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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 13 Pokemon Cards of Dragon Exalted:

#5 - Garchomp #90

Date Reviewed: August 20, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.13
Limited: 4.00

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

Garchomp (Dragons Exalted)

Hello and welcome to the final part of our countdown of the top 13(!) cards of the new set here on Pojo’s CotD. I’m just back from the World Championships in Hawaii where I did ok. Made top 32 in Masters playing Darkrai/Groudon and got some great prizes. But that’s all in the past now, and the new season is just around the corner, so let’s kick things off with one of the most hyped cards from the new set: Garchomp.

Garchomp is a Stage 2 Dragon Type Pokémon. The Dragon Type is a new introduction to the TCG and an interesting one. As in the video game, Dragons only have Weakness to other Dragons, which gives them increased durability against non-Dragon decks, but makes for interesting times in the mirror match. For some reason, Dragon Types also seem to have been given some rather mystifying attack costs: Garchomp needs Fighting and Water Energy to use its attacks and, while the Fighting requirement is understandable with a Dragon/Ground Type, I have no idea where the Water Energy cost comes from. Answers on a postcard, please. That aside, Garchomp’s basic stats are pretty impressive, with a solid 140 HP and a manageable retreat cost of one.

The attacks are very good too. For just one Fighting Energy, Mach Cut does 60 damage and you get to discard a Special Energy from the defending Pokémon. 60 for one Energy has long been a standard of excellence when it comes to getting speed and value out of an attack (think Donphan Prime and especially Kingdra LA), and the discard effect is a terrific bonus to have on top of that. With many decks using Double Colourless, Prism, and the new Blend Energy, the ability to set your opponent back an attachment while inflicting decent, fast damage makes for a very effective first attack.

But, good as it is, Mach Cut alone would not be enough to make Garchomp playable. In a format where we have 180 HP Basics hitting the Field with Eviolite attached, 60 damage doesn’t go very far. Luckily, Garchomp gives you another option: Dragonblade. For the low (but slightly bizarre) cost of one Fighting and one Water Energy, this attack will do 100 damage with the drawback of discarding two cards from the top of your deck. This can actually be a bit inconvenient (especially with Junk Arm out of the format), but if you are powering through the opponent’s deck, taking one and two hit KOs, it shouldn’t matter too much. Just make sure your list includes a Super Rod or two.

So, Garchomp itself is a very good Stage 2 Pokémon that can hit hard and hit fast. However, that alone would not make for a top tier deck. The reason why Garchomp is predicted to be at the heart of a very competitive deck is the fact that it has some tremendous support in the Dragons Exalted set. With Gabite’s Ability able to search out Dragon Pokémon, the problems of streaming successive Stage 2 attackers are somewhat reduced. With the damage-boosting Ability of Altaria on the Bench, Mach Cut and Dragonblade become even more formidable attacks. We even have the new Blend Energy which can fulfil either the Fighting or the Water requirements of Garchomp’s attack. The result is a deck that you will be seeing a lot of at Battle Roads. It’s not without its problems (Swablu and even Gible are pretty susceptible to first turn KOs), but once it gets going, the high damage output and relatively fast set up can pose a serious challenge to any deck. Players should definitely consider Garchomp as a viable choice for the upcoming Battle Roads and, even if they decide not to play it, should make sure that the deck they run can deal with its power.

Rating

Modified: 4.25 (the best, and the best supported, Stage 2 attacker we have seen in a long while)

Limited: 3.5 (as usual, Stage 2s are not always easy to get into play here. If you can pull it off though, Garchomp can be devastatingly good)

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Our Dragons Exalted Top 10: #5 Garchomp #90
 
First of all, I am terribly sorry that I missed most of last week's reviews. Terrakion EX in particular has a lot of carefully-designed power behind it just waiting to be tapped (it led me to straight wins at the prerelease) so for those of you interested, I've asked Pojo very nicely to warp time and space to post my thoughts on the line-up. Even if you don't want to read it, at least I feel better.
 
Okay, enough self-aggrandisement, we're on to the scary stuff now! Although we don't have a widely accepted nickname for this pair of beatsticks, I'm pretty sure this will be known as the 'discard Garchomp'. With the other Garchomp being more focused on allowing freedom of movement (free retreat!) and locking your opponent (Sand Tomb for soft-lock-no-retreat shenanigans), I'm tentatively offering MillChomp and GarTomb as shorthand ways to tell the difference.
 
MillChomp has 140 HP, the lovely new Dragon type (mad fun in the mirror match), Dragon Weakness, no Resistance to speak of and a retreat cost of 1. Standard Stage 2 fare, with the only surprise being the lack of free retreat historically enjoyed by Garchomp. The designers are really cracking down on the availability of free retreat, but in this case it shouldn't be a major worry with both the large HP score and cheap attacks making Garchomp most threatening in the Active slot anyway.
 
Speaking of attacks, Mach Cut is the first of two and is strangely reminiscent of Donphan Prime. For a low cost of [f] you deal 60 damage and get the bonus of discarding a Special Energy attached to the Defending Poke'mon. This is great for only one energy and you will likely cripple the Poke'mon in question, either stripping away a vital Double Colourless Energy or ruining the effectiveness of a Tech by scrapping the Blend/Prism Energy it depended on. Either way, Mach Cut is one of the best Turn 2 attacks in the format.
 
I say Mach Cut reminds me of Donphan Prime's Earthquake attack because while it tears holes in the opponent in the first few turns, it quickly becomes outclassed by the heavier hitters played around the tables. Thus you turn to Dragonblade, which at the somewhat difficult cost of [w][f] (luckily we have Blend Energy now) and losing the top 2 cards of your deck to the discard pile, will deal 100 damage to the defending Poke'mon. Consistently facing 100 damage from turn 2 or 3 onward is terrifying for the opponent, even if the discard effect is in direct contradiction to the best draw cards available (watch your deck disappear if you play Professor Juniper/Bianca and Dragonblade at the same time!).
 
But even if you can consistently set up a storm of Dragonblade attacks starting on Turn 3, 100 damage a turn is not enough to win the race for six Prizes. Most Poke'mon EX wearing Eviolite will take 3 hits to destroy, leaving your opponent too many openings to launch a counter-assault. The same goes for the various Unova Dragons, Musketeers and Weather Genies, all of which will survive at least one hit and be able to return fire, leaving you as the loser when your hard-to-replace Stage 2 hits the discard pile while the opponent simply drops another Basic. Especially considering that you're already shaving cards from the top of your deck without even getting to play them, so you won't have as many Catchers or Bianca hand-refills as your opponent will.
 
The cure for what ails MillChomp is the lovely Altaria, which with the help of Gabite #89 can swarm the bench to give MillChomp the edge. 1 Altaria turns all Poke'mon EX into 2HKOs (a much fairer trade, especially with Mach Cut to slow them down) and 3 Altarias will punch Dragonblade right through Eviolite to 1HKO every Zekrom, Reshiram and Terrakion you come across, as well as making Mach Cut feel powerful instead of anaemic in the later turns. MillChomp just upgraded from League fun deck to possible contender, so keep an eye out for this beastie in your booster packs!
 
MillChomp has managed to hit the sweet spot, justifying itself as a Stage 2 that can outrace the favoured Legendary Poke'mon of today if you are willing to burn cards (both in setting up and the self-inflicted milling). I expect rogue players to experiment with this Poke'mon to exploit the energy removal and turn discards into opportunities, but as of right now Garchomp/Altaria is a solid enough deck that will likely appear at Battle Roads Autumn. I'm prepared to risk putting my foot in my mouth by saying Garchomp/Altaria won't survive longer than that purely because it will tend to run out of cards to play earlier than any other deck I can think of, but future releases may well contain some Dragon-based play-from-the-discard tricks that will prove me wrong. For now, have fun and try it out!
 
Modified: 3.75 (MillChomp's power and speed come at a significant cost, forcing you to run lots of redundant copies of cards to stop you discarding yourself into a corner, and it wouldn't be a good idea to splash Millchomp into a non-Dragon deck. That said, I can see the appeal of hitting an opponent for 160 damage per turn for only two energy, especially if they can't get an immediate KO in return. Handle with care!)
 
Limited: 3 (Dragon Call Gabite makes this a no-brainer if you pull them together, but the awkward energy costs and forced discard hold this card back from being truly awesome. At least you probably won't Dragonblade away anything worth keeping)
 
Combos with: Recycle (I'd forgotten this card even existed), Super Rod, Gabite and Altaria

Jebulous Maryland Player

Garchomp 90
 
Garchomp is a Stage 2 Dragon Pokemon with 140 HP.  It has a weakness of Dragon and a retreat cost of 1.
 
'Mach Cut' costs 1 Fighting energy.  Just one.  It does 60 damage and discards a special energy attached to the Defending Pokemon.  For the cost, the damage output is great.  And the energy discard just makes it better (it will be discarding DCE and Blend energies).
 
'Dragonblade' costs 1 Water and 1 Fighting energy.  It does 100 damage and you discard the top 2 cards of your deck.  This attack won't OHKO much.  But it will OHKO any Dragon (I think all Dragons have Dragon weakness).
 
So one of the big decks out there is the Garchomp/Altaria deck.  It uses Gabite to search out all the Dragons you need.  Altaria is used to power up you Dragon's attacks (so 'Mach cut will be doing around
80+).  Garchomp will cheaply and powerfully be the attacker.  I
haven't played against or seen the deck in action, but that will be changing.
 
Unfortunately Rayquaza wreaks havoc against this whole evolution line (the weakness to Dragon and the damage Rayquaza does is just enough).
The 1 retreat cost is also great, especially since it is a Stage 2.
You won't have to worry if your opponent uses Pokemon Catcher.
 
Modified: 4.5/5
Limited: 4.5/5
Combo's With: ...
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

We start this week with number five of the Top 13 most promising cards from BW: Dragons Exalted. Today’s is Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124)!

Stats

Garchomp is yet another of the new Dragon-Type Pokémon. Like all other Dragon-Type Pokémon, Garchomp will enjoy not worrying about Resistance and exploiting its kin’s Weakness to their own Type, as well as the potential to boost damage via Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted 84/124, BW Promo BW48) and search for it via Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124). As a Stage 2 Pokémon, Garchomp is at a disadvantage in terms of deck space and time to set-up, at least when compared with Basic Pokémon and Stage 1 Pokémon. Even without getting to Pokémon EX, we have some really strong Basic Pokémon to compete with it. As a whole they are weaker than Garchomp itself but not by much, and lack the “baggage” of having to Evolve. Please don’t get me wrong, though: I am so happy to have a Stage 2 crack the top five of the set!

Garchomp sports 140 HP, putting it out of “easy OHKO” range and “relatively easy OHKO” range, but even before Weakness there will be some decks that will be able to do it with mild to moderate effort. Factoring in Weakness, the “big” attack on all fully Evolved Dragon-Type Pokémon (other than Altaria) will take down Garchomp with a single shot, even if Garchomp is sporting some help like Giant Cape. The lack of Resistance is disappointing; I can only assume that there was a real fear it would unbalance this card. None of the Dragon-Type Pokémon received Resistance, and in the video games, Garchomp would be completely immune to Electric-Type (TCG Type: Lightning) and resistant to Fire-Type attacks; I can understand not representing the Rock-Type (subclass of the TCG Fighting-Type) or Poison-Type (subclass of the TCG Psychic-Type) Resistance, though. Wrapping up the Stats, Garchomp has a good Speed in the video games, so the Retreat Cost of just one is both easy to pay and appropriate.

Effects

Garchomp has two attacks. Mach Cut only requires (F) and hits for 60 points of damage with the bonus effect of discarding a Special Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon (if one is present). Between Blend Energy GRPD, Blend Energy WLFM, Double Colorless Energy, and Prism Energy, a significant chunk of decks will indeed be vulnerable to that effect. On its own, the damage isn’t enough for a KO but it is fast, and we’ll discuss boosting that damage to a more significant level, later. All in all, it is a great attack.

The second attack is Dragonblade. For just (FW), this attack does 100 points of damage, though with the drawback of discarding two cards from the top of your deck. Still a very good attack, but again needing some outside help; to KO most Pokémon EX (seemingly the standard bearers of the format) you would need to use Mach Cut three times or Dragonblade twice. Eviolite on the Defending Pokémon means an extra Mach Cut is required; you’ll need to be prepared to discard some cards from your own deck with this Pokémon, then.

Usage

You have a choice of two Gible (BW: Dragons Exalted 86/124 and 87/124) and two Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 88/124 and 89/124) to pick from. The choice is obvious for the Gabite; we reviewed BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124 because its Dragon Call Ability was so potent! Yes, its Dragonslice attack is a little pathetic since it costs (FW) and just does 20 points of damage, but Dragon Call still outclasses the attacks on BW: Dragons Exalted 88/124. Tackle to do 20 for (C) isn’t bad, Shred hitting for 40 and ignoring effects on the Defending Pokémon at a cost of (FW) isn’t bad, and the two Gabite have identical Stats, but Dragon Call is Dragon Call; reusable search for a Pokémon (Garchomp) that can’t be snagged except by Pokémon Communication or Ultra Ball. Picking a Gible is much simpler; both have bad attacks, but BW: Dragons Exalted 87/124 has 10 more HP (the rest of the stats are identical). Plus if you do have to attack, it has a defensive attack that is more likely to be useful.

Backing up Garchomp is usually Altaria; Fight Song boosts attacks from Dragon-Type Pokémon by 20 points of damage (before Weakness and Resistance). Altaria is a fragile Stage 1 Pokémon at 70 HP, but two on the bench allows a Garchomp to 2HKO (or less) just about anything that is currently legal; the exceptions are Pokémon with protective effects or a Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124) with Giant Cape equipped. In that last case, you would just need one more Altaria or to use Dragonblade, which can OHKO most Pokémon that by that point in one shot. The Weaknesses of this deck are:

  • You’re constantly rebuilding your set-up.
  • It runs very tight on space.
  • Dependence upon Abilities.

All three of these points are interrelated. You’re constantly rebuilding your set-up because Altaria is an easy OHKO for almost all decks, and if you run into another attacking Dragon. This is somewhat mitigated by Garchomp enjoying double damage against said attacking Dragon, but still even non-Dragon attacks will regularly 2HKO Garchomp, or settle for OHKOing Altaria and that means the deck has to run Rescue Scarf and or Super Rod, and in good numbers. This is on top of making room for a Stage 2 line that needs its Stage 1 form in play (Dragon Call is important for this set-up as well, though expect to run at least two Rare Candy as well) and a 3-3 or 4-4 Altaria line to get started.

This usually leaves just enough room for cards like Professor Juniper and Pokémon Catcher. Fitting in a Max Potion (which should be an obvious combo given Garchomp hits hard for a basic Energy card in this build) isn’t likely, nor is a Giant Cape. Without Altaria supporting it and with no room for the usual Trainer tricks, Garchomp then stacks up poorly to other popular decks that often can deny you a KO if it isn’t a OHKO. Discarding Special Energy cards isn’t enough since many decks are enhanced but not dependent upon them. The deck has just enough room for an adequate Energy count, and is itself likely dependent upon Blend Energy WLFM to allow access to Dragonblade while still reliably having a source of (F) Energy to use Mach Cut (meaning the rest of the deck’s Energy would be basic Fighting Energy cards).

There is one other build I am aware of that did well in Japan, but it wasn’t as frequently used. Instead of pumping up Garchomp, it used the new Stunfisk (BW: Dragons Exalted 70/124) to simultaneously pester the opponent’s Defending Pokémon while putting down some Bench damage. Not a lot, but enough so that Garchomp or Mewtwo EX (BW: Next Destinies 54/99, 98/99) can more easily score OHKOs. The deck doesn’t rely on OHKOs, and even though it is a Basic Pokémon, Stunfisk has an underplayed Weakness (Water) and Lightning Resistance backing up 100 HP. Even if this exact idea doesn’t pan out in the US metagame, the concept might; by now we should all be well versed in using a small spread damage that doesn’t seem worth a Max Potion to set-up for a pseudo-OHKO. It is kind of the main strategy for attacking with Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108).

Wait… are there any rivals for Garchomp? Actually I can think of two. First would be Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124); definitely less impressive than today’s version, but it still has some chops. It has the same stats as its set-mate, except it has a free Retreat Cost for a small but definite edge. Where it is a bit lacking are the attacks; (C) for 40 with no bonus effect and (FWC) for 80 while blocking the Defending Pokémon from Retreating. In a format where many decks will be relying on Darkrai EX and a source of (D) Energy to enable a free Retreat, Switch usage is quiet hit or miss. A tweaked build of the decks that already support today’s Garchomp might be able to make this work, but the second attack really should be hitting for at least 100 points of damage.

The second candidate has overall weaker attacks and worst Stats, so what could make it worthwhile? Easy, it’s a Basic Pokémon: Rayquaza (BW: Dragons Exalted 128/124)! Same Type, Weakness and lack of Resistance, of course, but 20 less HP and a Retreat Cost of three; the last two are somewhat mitigated by being compatible with Eviolite and a legal target for Heavy Ball. The Altaria/Garchomp build reported as doing well ran multiple Switch and having tested it out, I could understand why; with so little space it couldn’t afford to discard Energy to Retreat manually, so that too makes the hefty Retreat Cost less of a concern. Being a Basic Pokémon leaves more room in a deck for other things, like Eviolite.

The reason Rayquaza isn’t an obvious replacement for Garchomp comes from it doing less damage for a bigger cost. As you should remember from the recent CotD, Rayquaza does 40 for (L) but also discards the top two cards from your own deck. Many turns Garchomp will be doing the same thing, but “many” is not the same as “most”; Garchomp will likely be using Mach Cut more, while Rayquaza will be hammering away with Dragonpulse. Rayquaza does have a drawback free big effect, in fact Shred (like on most other recent instances of the attack) ignores all effects on the Defending Pokémon, a handy bonus. Unfortunately it requires (RLC), and needing three Energy to hit for 90 with a beneficial effect is hard enough before having one of those three requirements be off-Type. It doesn’t prevent it from working into either of the above decks because Altaria/Garchomp runs Fighting Energy just for Garchomp, and Blend Energy WLFM can be replaced by Prism Energy if the primary attackers are all Basic Pokémon.

I will be pleasantly surprised if the “other” Garchomp ever gets its own deck, but Rayquaza (provided you can get enough) should be experimented with; it may being to overshadow today’s Garchomp with only a little effort. I’ve only been able to play test Altaria/Garchomp a few times and Altaria/Rayquaza just once, I find myself greatly preferring the latter.

If Unlimited ever slows down enough that you aren’t regularly losing to decks that win or lock you down the first turn of the game, Garchomp has a place here. Focus Band and Max Potion means the Weakness won’t hurt, and Broken Time Space coupled with Gabite and Dragon Call should lead to a reliable first turn set-up. Just figure out whether or not you think you need something like Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111) backing it up or if you should just focus on crippling your opponent’s hand (so they can’t do the same to yours) and counting on raw power to see you through. With all it brings to the table, coupling it with Dark Vileplume (Team Rocket 13/82, 30/82) or Vileplume (HS: Undaunted 24/90) blocking Trainers (or even just Items in the latter’s case) would still leave Garchomp with a serious edge; so many Pokémon rely on Special Energy here and aren’t overly big.

In Limited, if you pull this Pokémon, count yourself lucky. Since the line is two versions of each Stage, it improves the odds of fleshed out, let alone a working line, and all seem compatible with each other. The set has some great Fighting-Type Pokémon and some good looking Water Pokémon; remember we are talking Limited, though some are good in Modified as well. Just be extra mindful of your Weakness, since it won’t be odd for most decks to try and work in a Dragon-Type or two and the set is heavy with them, and don’t get too carried away with Dragonblade. Limited means you start with a 40 card deck that looses 12 cards right away (opening hand, Prizes, and opening draw), so you not only have to worry about discarding some unrecoverable cards but also legitimately worry about decking yourself out unless all the Defending Pokémon are in OHKO range. The only reason not to run it is if it literally boils down to a deck full of filler plus a shaky line (like a 1-1-1) or running a well rounded deck or of course if you can’t use it at all.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.75/5

Modified: 4/5

Limited: 4.75/5

Summary

Garchomp is a good Pokémon that has been reasonably well hyped. Personally, I am a bit disappointed Gabite and Altaria also made it into the top 10, since just covering Garchomp would have given the other two enough exposure for now (later on they would have deserved a CotD). In my initial rankings, I actually put Garchomp at 16th place for the set, because I initially sold it short and didn’t appreciate Gabite and its Dragon Call Ability. I realize that was indeed shortchanging the card, but despite all that I warn that Garchomp is on a precarious perch. The more Dragons that come out, the more targets it has, but also more rivals. If Special Energy usage shoots up, it becomes stronger; if it declines it becomes that much weaker. Perhaps the best argument that it is here to stay is that I already underestimated it once and could be doing so again.

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