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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 #10 - M Heracross EX

- Furious Fists Top 10

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 15, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.40
Expanded: 3.08
Limited: 4.00

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

#10 M Heracross EX 

Hello and welcome to our regular countdown of the top 10 cards in the new set – this time featuring Furious Fists! At the time of writing, I have no idea what the set abbreviation is, so I’ll just use FF until I am better informed. 

We kick off with a look at the card in last place, M Heracross EX, a card which offers big opportunities alongside an equally big challenge. 

The opportunities come from M Heracross’ fantastic damage output. For the bargain cost of two Grass and a Colourless Energy, Big Bang Horn (seriously?) does 180 damage: enough to OHKO pretty much anything short of another Mega. The only other Pokémon that have that sort of power are the two M Charizard EX and Black Kyurem EX, and their Energy costs are very much higher than M Heracross, who can even benefit from a handy burst of Energy acceleration, courtesy of Virizion EX. But what about those challenges I mentioned? Well, obviously there is the whole ‘evolving a Mega ends your turn’ rule, which is frankly a massive pain, but can be managed if the pay-off is good enough. More of an issue is the drawback for Big Bang Horn: that 180 damage only applies if Heracross itself is undamaged, otherwise the attack is reduced by 10 for each damage counter on it. 

So, any deck that wants to take advantage of M Heracross EX’s enormous power will have to come up with a way to keep the damage away, whether this means building them up behind some kind of wall such as a Safeguard Pokémon (Sigilyph, Suicune) or Pyroar FLF; or making use of healing cards like Max Potion and Pokémon Centre Lady. No easy task, but if a player can pull it off, the rewards are huge, and an M Heracross that takes four Prizes by KOing two EXs has more than paid for itself. 

Rating 

Modified: 3.5

Expanded: 3

Limited: 4.5


aroramage

Hey guys and welcome to another week! Here we're going straight from one Top 10 list to another, taking a look at the Top 10 for the new Furious Fists set! I'll admit that #10 here wasn't on my list, Mega Heracross-EX, but that's why I went back to take a look at him. Is Mega Heracross-EX something to hype up when regular Heracross-EX wasn't?

First off, we have to understand that as with any Mega Pokemon in the TCG, this has to be worth ending your turn to play. In a set with mostly Fighting support, I didn't think MHeracross-EX could make the cut, but that's when I looked more into beyond just the set. Internally-speaking, MHeracross-EX has a single attack, Big Bang Horn (looooove the name~), which deals 180 damage...wait, 180?! You mean the highest amount for Pokemon-EX?! This is great!

-whoa, hold on there, slick. You gotta read the fine print: he loses 10 damage for every damage counter on him. Suddenly Big Bang Horn looks...less amazing than before. That 180 damage can be reduced to nothing, and if the format is what we know it to be, it's not that hard to push 150-180 damage with the right set-up.

So why the second look? Because we got another Special Energy aside from our Fighting support: Herbal Energy. It works similarly, being attachable only to Grass types and having an additional effect to heal off 30 damage. That's not fanatical, but it's better than nothing, and considering that you could run Potion and Super Potion to heal off more damage, MHeracross-EX can still pummel a good while longer.

But why stop there? We have a more interesting partner than Virizion-EX - the obvious choice for Grass support - to pair up with MHeracross-EX: Dusknoir. Now wait a minute, you might say, why Dusknoir? His Sinister Hand only moves damage counters around the opponent's Pokemon! Unless you're referring to Dusknoir (FLF) with Shadow Vo-ohhhhhh.

That's right, move damage counters off of MHeracross-EX to Dusknoir, and he can hit for 180 far more frequently and consistently. Sure, Dusknoir can only handle 120 damage, but that's 120 more damage MHeracross-EX can take! Never mind what you heal off of that Dusknoir with, say, Max Potion? And that's the kind of thinking that puts MHeracross-EX at #10!

Rating

Standard: 4/5 (ending your turn is a big deal, but I think with the right set-up, you can take

Expanded: 3/5 (I don't think MHeracross-EX would appreciate his competition, especially with titans like Rayquaza-EX floating around, but if he can make it past his first round intact, he can definitely lay the smackdown on anything in his path!)

Limited: 3.5/5 (still pretty strong here, but I'd avoid using Heracross' second attack if you wanna smash everything in sight; gives you more time to enjoy that 180-ish Big Bang Horn)

Arora Notealus: Can we please get a Big Bang Horn attack in the games? I mean, Megahorn's great, but come on! BIG BANG HORN!!

Next Time: I heard things were about to get frosty.


Otaku

Welcome readers as we move onto another Top 10 list: the Top 10 Promising Picks of XY: Furious Fists!  Of course, that’s just the name I am using; I don’t think we have an “official” one for it.  The reviewers compiled their own separate lists, and Pojo crunched the numbers to determine the site list.  As these cards aren’t technically legal for competitive play under NXD-On Modified (the current Standard Format), I’ll be using this list as the official transition point and scores will be for Standard (BCR-On), Expanded (BW-On) and Limited.

We begin with M Heracross-EX available in “regular” (XY: Furious Fists 5/111), Secret Rare (XY: Furious Fists 112/111) flavors.  As a Grass-Type, it can have its HP increased by Flabette (XY: Flashfire 64/106) and Herbal Energy, a Special Energy that provides [G] and heals up to 30 points of damage when attached to a Pokémon from hand.  Those are probably the only true Grass-Type support worth mentioning; granted there is much else anyway that specifically helps out Grass-Type Pokémon and not others.  Being a Grass-Type also means exploiting Grass Weakness on a few key cards and never needing to worry about Resistance; it isn’t the most abundant Weakness, but its out there.  Interestingly, in the video games it is a dual-Type Pokémon, a Bug/Fighting-Type hybrid.  The TCG hasn’t had dual-Typed cards in a while, but being a Fighting-Type would have given it access to the new Fighting-Type support.  I suppose it was intentional as this isn’t the only non-Fighting-Type Pokémon that could have been a Fighting-Type in this set. 

Being an M Pokémon-EX means you’ll have to go through Heracross-EX first, losing an attack due to the Mega Evolution rules and being worth an additional Prize when KOed (just like a regular Pokémon-EX).  Normally I’d run through Heracross-EX later in the review, but we already covered it just a few weeks ago here: my opinion on Heracross-EX has gone down and not up with more time to get a feel for the format; the overall impression is similar, it is just the numerical score is misleading.  In Japan, a new card called Gengar Spirit Link (well, after translation) was revealed; it is a Pokémon Tool that prevents your turn from ending when you Evolve the also not-yet-released Gengar-EX into M Gengar-EX.  M Heracross-EX is probably hoping it gets one as well. 

M Heracross-EX has 220 HP; this can be a bit tricky to classify.  As far as I can recall, this is the second highest printed on any card, though there may be some unplayable promo with more and of course, some combos can boost HP much higher.  Of course some M Pokémon-EX have 230 and in both cases, this is seems to be neither “good” nor “bad”; the time lost due to Mega Evolving can easily offset being 40-60 points above most competitive Pokémon-EX in HP, especially if the deck’s strategy isn’t tanking.  Fire Weakness is probably this card’s biggest concern: in general Fire-Types seem to specialize in Energy guzzling but hard hitting attacks, and most decks need to average 90 points of damage per turn to be competitive, the net effect being a Fire Deck that has a decent set-up is taking down M Heracross-EX in a single hit.  XY: Flashfire may no longer be the new set, but the support it provides to Fire-Types is still quite relevant.  10 more HP would have actually helped against a few of the more common threats, like a Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106) sporting a Muscle Band (a very common approach from what I’ve seen). 

The lack of Resistance is still something I find a bit annoying, it wouldn’t have been a major help to the card but it is nice when it is present, and in the video games its unique Typing provides it with five forms of Resistance at the half-damage level: Fighting, Ground, Bug, Grass and Dark.  Converting things to TCG terms and Types, Fighting Resistance would have only provided one erroneous match-up as the TCG Fighting-Type includes the Fighting-, Ground- and Rock-Types of the video games and Rock-Type attacks do normal damage to Heracross.  Either Darkness Resistance or Grass Resistance could have been used without creating any such errors.  The three Energy Retreat Cost that finishes off the bottom Stats is a pain if you have to pay it, so try to include to alternatives to manually retreating at full price (both the Standard and Expanded formats give you enough reason to anyway).  In Expanded, it does allow you to use Heavy Ball with this card (which also can target Heracross-EX). 

Like all the M Pokémon-EX, M Heracross-EX has a single attack, and its a big one.  For [GGC] (the same price as the bigger attack on plain Heracross-EX) “Big Bang Horn” scores 180 points of damage, less 10 for each damage counter on it.  Overall, this seems like a good deal; even half-KOed you still get a functional 90 points of damage.  If you can attack while completely uninjured, you can OHKO any non-Evolved, boosted or protected Pokémon-EX!  Just remember that the card’s total HP isn’t especially relevant; it pays attention to the damage present on it and not how much HP is left.  An M Heracross-EX with 180 or more damage on it can’t hit for any damage, and especially given a strategy built around this card is likely to strive for OHKOs, there is a high risk of wasted damage and fewer opportunities for weaker shots to matter.  A highly probable OHKO for three Energy (even if only while near or at full HP) is still very impressive and tempting. 

So how could you run this card?  Something I touched upon in the earlier Heracross-EX review (linked to above) was plugging Heracross-EX into one of the various Energy Transferring decks, akin to how M Kangaskhan-EX was being used in the Aromatisse decks at the time.  As somewhat indicated in that review, this was a stretch; you would only have a total of four Rainbow Energy to meet the attack’s Energy needs and even with Enhanced Hammer gone, that isn’t enough (and if Enhanced Hammer returns as some expect based on a relatively recent reprint the Japanese received, it is even more blatantly not enough).  In Expanded, Prism Energy won’t help because of course M Heracross-EX isn’t a Basic Pokémon, though Blend Energy GRPD might allow a Hydreigon (BW: Dragons Exalted 97/124; BW: Legendary Treasures 99/113) deck to give it a whirl. 

So looking for more palatable options, Virizion-EX is a seemingly obvious dance partner; protect M Heracross-EX from Special Conditions while speeding up its Energy attachments.  The issue with this is that Virizion-EX itself needs two Energy to attack, so you run into the problem that plagued M Venusaur-EX (which has tried that approach): even if you go first, you don’t get to attack with Virizion-EX until the second turn, and sometime you’ll have to skip an attack to Mega Evolve.  I would most definitely include it in a deck with M Heracross-EX, but more for Special Condition immunity and then the acceleration.  You will either need to include more complicated and/or high risk tricks like Milotic (XY: Flashfire 23/106) with multiple Energy Switch (and probably Scramble Switch) or just accept that you’ll need to build it more or less manually on the Bench.  So one way or the other, the slower start is going to have to be a thing… but perhaps we can work with that?  Open with a Qwilfish (XY: Flashfire 21/106), Safeguard Pokémon or other useful “meat shield” and let them irritate the opponent while you set-up M Heracross-EX. 

Dusknoir seem like a logical partner for M Heracross-EX.  No, that isn’t a typo; Dusknoir is plural (and lacking a set reference at that point) because I mean both of them.  XY: Flashfire 40/106 has an Ability that allows you to move damage counters to it from your other Pokémon; its 130 HP means you could move up to 120 to it before clearing it all out with Max Potion (or other usually less effective tricks), which should usually be enough to completely refresh M Heracross-EX between uses of Big Bang Horn.  The older Dusknoir (BW: Boundaries Crossed 63/149; BW: Plasma Blast 63/149) is useful if your aren’t scoring OHKOs at the moment or if your opponent has some injured Pokémon, using its Ability as you would expect, avoiding wasted damage.  Running a Stage 2 also makes Miltank (XY: Flashfire 83/106) an optional attacker as well, though with Fighting decks currently both popular and well supported, it is even less likely to have any staying power and given the point of this build is to use M Heracross-EX for OHKO, burning Energy attachments for 80 damage instead of building/maintaining your OHKO machine is probably unwise. 

Yet another approach might be an attempt to spam Serperior (Black & White 6/114; BW Promo BW20; BW: Dragons Exalted 125/124; BW: Legendary Treasures 8/113).  Its Royal Heal Ability removes 10 damage from each of your Pokémon between turns, and that means M Heracross-EX both lasts longer and can hit a bit harder after injury.  Flooding your bench with a Stage 2 Pokémon tends to be very difficult, and while you will heal damage going from your turn to your opponent’s turn, that is of course occurring after you just attacked.  That threshold of 90 points of damage would still reduce the damage of Big Bang Horn by a 50 even after a full four Serperior (and thus four copies of Royal Heal) triggered, though in the long run only 10 points of damage would stick around.   

Fortunately this set has another option to consider: Jynx (XY: Furious Fists 37/111) has an Ability called “Victory Kiss” which allows you once-per-turn-per-copy to heal 10 damage from your Active Pokémon.  While that maxes out at only 40 points of damage healed per turn cycle (instead of 80), that is coming from four Basic Pokémon.  While Max Potion is not a good healing option, if M Heracross-EX isn’t going down then you might be able to afford the single Energy discard for Max Potion, and of course regular Potion heals an easy 30 points of damage at no cost save running it.  You might also run a few Herbal Energy so that your Energy attachment for the turn also takes care of some damage.  If for some reason Virizion-EX isn’t an option, even Pokémon Nurse might prove worthwhile (it would provide both healing and Special Condition removal even when Abilities are disabled).  The Trainer cards aren’t reusable and getting more than two or three Jynx onto the field ASAP isn’t overly reliable, but as you’re shooting for OHKOs the entire thing could be functional, and possibly competitive. 

For all the ideas, the big issue remains the slow pace of set-up and the threat of being OHKOed (especially by Weakness).  There is no good way to deal with Weakness.  The best might be to go with the current trick of running a strong Water-Type attacker; almost every Fire-Type is Water Weak, and you’ll also nail some key Fighting-Types like Landorus-EX for double damage as well.  If you make room for Plasma Energy or a source of [D] Energy, you could use Plasma Frigate or Shadow Circle.  Mesprit (BW: Plasma Blast 37/101) and Leavanny (BW: Noble Victories 3/101; BW: Legendary Treasures 12/113) both have Abilities that cancel out Weakness.  All of these have the issue in that they are resource intensive and deadweight when not needed; your deck only has so much room, plus they all have at two additional concerns. 

A good Water-Type will need to be an Evolution in order to do any good against Pyroar, eating up even more space and requiring time to set-up.  There are some solid candidates out there, but all have individual drawbacks I won’t be delving into (since I am not listing them individually anyway).  Stadiums can easily be discarded by an opponent’s own Stadium most of the time, and since this can be done before even one attack has been made it can be a total bust pretty easily.  Both Stadiums in question require Special Energy likely not useful for any other purpose in the deck, and a different Stadium may prove just as or more useful.  Mesprit only has its Ability going for it and is an easy OHKO, plus it requires an Azelf and Uxie in play to trigger and those two are terrible; three Bench slots is just too much to ask.  The Ability on Leavanny requires the protected Pokémon have an Energy attached, so it will cost “extra” to protect things you weren’t planning on powering up, and of course it is a Stage 2.  Again, out of all of these running your own Stage 1 Water-Type attacker is probably the most reasonable. 

Expanded format is unlikely to differ much from Standard, save there might be an extra OHKO deck or two to worry about, save as noted above, plus  Jynx might be a bit easier to spam thanks to Level Ball.  Limited is not a good place for M Heracross-EX, but if you do pull a regular Heracross-EX as well you might as well include it.  I am assuming a +39 style of deck (a lone Basic Pokémon with 39 non-Basic Pokémon cards, ensuring you start with it) and that you’re pulling from XY: Furious Fists boosters alone: most of the Trainers this set aren’t going to make sense in such a deck, leaving room for M Heracross-EX.  Only drop it when you’re certain you can push for the win; Heracross-EX can’t have enough damage on itself before it Mega Evolves to prevent Big Bang Horn from hitting for damage, but your opponent will get in one more attack before you can use it.  If you’re going for a less gimmicky build, this can make for a pretty amazing “secret weapon”... plus Jynx is in this set (though sadly as a normal Rare and not a Common or Uncommon). 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 - The capacity to OHKO almost anything that sees competitive play is staggering, but unfortunately so Fire Weakness right now. 

Expanded: 3.25/5 - Slightly more options than in Standard, but the same problems that plague it there remain an issue here, plus a few new ones.  In the end I expect them to even out. 

Limited: 4/5 - A must run but not an automatic perfect score; it is entirely possible you’ll pull something more valuable to whatever deck you’ve assembled than squeezing this in, even in a +39 build where it can backfire horrible if the opponent can get in a good shot after you Mega Evolve. 

Summary: If this had been one of the first Mega Evolutions we received, we would have had higher expectations of them.  Instead M Heracross-EX was almost certainly timed so that it released after its Weakness Type had become strong and when fast Fighting decks in general will make it harder to tank.  This is definitely a card to keep your eye on, and even if a truly competitive deck never arises from it, it is likely to become that “fun deck” that you must be weary of during the first few rounds of an event; if you’re not able to OHKO it and a tanking strategy works, it will become scary indeed.

 


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