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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Gyarados  

- Legendary Treasures

Date Reviewed:
December 16, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.75
Limited:
2.00

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

Gyarados (Legendary Treasures) 

Hello and welcome to an exciting week here on Pojo’s CotD. Later, we will be revealing our top 10 (new) cards of 2013, but for now we have a couple of leftovers from the most recent set to deal with. 

We kick off with Gyarados, one of the handful of new cards from Legendary Treasures. Sad to say, this card doesn’t really add to our pool of playable Pokémon. It’s a Water Type Stage 1 with an infamously weak Basic that is comparable to, but much, much worse, than Kyurem PLF. Yes, they both have the same HP (130), but Kyurem doesn’t have to evolve to attain it. Yep, they both have attacks that do 120 damage, but Kyurem’s costs two fewer Energy to use. Oh, and Gyarados doesn’t get all that lovely Plasma support either. 

The only distinguishing feature of this Gyarados is the first attack, Howling Rampage, which costs two Energy and does 20 times the number of Prize cards both players have taken. In theory, this offers a game-ending 180-200 damage if used sufficiently late in the match, and I know that some people have even looked into ways that it can be used effectively. Unfortunately, they are wasting their time. Obviously, you will want to take as many of your Prizes as quickly as possible, but letting your opponent do the same in order to power up Gyarados is a terrible idea. In almost every situation you would be better off just using what has already worked and take your last Prize without relying on silly (and risky) gimmicks. 

Just . . . not worth it. Not ever. 

Rating 

Modified: 1.25 (like a bad Kyurem with a useless gimmick attached)

Limited: 2 (fewer Prizes = less attack power)


Otaku

We begin this week by looking at Gyarados (BW: Legendary Treasures 31/113).  Gyarados is one of those Pokémon that have a sizable fan following; a few years ago IGN polled its user base to determine the Top 100 Pokémon, and Gyarados secured the number 100 spot.  Popularity can be an easy to forget aspect of the Pokémon TCG; whether intentionally or subconsciously, some people are going to run their favorites even when they aren’t the best, most logical choice and that can really shake up the metagame.

 

Historically, Gyarados in the TCG exemplify this; plenty of duds, a few studs, several that were somewhere in between, and just to keep things complicated a few that started off as one then metamorphosed into the other as the then metagame developed.  I am happy to report that whether this card proves champ, chump, both or neither, today’s version at least isn’t vanilla filler.  So let’s break it down.

 

Being a Water-Type is somewhat useful due to the predicted increase in Fire-Types as an attempt at countering Fire Weak Pokémon (most popularly Genesect EX and Virizion EX), but it lacks true Type support; yes there are some amazing Water-Type Pokémon out but they aren’t restricted on what they can help, and sometimes instead of providing synergy, being the same Type just means other Types access that same support while providing more coverage.  Given how middle of the road the rest is, you can understand how the normally insignificant mechanic that is Resistance in the TCG may be the deciding factor on Type; those Grass-Types I mentioned earlier?  Some like Virizion EX are sporting Water Resistance just to make it even harder to KO.

 

Being a Stage 1 Type Pokémon is still bad.  It isn’t as bad as it was before the rules change, but said changes didn’t really fix problems so much as try to ignore them and thus cause some new problems.  Most Evolving Pokémon are still filler, giving you no reason to try and use them for the turn that basic game mechanics require, and we’ve still got non-Evolving Basic Pokémon that are amazing as soon as they hit the field; no attacks first turn gives the Evolving filler time to Evolve but doesn’t really hold back the non-Evolving attackers significantly… except for the ones doing it right by not being about insane offense but set-up or disruption, which would be a great use to put Evolving Pokémon towards.  Huh?  Right, reviewing Gyarados; being a Stage 1 is still bad.

 

130 HP is good… if you’re a Basic Pokémon that isn’t a Pokémon-EX.  Otherwise it’s bad.  The format is such that 130 might survive for one turn, which is acceptable when you’ve got a Basic that (thanks to the amount of acceleration and/or inexpensive attacks) can attack with little to no prep work.  By definition a Stage 1 (has to Evolve from a Basic Pokémon) has a turn and another Pokémon card invested in it, which means it needs to be bigger.  Unfortunately TCG HP scores are all squished together (when compared to the source material) due to a smaller range and restriction to 10 point increments.  This means that Stage 1 Pokémon need to be as big as Stage 2 Pokémon… which may not be a bad thing if you want all ending Stages to be equally competitive relative to the same role.

 

Gyarados gets off lucky with Lightning Weakness; right now the Type isn’t as popular as it once was because there just aren’t that many decks that use it for a main attacker.  The popularity of some other Lightning Weak Pokémon keeps Lightning Weakness from being safe, but it’s hardly the worst Weakness to have right now.  Plus the TCG mechanics don’t factor in how in the video games, the dual-Type nature of Gyarados (it’s Water/Flying, or is that Flying/Water?) actually means it should take quadruple damage from Lightning-Types.  It did get gypped by losing its Fighting Resistance, but as I said earlier when looking at it from the other direction, Resistance isn’t that strong of a mechanic in the TCG.  The chunky Retreat Cost of three is a pain to pay but makes Gyarados a legal Heavy Ball target, which itself is usually only useful if there is at least one other target in a given deck (and Magikarp won’t qualify).  I also have an aversion to given Flying-Types a large Retreat Cost, but that is purely about game aesthetics and “flavor”.

 

So in the Stats department, Gyarados is wanting but not abysmal; what can it do?  Two attacks, and because it’s clearly bad, I’ll start with the second; Hydro Splash has a printed Energy cost of (WWCCC).  Although technically some great attacks will utilize five Energy, it’s as an optional cost; the attack has a variable effect and can make use of that much Energy, or does something to its own Energy so if you can get off a second shot you’ll need extra.  Actual printed requirements this high rarely turn out well, because four Energy has rarely been easy to pay.  Even with a mostly Colorless cost, this is still too little damage for the investment.  Any deck that can meet this cost without a major hassle has better options, and the amount of effort you have to put into meeting the cost can easily bump up the damage of “lesser” attacks.

 

So in the end it is all riding on that first attack, Howling Rampage.  The required Energy is (WC), which isn’t easy to pay but neither is it especially hard; a turn of building or a simple combo (such as Energy Switch off another Pokémon) handles it.  The attack then does 20 points of damage times the number of Prizes taken by both players, a range of 0 to 220 (barring extenuating circumstances).  I like the idea behind the attack; it can be a “come from behind” kind of attack as it doesn’t car which player is winning; as long as someone is taking Prizes the attack becomes better.

 

With the first attack being so bad, there is no wiggle room for the first.  While in the past the cost of the attack would be rewarded as soon as two total Prizes had been claimed, as of now you need to be hitting 80 or 100 points of damage minimum to keep pace, and to justify the dangers of running this card, you pretty much need to get the point of OHKOing Pokémon-EX (at least boosting tricks like Silver Bangle can help), and that basically means this card has to be a cleaner.  Even if you intentionally give up Prizes, it takes five of your own (meaning any KO wins the opponent the game) to hit that 100 points of damage range.  There just aren’t any Pokémon with the capacity to self-KO (especially via an Ability) to make the whole deal worth it, and if you’re using something that can quickly KO enough of your opponent’s Pokémon to make Howling Rampage build quickly… why would you stop using that attacker to switch to a clunky Stage 1 Pokémon?  After all that, let me remind you that not only are the two Modified Legal Magikarp so unimpressive that even I don’t feel like analyzing them… but they each have only 30 HP, meaning even with the new rules you could still lose first turn if your opponent runs and opens with Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser!

 

Unlimited would allow you to tap some more support, but it is still too fragile a combo… or two clunky if you’ve already enabled the appropriate lock (by which point just about any beatstick would do).  For Limited, does Gyarados finally fare better?  Magikarp (BW: Legendary Treasures 30/113) is a bad card, even by Limited standards.  Without any form of acceleration, Hydro Splash will require sacrificing a lot to buy build time (at which point it is kind of awesome) and Howling Rampage is diminished because its range is now 0 to 140.  So technically Gyarados is better, but Magikarp is even worse because you may be subjected to it much longer.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 1/5 

Modified: 1.5/5 

Limited: 1.5/5

 

Summary

Gyarados has some interesting tricks but the uninspired second attack, Magikarp options, and raw brutality of this format make it a resound “no” for competitive play.


HEZ
Hi, I'm HEZ and this is my first Card of the Day on Pojo. I will include the usual Modified and Limited format ratings but I'll also include a review and rating for the growing Unlimited 150 format, which can often be very different! 
To learn more about Unlimited 150 visit http://pokemon150.webs.com/ or "Pokemon TCG 150" on Facebook.
 
Gyarados.
 
A promising card from this set that isn't a reprint! 
 
Modified:
  The HP is good for a Stage 1 but Hydro Splash is far too expensive to rely on. The main draw of this card is clearly the first attack; Howling Rampage. For just 2 energy you can do up to 200 damage if both you and your opponent are on 1 prize remaining each, almost certainly ending the game. While this sounds impressive we need to consider what it can do at other points in the game. Starting the game with a 30HP Magikarp is just asking to get donked and even if the Magikarp survives to evolve, Howling Rampage can't do any damage until any prizes have been taken.

  I've seen discussion of comboing Gyarados with Cofagrigus (Plasma Freeze 56/116) which can Knock Out itself to place 3 damage counters on your opponent's Pokemon however you like. However, this is a very risky strategy as you will still need a total of 7 or 8 prizes taken to KO 170-180 EXs after Cofagrigus damage. In the end, it seem that if Gyarados will see play at all, it will be as a late game attacker in a 1-1 or 2-2 line, not as the main focus of a deck.
 
Limited:
Such a strong Stage 1 seems like if would thrive in the Limited environment (if yo get the required Magikarp too of course!) but first you should consider another difference between Modified and Limited, Prizes. Gyarados' main attack maxes out at 120 damage in a game where you're playing for 4 prizes a piece. With so many reliable big Basic Pokemon in Legendary Treasures, there will probably be a more reliable option in your card pool.
 
Unlimited 150:
  Now, this is where this card can really shine! Gyarados has had several strong cards in the past, the potential Gyarados deck was just waiting for one more usable addition before it could become a truly viable option. Opposite to in Limited, it only gets stronger in this format where you're playing for 8 prizes each and Howling Rampage maxes out at 280 damage! The maximum HP of Pokemon is also a little lower too, with 160 being the most you will tend to see. Gyarados can hit this magic number during the mid-game when both players have taken 4 prizes each.

  The other Gyarados I'd consider for use alongside it are the one from Mysterious Treasures and of course, the popular one from Stormfront. Using these 3 Gyarados your deck will be focussed on bulky Stage 1 Pokemon that can land a heavy hit for between 0-2 energy, making you quite resistant to energy removal effects.
 
Ratings.
Modified: 2.5
Limited: 2
Unlimited 150: 4


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