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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Empoleon #29

Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed: May 23, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified:
Limited:

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

Empoleon (Dark Explorers)

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 set.

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 Uxie and 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.

Rating

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)

virusyosh

Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Today we're reviewing a new Stage 2 from Dark Explorers that would absolutely shine in a format where Evolution cards were more viable. Today's Card of the Day is Empoleon.
 
Empoleon is a Stage 2 Water Pokemon. Stage 2s rarely see play anymore, as they're usually too slow to keep up with the huge Basics and Pokemon-EX, making the resources required to get them out a waste. However, there are certain cases where Stage 2s can see play, if they have a combination of a game-breaking ability, strong attacks, or both. Luckily, Empoleon has some of each. 140 HP is standard for a Stage 2, and should allow Empoleon to take an unboosted hit with relative ease. Water is a fairly rare type right now due to the presence of Lightning in Modified, meaning that Empoleon will have to figure out a way to deal with Lightning in order for it to see play. Sadly, the metal penguin does have Lightning Weakness, meaning Zekrom and friends will make short work of Empoleon. To round out the bottom stats, Empoleon has no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of 2, which is payable in a pinch.
 
Empoleon has an Ability and a single attack. Diving Draw allows you to discard a card from your hand to draw two cards, which is one of the best repeatable draw Abilities we've had in a long time. The Ability allows you to discard cards in your hand for two new ones, which is great in any format. Even though it can be difficult to find enough resources to discard regularly, combining Empoleon with something that can make good use of the discard (Eelektrik?) can be incredibly useful.
 
Attack Command, Empoleon's attack, resembles Jumpluff's Mass Attack, as it deals 10 damage for each Pokemon in play. Maxing out for 120 damage for a single Energy is great, making Empoleon easy to power up. Naturally, this attack's damage output depends on the Benches of both players, so be sure to use something like Pokemon Collector to fill your Bench to maximize this attack's effectiveness.
 
Modified: 2.75/5 Empoleon is in an awkward position of being a victim of the current metagame. Both Diving Draw and Attack Command are very powerful, and putting them together on a single Pokemon is great. That being said, environmental conditions are very unfavorable for the penguin, as the size and speed of the big Basics and Pokemon-EX make playing Empoleon (and Stage 2 Evolutions in general) much more difficult that it has been in the past. Lightning Weakness makes this point even worse, as all of your hard work to bring out Empoleon can be easily undone by a single Bolt Strike, Strong Volt, or Volt Bolt (even a Zekrom-EX's Glinting Claw will OHKO if they flip heads). Overall, Empoleon has all of the stats and abilities to make an impact on Modified, but the environment and what everyone else is playing will likely keep it down, at least for a while.
 
Limited: 5/5 Empoleon is absolutely fantastic in Limited. Diving Draw gives you repeatable card draw in a format where drawing cards is scarce, and Attack Command does massive amounts of damage for the cost. If you get it out, you will likely win most of your matches.


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