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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Phantom Forces Top 10

#5 - Aegislash

Date Reviewed:
Nov. 10, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.67
Expanded: 3.50
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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#5 Aegislash EX 

We’ve already seen one powerful Metal EX in our top 10 countdown, and now it’s time for another. I dunno . . . you wait years for a decent Metal Pokémon . . .  

Aegislash EX only has a mediocre attack: Slash Blast being a slightly worse version of Keldeo EX’s Secret Sword that will require an even bigger Energy commitment in order to OHKO. Thankfully, it has a pretty sweet Ability which may mean that it can survive long enough for that not to matter. 

Mighty Shield prevents damage done to Aegislash by Pokémon that have Special Energy attached. To some extent, that means pretty much every viable deck in the format, whether it’s Seismitoad with DCE, Donphan with Strong Energy, or Fairy decks running a playset of Rainbow. Clearly, Aegislash has the potential to cause problems for a lot of decks, but most of these have ways to play around the Ability. Seismitoad and Yveltal decks usually run Garbodor LTR; while stuff like Donphan can adjust the amount of Basic Energy they play. Fairy and Plasma are the ones that are really hurt by Aegislash as they are dependent on Special Energy to function, though these decks are arguably at the margins of the format now in any case. 

With Phantom Forces bringing us a reprint of Enhanced Hammer, I expect those decks that can will reduce their dependency on Special Energy, which may make Aegislash less effective overall. Nevertheless, I think including at least one is a sensible move in a Metal deck: in certain situations and against an unprepared opponent, he can be a great wall, though only a somewhat sub-par attacker. 

Rating 

Modified: 3 (decent option for Bronzong decks, but easier to play around than you would think)

Expanded: 3 (Plasma and Accelgor decks need to watch out for this card)

Limited: 4 (easy to use, but slow. Still, the massive HP makes him more than useful)


aroramage

Welcome back to our Top 10 list for the new Phantom Forces set, or more specifically welcome to our Top 5 picks for the Phantom Forces set! Today we're taking a look at the other Steel EX in the set, a fan favorite in Aegislash-EX! Last week we reviewed Dialga-EX, noting how good it was with the support and its Ability to stop EXs from striking back - but Aegislash-EX can do more! Much more!

For starters, let's take a look at his attack, Slash Blast. You'll note that this is a completely Colorless attack, but this is also a Hydro Pump-esque attack; so while it does cost 3-for-40, it does more damage if you've got Metal Energies attached to it - 20 more for each one, to be exact. We've seen examples of Hydro Pump-esque attacks be successful when combined with the right support - just take a look at Blastoise and Keldeo-EX! And luckily for him, Aegislash-EX got just the support he needs to make his 3-for-40 become a 3-for-100! Never mind any other boosts and the plethora of energy you could attach to him - keeping in mind counters like Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX exist.

Or can they? Aegislash-EX has more than just a mighty offense, with an Ability that could easily make him one of the best defenses there is too: Mighty Shield. With it, Aegislash-EX no longer takes any damage from your opponent's Pokemon with Special Energy attached - at all! Remember how in the last set we saw the rise of Fighting decks because of a little something called Strong Energy? Remember how we started out the XY block with the re-release of Rainbow Energy? Have you been paying attention and seen that DCE has been reprinted in this set? That means we've got a LOT of Special Energy floating around in the format, which means an unwary opponent may find that they won't be able to touch Aegislash-EX at all!

Of course, Aegislash-EX's Ability isn't full-proof; he still takes damage from anything without a Special Energy attached, and Mewtwo-EX/Yveltal-EX aren't always guaranteed to have one on them (usually they don't; Mewtwo-EX may have a DCE, but Yveltal-EX only really needs a Darkness and another Basic to work his Evil Ball). And even for all his strengths, he can still be cut off offensively by Pyroar (FLF) or have his Ability shut-down by Garbodor (LTR) - the latter may even have already shown up in Fighting Decks to beat the former, and Aegislash-EX won't be immune to that!

Still, as far as a colossal Offense-Defense headliner for Metal decks, Aegislash-EX fits the bill far better than any other Metal-EX in Standard or Expanded, making him the perfect candidate to let the machines rise up and take control of the format! Or at the very least put a damper in the plans of any Fighting deck not running Garbodor.

Rating

Standard: 4/5 (a strong and very capable offensive force with a powerful defense to bring Metal decks just what they need)

Expanded: 4/5 (right about the same here, though keeping in mind Rayquaza-EX doesn't usually have a Special Energy on him)

Limited: 4.5/5 (though there are only 2 Special Energies in the set, having an attack that can deal 100 damage at the lowest is almost a guaranteed victory in this format - never mind the additional support to speed things up!)

Arora Notealus: I think everyone liked Aegislash the moment they saw he was a ghost sword and shield. Really, the whole evolutionary line was awesome, and the fact that he's a powerhouse in the video games AND he's becoming a powerhouse in the TCG makes me happy that he's not just a gimmick anymore.

Next Time: Wait, who are you again? You work for Team Flare?


Otaku

We begin the second week of our Top 10 Promising Picks of XY: Phantom Forces with our fifth place choice!  As a reminder, reprint cards were not eligible for the Top 10 list, which was created through each member of the review crew submitting their own Top 10  list to Pojo, who then averages them out to produce the master Top 10 list we use for the review order.  The official release date for this set in the U.S. was November 5th, so XY: Phantom Forces cards aren’t tournament legal until November 21st; however we’ll be scoring them as if they were. 

Aegislash-EX (XY: Phantom Forces 65/119) takes the fifth place spot.  As per usual, being a Pokénon-EX is mostly a drag: giving up an extra Prize when KOed, not being able to use certain support cards and being vulnerable to anti-Pokémon-EX effect.  Pokémon-EX have (so far) been endowed with more HP than their non-Pokémon-EX counterparts, even bypassing the maximum printed amount for anything other than Mega Evolutions and Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124).  This isn’t automatic as some Pokémon-EX are quite “tiny” by modern standards (Jirachi-EX).  Pokémon-EX often have better attacks and/or Abilities than their regular counterparts as well, but again this isn’t a guarantee.  The one inherent advantage is those that would normally be an Evolution (like Aegislash-EX) are instead a Basic Pokémon, enjoying the inherent advantages Basics have over Evolutions: space (one slot=one copy), speed (no waiting to Evolve) and synergy (many effects simply favor Basics). 

Aegislash-EX is a Metal-Type, and as we already mentioned various past reviews, like that of Dialga-EX (click here if you need a refresher or missed it), this set provided a lot of direct and indirect support for the Metal and the Psychic-Type, and in the case of the Metal-Types they are probably going to be heavily played both because it is (overall) good support plus provides new “toys” for those looking for a bit of a change, even if they want to use some older cards.  Metal Weakness is out there and until now its usually been one of the “safer” ones to have, relatively speaking.  Now though, while It still isn’t as dangerous as Fighting Weakness, its up there… which is good for this card!  What isn’t as good is that Metal Resistance has become a “thing” again on many Lightning-Type Pokémon released in the XY-series.  Resistance is far easier to cope with than Weakness, so especially with the Type support its good to be Metal. 

As for the card’s own Weakness and Resistance… it has both!  Before celebrating the presence of the oft missing Weakness, lets cover the potentially dangerous Weakness: Fire.  Why do I say “potentially dangerous”?  Fire-Types aren’t as popular as they could be, but if we get another good Fire Weak deck (in addition to VirGen) it might be enough that players consider more Fire Pokémon at serious events again.  Fire-Types actually have some useful tricks and solid attackers, and as recently as the pre-XY: Furious Fists days, Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106) utilizing Fire decks were a major presence.  With the potency of Blacksmith (that now can be reclaimed via Vs Seeker) they might reignite any moment (and not necessarily with the same Pokémon line-up).  Psychic Resistance is good for throwing off X-Ball calculations (and Mewtwo-EX still seems to be a common play), so while it won’t often be critical, its handy.  Finishing off the Attributes is the Retreat Cost of [CCC]: most of the time you won’t want to pay it and might even not be able to, so make sure you’ve got an out for when Aegislash-EX needs to get to the Bench.  It was probably a must anyway given the current format (and two or three before it), and in Expanded you get the bonus of Heavy Ball compliance. 

So what does Aegislash-EX do?  It has an Ability called Mighty Shield and it might live up to its name: attacks against Aegislash-EX do no damage if the attacking Pokémon has a Special Energy attached… and Special Energy are likely to remain popular (and potent) even with Enhanced Hammer returning.  A few decks won’t really care (they use few if any Special Energy) while others will be totally walled, with most falling somewhere in between and thus able to get something ready (eventually) that won’t trigger Mighty Shield.  Of course there are also things like G Booster that will bypass Mighty Shield even when Genesect-EX has Special Energy attached.  The attack on Aegislash-EX is not as good as the Ability, but neither is it without merit. Slash Blast follows a familiar formula of costing [CCC] and doing a set amount of damage plus more for each of a specific Energy-Type attached: in this case its 40 points of base damage plus another 20 per [M] attached to Aegislash-EX.  Of course, without (potentially resource risky) combos, you’re going to be doing well to get to 2HKO territory… but if your opponent can’t damage you back, that is likely enough. 

So what decks should run this card?  Okay, let us get the obvious out of the way: Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119) can use this as one of the many potential attackers.  Do I think it is the best?  After seeing Dialga-EX in action a few times now… I’m not sure.  The decks running it that I either played or saw didn’t run Aegislash-EX or at least chose never to play it down.  With Bronzong helping to stack Metal Energy cards from the discard pile on it you can power it up quickly but again, only to about 2HKO level.  If you’re running something like Keldeo-EX plus Float Stone so that you can send a surviving one to the Bench to load up more than once, you can eventually build to that OHKO level… but at 40 points of base damage, you’ll need seven total Energy (or six with a Muscle Band) to OHKO 170 to 180 HP Pokémon-EX.  When its Ability is working or its hitting Weakness (which are the only times you should be relying on it)... the damage you get with three or four Metal Energy attached should be enough. 

Less likely to actually work is combining Aegislash-EX with Klinklang (BW: Plasma Storm 90/135). Klinklang [Plasma] (or rather its Ability) protects your Metal-Type Pokémon from damage by the attacks of Pokémon-EX.  Stacking that with Special Energy protection, and your opponent has to use non-Pokémon-EX fueled by only Basic Energy cards to do the deed.  Even if they have a Lysandre (or something that can attack the Bench) handy, unless you’ve got a non-Metal-Type in play, Pokémon-EX are still only able to attack for effects and not damage.  Do I think it is a strong play?  No, but there is a strange sort of appeal to it… and in Expanded you’ve got the option of running Klinklang (Black & White 76/114) with Gear Shift, so that you can move [M] Energy around.  While even clunkier, you could even try to work in a small Bronzong line (1-1 or 2-2) for a tiny bit of Energy acceleration.  The deck basically auto-loses to Pyroar (Intimidating Mane version) and is in trouble if your opponent can keep a Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) safe with Garbotoxin up and running… but I find the concept so tempting that even though I don’t expect much in the way of success, I want to try it. 

Perhaps I should look at an unlikely but still more plausible niche that falls somewhere between the past two examples.  Certain decks could just use a wall against Special Energy users.  Energy transferring decks might even attack with it if it would prove beneficial, but mostly it would be a shield while you set something else up to score OHKOs.  If not clear, I am talking about using this strategy against decks that have little or no chance of scoring a OHKO without Special Energy cards; once Aegislash-EX has finished stalling (possibly backed by Max Potion) you get it out of the way and start taking Prizes.  For decks using hit-and-run tactics, its a similar deal except you are even less likely to ever try and power it up to attack. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.75/5 - Like Dialga-EX it is good when properly supported, but much less so on its own.  It could be used as a wall without attacking if you have room for such a thing; but that is more “What to do with it when my Energy acceleration isn’t available” then “A reason to run it in everything”. 

Expanded: 3.5/5 - Didn’t I come up with a deck for Expanded that wasn’t also Standard legal?  Yes, yes I did, but it was also a deck I don’t expect to work reliably and even factoring it in, this format has one or two older decks run mostly or entirely on Basic Energy cards and at least one of those - Rayquaza-EX backed by Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101) - is another deck that will just OHKO Aegislash-EX through its Ability. 

Limited: 3.5/5 - This set has two Special Energy, so sometimes the Ability can trigger, and you could try to work it into a regular deck as always, but I don’t know if it is worth the hassle there (unless your deck was mostly running Metal Energy to begin with).  It should be a suitable +39 candidate, though as usual the slow start will give your opponent a window to build up enough damage to take you down before you can take four Prizes. 

Summary: A shield and a sword indeed, Aegislash-EX is good at either… but in a format where cards that see play need to be great at one or the other.  I had this as my number four pick on my own list and in short, by now I already believe I overestimated it.  Unlike past Pokémon with similar attacks, Aegislash-EX (in the deck most likely to run it) can’t shoot for a OHKO via raw power (and Energy attachments) in a single turn.  On the other hand, its overall use still strikes me as matching Dialga-EX.  They are like two sides of the same coin: Dialga-EX has some defensive capacity thanks to its first attack, but its not that great at it while Aegislash-EX has a magnificent defense but its lone attack falls a bit short.  I think both belong in Bronzong decks… alongside some other attackers.


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