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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Talonflame

- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 9, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.38
Expanded: 1.35
Limited: 2.65

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


aroramage

Welcome to another Pokemon Card of the Day! Here we take a look at one of the scariest Pokemon to have shown up out of Gen VI - and it's about as common as a Pidgey! Talonflame bursts onto the scene, ready to rip apart anything with its Gale Wings!
 
...oh, sorry, that's a video game Ability of his. This Talonflame doesn't get that. Instead, he gets a couple of...okay attacks. The first is Acrobatics, a 1-for-30 strike that flips twice for 30 more damage a piece. So on average, this is a 1-for-60 attack, which is pretty good, but the fact remains that it's a flippy attack. Maybe combining it with Trick Coin will make it work more often? Don't get too greedy with that though.
 
Jet Shoot isn't that great for a second attack. It's a 3-for-120 hit that leaves Talonflame extremely vulnerable, so unless you're KO-ing or winning the game with this attack, it's not going to be worth taking an extra 40 damage AFTER Weakness and Resistance apply just to hit for that much. To give you an idea, Manectric-EX's Overrun would deal 80 damage on Talonflame after Jet Shoot gets used and just OHKO it outright with Assault Laser - without a Tool necessary! Or to really put it in perspective, Pachirisu can Pachi it, and if he's lucky enough to land heads, he's dealing 140 damage and KOing Talonflame after Jet Shoot!
 
Talonflame doesn't do himself any favors with either of his attacks, asking that you rely on chance flips or huge risks that may not play out. Competitively speaking, he's a wash, but hey, maybe he just needs an EX version to pan out. For now, he's binder-fodder.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 1/5 (not worth using at all)
 
Expanded: 1/5 (nope)
 
Limited: 1.5/5 (chancy chancy chancy, and again doing himself no favors here)
 
Arora Notealus: I like that they illustrated Talonflame's fiery wings that he gets when he's in an exciting battle! If only the rest of the card could've been as exciting.
 
Next Time: Open wide and say AHHHHHHHHHH


Otaku

To begin with… happy birthday Dad!  Will my father ever see that?  Not unless I go to the trouble of showing it to him, but at least I tried. ;) 

Getting to business, today we look at Talonflame (XY: Phantom Forces 10/119).  This is our second Stage 2 Pokémon this week, and being a Stage 2 is pretty bad right now.  Not only is the format dominated by faster Basic Pokémon, but general card design isn’t such that this is balanced out, like by making Evolving Basic and Stage 1 Pokémon so useful that they aren’t really “wasted slots” or by designing the big, Basic Pokémon who are meant to be main attackers to not have really good “fast” attacks.  If such Basic Pokémon had to be supplemented by actual “openers” or else sit there dead, you can help further balance out cards invested as well as pacing issues… but that isn’t how the Pokémon TCG currently operates, and making it worse is that the Item support necessary for Stage 2 Pokémon to set-up in a timely manner?  Now easier than ever to block thanks to cards like Seismitoad-EX. 

Being a Fire-type is pretty good though; there are better supported types but Blacksmith is pretty amazing as are some of the Pokémon you can mix in with it.  Hitting Fire-Type Weakness is more useful than it has been for a little while; we’ve got at least one great Grass-Type deck (VirGen) and one good Metal-Type deck via Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119) and friends.  Of course, Fire Resistance only exists in Unlimited, so you don’t have to worry about that, though there are a few cards that actually are Fire-Type “counters” (have effects that specifically target Fire-Types).  They aren’t very good, so it isn’t a big deal. 

Talonflame sports 130 HP; this is low enough to be OHKOed with only a little extra effort by most decks.  It is poor, though it isn’t an easy KO in the sense that your opponent does need their core strategy to be at least partially set-up, as opposed to an inexpensive attack with just a Muscle Band taking it down.  Talonflame is Lightning Weak, so it has to be cautious of Pokémon like Dedenne (XY: Furious Fists 34/111), Thundurus-EX (BW: Plasma Freeze 38/116) or Zekrom (latest printings BW: Legendary Treasures 51/113, 115/113).  Talonflame does enjoy Resistance, and it is even one that might prove relevant; Fighting Resistance on 130 HP is just enough to push to make it a slightly challenging OHKO, though still quite feasible.  Finishing off the attributes is the Retreat Cost of one; this is very good as it is easy to pay and recover from, though being a Stage 2 that corresponds to a Fire/Flying Type with a well-developed Speed Stat in the video games, I would have expected a free Retreat Cost. 

Talonflame has two attacks, which means either one of these attacks needs to elevate it to “glass cannon” status, has to have a protective effect and/or is part of a combo.  Acrobatics is fairly good; for [R] you hit for at least 30 points of damage, and you get two coin flips good for +30 per “heads”.  So minimum damage of 30 and maximum of 90, with 60 damage being both the middle score, the average of all the damage scores, and the most common result of the flips.  Jet Shoot starts out promising as well; for [RRC] it does 120 points of damage with an effect.  Unfortunately the effect is that Talonflame takes an extra 40 points of damage, but at least it is after applying Weakness and Resistance.

Still, that means that instead of 150 points of damage, Fighting-Types only need 110 for a OHKO; instead of 70 damage, Lightning-Types only need 50 and everything else just needs to deal 90 instead of 130.  In some ways, I can see why this drawback was added; earlier I pointed out that 130 HP is still likely to get OHKOed, but this not only puts it into “extremely probable” territory, but without a lot of set-up.  90 points of damage is still the going rate for a competitive attackers (yes there are exceptions like Seismitoad-EX), so 40 extra damage results in a OHKO with no additional effort.  So even though you would think that something on the small side like Talonflame would be safe taking this kind of drawback, it turns a fairly common damage amount into a OHKO plus Talonflame really needed a benefit to remain competitive. 

There are four Fletchling to choose from on your path to Talonflame.  All are 50 HP Colorless-Type Pokémon with Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance and single Energy Retreat Costs.  Note that the Type change can interfere with direct Type support like Blacksmith: no using Blacksmith to accelerate Energy and thin your hand before then using Bicycle, at least if all you’ve got in play is Fletchling.  None of them have Abilities, which they probably could really use (see my earlier mini-rant).  The first one we’ll look at in detail has been printed released multiple times as XY: Kalos Starter Set 31/39; McDonald’s Collection 2014 11/12, XY Trainer Kit: Sylveon Half Deck 1/30 and 19/30.  It has just one attack, that does 20 for [C] but is “tails fails”.  XY 113/146 can draw a card for [C] or do 20 for [CC].  XY: Flashfire 86/106 can do 10 with a coin flip to make it 20 at a cost of [C].  Lastly XY: Phantom Forces 89/119 can do 10 for [C] or 10 with a coin flip for an additional 20 points of damage for [CC].  As the damage is pretty meaningless, I’d go with XY 113/146 just because if you’re desperate enough to attack with Fletchling, you probably could use another card.  It is a minor improvement, though. 

You might be able to use Rare Candy to skip to Talonflame, but if you decide to go through Fletchinder (perhaps because you fear Item lock), you have three options.  All are Stage 1 Fire-Types with Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, single Energy Retreat Costs and no Abilities.  XY 27/146 has 70 HP and for [C] it can search your deck for a [R] Energy to attach to itself while for [RC] it can hit for 30 with no additional effect.  XY: Flashfire 17/106 has 80 HP and only one attack; for [R] it does 20 points of damage, with another 20 if you get “heads” on a coin flip.  XY: Phantom Forces 9/119 also has 80 HP but has two attacks: for [R] it can do 20 and for [RRC] it can do 60.  The attacks aren’t damaging enough to likely be worth it, but the Energy acceleration based attack is on the 70 HP version.  80 HP isn’t much better than 70 HP, though so in the end, run whichever one you feel like.  No, I don’t like it when that is the verdict. 

There is only one other Talonflame, XY 28/146, which was reviewed here by baby_mario and Hez.  It has the same attributes as today’s card except with a perfect free Retreat Cost (instead of needing [C] like today’s card).  Its first attack Devastating Wind that… isn’t very devastating since it just shuffles the opponent’s hand away but then has them draw four cards.  Sometimes it will hurt them, but it could help them and since it is an attack, it is happening at the very end of your turn, giving your opponent a turn to recover (if it was a drawback) or capitalize upon it (if the shuffle and draw helped them).  Its second attack is Flare Blitz, and for [RR] you do 100 points of damage but have to discard all Energy attached to Talonflame.  This is a decent attack.  Is it great?  No, but unlike when the card was first reviewed, we now have Blacksmith.  If it hit just a little bit harder, we might even have had a chance for kooky decks based on it getting to Pokémon-EX OHKO levels.  Honestly, I think this version might ultimately be a bit better, but only.  The first attack is worse but the “big” attack is better with the free Retreat Cost serving as a tiebreaker. 

So should you run either version?  Nope.  If you want to try your luck with a Stage 2 Fire-Type that is a long shot, there is actually competition!  Blaziken (XY: Furious Fists 14/111) and Infernape (BW: Plasma Storm 17/135) spring to mind.  Infernape is actually Infernape [Plasma], allowing it to tap Team Plasma support and it actually seems like a better version of Talonflame (XY 28/146).  Expanded just adds in a few more potential (but still long shot) candidates, though Limited does make Talonflame a lot more impressive.  There is both a regular rare and a holographic rare version of Talonflame in the Burning Winds Theme deck, and in my experience its fairly good attacker for Theme Deck battles.  At the same time, even though its a fleshed out line in the Theme deck and enjoys some intentionally designed support, it doesn’t get that much better than I suspect it would be in regular limited: even here Jet Shoot can be a problem.  In fact, I found myself (on the PTCGO, testing with theme decks) to just use Acrobatics until I expected to be KOed the next turn anyway, and (assuming I could spare the Energy and already built it up) then go for a Jet Shoot when the extra damage taken the next turn won’t matter. 

Ratings

Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.7/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Theme Deck: 3.8/5 

Summary: If you want to be just a little daring or creative, you’ve got plenty of other Stage 2 and even Stage 2 Fire-Type Pokémon to consider before Talonflame.  Still it isn’t entirely hopeless as Acrobatics is a slightly good move and Jet Shoot is decent if you can time it for when taking 40 more damage the next turn won’t matter, but its a long way from being competitive.


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