This week should be our final fling with
BW: Dragons Exalted before we
switch to BW: Boundaries Crossed.
The crew agreed on the five cards
that had the most potential out of what
we haven’t already reviewed.
We begin by looking at
Ampharos (BW: Dragons Exalted
40/124); will it be a beacon of hope or
crash against the rocks?
Yeah… bad lighthouse comparison is bad.
is a Stage 2 Pokémon.
This is pretty painful right now;
we have a brutally fast format, which
gives the most aggressive decks a shot
at a first turn OHKO against anything
that isn’t “big”.
Exact size varies; I started
trying to calculate how much damage
could be done first turn with a
“perfect” open, but I realized that with
the right tricks it gets very long,
complicated, and highly improbable (but
More practical is realizing that
aggressive decks can be built with
decent odds of scoring an opening 40 to
60 points of damage, before factoring in
“boosting” effects like that of
So getting back to our subject (Ampharos)
that makes it hard to keep a
Mareep (its Basic form) alive long
enough to Evolve.
It can be done, but with a lot of
support and often still becoming down a
Prize before it happens.
Besides that, you will always
need at least one extra turn (over a
Basic Pokémon) to Evolve (two without
Rare Candy) and two more cards in
your deck (and put into play in the
correct order) more than a Basic
All fundamental, but spelling it
out really underscores how challenging
this can be in the current format.
is a Lightning-Type Pokémon, which means
no useful support.
Since you saw the card above, we
do already know it can make use of (L)
Energy, and there are effects to support
the use of that (especially basic
Lightning Energy cards), but that
isn’t tied directly into the Type (I
would save it for the Effects but I’ve
learned just to cite it here to avoid
Lightning-Type decks have been
strong not only since the beginning of
this format, but even early in the
previous; this makes Weakness a bit
scarce, with only the best
Lightning-Weak cards still seeing play
and lessening the benefit.
Similarly, this means what would
normally be scarce (Resistance at all)
is a tad more common as decks wishing to
protect themselves are already practiced
in running such cards.
At 140 HP,
Ampharos is out of the OHKO range,
except due to Weakness.
It is well within the 2HKO range
of most decks, since many can deliver an
average of 70 points of damage per turn
This doesn’t set well with me,
but the HP scores I would favor are
unheard of in the TCG; it mostly becomes
an issue due to the kind of fast,
reliable damage yields most decks are
hitting by their third turn.
Getting to the Weakness I
mentioned, it is to Fighting-Type
Pokémon; pretty much the standard
Weakness for Lightning-Type Pokémon
throughout the entire life of the TCG,
and quite dangerous in the TCG right
Fighting-Type Pokémon are quite
common as off-Type splashes, so you
never know when you’ll find them.
That Lightning Resistance I
cautioned about earlier is also found on
some of them.
As for the card’s own Resistance, it
This is a longstanding pet peeve
of mine, but since it is the norm, it
just becomes a missed opportunity and
not something for which to penalize
So we’ll move onto the final
“Stat”, the Retreat.
Ampharos sports a cost of two;
painful but payable, to the point you
should probably pack some alternate
sports an Ability and an attack.
The Ability is Electromagnetic
Wall, and its effect has two trigger
Ampharos must be Active and your
opponent must attach an Energy from hand
to one of their Pokémon.
When both are fulfilled,
Electromagnetic Wall places three damage
counters on that Pokémon.
This is pretty annoying for some
decks, hardly an issue for others.
All in all I would call it a
solid Ability, but there is the issue of
the rulings: we are sorely lacking them!
In English the card specifically stats
“an Energy”, as opposed to “an Energy
card”; that last word being absent leads
to questions when something like
Double Colorless Energy is dropped.
Older Pokémon with similar
effects usually only worked
once-per-turn as well, and most players
have learned to be paranoid about
something sounding “too good to be
If it only affects a player’s one,
manual Energy attachment from hand per
turn, it is a good Ability, but only
Too many popular decks can
mitigate at least some of the problem.
If it does applies to each from
hand attachment, “from hand” Energy
acceleration decks are in for quite a
If it counts each unit of Energy,
finally enough decks are affected for
this to be very good indeed, though
still not great.
Electromagnetic Bullet, the attack, is
For (LCC) you score 70 points of
damage, plus another 20 points to the
opponent’s Benched Pokémon of your
Like the median view of the
Ability, this is good; not great, but
You get just barely enough damage
against the Defending Pokémon for the
Energy invested, the spread is enough to
still be strategic, it combos with the
Ability, and since it is mostly
Colorless it is open to most forms of
To get to
Ampharos, you need to go through at
We currently have a single
Mareep (BW: Dragons Exalted
It has 60 HP Basic,
Lightning-Type Pokémon with Fighting
Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat
For (C) it has an attack to
reduce the damage it takes by 20 (after
Weakness and Resistance).
For (LC) the second attack hits
for 30, and if you fail a coin flip it
also does 10 to
You don’t have a choice, and the
attacks aren’t horribly bad, but I
really wish the HP was a little higher;
it doesn’t match the video game model as
well, but functionally the TCG might be
better of the lower Stages has most of
the HP allotted for the entire line.
Instead of going 60/80/140, think
more 80/110/140 or even 100/120/140.
is optional since you could just use
Rare Candy, also getting
Ampharos into play a turn sooner.
Flaafy doesn’t reward you for
playing it instead, save that Pokémon
are usually easier to search out and/or
recycle than Items, and you need to have
Rare Candy and
Ampharos in hand together at the
right time to Evolve, while
Flaafy just needs to be in hand at
the right time and played at least one
That is small compensation
though; you’re just getting a Stage 1
Pokémon with the same Stats as
Mareep plus 20 more HP.
Flaafy even has the same first
attack, though this time for (C) you
both gain the 20 point damage reduction
while hitting for 20 points of damage.
The second attack is different,
but only a little more useful as for
(LCC) it hits for a mere 40 points of
So… how should one use this in Modified?
This is the chief problem with
Ampharos; it needs to be Active, but
it can’t take a pounding and delivers
damage that is 20 to 30 points too weak.
That isn’t an idle estimate; the
Ability gives you some leeway as to
whether the extra damage was to the
Defending Pokémon, another Benched
Pokémon, or the same Benched Pokémon,
but with the numbers I cited long term
use would start adding up to KOs one
For example, hitting for 90
points of damage against the Defending
Pokémon ensures a 2HKO barring
protective effects; hitting for 30 more
points ensures a 2HKO even when up
against the most common protective
The Ability isn’t reliable enough to
ensure the 70 Active/20 to one benched
Pokémon adds up to 2HKOs, and 140 HP
doesn’t last long enough (especially
with Fighting Weakness). If the
Electromagnetic Wall functioned from the
Bench (or was worded to stack)
Ampharos would be a viable deck
(perhaps even a bit overpowered).
As it can utilize something as
Double Colorless Energy and/or
Exp. Share (provided the deck has
basic Energy) it is pretty open for
For Unlimited, the big concern comes
from decks being too Energy efficient
and being too reactionary; punishing
your opponent a little for their Energy
attachments won’t matter if they are
winning before it can accumulate.
First turn win and lock decks
especially are a concern, though it
might make for a nasty surprise if a
deck is trying to rely on the “Baby
Rule” protected “Baby” Pokémon released
in the Neo and e-card sets.
If you can assemble the
Ampharos line in Limited, consider
running it if incorporating
Lightning Energy into your deck
isn’t a big issue, and you can handle
the Fighting-Type Weakness.
Normally I don’t dwell on that,
but as Colorless-Type Pokémon are often
Fighting Weak as well and a staple of
the deck design here, it becomes a
BW: Dragons Exalted has
some very nice Fighting-Type Pokémon for
If you can fit in the Energy and cope
with the Weakness, the entire line
benefits from the usual “lower average
HP and damage” factor, plus the Bench
damage is extra useful here.
I need to be a bit specific; the
defensive attacks on the lower Stages
can actually do some good and the small
bit of spread damage in the attack (and
possibly the Ability) will seem huge.
So near I would have included it in the
main section without the rest is the
coming of the new
Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed
31/149); this is where the ruling is
If, as it would seem, every
Energy you lay down via
Blastoise and its Ability end up
triggering Electromagnetic Wall,
Blastoise based decks becoming
popular may create a metagame niche for
This is far from a guarantee,
since most attackers aren’t small enough
for Electromagnetic Wall to KO on its
own, and all the decks that don’t use a
lot of Energy and/or attach it from
someplace other than the hand still
(BW: Boundaries Crossed 89/149,
144/149) is likely to also be huge,
which is probably the biggest upcoming
Further out, we get… honestly a
bit much to mention.
So many future cards will oddly
help and hurt
Ampharos at the same time, because
while they address some of its problems,
they create more.
Ether is a card we thought we were
getting in BW: Boundaries Crossed
If you haven’t heard of what it
can do, it reveals the top card of your
deck and if it is a basic Energy,
attaches it to one of your Pokémon.
This could speed up
Ampharos, but also works wonders for
a variety of other cards (and yes,
Ether is usually combined with an
effect that lets you see and/or
rearrange the top cards of your deck).
shows some potential, especially if
pending rulings were to go its way, but
it probably has the worst Weakness in
the format and doesn’t hit hard enough
with its attack to handle the decks that
can cope with its Ability.
I consider this a near miss
despite how low I scored it; if you can
find a partner that adequately covers at
least one of its concerns and you
probably have a solid deck.