A Prerelease Survival Guide: Ancient Origins Edition!


Hello, everyone! Originally, I had planned to do a set review for the upcoming Ancient Origins expansion. However, with so many players attending Prereleases in the next couple weeks, I thought it would be more fitting to write a “guide” to this event.¬†While Prereleases are not considered competitive events (i.e. no championship points given even if you end the event going X-0), they can certainly be an effective medium to test your skills as a player given that you have a limited cardpool to make a deck. They are also really fun! Between getting to see new strategies played and trading with others and making new friends, Prereleases are great social events that I highly recommend attending.

The purpose of this article is to discuss some notable cards and strategies from Ancient Origins that might be played at your local prerelease. In addition, I will also list my top 5 cards from the set that you will want to pick up. This is a first of a series of “Prerelease Survival Guide” articles, so you can look forward to more in the future. ūüėČ Without further ado, let’s jump into it!

Tournament Structure

According to the official Pok√©mon.com website, Prerelease events use the Limited Format and Age-Modified Swiss pairings. What does this mean? Basically, you are given a number of packs and must build your deck from these cards. In this case, you are given 6 packs to make a 40-card deck at the beginning of the event (no trading until the event is over!). Swiss pairings are a series of rounds where you will randomly play other people; depending on the event you may get paired with someone outside of your age division. The duration of the rounds are set by your event’s organizer, but typically you can expect 20 minutes, best of 1. Lastly, keep in mind that you will only play with 4 prize cards instead of the usual 6.

What about energy? Good question! The organizer provides basic energy from all types used in the Pokémon TCG. At the end of the tournament, you will return these and receive 2 additional packs. In addition, you will receive a sweet Gyarados (XY 60) promo. That artwork is incredible!


Also, remember to bring your Pok√©mon Organized Play ID, or POP ID. This is a number unique to your player account on the official Pok√©mon website. This is important because you will receive a Play Point just for participating. These points help determine if you qualify for your local National tournament later in the season, so it’s crucial that you bring your POP ID. If you don’t have one, your tournament organizer will give you one. You can also create one by going to the official Pok√©mon website here.


Notable Cards and Strategies

As mentioned, you are limited to a 40-card deck at Prerelease events.¬†Given the nature of most sets, it is likely that you will have a lot of energy in your deck, and that’s perfectly okay! When I attended my first prerelease a few years ago, I distinctly remember one of the judges telling me that an ideal energy around is around 17-18. I have found this to be true, too.

As for trainers, put as many in your deck as possible. Even if the effect of the card is insanely bad by competitive standards, it may actually be of use at a Prerelease. Take Paint Roller (ANO 79), for example. Discarding a stadium and drawing 1 card may seem abysmal as an item card in competitive play, but drawing that extra card could give you that extra edge you need to win in a Prerelease match.

Below are some of the cards that I recommend using in your Prerelease deck if you are lucky enough to pull them. While some of the attackers use a certain type of energy, others have only a colorless requirement, so you can fit them into any deck!


  • Ariados (ANO 6): Inflicting status conditions on your opponent as never been easier thanks to this card’s “Poison Nest” ability. Just keep in mind that it also poisons your active unless it’s a grass-type.
  • Sceptile-Ex (ANO 7): “Sleep Poison” is a really efficient attack, costing a mere grass energy while doing 10 and a chance for sleep AND poison. “Assassin Claw” is also incredibly powerful, hitting for a whopping 130 damage if your opponent has a status condition.
  • M Sceptile-Ex (ANO 8): This card needs to introduction. While mega evolving ends your turn, this card’s attack is just insane. “Jagged Saber” hits for a solid 100 for 2 energy while accelerating more energy and healing ALL damage from up to 2 of your Pok√©mon.
  • Entei (ANO 14): “Combat Blaze” is an incredible attack at an event like this. It does 20 damage plus 20 more for each of your opponent’s benched Pok√©mon. If your opponent has a full bench, that’s a whopping 120 damage for just 2 energy.
  • Entei (ANO 15): “Flame Screen” reduces damage by 30 during your opponent’s next turn in addition to doing 30 damage. Combined with Entei’s bulky 130HP, this card can serve as a tank while you are powering up another attacker on your bench.
  • Volcarona (ANO 17): For a single colorless, “Sun Birth” lets you search your deck for a Basic Pok√©mon, put it on your bench, and then attach 2 Basic Energy from your deck to it. This is a great accelerator and can be used multiple times until you are ready to hit your opponent hard.
  • Kyurem-Ex (ANO 25): Much like the Kyurem from Noble Victories, this card has the “Glaciate” attack, putting 30 damage on EACH of your opponent’s Pok√©mon. The 3 energy cost is high, but if you can manage to power this guy up, you can win any match in a matter of a few turns!
  • Ampharos-Ex (ANO 27): 1 Ampharos-Ex + 39 Lightning Energy = all you need. Seriously, this guy is that good at a Prerelease. “Thunder Rod” lets you look at the top 4 cards of your deck and attach as many Lightning Energy as you find to Ampharos-Ex. His second attack, “Sparkling Tail”, does a respectable 100 damage and goes through Weakness, Resistance, and any effect. Play it if you pull it!
  • Unown (ANO 30): “Farewell Letter” lets you discard Unown from your bench and draw a card. Enough said.
  • Lugia-Ex (ANO 68): And you thought Mewtwo-Ex was dead! “Aero Ball” is basically the same as “X-Ball”, doing 20 time the number of energy on both active Pok√©mon. Let the Lugia wars commence!


  • Ace Trainer (ANO 69): You shuffle your hand into your deck and draw 6; your opponent does the same and gets 3. Given that there is little to no draw support in this type of format, this could potentially help you auto-win some matches. Keep in mind that your opponent needs to be up in prizes to use this though.
  • Forest of Giant Plants (ANO 74): Broken Time Space is back…sort of. Grass-type Pok√©mon will greatly benefit from this card as they can now evolve immediately. Expect this to see a lot of play at your event.
  • Hex Maniac (ANO 75): And you thought Garbodor was gone for good. Hex Maniac shuts off all abilities (yours and your opponents) until the end of your opponent’s next turn. This can be useful against abilities like Ariados’s ” Poison Nest”.
  • Level Ball (ANO 76): It’s back, baby! Level Ball lets you search your deck for any 90HP or less Pok√©mon and put it in your hand — very, very useful.
  • Lucky Helmet (ANO 77): If your Pok√©mon has this attached and is attacked, you get to draw 2 cards. This type of card advantage is huge at a Prerelease given the lack of draw-based cards in most sets.
  • Lysandre (ANO 78): Since the days of the original Base Set, the ability to bring up a Pok√©mon from the bench has always been incredibly powerful. Lysandre is no different.
  • Paint Roller (ANO 79): As mentioned, drawing a card is always nice. It can also get rid of pesky stadiums such as Forest of Giant Plants.
  • Steven (ANO 95):¬†Being able to search your deck for both a Supporter and Basic Energy is nice.


Top 5 Cards of Ancient Origins

Below are my personal top 5 cards from the Ancient Origins expansion. There are actually a lot of playable cards in this set, and I am pleased with the direction the TCG is moving. Be on the lookout for these cards at your local Prerelease, or when they officially hit stores on August 12.

  1. Forest of Giant Plants (ANO 74). Did you really think there was another contender? This card will single-handedly change the way we play the Pok√©mon TCG. Players from communities such as Virbank City Gym have already began testing the viability card. The most obvious pairing is with Shiftry (NXD 72). Because of the wording on the card, yes, it works with Pok√©mon that evolved FROM a Grass-type Pok√©mon. Another card that will rise in popularity thanks to this stadium is Forretress (FLF 60). In recent years, Grass-types have generally been considered one of the weakest types in the TCG — until now. Who knows what kind of crazy combo awaits to be discovered? The sky is the limit when thinking of new deck ideas and strategies to use with Forest of Giant Plants!
  2. Hoopa-Ex (ANO 36). Between cards like Shaymin-Ex (ROS 77) and Trainer’s Mail (ROS 92), it is apparent that The Pok√©mon Company is slowly shifting draw-based effects from Supporter cards to Pok√©mon and Item cards; Hoopa-Ex is no exception. This card will see a ton of play thanks to its “Scoundrel Ring” ability, which lets you search your deck for 3 Pok√©mon-Ex and put them in your hand. I think this card should be given a¬†lot more recognition than it has gotten so far. Take a M Sceptile-Ex deck, for example. On your first turn, you can play an Ultra Ball for a Hoopa-Ex and then use its ability to get Sceptile-Ex, M Sceptile-Ex, and a Shaymin-Ex. It is also incredibly strong in the Expanded format as well. One deck that may see the most benefit is Plasma. Being able to search your deck for 3 Deoxys-Ex from a single Ultra Ball, essentially, is huge. Hoopa-Ex will also be available in a tin this fall, so it should be a relatively affordable card to pick up.
  3. Unown (ANO 30). This card further adds credibility to my theory of the Pokémon TCG shifting away from draw-based Supporter cards. Card advantage is an important aspect of almost every competitive card game out there, and Pokémon is no exception. Drawing 1 card may not sound like much, but that single card could let you top the one card you needed to pull off a particular combo. In addition, it pairs quite well with cards like Vespiquen (ANO 10) and Flareon (PLF 12), whose attacks depend on the number of Pokémon in your discard.
  4. Level Ball (ANO 76). I am not sure why The Pokémon Company rotated this card to begin with, but I am quite excited to see its return to the game. In a format dominated by high-HP, fast-hitting Pokémon-Ex cards, Stage 1 and Stage 2-based decks can use all the help they can get. Level ball helps these decks get set up much quicker, thus balancing the game as a whole.Conveniently, a lot of notable cards in the format such as Vespiquen (ANO 10) and Bronzong (PHF 91) have 90HP. Hopefully this will lead to greater deck diversity in the upcoming 2016 format.
  5. Giratina-Ex (ANO 57).¬†Initially, this card was really hyped thanks to its “Chaos Wheel” attack, which prevents your opponent from playing Tools, Stadiums, and Special Energies during their¬†next turn. While this is certainly a powerful effect, it is important to note that the 4 energy cost for this attack is absurd. In addition, Giratina-Ex cannot be touched by your opponent’s Mega¬†Evolved Pok√©mon thanks to its “Renegade Pulse” ability. At first glance, it would seem that the obvious partner would be Vileplume (ANO 3) so that you can also item-lock your opponent. I don’t believe this is the case though. I think Giratina-Ex is certainly playable, but it needs energy acceleration to work. I think the best partner would be Sceptile (PRC 8). Its “Nuture and Heal” ability not only lets you attach a Grass energy from your hand to any of your Pok√©mon, but also heals 30 damage. This could potentially help Giratina-Ex survive multiple turns in conjunction with cards like Pok√©mon Center Lady (FLF 93) and Hard Charm (XY 119), while still being able to shut off your opponent’s cards and two-shotting nearly any Pok√©mon.


Prerelease events are some of the most unique events in the Pok√©mon season. While they don’t give players championship points, these events¬†are a great way to meet new people, test out the latest and greatest card strategies, and have a lot of fun in the process. I have put a few resource links below if you would like to learn more about Prerelease events and where your closest event is located. Feel free to like our Facebook page here; support from players like you has been phenomenal and I am humbled to have the privilege to write articles for you guys.

Until next time, trainers!

Residing in Lexington, Kentucky, Zach Carmichael is a 24 year old who has been a Pokemon enthusiast since the early days of the original Base Set. A competitive player since 2012, he has won multiple City Championships and made Top Cut at various Battle Roads, Cities, and State Championships. Outside of Pokemon, Zach is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky where he studies music theory. This is probably why he enjoys deck analysis and theorymon'ing as much as actually playing the card game.


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