Pokémon TCG: EX Emerald
The new EX Emerald expansion is a bit different from other expansions. Many of the cards in EX Emerald work really well with cards from other expansions. Some of the cards in EX Emerald are re-released Trainer cards, so you can strengthen many of your current and new decks, and there are three new Trainer cards that can further improve your decks. Useful Special Energy cards, as well as collectible holographic basic Energy cards, are in EX Emerald as well. There are quite a few Stage 1 Pokémon-ex that are likely to be useful in a variety of situations. Since the new Pokémon Emerald video game has a new forme of Deoxys, a new Deoxys and a new Deoxys ex are available. Finally, there are new legendary Pokémon-ex that team up with the earlier Pokémon-ex from EX Hidden Legends.
Cooperation is the Key
EX Emerald's Pokémon are very familiar to veteran Pokémon TCG players. That's because many Pokémon with the same names were released in expansions such as EX Ruby & Sapphire and EX Hidden Legends. What does that mean for the typical player? One important rule in the Pokémon TCG is that you may only have a maximum of four cards with the same name (excluding basic Energy cards). Now that new variants of Pokémon have been released in EX Emerald, you can create decks with more flexible strategies.
Two Sceptile were originally introduced in EX Ruby & Sapphire, and one of them (EX Ruby & Sapphire #20) allowed you to move Grass Energy between your Pokémon. The new Sceptile (EX Emerald #10) prevents Special Conditions on your Active Pokémon if they have Grass Energy attached. If you use the two Sceptile together, you can prevent Special Conditions from ever bothering you!
Two Swampert were also introduced in EX Ruby & Sapphire. One of those Swampert (EX Ruby & Sapphire #23) lets you attach an extra Water Energy from your hand onto your Active Pokémon, so you can add two Energy per turn if you have enough Energy in your hand. The new Swampert (EX Emerald #11) lets you move Water Energy from your Active Pokémon to your Benched Pokémon. That means that you can quickly distribute your Water Energy as necessary while placing twice as much Energy as usual! You might even have a Swampert ex (EX Team Magma & Aqua #95) waiting on the Bench, gradually gaining enough Energy to do 100 damage per attack. Or you might use Island Cave (EX Hidden Legends #89) with the new Swampert: you could place Water Energy on a Fighting-type, Metal-type, or Water-type Pokémon to remove all Special Conditions from it, then use the new Swampert's Poké-Power to move that Water Energy somewhere else.
Gardevoir (EX Ruby & Sapphire #7) lets you search your deck for a Psychic Energy card and attach it to a Pokémon, but you also have to put two damage counters on that Pokémon. The new Gardevoir (EX Emerald #4) can remove two damage counters from a Pokémon, though. When you use both Gardevoir together, you can attach the extra Energy to your Pokémon and then remove the two damage counters! So, as with the Swampert combo, you can attach Energy twice per turn. That helps out Pokémon like Gardevoir ex (EX Sandstorm #96), whose damage is based upon the amount of Energy in play. The new Gardevoir's healing ability also makes Gardevoir ex's 150 HP last a lot longer!
Surprise! Time Machine (EX Team Rocket Returns #91) may be useful in decks that have different versions of the same Pokémon. You could use it to switch between those versions whenever it could be handy. For example, you could evolve a Kirlia to the EX Ruby & Sapphire Gardevoir, attach the Psychic Energy from your deck with that Gardevoir's Poké-Power, then change it to the EX Emerald Gardevoir afterward and remove the two damage counters.
Say Hello to Old Friends and New
The question is, of course, how you could possibly put two or more Stage 2 Pokémon into play rapidly? EX Emerald helps you solve this problem with the re-release of several highly desirable Trainer cards, as well as new Trainer cards never seen before!
To evolve your Pokémon quickly, EX Emerald brings back Wally's Training (#85) and Rare Candy (#83). Wally's Training allows you to search your deck for an Evolution card that one of your Active Pokémon can evolve to. If you find one, you may place that Evolution card on that Active Pokémon. That means that you don't have to rely on luck to draw an Evolution card from your deck. You can even use it after you have already evolved that particular Pokémon that turn, so you can potentially get a Stage 2 Pokémon into play on your second turn. Rare Candy lets you evolve a Pokémon to its Stage 1 or Stage 2 form. Since Rare Candy is not a Supporter card, you may even be able to evolve a Basic Pokémon to its Stage 2 form on the first turn of the game!
In order to get an Evolved Pokémon into play, you'll need its Basic Pokémon in play first. Lanette's Net Search (#77) has been re-released, and it lets you search your deck for up to three different types of Basic Pokémon. You'll be able to get all sorts of Pokémon into your hand and ready for evolution! It works well with Wally's Training because you can get the Basic Pokémon into your hand with Lanette's Net Search, play them onto your Bench, then evolve one on your next turn with Wally's Training.
If you're not necessarily looking for any specific Pokémon, you may prefer simply to draw cards instead. PokéNav (#81) and Professor Birch (#82) return to help you draw cards. PokéNav lets you look at the top three cards in your deck and take one Energy, Evolution, or Basic Pokémon card. You may put the remaining cards back on your deck in any order. Professor Birch lets you draw cards until you have six in your hand.
If you want to get Energy cards fast, Mr. Stone's Project (#79) will be one of the most useful new cards for you. Mr. Stone's Project allows you to search either your deck or your discard pile for up to two basic Energy cards and put them into your hand. That makes attacking easier for Pokémon that have to discard Energy cards to use an attack.
Scott (#84) is a great card for plotting your long-term tactics. Scott lets you search your deck for up to three Supporter or Stadium cards in any combination. Those cards go to your hand. That means you can plan ahead for the next few turns and gain an advantage over your opponent. For example, if you have a Fire/Water-type deck, you could use Scott to search for High Pressure System (EX Dragon #85) and two Mr. Stone's Project cards. That would let you reduce the Retreat Cost of your Pokémon, and the two Mr. Stone's Project cards would guarantee that you'd have Fire Energy and Water Energy cards available.
One card that works well with Scott is the new Stadium card, Battle Frontier (#75). Since it's a Stadium card, Scott can pull it out of your deck. Battle Frontier turns off the Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies of all Colorless-type, Darkness-type, and Metal-type Evolved Pokémon. Battle Frontier is especially effective against many of the Pokémon from EX Team Rocket Returns and EX Team Magma & Aqua, since many of the Evolved Pokémon from those expansions are Darkness-type Pokémon.
The EX Emerald expansion contains ten Energy cards. Six of these are special, collectible, holographic versions of basic Energy cards. The other four are reprints of popular Special Energy cards. If you've needed more Darkness Energy (#86) or Metal Energy (#88) for your decks, you can collect more from EX Emerald. You can also get more Multi Energy (#89), which can become any type of Energy (as long as no other Special Energy card is attached to the same Pokémon), or Double Rainbow Energy (#87), which counts as two of any type of Energy but can only be attached to Evolved Pokémon (excluding Pokémon-ex). Double Rainbow Energy also reduces damage from attacks by 10 for the Pokémon it is attached to.
Stage 1 Super Swarm
One of the most exciting new features of EX Emerald is the addition of eleven more Pokémon-ex. Many of them are Stage 1 Pokémon-ex. That means you can quickly gain a powerful ally on your side! All of these Stage 1 Pokémon-ex have at least 100 HP, so they have a lot of endurance. All of them also have special Poké-Bodies that can give you a huge advantage during a match!
Milotic ex (#96) has 130 HP, making it very difficult to Knock Out. Its Poké-Body, Mystic Scale, prevents both players from playing Technical Machines from their hands and causes all Technical Machines that are already in play to be discarded. Milotic ex's Gentle Wrap requires only one Water Energy, but it does 30 damage and prevents the Defending Pokémon from retreating next turn! Reflect Energy does 70 damage for three Energy. You must also move one basic Energy card attached to Milotic ex to a Benched Pokémon, but that is not as bad as it may seem: your Benched Pokémon are becoming stronger as they gain Energy from Milotic ex, and Trainer cards like Mr. Stone's Project can ensure that you have Energy cards in your hand so you can use Reflect Energy repeatedly. Furthermore, a Stadium card like Island Cave can help you keep Milotic ex free of Special Conditions, and you can still move the basic Energy to another Pokémon afterward.
Dusclops ex (#94) has Resistance to Colorless-type and Fighting-type Pokémon, so it can fight well against the pesky dragons from EX Deoxys and EX Dragon. It has a Poké-Body, Dark Hole, that cancels out Darkness-type Weakness for all of your Pokémon if Dusclops ex is on the Bench. The best feature of Dusclops ex is its Shadow Beam attack. Shadow Beam places two damage counters on the Defending Pokémon for each Energy attached to Dusclops ex. Since Shadow Beam does not cause damage, it can bypass Resistance and many other kinds of defenses. Boost Energy (EX Deoxys #93) is a great card to use with Dusclops ex because it adds an extra six damage counters to Shadow Beam's effect! Dusclops ex works well with Milotic ex, too, since Milotic ex can send basic Energy cards to Dusclops ex after it attacks.
Medicham ex (#95) is unique among Pokémon in that it actually does more damage to Pokémon with a Resistance to Fighting-type Pokémon! Medicham ex's Sky Kick does 60 damage, but it does 100 damage to a Defending Pokémon with Fighting-type Resistance. That normally means that 70 damage is inflicted, which is already pretty good. Use Magnetic Storm (EX Hidden Legends #91) with Medicham ex, though, and Sky Kick will now do up to 100 damage for only three Energy! And, as long as Medicham ex is an Active Pokémon, neither player's Pokémon (excluding Pokémon-ex) may use Poké-Powers. The Poké-Body that causes that, Wise Aura, can really disrupt your opponent's strategy.
Camerupt ex (#92)'s Magma Armor Poké-Body prevents it from being Asleep or Paralyzed, so it's difficult to stop it from attacking. Camerupt ex's Eruption attack does 60 damage and forces both players to discard the top card from his or her deck. Eruption does 20 more damage for each Energy card discarded in this way. Camerupt ex works well with Magcargo (EX Deoxys #20). Magcargo lets you place your choice of card on top of your deck, so you can ensure that you will get at least 20 extra damage per attack! Pokédex HANDY909 (EX FireRed & LeafGreen #96) also helps Camerupt ex because you can arrange top six cards of your deck in any order. By using Pokédex HANDY909 to put your Energy cards at the top, #3, and #5 positions of your deck before attacking, you can get your damage bonus after attacking, then draw a card on your next turn and be confident that the next card on top of your deck is an Energy card.
New Basic Pokémon-ex
The Pokémon Emerald video game introduces a new Speed Forme for Deoxys, so the EX Emerald expansion does the same with Deoxys (#2) and Deoxys ex (#93)! Like the earlier Deoxys and Deoxys ex, the new Deoxys and Deoxys ex have the Form Change Poké-Power, so you can switch forms at will. Deoxys' Swift can do 30 damage for two Energy, and it ignores all effects on the Defending Pokémon. Deoxys ex's Fastwave does 50 damage for three Energy, and it ignores all effects on the Defending Pokémon except for Weakness. That means Deoxys ex can Knock Out a Wobbuffet (EX Sandstorm #26) with one hit, even though Wobbuffet is normally immune to attacks from Pokémon-ex.
Regice ex (#98), Regirock ex (#99), and Registeel ex (#100) return to the Pokémon TCG in an interesting new way. These new versions of the Regi-Pokémon react to the presence of other Regi-Pokémon (yours or your opponent's). You can create some interesting strategies by playing one or more of them together. For example, you can pair Regice ex with Regirock ex to help Regice ex remove Energy cards from your opponent. You can use Registeel ex with Regirock ex to give Regirock ex a damage boost. Registeel ex can Confuse opponents if Regice ex is in play. You can also mix in the EX Hidden Legends versions of them for even more flexibility in your strategy.
Don't forget that Lanette's Net Search lets you search your deck for any three different types of Pokémon, so you could get your Deoxys, Deoxys ex, Regice ex, Regirock ex, or Registeel ex into your hand very easily with it!