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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Rayquaza

Dragon Vault

Date Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.8
Limited: 5.0

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Rayquaza (Dragon Vault)

Today we are looking at a card which was only reviewed a couple of months ago. There are two reasons for this: firstly, some reviewers missed out last time (including me), and secondly when it was only available as a secret rare in Dragons Exalted, it was out of the reach of most players: even if you were prepared to pay the $60-100 it cost, it wasn’t always possible to find one. Now it has been released in the Dragon Vault mini set, there are plenty to go around and it is a whole lot more affordable. So, should players be taking advantage of this and snapping up some copies for their decks? Let’s find out.

Rayquaza is a Dragon Type unevolving Basic with 120 HP. All of these things are very good. 120 HP used to be a problem back in the day when every deck was based around either Reshiram or Zekrom BLW, but those days are gone, and only Zekrom still sees any play, and that is only as one or two copies in Eelektrik-based decks. Right now, it’s a solid number and should make Rayquaza a tricky KO for most non-Dragon Pokémon. The Dragon Typing is nice as only Dragons can exploit its Weakness, while Rayquaza can do likewise to them. Being a Basic, it can enjoy the benefits of using Prism Energy and Eviolite. The only real bad thing is the Retreat cost of three: ok, it is Heavy Ball searchable, but it also requires the use of Switch in order to Retreat.

Dragon Pulse, Rayquaza’s first attack, is extremely good. For just a single Lightning Energy it does 40 damage, but you have to discard the top two cards of your deck. Obviously there is some risk involved in that, but the reward can more than make up for it. 40 damage is enough to KO any Tynamo, and any Dragon Type evolving Basic. It’s also enough to put early pressure even on high HP Pokémon. This alone would be enough to ensure that Rayquaza was playable, but it also has an excellent second attack. Although Shred costs Fire/Lightning/Colourless, it hits for 90 damage that cannot be affected by any effects on the Defending Pokémon. This means that it will ignore Eviolite (making any EX Pokémon a two-hit KO), as well as any damage reduction/prevention effects like Bouffalant DRX’s Bouffer Ability or Blitzle NVI’s Agility. The Energy cost is a bit awkward, but when run in a deck that can provide it through Energy acceleration (such as Eelektrik), it is manageable enough to be a viable attacking option.

What we have with Rayquaza is Pokémon that can be a threat to both weak Basics and the massive EX Pokémon. And the best thing is that Rayquaza isn’t even an EX himself: he doesn’t give up two Prizes, so is more than happy to trade KOs with the big boys. Rayquaza’s attack costs mean that he is not exactly splashable in every deck, but in those decks which do run Lightning and can tech Fire Energy, he is an almost automatic inclusion. He can also play a role in decks which aim to hit hard from the very first turn (with cards like Tornadus-EX, Stunfisk DRX and the forthcoming Landorus-EX).

So yeah, everyone who hasn’t already should take advantage of the reprint and get themselves some copies. You know it makes sense.

Rating

Modified: 4 (EX-like power from a non-EX Pokémon. But not for every deck)

Limited: N/A (mini set)

virusyosh

Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Today we're reviewing what is probably the most popular and hyped card from Dragon Vault, and it has already made a bit of a splash on the Modified scene. Today's Card of the Day is Rayquaza.
 
Rayquaza is a Basic Dragon Pokemon. Due to a few of Rayquaza's characteristics, this Sky High Pokemon already seems quite a bit of play as a tech in decks that use Lightning (or Fire) Energy, although it is pretty important to note that it can match up pretty well with other common Dragons in the metagame. 120 HP is good for a non-EX Basic, and Rayquaza should easily take a medium-sized unboosted hit. Dragon Weakness is somewhat unfortunate against the heavy hitters of Modified, but of course, Rayquaza can hit them back for Weakness as well. Unfortunately, Rayquaza has no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of 3, neither of which is very exciting. Be sure to use something like Switch to move Rayquaza from the Active position.
 
Rayquaza has two attacks. Dragon Pulse does 40 damage for a single Lightning Energy, with the additional effect of discarding the top two cards of your deck. While self-discard is never a good thing in Pokemon (a game with classically limited recursion options), 40 damage for such a low cost is generally worth such a drawback. As such, Rayquaza is an important metagame choice against decks running weak (40 HP or lower) Basics as well as most unevolved Dragons, as Dragon Pulse should easily take care of all of these early game Pokemon, potentially crippling your opponent's setup.
 
Shred, Rayquaza's second attack, does 90 damage for a Fire, a Lightning, and a Colorless, while ignoring all effects on the Defending Pokemon. 90 damage for three Energy (with two different types) is right about average, and this attack is serviceable by most means (especially for Knocking Out the likes of Hydreigon, Garchomp, and Rayquaza-EX). While Rayquaza is generally used as strong matchup against weaker Dragon Pokemon, Shred happens to be pretty good in most instances, too.
 
Modified: 3.5/5 Rayquaza has a nice blend of speed and power, and works fairly well against Garchomp, Hydreigon, and even other Rayquaza in today's Modified format. Taking out early-game Gibles, Deinos, and even things like Altaria is a great boon for a single Energy. In addition to Dragon Pulse's effectiveness, Shred is very serviceable attack in its own right. Overall, be sure to look out for Rayquaza at your local tournaments (now even more so, since it's easier to obtain), as it will continue to be a good tech in a Dragon-infested metagame.
 
Limited: 5/5 Rayquaza severely dents the entire Dragon Vault set for a single Energy, and OHKOs everything with Shred. If you're running Lightning Energy, you're definitely using it; if not, you'll probably run some anyway.


Otaku

Today we look at Rayquaza (Dragon Vault 11/20), which is a reprint of Rayquaza (BW: Dragons Exalted 128/124). While it has only been two months since we first reviewed it, it was a hard to obtain Secret Rare in its initial printing. Now that it is relatively easy to come by, will it live up to its hype?

Stats

Rayquaza is, of course, a Dragon-Type Pokémon, and one as they are still fairly “new”, I believe it creates a largely psychological advantage. I saw it with Metal- and Darkness-Type Pokémon, and I believe I am seeing it again with Dragon-Types. There is just the joy of playing something new… and the fear of having it used against you.

Its Type allows it tap Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted 84/124, BW Promo BW48) for extra damage and Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124) for some search power. Should you use this Support? These two pieces of support have had a mixed showing when backing up Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124), so it seems unlikely they would do better ignoring that and focusing on an unrelated Basic Pokémon. I’ve tried backing Rayquaza up with only Altaria, but my testing has been very limited and thus inconclusive.

The Type is also quite important for exploiting the Dragon-Type’s shared Weakness to each other; this can make and break a Dragon-Type Pokémon. It also worth noting that nothing is naturally Resistant to Dragon-Type Pokémon; while Resistance has not kept pace with HP increases and damage output (in fact, it have been weakened over the years), not having to worry about encountering it is always nice.

As a Basic Pokémon, Rayquaza can tap the ample support they have available, and enjoys the standard benefits of needing less deck space than Evolutions and being both faster and simpler to get into play (drop Basic Pokémon A into open Bench Slot B). This inherent benefit due to the game’s design is augmented by access cards like Eviolite, which can stretch out a Basic Pokémon’s HP.

Speaking of HP, Rayquaza clocks in at 120 HP; this is 10 points below the max for Basic Pokémon, set by some of the newer Legendary Pokémon. I’d complain this was some sort of bias in favor of those newer Pokémon, but glancing at video game stats the HP/DEF/S.DEF in the video games are always collectively higher for those Pokémon. 120 HP is great, and scoring a OHKO against it will usually be resource intensive and in some cases, just not possible for a deck.

Rayquaza is an easy OHKOed for most Dragon-Type Pokémon; card’s Dragon Weakness will make any shot that hits for at least 60 points before Weakness balloon into a OHKO; every fully Evolved Dragon-Type Pokémon has at least one such attack other than Latias (Dragon Vault 9/20). It isn’t as bad as it may seem; only a few of the Evolving Dragons have attacks that hit hard enough, and of those fully Evolved Dragon-Types, most are just going to at best conserve a card or two of resources because their attacks would have resulted in a OHKO without Weakness as well.

The lack of Resistance is disappointing but (unfortunately) quite common; an appropriate Resistance could have made the card just a bit better, but lacking Resistance won’t ruin Rayquaza. Moving on to the final Stat, the three Energy required to Retreat can be painful to pay, but at least makes it a legal target for Heavy Ball. All in all, fairly good Stats.

Effects

Rayquaza has two attacks, which are differently priced versions of attacks that other Dragon-Type Pokémon in this both BW: Dragons Exalted and Dragon Vault also have: Dragon Pulse and Shred. This actually makes Rayquaza easier to evaluate, since we can compare to how other Pokémon do these things, though the other differences between them and Rayquaza must still be factored in.

Dragon Pulse requires (L) and hits for 40 points of damage, but with the additional cost of discarding the top two cards of your own deck; that is quite a kick. If you discard Pokémon or basic Energy, they are easy to recycle and certain decks can even make use of it. Of course, Trainers are hard to retrieve and if you don’t have a direct combo, reclaiming what you discarded will still require expending a different resource. Relying on this attack long term gets very costly.

Shred requires (RLC) and hits for 90 points of damage that isn’t altered by effects on the Defending Pokémon; note that Weakness and Resistance are considered basic mechanics and not “effects”, and that effects on the attacking Pokémon (in this case Rayquaza) still apply. Like most Dragon-Type Pokémon, this means you have to run off-Type Energy or a Blend Energy that a lot of your deck can’t use, since Fire and Lightning are on the opposite versions.

It feels like these two attacks are flipped. How so? Dragon Pulse is certainly useful, but it is challenging to rely on; it doesn’t hit hard enough (even against Weakness) to quickly rack up KOs, so as I found out you end up discarding a lot of your deck. You have to use Dragon Pulse only until you can afford Shred, which just barely hits hard enough to be worth it, since its effect will ignore most things that would prevent Shred from 2HKOing just about anything in the format.

Still, if we had gotten “Shred” for a single Energy, it would have been a nice. Potent opening move that we could spam if we had too without such a hassle, and ideally a Dragon Pulse for two or three Energy would hit hard enough to be worth it.

Usage

There are no other Modified Legal versions of Rayquaza to compete with, though in a way it competes with all other Dragon-Type Pokémon. Like I said, Dragon Pulse and its discard cost can become a serious pain; if one built a deck around attacking almost completely with Dragon Pulse, and you managed to win with only 10 attacks, that still means you have discarded 20 cards from your deck… which begins the game at 46 cards by the time you subtract opening hand, Prizes, and opening draw.

Rayquaza is, however, fast. Needing just a single source of (L) it works in decks using actual basic Lightning Energy, Prism Energy, or Blend Energy WLFM and can attack first turn. There are basic Pokémon that start out with only four HP, so you can always go for a donk win, and in fact a few PlusPower and the right partner could turn that into an entire deck in and of itself. Most Pokémon-EX are better for the OHKO, but crash and burn if Sigilyph (BW: Dragons Exalted 52/124) walls them. This makes running Rayquaza a sound alternative in such decks.

After all, with 120 HP, one can probably use Dragon Pulse twice before being KOed. Even if you’re just throwing Rayquaza up front to keep an opponent busy, you might still take an early Prize, or at least sour an opponent’s set up. The damage is enough your opponent can’t easily ignore it, giving you at least a shot at setting something else up. With the right cards, you might even make an actual Rayquaza focused deck work. As stated, I’ve been trying with Altaria, but ran into the same problem Altaria/Garchomp decks had. I am starting to wonder if I should instead keep it simple, using tricks like Exp. Share to just keep a string of Rayquaza hitting turn after turn with Shred.

Except of course I want Eviolite as well and I can’t have it both ways unless I am pretty brazen with Tool Scrapper usage. Still the main reason this card is so enticing is for slamming it into other Dragon-Type Pokémon. With the damage output is doubled, you’re scoring 80 for (L) and 180 for (RLC) with the usual drawback or bonus, respectively. Unless I missed one of those obscure protective effects, all currently released Dragon-Type Pokémon are a OHKO for Shred while almost all Evolving Basics are a OHKO for Dragon Pulse.

For Unlimited, I wish I had something a little more original, but it is mostly the same old stuff; you’ve got decks that win or lock you down first turn and then there is everything else. Still, at least this time Rayquaza would qualify towards the upper end of “everything else”; it won’t get by classical pains such as Focus Band or “the Baby Rule” printed on older Baby Pokémon, but it’s a solid beatstick if you don’t want to deal with odd mechanics like Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-ex.

As for Limited, I wouldn’t even try to use Dragon Vault for Limited, since everything will be hitting for double damage and you’ve go so many cards with bizarre Energy requirements, but for all I know it is fun. Of course, it also sounds expensive since it is a mini-set, so I am still scoring this “N/A”.

If you and some friends manage to pull this while using BW: Dragons Exalted, I would be leery of using it as the price of the Secret Rare isn’t as high as it was, but its still a fairly valuable collectible. It will be powerful, but you’ll need to be able to afford to run basic Lightning Energy and Fire Energy, because you can’t rely on just Dragon Pulse; you begin with a 40 card deck that loses seven cards to your opening hand, four to Prizes, and one more to your opening draw.

40 – (7 + 4 + 1) = 28

That means opening with Rayquaza would only allow 14 shots from Dragon Pulse, and you probably won’t open with it!

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.75/5

Modified: 3.75/5

Limited: N/A

Summary

So Rayquaza may have some untapped potential in its own deck, but the fact I haven’t seen that yet and players were play-testing with it via proxy long before means I am probably wrong; fortunately it is now significantly more available thanks to Dragon Vault, and it does seem to play opener/cleaner in a lot of decks, so you have enough reason to track them down without my crazier notions. It is a very good card; snag it while you can.


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