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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Hitmonlee

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Oct. 29, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.17
Expanded: 1.25
Limited: 2.75

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Hitmonlee (Furious Fists) 

Yesterday’s Glaceon had a great cheap attack, but was let down by a mediocre second effort. Today’s Hitmonlee is a bit like that, only much worse. 

Stretch Kick is ok for a single Fighting Energy, doing 30 damage to a Benched Pokémon of your choice means you can finish off something that’s damaged or set up a future KO. Sadly, Bench damage cannot be enhanced by Muscle Band and Strong Energy. The less said about Spiral Kick the better. Two Fighting for a vanilla 30 is Base Set levels of damage and in today’s format of inflated numbers, it’s a little embarrassing to see it on a card. 

So yeah, grossly underpowered and not a good user of all the Type support.

Rating 

Modified: 1.25 (I feel bad for him)

Expanded: 1.25 (the original 151 deserve better)

Limited: 2.75 (eh, give Stretch Kick a try)


aroramage

Where Hitmonchan succeeds in the boxing ring, Hitmonlee succeeds in the...kickboxing ring, I guess. Hitmonchan's all fists, and Hitmonlee's all feet - though between you and me, I always preferred Hitmonchan, at least he resembles something. Seriously, what's Hitmonlee supposed to be? Welcome back guys, today we take a look at another Hitmon-mon, Lee!
 
In the video game world, Hitmonlee's a bit better off than Hitmonchan, having more Atk and Speed than the latter at the cost of a little Defense. He also has a really good Hidden Ability, Unburden, which doubles his speed once his held item is lost; this can make him a very quick and powerful heavy-hitter against anyone not expecting it, but he can also use Hi Jump Kick in combination with the Reckless ability to really bring the pain down on opponents! Unfortunately, the Hitmons' Special Defense is their greatest weakness, and Psychic and Flying moves can decimate them and their low HP easily.
 
Meanwhile here in the TCG, Hitmonlee has always been in the shadow of Hitmonchan. In fact, looking at the history of Hitmonlee, his strongest attack has done around 60 damage; that used to be a lot, but nowadays it's borderline negligible, and sadly this Hitmonlee is no better than some of the others. His first attack, Stretch Kick, is a classic sniping move that Hitmonlee tends to have, dealing 30 damage to a Benched Pokemon for 1. Compared to some of his earlier forms, this is a pretty good boost, but even then it's still only a mere 30, and you don't even damage the Active Pokemon with it.
Spiral Kick adds on another energy to deal a vanilla 30 to the Active Pokemon, but that's such a waste on Hitmonlee! Hitmonchan at least got Mach Punch, and even if it was for 3, it still did 60 damage. Even his Mach Punch at least can potential hit 60 on its own if you're lucky! Hitmonlee lacks this, and because of that he ends up being worse than his Gen I brother.
 
You could argue that damage-boosters and all the Fighting Support could make Hitmonlee viable, but why would you waste time boosting this weaker guy when you could boost Hitmonchan instead? There's just no getting around it: Hitmonlee is a bad card, and unless you've got a foil, it's not worth having.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 1/5 (just can't cut it around these parts)
 
Expanded: 1/5 (AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA)
 
Limited: 2/5 (slightly better if only for the Fighting support, but honestly you better be scrapping bottom of the barrel here)
 
Arora Notealus: Looking into it, apparently Hitmonlee is the embodiment of taekwondo, as well as having influences from the mythical headless men, Japanese kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura, and even the Hindu demon Kabandha! That's pretty cool, better than Hitmonchan's, although I guess I still like Hitmonchan better.
 
Next Time: Deep in the forests arises-


Otaku

Is it a bad sign that as I begin this review Hitmonlee (XY: Furious Fists 47/111), my main thought is “I should have had us review it Monday so I could have said something like “We kickstart the week…”?  I am uncertain if we have ever had a particular “good” Hitmonlee card in the TCG; I remember a few that came closer than others, none that actually hit the mark… leading to the second question; does that lower expectations for this card (making it easier to seem “good” by comparison) or increase the pressure to finally be a “good” Hitmonlee (and thus make it harder to seem “good” because it will be more deeply scrutinized)? 

Hitmonlee is a Fighting-Type Pokémon, enjoying how Fighting-Types are still riding high until XY: Phantom Forces is legal for Organized Play tournaments (November 26th I believe).  Many Colorless-Type, most Darkness-Type and most Lightning-Type Pokémon are Fighting Weak (even in competitive play) and so you’ll often enjoy double damage when attacking the Defending Pokémon.  Fighting Resistance is one of the more common forms of Resistance encountered, but “No Resistance” is still by far the most common, and as it just reduces damage by -20 it is usually an annoyance.  I don’t know if it is a little more or less important than Weakness, but Fighting-Type support (both that which is explicitly for Fighting-Types and that which is more indirect) is great right now, most of it fresh from XY: Furious Fists.  Two great things versus one slight annoyance means in terms of Type, Hitmonlee is a winner. 

Hitmonlee is also a Basic Pokémon, another simple but obvious triumph for the card; while it is a critique of mine that the Stages of Evolution are not balanced even when dealing with fully Evolved specimens, it does mean by virtue of it being (relatively) difficult and costly to play Stage 1 and Stage 2 Pokémon, being a Basic Pokémon is best.  That being said, I do with that the-powers-that-be would hurry up and just standardize Tyrogue as a regular Basic Pokémon and Hitmonlee as a Stage 1; while in the video game as well as the TCG, Hitmonlee were introduced as Basic Pokémon, in the second generation of games they were given a “pre-Evolution” or “Baby” pseudo-Stage.  What resulted was years of complicated “patches” for game mechanics… and by now I’d just like it to become the simple, usual thing because its no longer novel, its annoying and since its just a game it can be changed for convenience. 

We finally get to a less impressive Attribute for Hitmonlee; 90 HP is low enough that Hitmonlee is a probable OHKO.  Against an incomplete set-up or less aggressive strategy, Hitmonlee can survive a turn, but being just out of range of a Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym boosted Quaking Punch (courtesy of Seismitoad-EX) is better than not, but hardly bragging rights.  Psychic-Types love lower HP due to Psychic Weakness; again at least Hitmonlee is just outside of the range for a minimal, completely unboosted (outside of Weakness) X-Ball by Mewtwo-EX, but only by 10 HP.  So anything that can add to that, like a Muscle Band or Hypnotoxic Laser (no Virbank City Gym required) or a third Energy (on Mewtwo-EX or Hitmonlee itself) and its a OHKO.  The lack of Resistance isn’t a surprise and isn’t a huge loss, but it would have been appreciated for the few instances where -20 damage comes in handy.  Finishing off the Attributes, the single Energy Retreat Cost is good; easy to pay and recover from paying, and anything that lowers your Retreat Cost turns it into a free Retreat. 

Hitmonlee has two attacks, and they are familiar ones.  Stretch Kick requires [F] and allows you to do 30 points of damage to an opponent’s Benched Pokémon: as is almost always the case you don’t apply Weakness or Resistance to that damage.  For [FF] it can use Spiral Kick to hit for… 30 points of damage.  These attacks are very underwhelming.  I have no idea why, save tradition (more on that later) Stretch Kick can’t hit the Active Pokémon at all, nor do I know why Spiral Kick is priced like an attack from the earliest era of the game.  Both attacks desperately need to hit harder, or alternatively Stretch Kick needed to have applied Weakness and Resistance; while the latter would have been worse, scoring an effective 60 for one (in this hypothetical) would have had some merit.  Spiral Kick needed to do at least 10 more points of damage, just so one Strong Energy and a Silver Bangle hit 90 so it could OHKO a 180 HP, Fighting Weak Pokémon-EX.  I guess if you add in Fighting Stadium to the previous two, it still can but but that much effort isn’t really worth it. 

Still, the best way to get an idea of what this card is doing right and wrong is to take a look back at Hitmonlee (Fossil 7/62, 22/62; Legendary Collection 13/110).  You can even see a review for it here.  This version is still a Basic, Fighting-Type with Psychic Weakness, no Resistance, a single Energy Retreat Cost and two attacks.  Its HP was only 60 when 70 was the going rate… but big Basic Pokémon ruled the roost back then (and there was no mechanic equivalent to Pokémon-EX), and average damage was about 30 to 50 points per turn so the HP is about in scale.  Its first attack is also Stretch Kick!  That isn’t much of a surprise I suppose; not including reprints there are four different Hitmonlee with an attack called Stretch Kick.  The original required [FF] to do 20 to something on the Bench, so at least that is better.  It’s second attack was called High Jump Kick but it was a vanilla damage attack, doing 50 for [FFF]: so Spiral Kick is just it doing 20 less damage for one less Energy and under a new name.  I would have hoped that the designers had realized why the older version hadn’t worked too well but I guess not; the damage is a bit better for Stretch Kick and on part for Spiral Kick vs High Jump Kick, but it just isn’t enough.  In Standard and Expanded, ignore Hitmonlee.  Enjoy it in Limited, though, where Bench hits are often quite potent due to the Bench (usually) being safer. 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.25/5 - Solid stats with almost worthless attacks. 

Expanded: 1.5/5 - It does get access to Level Ball and Skyarrow Bridge, but that can only do so much. 

Limited: 3.5/5 - As long as you can work in the Fighting Energy, run at least one; prepping and hiding on the Bench are key strategies here… unless you’re facing a +39 deck, which won’t really care about Hitmonlee and also is where you shouldn’t bother running it. 

Theme Deck: 3/5 - Normally being in a theme deck like Dark Hammer would improve a card, but Hitmonlee is so niche it gets lost in the crowd; still handy for hitting the Bench but that’s about it. 

Summary: I think Hitmonlee exists to tempt me to turn this review into a Create-A-Card exercise; its got a solid foundation but the attacks are familiar failures of the past that didn’t get tweaked enough to garner better results.  With just a few tweaks it could have been at least an interesting - if not balanced but effective -  card. 


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