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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Zoroark  

- Legendary Treasures

Date Reviewed:
December 11, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.75
Limited: 4.25

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

Zoroark (Legendary Treasures) 

Today’s card is a reprint of the Zoroark that we first saw back in Dark Explorers. It got a small bit of hype back then (can hype come in small bits?), but never really made the grade as a competitive deck. 

The reason for the interest? That would be Brutal Bash, an attack that costs just two Energy of any Colour (which is what Double Colourless is for) and does 20 damage for each Dark Pokémon you have in play. What does this mean? Well, with a full Bench of Dark Types you do 120 (short of a OHKO on most things); add Dark Claw and it’s 140 (OHKO on most Stage 2s and all big non-EX Basics); throw in a Laser/Virbank combo and you get 170 (which deals with a significant number of EX Pokémon, though not Darkrai or Black Kyurem – you would need Silver Bangle for that). Those are decent numbers for the cost and it’s not as if there aren’t good Dark Pokémon to play with Zoroark: Sableye DEX, Darkrai EX, and Absol PLF are obvious contenders, but there are also some left field options like Liepard PLS or Spiritomb LTR. 

Even so, a Zoroark deck now is still plagued by the same problems it had back then. Keeping a full Bench and streaming low HP Stage 1s is not an easy thing to manage (as anyone who tried to make Cinccino BLW work knows only too well). In order to trade effectively, Zoroark also needs a lot of support from the cards I mentioned above, oh and Empoleon decks will just love you filling your Bench to power up Brutal Bash . . . you end up doing all the work for them. 

When first released, Zoroark probably had even better options than it does now: Weavile UD was still in the format, as was Special Dark Energy. These days, it feels like a weaker Pokémon with some even worse match ups. If you want a low HP Stage 1 that can hit hard for a DCE, I still think that Flareon PLF would be the better choice. 

Rating 

Modified: 2.5 (it’s a good card, but not good enough)

Limited: 4 (provided you pull enough Dark Types)


Otaku

We’ll continue rushing through this week with Zoroark (BW: Legendary Treasures 90/113).  Yes, that was the best opening line that sprang to mind.  So why take a look at Zoroark again?  Its prospects seemed much better when we first reviewed it here: it even took the seventh place in our Top 10 Dark Explorers cards.  I sadly didn’t finish my review in time, but had it actually happened I would have been excited about a Stage 1 that could deliver big damage for manageable costs while simultaneously taking advantage of the new Darkness-Type support.  Then we realized that Darkrai EX could tap Dark Patch and Energy Switch effectively enough to be the speedy Dark-Type attacker (and Dark Claw for the damage) one was looking at Zoroark to provide, only better.  Sure you needed Sableye (BW: Dark Explorers 62/108) to help by spamming Items, but that was expected for Zoroark backed versions of “Dark.dec” as well.

 

First let’s review what Zoroark brings to the table; it’s a Stage 1 so while not as space hungry or hard to get out as a Stage 2, its still twice the cards and turns (not sure how “effort” scales) of running a Basic Pokémon.  Being a Dark-Type is great, though; while its stuck competing against some other great cards, it still has that same well of support.  Prospects for hitting Weakness aren’t that great, but Resistance isn’t a problem; the support is what really matters in this case.  The 100 HP is a problem; still within OHKO range of all competitive decks I can think of and within reliable OHKO range for most, it is too big for Level Ball (though the combo with basic Darkness Energy and Dark Patch means Level Ball usage may have been undesirable from the get go).  Zoroark is a “one and done” attacker, because it’s begging to be OHKOed.

 

The Weakness does not help; Fighting-Types basically earn their keep in Modified through Type-matching because the Darkness-Type is usually Fighting Weak, alongside Lightning-Types and the majority of Colorless-Type Pokémon (printed; not necessarily what sees play).  In fact, adjusting for what sees play it might be Darkness-Types that are keeping Fighting Weakness a useful exploit.  Fighting-Types that see competitive play often have one less expensive attack and one “big” attack; the Weakness means anything that would do 50 points of damage becomes a OHKO, and attacks clocking it at the fairly common “90 point” amount won’t need any extra help.  The 50 number doesn’t seem that common, but the attack has any tricks for boosting damage, then we start seeing OHKOs by attacks doing base damage of 30 or 40, and it definitely starts to matter.

 

Pleasingly, Zoroark enjoys Psychic Resistance; a Resistance score that does still matter at least from time to time.  A deck relying on Mewtwo EX or Deoxys EX as back-up attackers won’t like that -20 to their damage done; that means (in order to score a OHKO) a total of six Energy between Zoroark and Mewtwo EX (do able but a bit of a heavy investment) and Deoxys EX would require Zoroark have three Energy attached, which is one more than Zoroark needs.  Still not a major thing, though as those two are usually not the primary attackers in a deck.  The two Energy Retreat Cost is a bit of a pain; high enough you may not always be able to pay and certainly enough you’ll notice the difference if you do, and this makes Darkrai EX pretty much a given for any deck featuring Zoroark… which hurts as I already mentioned Darkrai EX tends to supplant Zoroark as an attacker.

 

Still, Zoroark does have some good attacks; for (CC) Brutal Bash does 20 points of damage times the number of Darkness-Type Pokémon you have in play; this pretty much dictates a deck run only or at least mostly Darkness-Type Pokémon and you’ll still hit hard enough to 2HKO most Pokémon that see play.  The problem is as a Stage 1 that requires two Energy to attack, you basically need to be hitting OHKO range for at least supporting Stage 2 Pokémon, if not Pokémon-EX themselves.  Brutal Bash has a base damage range of 20 (just Zoroark) to 120 (full Bench, everything is Darkness-Type); this means you need to combo up another 50 or 60 points worth of damage and hope the Defending Pokémon is bulked up somehow.  This can be done, but we get to how Darkrai EX tends to do it better.

 

The second attack, Dark Rush, is one that would border on broken if the format wasn’t so fixed on OHKOs of Pokémon the size of Zoroark; for the price of (DD) the attack does 20 points of damage per damage counter on Zoroark, giving a range of zero damage to 180 (more if you can raise its HP).  That is the problem though; in a format where most decks are going to score a OHKO against Zoroark and would want to in the course of normal play, there is seldom a chance to use Dark Rush for significant amounts of damage.

 

I think I’ve pretty well established why Zoroark hasn’t been able to cut it; now let’s consider the current card pool and rules and see if something has changed.  Zoroark Evolves from Zorua, and there are even two printings (with different art) that carry Ascension, an attack for (D) that allows you to search your deck for a card that Evolves from Zorua and play it onto Zorua; this wasn’t quite good enough when you could use it on the very first turn of the game, so now I am hard pressed to see it prove especially useful without that particular trick.  Yes, I am just using this to remind you how much I believe “set-up” attacks are good for the game and how the new “fix” for the first turn rules (“Absolutely no attack on the very first turn of the game”) doesn’t really fix the problem, it just treats one of the symptoms (FTKOs).

 

The good news is that manually Evolving is still an option, and if you go second your opponent can’t quickly take out a Zorua.  More importantly, they can’t quickly take out other supporting Pokémon and Pokémon Catcher can also no longer reliable disrupt said Bench, opening up more combo possibilities for Zoroark.  Options I wouldn’t have taken seriously before thus become at least remotely plausible.  A word of warning; this is still pure Theorymon on my part as I have not had a chance (and likely won’t get a chance) to test these decks ideas.  Even if they prove dead ends themselves, I hope they at least get the creative juices flowing.

 

You can pair it up with Zoroark (Black& White 71/114; BW: Next Destinies 102/99); it is almost baffling that this other Zoroark isn’t a force because for nearly the whole life of the game, copying attacks for significantly less Energy than they cost the opponent to use has been a magnificent strategy… but we still have a lot of attacks that reference elements you won’t be copying or that cost so little there isn’t a significant gain from copying them with a Stage 1.  The card can be used as a “secondary attacker” in a Darkness-Type deck, with the only issue being space and how we may have (and in the future definitely will) have enough better options you shouldn’t bother.

 

So let’s see if we can play up both attacks at once.  Brutal Bash wants you to have as many Darkness-Type Pokémon in play as possible; Dark Rush wants you to have as much HP as possible.  Umbreon (BW: Plasma Freeze 64/116) a.k.a. Umbreon [Plasma] has an Ability that increases the HP of Team Plasma Pokémon by 20 (and stacks!); if you trade in the expected Pokémon Tools of Dark Claw and or Silver Bangle for Team Plasma Badge, you can pump Zoroark up large enough that it can either get off two hits with Brutal Bash (which should allow you to pull ahead in Prizes) or get off one while surviving another hit to make a Dark Rush attack worthwhile.  Unfortunately this can be a rather fragile combo; if your Abilities or Items are cut off (including just discarding Team Plasma Badge), all that extra HP vanishes in an instant, and some decks will still OHKO Zoroark even with a full four Umbreon [Plasma] backing it!

 

Another thought I had was tricking the opponent into providing the damage you need to create a 180 point Dark Rush (before boosting tricks); it would require too many non-Darkness-Type Pokémon for Brutal Bash to remain a good fallback attack, but if you combined Reuniclus (Black & White 57/114; BW: Dragons Exalted 126/124) and something to soak hits, you could then promote Zoroark with 9 damage counters on it (11 if you choose to use Giant Cape) and hit for 180 (or 200) points of damage.  Note that Giant Cape may not be a better choice than Dark Claw or Silver Bangle.  You would also need an option for getting whatever is soaking hits out of the Active slot easily (I would use Darkrai EX just so that I had another card that could tap the Darkness-Type support the deck still needs to use) and I would recommend Mr. Mime (BW: Plasma Freeze 47/116) to prevent troublesome Bench hits (Reuniclus is small enough for some attackers to OHKO via sniping).  Many Pokémon-EX can be suitable walls (just mind Weakness), and Kyurem EX (BW: Plasma Blast 30/101) has 180 HP, a non-crippling Weakness, and the ability to use Outrage for 30 points of damage plus 10 per damage counter on it at the cost of just (CC); thanks to the cards you are likely to run anyway (Dark Patch plus Energy Switch), you get a wall that functions as a good back-up attacker.

 

For Unlimited play, Zoroark actually has a good deal of potential.  The bad news is that, as always, it isn’t going to be as good as a First Turn Win deck like Sabledonk.  The good news is that other than the current rules preventing it from attacking first turn; you’ve got access to Trainers that can cover its other problems.  Broken-Time Space allows for Evolving a Pokémon the same turn it was put into play, including the very first turn of the game.  Focus Band gives a Pokémon that was KOed by damage from an opponent’s attack a 50% chance (“heads” on a coin flip) of not having actually been KOed but having 10 HP remaining.  You’ll have to decide on whether to focus on a mono/mostly Darkness-Type deck or tapping some of the strongest support cards from different Types and relying on Dark Rush, but either should provide a strong deck… just no where near as good as Sabledonk and company.

 

For Limited, this is a great pull.  The bad news first is that it isn’t as easy to splash as it looks; Brutal Bash can use any Energy but only counts Darkness-Type Pokémon, while Dark Rush doesn’t care about your other Pokémon but does need (DD) to be used.  These aren’t crippling constraints, though.  What helps is that in either set that contains this Zoroark, the Zorua with Ascension is present, and a Basic Pokémon searching out its Stage 1 form is huge in Limited.  Also useful (though less so than the Ascension) version is a second Zorua in BW: Dark Explorers, increasing the odds of pulling a more fleshed out line.  You won’t be able to create a deck around nothing but this card, or this plus one or two big attackers, but in a deck that isn’t trying to be a +39 build, you just need some other Darkness-Type Pokémon or a deck that can run about half of its Basic Energy as Darkness Energy (so you easily have it available) and the attacks should prove spectacular.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 3.75/5

 

Modified: 3/5

 

Limited: 4.5/5

 

Summary

Yes, my score for Modified is very optimistic, but less it seem completely outlandish remember that this is basically it as a main attacker (indicating the rest of the deck has to contribute much to it) or where it is being used as a secondary attacker.  If this still seems generous, remember that all those cards that are better than it are likely clocking in at close to or in excessive of a “4/5”; being inferior to the “best of the best” doesn’t make a card “bad”.

 

Zoroark is another “good” card in a format of “great” cards, and it’s worth double checking to make sure we haven’t missed a use for it.


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