Pokémon’s Standard Rotation is right around the corner and that means out with the old and in with the new. E block cards are rotating out, effective April 5th, shifting the landscape of Standard Pokémon TCG.  That means cards from the following sets will no longer be legal for standard play:

  • SWSH Battle Styles
  • SWSH Chilling Reign
  • SWSH Evolving Skies
  • SWSH Celebrations
  • SWSH Fusion Strike

This also includes any card with the E regulation mark that may have been printed in later sets. This includes Standard staples like Battle VIP Pass, Path to the Peak, Klara, and Raihan. If this is YOUR first time experiencing a standard rotation, lemme walk you through how someone might go about editing their bread and butter deck to keep it relevant in the Pokémon TCG!

Rules to Survive Pokémon Rotation

Let’s start off with what I look for when I try to update a deck. First, I check to see if the card was reprinted in a more recent set. Sometimes, Pokémon cards with rotating regulation marks will have a reprint in sets with post rotation standard legal regulation marks such as Crushing Hammer. If there IS a reprint, then you’re good to keep using that artwork/version of that card. If not, then we gotta use our noggin’ to figure out replacements.

The next thing you’ll want to consider is what the rotating card is doing; i.e consider the effect of that card. More often than not, you’ll be able to find a card that does something similar. Things like switching effects are pretty common in the Pokémon TCG and get printed in varying ways. As an example, if your deck has a rotating switching card, you can probably find something with a similar effect.

Lastly, you’ll want to consider the purpose of the card that is rotating. You might be thinking “But Tommy, isn’t considering the effect on the card and the purpose of that card the same thing?” There is a key difference between just understanding the effect on a card and the purpose of the card. The purpose of the card will explain why it’s in the deck and the goal it aims to achieve. A card’s purpose affects the structure of a deck/how someone would build a deck. A card’s effect on the other hand, doesn’t explain why the card is in a deck.

Considering the purpose of a rotating card can help you determine how many slots to allocate within your Pokémon deck to accomplish the goal the card aims to achieve. This will become more apparent with a concrete example, so let’s get into one!

Let’s Look At An Example

This is one of my favorite decks to play: Lost Zone Giratina. The deck has a very high power ceiling, being able to take KOs it really shouldn’t have the right to.

pokemon rotation lost zone giratina

It performed well during the E-G block of Pokémon, landing me a 4-0 record at a Pokémon League Challenge and I can still see this deck performing well after losing E block cards, so let’s apply what we learned above!

Escape Rope has an E regulation mark. Step one: check if the card has been reprinted in a legal set. In this case, Escape Rope was not reprinted, so we’ll have to find a replacement for it. Since it wasn’t reprinted, I’ll look for cards from a later set that have a similar effect.

Making Upgrades

Escape Rope lets each player switch their active Pokémon with one from their bench; your opponent switches first. This is a pretty difficult card to replace with just 1 card. There aren’t many cards allow you to switch and force your opponent to switch their active as well. Luckily for us, Temporal Forces gives us a solution to this problem.

The new ACE SPEC card: Prime Catcher allows me to switch my active with one of the Pokémon on my bench and not only can I switch my opponent’s active Pokémon, but I can CHOOSE what goes there. Prime Catcher has an objectively stronger effect than Escape Rope so it’s nice to know that not only can you replace a card with a similar effect, but you can replace it with a card that’s outright stronger. This is a potential upside to Pokémon’s Standard rotation.

replacing escape rope pokemon rotation

Achieving The Same Purpose

The next card that I want to talk about is Battle VIP Pass. This card lets the user search their deck for 2 basic Pokémon and put them onto their bench but ONLY on their first turn.

Once again, I want to stress the importance of not just thinking about the effect, but the purpose the card serves. Battle VIP Pass’s purpose was to dump basic Pokémon into play, so it’ll take more than just something with a similar effect to replace this card. Take a look at Buddy-Buddy Poffin. Since Buddy-Buddy Poffin only gets basics with up to 70 hp, I won’t be able to grab Giratina, Cramorant, Sableye or Radiant Greninja.

replacing battle vip pass pokemon rotation

We have to come up with a new solution. Increasing the amount of Nest Balls from 3 to 4 will help us find them more often on Turn 1 and let us find those bigger HP basics. Additionally, adding 3 Buddy-Buddy Poffins will allow us to find Comfey. This should happen super consistently since Buddy-Buddy Poffin’s use isn’t limited to the first turn.

So,-4 Battle VIP Pass, +1 Nest Ball and +3 Buddy-Buddy Poffin achieves the same goal of the 4 Battle VIP Passes, while also being able to use Buddy-Buddy Poffin past Turn 1 seems like a reasonable solution (once again, this is in the context of this particular deck; card count may vary across different decks).

To Wrap Up

There are other cards in this deck that need to be replaced but I’ll leave it off there. Before I go, I’ll reiterate the main points I want to get across for people experiencing Pokémon’s standard rotation for the first time. The first is to look at what cards from your deck that are rotating and read their effects. If you can find a similar effect on a card that will be in standard, then there ya go! Problem solved.

If that card has been reprinted in a set that has the standard legal regulation letter, then you can continue to use that art/version of the card. Otherwise, we’ll have to examine the purpose the card provides and come up with a solution to the problem that the old card answers. Ask yourself these questions. Once you come up with answers, you’ll be ready for rotation! If you need singles to prepare for rotation, order online or swing by our shop!

Now get to brewing, Trainer! Those decks aren’t gonna cook themselves.