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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Dark Claw

Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed: May 29, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.37
Limited: 3.75

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

Dark Claw (Dark Explorers)

Hello and welcome to a slightly shorter week here on Pojo’s CotD. This is due to the Memorial Day Holiday in the US.

Kicking off this week is Dark Claw, a Tool from the new Dark Explorers set which is definitely seeing some play in the right decks. Its effect is unsurprisingly straightforward: attach it to a Dark Type Pokémon and each of its attacks will do 20 more damage to the active. Note the part about it increasing damage to the active. Dark Claw will have no effect on the part of an attack which hits the Bench, such as the 30 snipe from Darkrai-EX’s Night Spear or the spread to the Bench from Tyranitar Prime’s Darkness Howl.

Anything that boosts attack damage tends to be very good in Pokémon. Lots of decks include PlusPower to help them turn two and three hit KOs into one and two hit knock outs, and you don’t have to look back very far to see how much use a similar card (Expert Belt) got. Combined with Special Dark Energy, this card can really ramp up the damage output from Dark Pokémon and surprise an opponent who hasn’t reckoned on you being able to KO their Pokémon that turn. It’s worth noting that it cancels out the effect of an Eviolite on your opponent’s Basic Pokémon.

Obviously, the card is limited in use to those running Dark Pokémon as attackers in their deck. At the moment that gives you a relatively small selection of Pokémon to work with: Darkrai DEX and (to a lesser extent) Zoroark DEX are the really playable ones right now, but anyone using Tyranitar Prime, Hydreigon NVI, or one of the Scrafty (hey, I’ve seen them at League), can also benefit from including a couple of copies of Dark Claw. When it comes to Darkrai, you have to make a choice between this and Eviolite. Which one you go for will depend a lot on the type of deck you are running, with Dark Claw preferred in fast, aggressive lists that try to set up a first or second turn Night Spear, and Eviolite better for decks that set up to play a longer game.

Dark Claw may be a niche card, but it so happens that that niche is inhabited by a very powerful and well-supported Pokémon right now. If you are playing against a Dark deck, remember this card when calculating how much damage you think your opponent will be able to do on their next turn.

Rating

Modified: 3.25 (limited use . . . but that won’t stop it being used to great effect)

Limited: 4 (if you pull some Dark Pokémon to use with it, this is great)


Otaku

Dark Claw is truly an enigma; how can combining two super-heroes (Batman and Wolverine) whose popularity has lead to both overexposure and fanboy-ish writing (which breaks suspension of disbelief) be so good when amalgamated into one being? Batman should be dead several times over since (as fanboys like to dwell upon) he is “just” human; a highly trained and conditioned human with an iron will and state-of-the-art equipment, but still not a “super-powered being”. All he’s got going for him explains why he could survive a while… but dodging bullets nightly even when wearing body armor (let alone tackling heavies alongside the Justice League) and eventually Batman should come up short.

Wolverine isn’t pushing suspension of disbelief with his survival, but with him being as important and “powerful” as he is depicted. His actual mutant abilities being geared mostly toward healing would be great to have but his offense comes from being just a little stronger and faster than a normal human can achieve, and the “adamantium”-laced skeleton and claws mean that he can be a threat up close but even though he too is highly trained, how does that make him a match for super-powered (or properly equipped “normal”) threats that have a good medium-to-long-range game? Claws that can “cut through anything” only work if he can reach what he wants to slice up.

Blending the two together, however, alleviates these problems. The “Dark Claw” has the best of both characters and erases their respective weaknesses. Unlike Bruce Wayne, Logan Wayne doesn’t need to make a miraculous recovery from injuries; the healing factor takes care of that. The genius mind of Batman combined with Wolverine’s senses means Dark Claw can quickly analyze clues at a crime scene, even if it is as simple as tracking someone by scent. Being a polymath with skills in fields such as robotics and biology allow those claws to quickly cripple the mightiest foes… and combined with Batman’s gear and Wolverine’s super-human strength and reflexes, if he can’t get to you, he’ll have the tools on top of the plan to bring you to him…

Oops. Wrong “Dark Claw”; if you can track down Amalgam Comics, they are a short, sometimes silly, but often awesome reads. So… is Dark Claw (the new Pokémon Tool) awesome or silly?

Stats

Dark Claw is a Pokémon Tool, a sub-Type of Item, which is in turn a sub-Type of Trainers. So anything that applies to any of those categories will affect Dark Claw. Pokémon Tools are one of those cards that created a resource in the game; each Pokémon may have only one Pokémon Tool equipped at a time, and thus each Pokémon can be thought of as having a Pokémon Tool “slot”. When there are good enough Pokémon Tools, not having a Pokémon Tool on a Pokémon can be almost as wasteful as not using your Supporter for the turn. Other times it will be so superfluous that it isn’t any greater concern than a deck lacking a Stadium in a format where Stadiums are only used on occasion.

Effects

Dark Claw can be equipped to any Pokémon, but only has an effect when equipped to Darkness-Type Pokémon. Said effect is simple but handy; +20 damage to the Active Pokémon. The only real tricky part is remembering that means both Active Pokémon and not just the Defending Pokémon; if Zoroark (Black & White 71/114, BW: Next Destinies 102/99, BW Promos BW09) has Dark Claw equipped to itself and uses Nasty Plot to duplicate Bolt Strike from Zekrom (Black & White 47/114, 114/114, BW: Next Destinies 50/99, BW Promos BW005, BW24), it will hit itself for 60 points of damage (40 base points of self damage plus another 20 from Dark Claw) in addition to slamming Zekrom for 140 points of damage (base 120 points plus another 20). Of course, that is assuming no other effects are being applied, like PlusPower or Defender.

This is a simple but very good effect; in Pokémon the best defense is almost always a good offense as most of the time KOed Pokémon can’t do anything back to you (plus your opponent is usually out whatever resources went into building them).

Usage

Quite simply, this is the go-to Pokémon Tool for most Darkness-Type decks, with one possible (probable?) exception: Eviolite. If you are a Basic Darkness-Type Pokémon, Eviolite can often be as good as or better for your overall game than Dark Claw, so long as Eviolite is buying you one extra turn to attack. That “extra attack” is usually worth more damage than the Dark Claw would have added. With the current card pool, I think this concern really only applies to Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108); all other Darkness-Type Pokémon that will be attacking are either Evolutions or small enough that Eviolite is unlikely to make a difference.

Now Dark Claw is mostly going to be used to “cancel out” Eviolite. While not truly negating it, since you’re adding 20 points of damage and almost never hitting Weakness, you’ll just end up breaking even after all is said and done… which is often worth it. Many attacks will move into OHKO range thanks to Dark Claw, and even those that don’t will often have the option of also stacking on the effects of Black Belt (unlikely due to it being a Supporter), PlusPower, and Special Energy Darkness Energy. In the case of the latter two, it is all a matter of deck space; since PlusPower is of course a one-shot effect (on its own) and Special Energy Darkness Energy isn’t compatible with Dark Patch, the two are often fighting for space in an already crowded deck.

On its own Dark Claw can make most attacks troublesome; all together they can make most “weaker” attacks vicious. As an example let us look at a card I hoped would see more play (but so far hasn’t) Absol (HS: Triumphant 91/102) “Prime”. Absol Prime has some potential as an inexpensive (in terms of game resources; not sure about card price) means of getting damage counters on your opponent’s Pokémon early game due to its Poké-Body (Disaster Eyes). Its attack is pretty pricey; though it only requires (DC) for Energy, its text states you must also send a Pokémon from your hand to the Lost Zone in order to hit for 70 points of damage. Stack the Poké-Body’s effect with Dark Claw and its attack can take out Pokémon with 110 HP. It won’t be OHKOing most big Basic Pokémon, but supporting Pokémon can fall into this range and it sets up almost anything for a 2HKO from a “real” attacker.

Now let us take a minute to think about the upcoming set, revealed to be named BW: Dragon Exalted. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers of coming cards. With the warning out of the way I can continue: Tool Scrapper (Dragon Blade 48/50, name subject to change) is an Item that lets you discard up to two Pokémon Tools from in play. This is really going to hurt “passive” Pokémon Tools like Eviolite; only a few decks will be able to make use of it on their own turns (to absorb self-damage). It seems quite likely that players will at least have a clutch Tool Scrapper to take out Eviolite when it is important. So won’t that hurt Dark Claw? A little, but it helps it more; you’ll get the damage bonus from Dark Claw on your own turn, and since most Pokémon aren’t apt to last more than two turns, using Tool Scrapper after an attack has already gone off is less appealing. What this means is after Tool Scrapper hits, Darkness-Type Pokémon are more likely to get the actual +20 damage through. Of course it is hard to predict how all the other cards will affect things, or if the translation was mistaken; don’t make major plans but keep it in mind. End spoilers.

In Unlimited, decks tend to focus around first turn wins or locks, or at least more traditional “donk” or OHKO strategies backed by Trainer denial. If Dark Claw is really crucial to scoring that first turn KO then it will have some use… but the decks I am thinking of will mostly not need it and/or prefer to use Focus Band, one of the greatest Pokémon Tools every created (and in typical Pokémon fashion, also one of the first). In Limited it is another story. Most decks have room even for a specialized Trainer, so as long as you’ve got at least one Darkness-Type Pokémon it is tempting. If you’ve got even a few and they can attack for damage, I’d say it becomes a must run; with the lower average HP that +20 damage is even more significant, and will likely move many Pokémon into OHKO range.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1/5

Modified: 3.5/5

Limited: 3.5/5

Summary

As is often the case with a specialized card, the scores can be misleading; in your average Darkness-Type deck in Modified, Dark Claw functions as if it were at least a near staple, suggesting at least half a point higher of a score. As stated for Limited, it is all about how many Darkness-Type Pokémon you get that are worth running; none and it is useless, one and it is handy, multiple and it is a must run! This card originally made my own top 10 list, but I am somewhat glad it didn’t make the final list; it is a good card, but there are several that were more worthy.

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.

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia
Dark Claw (Dark Explorers)
 
Hey there, we're back for another week of Pojo reviews. This week is all about the niche cards, with Dark Claw being the first of the lot.
 
Dark Claw is a Trainer - Item and also a Poke'mon Tool, which means that it mainly has to compete with the other Tools for deck Space. While Exp Share and Rocky helmet are also niche cards, Eviolite is currently in every deck that matters so Dark Claw is already fighting an uphill battle for acceptance.
 
Fortunately, Dark Claw is very powerful when attached to Dark type beatsticks. If the Poke'mon Dark Claw is attached to a Dark type, all of the attacks on that Poke'mon deal 20 more damage to the Active Poke'mon (both yours and your opponent's). In conjunction with Special Dark Energy and Pluspower, you can ramp up the damage form a heavy attack to 1HKO EX Poke'mon or (more likely) boost a mediocre attack to destroy a Bench sitter.
 
The strength of Dark Claw is that it combos well with all of the Item cards you would like to play anyway, but that also leads to one of the two major stumbling blocks it has to get past. Fitting Dark Claw in on top of your other damage tricks means you don't have as much room for the necessary draw cards to keep the damage coming, so you'll likely have to either skimp on some Poke'mon or lower your count of other important cards like Dark Patch, Junk Arm and Poke'mon Catcher. Honestly, I don't  believe anyone will be willing to do that.
 
Since you can't justify running full sets of Pluspower, Special Dark Energy and Dark Claw together, the other option is to use a Dark Poke'mon who only needs a small, consistent damage boost to take those coveted 1HKOs. Sadly, there isn't a single card available to fill those shoes.
 
With the exception of Houndoom CL, Zoroark BW and  Zoroark DEX, all of the Dark Poke'mon that are even marginally playable have a heavy focus on dealing damage to the Bench, which wastes the potential of Dark Claw. Tyranitar Prime has a big spread attack, Hydreigon NV hits 3 targets, Weavile UD has a snipe attack that barely ever gets used any way and Mandibuzz BW wouldn't get any more Mileage out of t's Stage 2 destroying attack even if you boosted the damage by 40.
 
Of the exceptions, Houndoom is too fragile and uses it's attack more for the discard effect to lock down an opponent's hand and if you get into a damage race then you have already lost. As for Zoroark, both forms lack the monstrous HP necessary to get out more than one attack and so Dark Claw is just a double Plusower. While that is definitely a good thing, it still doesn't deal with the problem that Stage 1 Poke'mon cost more resources to replace than their Eviolite-wearing Basic relatives. Even if you can now rain down 1HKOs with Foul Play or Dark Rush,you will still run out of tricks in hand before you can finish the game.
 
Modified: 3.5 (Dark Claw is the go-to Tool for Dark type Evolutions and provides some of the best damage boosting in the game's history, but until we get a 180 HP Dark type that can deal 150 damage with it's big attack, Dark Claw will remain in the binder)
 
Limited: 4 (This really depends on how many Dark Poke'mon and Dark Patch you have to go with it, but a permanent double Pluspower is something to be excited about pulling even if you don't run it)
 
Combos with: a Dark type Reshiram BW/Zeldom EX


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