We end the week with
Ninetales (BW: Dragons Exalted
Will this fire fox heat things up
or burn out?
Speaking of burning out, this is
the official last day of the 2011-2012
is a Fire-Type; their support in this
format is kind of there, kind of not.
We’ve got powerful effects like
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
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
As for more fundamental card
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
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.
sports 90 HP, making it just small
Level Ball; it’s an all but
guaranteed OHKO, a steep price to pay
for being easy to search out from your
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
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
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
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
We’ll see if those promises are
fulfilled when said set is no longer
guesses of what Japanese cards we’ll be
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
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
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
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
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
appears to be environmentally conscious
to a degree; it may be playing with fire
but it also recycles.
Its Ability, Bright Look was made
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).
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
not the same as Evolving
and could only be done to an Active
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
Since three of the Special
Conditions (Confusion, Paralysis, and
replace each other, this means the
most you could hit for (at least before
Weakness or the effects of other cards)
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
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
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).
Bright Look was amazing on
Luxray [GL] LV.X, but much less
Ninetales, despite working from the
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
Hexed Flame is really weak unless
coupled with something else to generate
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
It has only a single attack, the
overpriced Singe; for (R) you inflict
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
It is handy if you are
unfortunate enough to open with a
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
The only real use I see for this
card, however, is to counter one
If you have no other way to deal
with it, a 1-1 line of
Ninetales will ruin the lock created
Accelgor (BW: Dark Explorers
Gothitelle (BW: Emerging Powers
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
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
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
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
Vulpix probably was OHKOed and you
needed to Evolve (and attach an Energy
to) a spare.
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
Amoongus being OHKOed.
On top of that,
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
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
Volcarona (BW: Dark Explorers
22/108) “upgrades” Burn damage so that
it places four damage counters instead
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Ninetales to attack with also makes
it relatively splashable for that
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
lock, the card’s only hope is new
releases, so that its future would look…
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