In this article, I take a first look at the new set, Burning Shadows, and identify the cards that I think have the most competitive potential. I am not going to bother trying to rank these cards (really a pointless exercise especially without any results to go by), so don’t read anything into the order that the cards appear.


You can see English translations for each of these cards on Bulbapedia here.


Gardevoir GX



This is one of the cards in Burning Shadows that is guaranteed to spawn a brand new upper-tier archetype right off the bat, which is always exciting. In fact, in Japan, a Gardevoir GX deck (in their unique XY-on format) recently took down the country’s National Championship, immediately proving that Gardevoir GX is a legitimate contender. Every individual attribute of Gardevoir GX is solid and when you add everything up you get a powerhouse that I think will be one of the cards to beat going forward.

Okay, from the top: 230 HP is on the low end for a Stage 2 GX but it is still great overall. Secret Spring is an amazing energy-accelerating Ability that has no drawbacks, does stack and does not require Gardevoir GX to be Active to use. I don’t need to give you a lecture on how good energy acceleration is.

Infinite Force is essentially M Mewtwo EX’s Psychic Infinity, and we know how much damage this type of attack can conjure up with little effort. I think the comparison to M Mewtwo EX is perfect: Secret Spring is like a better Mega Turbo, Infinite Force is like a better Psychic Infinity in one respect (attack cost), and both Pokemon require 3 total cards to bring the main attacker into play (Mewtwo EX, Spirit Link and M Mewtwo EX, versus Ralts, Kirlia or Rare Candy, and Gardevoir GX).

Twilight GX is the kind of attack that is impossible to write about in anything other than the vaguest terms since the options for it are endless. Suffice to say, the ability to get 10 cards back at any point in the game is incredible for recovery of key resources, preventing deck out and/or simply getting back a game-winning card. Gardevoir GX has a great resistance considering that Darkrai GX is likely to rejuvenate Darkrai EX, and the Metal weakness is perfectly acceptable given the lack of Metal threats in the format.

A great perk of coming from Ralts is that Gardevoir GX gets to enjoy the companionship of Gallade, one of the best cards in the game since its debut in 2015. Gallade adds extra consistency which is much-appreciated in a Stage 2 deck plus it gives Gardevoir GX a strong one-Prize attacker.


Marshadow GX


This is the most interesting card in the set in my view. I have a feeling players are going to be trying to find ways to capitalize on this card’s unique potential for years to come, crafting toolbox decks filled with 1-ofs to open up an option for every situation and matchup. A Marshadow GX deck actually did end up in the top 8 of Japan’s National Championship.

The presence of Marshadow GX in both formats allows any deck to effortlessly pack a counter to Fighting-weak threats like the trio of good Darkrais, M Manectric EX, Raikou and so on. Fighting has not had an easily splashable Pokemon in a long time (Gallade is not “easily splashable”) so this is an exciting development.

Night March seems like the perfect home for Marshadow GX; the prospect of a Fighting Fury Belted, “190 HP” Pokemon attacking with Night March for a DCE is frightening. Marshadow GX seems better in Expanded for a lot of reasons, and not just for access to Night Marchers, as in Expanded it gets Focus Sash, Korrina and Battle Compressor. In both formats, the access to Strong energy is a perk, allowing Marshadow GX to take an attack like Seismitoad EX’s Quaking Punch and buff it up beyond what the toad itself could ever do.

The card’s weakness to Dark combined with its low HP will keep it in check, but I still expect great things for Marshadow GX in both formats.


Vileplume and its line


With rotation just around the corner as well as the recent announcement that Forest of Giant Plants will be banned in Expanded for the upcoming season, Vileplume AOR fans have a lot to mourn. However, for Worlds and the Anaheim Open, Vileplume players can rejoice at the chance to swap the old Oddish and Gloom out for their brand new counterparts.

Oddish’s auto-Poison and Gloom’s auto-Confusion can both come in handy in tons of situations in-game, especially in tandem with Item lock and Feather Arrow. The new Vileplume is also compelling and definitely something for Vileplume players to consider as a 1-of option that is capable of shutting down certain decks like Volcanion (which is one of Vileplume/Decidueye GX’s harder matchups).


Golisopod GX


I think that like Garbodor GRI, this card is going to spawn a few variants, all of which focus on abusing First Impression; you also may see it included in Vileplume/Decidueye GX or something with Rainbow energy. There are a lot of ways to trigger the extra damage for First Impression, from using Zoroark’s Stand In to the new Guzma to Super Scoop Up. With Forest of Giant Plants and the new Wimpod’s Ability you have yet another out to the extra damage if you’re going second. 120 for a single energy is great, but the damage doesn’t have to stop at 120: promo Lurantis, Decidueye GX, Professor Kukui and Choice Band are all available to push that damage up, potentially even into OHKO territory.

With 210 HP and a dirt cheap attack cost, Golisopod is capable of abusing Max Potion and/or Super Scoop Up (and as I pointed out, the latter helps activate First Impression’s bigger damage). The ability to cut through the waiting game other Evolutions have to endure via Forest of Giant Plants allows Golisopod to become a rush Pokemon, plus there is less opportunity for the opponent to pick off weak Wimpods.


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