Hello everyone! Prereleases for Scarlet & Violet are right around the corner — by the time you’re reading this, you might have attended one already! Every new set has some great cards and others which are… less great. Today, let’s talk about which are the best cards in Scarlet & Violet!
I’ll do this in the traditional “top ten cards” fashion. Before I start, here are the rules I’m setting for this list:
- No reprints of cards that are currently in Standard. The point here is to talk about new cards and why they’re good. Sure, I could do a top 10 that included Ultra Ball and Professor’s Research, they’re definitely among the ten best cards of this set, but that wouldn’t be very interesting!
- Each card is considered according to its potential. I’m more interested about the general power level of a card than its place in the current metagame. Of course, cards don’t exist in a vacuum: the power of any card depends on what else is in the format with it. That said, there are times (especially just after rotation) when cards that are not that great are played just because of a lack of better options, and cards with a high potential that take time to find their potential. (For example, consider Vikavolt V, which was out of the spotlight for a long time before finally becoming playable again due to shifts in the metagame.)
- Finally, note that this is my top ten, so there will be some subjectivity involved. Potentially a lot of subjectivity. I’ll do my best to explain my reasoning for each card!
With that in mind, let’s get started!
Return 1 of your Basic Pokémon in play and all cards attached to it to your hand.
Getting Pokémon back to your hand is a great but underrated effect. There are multiple reasons to do so: re-using “when you play this Pokémon on your Bench” Abilities, healing a damaged Pokémon, saving an easy target (like Lumineon V) from a potential KO, or just managing Bench space.
AZ, Acerola, Cheren’s Care all saw a lot of play, and Penny is, in some ways, less restrictive. Being able to get a non-damaged Pokémon back to hand opens up additional possibilities, such as combining Penny with Mimikyu V (Battle Styles) to use Dummy Doll multiple turns in a row. That said, Penny only works on Basic Pokémon: no healing a 340 HP Pokémon-ex!
Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a good place for Penny in the metagame, which is why she ranks low on my list. However, I believe there’s a high chance that she sees a lot more play at some point this year or the next.
9. Banette ex
250 HP – Psychic
Stage 1 – Evolves from Shuppet
[P] Eternal Darkness: 30 damage. Your opponent can’t play item cards from their hand during their next turn.
[P][C] Poltergeist: Look at your opponent’s hand. This attack does 60 damage for each Trainer card in your opponent’s hand.
Pokémon with an Item locking attack are rarely disappointing. Vikavolt V took a long break from competitive play between the time when it was played in PikaRom and its comeback around the time Lost Origin came out, but it ended up being one of Darkness Ablaze’s best cards (and is still very relevant in Expanded). Seismitoad-EX was one of the cards that defined the XY era. Can Banette ex live up to their legacy?
Being a stage 1 Pokémon, Banette ex is unlikely to ever reach the oppressiveness of these cards, because you can’t start attacking with it on your first turn. Its damage output is also currently limited. However, its high HP and great synergistic secondary attack in Poltergeist give it some advantages: Banette ex can definitely OHKO some opponents, so it’s a threat even in situations when Item lock is not that problematic.
It might take time for Banette ex to find a spot in the metagame, but if Item-heavy decks become dominant, or if good cards are printed to work alongside Item lock (maybe effective damage modifiers or a way to easily heal a damaged Banette ex), you can expect this card to see a lot more play.
Search your deck for an Item card and a Pokémon Tool card, reveal them, and put them in your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.
Upon Pokémon Scarlet & Violet’s release, a new rule takes place: Pokémon Tools will no longer be a subcategory of Item cards, but will be their own type of Trainer cards. This will affect some older cards: for example, you can no longer find a Choice Belt with Mew CEL’s Mysterious Tail Ability.
Thankfully, Arven can still search for a Pokémon Tool in the deck, alongside an Item.
One reason that makes Arven good now is the fact that it can search for Forest Seal Stone or Sky Seal Stone, two high-value Item cards. By searching for Forest Seal Stone, your first Arven can basically grab anything from your deck, assuming you don’t need to use another VSTAR Power.
Being able to grab an Item is also a rare effect, especially after Drizzile and Inteleon SSH rotate. Stage 2 decks, which are likely to become more popular as powerful Pokémon ex are printed, benefit greatly from having a way to search for Rare Candy, and Arven could be that.
Right upon its release, Arven is likely to be played in Miraidon ex (which plays both Forest Seal Stone and a powerful new Item card I’ll mention later) and in builds of Gardevoir ex that run Sky Seal Stone.
70 HP – Fighting
Ability: Flying Entry
When you play this Pokémon from your hand onto your Bench during your turn, you may choose 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and put 1 damage counter on each of them.
[F][C][C] Wing Attack: 70 damage.
Galarian Zigzagoon rotates, but Hawlucha is a worthy replacement, being able to put two damage counters on the opponent’s board, albeit only on the Bench. Hawlucha is much less flexible than Galarian Zigzagoon, being only useful in decks that want to attack the opponent’s Bench, and with Scoop Up Net being gone, its potential is limited, at least for now.
However, Hawlucha has great synergy with Sableye: Flying Entry allows Sableye’s Lost Mine to KO two 70-HP Pokémon, such as Ralts and Manaphy. Since Sableye is one of the post-rotation format’s best cards, I’m sure Hawlucha will find its way into some Lost Zone builds.
6. Miraidon ex
220 HP – Lightning
Ability: Tandem Unit
Once during your turn, you may search your deck for 2 Basic [L] Pokémon and put them onto your Bench. Then, shuffle your deck.
[L][L][C] Photon Blaster: 220 damage. During your next turn, this Pokémon can’t attack.
You might be surprised to see Miraidon ex so low in this top ten. Let’s go over its strengths: it’s a fantastic Pokémon to set up a board of Lightning-type Pokémon. With a single Miraidon ex, you can search for a Regieleki V and another Miraidon ex, which can then search for two Miraidon ex. Who needs Pokémon-searching Item cards when you can set up your board that easily?!
Miraidon is also a strong attacker, especially combined with Regieleki VMAX as hinted above… but its attack requires three Energy. Yes, there’s an easy way to accelerate Energy. Once again, I’ll talk more about it when I get to the relevant card, a few spots down this list!
Basically, Miraidon ex is great, but the true reason why it will see so much play is yet to appear on this list.
5. Beach Court
The Retreat Cost of each Basic Pokémon in play is [C] less.
Beach Court is, effectively, a reprint of Skyarrow Bridge, a Stadium that saw quite a bit of play when it was released in Next Destinies. Just like its predecessor, it pairs very well with Basic Pokémon that have a retreat cost of one and an Ability that only works when they’re Active: Comfey LOR, Mew CEL, and even some unlikely contenders like Celebi SHF.
Beach Court’s position in this list is probably helped by the fact that it releases at the same time that Air Balloon and Scoop Up Net rotate out of Standard, which leaves the Pokémon above in great need of an easy way to retreat. Lost Zone Box and Giratina are sure to make great use of this Stadium so they don’t have to attach an Energy every time they want to retreat a Comfey.
Upon release, Beach Court will probably be the most played Stadium in the format, and I think it won’t be close, which is, I think, a good reason to put it as the fifth card in this top ten.
4. Electric Generator
Look at the top 5 cards of your deck and attach up to 2 Basic [L] Energy cards you find there to your Benched [L] Pokémon in any way you like. Shuffle the other cards back into your deck.
This is it: the reason why Miraidon ex is so good. Without it, Miraidon ex is a good card, but it would have to be played alongside Flaaffy, which would be slow and require Bench space (which means fewer Regieleki VMAX in play). Thanks to Electric Generator, Miraidon ex can use Photon Blaster, potentially, on the first turn of the game, making it a much faster threat.
In addition to Miraidon ex, Electric Generator can power up plenty of other attackers as well. Regieleki VMAX is mostly a support Pokémon, but with its high HP and powerful attack, it can be the best attacker at some points. Regieleki V also has situational but useful attacks. Electric Generator can also be used to power up other powerful attackers such as Flying Pikachu VMAX, Raikou V, and Luxray V. Moreover, whenever a new Lightning-type Pokémon gets released in the years to come, we’ll have to consider whether it could be good combined with Electric Generator
That’s why I believe that, between Miraidon ex and Electric Generator, the latter is the better of the two, and why I rank it higher. Electric Generator works even if Miraidon ex wasn’t around; Miraidon ex’s power, on the other hand, comes largely from Electric Generator.
3. Nest Ball
Search your deck for a Basic Pokémon and put it onto your Bench. Then, shuffle your deck.
Is this a boring choice? Probably. I considered excluding Nest Ball from my list, since it’s a reprint of an older card, but then it would be strange to allow Beach Court on the list even though it’s just as much of a reprint, except with a different name. Therefore, Nest Ball is eligible, and since it’s one of the best cards in the set, it gets a spot here.
There’s not much to say about this card, though. It’s an easy way to search for Basic Pokémon. It will largely fill the hole left by Quick Ball (and Capture Energy), although since it puts the Pokémon directly in play, it can’t be used with Lumineon V. Still, most decks will want high counts of Nest Ball, so it will probably the most played card of Scarlet & Violet.
Should I have ranked it as #1 for this reason? Maybe, but I chose not to, for two reasons. First, Nest Ball is not that amazing: it’s worse than Quick Ball in most decks, and many decks have specific cards that work better for them (like Fog Crystal or Level Ball). Nest Ball will see widespread play because it’s so universal, so every deck can use it, even if it’s not their first choice. But Basic Pokémon search is very important and Nest Ball is what we have for that, so Nest Ball is what will see play. The second reason is that honestly, it would be boring to end this top ten with Nest Ball!
70 HP – Psychic
Ability: Mischievous Lock
As long as this Pokémon is in the Active Spot, Basic Pokémon in play (both yours and your opponent’s) have no Abilities, except for Mischievous Lock.
[C] Knock Off: 10 damage. Before doing damage, discard all Pokémon Tool cards attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.
Genesect V. Comfey. Radiant Greninja. Lumineon V. Mew. Miraidon ex. What do these cards have in common? They’re extremely powerful consistency cards in their respective decks, and they’re also shut down by Klefki.
I like lock cards. I think that having disruption makes the game more interesting: you have to account for it when deckbuilding (don’t play a deck with 35 Items if Item lock is popular!), and it offers ways to make the game less straightforward than a simple Prize race. Being a Basic Pokémon, Klefki can start impacting the game very quickly, slowing down many aggressive decks. This makes Klefki a great asset for slow decks that want to take time to set up, and I think that these decks are great for the game and enjoyable to play, so I’m very happy to see Klefki!
Klefki brings to my mind two important cards: Wobbuffet PHF and Silent Lab. Both these cards were used in many different decks while in Standard, and have stayed relevant in Expanded to this day. I believe that Klefki could see similar success and I’m convinced it will see a lot of play over the course of its time in Standard.
The fact that it shuts off your own Abilities does have one downside: many decks use low HP Pokémon (especially slow decks which might have Basic Pokémon that need to evolve), and have to run Manaphy in order to protect them. Klefki shuts down your Manaphy’s Ability, so if you run it, a Lost Zone Box opponent could Boss it at some point and use Moonlight Shuriken to KO two of your Pokémon (if nothing else, they can KO Klefki and Manaphy themselves). That said, this doesn’t detract much from the fact that Klefki is likely going to be a pillar of the metagame for some time.
1. Gardevoir ex
310 HP – Psychic
Stage 2 – Evolves from Kirlia
Ability: Psychic Embrace
As often as you like during your turn, you may attach a Basic [P] Energy from your discard pile to 1 of your [P] Pokémon. If you do, put 2 damage counters on that Pokémon. (You can’t use this Ability to attach an Energy to a Pokémon that has 20 HP or less remaining.)
[P][P][C] Miraculous Force: 190 damage. This Pokémon recovers from all Special Conditions.
That’s right, I’m putting a stage 2 Pokémon as my top card of Scarlet & Violet! I told you I was going to be subjective, right?
Gardevoir ex has perhaps the best Energy accelerating Ability in the whole game. Yes, I know about Archeops, but you need two Archeops for best results, while you only need one Gardevoir ex, and post-rotation, Archeops loses a lot of its best Energy.
Gardevoir ex can bring back all the Energy from your discard into play. Before it, you needed a weird four-card Expanded combo (Eternatus VMAX, Weavile-GX, Darkrai-GX and Kecleon CRE) to achieve this result. And there just so happen to be some Pokémon, like Zacian V CEL, that benefit a lot from all these Psychic Energy!
It helps that Gardevoir ex is, well, a Gardevoir: a Pokémon that seems to be heavily favored among the game’s designers. Gardevoir ex definitely derives a lot of its strength from it’s family: Kirlia SIT has the fantastic Refinement Ability that makes it a draw engine on par with Zoroark-GX, and you have the option to run a Kirlia CRE to use Mirage Step if you couldn’t play a bunch of Ralts on your first turn. Then, in addition to Gardevoir ex, these Kirlia can evolve into Gardevoir CRE, which has both another draw Ability that doubles as potential Energy acceleration, and an attack that, like Zacian V’s, benefits from having plenty of Energy in play. Or Kirlia could evolve into Gallade ASR, which can search for any Supporter once per turn.
Does Gardevoir ex deserve the top spot in this list? Maybe not, depending on your criteria. However, I think that this card is exactly what the game needs more of: a slow Pokémon whose strength doesn’t come from huge damage, but from a Ability powerful enough that it’s worth playing around it. We were promised that the Scarlet & Violet block would feature comeback mechanics as a theme: slow set up decks like Gardevoir are decks that can benefit a lot from the cards that would embody such mechanics. The ball is in the designers’ court, but I believe that Gardevoir ex could have the potential to be both a powerhouse and a healthy deck for the format. So even if, power-wise, it might not end up as strong as this first place would suggest, Gardevoir ex is in first place in my heart, and that’s what matters in the end. Because it’s *my* top ten!
Let’s end this article with a few cards that could have deserved a spot:
- Revavroom: I like this card in theory, but it has stiff competition in Bibarel, and I’m not sure that there are decks that will actually end up preferring Revavroom to Bibarel. It’s definitely a card to keep in mind, though.
- Miriam: I like the card’s design, but I don’t think it’s all that good. Miriam will definitely see play, but mostly because there are few options for Pokémon recovery. If something like Super Rod gets reprinted, Miriam will probably be forgotten pretty fast.
- Koraidon ex: Compared to Miraidon ex, Kiraidon ex is disappointing, but mostly because it doesn’t have the same Energy acceleration that Miraidon ex has. I think there’s potential for Koraidon ex to be played at some point, it might just need some better partners.
Overall, Scarlet & Violet isn’t the most impactful set ever, far from it, but it has a good variety of powerful cards. It will be very interesting to see how the format develops, and whether the cards that I feel have potential will indeed end up being played, or whether they’ll be duds.
In any case, and whether you agree with my top ten or not, thanks for reading!