Pokémon TCG: BREAKthrough Trainer Review

breakthrough
Hey there everyone, I’m James Goreing and welcome to a brief review of the Trainers for the November 2015 release, XY’s eighth set, BREAKthough!

Boasting 164 cards in total, BREAKthrough is one of the larger sets in recent memory. However, the composition of this set is interesting: multiple useful Trainer card reprints, powerful and interesting Stage 2 Pokémon, ten (count them, TEN) Mewtwo EX variations and artworks, and a whole new mechanism with Pokémon BREAK cards!

With pre-releases happening last weekend and the set officially being released this week, now’s the time to go over the new set to see what looks like it’ll make its way into the ranks of playable staples. Here are a few pointers and ideas of what to look out for in your pre-release pulls and possible future staples. As the EXs from this set are mostly underwhelming, I think the Trainers are the highlight of this set, as with every set, and accordingly, I’ll review the ones I see with the most potential.

Assault Vest

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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Offering a reduction in damage by 40 should the attacking Pokémon have a Special Energy attached, Assault Vest attempts to increase to defensive/tanking options available, adding to the likes of Hard Charm, Rough Seas, Jamming Net and maybe even the higher HP of Mega Pokémon. The real reason this card should be semi-playable is that this format is chock full of Special Energy. Almost every deck features, and most even rely upon, Special Energy right now. Interesting plays that Assault Vest can offer include:

  • An Articuno ROS in Mega Manectric decks that cannot amass damage from a Meinshao deck due to resistance, Rough Seas healing and Assault Vest blocking Strong Energy buffing.
  • Toad/Giratina decks being pushed into three, four or more hits to take prizes. Couple Assault Vest with Parallel City, and take no damage from Seismitoad!
  • Costing Vespiquen/Raichu/Night March decks extra Pokémon in the discard or on the bench to score knockouts, pushing them out of their comfort zone of discarding Pokémon for damage multipliers.

Bridgette

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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I’m really excited to play this card, and not just the full art. This card supersedes the benching power for non-EX Pokémon over Fan Club, but only in decks that don’t mind losing the versatility of Fan Club. Bridgette searches the deck for either one Pokémon EX or three non-EX Pokémon from the deck and plays them to the bench. Note that by playing the EX Pokémon to the bench, Bridgette does not trigger Hoopa EX or Shaymin EX’s abilities, as they only trigger from hand. This card will be useful in decks that play the Crobat PHF line, Raichu/Vespiquen decks and as accelerated set up for all non-EX decks. Or, to fill a Sky Field bench in one turn, play a Bridgette as your Supporter for the turn and Ultra Ball for a Hoopa EX! Also, one of the rare useful Supporters for pre-releases!

Fisherman

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

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A straight reprint from the HGSS Fisherman, this card becomes useful as Superior Energy Retrieval has rotated out and a new Rain Dancer in Magnezone has entered the format. Being on a Supporter isn’t as much of a drawback as it seems with Shaymin in the format to draw extra cards whilst still playing utility Supporters. Overall, not exactly a staple until more Rain Dancers get printed (and they will), or until Magnezone gets more powerful energy-discarding attackers.

Float Stone

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

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Easily the best card to re-enter the format from this set. Providing free retreat to the Pokémon this tool is attached to may not seem like an overpowered effect, but it sure is useful. Providing a multiple-use switch effect or a free retreat option to promote after a Pokémon has been knocked out allows for multiple strategies to improve, such as the energy cycling of Bronzong PHF, free retreat and status condition breaking with Zoroark BRT, a return to the option of using Tasting Slurpuff PHF and finally a way to not get Lysandre stalled when playing Vileplume.

Giovanni’s Scheme

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

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I love Supporters that offer multiple utility uses, such as Xerosic and Hex Maniac, and Giovanni certainly gives you options. Whilst the draw support may not be the strongest, the fact that it’s still an option and not necessarily dead in an opening hand gives it a slight edge in playability over previous iterations such as Iris. I see this card predominantly finding use in aggressive Battle Compressor decks like Vespiquen, Raichu and Night March. Being able to make up for prized Pokémon or unexpected damage sounds useful, but I’d only feel confident playing it in decks with sufficient targeting.

Heavy Ball

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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After the last few rotations took out most of the targeted Ball search options, every deck seemed to bottleneck down to playing four Ultra Ball as standard. Whilst this worked well with the reliance on Shaymin EX, it didn’t leave many options for decks that needed more than four Pokémon search options. With Level Ball back last set, and Heavy Ball back this set, complete with the usual suite of maxed Ultra Balls, targeted item-based Pokémon search is back at an all-time high. Remember Heavy Ball can hit big names like Aegislash EX, Bronzong PHF, Camerupt EX, Giratina EX, Groudon EX, Heatran PHF, Hydreigon EX, Regice AOR, Seismitoad EX and Vileplume AOR.

Judge

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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While a watered-down N or a hedged-bet on Ace Trainer, the lack of usable shuffle-draw options currently make Judge a decent option for hand disruption. Shuffle-drawing both players to four cards off Judge and a fifth off the draw for turn still offers multiple options, especially considering the prevalence of Shaymin EX. Judge is most disruptive when paired with Wobbuffet PHF, once an opponent’s Shaymins have been used, or to deny access to resources known to be in hand.

Parallel City

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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This is probably the most interesting card in this set, and possibly the best. It’s certainly one of my favourites. The sheer number of options this card provides is ridiculous: the player receiving the red side of Parallel City has the damage of all the three starter types (Grass, Fire and Water) reduced by 20, whilst the player receiving the blue side has their Bench reduced to three slots. The amount of plays this can make is insane. The damage reduction is less likely to come up, and can often be used on yourself with no penalty, with the exception of Vespiquen AOR, Seismitoad EX and Regice AOR, amongst others. But the real meat of this card is limiting the benching options of your opponent. Going from a standard five bench slots to three is devastating, but replacing a Sky Field with a Parallel City blue side cuts five slots, possibly discarding up to five Benched Pokémon. Not only is this crippling to bench-damage decks like Raichu and Mega Rayquaza, but also reduces the options for bench-sitting support options such as the new Octillery and Zoroark, and existing options like Reshiram ROS, Aromatisse XY and Bronzong PHF and Crobat PHF. I expect lots of interesting options to come up with this card. Remember that a Stadium card cannot be replaced by a card of the same name, so a Parallel City cannot be played over another copy of the card to reverse the direction.

Skyla

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

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The reprint of Skyla from Boundaries Crossed comes at a bit of a surprise, but I’m always happy to see more options enter the format. Skyla comes back to a much weaker position than it previously enjoyed, but single Trainer targeting can often be useful. The almost-Korrina option back for non-Fighting decks, it may be useful to target the must-hit Trainer with Skyla and supplement the raw card-draw with Ultra Balls and Shaymins. As with all versatile supporters, it really shines in Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo decks.

Super Rod

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

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One of the most mourned losses from the 2013-2014 rotation, the versatility of Super Rod over Sacred Ash and Energy Returner is what sets it apart. Some decks will still prefer the larger counts of energy and Pokémon returned to deck, but a lot will like the option to reuse tech attackers and Basic Energy. A super-useful versatile safety net on a one-card inclusion.

Town Map

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

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After a three month hiatus, Town Map is back. Prized all your attackers, Special Energy or combo pieces? Take the corresponding prized piece to fuel for hand each turn! Probably a little weaker than in the previous format, due to the range of other problem-solving options available now, such as Hex Maniac, but still a useful inclusion if your deck is combo-intensive or contains low counts of pivotal cards.

The rest of the new Trainers all may serve niche uses, but seem to be less focused than the ones discussed above. Some may prove to be useful, but these are definitely the ones to look out for at your pre-releases and the ones to get excited about seeing in your packs! Good luck with box pulls everyone, and thank you for reading as always.

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