Pokémon Cards in Paradox Rift (11/1/2023)

I've yet to mention it on the site, but I would say one of my biggest hobbies revolves around the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Biggest, in that it causes me to not only purchase a phyiscal product but also go outside and interact with other human beings. That is to say, I really enjoy it. Did you know cards and decks are way cheaper than most other card games? It's great to play at almost any level.

As of this writing, there's a lot of buzz and excitement about the upcoming set, Paradox Rift, which introduces Ancient and Future Pokémon and related Trainer cards. Let's highlight a few cards from the set.

Iron Hands ex

Arm Press 160

Amp You Very Much
If your opponent's Pokémon is Knocked Out by damage from this attack, take 1 more Prize card. 120

Not content to tear up just VGC (I think? VGC is going through a lot of chaos), Iron Hands is making a big splash in the TCG as well. While a four retreat cost is serious thickness, 230 HP is an asset. Getting down to business though "Take 1 more prize card" is simply one of the best pieces of text you could see on any card in the game. The last time this kind of text appeared, was the infamous Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX card during the end of the Sun & Moon era. While not quite that strong, Iron Hands ex becomes an extremely appealing option to try and include into a deck to help deal with single prizer decks.

This should prove very advantageous for any deck that was having trouble beating the varieties of Lost Zone Box. If you're unfamiliar with the Pokémon TCG, a "single prizer" is a Pokémon that gives up only one prize when KO'd. More powerful cards will give up two (or more!) prizes. Not every Pokémon with a Rule Box is a multi-prizer (Radiant Pokémon still give up one), but most are. Your typical deck will include a fair amount of these multi-prize pocket monsters as primary pieces. A single prize deck, if powerful enough, can have a huge advantage in the race to take 6 prizes and win the game. This balancing act can be really interesting in deckbuilding and game balance.

But not any more! Iron Hands can knock out 90% of single-prizers and turn them into multi-prizers, ruining this big advantage. Not to mention, multi-prize cards with a Lightning weakness or any with damage counters on it will also have an additional prize taken. Cards like Squawkabilly ex or Lumineon V are even bigger liabilities now.

Being one Lightning Energy and three Colorless Energy, "Amp You Very Much" seems designed to allow for teching. What decks can splash in Iron Hands?

In my opinion, the biggest and best splash will be seen in Chien-Pao ex. Lost Box has, so far, been a more difficult matchup for Chien-Pao, who lacks a reliable single prize pivot and is just way better at taking out big targets rather than six targets. With Baxcalibur's ability to accelerate unlimited Water Energy from the hand, it takes a relatively simple searching of a Lightning Energy as a manual attachment to power up Iron Hands ex at nearly any time.

Miraidon ex also has a strong chance to include Iron Hands ex, with Electric Generator and Flaafy to power up the attack. One of Miraidon's strengths is that most attacks in the decks cost two Lightning, or Raichu V's, so Iron Hands ex requires a lot of investment and good planning, as well as luck from the Electric Generator hits.

Lastly, both Charizard ex and Lost Zone Box themselves have the ability to power up an Iron Hands ex if they wish. Charizard will use its own ability to accelerate Fire Energy, while Lost Zone box can use a few Mirage Gates. That's a lot of investment for Lost Box, so we'll see if that plays out. It's certainly on the losing end of Iron Hands ex's introduction, but if any deck can adapt, it's Lost Zone.

Iron Valiant ex

Ability: Tachyon Bits

Once during your turn, when this Pokémon moves from your Bench to the Active Spot, you may put 2 damage counters on 1 of your opponent's Pokémon.

Laser Blade

During your next turn, this Pokémon can't attack. 200

Iron Valiant ex's power comes from its Ability. While 200 for 3 energy is basically on curve and respectable, free damage for switching seems ripe for abuse. Note that you can select the Pokémon to drop damage counters on, it doesn't have to be your opponent's active Pokémon.

How powerful this will be, and who the optimal partners are remain to be seen. Right now in Japan, it seems that pairing Iron Valiant ex with the either spread damage focused Rapid Strike Box or with the deadly Lost Zone Sableye is the way to go.

Iron Valiant has one potential nemesis though (besides the ability removing Path to the Peak), and that is the Jirachi relasing in the same set. Jirachi has the Stellar Veil Ability, which prevents the placing of damage counters by your opponent's Basic Pokémon. Jirachi's viability has been a point of discussion. While the ability is good and stops Sableye, many would argue that Jirachi can simply be dealt with just as Manaphy often is.

It should probably not be ignored that Iron Valiant ex is a Psychic type, which is currently an incredibly well supported type in the game today, with cards like Gardevoir ex and Fog Crystal (aka Pog Crystal). While it's not likely to make a splash in Gardevoir ex itself, it's also not impossible for it to appear somewhere in a Psychic box style deck and fix some math.

Roaring Moon ex

Frenzied Gouging

Knock Out your opponent's Active Pokémon. If your opponent's Active Pokémon is Knocked Out in this way, this Pokémon does 200 damage to itself.

Calamity Storm

You may discard a Stadium in play. If you do, this attack does 120 more damage. 100+

Ancient Pokémon definitely got the shorter end of the stick in this set, which feels a little unfair after Koraidon ex was clearly worse than Miraidon ex. However, Roaring Moon ex is much like Iron Hands ex in that it weilds some of player's favorite text. "Knock out your opponent's Active Pokémon" as an effect of the attack. No damage, no damage counters. Die. Two Dark and one Colorless is also a pretty acceptable cost, and either attack can be used for the same cost. If Calamity Storm will do the trick (and often it will, with many Basic two-prize Pokémon being 220 or less HP), you need not sacrifice the Roaring Moon ex right away.

Roaring Moon ex could conceivably be used in something like a Darkrai VStar deck, it seems best as its own complete strategy. With cards like Dark Patch and the new Supporter Professor Sada's Vitality, powering up Roaring Moon ex on your first turn is a possibility. Hell, you might even get to play something like Energy Switch and Galarian Moltres to squeeze out more Energy acceleration.

Some Sleeper Cards

There are a lot more notworthy ex cards in Paradox Rift, but without detailing all of those, let's look at a few other neat cards in the set.


Water Gun 20

Survival Strategy

Search your deck for up to 2 cards and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck. You may Switch this Pokémon with 1 of your Benched Pokémon.

Hello? Starbirth + a Switch on a 70HP Basic? Yes, you'll need to find a Double Turbo Energy or Magma Basin or something. And also yes, you are practically beggining for your opponent to Iono you as all turn ending searches do. But Switch into a Klefki or your actual Pokémon you plan to attack with, and things could go really well here. I could see this fella having some potential in rogue decks or weirder strategies. Things are about to get a lot harder for single prize decks, but hopefully they will continue to exist.


Ability: Slime Mold Colony

Cards in your opponent's discard pile can't be put into their hand by an effect of your opponent's Abilities or Trainer cards.

Mushroom Drain

Heal 30 damage from this Pokémon. 80

Toedscruel is shaping up to be an archtype in the Pokémon Trading Card game. Is it a good archtype? Almost. Grass stocks are definitely up with the Dark type Charizard running around, but no one Grass deck or strategy has yet to emerge as a force to be reckoned with.Toedscruel ex from Obsidian Flames has been a fun deck already, and certainly does have a powerful ability. This mini Toedscruel has the potential to just shut down popular Item cards like Superior Energy Retrival. Combined with Forettress ex and the newly reintroduced Counter Catcher, perhaps this deck can survive starting behind and control its way into the extra turn or two it needs use to succede and counter Charizard ex.

Technical Machine: Devolution


Devolve each of your opponent's evolved Pokémon by putting the highest Stage Evolution card on each of them into your opponent's hand.

I'll cut to the chase. What the fuck are Charizard ex and Chien Pao ex going to do about this? Once they spend the Rare Candy, they're not getting it back. No card in the Standard format (right now) can retrieve the Rare Candy from the discard pile. Running Stage 1 Pokémon just to counter this will clog up the deck and seem impractical, but it's the only way to protect yourself from this TM. In addition to that, Sableye and other spread damage decks and place just enough counters, and then devolve the Pokémon to take multiple prizes in a turn. The Evolution counterpart of this TM is also strong, but I see this as the most powerful and immediately useful one for any deck that has a hard time with Rare Candy based decks.

Compared to August's Obsidian Flames set, Paradox Rift is packed with way more interesting and powerful cards that will shake up the game at various levels. I would also like to mention that now is a fun time to get into the Trading Card Game if it seems interesting to you. Paper cards are cheaper than you might expect, and Pokémon TCG Live, while buggy and ugly, is a free online sim and tutorial to download on your computer or mobile device.

I would like to thank, who I linked to about a hundred times. It's a fast loading site with great scans. Some images and translations were used courtesy Bulbapedia and PokeBeach.

I had a blast writing about my favorite TCG, so let's revisit this topic again after Paradox Rift becomes competitively legal, and see what's changed in the Standard format.

See you next article!