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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Ampharos #70

Dragons Exalted

Date Reviewed: Oct. 29, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.90
Limited: 3.60

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

Ampharos (Dragon’s Exalted)

Hello and welcome to a new week of reviews here on Pojo’s CotD. We are nearing the release of a brand new set, and that means our top 10 countdown. But before that, we have some unfinished business with the semi-playable/somewhat interesting cards from Dragons Exalted.

We kick off the week with Ampharos, a Stage 2 Lightning Pokémon with a decent 140 HP, an unfortunate Fighting Weakness (Terrakion are everywhere!) and an inconvenient Retreat cost of two. Nothing spectacular so far, and we know that Stage 2 Pokémon really do have to be spectacular to cut it in today’s format.

Ampharos does have an Ability to help with that. Electromagnetic Wall states that, if Ampharos is active, every time the opponent attaches an Energy from the hand to a Pokémon, they put three damage counters on that Pokémon. Experienced players will know that we have been down this road quite a few times before with this Pokémon, without much success (Ampharos ex DR, Dark Ampharos NDT, Ampharos Prime). It seems like a great way to rack up some free damage, especially now they have to place three counters for each Energy. The truth is though that the Ability is just far too easy to play around: Pokémon Catcher will send Amphy back to the Bench leaving your opponent able to attach without penalty. Also, it does not affect Energy which is attached from the Discard pile, so it doesn’t touch Eelektrik NVI or Dark Patch – and they are the basis of the best decks in the format right now.

Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad if Ampharos was quick and easy to set up (it isn’t – it’s a Stage 2), or if it had a really good attack (it doesn’t – Electrobullet does 70 plus 20 snipe for three Energy, which is mediocre for a Stage 2). It’s one of those cards that some players will look at and go ‘wow! Free damage, I’m sure I can create some kind of amazing combo with this!’, but if they were ever to take it to a tournament, they would soon discover that their combo is very fragile and easily thwarted by any competent player with a top tier deck.

Ampharos DRX is more than ready to take its place in the long line of ‘interesting but not really playable’ Ampharos that came before it.

Rating

Modified: 1.75 (Ability looks good until you consider the practicalities)

Limited: 3 (Stage 2s are awkward to use, but the Ability would actually work here)

virusyosh

Welcome back, Pojo readers! We're finishing up Dragons Exalted this week with a few of the more interesting cards that we've missed, and then we'll probably be reviewing Boundaries Crossed pretty soon. We're going to kick things off this week with a Stage 2 Pokemon with an interesting Ability. Today's Card of the Day is Ampharos.
 
Ampharos is a Stage 2 Lightning Pokemon. Lightning is a fairly well-represented type in the Pokemon TCG right now, as Eelektrik NVI variants have been very popular, and should continue to be popular in the near future due to their powerful Energy acceleration engine. 140 HP is standard for a Stage 2, and Ampharos should be able to take at least one medium-sized hit before it is Knocked Out, possibly more depending on the opponent. Fighting Weakness is bad against Terrakion, Terrakion-EX, and the new Landorus-EX, as all three will probably make short work of this Light Pokemon. Sadly, Ampharos has no Resistance, and the fully-evolved sheep also has a Retreat Cost of 2, which is payable in a pinch.
 
Ampharos has an Ability and an attack. Electromagnetic Wall is the newest spin on the "Connectivity" power, which deals damage when your opponent plays Energy. In this case, Ampharos has to be Active for Electromagnetic Wall to work, and it places a whopping three damage counters on your opponent's Pokemon when they attach an Energy from their hand. Some important things to note are that the Ability obviously won't work if Ampharos is on your Bench (unfortunately), and the power won't affect cards like Eelektrik's Dynamotor and Dark Patch, since their attachments aren't from the hand. It is, however, excellent against multiple Energy attachment Abilities like Emboar's Inferno Fandango and the new Blastoise's Deluge.
 
Electrobullet is Ampharos's attack, dealing 70 damage for a Lightning and two Colorless, while also hitting one of your opponent's Benched Pokemon for 20 damage. 70 damage really isn't enough to compete in today's Modified, as Electrobullet will likely be a 3HKO on most commonly played Pokemon (including Darkrai and Rayquaza-EX), although it is worth noting that it can be powered up well with Eelektrik's Dynamotor and Double Colorless Energy. Overall, Ampharos has an interesting Ability, hampered by a lackluster attack.
 
Modified: 2/5 Ampharos is really interesting, but it probably isn't that playable at a high tournament level. Electromagnetic Wall will serve to hose a few common strategies (such as the new Blastoise/Keldeo-EX deck that is very hyped), but Electrobullet doesn't do nearly enough damage for Ampharos to stay competitive against Darkrai, Rayquaza, and other heavy hitters in the format.
 
Limited: 5/5 Ampharos is great in Modified. Electromagnetic Wall is especially painful for your opponents here, as it punishes them harshly for each Energy attachment they make. Additionally, Electrobullet has a relaxed Energy cost (only one Lightning necessary!) will allow the Light Pokemon to fit easily into any deck, and the attack has the excellent combination of dealing decent damage while also hitting the Bench. Very solid, and easily a Pokemon to build a deck around.

Jebulous Maryland Player

Ampharos
 
Ampharos is a Stage 2 Lightning Pokemon with 140 HP.  It is weak to Fighting and has a retreat cost of 2.
 
'Electromagnetic Wall' is an ability that puts 3 damage counters on your opponent's Pokemon each time they attach an Energy from their hand to it.  It also only works while Ampharos is the Active Pokemon.
So this effect had so much potential, but it just falls short.  The first, but not biggest problem, is the fact that it needs to be the active Pokemon.  Had that restriction not been there, it would have been playable.  Your opponent can attach 1 energy per turn (excluding any acceleration) so it would be a guaranteed 3 damage counters and Ampharos would just have to sit on the bench.  Then you could have multiples set up for even more havoc.  Though this would be awesome, I understand the limiting.  I can't remember their names, but there are
2 Pokemon, that when they are the Active, negate your opponent's ability to play Supporters or Items.  I can see how this falls in the same category, since attaching an Energy is also a game mechanic.
Though my opinion is that this and the Supporter lock should not be restricted to having to be the active, since those actions (playing a supporter and energy) are a once per turn action.  Hmmm, thinking more about it, they could remove the restriction and make it affect both players (like Vileplume from last format).  Anyway, I think I've went too far into 'what-ifs', so I will stop.
 
The second reason this falls short is because it only happens when they attach from their hand.  Had it been any kind of attachment, this deck would be played to counter anything with energy acceleration.  As it stands now, Emboar and Blastoise (and Terrakion EX) are the only (I
think) hand energy accelerators.  These are not played enough in the format to warrant running this card.
 
'Electrobullet' cost  Lightning and 2 colorless energy.  It does 70 damage and 20 damage to a Benched Pokemon.  This is the little brother to 'Night Spear'.  The main reason 'Night Spear' is better is because it can 2HKO EXs (minus support).  Also, Darkrai is a Basic, which needs no setting up.  For a Stage 2, I would expect the attack to do more damage.  I guess they were trying to balance it out with the effect.
 
Modified: 2/5
Limited: 3.5/5
Combos With:  ...
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

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.

Stats

Ampharos 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 not impossible). 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 PlusPower.

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 using a Rare Candy) and two more cards in your deck (and put into play in the correct order) more than a Basic Pokémon. All fundamental, but spelling it out really underscores how challenging this can be in the current format.

Ampharos 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 confusion). 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 reliably. 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 now. 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 doesn’t exist. 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 Ampharos. 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 options.

Effects

Ampharos sports an Ability and an attack. The Ability is Electromagnetic Wall, and its effect has two trigger conditions: 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 true”.

If it only affects a player’s one, manual Energy attachment from hand per turn, it is a good Ability, but only just. 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 shock. 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 less confusing. For (LCC) you score 70 points of damage, plus another 20 points to the opponent’s Benched Pokémon of your choice. Like the median view of the Ability, this is good; not great, but very useful. 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 Energy acceleration.

Usage

To get to Ampharos, you need to go through at least Mareep. We currently have a single option: Mareep (BW: Dragons Exalted 38/124). It has 60 HP Basic, Lightning-Type Pokémon with Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat of one. 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 Mareep itself. 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.

Flaafy 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 turn before Ampharos. 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 damage.

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 turn quicker. 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 effect (Eviolite).

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 simple as Double Colorless Energy and/or Exp. Share (provided the deck has basic Energy) it is pretty open for “dance partners”.

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 larger concern. BW: Dragons Exalted has some very nice Fighting-Type Pokémon for Limited play.

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.

Spoiler

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 critical. 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 Ampharos. 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 won’t care.

Landorus EX (BW: Boundaries Crossed 89/149, 144/149) is likely to also be huge, which is probably the biggest upcoming strike against Ampharos. 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. For example, Ether is a card we thought we were getting in BW: Boundaries Crossed until recently. 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).

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.5/5

Modified: 1.8/5

Limited: 3.75/5

Summary

Ampharos 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.


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