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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Lucario #77  

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
May 6, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.11
Limited: 3.25

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

Lucario #77 (Plasma Storm) 

Hello, and welcome to the last week of Plasma Storm reviews (promise) here on Pojo’s CotD. Next week is our top 10 countdown from the new set, and it promises to be a good one. For now, let’s just see if we can find anything interesting to look at meanwhile, shall we? 

Admittedly, today’s card is not a good start. We’ve already looked at one Lucario from the set and that was kind of interesting (and just about borderline decent). The rules of Pokémon state that when you get two versions of the same card in one set, one of them is going to be a lot better that the other . . . so you can guess what is happening here. 

Lucario is a Stage 1 Fighting Type Pokémon with that 90 HP that makes it a pretty straightforward KO for most main attackers. The Psychic Weakness isn’t a complete disaster (Mewtwo-EX isn’t in every deck these days) and the Retreat cost of one is pretty good, but so far the card presents itself as just another run of the mill filler card. 

That impression is confirmed when you look at the attacks. They are both very vanilla, and the both do damage which is on the wrong side of mediocre. The first, Kick, is about as imaginative as the name suggests, and gives 30 damage for one Fighting and one Colourless Energy. The second, Mach Cross adds another Colourless to the cost to deliver an effect-free 70.  Honestly, why would you ever even think of running the card in modified? If you can’t think of more efficient ways of doing a lot more damage, then this is probably one of the very few Pokémon cards you have ever seen. In which case, why are you reading this review? 

It won’t surprise anyone to learn that this card is from a Japanese starter deck (The National Beginning Set). Typically these contain very simple cards designed to introduce people to the game, which is what this Lucario is, I suppose. It’s a shame that we don’t receive cards like this in the same way so that competitive players can leave them to new players and collectors. Unfortunately, they get shoved into our regular sets over here (which is why they are twice the size of the Japanese releases). Oh well. 

Rating 

Modified: 1.25 (both bad and boring)

Limited: 2.75 (you’ll probably include it if you are using Fighting Energy for better stuff)


Otaku

Welcome readers, to that inevitable last week of CotDs before the new set.  You can also think of this as “the other” week, as many (but not all) of our reviews are of Pokémon that were released alongside another, better known set-mate.  We will begin with one such Pokémon: Lucario (BW: Plasma Storm 77/135).

 

Interestingly enough, we reviewed Lucario (BW: Plasma Storm 78/135) exactly two months ago.  I also won’t lie to you; instead of wasting time I can be using to write another CotD (or having this one not finished in time), where the two cards are identical, this review is actually based on that earlier review; don’t be surprised if some sections are overly familiar because of this.

 

Stats

 

Miscellaneous: This Lucario was released in the “National Beginning Pokédex Set” in Japan, which consisted of three half decks built around the Generation V starters, designed with an eye toward helping younger players enter the game.  This means I will refrain from some of my criticisms of the card that would require advanced mechanics.

 

At the same time, I do think it questionable to make cards that aren’t just simple, but simply bad; a card eschewing complexity can actually be quite potent in this game when properly designed.  In competitive play, such cards become good when other cards add the versatility a deck needs to survive.  As such, I won’t be gentle; I just will try to avoid suggestions that would risk making the card “complicated” for novices.

 

Type: Lucario is a Fighting-Type; like almost all Types in the TCG right now, there is no overt, direct support.  There isn’t as much incidental support either, and yet it is still a favorable type.  This is due to the commonality of Fighting Weakness on heavily played cards and disparity between the potency of Weakness versus Resistance; playing around Resistance is usually a simple matter, while protecting Weakness is not.

 

As mentioned above, this card needed to avoid being overly complex, but I would not have minded it being a Metal-Type, perhaps with all Colorless Energy costs to help teach that Pokémon with two Types in the video game are (in modern releases) represented by being one Type or the other in the TCG.  We also have only received one Metal-Type Lucario outside of Japan: Lucario (Platinum 53/127).

 

Stage: As a Stage 1, Lucario is easier to get into play than Stage 2 Pokémon, but even Stage 1 Pokémon are slow compared to the Basic Pokémon that dominate the format.  If this Lucario doesn’t want to be complex the best way to help it stand up against the speedy Basic Pokémon would be great Stats, great, straight-forward attacks, and/or giving it some obvious combos from cards outside of what composed the “National Beginning Pokédex Set.”

 

Hit Points: 90 HP is small enough to be a legal Level Ball target, which is the only advantage; it is small enough that most decks can reliably OHKO it once set-up, and while you won’t every be able to get this Lucario into play on your first turn in Modified, it wouldn’t even be safe from a OHKO either!

 

Lucario in the video games have noticeably below average Base Stats for HP, Defense, and Special Defense stats for fully Evolved Pokémon; the low HP is somewhat justified, but made much worse than it should be by the state of the game and need to keep the whole card “simple” for newer players.

 

Weakness: Psychic-Type Weakness is not good to have; Mewtwo EX isn’t a common play anymore, but neither is it uncommon.  When BW: Plasma Freeze becomes street legal, we’ll have at least one more as well, though if we want to be optimistic, the Weakness isn’t usually going to matter due to the likelihood an attacker would OHKO Lucario even without it.

 

In the video games, Lucario are only Weak to Fighting, Ground, and Fire.  Fighting and Ground might justify Fighting-Type Weakness, which is about as bad as Psychic-Type Weakness, but the third video game Type that goes into the TCG Fighting-Type is Rock, which Lucario in the video games Resist.  Fire-Type Weakness is the only one that seems consistent with the video games; there Lucario takes normal damage from Psychic Type attacks and takes half damage from Ghost-Type and no damage from Poison-Type moves (the remaining two components of the TCG Psychic-Type).  Fire is also one of the lesser used Types right now as well.

 

Resistance: Lucario has no Resistance.  The Resistance mechanic is much more balanced than the Weakness mechanic.  It might be left off many Pokémon to simplify things but if that is the case, it seems a bit unwise.  After all, if it really is too complex for new, young players it probably makes more sense to create some special, simplified “beginner” rules that just ignore such things.  Actually, those might already exist.

 

As a Fighting/Steel-Type hybrid, this card takes less than the normal amount of damage from 10 of the 17 video game Types!  It is Immune (damage is multiple by zero) from Poison-Type attacks there.  Rock-, Bug-, and Dark-Type moves all hit for only a quarter of their normal damage.  Normal-, Ghost-, Steel-, Grass-, Ice-, and Dragon-Type moves will only strike for half damage.  That is a lot to ignore, especially as one of the big points of Steel-Types (and their hybrids) is how many forms of Resistance they sport.

 

Converting all those into their TCG counterparts and ignoring any where all components of a TCG Type aren’t included, Lucario should still be Resistant to Darkness-, Dragon-, Grass-, or Metal-Type attacks.  Darkness-Type Resistance would have been almost perfect; its video-game counterpart converts directly and is the highest form of Resistance to do so, and both Fighting-Types and Steel-Type Pokémon in the video games are known for their Resistance to Dark-Types.

 

Or they could have just upped its HP to reflect the just over 50% of Types Lucario are Resistant to.

 

Retreat: A Retreat Cost of one is good; it isn’t hard to pay, and this is a format where retreating to shake Special Conditions is often important.  Given the decisions to make Lucario a 90 HP Pokémon, though, it probably could have just been given a free Retreat Cost and still been pretty balanced.  This also would have made it easier to use for younger players as well!

 

Effects

 

Attack#1: Kick does a sub par 30 points of damage for (FC); really should be hitting for at least 50 to have a shot at being competitive this format, and given the card’s low HP, (CC) for 60 or even 70 might still be balanced.  Lucario will likely only get to attack once, after all.

 

Attack#2: Mach Cross is a cool name, but it isn’t a good attack; (FCC) buys only 70 points of damage.  This is at least 20 below where it needs to be just based on what has proven successful in general and the fact the card was intended to be simple and straightforward to use.  As it is likely to become a OHKO, I could see upwards of 120 still not be overpowering.

 

Synergy: Minimal synergy; Kick is less expensive than Mach Cross, but to use the latter will require some form of Energy acceleration which in turn is likely to allow you to use Mach Cross immediately, rendering Kick almost totally useless.  I think beefing up Kick would have helped this card, as well as upping the cost of and beefing up Mach Cross; Lucario has 90 HP so it might as well be a “glass cannon”.  A high Energy cost is likely to keep it from being overpowering in the limited card pool of beginner decks as well, since they don’t tend to have much in the way of Energy acceleration.

 

Usage

 

Card Family: There are four versions of Riolu and two other versions of Lucario available in Modified.  All currently legal versions of Riolu and Lucario are Fighting-Type Pokémon with Psychic Weakness and no Resistance.  All Riolu are also Basic Pokémon with single Energy Retreat scores and two attacks; the latter is a rare amount effort on the designers’ parts, and much appreciated.  The Retreat cost is common but handy as well.  Both other Lucario are Stage 1 Pokémon, of course.

 

Riolu (BW: Next Destinies 63/99) sports 70 HP and can do 10 for (C) or for (FC) hit for 10 plus another 20 points if you flip “heads”.  Riolu (BW Promo BW33) has just 60 HP, and for (C) can Bench itself while for (FC) it does a flat 30.  Riolu (BW: Plasma Storm 75/135) has 60 HP and requires (C) to hit for 10 and (FC) to hit for 20; no additional effects.  Its set-mate Riolu (BW: Plasma Storm 76/135) enjoys 70 HP and for (CC) hits for 20 while (FCC) allows it to hit for 40 and ignore Resistance.

 

BW Promo BW33 and its self-Benching attack improves its odds of survival, but only if you have something else you want to promote in its stead.  Neither 60 nor 70 HP is going to survive a lot of attacks, but even a little bit bigger is better, so I favor BW: Plasma Storm 76/135 for having 70 HP and its slightly better attacks (Fighting Weakness is common enough you might actually benefit from attacking for damage first/second turn).

 

Lucario (BW: Next Destinies 64/99) has 100 HP, a single Energy Retreat Cost, an Ability, and an attack.  The Ability causes an attacking Pokémon to have two damage counters placed on it, even if Lucario is KOed.  This is handy but not enough to get the card played.  Its attack requires (FF) and hits for 50 to the Defending Pokémon and 20 to one of the opponent’s Benched Pokémon; a total of 70 for two Energy isn’t bad, but (FF) isn’t easy to pay for with Energy acceleration so overall, this version falls flat.

 

Lucario (BW: Plasma Storm 78/135) has 100 HP, putting it just out of Level Ball range without making it that much harder to KO, an Ability, and a single attack. The Ability, Dual Armor, causes it to be treated as being both Fighting- and Metal-Type while it has a source of Metal Energy attached, and a single attack.  Hurricane Kick, the attack, requires (FCC) and hits for 60 points of damage plus 30 more for each Prize card your opponent has taken.  Simply put, there was some hope for this with Klinklang (BW: Plasma Storm 90/135), but that variant of the Plasma Steel deck never caught on.

 

Neither of these two Lucario are likely to see competitive play; they won’t crowd this Lucario out, but they won’t give it the boost it needs, either.

 

Combos: I’ve got nothing beyond the fundamentals I’ve glossed over; Level Ball can snag Lucario and a lot of Energy acceleration can fill in those Colorless Energy requirements.  Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything that really justifies using this in a competitive deck, which is a real shame.  Besides the normal annoyance of being a “filler” card, as this was originally designed for new players in Japan, it is sad that it honestly tells responsible kids and parents “Hey, don’t waste more money on this game!”

 

At least, that is what I get from games where the beginner product I just shelled out money to buy turns out to be almost totally useless to actually playing the hobby beyond that most beginner of levels.

 

Unlimited: Skip it.

 

Modified: Sorry to repeat myself, but skip it.

 

Limited: Riolu makes for a solid “filler” Pokémon in Limited, which means Lucario itself is a bonus provided you can afford to run a few Fighting Energy to pay for its attacks.  The set includes two Riolu and two Lucario, improving the odds of pulling a more fleshed out Evolution line.  Combined with the usual lower average HP/damage output of Limited, all this makes Lucario a promising pull… assuming you did snag at least one of those Riolu.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 1/5

 

Modified: 1/5

 

Limited: 3.5/5

 

 

Summary

Lucario ends up being more disappointing “filler”; the fact that it was designed for entry level players is cold comfort at best and at worst, troubling as not only could it have been a better “training” Pokémon, failing to make the card competitive just makes the game seem less attractive to those same prospective players it was originally designed to educate!

virusyosh

Welcome back, Pojo readers! I hope all of you have enjoyed your Plasma Freeze prereleases, and we'll start reviewing those cards soon. For the rest of this week, though, we're finishing up some Plasma Storm reviews! We'll kick things off today by reviewing Lucario (#77) from Plasma Storm.
 
Lucario is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon. Fighting-types aren't poised to make a strong run in the upcoming Plasma Freeze format, where Landorus-EX usage is thought to go down due to the high usage of Kyurem (Plasma Freeze) and still common Keldeo-EX. Of course, there are many Fighting-types with other weaknesses that could be playable. 90 HP is standard for a weaker Stage 1, and Lucario probably won't be able to take many hits in Modified anyway with such a low HP stat. Psychic Weakness is a problem against Mewtwo-EX and the new Deoxys-EX; no Resistance is unfortunate; and a Retreat Cost of one is easily paid for, even if you don't have a Switch or Escape Rope handy.
 
The Aura Pokemon as two unimpressive vanilla attacks. Kick does 30 damage for a Fighting and a Colorless, and Mach Cross, which does 70 damage for a Fighting and two Colorless. Both of these attacks are strictly average for their costs, and without additional effects, they are greatly outclassed by other attackers in Modified. Therefore, Lucario is relegated to Limited, where it makes a good attacker if you run the Fighting type.
 
Modified: 1/5 Low HP and vanilla attacks don't work very well in Modified; so use something else instead.
 
Limited: 3.5/5 Lucario is a solid attacker if you're running Fighting in Limited. While neither attack is that impressive, both are very solid in a format that is sometimes reliant on flip attacks and randomness in general.


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