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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Honchkrow #73

Dragons Exalted

Date Reviewed: Oct. 31, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.10
Limited: 3.65

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

Honchkrow (Dragons Exalted)

Ever since he first made an appearance in the Generation IV sets, the ‘Big Boss Pokémon’ has usually been all about disruption of one kind or another, which I guess does suit its dark and pretty shady appearance (especially the old school mobster hat). This latest card is no exception.

Honchkrow is a Dark Type Stage 1 with an ok-ish 110 HP. Dark is a good Type to be as far as support goes, with Dark Claw (damage boost), Dark Patch (Energy acceleration), and Darkrai (giving free retreat) all available. Weakness to Lightning is not such a big deal these days as it has been, and the Fighting Resistance is very welcome in a format where a lot of decks play Fighting Pokémon to counter Darkrai. The retreat cost of two is annoying (especially on a Pokémon that flies!), but as I said, Darkrai can and should be solving that problem for you.

Whirlwind is a slightly upgraded version of the same attack that appeared on Honchkrow UD. For two Energy of any Colour (or a DCE), it will do 30 damage. Obviously, this isn’t great, but there is an optional effect: you may have your opponent switch the Defending Pokémon with one of their Benched Pokémon (remembering that damage always happens before an effect, so it will be the Pokémon switching out that takes the 30 damage). I like the fact that you can choose to activate the effect or not, and it can certainly disrupt an opponent by forcing out something that’s awkward to retreat (such as Eelektrik NVI). However, with most decks running multiple copies of Switch, or using Darkrai-EX’s Dark Cloak for free retreat, it isn’t too hard for an opponent to work around that disruption. The same can be said for Honchkrow’s second attack, Diving Swipe. One Dark and two Colourless Energy gets you 70 damage and discards a random card from the opponent’s hand. 70 is not a really good amount of damage for the cost – it can’t one shot weaker Pokémon like Eelektrik and it won’t even two-hit KO an EX. The effect by itself is unlikely to seriously inconvenience an opponent unless you get very lucky, and may even help them by putting Energy in the discard for Dynamotor or Dark Patch, or allowing them better draw with Bianca on their turn.

You could try and use Honchkrow as part of a deck dedicated to hand disruption with the Supporter Hooligans Jim & Cas, but that strategy is again very luck dependant and probably best saved for league/casual play. As far as tournaments go, Honchkrow does offer some neat and possibly useful effects, but they are a little expensive and the damage output is just a little too low for the card to be worth using.

Rating

Modified: 2.25 (you can have some fun with this card, but it’s short of being really competitive)

Limited: 3.75 (the disruption will stick more often here and it’s relatively easy to use)

virusyosh

Happy midweek, Pojo readers! We're finishing up our reviews of Dragons Exalted this week by reviewing a few of the interesting and/or underrated cards in the set. Today we're reviewing Honchkrow.
 
Honchkrow is a Stage 1 Darkness Pokemon. Darkrai-EX and Sableye are the two most common Darkness-types that we see in Modified today, and they're often played together. Therefore, if Honchkrow wants to see play in Modified, it's going to have to have a niche to fit into where it can do something different or better than Darkrai or Sableye. Darkness typing is also very good due to the presence of Darkness support like Dark Patch and Dark Claw, both of which are usable with the Big Boss. 110 HP is decent for a Stage 1, as it allows Honchkrow to usually take one medium-sized hit before a KO. Lightning Weakness is problematic against Zekrom and other Lightning-types, though their usage isn't quite as high as it used to be with the rise of Rayquaza in Eels builds (at least in my area). Fighting Resistance is great to have against Terrakion and Landorus, and a Retreat Cost of 2 is definitely payable if necessary.
 
Like many others, this version of the Big Boss Pokemon has two attacks. Whirlwind does 30 damage and gives you the option of forcing your opponent to switch out for two Colorless Energy. 30 damage isn't stellar in Modified, but the disruption can come in handy (provided your opponent doesn't have a Switch or any other way to get around it). In Limited, Whirlwind is incredibly disruptive, and 30 damage for Colorless Energy requirements is decent enough. Diving Swipe is attack number two, dealing 70 damage and discarding a card at random from your opponent's hand for a Darkness and two Colorless Energy. Random discard is something that rarely appears in the Pokemon TCG, and chances are your opponent won't be ready for it in either format. Unfortunately, 70 damage isn't quite enough in Modified, as that will be a 3HKO on most common attackers. In Limited, 70 damage for three Energy is decent, and while the random discard will be slightly less useful here, the chances of forcing your opponent to discard their best Evolution card can come in handy.
 
Modified: 2/5 Honchkrow is very disruptive, and would be a lot more playable if it actually dealt more damage. As it stands, it doesn't hit quite hard enough to see much play on the big stage, where Darkrai-EX largely outclasses it.
 
Limited: 4/5 On the other hand, with mostly Colorless Energy requirements and decent HP, Honchkrow is a solid threat in Limited. Whirlwind can act like a pseudo-Pokemon Circulator, forcing your opponent to switch around if you don't like what they have active. Diving Swipe is good enough for its cost, but as previously stated, the random discard isn't quite as good as it should be in this format. If you're running Darkness or have room to fit it into your deck (perhaps with Blend GRPD), Honchkrow is a solid addition to any Limited build.

Jebulous Maryland Player

Honchkrow is a Stage 1 Dark Pokemon with 110 HP.  It is weak to Lightning, resistant to Fighting, and has a retreat cost of 2.
 
'Whirlwind' costs 2 Colorless Energy and does 30 damage.  You then may have your opponent switch Pokemon.  The damage output is okay, I would expect 30-50.  The effect isn't great.  First off, they get to choose.  That's the worse kind of effect.  Second, since this is an attack, you can't do anything with the 'Catcher' effect until your next turn.  That gives your opponent an entire turn to try to switch out.  The only real use is if your opponent has only high retreat Pokemon on the Bench and not many ways to get around it.
 
'Diving Swipe' costs 1 Dark and 2 Colorless energy.  It does 70 damage and your opponent discards a random card from their hand.  Discarding is always great, but it also depends on the situation.  Say you N them down to 1, then do this attack.  They have low odds of recovering from that.  Now say they have 5 cards and you do the attack.  Not much of an effect on them unless you get rid of a key component.  
 
I like the old Sharpedo that had the double flip (yes, I know, BLASPHEMY!) because the reward was so much better.  Discarding their entire hand is much more disruptive than just 1 card per turn.  I think discarding 2 would let it be more playable than it is now.
 
There aren't too many cards that disrupt and you can build a deck around.  N, Hugh, Honchkrow, Salamance, Hooligans... some of those other random Pokemon with attacks that either discard or shuffle cards back in.  Nothing that you can get a real synergy with.  But it's always a fun idea, just devastating when you discard their hand and they top deck a Juniper.
 
Modified: 2/5
Limited: 3/5
Combos With:  ...
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

Happy Halloween readers! There are many different traditions around this holiday, but for several regions this is a fun time to celebrate a number of things. Most in my area will consider is a time for fun costumes, parties, Trick-Or-Treating, harvest season, and even multiple religious observances spread across multiple faiths.

For my area, Honchkrow (BW: Dragons Exalted 73/124) makes for a good Halloween review; technically any “Pocket Monster” should be at least a little spooky, but crows are one of many animals considered a little spooky… and if you’ve played the right TCGs you should know that hand disruption is terrified, and strangely associated with them. @_@

Stats

Honchkrow is a Darkness-Type Pokémon; this means it encounters a small amount of Weakness, no natural Resistance, and enjoys ample Type support. A quick rundown includes Dark Claw for boosting damage, Dark Patch for basic Darkness Energy acceleration and Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108) for zeroing out Retreat scores, and that is just the “easy” stuff. This may be the best Type to be right now, and it is a strong start for Honchkrow.

Being a Stage 1 is not especially advantageous right now; the game is in a place where speed is as such a premium, Evolving is just too slow. The Basic Pokémon that see play (even ones that are not Pokémon-EX) tend to be as large and powerful as Evolutions, but still as fast as their smaller kin. It isn’t going to ruin the card outright, but it does mean the rest needs to be pretty good.

The 110 HP on Honchkrow is not encouraging, but neither is it especially discouraging; it may feel low because of the big, Basic Pokémon that have been significant (if not dominant) this format and last, but you have a good chance of surviving all but the larger end of attacks. Decks can pretty easily kick out 70 to 90 points of damage a turn, but above that usually requires extra effort or just isn’t reliable. Also, Weakness and Resistance will affect both of these things.

Lightning Weakness is not a good thing, as Lightning-Type decks are still strong and common, but foreshadowing Usage, this is not the most common Weakness on Darkness-Type Pokémon, who are usually Fighting Weak. This card also is blessed with Resistance, and again it is different from that of most of its kin; Fighting Resistance. Being not only “not Weak” to the Type’s traditional vulnerability but Resistance to it can be a great boon, though as this card cannot utilize Eviolite and isn’t big for a Stage 1, the return isn’t as great as I would like.

The last Stat is Retreat; you’ll need to pay (CC) to Retreat this sort-of-big bird. Functionally this is average; you won’t want to pay this, but you regularly can even though it hurts. Honchkrow doesn’t really strike me as being slow or bulky, and it always just feels “weird” to me when a Flying-Type has more than a single Energy Retreat. That being said, I checked out its video game Base Stats and its Speed stat is a little below average; since I often associate the two, this makes it a little easier to accept. Thanks to Darkrai EX, you’re not going to have to worry about it much anyway.

Effects

Honchkrow has two attacks. The first is Whirlwind, requiring (CC) to use. The good news is the cost makes it fairly accessible; a Double Colorless Energy, Dark Patch, Energy Switch and Exp. Share all are fairly easy to run tricks that can allow a Honchkrow to go from no Energy at the end of your last turn to “ready” during your next with your manual Energy attachment. For that matter, you could even use most forms of more specialized Energy acceleration, provided you had a reason to run it in such decks.

Whirlwind hits for a decent 30 points of damage, with an optional force change out of the Defending Pokémon (after doing damage). This isn’t as good as having a Pokémon Catcher on hand, and you can’t rely on your opponent lacking something worth promoting (to them) or having a method of changing out the Active Pokémon on his/her own turn, but is far better than nothing. I emphasized the optional aspect since in the past it has often been mandatory, and it is good to keep something Active you want Active.

Diving Swipe requires (DCC), just a single (D) more to use. This means the Energy acceleration suggested earlier will just need one step more to enable it. Sadly, it doesn’t hit the 90 points of damage most attacks seem to need anymore, instead dealing just 70. It does come with an effect that randomly discards a card from your opponent’s hand. As this is random, it is more “scary” than “effective. It may also backfire, since many decks have tricks involving cards in the discard pile, but this is just a minor concern; most such decks aren’t going to need your help setting such things up.

Despite not hitting especially hard, both attacks are solid; since the stats were good but not great, that may not be enough.

Usage

There are no other Modified legal Honchkrow and only one such Murkrow (BW: Dragons Exalted 72/124). The Murkrow has weak, vanilla attacks: (C) for 10 and 20 for (DC). Fortunately it sports 70 HP, a single Energy Retreat, and the same Type, Weakness, and Resistance as Honchkrow. I am disappointed it doesn’t do anything useful for setting itself up, but it is good that it has at least a chance of surviving a hit just based on its Stats alone. Even Lightning-Type Pokémon will need a substantive attack; Emolga (BW: Dragons Exalted 45/124) isn’t going to OHKO it without two copies of PlusPower.

So should one use Honchkrow in Modified? If “yes”, then how? I am not seeing anything that deserves a firm yes, but I am seeing just enough to move it into “maybe” territory.

First, if you’re trying to run a Darkness-Type deck that is not focusing on speed and streamlining, Honchkrow being a Fighting Resistant instead of a Fighting Weak Pokémon is quite palatable. The big problem is that a deck focused on something like Darkrai EX is usually best of just being focused on Darkrai EX, or even going off-Type for a nice, big, Fighting Resistant Basic Pokémon. If you are not focusing on Darkrai EX (strange as that may sound) though, Honchkrow may have found a place to nest.

Second is if you’re trying to build a hand disruption deck. Honchkrow is one of the few attackers to do reliable damage and reliable (in terms of quantity) discarding with its attack. If you aren’t damaging your opponent while destroying his or her hand, you’re just waiting for them to top deck what they need to set-up and go on the offensive, or even to just “tick” their way to a Prize. If you’re never scoring any KOs because you keep having to attack to discard cards, your opponent just needs to do enough damage to take six Prizes before they deck out.

So what kind of hand disruption deck makes sense? I wish I knew. I can give you one completely untested idea. Supporters can be great for bringing an opponent’s hand size down, but the two options we have for that have draw backs. N doesn’t always wreck your opponent’s hand, can never reduce it below one card, and sometimes wrecks your own hand. Hooligans – Jim & Cas fails half the time. As such, I would want a source of serious draw and/or search power handy.

Right now, the best answer to that is Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108), but besides being a Stage 2, it is also Lightning Weak, making the deck far to susceptible to Lightning-Type Pokémon, plus incapable of using the same Blend Energy. While writing this, Pokepedia.net is down and I can’t seem to recall another currently legal Pokémon with a good draw effect, so I’ll mention the only other “search” effect I can likewise think of: Roserade (BW: Dragons Exalted 15/124). Pretty bizarre to run a Honchkrow/Roserade deck, but at least they both can use Blend Energy GRPD.

As for Unlimited, best to rely on several old-school Trainers; all of them are Items or rather “normal” Trainers grandfathered into the “Item” classification. This means they can go off first turn and literally obliterate an opponent’s hand before you go to attack. As such, Limited is the last hope for Honchkrow, and it is one that seems likely. Lower average HP and damage outputs, little to know discard recovery, little alternatives to manually retreating, Resistance to a commonly run Type, and the Ability to be run with little or even no Darkness Energy. Yes, even Whirlwind is good enough to run the card here!

Spoiler

The forecast isn’t super cheery for Honchkrow, but an upcoming Magnezone will allow a player to use two Supporters per turn, allowing a Supporter heavy deck to use disruptive Supporters as well as those purely to aid in your own set-up at the same time. Poison Hypnotic Beam is an Item that Poisons the Defending Pokémon and has a 50% chance of putting it to Sleep as well, providing a little extra offense and defense.

Hugh is a Supporter already confirmed in BW: Boundaries Crossed as 130/149; I don’t like it much but in a hand control deck its effect (both players draw up to/discard down to five card hands) might actually be worth the effort. Lastly Skyla (BW: Boundaries Crossed 134/149, 149/149) also is coming and likely to feature in many decks… possibly leading to decks focusing more on search than draw power; this could help Honchkrow since raw draw power is a more serious concern than an opponent able to get a single card.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1/5

Modified: 2/5

Limited: 4/5

Summary

Honchkrow is unlikely to spawn new, top-cutting hand control decks, but it is worth a look for League and maybe even the future. At the very least it is a good pull for Limited as long as you also get some Murkrow.


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