If I told players a year ago that we were going to get a
Pokémon that was a 140 HP cross between the best bits of
Jumpluff HGSS and
Claydol GE, they would look
at me as if I was insane and then run off to the message
boards to post threads demanding an immediate ban, just
in case I wasn’t lying. Well, now that card is here in
the shape of Empoleon DEX .
. . and the weird thing is that it wasn’t even
considered good enough to make our Top 10 cards of the
Ok, I can understand why people are wary of this card.
It’s a Stage 2 for a start, and Stage 2 attackers have
not been playable recently: there are just too many
Basics that are tougher, hit harder, and take way fewer
resources to set up. Another huge problem is the
Lightning Weakness. We all know how dominant
Eelektrik-based Lightning decks have been recently –
surely a Stage 2 that gets stomped on by the most
popular deck in the format isn’t going to stand a
chance? Even the Retreat cost of two is the worst
possible. One less and it’s easily paid for; one more
and at least you can search it out with Heavy Ball.
But let’s move on to look at what this card does have to
offer. First up is Diving Draw, an Ability that lets you
discard a card from your hand to draw two. The discard
part is easy (hey, we all use Junk Arm, don’t we?), and
the benefits in terms of consistency are huge. Since
Claydol left the format, we
have been starved of good Pokémon-based draw (with the
exception of Magnezone
Prime), and had to rely on Supporters instead. With his
Ability (which does stack by the way)
Empoleon can provide enough
draw to make a Stage 2 deck fast and reliable enough to
compete in this format.
That’s not all it can do though, as
Empoleon also has a pretty good attack. Attack
Command comes at the bargain cost of just one Water
Energy and does 10 damage times the number of Pokémon
that are in play (including the opponent’s). Times have
moved on since Jumpluff was
taking OHKOs with 100+ damage
from the same attack though. Pokémon nowadays have huge
HP and Eviolite to make them
more durable, which means that
Empoleon is more likely to two-shot for its
Prizes. That’s ok though as
Empoleon is not an EX and can afford to trade
like that. Besides, outside of Lightning Pokémon that
hit Empo for Weakness, there
isn’t really anything playable than can OHKO him.
But the problem of that Weakness remains, and this means
that Empoleon needs a
partner who can cover it. Donphan
Prime is a possibility, but most players prefer to look
at Terrakion NVI. This is
the beauty of Empoleon’s low
attack cost: it makes it easier to combine him with more
demanding Pokémon with different Type Energy needs.
Throw in a few Smeargle UD
and you have all the Pokémon for a competitive deck, for
less than the Price of a Darkrai-EX!
Just how competitive it will be remains to be seen, but
I definitely expect to see a few top cut Battle Roads
and make an appearance during the various National
Championships. This is the most playable Stage 2 we have
seen since Chandelure NVI.
If you haven’t playtested
with it yet, you should.
Modified: 3.75 (Best Stage 2 attacker in format . . .
whatever that means these days)
Limited: 4.25 (Not a fan of Stage 2s here but Rare Candy
is in the set and the draw and cheap attack are
brilliant. Just make sure you don’t deck out)