We start this week with number five of
the Top 13 most promising cards from
BW: Dragons Exalted.
Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted
is yet another of the new Dragon-Type
Like all other Dragon-Type
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
Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted
84/124, BW Promo BW48) and search
for it via
Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted
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!
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
The lack of Resistance is
disappointing; I can only assume that
there was a real fear it would unbalance
None of the Dragon-Type Pokémon
received Resistance, and in the video
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,
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.
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).
Blend Energy GRPD,
Blend Energy WLFM,
Double Colorless Energy, and
Prism Energy, a significant chunk of
decks will indeed be vulnerable to that
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
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
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
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.
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
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:
rebuilding your set-up.
It runs very tight on
All three of these points are
You’re constantly rebuilding your
Altaria is an easy OHKO for almost
all decks, and if you run into another
This is somewhat mitigated by
Garchomp enjoying double damage
against said attacking Dragon, but still
even non-Dragon attacks will regularly
Garchomp, or settle for OHKOing
Altaria and that means the deck has
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
Professor Juniper and
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
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
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
Mewtwo EX (BW: Next Destinies
54/99, 98/99) can more easily score
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
metagame, the concept might; by now we
should all be well versed in using a
small spread damage that doesn’t seem
Max Potion to set-up for a
It is kind of the main strategy
for attacking with
Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers
Wait… are there any rivals for
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
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
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
Eviolite and a legal target for
build reported as doing well ran
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
Being a Basic Pokémon leaves more
room in a deck for other things, like
Rayquaza isn’t an obvious
Garchomp comes from it doing less
damage for a bigger cost.
As you should remember from the
Rayquaza does 40 for (L) but also
discards the top two cards from your own
Garchomp will be doing the same
thing, but “many” is not the same as
Garchomp will likely be using Mach
Cut more, while
Rayquaza will be hammering away with
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
runs Fighting Energy just for
Blend Energy WLFM can be replaced by
Prism Energy if the primary
attackers are all Basic Pokémon.
I will be pleasantly surprised if the
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
a few times and
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
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
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
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
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.
is a good Pokémon that has been
reasonably well hyped.
Personally, I am a bit
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
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
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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