Steam Siege is looking hot!
It’s that time of year again for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, as the newest expansion has just graced us with its release. The Mythical Steam Pokémon Volcanion is pitted against Shiny Mega Gardevoir with its host of greedy forces as they lay siege to the mighty Gear Palace. With brand spanking new cards ready to shake up the meta, I’m here today to show you eleven of the best cards from XY11: Steam Siege!
#1. Yanmega BREAK
Using a very similar concept to its Triumphant Prime ancestor, our first entry is Yanmega BREAK! The Sonic Vision ability allows Yanmega to ignore all energy costs of its attacks as long as you have exactly four cards in your hand, so as long as you’re able to manipulate your hand size accordingly, you will be able to attack for free. This allows it to attack straight away, as well as not letting it fall victim to decks that play energy denial such as Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer or Team Flare Grunt.
The attack it has the liberty of using for free is called Assault Boom, which does 50 damage plus 70 if there is a Pokémon Tool attached to the opponent’s Active Pokémon. Players like to play tools like Fighting Fury Belt, Muscle Band, Float Stone and Spirit Links, all of which Yanmega can use to its own advantage to apply pressure for zero energy. Assault Boom will be especially good post rotation, as all forms of Pokémon Tool removal will have rotated out, making players more lenient to attach their tool cards without fear of seeing the dreaded Startling Megaphone or Xerosic, and we all know what this means for Yanmega…
Being a Grass type, Yanma can use the Forest of Giant Plants stadium to evolve all the way into Yanmega BREAK immediately, which has its own powerful attack called Barrier Break. This does 100 damage, whilst ignoring Weakness, Resistance and all other effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon. The opportunity to do a guaranteed 100 damage for zero energy is amazing, able to 2-hit knockout anything in the game with a Muscle Band, as well as being able to donk most lone non-EX basics if you go second and your opponent doesn’t bench anything. There is so much that can be said about Yanmega and its BREAK Evolution, so expect deeper analysis in the future!
As a side note, Yanmega is my favourite Pokémon, so that automatically makes it awesome. What you gonna do about it?
The set feature of Steam Siege, Volcanion, comes in two different forms. The non-EX comes packed with a respectable 130HP, and an attack called Power Heater, which for a single Fire Energy does 20 damage whilst attaching a Fire Energy from your discard pile to 2 different Pokémon on your bench. This is a great attack to quickly accelerate energy onto your board, as well as soften up your opponent’s Pokémon for bigger attacks later on, such as Volcanion’s second attack Steam Artillery, which does 100 damage for three Fire Energy. With a Fighting Fury Belt attached, this is able to one-hit knockout the likes of Shaymin-EX, Genesect-EX w/ Fighting Fury Belt and M Sceptile-EX.
Now, on its own, Volcanion is quite underwhelming. Whilst great at setting up benched Pokémon, it’s damage output is limited and it can be generally out-sped in terms of power and efficiency. However, when we combine it with its EX variant, magical things start to happen…
The Steam Pokémon-EX is one of the new dual-type Pokémon to release with Steam Siege, and it comes with an excellent ability to give Fire-types a boost. Once during your turn, you can activate Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up ability by discarding a Fire Energy from your hand, which makes your Basic Fire-type Pokémon’s attacks do 30 more damage during this turn to your opponent’s Active Pokémon. To make things even hotter, Steam Up is a stackable ability, which means using it with four different Volcanion-EX will result in an extra 120 damage! That’s an absurd number!
Going back to non-EX Volcanion, a single Steam Up will make its Power Heater do 50 damage, whilst 2 Steam Up‘s and a Fighting Fury Belt reaches the magical number of 90, 2-hit knocking out most Basic EXs, all while accelerating energy to the bench, specifically the two Fire Energy used to pay for Steam Up. The synergy between this attack and ability is great, proving that Fire doesn’t lose everything without Blacksmith, which rotates out in September.
Volcanion-EX has another interesting characteristic, and that’s its dual Fire/Water typing. This lets it hit two different weaknesses with its Volcanic Heat attack, which does 130 damage with the downside of leaving Volcanion-EX unable to attack the next turn. It can also make use of Blacksmith and Steam Up from its Fire-type, whilst also being able to utilise Rough Seas and Dive Ball from its Water-type. The extended array of cards it can benefit from makes this Pokémon very versatile indeed.
Currently, Klefki is useless. A large proportion of top tier decks consist of non-EX attackers, whilst Mega Evolutions sit behind the covers of our binders, listening in as Pokémon Players all around call Night March after Night March. However, the new Standard Format rotation tells a different story, as Mega Evolutions such as M Rayquaza-EX and M Mewtwo-EX are being seen as the top decks going into next year, and due to this change, Klefki could become a Mega good play.
Klefki has the ability Wonder Lock, where if Klefki is on your bench, you can discard all cards attached to it and attach it to one of your Pokémon as a Pokémon Tool, discarding it at the end of your opponent’s next turn. As long as Klefki is attached to that Pokémon, it is protected from all damage of attacks from your opponent’s Mega Evolution Pokémon.
Being able to set up barriers against these types of decks is great, as you can damage or even take knock outs on your opponent’s Pokémon whilst they are unable to return the favour. To make things even better, all forms of tool removal will have vanished, meaning Klefki will be staying attached to your Pokémon without fear of seeing a Startling Megaphone or Xerosic. Now, don’t get me wrong; Mega Evolution decks might not stand up to all the hype they’re receiving at the moment, but if they do, then make sure to fit some Klefki into your deck so these Mega Pokémon don’t hit you like a truck.
#5. Xerneas BREAK
This BREAK Evolution is one I’ve been very excited to get my hands on for a very long time, and with good reason too. Xerneas BREAK has the attack Life Stream, which for two Fairy Energy does 20 times the number of energy attached to all of your Pokémon. This attack can do a ton of damage if you can get all of your energy onto the field, and there are many ways to accelerate this. The first is Basic Xerneas’ (a reprint from XY) one Fairy Energy attack Geomancy, which has you choose 2 benched Pokémon, and for each one you search your deck for a Fairy Energy and attach it to those Pokémon. That’s plus 40 damage already!
Another way to quickly increase Life Stream‘s damage is to use Max Elixir. This allows you to attach an energy from the top six cards of your deck to one of your Basic benched Pokémon. Xerneas that have yet to BREAK evolve qualify as Max Elixir targets, and benched Pokémon can easily be transferred up into the Active Position by playing the stadium Fairy Garden.
Finally, we have cards like Double Colourless Energy and Double Dragon Energy, which offers two energy instead of one during a single energy attachment. Whilst buffing Life Stream by 40 damage, this means that Xerneas BREAK can be paired alongside Double Colourless/Double Dragon attackers, such as Zoroark, Zebstrika, Vespiquen and Giratina-EX. These Pokémon will give back up to the already powerful Xerneas BREAK in dealing with a wider variety of match-ups.
Imagine if there was a Stage 2 Pokémon that had an awesome attack which you could play immediately before the game even started. Now stop imagining, because Talonflame is that Pokémon, with its Gale Wings ability, which allows it to be placed into the Active Position during the set up phase as if it were a Basic Pokémon. Equipped with the attack Aero Blitz, which for a single Colourless Energy allows you to search your deck with two cards and put them into your hand, 130HP and a free retreat cost, Talonflame will be one hell of a starter, helping you set up your game plan by searching for the exact cards you need, then freely swooping back to the bench to let your main attacker do its thing!
The Flying Wrestling Pokémon comes with a nifty ability called Sudden Cyclone. This allows you to force your opponent to switch their Active Pokémon with one of their benched Pokémon. As well as acting like a free Lysandre if your opponent only has a single benched Pokémon, Hawlucha can help dispel any annoying effects on your opponent’s Pokémon, such as safeguarding and damage reduction, all whilst obtainable with search items.
#8. Captivating Poké Puff
This quirky little tech card has your opponent reveal their hand, allowing you to place down as many Basic Pokémon you find there as you like onto their bench. One great use for this is when opponents start out games with the Pokémon Shaymin-EX and/or Hoopa-EX already in hand. Going first and forcing them to play them down as useless bench sitters before they have the chance to do anything is a great way to slow them down, or create easy Lysandre targets they might not have wanted to give you in the first place. A Shaymin-EX that just Sky Returned back to its owner’s hand to escape the field can return just as quickly, able to be Lysandred and knocked out.
A Pokémon able to utilise Captivating Poké Puff to strengthen its own attack is Zoroark from BREAKthrough, which has Mind Jack, doing 10 plus 30 for each of your opponent’s benched Pokémon. A well timed Poké Puff could lead to a full bench, dealing enough damage to one-hit knock out even Pokémon-EX, and just for a Double Colourless Energy!
#9. Ninja Boy
The newest Pokémon TCG expansion offers up two amazing new Supporter cards. Ninja Boy allows you to choose one of your Basic Pokémon in play and switch with another Basic Pokémon from your deck. This isn’t your normal switching card however, as any cards attached, damage counters, Special Conditions, turns in play and any other effects stay on the new Pokémon.
One use of this card is to get attacking with the appropriate attacker without wasting turns dealing with your incorrect Active Pokémon, including but not limited to Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX, which will sometimes end up as your unfortunate starting Pokémon. Instead of needing to attach energy in order to retreat them, you can simply attach, and then use Ninja Boy to switch into the correct attacker, already primed to start attacking.
This strategy can also be used in Mega Evolution decks, where as well as energy, you can also attach a Spirit Link to any Pokémon you need to. Then, during your next turn, you can Ninja Boy and Mega Evolve immediately, as the turns in play would have passed over to the new Pokémon. This will be very effective with Megas like M Manectric-EX, M Sceptile-EX and M Mewtwo-EX.
Toolbox decks will benefit from playing with Ninja Boy, as each Pokémon for each different situation can stay in the deck until needed, keeping your opponent unknown to its existence until it sneaks in to deal some serious damage. Previously, only decks like Fairy and Water, which had free retreating options, could be played in the Toolbox style, however, now with Ninja Boy, any type can freely make use of a wide variety of Basic attackers to fit whatever situation arises.
#10. Pokémon Ranger
Along with Ninja Boy, Steam Siege’s second new Supporter is a good one. Pokémon Ranger dispels any effects of attacks currently on the field. If your Active Pokémon wasn’t allowed to retreat, then now it can. Did your opponent use Quaking Punch last turn? Well, now you can play your Item cards again.
Pokémon such as Jolteon-EX, Glaceon-EX and Regice all have safeguard attacks that prevent them from being damaged by certain types of Pokémon, such as Basics, Evolutions and EXs. Previously, if you were unable to stop them from attacking, you could just simply lose because of that one factor, and one unbreakable wall. Pokémon Ranger now allows you damage these safeguarders, easily treading over their knocked out forms.
Effects of attacks have been left untouched for a very long time, with the best ‘counter’ being the card Bent Spoon, which only protects the Pokémon it’s attached to. With so many applications, Pokémon Ranger will make it’s way into a wide variety of decks no longer afraid of encountering a wall they originally were unable to overcome.
#11. Special Charge
Being able to recycle energy is nothing new, as we have had access to the card Super Rod for quite some time. What makes Special Charge quite ‘special’ is that it lets you recycle 2 Special Energy by shuffling them back into your deck from your discard pile. Cards like Double Colourless Energy, Double Dragon Energy and Strong Energy, while powerful, have all been susceptible to being easily discarded by the likes of Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic, with the only ways of recovering these resources being to play two Puzzle of Time at the same time, or to use Primal Clash’s Milotic’s ability Sparkling Ripples. Decks like Night March and Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX will be happy with the introduction of Special Charge in their lists which only play Special Energy, allowing them to last longer and stay in the fight!
Quality is usually better than quantity they say. Steam Siege included only 6 Pokémon-EX and 7 Pokémon BREAK, however the ones included on this list shine because of how good they are. Ninja Boy and Pokémon Ranger fill holes many decks previously had difficulty cementing over, and Fire has definitely been given some much needed love with the creation of Volcanion and Volcanion-EX. As the last set to be released before the World Championships, Steam Siege will be a very important set to look at, possibly making world history with it’s contents. See you on the flip side Pokémon Trainers!