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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Altaria

- Boundaries Crossed

Date Reviewed:
January 23, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.84
Limited: 2.67

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

Altaria (Boundraries Crossed)

 

Ok, this is a reprint of a card that was supposed to be good.

 

Ever since we in the West heard that Yuta Komatsuda (a former World Champion) had won a very large and important Japanese Battle Carnival with Garchomp/Altaria, we assumed that the deck would have a big impact in our format. Well, some people assumed that anyway. Unfortunately for those people who spent months testing it over the summer, it didn’t work out that way: the deck relied on benching some very vulnerable low HP Pokémon (Gible, Swablu, and Altaria itself) and its very linear mode of play was a big turn off for the better players who generally avoided using it in tournaments. The result? Altaria was never really that big of a card.

 

Which is a bit of a shame as Altaria has a great Ability. Fight Song increases the amount of damage a Dragon Pokémon’s attack does by 20, and it stacks – meaning that the more Altaria you have out, the more of a damage boost you can get. Unfortunately, in their attempts to balance the card, the designers went a bit overboard by making it horribly weak (70 HP!) and giving it one of the worst attacks in recent memory (40 points of vanilla damage for three Energy). In other words, Altaria and its Basic were prime Catcher bait more than anything else. Without Altaria, Garchomp just couldn’t hit hard enough and none of the other playable Dragons (Rayquaza, basically) needed it.

 

So for now, this Altaria is just a prettyful collectible. Nothing wrong with that though, and it is a very nice card to look at with its happy, smiling Pokémon and colourful background effects.

 

Rating

 

Modified: 2.25 (didn’t live up to the hype)

Limited: 1.5 (benched support doesn’t work out too well here)

Jebulous Maryland Player

Altaria
 
Altaria is a Stage 1 Dragon Pokemon with 70 HP.  It is weak to Dragon and has a retreat of 1.  It is searchable by Level Ball.
 
'Fight Song' makes all your Dragon Pokemon do 20 more damage.  This is why this card is played.  It's a permanent 2 Plus Powers (for your Dragons).
 
'Glide' costs 1 Water, 1 Metal, and 1 Colorless energy.  It does 40.  That's not a good attack at all, especially with the different energies required for it.  But then again, this card isn't used for attacking.
 
So this card is used in Garchomp/Altaria, which I'm sure you all know.  Use Gabite for searching, Garchomp for cheap attacks, and Altaria to boost those attacks (the ability stacks).  The deck hasn't done as well as everyone thought when it came out.  That's probably due to the fragility of Altaria, the fact Swablu is Colorless, and there isn't an easy way to get multiple Basics out (that's not an attack).  And the fact everyone knows to take out the Gibles when you see them.
 
Modified: 3.5/5
Limited: 3.5/5
Combos With:  ...
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

We come to our third technically new (but actually a re-review) due to Secret Rares: Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted 84/124; BW Promo BW48; BW: Boundaries Crossed 152/149).  This little dragon-birdie received a lot of hype early on but the deck it backed sees little if no play.  So… what happened, and should we expect (or at least be trying) for a comeback?

 

Stats

Altaria is a Dragon-Type Pokémon.  The only pieces of support for Dragon-Type Pokémon come in the form of Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124), which is capable of searching out one Dragon-Type Pokémon per turn via its Ability, and Altaria itself.  When it comes to attacking all Dragon-Type Pokémon share the same Weakness to each other and nothing is Resistant to the Type… but you shouldn’t be attacking with Altaria except out of desperation.

 

Altaria is a Stage 1 Pokémon, making much harder to get out than the usual Basic Pokémon that make up the bulk of the competitive card pool, but it is better than the few Stage 2 Pokémon that see competitive play; hitting the field with only a turn delay and without requiring Rare Candy (or a turn sooner and without a transitional Stage 1 form).  This isn’t good, but it isn’t terrible.

 

70 HP makes Altaria an almost guaranteed OHKO; the main reason it isn’t guaranteed isn’t due to a weak attacker but the simple nature of some turns you may be fortunate and your opponent isn’t using the “main” attacks of the main attackers in their decks.  This tells you that if Altaria has a use, either something needs to protect it or you’ll need to swarm with it, getting as many out at once as you can, or at least a steady chain of them.  It does allow it to be searched out via Level Ball, but that would have been true with another 20 HP.

 

As already mentioned, since it is a Dragon-Type it is Dragon Weak, and while normally such a low HP would make Weakness irrelevant, that isn’t the case here.  The big threat is the infamous Rayquaza (BW: Dragons Exalted 128/124; Dragon Vault 11/20), as for (L) it hits for 40… which becomes 80 and a OHKO.  Nor does the card have a Resistance to balance this out, but with 70 HP that wouldn’t matter much either.

 

Altaria has what would normally be a “good” Retreat score of just one, but as it is so small it probably should have been allowed a free Retreat score.  On the bright side, if your opponent can attack it while active, you won’t need to retreat it.

 

Effects

Altaria posses an Ability that is pretty good and an attack that is not.  Fight Song provides a 20 point boost to the damage from attacks by Dragon-Type Pokémon.  This only applies to damage against Active Pokémon, but it does stack and apply to Altaria itself.  This is great, and why this card has ever seen play outside of Limited.

 

The attack on the other hand is bad.  Glide requires (WMC) and hits for 40 points of damage.  That would be weak even with all Colorless Energy requirements, so factoring in the two different Energy Types required it is hitting for half strength at best.  The going rate would be about 80 points for three Energy, and the only way this card hits that is if it has a second Altaria on the Bench.

 

I can understand if the designers thought that would be probable… but it still doesn’t make it enough to support a deck.  Of course, it might still be enough to support something else.

 

Usage

There are two versions of Swablu to pick from: BW: Dragons Exalted 104/124 and BW: Dragons Exalted 105/124.  Both are Basic, Colorless-Type Pokémon with 40 HP, Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, and a single Energy to Retreat.  If you’re attacking with one of these, either you’re desperate or your opponent is opening with something small of their own; in either case I would prefer 104/124 because it can cause Sleep for one Energy.  If you’re desperate, Sleep can help you survive.

 

Based on reports out of Japan, Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124) became the attacker in a deck backed by Altaria.  The combo allowed strong attacks for a single Energy… but the deck is very resource hungry and Altaria proved too fragile.  It just seemed too hard to build up both a spare Garchomp and keep a many Altaria on your Bench as possible, and you had to do both because there were enough decks with good spread/sniping options.  I haven’t even thought of tinkering around with this deck since the release of BW: Boundaries Crossed, so I can’t tell you if that set helped it at all… but I doubt it.

 

My own idea of just using it to back Rayquaza, turning its tiny opening attack (Dragon Pulse)into something that can 2HKO Pokémon-EX and with the ideal set-up, its first attack to OHKO anything with less than 180 HP.  While having some merit, relying on Dragon Pulse is expensive in the long run; even 2HKOing Pokémon-EX would mean using it six times and that discards 12 cards from your own deck.  Any deck that can OHKO Rayquaza (at worst tricky for some decks, a given for others) will, while the rest will just pop all your Altaria.  You also have to dedicate a lot of space to set-up still, even though it replaces a Stage 2 with a Basic.

 

What Altaria needs is a Basic, Dragon-Type Pokémon or Pokémon-EX with great HP that also has a good, reliable, damaging attack for one Energy, or two Energy all while being friendly to simple Energy acceleration… plus a solid “bigger” attack or useful Ability.  It sounds both general and yet painfully specific.  Many Dragon-Type Pokémon require Energy Types that don’t share a Blend Energy, and clash with forms of Energy acceleration.  Most either aren’t reliable attacks (requiring extra set-up or coin flips) or contain a painful kick (like Dragon Pulse).

 

While there are some Evolutions that work, as we have seen being a Stage 1 itself prevents Altaria from fitting into such decks well enough; Garchomp even had a useful Stage 1 form and couldn’t make it stick.  So there isn’t much use for this card in Modified right now, and Unlimited is the same; Dragon-Types are still quite new so there isn’t a “good one” to power up that has rotated out and even if there was… Unlimited has easier methods of hitting crazy high damage.

 

Limited is the one place to really consider this… but obvious not with BW: Boundaries Crossed; there isn’t a Swablu so it can’t be used.  If you are actually playing in a Limited event with BW: Dragons Exalted, then it is a solid pick due to the abundant Dragon-Type Pokémon in that set.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 1/5

 

Modified: 1.75/5

 

Limited: 3/5

 

Combos with: Rescue Scarf, Super Rod

 

Summary

Altaria has an amazing Ability on a fragile frame with a poor attack, and sadly even trying to constantly set them up and reclaim them from the discard… because you’ll probably have one KOed per turn, sometimes in addition to your main attacker.


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