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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Ninetales #19 - Dragons Exalted

Date Reviewed: August 31, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.83
Limited: 4.25

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

Ninetales (Dragons Exalted)

We end the week with another Stage 1 with a ‘coming-into-play’ Ability. As with Roserade, this is one we have seen before, though unlike Roserade I don’t think any player will have any difficulty in remembering exactly where they have seen it before.

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the card’s stats. Ninetales is a Stage 1 Fire Type with a low 90 HP and a Weakness to Water which will be a problem when it runs it Empoleon DEX (which it almost certainly will). The Retreat cost of one is very payable, so there’s no issue there.

Ninetales’ Ability is called Bright Look – yes, that’s right, the same Bright Look that made Luxray GL LV X one of the defining cards of the SP dominated format of a couple of years ago. When you play Ninetales from your hand to evolve one of your Pokémon, you may drag out one of their benched Pokémon to replace the active. Now I know what you’re thinking: we now have Pokémon Catcher to do that job without the pain of having to run a Stage 1. There’s a certain amount of truth in that and, all the while that Catcher is legal, no-one will use Ninetales for the Ability alone. Luckily for the card’s playability, it does have a bit more to offer.

For the low, low cost of a single Fire Energy, Hexed Flame does 20 damage. Pretty poor for an evolved Pokémon, right? Except for the fact that it will also do an extra 50 damage for each Special Condition on the Defending Pokémon. So, what Ninetales needs is a way of inflicting multiple Special Conditions, preferably without wasting an attack to set it up. Luckily such a Pokémon exists in the shape of Amoonguss from Next Destinies. This too has a ‘coming-into-play’ Ability, Sporprise (heh), which causes the Defending Pokémon to become Poisoned and Confused. Combine that with Ninetales and you are hitting a Confused Pokémon for 120 plus Poison damage for a single Energy!

There’s some nice synergy between Ninetales and Amoonguss too, as both can abuse Devolution Spray repeatedly to keep using their Abilities. However, the combo can be very fragile due to the low HP of the Pokémon involved and the need to constantly stream Stage 1s/Devolution Spray in order to keep the deck going. A late-game N from the opponent can be very bad news indeed, and Garbodor DRX is its worst nightmare. Nevertheless, people like combos, the deck is relatively cheap and easy to build, and when it works it can cause problems for any opponent (emphasis on the ‘when’). As a result, don’t be too shocked if you see a couple of decks featuring Ninetales at the upcoming Battle Roads tournaments.

Rating

Modified: 3 (Good Ability, nice attack. A bit frail and combo-reliant though)

Limited: 4.25 (worth it, just for Bright Look)


Otaku

We end the week with Ninetales (BW: Dragons Exalted 19/124). Will this fire fox heat things up or burn out? Speaking of burning out, this is the official last day of the 2011-2012 Modified “season”.

Stats

Ninetales is a Fire-Type; their support in this format is kind of there, kind of not. We’ve got powerful effects like that of Emboar (Black & White 20/114, BW: Next Destinies 100/99), but technically that is Fire Energy support: anything that can make use of basic Fire Energy cards can tap it. What I refer to as “true” Type Support works for Pokémon of just that Type. There are also a few strong Pokémon that are of the Fire-Type, but most either dominate the decks they are in or don’t need to be in a Fire-Type deck.

As for more fundamental card interactions, Ninetales will occasionally hit Weakness and encounter no Resistance. Just a fun fact; only 20 cards in the entire history of the game have been naturally Fire Resistant, and all are either part of the Salamence or the Bronzong Evolution lines! This is almost surprising, given that the TCG Fire-Type is a direct conversion of the video game Fire-Type; it didn’t even get stuck with a name change like the Electric-Type-to-Lightning-Type or Dark-Type-to-Darkness-Type conversions and four video game Types (Rock, Fire, Water, and Dragon) are all naturally Resistant. I can only assume it has been an issue of game balance.

Ninetales sports 90 HP, making it just small enough for Level Ball; it’s an all but guaranteed OHKO, a steep price to pay for being easy to search out from your deck. According to Bulbapedia, for a Ninetales in the video games the base stats for Hit Points and Defense are below the mean (mathematical average) for fully Evolved Pokémon and the Special Defense is above. A quick reminder, comparing the TCG to the video games is not an exact science, or if it is I am woefully under qualified.

When translated to actual video game stats, we have a range (with various other effects also considered) of about 133 to 180 HP for a level 50 video game Ninetales, or 256 to 350 for a level 100. Defense and Special Defense lack a direct counterpart in the TCG and unless expressed as part of an effect, make the most sense being used to “adjust” the TCG HP score. I bring up all this just to point out that Ninetales really seems designed for Level Ball (and emphasize our current damage outputs are a lot more inline with the video games than the HP scores, which I see as a problem).

Water Weakness will rarely matter; for now they aren’t overly common outside of Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108) and even if they were, aggressive ones (see Empoleon again) are likely to have scored a OHKO before applying Weakness. It will occasionally matter, so don’t forget about it, and as usual the next set brings promises of stronger Water-Types. We’ll see if those promises are fulfilled when said set is no longer guesses of what Japanese cards we’ll be getting. At least it is better than the only other logical Weakness choice of Fighting (video game Ground- and Rock-Type attacks hit Fire-Types for double damage).

There is no Resistance, and with just 90 HP it wasn’t too likely to matter, but as usual it irks me; it feels like an attempt at “dumbing down” the game. Glancing at the various attack Types a video game Fire-Type Resists, Bug- and Grass-Types directly convert to the TCG Grass-Type, and Steel- to Metal-Type. I can understand not using Ice-Type (one of my pet peeves being that Ice and Water attacks have opposite effects on Fire-Type Pokémon) since that would be part of Water in the TCG; we really did get lucky the card wasn’t saddled with the (much worse) Fighting Weakness! Still, I have to wonder if leaving Resistance off was a matter of game balance or simplification.

Lastly we come to the card’s Retreat. In the video games, a Ninetales has good (but not great) Speed base stat, so Ninetales (as a TCG card) needing to pay only one Energy to manually retreat is good… however unless the rest of the card is stellar, being a 90 HP Stage 1 Pokémon makes me think it could have been a touch exaggerated (after all HP has been downplayed) and given a free Retreat instead.

Effects

Ninetales appears to be environmentally conscious to a degree; it may be playing with fire but it also recycles. Its Ability, Bright Look was made famous by Luxray [GL] LV.X, though there are some appropriate differences. On Ninetales it triggers when you play the card to Evolve something in play (which is going to be a Vulpix, barring some combo I am not thinking of or that doesn’t yet exist). On Luxray [GL] LV.X it only worked when you Leveled Up your Active Luxray [GL]; the changes make perfect sense when you remember the different mechanics involved; Leveling Up is not the same as Evolving and could only be done to an Active Pokémon.

The attack is called Hexed Flame, requires (R) to use, and hits for 20 points of damage plus an extra 50 for each Special Condition on the Defending Pokémon. Since three of the Special Conditions (Confusion, Paralysis, and Sleep) replace each other, this means the most you could hit for (at least before Weakness or the effects of other cards) is 170. That would actually be great for one Energy, even on a 90 HP Pokémon. The problem is that Ninetales has no method of inflicting Special Conditions on its own… so without a deck built around it, we are talking just 20 points of damage. Both Ability and attack are good, but exactly how good depends on the card pool.

As stated, it is also recycled, but unlike Bright Look it has received more extensive alterations; it is like an improved version of the attack “Miasma Wind”, seen on Leafeon (HS: Undaunted0 17/90, Call of Legends 13/95). Miasma Wind could be powered by one of any Energy, but didn’t have any assured damage, just 50 per Special Condition.

Since I have dwelled on the video games so much, I will point out that both effects seem reasonably appropriate given the Japanese myths surrounding nine-tailed foxes, and to varying degrees could be inspired by actual attacks; Roar and Hex for Bright Look and Hexed Flame, respectively. Roar just scares off wild Pokémon or forces your opponent to change out his or her Active, while Hex also does more damage if the opponent is afflicted by a “major status ailment”.

I also find Hexed Flame appropriate because the other logical way to represent the Speed stat from the video games in the TCG is to have a low Energy cost for an attack. In the video games, a Ninetales base stat for Attack is poor and its Special Attack is just barely below the average, so having its damage require creativity makes sense (though hurts the card’s chances of seeing play).

Usage

Bright Look was amazing on Luxray [GL] LV.X, but much less impressive on Ninetales, despite working from the Bench. Why? Simple; we have Pokémon Catcher; you’re just saving yourself using a common played Item, though if you’re an extreme budget player the higher rarity Ninetales may still be less expensive. Hexed Flame is really weak unless coupled with something else to generate Special Conditions. Let’s see if Vulpix provides any help.

We have only one Vulpix for BW-On Modified: BW: Dragons Exalted 18/124. It is a 60 HP Basic Pokémon with otherwise identical Stats to Ninetales. It has only a single attack, the overpriced Singe; for (R) you inflict Burn. I am very disappointed they didn’t include an attack to inflict Confusion and/or Sleep. Even tacking those onto a single attack with Burn would have created a much better basis for Ninetales. It is handy if you are unfortunate enough to open with a Vulpix (better Ninetales hit for 70 next turn than 20), but you’ll need more.

This is a review by me, so you know I am going to work very hard to find some functional combos, something to build a deck around. The only real use I see for this card, however, is to counter one specific deck. If you have no other way to deal with it, a 1-1 line of Ninetales will ruin the lock created by Accelgor (BW: Dark Explorers 17/108) and Gothitelle (BW: Emerging Powers 47/98). Such a lock breaks on its own (eventually something is KOed so you can get off an attack) but some people really fear this deck. I haven’t seen it in action, but if a build can make room for “Hammer Spam” (Crushing Hammer and maybe Enhanced Hammer in high numbers), so may there is a reason to fear, or at least to counter.

For many, the obvious play for BW-On Modified is to combine Ninetales with Amoongus (BW: Next Destinies 9/99); its Sporprise has the same kind of trigger as Bright Look, but inflicts both Confusion and Poison on the Defending Pokémon. On the unlikely (or almost unfortunate) chance you opened with Vulpix, the combo lets you hit for 120 damage on your second turn; if sustainable that would be good… except that Vulpix probably was OHKOed and you needed to Evolve (and attach an Energy to) a spare.

Using Devolution Spray and multiple copies of the needed Pokémon (both Basic and Evolved forms), you should be able to keep up a steady stream of 120 damage shots, but most decks will be able to attack between those hits. This in turn means the fact you’re 2HKOing the biggest stuff in the game isn’t enough, since you’ll have to constantly rebuild your set-up due to Ninetales or Amoongus being OHKOed. On top of that, N can totally wreck your in hand set-up.

There are some other options available, but none work out as well as the above combo… which works but only so well to begin with. Even if something has an attack that layers Special Conditions, you’re taking a huge risk using Ninetales as the finisher, and of course Paralysis goes away automatically before your turn begins while Sleep has a 50% chance of curing itself between turns (so two 50% chances of curing itself before your turn begins). This all assumes your opponent can’t deal with Special Conditions between attacks; a simple Switch gets rid of any of them while anything that can retreat gets rid of the three Special Conditions that would otherwise stick around for your turn.

I guess there is one last potential use, but it seems like an even longer shot. Arcanine (BW: Next Destinies 12/99) automatically Burns a Pokémon that attacks it with its Blazing Mane Ability. Volcarona (BW: Dark Explorers 22/108) “upgrades” Burn damage so that it places four damage counters instead of two. Ninetales becomes the annoying sweeper, hitting for a quick 70 points of damage, hopefully with at least one failed Burn check by the defending Pokémon adding another 40 (or rather four damage counters to the total). Just remember that you don’t want to waste Bright Look, and since Arcanine itself can hopefully attack for 100 most turns, you’re almost using Ninetales for “bait” as well.

This Ninetales really feels like it was meant for HS-On, the earlier the better. You wouldn’t have Devolution Spray, but going back far enough, neither did the game have Pokémon Catcher or Pokémon EX. You could use Vileplume (HS: Undaunted 24/90) to block Items, and Roserade (HS: Unleashed 23/95) to inflict Special Conditions from the Bench. Seeker would allow you to bounce Pokémon as needed. Even just playing it now, since technically we are still in HS-On but with BW: Dragons Exalted legal, you could do all these things.

You can Houndoom (HS: Undaunted 82/90) “Prime” has a Poké-Power that, while dependent on a coin flip, lets you Burn the Defending Pokémon from the Bench. Combined with Roserade and a Rainbow Energy (and now Blend Energy GRPD) that is a total of three Special Conditions; the magic 170 damage that OHKOs almost any Pokémon without some sort of protection and those that survive still need to deal with Poison and possible Burn damage counter placement between turns!

So what about Unlimited? As usual, you’ve got your first turn win/lock decks that you have to worry about. If you’re just playing for fun (or people in your area favor the few decks that make such strategies risky) you could indeed build a solid deck around Ninetales. Broken Time-Space allows you to re-Evolve right away, and you have more ways to Devolve. You have access to the HS-On combos (and likely some potentially better ones) to fuel Hexed Flame, plus a lot of popular Pokémon from the past weren’t gigantic… and were using Focus Band to survive hits.

Focus Band lets you flip a coin when a Pokémon would be KOed by damage from an attack, and if it is “heads” the Pokémon is not KOed but instead has 10 HP left. The damage counter placement from Poison or Burn won’t trigger it, and the Pokémon in question just survived via Focus Band, than a single damage counter finishes it off. This creates a nice little niche, and that is before factoring in the importance of Items in this format.

As for Limited play, even if you can only drop a 1-1 line into the deck with no Energy to attack with, Ninetales is a must run. Players are used to being able to hide Pokémon on the Bench, so losing the deck and Bench space won’t hurt you, but the nearly KOed Pokémon your opponent is trying to hide on his or her own Bench? Yeah, forcing that Active hurts them quite a bit. If you do include the Energy to attack, the idea of using another Pokémon to attack for Special conditions and then Retreat out works here due to the slower pacing, and lower average damage output/HP scores. Needing a single Fire Energy for either Vulpix or Ninetales to attack with also makes it relatively splashable for that purpose.

Ratings

Unlimited: 3/5

Modified: 2/5

Limited: 5/5

Summary

Ninetales is one of those cards painfully close to being useful; today we bid “goodbye” to the support that might have made it a deck to contend with, and we can only hope some of the lost combo pieces (or something that similarly boosts its capacity) are released in a later set. Besides being “insurance” for a deck truly worried about an Accelgor/Gothitelle lock, the card’s only hope is new releases, so that its future would look… bright.

Please check out my eBay sales by clicking here. It’s me whittling away at about two decades worth of attempted collecting, spanning action figures, comic books, TCGs, and video games. Exactly what is up is a bit random. Pojo.com is in no way responsible for any transactions; Pojo is merely doing me a favor by letting me link at the end of my reviews.

Jebulous Maryland Player

Ninetales
 
Ninetales is a Stage 1 Fire Pokemon with 90 HP.  It has a weakness to water and a retreat cost of 1.  It is searchable by Level Ball.
 
'Bright Look' is an ability that is pretty much a one time Pokemon Catcher when Vulpix evolves into Ninetales.  This is good because right now you can only have a maximum of 4 Pokemon Catchers in your deck.  Junk Arm was a way around it, but it is no longer in the format.  Sableye is another way to get more Catchers, but it is a Dark Pokemon, so you would have to work it in somehow.
 
'Hexed Flame' costs 1 Fire energy and does 20 damage.  It does 50 more damage for each Special Condition affecting the Defending Pokemon.
The base damage is bad, but the added damage is what makes the card good.
 
So the deck that utilizes this Ninetales is the Amoongus/Ninetales deck.  The stategy is to evolve into Amoongus, Poison and Confuse the Defending Pokemon, then have have Ninetales attack for 120 damage.  It can be a very fast deck (120 for 1 energy on turn 2).  Devolution Spray is used for reusing Amoongus' 'Sporprise', letting you do 120 multiple times.  Both Amoongus and Ninetales have 90 HP, so Level Ball gets both of them.  A problem with the deck is being able to get an Amoongus evolved every turn.  If you can't Ninetales only does 20, which will get you nowhere fast.  Also, with your main attacker only having 90 HP, it isn't going to last long (Darkrai EX does 90).
Dustox in the set has an attack that does 3 status conditions (Burn, Poison, and something else).  The only problem is that it is an attack.  What makes Amoogus great support is the fact that its ability is what inflicts the status conditions.
The deck looks like a pretty cheap deck to make too, so it's worth trying out.
 
 
Modified: 3.5/5
Limited: 3.5/5
Combo's With:  Amoongus
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


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