Reviewing Rebel Clash: Competitive and Casual Impacts

Pokemon European International Championships (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images) /

While the competitive season has been put on hold, there is still a set on the horizon. Let’s look at Rebel Clash and the most interesting cards in the set.

While it feels like the new expansion for the Pokemon TCG just came out the world found a way to make the format an afterthought. Due to the COVD-19 outbreak, all Pokemon TCG events have been canceled for the rest of the 2020. However, new cards will be coming out for online tournaments and products will still be available as players prepare for the next season or just try to have some fun.

The next set, Rebel Clash, releases on May 1, 2020. Therefore for all intents and purposes, the format for Ultra Prism through Sword and Shield (UPR-SSH) is over. I will be looking at various new strategies and tech cards that come out in Rebel Clash to see how they would fit into the new standard format. While no events will be held under this format officially at this point the online community is thriving and now is a time for creativity.

I tend to focus on the competitive side of things but will make some reference to more niche strategies to engage all audiences, especially during a time where competitive events are not going on.

These sections will be sorted by type of Pokemon but will likely reference cards from other types as it is rare to have any truly homogenized strategy. For further clarification on any card’s effects please reference the pages for VMAX Rising and Rebellion Clash, the Japanese Expansions that comprise the TCG release.  This should cover most if not all of the cards we should expect to see on May 1.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield in-game shot. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company International /

Grass Types

As has been the case for a long time, there is not much to speak of for Grass Pokemon in this expansion. The biggest impact from a strategy standpoint is building up the tools for the strategy introduced in the Sword and Shield expansion that used Rillaboom SSH to accelerate energy from your deck.

Fittingly, the main attacker introduced in this set is Rillaboom VMAX. For a cost of three Grass Energy and a Colorless energy, the VMAX can use Max Barrage for 130 damage. You can add multiple of 50 damage by discarding Grass energy from Rillaboom VMAX up to three. In the current metagame, 280 damage is a magic number of sorts, knocking out popular Tag Team Pokemon such as Arceus, Dialga and Palkia GX and Mewtwo and Mew GX, with a single attack. With a whopping 330 HP, it is tough to return a knockout before Rillaboom VMAX can knock out multiple threats.

On the more niche side of things, Applin has two evolutions in this set that provide interesting options. First, Appletun has an ability called Delicious Scent. This will allow you to flip a coin each turn and if you get a heads you are able to choose one of your opponents Benched Basic Pokemon and bring it active. “Gust” effects are a major part of competitive gameplay and there has been a dearth of it prior to this set. While this is not the best option available in Rebel Clash it is still something to consider.

The other evolution of Applin, Flapple has an ability called Apple Drop. This allows you to put two damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon and then shuffle Flapple and all cards attached to it into your deck. Spread effects often find a use and while this is on the weaker side it is still something to keep in mind if your deck needs a little extra damage.

The final Grass Pokemon worth mentioning is Eldegoss V. This is a generic consistency Pokemon that is a staple of competitive play. Every few years something is released on a multi-prize Pokemon to add consistency to strategies. Recent examples include Shaymin EX, Jirachi EX, Tapu Lele GX and Dedenne GX. Eldegoss V pales in comparison to these cards in the early game and is not always powerful.

However, when the time is right is can blow a game wide open. Its ability is Happy March and long-time players will be familiar with this effect from a trainer, VS Seeker. This ability allows you to add a Supporter card from your discard pile to your hand when Eldegoss V is placed on your bench.

This can allow you to get back powerful cards like Professor’s Research or Boss’s Orders (more on this later) and swing the result of a game. Eldegoss V even has an attack, Soar Upward, which deals 50 damage and shuffles itself back into your deck, removing a liability from your bench. This card will see plenty of play and may end up being the priciest card in this expansion.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Pokemon
Photo: Pokemon Sword and Shield.. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company International /

Fire Types

For the first time in a long time, it feels like Fire is getting under-supported in new Expansion. Dating back to this time last season with the introduction of Welder Fire-types have been and overwhelming force. Cinderace VMAX has the benefit of using Welder but it not an especially strong attacker and will likely be relegated to collectors.

There are two Ninetales in the set that may see some minor play. First, Ninetales as a single prize attacker has an attack, Hex, that does 30 damage plus 90 if the Active Pokemon has an ability for a single Fire energy. One of the most common Pokemon in the current metagame is Zacian V. This would one-shot Zacian V for a single energy and would only give up one prize in return.

The other Ninetales in the set is Ninetales V. This is a 200 HP basic Pokemon that could find uses in the popular “Welder Box” strategy that has seen a lot of competitive usage this season. For a Fire energy and two Colorless energy, Ninetales V can use any attack of the opponent’s active Pokemon. Getting the ability to copy niche GX attacks in certain matchups can be very strong. The options are endless for this attack and allows for the well-known Fire strategy to play a slightly less linear style.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield in-game shot. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company International /

Water Types

Water has been in a strange place for quite a while. They have some decent energy acceleration in the form of Arceus, Dialga and Palkia GX (ADP) and Frosmoth SSH but not consistent attackers. This expansion gives them a slight boost in that regard.

Inteleon V and VMAX are the main attacked that could possibly stand on its own. Both of the VMAX’s attacks have potential. First, Hydro Snipe, for a single Water energy does 60 damage and allows you to return an energy from your opponent’s Active Pokemon to their hand. Setting your opponent back a turn as you consider to set up can be very powerful and builds to the second attack. Grand Bullet costs two Water and a Colorless and does 160 damage to the active and 60 damage to one benched Pokemon. This is solid damage output and can snipe most evolving basics while putting pressure on the active.

Milotic V is the other attacker in this set that has some potential. Its attack, Aqua Impact, costs Water and Double Colorless and does 10 damage plus 50 more for each Colorless in your opponent’s active retreat cost. This damage scales well in general and with Absol TEU and a stadium to be discussed later in the format it can get out of hand quickly. Pairing this with ADP has the potential to be a daunting strategy.

As a tech, the Galarian Mr. Rime deserves some mention. Its ability Barrier Free prevents the effects of opponent’s attacks done to all of your Pokemon with Energy attached to them. This has the potential for some niche use should a problematic attack become popular. Unrelated, Mr. Mime is one of my favorite all-time Pokemon.

Photo: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield key art.. Image Courtesy The Pokémon Company International /

Lightning Types

Lightning gets a few new attackers to add to an already robust pool in the current landscape. Vikavolt has Powerful Storm, which for the cost of Lightning Double Colorless does 60 damage plus 20 more times the number of energy attached to all your Pokemon. Boltund V has a similar attack for a Lightning and a Colorless than does 10 plus 30. With Charjabug UBB still in the format damage can stack very quickly.

The single prize Toxtricity in the set has an attack that does 20 damage to each of your opponents Pokemon and Poisons the active Pokemon for a single Lightning energy. Spread is always a popular rouge strategy so this will likely see some play on PTCGO if nowhere else.

Finally, Toxtricity VMAX may be a new strategy to see the top tables of competition. With a massive 320 HP, it is a tank and it has an interesting attack. For two Lightning and a Colorless Giganto Riot does 160 damage plus 80 more if the opponent’s active Pokemon is poisoned. Effectively doing 250 damage is a strong start. When you add in Electropower to add power plus Thunder Mountain Prism Star and Tapu Koko Prism Star to attack faster and Toxtricity VMAX could be a real threat once set up.

Photo: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company /

Psychic Types

While Psychic is somewhat underrepresented in this set the two focal points are so interesting that you almost forget about the rest of the misses.

Galarian Cursola is a hit and run strategy dream when they do not have access to Lillie’s Poke Doll. If this Pokemon is your active Pokemon and is Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack you flip a coin. If the result is head’s the attacking Pokemon is also knocked out. This can swing momentum significantly if your opponent is attacking with a GX or V/MAX Pokemon, giving you another wall that swings the prize race in your favor.

Possibly the biggest star attacker from this set is Dragapult VMAX. As it has already been in VGC, the new Ghost/Dragon Pokemon looks to be a staple for competitive TCG as well. It has two useful attacks. For a single Psychic Energy it has Shred which does 60 damage and ignores all effects on your opponent’s active Pokemon. For two Psychic Energy Giganto Phantom does 130 damage and allows you to place five damage counters on your opponent’s benched Pokemon in any way you choose.

Spread is a strategy that has been referenced a few times already but this damage manipulation combined with the special energy in this set and Spell Tag puts the opponent in a bothersome position early and often.

Photo: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Credit: The Pokémon Company International
Photo: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Credit: The Pokémon Company International /

The Best of the Rest

The remaining Pokemon types do not have many standouts to discuss. After a stellar previous set Metal does not add much to the pool that will supplant as Zacian V as the top dog for the type.

Coalossal has tremendous potential but no immediate landing spot. Stage 2 Pokemon have to really stand out to see play currently but Tar Generator is the kind of ability you build around. Once per turn, you may search your discard pile for up to one Fire and one Fighting energy and attach them to your Pokemon in any way you like. There is no current strategy that this fits in but any future Fire and specifically Fighting attacker should consider this card.

Garbodor, for the first time as a Dark type, has an ability that works perfectly with the aforementioned Toxtricity VMAX. Poison Pool allows you to Poison your opponents Active Pokemon if there is a Stadium in play. Between your own Thunder Mountain Prism Star and the ubiquitous nature of Stadiums in the current game, this Ability will almost always be active. This could be the lynchpin for any Toxtricity VMAX deck.

The final Pokemon we are going to discuss is Dubwool V. As a late-game attacker in any strategy with energy acceleration Revenge Burst can end a game out of nowhere. For three Colorless energy, it does 120 damage but 30 more for each Prize card your opponent has taken. The Welder Box deck can make it so your opponent is left with one Prize then Welder and attaching onto Dubwool V is a 270 swing. This will not be perfect in every game but it is at least interesting.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon Artwork. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company International
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon Artwork. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company International /

Trainers and Energy

The core of every expansion is the Trainers and Special Energy cards and Rebel Clash is no different. Full Bucket searches two Water Energy from your deck and adds them to hand. This could be the acceleration Frosmoth SSH has been missing.

Sonia is a supporter that will remind many of Pokemon Fan Club. This allows you to search for up to two basic Pokemon or up to two Basic Energy. Fan Club saw plenty of play and this is a simply better version. Scoop Up Net is another card that will be familiar to people as it acts very similarly to Super Scoop Up. Instead of requiring a coin flip the new version is guaranteed but cannot be used on any Pokemon V or GX.

Skyla is back in the format and while it is not as well placed as previous generations it is hard to imagine this not seeing any use. Tool Scrapper is also back and is the only current way to remove tools in trainer form other than Faba.

Boss’s Orders is the best card in the set. As mentioned before Gust is such a strong effect and the format had been missing a consistent, generic option. Boss’s Orders will be a staple of the format for the entire time it is legal.

Three Stadiums in this set should have an impact on a number of decks. First, Turrfield puts a bow on the aforementioned Grass Box strategy as it allows you to search for an Evolution Grass Pokemon once per turn. Consistency is key in these types of deck and Turrfield adds another layer to it. Training Center allows the turn player to add a Basic Energy from their Discard Pile to their hand once per turn.

Simple yet effective, for decks that discard energy for costs (Blacephalon UNB comes to mind), this can be a solid addition. Finally, Galar Mines promises to be a bother for a number of decks, increasing the retreat of the Active Pokemon by two. Whether it be a stall strategy that wants to strand a bench Pokemon in the active or augmenting the damage for Milotic V this Stadium could be a problem.

Finally, there are four Special Energy in this set and all of them are worth discussing. Capture Energy provides Colorless Energy but when it is attached you are able to search your deck for a Basic Pokemon and put it on your bench. Another consistency-centric card, Speed Lightning Energy provides Lightning Energy and allows you to draw two cards when you attach it to a Lightning Pokemon. Any deck that plays these cards has an advantage in terms of setting up faster.

Horror Psychic Energy is the perfect partner for Dracapult VMAX, providing a Psychic Energy and if it is attached to a Psychic Pokemon and that Pokemon is damaged by an attack you place two damage counter on the Attacking Pokemon. The spread damage of this deck will add up quickly making Dracapult a force to be reckoned with.

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The last card to discuss is an old staple fixed for the current format. Double Colorless Energy has been a powerhouse card every time it has been legal and Twin Energy is its spiritual successor with a little balance. The old effect is there but with the caveat that it can only provide two energy to a non-GX/VMAX Pokemon. Balance is a nice addition.

And that is all for today.  There are plenty of other cards that did not make the cut in this review. Let us know what we missed out on down in the comments.