Forces To Be Reckoned With: Everything You Need To Know About the New Expansion and Rotation

Forces To Be Reckoned With: Everything You Need To Know About the New Expansion and Rotation

Hey all! Ethan here, back writing another article in my corner for TCEvolutions! If you’ve been keeping up with the competitive circuit, you’re well aware that this post rotation format will be what makes up our last two International Championships, mainly EUIC happening at the start of April. With lots of familiar cards waving goodbye and soon-to-be new staples and powerhouses coming into the standard format, there’s lots to be excited for coming into our yearly rotation in just a few weeks. In this article, I’ll not only be breaking down the powerful new decks, cards, and archetypes shaping up the new standard format, but also how old and familiar decks suffer or thrive with these new inclusions, as well as cards lost to the turn of time!

Taking a Bow

Whenever a seasonal rotation happens, it’s always important to acknowledge the cards that are leaving the format; mainly those that would be considered “Staple” cards. Staple cards for those unfamiliar with the term, are cards that have a general use in a variety of different decks; these cards typically have a general effect such as drawing cards, or searching out Pokemon. Let’s highlight some of the main cards that fit this criteria that we are losing, and how they impact general deckbuilding.

Battle VIP Pass

If you’ve been playing the Pokemon TCG for the last 2 years, then I’m sure you are very familiar with this card and most likely feel a sense of relief, or a sense of sorrow to see this card finally exit out of the standard format. So many different decks will be looking for ways to replace the effect this card had on their deck in terms of setup. Buddy-Buddy Poffin, a new card I’ll touch a bit on later, can act as a suitable or sometimes even an upgraded replacement for some decks like Chien Pao or Lost box, while other decks like Roaring Moon don’t have a replacement with nearly the same impact, and as a result take a big hit in terms of power via lack of setup. Even a deck like Charizard ex with Pidgeot ex as its support would sometimes rather have VIP as a way to consistently get Rotom V into play (but for the most part is happy with Poffin as its replacement.)

Path to the Peak

This disruptive Stadium card was included in a variety of powerful decks, including some of those that still remain strong contenders for top dog after rotation. However when it comes to deck building, a bigger thing to note in this case is which decks were hurt most by this stadium existing. This is because with the card being gone, some decks can afford to run a lot less stadium cards in their deck due to not needing outs to Path, and can allocate those previously dedicated Path counters to playing either more consistency cards to aid setup, or playing tech cards to help in certain matchups. 

Level Ball

Any loss of consistency will be felt for decks the card helps tremendously. However with Level Ball its absence doesn’t feel as strong as I would have expected it to originally. Mainly this is due to the deck it was seen the most in, Gardevoir, going from one of the best decks in the format to now a mid to low tier archetype, due to the loss of more powerful cards like Shining Arcana Gardevoir, Zacian V, etc. Other decks that played Level Ball usually did so in low copies, and while some decks would surely be a bit stronger with the card, Stage Two decks are typically relying on using Rare Candy to get Stage Twos into play, so at worst Ultra Ball can still grab your one or two copies of your Stage One, while Buddy-Buddy Poffin grabs your basics. 

Escape Rope

Most decks will be fine changing their Escape Rope deck slots into Switch if they need to (or just playing more copies of Switch), however certain decks, mainly Lost Box, will be feeling the loss of this powerful pivoting card. There is a somewhat okay replacement for this card in Iron Bundle, however the lack of constant switching of your opponent's active Pokemon can definitely change the dynamic of how certain matchups are played against Lost Box. Mainly this can come down to Pokemon being a little safer on your bench in the early turns, as well as late game if lots of your Pokemon are liable to something like Iron Hands ex on your bench, it might take a little more for your opponent to force you to switch your active Pokemon with one of your benched ones. 

New Kids on the Block

Like with any new expansion in the Pokemon TCG, Temporal Forces introduces some new deck archetypes and staple cards sure to have an impact on deckbuilding and the metagame. However the biggest general impact comes from the release of the powerful Ace Spec cards that add power in various ways to existing and new decks. Let’s highlight a few of these strong Pokemon, Trainers, Energy, and Ace Spec cards, and see what decks they shine brightest in.

 Miraidon & Koraidon

Continuing to build on the Ancient and Future category of cards released in the previous expansion Paradox Rift, Miraidon and Koraidon give their respective decks, Future and Ancient, stronger options as the archetype begins to receive enough tools to become a strong meta contender. Miraidon’s Peak Acceleration attack provides a strong and consistent energy acceleration option for a deck that gains lots of new attackers (which I will highlight more later on) while Koraidon provides quick and sizeable burst damage early on as a solid one prizer in a deck where hitting hard and fast is the name of the game.

Roaring Moon

Speaking of the Ancient deck archetype, Roaring Moon takes the archetype to new heights with its Vengeance Fletching attack, dealing a base 70 damage plus 10 more for each Ancient card you have in your discard pile. Thanks to a ton of new Ancient Pokemon and Trainers being released, plus the previous Ancient cards from Paradox Rift, you have a super strong one prize deck capable of mowing down weaker Pokemon early on, while cleaning up big ex and VSTAR Pokemon towards the end of the game. A deck to watch out for, and one we will discuss when it comes to meta positioning later on. 

Iron Leaves ex

While simple on the surface, this card has a lot going for it. Iron Leaves ex starts off by having one of the best types, Grass, which hits the powerhouse Charizard ex for weakness. Next up is its versatile ability Rapid Vernier, which lets you move all Grass energy from your other Pokemon to Iron Leaves ex and then switches it to the active position. This means you can load energy onto other Pokemon through various means like Peak Acceleration, Mirage Gate, or Trinity Nova just to name a few, then bench Iron Leaves and switch it in while simultaneously powering it up.  Lastly, for three energies it hits for 180 damage, getting the knockout on Charizard ex via weakness, or can even be boosted by Iron Crown ex to get knockouts on bigger Pokemon in the format.


Buddy-Buddy Poffin

This card is the most anticipated non Ace Spec card to come out of Temporal Forces, and for good reason. Acting almost as Battle VIP Pass’s replacement, this is a must-include card in all evolution decks, as for those decks, it is essentially in most scenarios a better VIP Pass due to you still being able to grab two Basic Pokemon, except you are not limited to only being able to play the card on your first turn. A great card overall that I feel is super healthy for the format and a staple most likely here to stay until it rotates in a few years.

 Ciphermaniac’s Codebreaking

Searching for two cards and putting them on top of your deck is an effect we’ve seen a few times throughout the history of the Pokemon TCG, and this time around it feels better than ever. That’s mainly because we have Radiant Greninja to thank: a card that can almost always allow us to draw into the perfect two cards we put onto the top of our deck with this Supporter. This makes Ciphermaniac’s Codebreaking an excellent inclusion in decks like Chien Pao ex and Goldhengo ex for example; two decks that rely on several multi-piece combos to swing the tide of battle, which Ciphermaniac can easily grab for you. This is a super strong Supporter that I’m excited to see what players do with in their decks. 


Prime Catcher

The return of Ace Specs features some super powerful ones at that in their debut. Prime Catcher has the nostalgic effect of Guzma players might remember, except on an Item card instead. This means you can dig through your deck via a draw Supporter and still gust up one of your opponent’s Pokemon. Or you play a card like Arven to grab a tool card and your Prime Catcher. Decks that will love this card include Lost Box due to now being able to dig via a Supporter and still gust up a Pokemon (plus the switch effect is great with Comfey), Charizard ex, Chien Pao ex due to Canceling Cologne plus Prime Catcher being a deadly combo to knock out low hp bench Pokemon in the early turns, as well as Goldhengo ex for the same reason. When it comes to choosing Prime Catcher as your Ace Spec, my words of wisdom are: “If there isn’t another Ace Spec that clearly stands out, Prime Catcher is always the way to go!”


Maximum Belt

Not many other Ace Specs, especially in the first set, can match the powerful effect of Prime Catcher. Yet, Maximum Belt for some decks manages to be worth the Ace Spec slot. While gusting up Pokemon can be super powerful, most of the time playing a card that allows you to knock out a Pokemon you normally wouldn’t be able to can be an even more powerful effect. When we discuss the Meta shortly, it will be very present how many decks revolving around ex Pokemon as their main attackers/support exist at the top of the projected meta. Due to this, having Maximum Belt as the Ace Spec inclusion can change the whole dynamic of one of these matchups. Now Arceus VSTAR can one hit KO a Chien Pao, or Giratina VSTAR can now one hit KO a Charizard ex for example. Be prepared to face off against decks playing this card as their Ace Spec come rotation!


Mist Energy 


Preventing effects of attacks is always a super strong effect, especially on an energy card of all things. As it stands, the only way to turn off effects of special energy cards is through Temple of Sinnoh, a card that does not currently see a high projected amount of play. Because of this, many decks will have a difficult time getting around this energy card and in most cases will struggle to find answers. Charizard ex decks with Pidgeot can easily search this card out, protecting your big Charizard ex from getting one hit KOed by Roaring Moon ex’s Frenzied Gouging attack for example. This card can also stop things like Sableye’s Lost Mine attack, or even Mawile’s Tempting Trap if we want to really get niche. Point is, the card has a variety of uses and attacks it can protect you from in the current metagame. 


The Meta

Now that we’re all caught up on the majority of new and impactful changes to the card pool, it’s time to discuss what decks will be on top and why. We’ve got a lot to discuss as I’ll be in depth looking at all the decks up to Tier 2. So buckle in! Here’s my projected Tier List for the upcoming format:


S Tier

Charizard ex

To not many people’s surprise, Charizard ex stays at the top of the meta and gets even better with the seasonal rotation. It loses minimal pieces that have solid replacements (mainly Battle VIP Pass can be replaced by Poffin as discussed earlier), its previously unfavored matchups get better due to cards like Path to the Peak rotating, and two new Ace Spec cards Prime Catcher and Maximum belt are extremely solid in Charizard. All in all though, the reason Charizard is the best deck in the format in my opinion is because no matter what matchup you are up against, your matchup feels even to slightly unfavored at worst. Pidgeot ex is now free to Quick Search every turn due to Path to the Peak rotating, and because of how early we are into the format, the amount of decks that are optimized enough to handle the incredible high scaling damage Charizard throws at them as the game progresses is minimal. Out of all of the decks, as it stands Charizard is the one to beat


Now while I’m on the Topic of Charizard, I think It’s important to discuss the differences between the Bibarel version and the Pidgeot ex version of the deck. I already slightly touched on why Pidgeot ex is so strong with Charizard: being able to search a card out every turn is good in most decks, but with Charizard it’s on a whole new level. Find Boss’s Orders early once you're set up to target key Pokemon, or disrupt your opponent consistently with Iono. Additionally, if your Charizard ex does go down you only need either Rare Candy OR Chariard ex, and Pidgeot will find you the other piece. The weakness of Pidgeot ex is that it is more difficult to set up especially early when it is needed and strongest, and additionally it is a 2 prize Pokemon with 280 HP, so there are times where your opponent can take advantage of that and snag two prize cards. Also being lightning weak at the moment is not the best due to Iron Hands ex running around the format in a few decks.


Bibarel, while not being able to grab you a card every turn, does still have its strengths. To start, it’s a one prize Pokemon, meaning most of the time, it being targeted will not be favorable prize trade-wise for your opponent. On that note of being targeted, reestablishing Bibarel is much easier than Pidgeot ex as well since it is a Stage 1 Pokemon rather than Stage 2. Industrious Incisors, while not as powerful as Quick Search, is still an excellent ability to support Charizard, as you can play supporters like Arven to grab Ultra ball, grab an important Pokemon like Charizard ex, and then refill the hand with your Bibarel. Plus against those decks trying to use Radiant Greninja’s Moonlight Shuriken, your Bidoof have built in bench protection even if your opponent gusts up your Manaphy and plays Canceling Cologne. Really, Bibarel’s main weakness is that it just feels slightly outclassed by Pidgeot ex. 9/10 games, the tradeoff for having a 2 prize Pokemon that takes a bit more to get into play is much more worth having Bibarel on your board, especially when in my testing, it is much more likely to get Charizard ex out turn 2 (going second) with the Pidgeot version over the Bibarel version; which is a huge advantage. That’s why I have Charizard Pidgeot as the BDIF at the moment, but Bibarel Charizard is still super strong which is why I have it just behind in Tier 1.

Tier 1


Lugia probably had the biggest “glow up” out of all of the decks in Tier 1, but why? E regulation rotated Professor Burnet out of the format: a card that was essential in Lugia’s strategy before rotation. So what changes with Temporal Forces? One Fluffy Chinchilla of course! Cincinno’s Special Roll finally gives Lugia  a reliable one shot attack which it desperately needed. By powering up a Cinncino with 5 energy cards, you lots of the time force your opponent to deal with it, a single prize Pokemon, instead of other Pokemon on your bench such as Archeops or a two prize V Pokemon. Plus when it comes to one prize Pokemon, Snorlax is still a great card at dealing with them and sometimes even swinging the one prizer vs one prizer matchups into your favor. However its consistency and a few rough matchups to top Tier decks that play Iron Hands ex hold this deck back a bit. 

Lost Box

What makes Lost Box a Tier 1 deck after rotation is the thing that has always been its strength: versatility. No matter what deck you come across, Lost Box can be built to have the answers for it. Currently, the core of Raikou V, Iron Hands ex, and Roaring Moon ex give you the flexibility to navigate any deck you sit across from. Need to race those single prize decks? Iron Hands is there for you. Need to deal with the big Stage 2 ex Pokemon? Roaring Moon is one of the best Pokemon in the format for that. Want to capitalize on the many lightning weak Pokemon in the format (as well as using forest seal stone to find combo pieces)? Raikou V excels in that area. With all of this going for it, Lost Box’s biggest weakness continues to be itself. By that I mean its consistency and frequency to draw into the combos it needs to keep up with other decks. In theory, Lost Box can beat everything if it draws into the correct pieces, but sometimes that can be a big IF. Early game, getting your attacks and prizes are not too difficult, but late game Ionos or Roxannes can be devastating if you’re unable to find Colress to draw out. Regardless, a great matchup spread and high skill ceiling makes this one of my projected best decks in the format.

Chien Pao

This deck was strong as it already was, and didn’t lose a ton of pieces due to rotation. What it gained compared to other decks however, is on a different level. This deck is one of the best users of Prime catcher in the format, as it can always be found off of Irida, hit from Pokestop or with another supporter like Ciphermaniac’s Codebreaking. Plus, Prime catcher + Canceling Cologne deletes benched Pokemon on turn 2 if you’re able to pull it off. With Iron Hands ex to deal with one Prize Pokemon, it becomes clear this deck is strong on multiple fronts. Its only real drawbacks can be its consistency at times, and early pressure onto its board via Moonlight Shuriken or Amp You Very Much. But all of its matchups feel pretty navigable, making this a strong contender in the current format.

Snorlax Stall

I could write about this deck for hours, and it's because I feel this deck is in a stronger spot than it was in the previous format. While some of its more powerful cards like Peonia, Sydney, and Echoing Horn are rotating, incredibly powerful new tools for this deck are being gained as a tradeoff. Eri is the big one to highlight. Having another way to discard your opponent's precious resources, in this case Items from their hand, can make Snorlax even harder to play around, and impact some matchups that could have previously been difficult in the E block format. The second big card is the new Ace Spec Hero’s Cape, a tool that gives the Pokemon it’s attached to 100 more HP. This makes your Pokemon even harder to knock out, especially when you are playing tons of Penny in your deck to deny your opponent prize cards. The biggest downside for Snorlax continues to be the case in this format: there are options. Players can always play more switching cards in their decks, they could play things like Turo and Pal Pad to make it harder for you to trap things. Against a player without answers, this deck can sometimes feel impossible to beat, but with answers, the script feels completely opposite. Matchup-wise, it’s got fairly good matchups, again pending decks are not overteched for your block strategy. However Lugia is definitely your most difficult matchup as well as Giratina still being tough due to their attackers and multiple copies of Jet energy. 


Tier 2

Giratina VSTAR

Giratina is still kicking with the E block rotating, though it did lose some important pieces that will definitely have an impact on how the deck is built and piloted. Putting staple cards aside, Path to the Peak is definitely a card that will be missed in this deck, as no other Stadium comes close to the disruptive effect that card had on opposing decks. A first look at lists from Japan show a more turbo approach being taken by lots of lists; playing Forest Seal Stone with Lost Vacuum as a boost to consistency as well as allowing you to use Moonlight Shuriken earlier than usual. Iron Leaves ex is another new inclusion seeing play in almost all lists due to its addition swinging the Charizard ex matchup to be fairly even. All in all, while Giratina VSTAR lost some good cards, it gained some as well, and as it stands, Tina isn’t going anywhere.


Arceus Giratina

Tried and true Arceus is still rocking in its last year in the standard format. Maximum Belt is the big card to highlight as a new inclusion in this deck. The plus 50 damage fixes so much for this deck. It allows you to hit 230 with your Arceus VSTAR with a DTE, which knocks out a lot of the relevant basic ex’s in the format like Chien Pao ex. It also allows your Giratina VSTAR to reach for 330 with Lost Impact to one hit Charizard ex. And don’t forget; even though Path to the Peak is gone, getting Judged on turn one or two still feels bad. It may not be the shiny new toy in this format, but don’t count Arc Tina out!


Turbo Iron Hands

The highest ranked new archetype from Temporal Forces stars everyone's favorite Future Pokemon: Iron Hands ex! Now with its new partner in crime, Iron Crown ex, whose ability boosts Future Pokemon’s damage by 20, Iron hands looks to Amp its way to the top. Not only do you have the damage boost from Iron Crowns, but the new Miraidon allows you to accelerate energy into play, feeding into your “full throttle” game plan. And the cherry on top is one final new tool card perfect for being attached to Iron Hands, a 4 retreat cost Pokemon: Heavy Baton! Now you can put energies into play, take extra prize cards, and then when your Iron Hands ex gets knocked out, you have the energies to keep up the aggression. And when it comes to matchups, they’re for the most part very solid minus Snorlax, which is very difficult for the deck. 


Gardevoir ex

I’ll be honest, as soon as I saw the list of cards this deck lost to rotation, even as an almost 1 year dedicated player to exclusively playing this deck, I thought it was over for Gardevoir ex. But then I had a flashback to last year’s rotation where a different deck felt in a very similar spot: Lugia. It lost so many powerful pieces and because of that people counted it out, yet even after losing said pieces, it went on to get Top 8 and the first International event of Rotation. So I took a deep look at the deck again after rotation and discovered it was stronger than I expected. At  its core, Psychic Embrace and Refinement are two of the most powerful abilities in the format, which the deck still has. And while you lose key Pokemon to rotation, your strategy can adjust to using a versatile variety of Psychic one prize Pokemon to snipe, one hit, and wall your opponent. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how this deck has performed in testing, and while Iron Hands ex still causes trouble for the deck, the other matchups feel navigable, placing the deck in a solid spot in the metagame. 

Arceus Vulpix

This is the true definition of a meta call deck. I feel that if it didn’t do as well as it did at the large Japan Champions League event getting second place, I would rank it higher. But now people know the deck is good, so it loses its surprise factor a bit, and people may have answers for it this time around at major events like EUIC. Still, Vulpix VSTAR convincingly walls out decks like Charizard ex, which is projected to do very well in this format. So with the right matchups, Arceus Vulpix might have what it takes to be a strong contender in the format.

Ancient Box

I’m always a big fan of one prize decks, and Ancient Box is one of those with a lot of good things going for it. To start, the one prize Pokemon hit hard, and for efficient energy costs. Second, those attacks can be powered up with ease thanks to Professor Sada’s Vitality. And third, the new Roaring Moon has one of the best closing attacks in the game, doing upwards of 300 + damage if you can get a ton of Ancient cards in your discard pile. The reason I have this deck at the position I do in the bottom of Tier 2 is its major flaw of being inconsistent, which can cost it tons of games and be exploited very easily. Its only way to draw cards outside of Trainer cards is Radiant Greninja, which late in the game after being Iono’d to a low hand size, usually does not cut it. And Iono hurts even more if your opponent is able to take Greninja out and you’re not able to quickly re-establish it. Additionally, since the deck really just does one thing which is hit hard, it can sometimes feel too linear and get out maneuvered by other decks with a few more attacking options. All in all, I think the deck definitely has potential, maybe it will just take a list that handles these flaws to allow the deck to succeed at a high level.

While I didn’t cover in detail the decks in Tier 3, I think they still have solid potential, but have various factors that leave them outclassed by the decks I covered in detail.

Wrap Up

No matter what decks you are eager to play with the release of Temporal Forces, this is an exciting time to be a Pokemon TCG player or fan. Rotation adds a feeling of fresh air to the game and is a constant reminder that things are always changing when it comes to Pokemon. I’m sad to see some of my favorite cards from the last few years make their exit from the format (except for Battle VIP Pass, you can leave now thank you) but at the same time eager to see how the new cards from Temporal Forces, as well as Ace Spec cards change the Standard format. 

As always a big shout out to TCEvolutions for giving me this platform to write on. If you want to stay up to date with all things Pokemon, make sure to follow me on X @hegstertcg. And if you want to dive more into decks and learn more about metagaming, deck building and more, send me a message or email to book Coaching ( So long for now, and happy testing! I’ll see those of you going or watching at EUIC!  Thanks for reading!

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