There’s just two weeks left until London Internationals, so it’s about time we start preparing you for that if you’re going. Or even if you’re not, this article is going to be of use to you because it also aims to prepare you for other tournaments with the new set(s) as well, though the first American Regional after this (San Jose) is going to be Expanded.
Fittingly, today it also became known that the Masters Division for TCG in London was all filled up. So if you hadn’t registered yet, you’re almost certainly out of luck. If you’ve been bitten by this, please do take the 10 minutes of your time in the future to register early because a lot of other players are failing to do just that right now, including seasoned ones. By registering as soon as you know you’re able to go, you’re probably earlier than most of the playerbase and you’ll be guaranteed a spot.
For those who aren’t able to know whether they will be able to go (perhaps due to work or other financial concerns) it’s a bit of a pickle since the admission fee isn’t refundable, but if your only excuse is laziness you really don’t have one.
With that in mind, today is going to be a bit of a mix between a set review and a preparation article. We really can’t talk about London without keeping Crimson Invasion in mind, but Crimson Invasion is going to be so fresh and new (becoming legal the day of the tournament) that it’s unlike many other sets. Oftentimes when a new set comes out people get to test them out in League Cups, or there’s a bit of a build-up over the course of multiple Regionals, but now it’s kind of like the 2016 World Championships where Steam Siege came out to be legal for Worlds and no one knew what to do with it.
First and foremost, I think a fair presumption is that people tend to flock towards tried and true decks, putting in tech cards of the new set rather than going with a risky concept. The Shining Legends set (which is also pretty recent) is perfect for this mentality: the only card with a really big impact for now is probably going to be Zoroark-GX, a card that can be slid into every deck to add consistency which is exactly what players are looking for.
They want to go through day 1 and its 9 or 10 swiss rounds as well as day 2 with another five, knowing that for most games they’ll get set up and not draw dead early, mid or late game. They’re not looking for risky concepts with Mew, possibly getting donked or unable to get a turn 1 attack off: they’re looking for as many opportunities to have a say in the game’s outcome as possible. At least, that’s what the strongest players will do.
There is also always a brand of players willing to try out new things, bringing unproven concepts to the table to try and take advantage of people not expecting the unexpected. But they will be a minority.
With all that in mind, let’s look at the top contenders of Crimson Invasion. I’m going to skip over the binder fodder and the cards that might have potential in the (near) future, and instead focus on those that you might see or play and some cards that have a degree of hype to them.
It took me all the way down to the Psychic types to find a potential ace in this set, which shows just how weak it is.
Nihilego-GX confuses and poisons both active Pokémon when played down from the hand. This gives players back the ability to instantaneously poison their opponent’s Active without an attack like Hypnotoxic Laser did before it was banished to Expanded, essentially adding a potential 10 damage to every deck that has the space to add this in. I think this has vague potential in a deck that often ends up being just 10 damage short of getting a solid KO: Ninetales-GX comes to mind.
However, since it affects both Active Pokémon, you’ll need to make sure that your own Active won’t feel the drawback. Decks already playing a Zoroark-GX line will have the easiest time doing this, since they can just play the Stand In/Mind Jack Zoroark to go in and out. But depending on the situation just a Float Stone might do the trick.
The attacks on this card aren’t very good and it also has a nasty Psychic weakness, leaving it vulnerable to a Choice Band Trashalanche KO if you have 3 or more Items in the discard. For that reason I don’t expect this card to see nearly as much play as, say, Hypnotoxic Laser or the even older PlusPower. But when trying to see how much damage your opponent could potentially do next turn it’s good to keep this card in mind.
The original Regi trio (along with Regigigas) appear in this set with a lot of interesting but gimmicky interactions where they make each other stronger and turn each others abilities on. Regirock itself has a pretty worthless attack but every one of them adds 10 damage to Registeel’s attacks, similar to how Regirock-EX powers up Fighting Pokémon and Deoxys-EX powers up Plasma Pokémon.
This kind of an ability has worked before, though Regirock only powering up one Pokémon in a deck that can (and should) play a couple more attackers already hurts its potential. Depending on how Registeel’s damage numbers work out he might not be needed at all, but in Pokémon 10 damage can often be the difference between life and death so it’s important to take him into account at least.
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