think this review is too long to read, just skip straight to the
scores and then read the summary for a concise overview.
EX: Team Rocket Returns
2 (Evolves from Dark Flaafy)
As long as
Dark Ampharos is in play, whenever your opponent plays an
Evolution card from his or her hand to evolve 1 of his or her
Pokémon, put 2 damage counters on that Pokémon. You can’t use
more than 1 Darkest Impulse Poké-Body each turn.
(CC) Ram 
(LCC) Shock Bolt 
all (L) Energy cards attached to Dark Ampharos.
EX: Team Rocket Returns
1 (Evolves from Mareep)
(C) Thunder Slash 
Defending Pokémon is a Basic Pokémon, the Defending Pokémon is
now Paralyzed. Dark Flaafy can’t use Thunder Slash during your
(LC) Headbutt 
EX: Team Rocket Returns
(C) Minor Errand-Running
deck for a basic Energy card, show it to your opponent, and put
it into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
(LC) Quick Attack [10+]
coin. If heads, this attack does 10 damage plus 10 more
Dark Ampharos naturally benefits from being a Dark
Pokémon: it can make use of all the new groovy Team Rocket
specific cards, like Rocket’s Poké Ball. It is a Stage 2
Pokémon, and we’ll look at its lower Stages later. It is a dual
type Pokémon: both Darkness and Electric. This is good: as I
stated with Dark Electrode, there are a few things Weak
to Darkness-type Pokémon, and several Weak to Electric, but
nothing Resistant to Darkness-type and few Resistant to
Electric-types… that see play, anyway. It has 120 HP, which is
the best you can get without being a Pokémon ex. Weakness to
Fighting makes it almost unplayable in Unlimited thanks to the
presence of Neo Discovery Tyrogue. In Modified there are
now multiple decks that have a significant Fighting presence, so
it is not too great a Weakness there, either. Sadly, there is
no Resistance on this card, which is automatically the “worst”
Resistance. Finally we come to the retreat cost: two is more or
less “average”, at least amongst Evolutions: its low enough that
you can pay, but high enough that you don’t want to. It is a
very common amount.
As I mentioned
earlier, this is a Stage 2. In and of itself, it indicates that
this card should have some great abilities since it is harder to
get into play than any other Pokémon Stage. As for the actual
lower Stages, they are a mixed bag. Dark Flaafy has a
solid 80 HP and the same dual-type, Weakness, and Resistance as
Dark Ampharos. It does have a happier Retreat Cost of just one,
which is easy to pay. The attacks are solid: (C) gives you 10
damage and auto-Paralysis against Basics… but can’t be used
again the next turn (to be fair, that would be pretty sick).
Unfortunately, we then hit some overcompensation: Headbutt is
over priced for a Basic Pokémon. Since Dark Flaafy is a Stage
1, it normally would receive a discount (though as not as
substantial of one as a Stage 1 with no Stage 2 would receive).
The main reason to play this is so that Ancient Technical
Machine [Rock] doesn’t hit you so hard. Mareep is
more disappointing than Dark Flaafy. The EX: Team Rocket
Returns version is Electric only (not really a surprise), with
Fighting Weakness (again, expected), no Resistance, and a
Retreat of just one. It has a solid 50, the minimum I usually
allow for on an Evolving Basic before docking it. The first
attack is rather bland-it basically gives you an Energy Search
at the cost of your attack. The second however is perhaps the
worst Quick Attack I can find in the game. Out of the 30 card
with Quick attack I could locate in Apprentice, none were more
poorly priced than this one. You pay (LC), which should yield
25 damage. The best this attack can do is 20, and half the time
it will only do 10. Use the Dragon version, please, its attack
is nothing special, but at least it’s fair and has the same
stats except it is Resistant to Metal.
Okay, they really made the lower stages on this card tame, so
they better reward it here. We have the Poké-Body, Darkest
Impulse. It’s not too bad, but it doesn’t seem too great on its
own. I mean, the effect itself is nice: 20 damage to something
when it Evolves, and most things commonly played now Evolve.
The problem is that this is on a Stage 2 Pokémon, so it more or
less needs to be at least half the focus of the deck, and your
opponent will often have at least some of their Pokémon already
Evolved by the time this hits play. So it’s good, but not
great. The good news is that there are two more attacks. Ram
is a nice “opening” attack: its cost means that Double
Rainbow Energy or R Energy could be used to pay for
it out of the blue. If you use actual Darkness Energy,
then you get a really good opening attack. The second attack is
good, if you use some common sense. For (LCC) [which on
its own pays for 35 damage] you do 70 if you discard all (L)
Energy attached. While that could be a huge over-pricing (I
treat each Energy discarded as an additional cost to the
attack), since this attack has two Colorless Energy
requirements, you can use non-Lightning Energy cards to pay for
it. So if you used (LFF), you would only discard one Lightning
Energy, making it like the attack cost was (LLCC), which would
yield 50 damage. So we get a 20 damage bonus. And of course,
you can use Darkness Energy to spike the damage even
more. (LDD), discard (L), and smack them for 90 damage.
So we have
overall we have okay Abilities: a somewhat weak Poké-Body with
Now, as of yet, this card is in trouble. Yes, it seems “solid”,
but what wins this game are cards that are exceptional.
Fortunately, this card has some sick combos available to it.
I’ve already mentioned that it can make great use of supporting
Rocket’s cards. There is one Trainer that is not from
EX: Team Rocket Returns that is vital for use with this card:
Ancient Technical Machine [Rock]. You use it repeatedly.
First few will just build damage as the opponent will normally
re-Evolve all of their Evolved Pokémon right away. The third
and fourth tend earn prizes. Best of all, you can keep Dark
Ampharos safely benched while doing this if you have
another Evolution in the deck. What are your options?
Ampharos ex can work. However, I like looking to some
fellow set mates. Dark Hypno, as long as you have no (L)
Energy on it, gets a pretty good deal using Dark Link as
basically “Flip a coin to do 70” for (C). Second, Dark
Ampharos lends itself to being a bench sitter anyway, unlike
several other Dark Pokémon. Also, with that lead in
damage, Dark Hypno’s second attack, Black Magic ((PC); 20
damage times the number of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon)
should be able to score several quick Knock Outs. Rocket’s
Tricky Gym can be great for sniping almost KO’d Pokémon on
the bench. There is also a second useful deck to run this in.
This card is rather sick when combined with [both] Dark
Tyranitar. As we are covering them both this week, I will
elaborate on it in the next CotD.
1.25/5-The two Tier 1 decks that feature Evolutions (Raindance
and Mindgames) have ways to easily overcome this. Both decks
are fast, and have ways of making the combinations less
meaningful (Raindance tends to have some actual healing Trainers
and Mindgames disrupts Trainer use).
4/5-I am going out on a limb here, but I really think that some
deck will find a way to properly abuse this card. My own
experimentation shows me that even while seemingly losing, if
you can keep a bunch of “extra” Stage 1s (or just keep Dark
Ampharos from being KO’d) to play four Ancient Technical
Machine [Rock] rapid fire will probably cripple your
opponent’s strategy and maybe even win it then and there.
3.75/5-Maybe this is why the lower Stages were toned down.
Here, Mareep isn’t too bad-thin your deck by getting Energy and
attack if need be. Dark Flaafy will probably be able to
Paralyze every other turn, and score decent damage on the turns
it doesn’t. Not great, but the two lower Stages together should
give you decent opportunity to get Dark Ampharos itself
out. This is when it gets good. The Poké-Body probably won’t
see a lot of use, but it will be devastating if does get
triggered. The two attacks are the real meat here. Ram will
allow you to take most Basics out in two hits. That’s not
great, but it will be ready to go quickly. Fortunately, as long
as you run a well balanced two color deck (Mareep makes this
easier) you can probably pull of a constant barrage of OHKO’s
with Shock Bolt. I did dock it some for this line's
difficulties with Fighting Pokémon (there are a few in this
This card has
fantastic synergy, at least in Modified. Proper play (re:
Ancient Technical Machine [Rock] will let you abuse its Poké-Body
to ridiculous extremes, the next two CotDs will explain how to
further abuse this card’s power.