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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Garchomp  

- Legendary Treasures

Date Reviewed:
November 26, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.75
Limited:  3.67

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

Garchomp (Legendary Treasures) 

Poor Garchomp. He won a major tournament in Japan and was heavily backed to be a real force in the rest of the world’s metagame, but it never really worked out that way. In fact, Garchomp has become the most recent poster child for the ‘dangers of hyping’ campaign, with the deck dismissed as linear and frail by most players. 

I think that is somewhat unfair. As a Stage 2 main attacker, only Empoleon DEX rivals Garchomp, which is actually one of the best-supported cards we have. A low-cost non-EX attacker, he gains speed via Gabite’s Dragon Call Ability and increases his damage output with Altaria DRX, whose Fight Song Ability gives a stackable +20 to Garchomp’s attacks. Not only that, but it also has access to Silver Bangle and Silver Mirror. 

And it’s not as if the attacks themselves aren’t decent either: Mach Cut does 60 for a single Fighting Energy and discards a Special Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon (great against Plasma decks or anything relying on DCE). Meanwhile Dragon Blade hits 100 for a Water and Fighting (usefully on the same Blend Energy) if you need more power. 2-3 Altaria and a Silver Bangle are all you need to either one or two shot any EX Pokémon. 

So . . . why was Garchomp a relative failure then? After all, he’s an excellent Stage 2 Pokémon with very good, very cheap attacks and a ton of support. The answer is partly that the better players mostly shunned the deck as it was seen as too straightforward, with virtually no tricks or complex moves that would enable you to outplay an opponent. Mainly though, it was because Stage 2s, especially those that depend upon low HP Bench sitters for support, were just not suited to an environment bossed by big EX Pokémon backed up by Pokémon Catcher. With the recent errata to Pokémon Catcher and the change in first turn rules, Garchomp can only benefit. Whether that is enough for him to become truly competitive though remains to be seen. 

Rating 

Modified: 3.75 (in most other eras, Garchomp would have run riot over the format)

Limited: 4 (one of the best Stage 2s you could wish for) 


Otaku

We have a shortened week due to it being Thanksgiving in the USA; no I don’t know if any other country celebrates the same (or a similar holiday) this week.  A time to appreciate what one has that will unfortunately be lost on most of us, we are looking at cards which sometimes arbitrarily remind me of Thanksgiving, and which should be thankful that the recent rule change might grant new life.  If you’re wondering, some less than great illustrations of Garchomp cause me to easily see a giant, plucked turkey (or chicken) when I glance at it.

 

Garchomp (BW: Legendary Treasures 96/113) was first released as BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124 and once again as BW: Plasma Freeze 120/116.  I love the over-the-top nature of the newest version’s art, as well as how Garchomp (with their Ground/Dragon-Typing, ability to learn Surf, and depiction as flying even though they don’t learn Fly) show how the Pokémon taxonomical system really needs streamlining… but that’s an article for another day.  There is a plane in the background, giving me another flimsy excuse to count it as a “holiday” review (due to the travel some engage at this time).

 

Let’s take a look at what Garchomp actually has going for it; it is a Dragon-Type, and at least for now all Dragon-Type Pokémon are Dragon-Weak which means anything hitting Garchomp for double damage will take double damage from Garchomp.  This has been literally hit or miss for Psychic Pokémon, but a Dragon-Type like Garchomp makes it work due to some of its other features.  Dragon-Type Pokémon also have two pieces of support; Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted 84/124; BW Promo BW48) and Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124).  Both have proven to be of some use, but weren’t enough to make this into a top deck; we know because people tried more than once and had some success, but not as much as its popularity should have generated e.g. many played it but few won big, even adjusting for the fact a tournament only has so many people in the top cut.

 

140 HP is not bad, but I can’t really call it good; hitting 140 HP has proven noticeably easier across the board than hitting 150 HP.  As such, 140 HP about as low as Stage 2 Pokémon can go without having some phenomenal Ability to justify them as a Bench-sitter… and this card is not a Bench-sitter, making its HP even more important.  The previously cited Dragon-Type Weakness is usually not a major issue; most Dragon-Type Pokémon that see play have huge attacks that already OHKO Garchomp, and as all share this Weakness some come off worse for it because Garchomp can and will OHKO them.  In fact, it is probably most deadly to itself (though the first attack needs some boosting to pull off a OHKO) via Weakness.

 

The lack of Resistance is a bit disappointing but not critical; Resistance is not a common site and unlike its counterpart Weakness, Resistance seldom makes a significant difference in damage.  The single Energy Retreat Cost on the other hand is very good: not great or perfect or however you would classify a zero Energy cost, but low enough to not be a huge burden and often proving useful.

 

Garchomp is fortunate enough to have two excellent attacks: for just (F) it hits for 60 pints of damage while discarding a Special Energy from the Defending Pokémon (if one is present).  For (FW) you can hit for 100 points of damage but have to discard the top two cards of your deck.  The Energy involved share Blend Energy WLFM, so it isn’t as bad as it is for some other Dragon-Types, and discarding two cards from your deck is not impossible steep given the damage output.  Neither is negligible, however, and decks have to account for both.

 

Completely on its own, these values aren’t impressive.  Fortunately they don’t have to be on their own; we’ve got Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, as well as Silver Bangle (when facing Pokémon-EX).  If you’re going the Altaria route, one or both of these allow you to hit OHKO range much easier.  Note that I have no data about using all of these together and incomplete information about the use of each; please don’t mistake this as a ringing endorsement for a very crowded deck I’ve never witnessed.  With Pokémon Catcher now requiring a coin flip to work, the above Altaria and Gabite (the latter a good example of what an Evolving Stage 1 Pokémon needs to be) are not as vulnerable.  Garchomp decks don’t have a strong first turn attacker unless the deck goes out of its way to add one, which again means the new first turn rules help it out.

 

Both during and for a little while after Altaria/Garchomp bubble burst, we saw people trying out different partners for Garchomp.  One that saw some success was combining it with a big (or at least, bigger than most) Basic that could spread damage, so that by the time Garchomp was up and attacking it just needed to deliver finishing blows.  With the inability to attack first turn and talk of Mr. Mime (BW: Plasma Freeze 47/116), I would be leery of trying that tactic unless you were certain your metagame held few Mr. Mime.  Apparently “Quad Garchomp” did well at a single event, and that would allow you room to pack in the Trainers I was mentioning to boost damage (speculation as I didn’t see the list).  I have seen absolutely no discussion of it nor have I even jotted down a theoretical list, but I was debating backing Garchomp with Garbodor and its Garbotoxin Ability – running a Stage 1 that needs Pokémon Tools with a Stage 2 that also basically needs Pokémon Tools will mean an incredibly tight build… but you would be cutting off access to Abilities while threatening Special Energy and delivering solid damage.

 

For Unlimited play, I still haven’t been able to test to get a feel for how the rule change has affected things, nor found results for the testing of others.  This is not something I think about much except when writing reviews so forgive me if I have been missing something and feel free to submit such a report to Pojo if it is your own work.  Broken Time Space can do some amazing things for this card and almost every issue it faces has an answer… but this is a choice after First Turn Win decks, certain lock decks, and several other more general deck builds.

 

For Limited play, this is a dead card for BW: Plasma Freeze (no lower Stages), a great pull for BW: Dragons Exalted (two versions of each Stage in the line including a second possible Garchomp), and still a good pull here.  Mind the Weakness and the usual concerns over running an Evolution, and the Energy may force you to go without it if you just don’t have back-up compatible with running Fighting Energy and Water Energy – you could possibly get by with just the Fighting Energy, however.  Lastly, discarding Special Energy will either be useless (BW: Legendary Treasures) or almost useless (BW: Dragons Exalted) while discarding two cards from your deck becomes a much bigger cost with only 40 cards total in said deck.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 3/5

 

Modified: 3.75/5

 

Limited: 3.25/5

 

Summary

Garchomp strikes me as the kind of Stage 2 that can support a functional deck, but I don’t expect it to dominate.  I believe it will exist on the periphery; one tournament it will do well, the next a few factors will shift and it will fall out of favor, but a few more and it may come back into power.  As that is a long term forecast as we are on the cusp of a new generation of the TCG and video games, it is a very weak forecast, so in the end my best advice is not to forget about this card.


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