Opinions and Stories

TCG Set Review: Base Set 5.3 (XY-Evolutions)

A review of XY-Evolutions, in which Beedrill somehow becomes viable again, the BREAK cards are amazing looking, and Slowbro is less tanky than Charizard.

“Blue Eyes White Dragon is my favorite Digiman card!” – My friend Zach

With the Sun and Moon games coming right around the corner, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) has decided to delay the Trading Card Game (TCG) version into the New Year for reasons. Specifically, they wanted it to be the first set of the next rotation. So what did they do instead? If my guess is right, someone at TPCi said something to the effect of “I know! Let’s appeal to the old fans who got back in due to Pokémon Go by just re-releasing Base Set with XY mechanics!”

I have taken the liberty of meticulously analyzing each and every card in the upcoming TCG set for playability, artistic value, and interesting mechanics. As such, I will be using this article to forgo whatever results I may have picked up from this analysis and just rant about which cards I like and don’t like. So without further ado, here is the twelfth set in the sixth generation, the fifth in the BREAK block, and the equivalent of the Japanese Expansion Pack 20th Anniversary, XY-Evolutions.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions, and the pictures are designed to look right on computers, which seems to result in them looking awful on mobile. Sorry.


Symbol – 
Abbreviations – EVO, XY12
Cards – 108 + 5 Secret Rares.
Dominant Type(s) – Water, but well distributed amongst types present in the original Base Set. Fairy is represented once, and Metal, Dragon, and Darkness are not present in this set.
Card Distribution – 83 Pokémon, 20 Trainers, 10 Energy (1 Special).
Special Cards – 18 EXes (including 9 Megas), 4 BREAK, 9 Full Art.

Cool Cards

Energy (90-99)

This set’s main niche is being basically a reprint of base set. They stayed true to this philosophy in more ways than one, including using the original Wizards of the Coast style of card. The energies that result are a lot like the ones from Base Set as well… AND THAT IS REALLY FREAKING AWESOME!!! First of all, there are three types that were not around in 1999, so this is the first time we get to see a Base Set-style Fairy, Metal, or Darkness energy. Secondly, the designs bring back a good amount of nostalgia and are generally awesome.

Beedrill (7)

I’m known to be a huge fan of the Grass type, so seeing a strong Grass Pokémon makes me happy. Baedrill is a Stage 2 Grass Pokémon that evolves from Kakuna (or Weedle via Rare Candy). It has 120 HP and a weakness to Fire, and is closely based on Beedrill from Base Set. Its first attack, Poison Sting, is a mere 30 damage and poison for one Grass energy. However, its second attack, called Swarming Sting, is where it really shines. It costs a Grass and a Colorless, and reads thusly:

“This attack does 40 damage times the number of Beedrill you have in play to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)”

Get out 4 Beedrill, and you have a 160 damage attack. Not all that impressive either, until you realize that it is a snipe. With 3 Bees out, you can outright KO a Shaymin-EX that is ON THE BENCH. Of course, Forest of Giant Plants (GEN 77) is still Standard, so that certainly helps getting swarms of Stage 2s ready for action fast. While probably not good enough on its own, you can put it into a deck with another FoGP abusing Pokémon (Yanmega comes to mind) for fabulous results.

Ninetales, Ninetales BREAK (15, 16)

First of all, can we appreciate how this is the best looking card so far. Ninetales looks like a boss anyway, and the wisps just increase the effect. Anyhow, Ninetales is a Stage 1 Fire Pokémon that evolves from Vulpix. It has 100 HP and a weakness to Water, and is closely based on Ninetales from Base Set. Its first attack is effectively Lysandre for a single Fire energy, with the added bonus of causing your new target to be unable to retreat the next turn, meaning you almost always get a chance to throw fire at them later. Fire Blast is 120 for 3 energy with a side effect of discarding one. Ninetales BREAK’s attack costs only 2, and reads as follows:

“Discard all [Fire] Energy attached to this Pokémon. This attack does 60 more damage for each Energy card discarded in this way”

So figure out how to stack some Fire energy quickly, Lure some pesky support EXes up, and smack them in the face.

Starmie BREAK (32)

I don’t even care what this card does. I want that golden Starmie and I want it NOW.

Nidoking BREAK (46)

I don’t even like Nidoking. Super intimidating, and the electric spark thingies just make it even more epic.

Mewtwo (51)

I wasn’t going to include this initially, but user Hands reminded me that under many circumstances, this Mewtwo can OHKO a M Mewtwo EX from full HP for only a Double Colorless (keeping in mind that the inverse is also true). The card is quite ugly in my opinion, but it could be valuable in toolbox decks as a M Mewtwo check.

Mew (53)

Mew is a near-reprint of Base Set Mew. It is a 40 HP Basic Psychic type, with a weakness to itself. It has an alright attack in Psy Bolt, which allows it to do 30 damage and Paralyze on a coin flip for 2 energy. However, what we care about here is its ability, Neutral Sheild. This prevents all effects of attacks, including damage, done to Mew by evolved Pokémon. This makes it an excellent tech in a Psychic deck to counter annoying things like Yanmega and M-Mewtwo EX while letting you set up your Mewtwo with enough energy to actually do something.

Machamp BREAK (60)

I never really liked the BREAK cards’ designs until this set. BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT MACHAMP. He (or she, let’s not be sexist here) is showing off how outright sexy (s)he is. This Pokémon has no shame. And the gold? Makes it even better.  All 4 arms flexing, standard BREAK lightning, and general awesomeness make this an epic card. Make Base Set Great Again.

Pidgeot EX (64 [RA], 104 [FA])

Pidgeot EX is, in either form, the nicest looking card in this set other than aforementioned BREAKs. It also has a cool niche: its Mirror Move attack allows it, for one energy, to take the exact amount of damage it took from the last attack the opponent fired off and send it back at them. Feather Lance also is an interesting concept, as it allows you to damage the Active as well as throwing 20 damage on two of your opponent’s benched Pokémon. Overall a really cool card!

Raticate (67)

I feel obligated to mention what might be the most viable Pokémon from this set, even if it is ugly as hell. Raticate has two attacks, each costing a single colorless. The first deals 10 and discards an energy attached to your opponent’s Active. Not impressive on its own, but remember that it can discard Special energy too. Shadowy Bite (not nearly as cool a name as the Japanese version, which translates to Bite From Shadows) deals 60 damage times the number of Special energy in the opponent’s Discard. Given almost every deck runs 4 Double Colorless Energies (DCEs) at least, this can strike for massive amounts of damage from a single energy. Might be a good tech for low-energy decks.

Bad Cards

Butterfree, Rapidash, Sandslash, Gengar, Clefable, Dodrio, Porygon2, etc.

Bye Bye Butterfree!
Bye Bye Butterfree!

Notice those cards don’t have numbers? That’s because THEY DON’T EXIST. I respect leaving some evolution lines incomplete due to their final form not being available in Gen 1 (Onix, Magmar, Tangela, etc.), but don’t leave a Gen 1 evolution line half completed. I mean, sure they weren’t in the OG Base Set, but still… Moltres and Articuno are also MIA while Zapdos is still here, so count them too.

Pre-evolutions of everything above

Same reason. These cards suck and can’t even evolve.

Roll, roll, roll your card, gently to the trash...
Roll, roll, roll your card, gently to the trash…

M Slowbro EX (27)

Ugh, I can’t stress how awful I find this. You need 3 Water energy to attack as a MEGA, and then it only does 100 AND confuses YOU. What on earth was TPCi thinking with this card? To its credit, it does have a cool design.

Professor Oak’s Hint (84)

Is only slightly better than Bianca and ends your turn upon use. Sycamore is infinitely better.


All in all, Evolutions is a pretty good set. It includes many nostalgic cards, and some awesome looking BREAKs, as well as giving me a reason to actually kinda like Pidgeot again. So, here is my final judgment:

FINAL SCORE: Cloyster/10

That’s all the time I have for today, join me in February for another fabulous TCG Set Analysis, and make sure to pick up some cards from XY-Evolutions when they release on November 2nd (November 1st at Toys R Us)! If you have any thoughts on this new set, tell me in the comments thread that should magically appear beneath this paragraph approximately 3 minutes and 37 seconds after this is posted. Just make sure to always remember:

“RED! Now’s not the time to use that!” – Professor Oak

Adieu for now, and I’ll see you all in Alola!

Edited by Jake and bobandbill