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Megaman



Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Magmortar

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Sep. 23, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.75
Expanded: 3.13
Limited: 3.63

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 back to today's card of the day! This time we go back to Gen IV to take a look at the unusualness that is Magmar's evolution, Magmortar! I always kind of thought of Magmortar's design being a bit goofy, what with the big lips and the cannons-for-arms thing, but today he's turned into an interesting card! Let's take a look!
 
Now even though technically in the video games Magmortar is a Stage 2 Pokemon (Magmar's been the Stage 1 since Magby came out in Gen II), here in the TCG he's considered Stage 1 as Magmar is the Basic (and I guess there's no Magby around...Baby Pokemon in the TCG are weird). For a Stage 1, he's not too shabby with 120 HP and a nice couple of attacks. Flame Charge is pretty good cheap acceleration, hitting for 30 and giving Magmortar a Fire Energy straight from the deck all at the cost of 1. Combine that with any Energy you may have attached to Magmar before evolving it, and you could have 3 Energy by Turn 2 for Magmortar!
 
And then there's his second attack: Twin Bursts. This attack costs 4 Energy, so the earliest you'd be using it is Turn 3 with just Magmortar's acceleration (or Turn 2 with stuff like Blacksmith getting played), and it only deals 80 damage. Now here's the kicker: it gets an extra 80 damage if Electivire is on your Bench.
 
...wait, what?
 
In other words, to really get the benefits out of Magmortar, you also need to be playing Electivire. Now 80-for-4 isn't that great, but doubling that to 160 just for having another card on your Bench? That's not a bad trade-off, and it's encouraging an interesting blend of elements and strategy! The only trouble at that point is maintaining both parties and getting them into play, and with stuff like Evosoda, that's not as hard as you'd think.
 
I can imagine Magmortar-Electivire decks popping up more so in casual Expanded play, since there you can take advantage of Blacksmith and Eelektrik (NVI) to charge up Magmortar fast or Electivire hard. You'll also probably want to focus more on Magmortar, as Electivire's Tag Team Spark only does more damage based on the number of Magmortar in play - so Magmortar's gonna be the offensive force most of the time. And hey, hitting for 160 just means it's a Muscle Band or Hypnotoxic Laser away from a KO on an EX!
 
Magmortar's an interesting card with an interesting attack that shows promise, but even being a Stage 1 won't let him catch up to the pace of some of the more powerful decks roaming around. Still, he can deal like Tyrantrum does and work an interesting angle for massive damage, but he requires a deck built around him and Electivire. Never mind that he won't be able to take advantage of the wonderful Special Energies floating around (wonder why they didn't make a Special Fire Energy for Flashfire...). He's not bad, but he may ask too much to be good.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 2.5/5 (not too shabby, but the requirements for a high damage output require their own deck)
 
Expanded: 3/5 (a little better with more support here, though it is also Stage 1 support that's better off in a Rayquaza-EX deck)
 
Limited: 3.5/5 (running two Stage 1 cards that need each other may seem tricky, but if you can get them out, Magmortar can wreck stuck like Heracross-EX; just keep him away from Seismitoad-EX)
 
Arora Notealus: I wonder how it is that Magmortar and Electivire decided to team up in the first place. Maybe they realized they were Gen IV evos of Gen I version-exclusive Pokemon found in specific areas of Kanto only and decided that that was a good basis for a tag-team. Or maybe they ran into each other at the Training Center, who knows.
 
Next Time: What do you call a parrot's anger?


Otaku

Our second card this week is Magmortar (XY: Furious Fists 11/111).  It enjoys being a Fire-Type; Blacksmith and company are no longer the “new” thing, but the support is great.  Fire Weakness is still seeing play on potent and popular cards like Virizion-EX and Genesect-EX and… well mostly those two for the competitive scene.  Fire Resistance doesn’t exist unless we go back to the Unlimited card pool, so the Fire-Type really is quite good.  Being a Stage 1 Pokémon?  Not so much; taking twice the space of a non-Evolving Basic Pokémon plus an extra turn to Evolve, in a format dominated by Basic Pokémon is not a recipe for success.  Still it isn’t too bad, and when you run into a Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106) you can rest easy knowing Intimidating Mane means nothing to Magmortar. 

I am trying to fine tune my terminology again, even though I currently am not using any “headings” like I once did.  As I can think of nothing better, I will once again refer to all aspects of a card other than Attacks and Abilities (or Pokémon Powers or Poké-Bodies or Poké-Powers etc. with older cards) as “Attributes”.  I stopped using that term and instead used “Stats” which… really never made much sense no matter how I defined it, but when I started using it I was still reviewing cards for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game and needed a term that wasn’t in use elsewhere for either game.  Now that its back down to just Pokémon, I can go back to Attributes until I find a better one. 

120 HP feels a bit small for a Stage 1, though that might be because the competition is so high; with competitive Pokémon-EX usually sporting 170 or 180 and decks trying to OHKO them, even the bigger Stage 1 and 2 Pokémon don’t actually feel that big.  At least it is enough to not be a probably or especially easy OHKO; plenty of decks can one shot Magmortar, but at least they’ll usually need to put some effort into it.  Mind the Water Weakness though; the popularity of Landorus-EX coupled with those still concerned about Pyroar means there are more than a few Water-Types being splashed into decks (pun intended).  Beartic (XY: Furious Fists 22/111) is already seeing play to help with those two, and will score a stone cold OHKO (...I really like puns!) exploiting the chunky three Energy  Retreat Cost on Magmortar… which I’ll cover now since this is such a natural bridge to it. 

A cost of three is hard to pay and even when have the Energy available, will often set you back too far to make it worthwhile; most decks already want a means of reducing or bypassing the cost of retreating, and a Magmortar deck has added incentive.  As a quick note, this becomes a slight positive in Expanded; while retreating isn’t going to be any easier there, the cost is high enough that Heavy ball can target Magmortar.  Taking a step back (I wasn’t even trying for that one), the lack of Resistance won’t make a huge difference in terms of soaking damage, but would be unusual based on the Typing; to avoid clashing (as many TCG Types contain multiple video game Types), the choices would have to be Fairy, Grass or Metal Resistance, none of which exist in Standard or Expanded. 

Magmortar has two attacks, Flame Charge and Twin Bursts.  The former requires only [R] and does 30 points of damage while allowing you to search your deck for a [R] Energy and attach it to Magmortar: it doesn’t specify “basic” Energy but none that exist count as [R] while in the deck.  This isn’t a bad attack, but because Magmortar is a Stage 1 Pokémon with 120 HP, it isn’t as good as it might look at first; odds of surviving long enough to make use of the attached Energy are low, though having an inexpensive attack is still a useful option.  Twin Bursts, the second attack, requires a massive [RRCC] and only does 80 points of base damage, however the effect text states that if you have an Electivire on your Bench, the damage becomes 160 (technically 80 + 80 should we ever get a card that cares about such a distinction).  80 for four is too low, but 160 is pretty good; you’re just another 10 or 20 points away from OHKOing all but Mega Evolutions, Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124) if it was being played or of course Pokémon with certain protective effects or massively boosted HP scores. 

Magmortar must Evolve from a Magmar unless you’re going with some of the crazy older cards from Unlimited.  For Standard, your only option is set-mate Magmar (XY: Furious Fists 10/111), an 80 HP Fire-Type Basic that is Water Weak, lacks any Resistance, has a Retreat Cost of [CC] and two attacks.  The first does 10 points of damage for [R] while the second does 30 for [RC] and requires you discard a [R] Energy.  In short, not very good. In Expanded, you also could use BW: Dragons Exalted 20/124; it has the same Attributes as the other but with different attacks, which seem slightly better as it can do 10 for [C] (which shouldn’t almost never matter) or 50 for [RRC]... which also should rarely matter but still seems better than 30 for [RC] with a required discard.  According to Bulbapedia Japan has a version we lacked (from one of those “introductory” subsets, Everyone’s Exciting Battle) we lack that would otherwise be legal for both formats, but it is a worse card; same everything else but with 10 less with a single attack that does 40 for [RRC].  If we ever get it… ignore it.  Use what you have to for Standard, go with BW: Dragons Exalted 20/124. 

In Expanded, there is also an older Magmortar to consider, XY: Dragons Exalted 21/124.  It has the same Attributes as today’s version and also has two attacks.  The first (Flame Screen) requires [R] and hits for 40 while applying an effect to Magmortar that reduces the damage it would take from attacks until the end of the next turn by 20 after Weakness and Resistance.  The effect is on Magmortar, so your opponent can’t get around it simply by changing out his or her own attacker (changing out your Defending Pokémon works fine, though).  Much like Flame Charge this isn’t bad but it isn’t quite “good”.  If your opponent can’t bypass the effect, his or her Pokémon will now need to net an effective 140 points of damage for a OHKO; a small improvement over 120 but not insignificant.  That isn’t a huge hurdle and on the offensive side, 40 isn’t enough to set-up for a 2HKO without changing out attackers or boosting both Flame Charge and this card’s second attack, Flame Thrower.  Flame Thrower requires (RCC), plus the discard of an Energy attached to Magmortar for a slightly underpowered 90 points of damage.  Still that is enough for a 2HKO. 

Recent card releases (plus the not so recent change to the first turn rules and errata to Pokémon Catcher) have made this older Magmortar a bit better than it used to be (you can see the original review here) but not to the point it is really worth running in addition to or instead of today’s version.  Once again Japan has a version we don’t yet, and once again if we do get an outside-of-Japan release for Everyone’s Exciting Battle it wouldn’t be worth playing as it has only 100 HP (and otherwise identical Attributes) with two weaker attackers: 20 for [R] (no additional effects) or 100 for [RRC] and requiring you discard two Energy attached to Magmortar as well. 

After all of that, we aren’t done yet.  Magby… doesn’t exist in a Standard or Expanded legal form yet.  The problem with this is it was one of the original “baby” Pokémon and by now, the game really should take advantage of having card rotation and the gap between iterations of cards to just upgrade Magby into a regular Basic Pokémon so that Magmar can be a Stage 1 (okay, probably won’t help it much) while Magmortar could be Stage 2 Pokémon (which might help it out as the designers tend to give Stage 2 Pokémon better Attributes, Abilities and/or Attacks than Stage 1 Pokémon, at least sometimes).  Of course in the video games, I don’t think the older “baby” Pokémon have been mainlined yet either in the name of backwards compatibility, either: mores the pity.  Perhaps we’ll get a Magby that can at least “fake” Evolving again, and this time the designers can realize that the next Magmar and Magmortar should still be a Stage 1 and 2 respectively (the Magby is there just for backwards compatibility, and from that point on future Magby won’t need such a clause).  Wishful thinking I am afraid. 

Then there is Electivire; we will likely review the latest version (XY: Furious Fists 30/111) soon enough, but the short version is that it doesn’t seem bad but neither does it seem overly good, and its place in a Magmortar deck will be to exploit Lightning Weakness while serving as a trigger for Twin Bursts.  Skip the older version (BW: Boundaries Crossed 54/149) because simply put, it isn’t any good.  The Electabuzz that correspond with those two are similarly; both should only be played to Evolve the older one is clearly inferior… and Elekid is in the same boat as Magby.  There are even Everyone’s Exciting Battle counterparts for Electivire and Electabuzz as well. 

So with all of that out of the way, is Magmortar?  I believe so, however I do not believe it will become a major deck.  In Standard, the combo is strong enough to win games, but not reliable enough (especially compared to the competition) to win many tournaments.  Running two Stage 2 Pokémon eats up a lot of deck space, and the loss of Level Ball has proven very hard on Evolutions (which enjoyed it as an easy way to get out most Evolving Basic Pokémon).  Thanks to Double Colorless Energy and Blacksmith, you can take a Magmortar from zero to ready-to-Twin-Burst in a single turn.  It can be difficult getting all of the pieces set-up multiple times, but if you’re sticking to all or mostly non-Pokémon-EX attackers, your opponent has to take six Prizes via six KOs, while you might be able to do it with as few as three. 

In Expanded, Magmortar might actually be better; it gains access to Level Ball (for Magmar), a better Magmar (though the difference will rarely matter), Heavy Ball (though you may need to stick with Ultra Ball instead for the discards) and that may be enough to stabilize the deck’s set-up, perhaps even make running one more thing in the deck, like Jirachi-EX or Electrode (BW: Plasma Freeze 33/116) to improve set-up even at the cost of a precious Bench slot, in turn making it less painful to use Blacksmith.  For Limited, Magmortar is a good pull.  You might be using Magmar anyway as a decent biggish Basic attacker if you can afford to run some Fire Energy; Magmortar likely won’t have an Electivire to combo with but thanks to the greater difficulty of getting as large of Pokémon into play and getting them attacking as quickly, its Attributes and Attacks are much more effective here. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3/5 - On the border of being a lesser played but competitive deck and (assuming the player-base cooperates) slightly competitive but often played “fun” deck. 

Expanded: 3.25/5 - I think the addition of some older cards like Level Ball just tips this over into “lesser played but competitive” deck status. 

Limited: 3.75/5 - Even without its partner Electivire (and thus full access to its offensive might), the rest of what Magmortar brings is plenty for this format.

Summary: While I worry that this is further proof the format is never going to have a chance to slow down to the pace I would prefer, Magmortar is a solid addition to the card pool; I don’t expect it to become the next big thing, but I do expect at least some players to use it even in tournament settings, and with enough success you should familiarize yourself with it and maybe even give it a try both for the sake of knowing how it works and for some fun. 


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