use Pokémon Tool or Rocket's Secret Machine cards. You may either put one from your discard pile into your hand, or put three from your discard pile into your deck.
Rocket's Snorlax ex is another great starter. It has a whopping 100 HP, plus the ability to remove one damage counter from itself between turns if Darkness Energy is attached. All of its attacks require only Colorless Energy, but Rocket's Snorlax ex is a Darkness-type Pokémon, so you can power it up with Darkness Energy. With four Darkness Energy cards attached, Rocket's Snorlax ex's Collapse attack does 100 damage!
Rocket's Mewtwo ex is the most frightening of Rocket's Pokémon. Its Darkness Switch attack can turn the tables on your opponent by swapping damage counters with the Defending Pokémon. If your opponent hurts Rocket's Mewtwo ex, they'll suffer! Rocket's Mewtwo ex can use two other attacks to finish the Defending Pokémon off: Hypnoblast does 40 damage and may make the Defending Pokémon Asleep, while Psyburn does 70 damage.
Rocket's Scyther ex is dangerous because it is too agile for most Pokémon to hit. Its Bounce attack allows it to hide behind another Pokémon by switching with a Pokémon after it attacks. Since it's a Darkness-type Pokémon, Bounce's damage increases as you attach Darkness Energy cards to it. Rocket's Scyther ex is even more dangerous because it can evolve to Rocket's Scizor ex! It has 120 HP, and its Rotating Claws attack does 50 damage. Although it is a Darkness-type Pokémon, it becomes a dual-type Darkness/Metal Pokémon if you attach Metal Energy to it. With attached Metal Energy cards and Darkness Energy cards, Rocket's Scizor ex can become nearly unstoppable. Getting all that Special Energy onto Rocket's Scizor ex sounds difficult, but Rotating Claws makes it easier: Rotating Claws lets you swap an attached Energy card for one in the discard pile, so you can reattach any Special Energy that was previously discarded! Even better, you can also use Rotating Claws to reattach R Energy, giving you 10 extra damage each turn!
Are you sick of getting Knocked Out by those pesky Electrodes? Sick of seeing Special Conditions ruin your plans? You'll like Rocket's Articuno ex. As long as Darkness Energy is attached to it, its Darkness Veil Poké-Power prevents all effects of attacks, except damage, to Rocket's Articuno ex. Its Freeze Solid attack lets you attach a Water Energy card from your discard pile to Rocket's Articuno ex. Its Ice Wing attack does a base amount of 50 damage, so it can cause major damage when Darkness Energy cards are attached to Rocket's Articuno ex.
Don't Forget About Us!
Before you decide that the game will now be dominated by Dark Pokémon and Rocket's Pokémon, think again! There are plenty of normal Pokémon that can counter (or complement!) their power.
Are your opponents always exploiting your Pokémon's Weaknesses? While Kingdra is in play, its Dragon Veil Poké-Power removes Weakness from all of your Pokémon. Dragon Veil even works for Pokémon-ex, so all of your dual-Weakness Pokémon-ex are suddenly less vulnerable!
Magby and Magmar make an effective one-two punch when starting a match. Magby's Detour attack lets you re-use a Supporter card in play. You can do things like using a Wally's Training twice in a 2-on-2 Battle, or using a TV Reporter twice to get extra cards into your discard pile and your hand, or Archie twice to get your Team Aqua Pokémon out fast... there are so many options! You can also evolve Magby to Magmar and gain the ability to draw two cards for every Energy card you discard (up to two) with its Dump and Draw attack, or use Magmar's Flame Tail to attack your opponent for 40 damage.
When combined with other cards, Azumarill is a stunning Pokémon... literally! When you play Azumarill from your hand to evolve an Active Pokémon, both Defending Pokémon are Paralyzed by Azumarill's Froth Poké-Power. In a 2-on-2 Battle, you can use Mr. Briney's Compassion along with Azumarill to keep your opponent Paralyzed for multiple turns. Pokémon like Team Aqua's Sharpedo and Team Aqua's Kyogre work well with Azumarill, since they get damage bonuses when the Defending Pokémon has a Special Condition. Azumarill's attack isn't weak, either: for two Energy, you can do between 20 and 60 damage.
Quagsire is a great stalling card because its Saturation Poké-Power allows Quagsire to remove two damage counters and all Special Conditions from itself whenever Water Energy is attached to Quagsire from your hand. Also, the power of Quagsire's Hyper Pump attack goes up as basic Energy is attached to Quagsire, so it gets stronger as it heals! It also has a Weakness to Grass-type Pokémon, so it's a good backup for your Water Pokémon who have Weakness to Lightning-type Pokémon.
Yanma fits in any deck that uses multiple types of basic Energy. Yanma's Quick Charge attack allows you to take four different types of basic Energy cards and put them into your hand. Many of the Pokémon from EX Dragon, such as Flygon, Latios ex, and Latias ex, will benefit the most from this.
Sentret and Furret will help you build your strategy faster than ever! Sentret's Friend Search will help you fill your Bench or evolve your Pokémon by allowing you to pick a Basic Pokémon or Evolution card from the top five cards of your deck. Furret's Quick Change lets you put up to three cards from your hand into your deck. Next, you may search your deck for the same number of cards and put them into your hand. A sound strategy with Quick Change is to take two cards you need, plus a card-drawing Trainer such as Professor Oak's Research. On your next turn, you can first play your two new cards, and then use Professor Oak's Research to fill up your hand. You can play one or two more cards, then use Quick Change again to pull even more cards from your deck, such as a VS Seeker that will let you re-use Professor Oak's Research!
Some of the Trainer cards in EX Team Rocket Returns are quite strange, but can bring you plenty of success. The simplest new Trainer card is Rocket's Poké Ball. With Rocket's Poké Ball, you can search your deck for a Pokémon with Dark or Rocket's in its name and put it into your hand. This makes it really easy to fill your Bench or evolve your Pokémon into Dark or Rocket's Pokémon. It's not a Supporter card, so you can use multiple Rocket's Poké Ball in one turn.
EX Team Rocket Returns introduces "Rocket's Secret Machine" Trainer cards. They can be powerful when used correctly. Pokémon like Dark Slaking, Rocket's Wobbuffet or Rocket's Meowth can take special advantage of Rocket's Secret Machine cards. However, Rocket's Secret Machine cards are not Supporter cards, so you can use more than one per turn.
One of the most versatile of the Rocket's Secret Machine cards is Pokémon Retriever. It allows you to put either one Basic Pokémon or Evolution card into your hand, or three into your deck. You can use it to re-use recently Knocked Out or discarded Pokémon. For example, if your Dark Electrode was Knocked Out, but you have a Voltorb on the Bench, you can use a Pokémon Retriever to put Dark Electrode back into your hand. Now you can evolve your Voltorb!
Don't you hate it when you start a battle with a Basic Pokémon that isn't a good one to start with? How about when you have a Basic Pokémon in play, but you have an Evolution card for a different Pokémon in your hand? Swoop! Teleporter lets you exchange a Basic Pokémon in play (excluding Pokémon-ex) with another Basic Pokémon (excluding Pokémon-ex). The new Basic Pokémon keeps all damage counters, Special Conditions, and other effects that were on the previous Basic Pokémon. With Swoop! Teleporter in your starting hand, you can ensure that you have a suitable Active Pokémon on your first turn. During the battle, you can use Swoop! Teleporter to evolve Pokémon fast. Let's say you have a Chansey on the Bench with three Energy cards attached to it, and your Raichu was Knocked Out last turn. You want another Raichu, but you don't have a Pikachu in play. You could use Swoop! Teleporter to exchange Dunsparce with a Pikachu in your deck, then use Pokémon Retriever to get that Raichu out of your discard pile and into your hand, and finally, evolve Raichu from Pikachu on the same turn, since Pikachu was already in play the previous turn when it was a Chansey. Now you have a Raichu with three Energy cards attached to it!
Surprise! Time Machine may not seem to be useful when you first look at it, but it can work in almost any deck, especially one with Pokémon-ex or Dark Pokémon. Surprise! Time Machine lets you devolve one of your Evolved Pokémon by putting its highest Evolution into your deck. Next, you get to search your deck for an Evolution card of that Pokémon you just devolved, and then put that card onto the Pokémon.
Why is this effect useful? First of all, it cures a Pokémon of all effects and Special Conditions on it, since the Pokémon devolves and evolves. Second, it lets you change an Evolved Pokémon to whichever form fits the current situation. For example, if you have Ninetales and Ninetales ex in the same deck, and the Defending Pokémon is a Pokémon-ex, you can use Surprise! Time Machine to change Ninetales ex to Ninetales. Or if you have a deck with Marowak and Dark Marowak, you can change Dark Marowak to Marowak when you have several Pokémon in the discard pile.
Or how about using Surprise! Time Machine with Celio's Network? Since Celio's Network won't let you search your deck for Pokémon-ex, you could use it to look for the non-Pokémon-ex counterpart, evolve, and then use Surprise! Time Machine to switch it to the Pokémon-ex version. For example, let's say you have Seadra in play and both Surprise! Time Machine and Celio's Network in your hand. You want Kingdra ex. Use Celio's Network to find a Kingdra, evolve Seadra, and then use Surprise! Time Machine to change Kingdra to Kingdra ex!
In some cases, Surprise! Time Machine can be used to chain attacks together. You could use Dark Tyranitar's (#19) Spinning Tail to damage each of your opponent's Pokémon for 20 damage. On your next turn, you could change one kind of Dark Tyranitar to a different Dark Tyranitar and use Second Strike to gain that attack's +20 damage bonus for hitting a Pokémon with at least two damage counters on it. There are many other possible combos with Surprise! Time Machine, so experiment to your heart's content...