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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Blaziken

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Oct. 24, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.63
Expanded: 2.75
Limited: 3.75

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

From the depths of the fiery pit emerges a half-man, half-chicken, all-terrifying speed-boosting maniacal Mega Ultra Chicken Fighter 4: Turbo Edition! Or something like that. Welcome back guys, today we take a look at the Gen III terror known as Blaziken! Blaziken is a Fire/Fighting in the games, with a Mega Evolution as one of the first ones to be revealed. He'll probably show up in future sets (wink wink) with his Mega Evo in tow (double wink wink double), but for now, let's take a look at what he offers today.
 
Here in Furious Fists, a Fighting-type supportive set, Blaziken is a Fire-type. While it is a bit disappointing to see this, Blaziken does have support from the Flashfire set to work with. Granted none of it is damage boosting like Strong Energy, but it's something! Blaziken also gets a couple of attacks, the first of which is Clutch. For DCE, Blaziken charges in for 50 damage and prevents the opponent from retreating. We've talked about the trouble with keeping anything from retreating since the days of Keldeo-EX, but the 50 damage is a nice smack for 2.
 
Then we come to Blaziken's second attack, Burning Shot. It's a hefty 4 Energy, 2 of which must be Fire, and it comes with the cost of discarding 2 Energy on top of that. What this means is that 1) you're still left with Clutch even after using Burning Shot once, so Blaziken's not rendered useless by using it, and 2) this attack must do something amazing if it costs 4 Energy and discards 2. And it does!
 
150 damage to ANY Pokemon.
 
This is extremely powerful, as it can KO most Stage 2 Pokemon. Throw on a little spread damage or HTL or Muscle Band (yes, Muscle Band works if you target the Active Pokemon, but if you go for the Benched, it's just 150), and you're KOing some of the smaller EX. To give you an idea of the scope of this Pokemon, let's run down the names of a few Pokemon in the format:
 
Garbodor. Blastoise. Pyroar. Jirachi-EX. - all KO'd by a Burning Shot ANYWHERE
 
Genesect-EX and Virizion-EX - KO'd while Active
 
Mewtwo-EX. Yveltal-EX. - KO'd while Active and with Muscle Band.
 
Lucario-EX. Black Kyurem-EX. Lugia-EX. - KO'd while Active and while holding Muscle Band and using HTL w/o the bank
 
Now that I have your attention, Blaziken does have a few issues. For one, the discard is a heavy cost to keep up with turn after turn. While you can probably get away with utilizing Blacksmith and Emboar for consistency, it's not a strategy I'd try using. There's a lot of cost to consider, but given the potential benefits, it might just be worth it. I mean, that's at least 2 Prizes you can get out for 1! Against the right strike, that's guaranteed at least 1 Prize, so in a sense you break even or get ahead of your opponent. You could even catch up to your opponent with Blaziken!
 
Blaziken may have started a new Fire deck, and while it's going to take a lot to make it run well, the results are pretty clear: Blaziken isn't going to just sit and wait his turn. He's gunning for any EX he can!
 
Rating
 
Standard: 3/5 (he may be costly to play, but the pros I think outweigh the cons)
 
Expanded: 3/5 (oh yeah, those tips from above? They still work here)
 
Limited: 4/5 (while he's going to be slower to run, he can devastate an opponent who's not prepared for him)
 
Arora Notealus: I kinda wanna imagine Blaziken just leaps up into the air, uses Burning Shot, and descends on either the Pokemon out or just on one of the Trainer's Pokeballs. Then he just looks up, and his eyes just say, "NO!"
 
Weekend Thought: Would you run the cards from this week in a deck? What strategies do you think can be used between them?


Otaku

We finish out this week with a card that is almost a blast from the past: Blaziken (XY: Furious Fists 14/111).  Why do I call it that?  It bears a striking resemblance to Blaziken-ex (EX: Team Magma Vs Team Aqua 89/95), which was reviewed twice by the Pojo CotD Crew, here and here.  I’m not sure why it was reviewed twice so close together (the dates are only about two and half months apart), but I did weigh in on the first one.  I don’t want to bog things down too much, so I’ll avoid making step-by-step comparisons. 

Blaziken is a Fire-Type in a set focused on Fighting-Types… perhaps because its actually a Fire/Fighting-Type in the video games?  Being a Dual-Type in the TCG would likely be amazing (especially as both of these Types are well supported and hit key Weakness) but that mechanic was (sadly?) abandoned so long ago (and almost always used for a gimmick and not to represent actual video game hybrids).  Still, hitting almost all Grass-Type and Metal-Type Pokémon for double damage is pretty slick and you never have to worry about Resistance (unless you’re trying to mess with cards no longer legal for Standard or Expanded).  Fire-Types, as stated are still well supported; Blacksmith in particular can provide some amazing Energy acceleration without an overly complicated set-up. 

Blaziken has 140 HP, giving it solid odds of surviving a hit.  Far from a guarantee, but attacks that aren’t exploiting Weakness or need to be hitting for quite an impressive amount.  Even with the typical easy boosting from Muscle Band or the Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo, that’s 120 or 110 points of damage.  The Water Weakness will matter but it isn’t as bad as it might be.  Seismitoad-EX is a bigger concern for blocking Items (and to lower Stages): an actual Blaziken can survive even Quaking Punch boosted by Muscle Band and the full Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo, though only just.  Keldeo-EX just needs one source of [W] Energy or a Muscle Band for its Secret Sword to carve out a OHKO and Kyurem (BW: Plasma Freeze 31/116) a.k.a. Kyurem [Plasma] will find even its Frost Spear just needs a +40 boost before Weakness to score the OHKO… and while that is high for most decks, its just a solid setup for something that can use Deoxys-EX on top of Muscle Band.  That sounds pretty bad… but its not the same as being vulnerable to Psychic-Types like (Mewtwo-EX or Deoxys-EX) or Fighting-Types (like Landorus-EX, Lucario-EX and a whole lot more), and its video game Type combination actually would allow for those two Weaknesses (Blaziken are video game Flying, Ground, Psychic and Water Weak; none is a “perfect” match due to how the Types transfer between video game and TCG). 

Blaziken lacks any Resistance; as I usually point out Resistance is just a small bonus right now as attacks hit so hard and most decks will have at least one “off-Type” attacker plus various boosting tricks.  I would like to highlight that in the video games, Blaziken take quarter-damage from Bug-Type and half-damage from Grass-Type attacks: the two Types that make up the TCG Grass-Type.  They also take half-damage from what directly translate to the Darkness-, Fire- and Metal-Types, again making for good Resistance options.  While the Ice-Type isn’t a good option because its mixed in with the Water-Type in the TCG… that makes you question it as a Weakness (even if the other options likely would have been worse).  Though a strange transition point, this brings us to the Retreat Cost of two; its high enough that paying is going to sting, but low enough that (especially with access to Energy acceleration) you probably can if you really need to… but options to bypass or lower said Retreat Cost is likely given how important it has been to do so in general for this format so far, as well as the two before it.  Also relevant is that it means Beartic (XY: Furious Fists 22/111) can use Igloo Hold for 120 points of damage (after Weakness); any other boosts means a OHKO and Beartic is popular due to countering Landorus-EX (in general) and helping Fire Weak decks deal with Fire-Types, making even a Retreat Cost a bigger problem than expected. 

Blaziken has two attacks; Clutch is good, though far from enough to justify running a Stage 2 Pokémon: for [CC] you not only score a solid 50 points of damage but its effect prevents the Defending Pokémon from manually retreating.  It is a simple effect that can be surprisingly useful and if the attack did hit for just 10 points more it actually would cross the threshold into being competitive in its own right.  As is, with a Silver Bangle it is good for 80 against Pokémon-EX and 70 against anything with Muscle Band.  The obvious add on (that would still put things into the needed minimum KO range) of the Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym isn’t as easy as it sounds: making room for that combo with a Stage 2 main attacker is difficult. 

Burning Shot is the attack that usually catches a person’s eye: while the immense four Energy cost of [RRCC] is difficult to pay and you’ve even got to discard two Energy from Blaziken on top of that, the result is 150 points of damage with the option of nailing either the Defending Pokémon or a target on the Bench.  Excluding Pokémon-EX there are only three Stage 2 that have 160 HP in Standard while Expanded adds a Stage 1 with 200 for only four Pokémon that can survive the hit without protective effects.  Hariyama (XY: Furious Fists 52/111), which we reviewed yesterday, won’t even survive with its Thick Fat Ability unless something else is tacked on!  The fact that most Pokémon-EX that see competitive play have 170 or 180 HP makes this less impressive, though against an Active Pokémon-EX you just need to add Silver Bangle, Muscle Band with a Hypnotoxic Laser or Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank City Gym (Silver Bangle being fairly easy). 

Clutch can pretty easily lead into Burning Shot, though probably in the opposite manner you would expect; instead of stranding something up front to set-up for the 2HKO, you want to strand something that can’t hit back (or at least, not well) so buy an extra turn of attacking, with said extra attack going to a Burning Shot between uses of Clutch.  If you are very fortunate, additional cards and/or luck will allow multiple uses of either attack.  Realistically, more than one attack by an Active Blaziken is optimistic.  Fortunately the costs of each attack make either a Double Colorless Energy or two Fire Energy via Blacksmith enough to fuel Clutch and both allow a Blaziken to go from zero to Burning Shot in a single turn.  Even the discard cost isn’t too terrible as a single Double Colorless Energy covers the entire thing (or two basic Fire Energy if you anticipate having Blacksmith handy next turn).  There is even a small upside to the downside of discarding: Evil Ball and X-Ball are only gaining 40 points of damage instead of 80 from the Energy likely to be attached to Blaziken; that leaves 100 points of damage for them to cough up on their own if either wants a OHKO. 

No Stage 2 Pokémon is an island; to get to Blaziken you’ve got to start with Torchic and either use Rare Candy or go through Combusken.  For Torchic your choices are BW: Dark Explorers 15/108, BW: Legendary Treasures RC5/RC25 (different art reprint of the previous version) or XY: Furious Fists 12/111.  All are Fire-Type Basic Pokémon with 60 HP, Water Weakness, no Resistance, a single Energy Retreat Cost and no Ability.  XY: Furious Fists 12/111 has just one attack: for [RC] it can do 10 with an extra 30 (so 40 total) on a successful coin toss.  The other option has two attacks, doing 10 for [R] or 20 for [RC].  In Expanded, BW: Dark Explorers is also legal, but as it has 10 less HP and a single attack for [RC] that does 10 points of self-damage just to hit for 30.  I’d prefer the attacks did something to keep Torchic, but working with what we’ve got I’ll take XY: Furious Fists 12/111; I shouldn’t be attacking with this card anyway, but if I am I might as well hope for 40 while at least doing 10. 

If you don’t just skip the Stage 1 via Rare Candy (and there’s enough Item lock not to bank on that option), you’ve only got XY: Furious Fists 13/111 for Standard.  In Expanded you add BW: Dark Explorers 16/108 as an option.  Both Stage 1 Pokémon are Fire-Types with 80 HP, Water Weakness, no Resistance, a single Energy Retreat Cost and two attacks… that are actually on fairly even terms.  BW: Dark Explorers 16/108 can attack for [C}, flipping two coins and scoring 20 points of damage per “heads” or for [RRC] do 70 with a discard while XY: Furious Fists 13/111 can do 30 for [CC] or 50 with a coin flip for another 20 for [RCC].  If you want to avoid Energy discards and/or make better use of Double Colorless Energy, go with XY: Furious Fists 13/111. 

There is one other Blaziken to pick from in Expanded: BW: Dark Explorers 17/108.  Its Attributes are the same as today’s version and it even has two attacks as well.  For [RC] it can use Blaze Kick for 40 and a coin flip: on “heads” the attack does an additional 30 points of damage and on “tails” it inflicts Burn.  For [RRC] you can 130 points of damage, but you have to discard an Energy attached to itself.  It didn’t see any successful competitive play that I know of though we did review it here… or at least baby_mario did; don’t know if I skipped it or just never finished it, but I basically agreed with him.  Of course since that review not only did we get Blacksmith but we got Silver Bangle, Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym… and that’s just too much required to hit 180 given how much space an attacking Stage 2 Pokémon requires.  Still it isn’t abysmal: a Blacksmith plus Silver Bangle means it can go from zero to an even split between 100 damage or 70 with Burn against Pokémon-EX.  If you really want a Blaziken stick to today’s: you’re better off with the steeper Energy requirement but being able to bring the big damage with just your attack and a Silver Bangle or Muscle Band (and neither against almost anything that sees play and isn’t a Pokémon-EX). 

Still, imagine if if we had a combination of these two Blaziken… yeah, we did.  Blaziken-ex was a Pokémon-ex, the predecessors of modern Pokémon-EX.  Yes, rulings insist the two are different in more than just capitalization; old cards that reference Pokémon-ex don’t care about Pokémon-EX while modern cards that reference Pokémon-EX don’t recognize Pokémon-ex.  Also now that we’ve gotten “Evolved Pokémon as Basics” that is another difference between the two: Blaziken-ex was a Stage 2 Pokémon, Evolving from Combusken like a regular Blaziken (though the name difference meant they didn’t count as the same card).  Pokémon-ex, like Pokémon-EX, are worth two Prizes when KOed, can’t receive certain beneficial effects but are also the targets of specific counters (in both cases, I believe more than modern Pokémon-EX).  Blaziken-ex is a Fire-Type Pokémon with no Resistance a Retreat Cost of two and two attacks, just like today’s CotD but it sported 10 more HP and was Weak to Water and Psychic; yes for a time we had cards that could have two different Weaknesses (some even had two different Resistances, but not many). 

Its offense was two attacks: Blaze Kick and Volcanic Ash.  Its Blaze Kick is actually a bit weaker than that of BW: Dark Explorers 17/108; same Energy cost but it only did 30 damage plus either 20 or the Burn.  Volcanic Ash is just a weaker Burning Shot: same [RRCC] but you specifically have to discard two [R] Energy and it only did 100 points of damage.  Yet this card was part of one of the top decks of its time.  Why?  Besides the differences in first turn rules and Rare Candy (I can’t even remember which rules variant was in effect, but assuming you could play Items, you could Rare Candy a Basic Pokémon the turn it was played, into either its Stage 1 or Stage 2 form).  Certain better for Evolutions, but the main thing was it existed in a deck that had the needed Energy acceleration to set it up and keep it going and both HP scores and damage yields were far lower at this time: most Basic Pokémon-ex and most supporting Stage 1 cards (plus the occasional Stage 2) had 100 or less HP.  Even against other Pokémon-ex, a Blaziken-ex might go down swinging, taking out all its support on the Bench so that a backup attacker just had to deliver the final shot against the attacker for the game to be over… and yet Blaziken that are so close (and in many ways superior) to it can’t hack it in the current format. 

If you want to use Blaziken (XY: Furious Fists 14/111)... go for it, just don’t expect to win a tournament without some serious luck.  The main concern is the deck collapsing under its own weight or the difficulty in “covering” its Water Weakness.  Even though you can try to trade a Stage 2 for a Pokémon-EX, coming out ahead in Prizes, the amount of cards invested is likely to be in your opponent’s favor, and setting up three Blaziken (and that assumes none are prematurely KOed) is a daunting task.  Still I find myself wanting to play this card (I don’t think I have enough on the PTCGO) and see what it can do; it doesn’t use Abilities and the raw damage makes me wonder if it could work with the infamous Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) plus some other element I am probably missing.  A Stage 1 with a Stage 2 is even more difficult than just using Basic Pokémon to back it, and might be unneeded; Garbodor is so popular right now I’m not sure how many match-ups you’d actually need it. 

In Expanded, things aren’t much different; you get Level Ball and Tropical Beach to make set-up a little easier but that’s about it.  In Limited, this is great if you can pull a line but remember that unless you get a fleshed out line, its really hard to set-up a Stage 2 Pokémon in such a format.  The HP should last a long time and the attacks will make it a threat even to an opponent able running a +39 deck built around a Pokémon-EX.  Well, except for Seismitoad-EX. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.25/5 - The only thing really holding it back is the difficulty of making a Stage 2 work in this format. 

Expanded: 2.5/5 - A bit generous perhaps, but just a little help with setting up can go a long way, though still not enough to overcome the power and pacing of most big, Basic Pokémon (not even just Pokémon-EX!). 

Limited: 3.5/5 - Keep raising the score according to how fleshed out a line you pull; I haven’t played at a Limited event for a while so I wonder if you can still run as many copies of a card as you want (provided it doesn’t have a restriction printed on the card, as with Ace Specs)? 

Summary: Blaziken is a bittersweet reminder of how the game has developed; if the game were a bit more balanced, it could be a serious contender, but “balance” is starting to seem more and more like a myth so that may not mean much.  I encourage experimenting with it, but only if you have the time and patience and willingness to enjoy the journey as the odds of it paying off in competitive play are low.


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