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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Cobalion #100

Noble Victories

Date Reviewed: Dec. 16, 2011

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.0
Limited: 4.5

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Cobalion 100/101 (Noble Victories)

We end the week with a review of the final Musketeer Pokémon from Noble Victories. This is the one that has been getting most of the attention and hype recently, largely due to the fact that it features in a successful Japanese deck. It seems the hype is at least partially justified too, as decks based on the Japanese original are doing pretty well at the City Championships that are taking place at the time of writing.

Cobalion is a Basic Pokémon with a pretty good 120 HP. It’s a Metal Type, which means it can abuse the damage-reduction effect of Special Metal Energy. Combine that with the nice HP and access to even more damage-reduction with Eviolite and you definitely have a Pokémon which can be a problem to KO. The obvious downside would seem to be its Fire Weakness. In the recent past, this would have been enough on its own to make Cobalion virtually unplayable, but the Reshiram/Typhlosion decks which were tearing up Battle Roads early in the season don’t seem to be quite as popular or successful as they once were, meaning that Cobalion at least has a chance. The Psychic Resistance is quite good at the moment, should Cobalion run into something like Gothitelle or Mew Prime, and will only get better if Mewtwo EX (confirmed for February’s set!) becomes as popular as some players think it will.

For one Metal and one Colourless Energy, Cobalion’s first attack, Energy Press, does 20 damage, plus 20 more for each Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon. Right now, that attack isn’t particularly useful as most Pokémon in this format rarely have large amounts of Energy stacked on them. Many of the high-cost attacks involve discarding, so two or three Energy is the most you would normally see, with the possible exception of an attacking Gothitelle. Should this change in future (for example, if people start loading up Mewtwo EX to do huge damage with X-Ball), then Energy Press could become an extremely effective attack. Right now though it’s only semi-useful.

That leaves Cobalion with Iron Breaker, and this is the attack that has been getting the attention. For [M][M][C], this attack does 80 damage and has a great effect which prevents the Defending Pokémon from attacking on the next turn. The obvious comparison is with Beartic EP whose Sheer Cold attack had the same effect, but at the slightly better cost of [W][C][C], which made it compatible with Double Colourless. Although slower than Beartic, Cobalion does have a number of advantages over the Polar Bear, such as the fact that it is a Basic, can tank with Special Metal, and has a much higher damage output (Sheer Cold only hits for 50).

It’s really a combination of Cobalion’s features which make it such a good card. The fact that it can tank with Special Metal and Eviolite, the ability to put the opponent into an attack lock while still doing good damage, and its effectiveness against Psychic Types like Gothitelle and the upcoming Mewtwo EX. The Energy costs mean that Cobalion isn’t exactly the fastest Pokémon in the format, but players have managed to address that successfully by playing it with Electrode Prime for Energy acceleration, or in Trainer Lock decks which slow down the opponent (such as variants of Ross Cawthon’s ‘The Truth’). It has even seen some play as a tech against Metal-Weak Pokémon such as Kyurem NV, which it OHKOs if the Dragon is fully powered up to use Glaciate.

Cobalion is a Pokémon whose strong offensive and defensive capabilities mean that it has a lot of potential for use while it stays in the modified format.

Rating

Modified: 4 (it tanks, it locks, it’s got a good future in competitive play)

Limited: 4.5 (Big Basics with good attacks are like gold in this format)


Otaku

A happy Friday dear reader! We end the week with Cobalion from Noble Victors, number 100/101. As you can see from the scan at the top of this page, this is the Full Art version. While it is an attractive piece of art, at the same time the underlying piece of art feels almost boring while it tries to look majestic. It also seems disappointing when you compare it to another Full Art card like N, which enjoys different art than the normal version besides being given the Full Art treatment. Still, it is far from bad and I find it enjoyable to look at.

Stats

What about the underlying card? First it is a Basic Pokémon, and while it boggles the minds of many long time players, Basic Pokémon are getting some serious love (and support) in the current and coming metagame. Second it is a Metal-Type Pokémon. With overall Resistance at least seeming less common (I haven’t been able to crunch the numbers lately), Metal Resistance hasn’t shown up in the Black & White set block, at least as of yet. Weakness has on a few cards, and fortunately they are ones that have at least been important to attempted (or currently being attempted) decks. Pokémon such as Beartic, Kyurem, and Vanilluxe. On top of all of that, being a Metal-Type allows a Pokémon to use the Special Energy version of Metal Energy to soak damage, and that is always a nice option to have.

The 120 HP is impressive and for current Basic Pokémon second only to the likes of Kyurem, Reshiram, and Zekrom. 120 HP does mean that Zekrom can OHKO it, but being a Metal-Type gives Cobalion just as many options to soak damage as Zekrom has options to increase it, and the defensive options are usually stronger. A fully powered Reshiram of course OHKOs it no matter what thanks to this card’s Fire Weakness. Fire Weakness is unfortunate in the current metagame, though if Water decks finally catch on enough to douse the enthusiasm for Fire, it will be only of average concern. I dislike dwelling on specific examples, but those two set the tone: hitting for 120 points of damage in a single shot is not easy and most decks will require combos to do it outside of said Weakness, and even then at a significant cost.

This card does enjoy a Resistance, and in both the current and the upcoming metagame, it looks to be important! Psychic Resistance right now is enjoyable against Gothitelle decks (amongst others), and the pending Mewtwo EX that has the various message boards still buzzing may be a common site for all decks soon, and when combined with the rest of this card, that -20 to Psychic damage is important!

With such good stats (even the oft ignored Resistance), one might worry that Cobalion would be saddled with a large Retreat Cost. The cost is (CC), and that is a bit big for a Basic Pokémon, but ultimately is average: you don’t want to pay two Energy to Retreat this card, and should try to include some alternatives to paying it, but if you really must you will be able to, even if it means packing Double Colorless Energy and using them on this card solely to Retreat during Trainer lock (unlikely, but I want to stress you have options).

Effects

So what does this Cobalion do? It has two attacks, and fortunately they are both good (though not great). The first is Energy Press, which costs (MC) and hits for 20 damage plus another 20 points of damage for each Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon. Most of the time, I’d expect to hit for 40 or 60 points of damage using Energy Press. It is overpriced if you’re tagging opposing Pokémon with no Energy, but that is offset by it being brutal on Energy hogs, and the synergy it has with the rest of the card.

The second attack is Iron Breaker, and it is a part of that synergy. Iron Breaker does have an expensive (MMC) price tag, especially when it only hits for 80 points of damage. Ah power creep: when this game began getting 40 points of damage for a similar energy investment was good! Fortunately there is a great effect added in: the Defending Pokémon can’t attack during your opponent’s next turn. In isolation, the attack is again just okay, and is only a little better with access to the first attack. One wonders if using (CC) and (MCC) for the attacks would have broken it, but at least Energy Press can be easily splashed into other decks. Still, let’s see how it all comes together.

Usage

Cobalion is built like a tank. Fire Pokémon might slag it, but with access to the effects of Eviolite and the Special Energy version of Metal Energy, upwards of 60 points of damage can be shrugged off each turn. For offense, if an attack can KO the Defending Pokémon, of course you use that attack. Most of the time though, expect to use Iron Breaker to half KO the Defending Pokémon and then… see the previous sentence.

As I alluded to earlier, this card can tap the Basic support currently in the game. I already mentioned Eviolite, and that is the main piece that matters. Still the fact that you can use Pokémon Collector or Dual Ball (if you feel you can rely on the coin flips averaging out), and Revive can make it easy for three copies of Cobalion to act like six.

I here some talk (though my sample was exceedingly small) about using the first attack just for the purpose of “splashing” a big Metal Basic Pokémon into one’s deck. While I said to only expect 40 to 60 damage from Energy Press that was because I assumed it was being used mostly as a lead in to Iron Breaker. If it is the only attack you are using, and you’re not just hitting opponent’s that aren’t fully set-up, we have many attackers with beefy costs, and so 80 or 100 damage is within reason, and 60 the probable minimum.

Being used as part of a comprehensive strategy, I can definitely see some soft-lock decks spring up. Most Pokémon that Evolve will Evolve pronto, so using that to dodge the attack blocking effect of Iron Breaker requires risking something smaller that might be OHKOed anyway (though a Pokémon being KOed will break the lock). Switching out is an option (literally using Switch most of the time), but if one can get the right Bench-sitters you can use Ability based healing (Royal Heal Serperior) or at least damage counter moving (Damage Swap Reuniclus) while backing it all up with Vileplume and its Allergy Flower Poké-Body. This will be difficult, but if you do one of these approaches your opponent is in quite a bit of trouble as you can build Cobalion with multiple of the Special Energy Metal Energy, and maybe an Eviolite to boot. Doing 60 less damage every other turn (and none in between) is quite a steep slope to climb, and layering on the above effects means you can deal with even more damage (upwards of OHKO or no KO). You mostly need the Trainer denial to protect whatever is helping Cobalion, though it will help with the soft lock as well (no using Switch).

So for Modified, I can think of at least one viable strategy for it. For Unlimited not so much: the lock is too hard to initiate. First there are of course First Turn Win decks, then there is the brutal speed curve of the format. Since there are some small but scrappy opponents, and many cards with free Retreat Costs, you just can never count on scoring the soft lock. For Limited on the other hand, the reduction of Trainers and Evolutions that will see play makes this card even more magnificent… though I’d hate to actually use the Full Art version myself for fear of damaging it. If you can bring yourself to, both attacks are just better due to the difficulty of quickly setting up in this format. Only avoid it here if you can’t afford to run the Metal Energy it needs.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.75/5

Modified: 4/5

Limited: 4.5/5

Summary

A solid card that becomes formidable with the right set-up, Cobalion enjoys a great Type, HP score, and two useful attacks. Again, just find the right back-up for it, or conversely use it to back-up the correct decks.

I am still selling my old collectibles on eBay here. Just a reminder that Pojo is in no way responsible for any transactions, and just being kind enough to let me link to them.


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