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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Gengar EX

- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Nov. 21, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.42
Expanded: 3.25
Limited: 4.42

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

Gengar EX 

One of the most hyped cards from the set, Gengar EX sure does have a lot to offer. Why it didn’t make the top 10 list is a question I’ll try to answer later. For now, let’s just focus on the positives. 

For a start, Gengar has two nice attacks, which can be made very good value with help from Dimension Valley. Night Attack’s damage counter placement would be better if you could spread it around as you liked, but could still be useful for clearing stuff from the Bench. The main event here though is Dark Corridor: a Punch-and-Run style attack that does 60 damage and inflicts Poison before getting Gengar back to (relative) safety. 

Lots of combos and options for this attack: a Benched Dragalge FLF would stop your opponent from retreating their Poisoned Pokémon, while Robo Substitute, Wobbuffet PHF, or Sigilyph LTR could all cause problems if you promoted them to the active slot. That 60 damage doesn’t seem so spectacular, but with Poison, it soon adds up: if you use a Muscle Band and run Virbank City Gym over Dimension Valley, you will be getting two-hit KOs on just about anything. 

So, why were we leery of putting Gengar in our top 10? Well, for a start, we already have a deck that is very similar to Gengar in the shape of Donphan PLS and friends. Sure, he doesn’t get the Poison bonus, but he can abuse Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium. Best of all, Donphan isn’t an EX, so your opponent is forced to try and take 6 Prizes against a whole bunch of awkward cards like Robo Substitute and Sigilyph. The second reason is Typing. Gengar is incredibly vulnerable when facing one of the most popular cards in the game: Yveltal EX. Yes, he can hide on the Bench, but that won’t save him from Lysandre (now re-usable with VS Seeker). 

It’s unfortunate, really, because I think Gengar decks would be real contenders if it wasn’t for that Darkness Weakness. They still might be if Yveltal stops seeing so much play as it has recently. For now though, I’d rather use Donphan. 

Rating 

Modified: 3.5 (nice card, shame about the Weakness)

Expanded: 3 (Dark Patch means that Dark is even more popular here)

Limited: 4.25 (big EX with cheap-ish attack. You pull it, you play it). 


aroramage

Welcome back to our final card of the week, one that's been showing up a bit more than his cover counterpart, it's the sneaky shadow who may or may not be a Clefable (no seriously, lots of speculation, you should check that out!), it's Gengar's turn to get the EX treatment!

 

And...well...at least he's got some awesome full art!

 

Truth be told when I saw the spoiler for Gengar-EX, I was...disappointed. You're telling me after we got Lucario-EX that we're stuck with just this guy? Even his Mega version isn't that impressive, but that's a card for another day. Let's figure out if there's a good reason to play Gengar-EX!

 

His first attack of the night, aptly named Night Attack, puts 3 damage counters on any opposing Pokemon that you'd like. I mentioned the Zubat line in my review on Dimension Valley a couple days ago, and I think its usage can apply to Gengar-EX as well. Night Attack basically acts like Crobat's Skill Dive without having to go through the trouble of playing down the group. Granted, if you do decide on playing the full evolution line - which is probably one of the few lines I'd actually think you'd want to use the Stage 1 evolution - you'll be able to deal damage not just from attacks but also from Golbat and Crobat's "upon-Evolving" Abilities!

 

But back to Gengar-EX's Night Attack - functions the same as Skill Dive without the Stage 2 line-up. It could be comboed with Dusknoir's Sinister Hand, another card I mentioned before, but I'd think running one of those lines over the other rather than both will lead to a much more consistent build. The idea of course being you'd use Gengar-EX to rack up a bunch of damage on Pokemon and move it around freely as Dusknoir. Dimension Valley makes it easier by making Night Attack cost absolutely nothing, making it a free 3-damage attack!

 

Gengar-EX isn't exactly immortal though, so he's gonna need a bigger trick than just throwing damage counters at everyone like he's the Oprah Pokemon (YOU get damage counters, and YOU get damage counters!). So he's next big attack for 3 - or 2 if you've got Dimension Valley around - is Dark Corridor, which only does...60 damage. That's a rather paltry amount for an EX - Manectric-EX does the same amount for an Energy less, and by the time Lucario-EX has 3 Energy on him, he's dealing 100! I think the designers really want Gengar-EX to use Dimension Valley, cause they're pushing it really hard with this set-up.

 

It's not to say Dark Corridor's a bad attack, but it doesn't do too much. First off, it deals 60 damage, which after a Muscle Band goes up to only 80 - that's barely enough to 2HKO most Stage 2 Pokemon, let alone get around to KO'ing the heftier Pokemon-EX. Sure, you could Poison them with HTL, but Dark Corridor already Poisons them. If anything, you'd be using HTL to put them to Sleep, but if you're using HTL with Gengar-EX, you're effectively making part of his attack redundant and useless. Not to say it's not effective, but the Poison text is there, so you've got the option to save your HTL for something later.

 

The other half of Dark Corridor is that it switches Gengar-EX with a Benched Pokemon. Perhaps you'd like to switch out to another Gengar-EX, or maybe you can throw out Mewtwo-EX or potentially even have Wobbuffet take the brunt of an attack, negating your opponent's Abilities during their turn before switching back to Gengar-EX and doing it again!

 

...hey, that's not a half-bad idea! Except for the whole "Garbodor is better" thing, but in this case, you can actually negate Abilities during your OPPONENT'S turn when it's actually needed before having Wobbuffet KO'd or switching him out and turning on your Abilities again! Granted, opposing Garbodors will negate all other Abilities period, but it's a nice little combo with him anyway.

 

Coming back to Gengar-EX: on his own, he's a rather dismal Pokemon-EX whose saving grace is only found in his Fighting Resistance (that's SUPER-relevant to today's format), but when he gets combined with a few of his friends, he can actually start to pose a real threat. He builds up an entirely new deck archetype, and that may be the scariest thing of all.

 

What Gengar-EX deck would you build: one that deals obscene amounts of damage all around for little to no cost, or one that can control your opponent's ability to use Abilities?

 

Rating

 

Standard: 3.5/5 (he's better in the right build than being used on his own, and if anything he'll headline the Psychic Revolution as much as Bronzong has with the Rise of the Metal-Types)

 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (I imagine he'll do about the same here, keeping in mind that he'll never get a chance to take down Rayquaza-EX on his own without switching around...then again, Wobbuffet combo...)

 

Limited: 4/5 (you run him if you've got him; even with subpar amounts of damage-dealing, he's still a bulky Pokemon that can inflict status and damage anything on the field, so that's going to be pretty valuable here)

 

Arora Notealus: Some of Gengar's earlier entries talk about him hiding up in the mountains to take people's souls. Why a Gengar would hang out in the mountains is beyond me...unless...maybe there's some truth to that whole "Clefable" connection...

 

Weekend Thought: What do you think of the cards from this week? Any interesting combinations you can think of amongst this set's cards?


Otaku

This week we’ve been covering the cards that made at least one individual reviewer’s Top 10 list but not the shared Pojo Top 10 list: in short its “Runners Up” Week.  The cards are not being reviewed in the order in which they placed but in the order that seemed best for review purposes.  Also, it is November 21st which means that XY: Phantom Forces is… not quite tournament legal.  I hate calling attention to it, but at least regular readers (or those lucky enough to read this particular review) will get the correct date of November 26th: specifically, three weeks (21 days) after November 5th (the official release date in the U.S. of this set).  Apparently I had a total brain fail and instead of typing in 26 (5+21) I simply typed 21.  My apologies for such a simple error… that I failed to catch as I kept copying and pasting (and occasionally editing) the same block of intro text for the Top 10 list, and thus committed 10 times in a row.  We finish this week with Gengar-EX (XY: Phantom Forces 34/119, 114/119), a card that… didn’t make any Top 10 list.  Wait, then why are we looking at it?  Technicality; I had M Gengar-EX (XY: Phantom Forces 35/119, 121/119) but it made the list as a personal compromise (I didn’t want to list both on my list) and in retrospect, I should have just gone with the Basic.  Between this and the mess-up on the legality date, I think I’ve thoroughly undermined my own credibility.  Time for the review to really begin! 

Gengar-EX is a Pokémon-EX, which has some major drawbacks: its worth an additional Prize when KOed, is target of several anti-Pokémon-EX effects and there are a few beneficial effects on cards that specifically exclude Pokémon-EX.  Most of the upsides aren’t guaranteed; Pokémon-EX tend to have higher HP scores than a “regular” version of that Pokémon, but a few are relatively tiny and while most are intended to have better effects than “regular” versions of the same Pokémon, but there are plenty of misfires.  The one thing guaranteed so far is that anything that is a Pokémon-EX but not a Mega Evolution is a Basic Pokémon, which is a step up for Gengar-EX.  Normally Gengar are a Stage 2, the hardest to use Stage but Gengar-EX gets to be a Basic instead, enjoying a now formats long reign as the best Stage.  It is a Psychic-Type, and this is well timed; the previous set boosted Fighting-Types, and one of the major Weaknesses among Fighting-Types is Psychic Weakness.  This set boosted Psychic-Types so not only does Gengar-EX benefit from added support (both direct and indirect), but many Psychic-Types are also Psychic Weak.  The only real downside is that nearly all Darkness-Type and Metal-Type Pokémon are Psychic Resistant: the former was the first Type in the BW-era to get a boost (with some support still Standard legal and all of it an option in Expanded) while Metal-Types also got their due in XY: Phantom Forces, making that Type one of the stronger ones while also making it the “new toy” for a lot of people to play with.  All in all though it is good to be a Psychic-Type Pokémon right now. 

Gengar-EX sports 170 HP; this is good but not the best we’ve seen printed on Basic Pokémon-EX, but that max is just 10 more.  Many decks will try to make sure they can at least OHKO, even if it takes certain resources and isn’t easy to do repeatedly, 170 HP Pokémon-EX even if they can’t quite take down a 180 HP version… but in the end it is hard to score said OHKO without a very good set-up or by exploiting Weakness.  The Weakness on Gengar-EX is to Darkness-Types, and its quite the pain against things like Yveltal-EX.  I don’t think it is the absolute worst Weakness in the format, but its not too far removed from it.  Gengar-EX does sport Resistance, however, and its even of a useful sort: Fighting Resistance is probably one of the most useful to have right now, but Resistance as a whole is a much weaker (and thus possibly balanced) mechanic in the game.  Gengar-EX sports a Retreat Cost of two; this isn’t good but it isn’t really bad either.  If you’ve got to pay for it, you probably can without completely ruining your set-up.  Most decks already pack something to aid in retreating (or bypass manually retreating entirely) so its a fairly “neutral” attribute overall. 

Gengar-EX sports two attacks.  The first is Night Attack, which requires [C] and allows you to select one of your opponent’s Pokémon and place three damage counters on it.  The second attack is Dark Corridor; it requires [PCC] and does 60 damage in addition to Poisoning the opponent’s Active Pokémon and forcing you to switch Gengar-EX with one of your Benched Pokémon (unless you have none).  Rulings indicate that you can bring up a Pokémon protected by an effect like Safeguard; as far as the game is concerned the effect is one forcing Gengar-EX to the Bench, the natural result of which is that you must promote something to replace it.  Both attacks are useful but also a bit underwhelming.  They are Double Colorless Energy compliant; its overkill for the first attack but if you attach a source of [P] Energy first, you can jump from Night Attack to Dark Corridor without an awkward “between” moment in terms of Energy. 

Now, Gengar-EX can evolve into M Gengar-EX; it gains 50 HP, drops its Retreat Cost by [C] and replaces its two old attacks with one big, new one: Phantom Gate.  Phantom Gate costs [PCC] so it is no more expensive than Dark Corridor.  Using it allows you to select one attack from your opponent’s Pokémon (Active or Bench) and use it.  Verified by rulings, you don’t need to worry about the Energy cost of the copied attack and you do as much of the attack as you can.  It can get a bit complicated so I encourage you to check out the Rules Compendium or the Ask The Rules Team subforum over on the pokegym.net.  You can use Gengar Spirit Link (XY: Phantom Forces 95/119) to avoid the nasty “Your turn ends after you Mega Evolve” effect, which is definitely recommended if you choose to use M Gengar-EX: from what little I’ve seen its definitely an optional play and may even be better to skip. 

So if the attacks are good-but-not-great, what makes this card worth using?  So many combo elements.  In some ways, this set seems almost tailored to Gengar-EX.  You can use Dimension Valley to use Night Attack for free or to drop the price of Dark Corridor down to just [PC], but as that isn’t a huge savings (still two attachments for Dark Corridor) most are likely to use good ol’ Virbank City Gym instead, as you are Poisoning the Defending Pokémon, after all.  Using the hit-and-run strategy other recent porter decks have been developing for the last few sets, you’ve got quite the selection of “dance partners”, from big, Basic Pokémon with attacks that do more damage based on the damage counters on said Pokémon to Safeguard Pokémon to soak hits to Trevenant (XY 55/146) that we reviewed much earlier this year if you want to block your opponent from using Items.

This set added a lot to porter decks in general and a few that are mostly just suited to Gengar-EX based ones (if there).  The new Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119) we just reviewed Wednesday is a choice, and can use new Mystery Energy (XY: Phantom Forces 112/119): we haven’t reviewed it yet but the short version is you can only attach it to Psychic-Type Pokémon and only provides [P] while reducing the Retreat Cost of the Pokémon it is attached to by [CC]; that is enough for Gengar-EX, Trevenant or Wobbuffet to retreat for free… or you might just use Float Stone.  I’ve also heard some talk of using Dragalge (which we looked at here) to keep the opponent’s (now Poisoned) Pokémon from retreating.  You’ve got Robo Substitute to soak a hit without giving up a Prize.  The porter strategy is solid, though some might prefer sticking to with other options like Donphan (BW: Plasma Storm 72/135). 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 - Porter decks are already a thing and its hard to view Gengar-EX as its own thing instead of just a different main attacker.  Porter strategies are very reliant on everything else in the deck as well, so even as a deck specific rating, it doesn’t score that high.  It isn’t bad, but its definitely niche. 

Expanded: 3.25/5 - Hate to sound like a broken record (and I’ve probably used that expression multiple times for this section already), but I’m not thinking of anything major that this card pool adds but the Standard card pool lacks that is directly relevant to the performance of this deck. 

Limited: 4.9/5 - I recommend against running this in a +39 deck.  Technically it still has enough damage output (thanks to the Poison damage) to probably outpace most decks buts just far too close for comfort.  On the other hand, unless you pull a different Pokémon-EX that is indeed worth running in a +39 deck, use this in whatever “real” deck you build: even the Psychic Energy is optional (but recommended) as a “big sniper” can come in handy. 

Summary: Gengar-EX is a good, solid addition to the stable of main attackers in porter style decks.  It has some different tricks as compared to the previous, successful hit-and-run style attackers but overall will play largely the same unless you really focus on the Poison and/or Psychic-Type aspect of the card.


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