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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Sceptile EX

- Promo XY53

Date Reviewed:
August 17, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.5
Expanded: 2.75
Limited: Promo

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Otaku

Welcome to a new week of CotDs!  This time we are covering some promos before we dive into the next set.  Making things a little awkward the Standard Format shifts to XY-On (technically XY: Kalos Starter and later) September 1st, so if you are reading this as soon as it goes up, there is less than 15 days left of the BW: Boundaries Crossed through XY: Roaring Skies iteration of the Standard Format remaining.  As such I’ll be talking about both then (post rotation) and now (pre-rotation).  While I’m of the caliber where it is unlikely I’ll even find some rather minor insight of which they haven’t already thought, the World Championship is this weekend, starting the 21st so we most definitely have one major event in this time frame! 

First up is Sceptile-EX (XY: Black Star Promos XY53), not to be confused with the new Sceptile (XY: Ancient Origins 7/98, 84/98): unlike the latter, this promo is already Standard legal.  As a Grass-Type, right now it can enjoy hitting a few key cards for Weakness (like Seismitoad-EX) while not having to worry about Resistance.  Grass-Type support (both direct and indirect) already exists and the only thing really worth mentioning is Virizion-EX, which can work with a decent amount of non-Grass-Type Pokémon as well.  XY: Ancient Origins has some new Grass-Type support coming and seeing it in action on the PTCGO has me believing they will help up the Type’s collective performance, and possibly some individual ones as well.  As a Pokémon-EX, Sceptile-EX enjoys being a Basic Pokémon, and as a Basic Pokémon it enjoys their inherent advantage of requiring the least amount of time or resources to get into play.  There are few drawbacks to being a Basic Pokémon, mostly stuff like Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106), technically missing out on some support specifically designed for Evolutions, while being a Pokémon-EX carries the serious problem of giving up an additional Prize when KOed, the often troublesome “counter cards” that specifically cause problems for Pokémon-EX and the seldom relevant inability to access certain supporting cards that specifically exclude Pokémon-EX.  XY: Ancient Origins adds some new counter cards but rotation cuts some of high performing current ones, so this may be a wash or even in the favor of Pokémon-EX. 

170 HP isn’t what it used to be; when Pokémon-EX were new it was incredibly durable with the only real threat being a great attacker exploiting Weakness.  Now is still good and quite likely to survive a hit but with the caveat that said survival includes decks that don’t focus on OHKOs or with incomplete (slow and/or difficult to maintain) setups.  If we factor those out then it is merely “likely” to survive… and of course Weakness changes that to “unlikely”: the main benefit here is that the Fire-Type has been struggling for a while outside of a few key cards like Flareon (BW: Plasma Freeze 12/116)... and as that is Flareon [Plasma] its going for OHKOs of similarly sized Pokémon-EX even without Weakness.  While the Fire-Type isn’t getting a lot in XY: Ancient Origins it is getting some and rotation will only cost the Type cards like Flareon [Plasma] that often don’t care that it is a Fire-Type so Fire-Type Weakness might become dangerous or at least become “average” instead of being “relatively safe” like it is right now.  The lack of Resistance is typical of most cards so we’ll move onto the Retreat Cost of [C], not uncommon but the second best possible and as such quite good; a single Energy will often be easy to attach, discard and recover from discarding, plus anything that lowers Retreat Costs by even just [C] drops it to “free”. 

Sceptile-EX has two attacks, but no Ability or Ancient Trait.  The first (Agility) requires [G] to use and hits for 20 damage while requiring a coin flip: “tails” just means a flat 20 damage while “heads” places a protective effect on Sceptile-EX during your opponent’s next turn that blocks both the damage and the effects of attacks by your opponent’s Pokémon.  The second (Strong Slash) requires [GGG] to hit for 130, plus has the effect text states Sceptile-EX can’t use it during your next turn.  There are ways around both effects; they reset if Sceptile-EX goes to the Bench or (when relevant) Evolves or leaves play.  The protection offered by Agility is not perfect; there are attacks that get around it by ignoring all effects on the Defending Pokémon or by attacking something on the Bench plus it does nothing against non-attack effects.  Agility can buy time to build to Strong Slash, a natural bit of synergy that something as simple as Muscle Band kicks into 2HKO mode.  If you go the classic Muscle Band plus Virbank City Gym/Hypnotoxic Laser route, you’ll be able to OHKO Pokémon with up to 180 HP (330 HP if they are Grass Weak), barring their own possible protective effects.  Keldeo-EX plus Float Stone provide an easy means of resetting the limiting effect of Strong Slash. 

As mentioned earlier, Sceptile-EX will soon have competition from another version being released in XY: Ancient Origins.  It has the same attributes as today’s card, with only the attacks being different… but in a weird way they aren’t that different.  For [G] it can use “Sleep Poison” to hit for 10 damage and flip a coin: “heads” means the opponent’s Active is now Asleep and Poisoned.  This is slightly worse protection because Sleep can go away on its own between turns and also is being inflicted through a coin flip, about three out of four possible outcomes end with the opponent’s Active waking before they even have to do anything.  Protection from Special Conditions is also more common that protection from attack effects in general.  For [GC] it can use Unseen Claw for 60 damage, plus 70 if the opposing Pokémon has been affected by a Special Condition.  Obviously in post-rotation Expanded Hypnotoxic Laser makes that into a 130-for-two attack… and Ariados (XY: Ancient Origins 6/98) has an Ability that Poisons all Active Pokémon (so for both players) excluding Grass-Types.  So for Standard Format play as of September 1st, the XY: Ancient Origins Sceptile seems to be the clear winner.  Why does that matter? 

We also get M Sceptile-EX and Sceptile Spirit Link in XY: Ancient Origins.  The latter does the usual thing of preventing Mega Evolution form ending your turn, while the former is a Grass-Type Mega Evolution (and thus still a Pokémon-EX) with 220 HP, an Ancient Trait (θ Stop) that protects M Sceptile-EX from the effects of your opponent’s Pokémon’s Abilities and for [GC] uses the attack “Jagged Saber” to hit for 100 damage while giving you the option of attaching “up to 2 [G] Energy cards from your hand to your Benched Pokémon in any way you like.” which is pretty spiffy even if basic Grass Energy are the only Energy card available that counts as [G] Energy when not attached to anything.  Wait there is more!  The effect also states that “If you attached to a Pokémon in this way, heal all damage from that Pokémon.”  We… will probably be reviewing this card soon, if you catch my drift and as such its existence makes Sceptile-EX better (both of them), but as one version is clearly better than the other, it might reduce, cancel out or even overwhelm the benefit as players will stick to the better version. 

So prior to rotation this actually looks like a solid card you could actually build a deck around… but remember most people making the top cut will be building their decks around amazing cards.  As such I would only recommend it if you can accurately predict the metagame will be so heavy on Grass Weakness that this will clearly offset not using a more dominant strategy and even then, one would expect Genesect-EX to be a better choice.  After the rotation, as I just stated in the previous paragraph the then legal Sceptile (XY: Ancient Origins 7/98, 84/98) should out perform it unless your opponent is protected from Special Conditions.  As M Sceptile-EX provides badly needed Energy acceleration (plus total healing of damage) it will be the focus of the deck, however its damage is 100 so just maybe for the deck protected from Special Conditions where 130 HP would matter, you can benefit from a lone copy of today’s Sceptile-EX instead.  The same would go for Expanded play under the same circumstances: I don’t think anything from the older expansions regained here adds anything to today’s Sceptile-EX and while Expanded isn’t cutting any sets, remember that XY: Ancient Origins won’t be legal there until September 1st, just like in Standard.  For Limited Play it would be a good +39 candidate except it is a promo so it can’t be used there. 

Ratings 

Standard (Pre-Rotation): 3/5 

Standard (Post-Rotation): 3/5 

Expanded (Pre-Rotation): 3/5 

Expanded (Post-Rotation): 3/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: Sceptile-EX (XY: Black Star Promos XY53) at this point probably seems like a horrible tease; perhaps we ought to have reviewed it sooner.  Before the cards from XY: Ancient Origins become tournament legal, there isn’t anything to make it seem especially useful, but neither does it seem bad.  After XY: Ancient Origins joins Standard and Expanded play, M Sceptile-EX will almost certainly give us a reason to run Sceptile-EX, but that set also brings a superior option to this promo, leaving a tiny niche that just might barely earn today’s version one slot in decks built around the other Sceptile-EX… which I think is likely to keep it about as useful as it is now, though some of that could be the appeal of being able to lazily use the same score four times without obsessing over exactly how the conflicting factors weigh out.


aroramage

Soooo looks like we're still working the kinks out of our Ancient Origins list......hey I have an idea! IT'S PROMO WEEK!! 

Once again we have come to the grand scale week of necessities as we review several promos that are going to be legal for...well, a while at least! Will any of them have an impact on the format? Only one way to find out, and that's by taking a look at them all, starting with...Sceptile-EX!! 

Yep, starting off this week, we're gonna take a look at the evolved starters from the Hoenn Power Tins, which have been around since...June?! Dangit, why didn't we review these sooner-oh...right...promos...Well, water off the Golduck's back now, so let's see what Sceptile-EX brings! First off is Agility, a 1-for-20 hit with a 50/50 chance to prevent all effects of attacks done to Sceptile-EX during the opponent's next turn. Agility-esque effects have always been a bit too chancy for competitive play, but at least he'll make for a solid casual card. 

His second attack isn't that impressive though. Strong Slash does have great value at 3-for-130, but they all have to be Grass Energy - something that once Virizion-EX leaves won't have much acceleration to it anymore - and he can't use Strong Slash on the next turn. It's just...too powerful!! IT'S TOO STRONG!! Still, combined with Muscle Band, Strong Slash and Agility have the potential to KO most any Pokemon-EX, and if you land on that lucky heads on the turn Agility is used, you might have a shot at a sweep! 

Still, it's a bit too reliant on that coin flip going your way to work out, but Sceptile-EX at least could be fairly decent as a casual play. Too bad he'll get replaced pretty soon though...I mean, whaaaaaaaa, I didn't say anything! 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (there are just a few better Pokemon-EX to run before Sceptile-EX, but hey, he's not terrible!) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (with Virizion-EX support, he could be more usable) 

Limited: PROMOOOOOOOOOOOTION!! 

Arora Notealus: It's nice to see the starters getting there EX variants. Even having Venusaur-EX and Blastoise-EX, bad as they are by today's standards, were still really nice to have. And all of these can Mega-Evolve, so once we get Mega forms for them all, watch out!...well, maybe not, they do need that Spirit Link card. 

Next Time: Flaming feet of fury!!


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