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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Kingdra

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
April 24, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3
Expanded: 3.5
Limited: 4

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Kingdra was one of the first Pokemon to be revealed as an evolution to an earlier Pokemon. I mean, that's not surprising, given that this was Gen II, but still! He evolves from Seadra, probably one of the more forgettable of Gen I Pokemon if you're not paying attention to his AWESOME design. Upon evolving, Seadra gets a whole lot bigger but also more elegant, graceful, sleek, dorky if you're like me looking at his Gen II sprite - and usable!  

Continuing that trend here in the TCG, Kingdra shows yet another reason while Alpha Growth is so good - and like Excadrill from earlier, he capitalizes on that! Now Kingdra's first move, Gather Strength, may be Colorless, but from the looks of his other attack, you're gonna want to aim for your Energies to be Water and Electric. We'll cover that part in a minute, but for now all you need to know is Gather Strength adds up to 4 Basic Energy from your deck to your hand. You see the set-up - use Gather Strength on one turn, then power him up with Alpha Growth, and unleash the monstrous Dragon Blast! 

Now a 3-for-150 attack is EXACTLY the sort of thing we need to see on our evos more often - given that Pokemon like Landorus-EX, Mewtwo-EX, Yveltal-EX, Keldeo-EX, Black Kyurem-EX and now Primal Kyogre-EX can pull that off with ease - but there is the minor issue of its cost: you have to discard a Water and Electric Energy to use it. So you really need to be aiming to use Gather Strength to add 2 of each to your hand in order to pull off Dragon Blast on consecutive turns - throw in HTLBank and maybe Muscle Band for good measure, and you're KO-ing a majority of Pokemon that aren't Megas or named Wailord-EX (and even then, that's 200 damage already - if that HTLBank stays in play, they're KO'd by the start of your next turn...again, if they're not Wailord-EX). 

Perhaps one of the main drawbacks to Kingdra really being playable - and let's face it, with Alpha Growth and a Retreat Cost of one, he's looking MUCH more playable than some of the other cards we've seen - is the time to set him up. We all know the troubles of setting up a Stage 2, but on top of that, you really need to have a constant stream of Energy flowing to make things work out for you. Gather Strength is a decent start, lending you two turns of Energy, but then you've got Professor's Letter, Energy Retrieval, ridiculous draw power like Sycaper - that sort of thing can help out! 

Moral of the story: Alpha Growth too good, but at least Kingdra's not Primal Kyogre-EX levels of crazy. 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (he needs a good bit of set-up and support - really his own deck - to work, but once the ball's rolling, it's gonna be tough to stop him) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (probably better since you can stack up Energies on him with Eelektrik, though that requires running more Evos - thank goodness for all this Evo support!) 

Limited: 4/5 (as usual, takes more set-up, but MAN that damage output is crazy!) 

Arora Notealus: Seriously though, have you seen the Gen II sprite? Kingdra looks more like he's got this Grinch smile or like Mr. Snuffleupagus to some degree. It's silly! Glad they cleaned him up in Gen III so he's be a bit more draconic, but can you imagine going up to Clair in Blackthorn City and being all like, "Yo Clair, I'm ready to challenge your awesome dragons," and then she brings out this derpy looking fella? And let's not even get started on Lance having 3 Dragonites.

Weekend Thought: Maybe there's some sort of lost potential hidden on these cards. What kinds of decks or combos could you pull off with some of these cards? Any chance they've got something better up their sleeve? Which ones do you like just as Pokemon? Personally, Spinda's been a Gen III fave of mine, that adorkable little panda bear :3


Otaku

Though not obvious to someone reading these reviews for the first time, mine is going up late.  Extremely late; XY: Roaring Skies has already released is even almost legal.  Honestly my score likely would have been biased in favor of upcoming support already (we had a pretty good idea what would be in the set based in its Japanese counterpart) but I’m not going to try and separate myself from it now… but I hate leaving cards I picked for review unreviewed and I since I already started it, I feel compelled to finish. 

So at last I come to Kingdra (XY: Primal Clash 108/160; XY Black Star Promos XY39), the final of my late reviews.  Well, of this entire week of reviews I submitted late.  Once again, the Typing matters quite a bit due to my tardiness; XY: Roaring Skies released not long ago though at this point it isn’t yet tournament legal, however it contains new Dragon-Type support that should prove relevant, most notably Double Dragon Energy.  This helps the type immensely because it is far less impressive elsewhere: Dragon-Types can only hit other, older (BW-era) Dragon-Types for Weakness which is a pretty significant drawback right now because it is basically assumed you’ll have at least one favorable match-up due to exploiting Weakness.  Not having to worry about Resistance on the other hand is only a slight bonus.  Thanks to the new support it is again good to be a Dragon-Type. 

Kingdra is a Stage 2 and unfortunately is is bad to be a Stage 2; the designers don’t seem to want to keep Basic Pokémon in check.  Part of this I understand; all I have are theories about how to do so largely based on everything that has been tried and failed in the past.  My somewhat complicated theories are correct and the goal should be to have end Stages more or less be on par with each other except big, Basic Pokémon that don’t Evolve would be designed to be slow starting enough (if main attackers) that you couldn’t mount a strong, sustained offense relying on them but instead would want “opening” Pokémon geared towards set-up to make use of your first few attacks.  Combined with a few other things like making Evolving lower Stages better and I think this could work.  Unfortunately even if this were true there’d be an awkward transition phase because the new stuff would almost certainly struggle compared with what we have now and would require more effort to design.  Relevant to the present, we have hard hitting attackers that leave scarcely any time to Evolve and a strong Item lock presence that is disproportionately hard on Evolutions as even if they don’t use support like Rare Candy or Evosoda, most Pokémon search is Item based and it is much harder to set-up Evolutions than Basics based on raw draw power. 

Kingdra has 130 HP; this means it is more likely to survive an attack than be OHKOed, but this comfort zone for this is almost non-existent anymore.  Between actual attacks hitting harder and increase and maturation of attack buffs (whether directly adding to the damage done or diminishing the opponent’s HP through other means) only decks that are sacrificing damage for something a little more technical - Seismitoad-EX and its Quaking Punch initiating an Item lock - or that have a marginal set-up are going to be the source of survival.  Lest that seem too bleak, remember that if you can keep up a good offense, you can make it hard for your opponent to attain a substantial set-up.  No Weakness is good but Fairy Weakness might be one of the “less bad”.  Why?  The Fairy-Type is mostly confined to Fairy Transfer decks, at least on the competitive scene.  Their performance in competitive play is also hard to predict; as soon as I am tempted to write the deck off (because OHKOs have become too common) they seem to score some higher finishes (remember this was written late so Spring Regionals are already under way).  It ensures Fairy-Type attackers will wreck you without any help, but were only about 30 damage away from doing so anyway.  No Resistance is the norm and Weakness is far more devastating than Resistance is helpful so it doesn’t look like I skipped it.  The single Energy Retreat Cost is nice and low; rarely will you be unable to afford it. 

Kingdra has an Ancient Trait called α Growth; we’ve already discussed it on other cards and it speeds things up nicely… when combined with other things.  On its own it actually seems like a tease; your first attack is Gather Strength and only requires [C] while your second attack is Dragon Blast for [WWL] so on it’s own it can’t take you from “zero” to “big hit” in a single turn (needed for the unfortunate pacing of the game right now).  Gather Strength lets you search your deck for up to four basic Energy cards and add them to your hand, supposedly preparing for your next turn; N tends to ruin that (as can an untimely KO).  Dragon Blast is actually pretty impressive; it has a hefty discard cost of both one [W] Energy and one [L] Energy on top of its initial three Energy cost, but it swings for 150 points of damage.  A little boost and you’re able to take down most Basic Pokémon-EX (and almost all non-Pokémon-EX), but Wailord-EX and almost all Mega Evolutions remain out of your reach.  This is a solid start.  We need to consider the rest of the Evolution line as well as alternative Kingdra before we look at what else we can combo with this Kingdra. 

Horsea only has two options available for either Standard or Expanded: BW: Plasma Freeze 18/116 and BW: Primal Clash 30/160.  Both are Basic Water-Types with 60 HP, no Resistance, Retreat Costs of [C], no Abilities or Ancient Traits and just one attack with a cost of [W].  BW: Plasma Freeze 18/116 has Lightning Weakness and its attack is Fin Smack, good for two coin flips worth 10 damage per “heads”.  BW: Primal Clash 30/160 has [G] Weakness and Bubble for a coin flip to inflict Paralysis.  As usual, both are pretty poor and instead of being a good foundation for the line are treated as mere stepping stones.  I’d favor BW: Primal Clash 30/160 since Paralysis might actually buy you a turn to Evolve but it isn’t going to make a lot of difference, and depending upon the metagame the Weakness might (barely) make it worthwhile to run a blend or favor BW: Plasma Freeze 18/116.  Seadra follows suit: BW: Plasma Freeze 19/116 and BW: Primal Clash 31/160 are both Stage 1 Water-Type Pokémon with 80 HP, no Resistance, Retreat Costs of [C], no Abilities and no Ancient Traits.  BW: Plasma Freeze 19/116 has Lightning Weakness and one attack - Smokescreen - for [W] that does 20 damage while forcing the Defending Pokémon to flip a coin if it attacks the next turn; if that toss is “tails” the attack does nothing.  BW: Primal Clash 31/160 is Grass Weak but sports two attacks.  Knockout Needle requires [W] and does 10+ damage with two coin flips: if both are “heads” the attack does another 40 damage (50 total).  For [WC] you get Water Gun for a flat 30 damage.  Go with the older one as again, Smokescreen might buy you a turn.

There are two other Kingdra available: BW: Plasma Freeze 84/116 and BW: Primal Clash 107/160.  The former has already gotten its own CotD (click here to go to it).  Between my obsessive compulsions and the fact said review is almost two years old, we’ll still run through both of these alternative Kingdra.  Just like today’s version, both are Stage 2 Dragon-Types with no Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [C] and no Ability.  BW: Plasma Freeze 84/116 has 140 HP, making it just a hair sturdier; since most Dragon-Types hit hard the Dragon Weakness is probably on par with Fairy Weakness.  Its two attacks are Dragon Vortex for [C] and Tri Bullet for [W], making them fast at least for the initial cost.  Dragon Vortex does 20 damage times the number of [W] and [L] Energy cards in your discard pile, and then shuffles said Energy back into your deck.  BW: Primal Clash 107/160 has the same 130 HP and Fairy Weakness as today’s Kingdra but with Shred for [W] and Twister for [WL].  Shred hits for 30 while ignoring effects on the opponent’s Active Pokémon while Twister requires two coin flips; if both are “tails” the attack does nothing (not even the printed damage); at least one “heads” means 70 damage and if both are “heads” then you discard an Energy attached to the opponent’s Active. 

For both versions, the attacks are not new with several appearing with the same name and effects (though different Energy costs and damage output) on other Pokémon, sometimes even past Kingdra!  Some of those past iterations were even strong for their time, but what about now?  We’ll start with Vortex: no Special Energy cards currently would count as either of those Types when not in play, so it is a bit of a building challenge to get the 12-ish Energy in the discard pile you’d need to all but guarantee a OHKO: not the effort of getting it there but of building a deck that has that much while also being able to rapidly dump it (though it is far easier than it was at the time this card came out).  Tri Bullet isn’t brilliant but it has its uses, more so now that you might face an M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108, 105/108) or Exeggutor (BW: Plasma Freeze 5/116) deck that may intentionally Bench three Exeggcute (BW: Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW: Plasma Blast 102/101).  Shred seems almost a total waste; most don’t rely on attacks like Agility or Dig that place a protective effect on the Pokémon, leaving it more for getting around Abilities… and most currently useful protective Abilities aren’t going to apply against a Stage 2 and the few that still matter aren’t going to care about 30 damage in a format of OHKOs and 2HKOs.  Twister is underpriced or underpowered: you can’t rely on it for a 2HKO without major buffs and while hoping you avoid double “tails”.  There are options to help with the variance but the reward isn’t worth the additional effort.  Neither of these thrill me but it is possible that BW: Plasma Freeze 84/116 might be of some use. 

So how should you run today’s Kingdra?  Carefully, especially if you want to try and make it competitive.  If it has had any competitive success, it hasn’t been enough for me to turn it up with a quick search (admittedly the results of the Spring Regionals that happened after this review was supposed to go up are still mostly unknown to me).  The card’s main hope I believe lies in the element of surprise and of course, Double Dragon Energy, which isn’t quite tournament legal yet (May 27th is when that happens).  Said Special Energy is the Dragon-Type specific Special Energy following the trend established by Herbal Energy, Strong Energy, Mystery Energy, Shield Energy and Wonder Energy in that it can only be attached to Dragon-Types (and discards itself if it somehow ends up on a non-Dragon-Type) but carries a nice effect.  In this case it not only provides two units of Energy but said Energy counts as all types similar to that of Rainbow Energy; if you are familiar with somewhat old cards, this is basically Double Rainbow Energy with different drawbacks.  What makes it extra relevant here is that it is three times as useful here than on some other Dragon-Types.  Not only does it make it easier to meet the blended Energy costs, not only can a single Double Dragon Energy cover both discard costs but it can either be the trigger for or attached by α Growth, finally allowing Kingdra to attack without prior attachments. 

Do I think that is enough?  Not really as Mega Evolutions have gone from jokes to fringe to uncommon to the norm now, and are threatening to become the dominant force of the format, and with this shift it is as I have already said: the 130 HP of Kingdra is nearly a OHKO and it will take a significant amount more than the 150 damage of Dragon Blast to OHKO said Mega Evolutions.  There seems to be an answer in older Dragon-Type support as Altaria (BW: Dragons Exalted 84/124; BW: Black Star Promos BW48; BW: Boundaries Crossed 152/149) and its “Fight Song” Ability, which adds +20 damage to attacks by Dragon-Types; with four of those and a Muscle Band or Silver Bangle you can take out anything that doesn’t have sufficient defensive buffs.  Through in Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym and you’ve got a lot of ways to reliably bring the hurt against just about anything… but therein lies the rub: a deck dependant upon a Stage 1 line and a separate Stage 2 line, multiple Items and a Special Condition has gotten pretty cluttered.  It would only be fair to consider other extreme combos or unusual counters, like a Primal Groudon-EX with a source of [G], a Virizion-EX on the Bench and a Focus Sash attached.  If all that wasn’t discouraging enough… at this point I have to ask “Why not just run Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 120/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 96/113)?” 

While Garchomp is still a Stage 2 and doesn’t hit as hard on its own, its first attack is useful and it doesn’t need as much Energy (offsetting its lack of Ancient Trait).  In Expanded it also gains access to Gabite (BW: Dragons Exalted 89/124), its Stage 1 that has the “Dragon Call” Ability which allows you to (once per turn per Dragon Call) search your deck for a Dragon-Type Pokémon and add it to your hand.  Suddenly that set-up isn’t so bad.  WIth Garchomp, if it survives the turn and the attack you wanted to use was already powered up, you won’t need to add anymore Energy.  Sounds harsh, I know, but Stage 2 have been struggling for a long while so it should come as no surprise.  Still I may be painting an overly bleak picture; there is enough here that if you’ve already got the needed cards on hand you can at least enjoy some experimentation.  I think the card only gains more competition in Expanded, hurting it ever so lightly.  In Limited its a wonderful pull so long as you get a sufficient Evolution line to go with it.  This is the thing that people running a +39 deck fears; you just need some earlier attackers to soften up the opponent’s lone Pokémon-EX so that Dragon Blast finishes it off! 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.1/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 4 

Summary: A long overdue and long, rambling CotD for a card that looks good enough I want to give it a try but that I can’t see doing especially well even with the additional boost of Dragon Energy (that the other reviewers wouldn’t have considered since again, this is ridiculously late).  Sorry Kingdra fans, but at least it looks like it is a step closer than the last version! 


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