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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Greninja

- XY24 (Promo)

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 2, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.75
Expanded: 2.07
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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Greninja (XY Promo 24) 

Before we get started on Primal Clash, there’s a bit of housekeeping to do with some un-reviewed promo cards. We’ll kick off the week with a look at Greninja. 

The most obvious thing about this card is that it gives us a Dark, rather than Water, version of the XY starter. Overall, that’s a bad thing: instead of having the potential to hit Donphan for Weakness, Greninja now finds itself Weak to one of the meta’s most popular attackers. Not only that, but Fairy Pokémon will resist his attack. 

This Greninja comes with both an Ability and an attack. Neither are bad exactly. Mist Concealment effectively gives Greninja one turn of immunity from attack damage and effects. That’s a very effective way of making sure it hangs around for at least a turn. Unfortunately, the reward for that isn’t so impressive. Shadow Bullet is low-cost enough, and actually good value, but the fact remains that 60 damage plus 20 snipe isn’t worth the effort of using a Stage 2 Pokémon, even with the Ability to help it survive. 

Interesting, but not entirely practical these days. 

Rating 

Modified: 2
Expanded: 1.75
Limited: 2.75


aroramage

Welcome to a week of promos leading up to the release of Primal Clash! We figured we'd get our hands on those Primal cards first before we go ranking them, so for this week, we're taking a look at some Promo cards! Today's card is one of three cards that was released with special blister packs for the Phantom Forces set, including the promo card itself, a coin, and three booster packs from the Phantom Forces set. It's Greninja the Gen VI final of the water starter!
 
Greninja here is different from his brethren Greninja, as he wields the Dark Type. This is great in Expanded with all the Dark support, and he even has attributes more suited to cards within Expanded! But first, his attack: Shadow Bullet. For a Darkness and Colorless Energy, Greninja shoots out of the shadows and hits the Active Pokemon for 60 and a Bench-sitter for 20. It's similar to Darkrai-EX's own attack, Night Spear, only cheaper and weaker, but on a Stage 2 like Greninja here, it's almost wholly inferior.
 
I say almost because, as I mentioned before, he has a particular attribute suited to some cards in Expanded: the Ability Mist Concealment. When Greninja gets played from your hand, during your opponent's turn, they can't TOUCH Greninja! No damage, no attack effects, nothing - he can't be hit!...well, at least not by any Pokemon. He can still be hurt by HTLBank, but that's about the worst he could get - he's in the clear otherwise!
 
This may prompt the opponent to try and work around Greninja in some manner during that turn of concealment - usually with, again, HTL or just by switching Greninja out with something else. Which is fine, it just takes a bit more resourcing. That's one of Greninja's handier tricks - he's either forcing the opponent to do nothing with their attack or waste resources trying to hit something. Now if it's a game-ending attack, they'll wanna go for it, but otherwise it's almost better to wait Greninja out - and that's when he strikes!
 
All things considered, he's not bad, and stuff like Devolution Spray will help trigger his Ability much more often! Combine that with Sableye DEX's Junk Hunt to retrieve the Devolution Spray and Rare Candies you may end up using, and you can constantly throw Greninja down without worrying about the opponent getting rid of him!...though if he could just beat the opponent a little faster.
 
Rating

Standard: 1.5/5 (as much as one benefits from Greninja's Ability, most of the stuff to make the gimmick work is over in Expanded; here, he's outclassed by Darkrai-EX easily for attacking and Ability)
 
Expanded: 2.5/5 (a nice Ability to make a gimmicky deck around, but certainly no high-level playing card; still, much more support here than in Standard)
 
Limited: N/A (oh yeah...promos...no sets...)
 
Arora Notealus: Truly, he is the best ninja frog of our time. Mist Concealment's really cool, and I like that the designers worked on putting the ninja aspect of "Greninja" into his card.
 
Next Time: From the void in your dreams, the shadow rises.


Otaku

This week we are going to look at some of the recent Black Star promos.  Today in particular we are looking at XY Black Star Promos XY24: Greninja.  Right off the bat you can’t help but notice this is a Darkness-Type.  XY: Phantom Forces increased the support for Psychic-Types, which also upped the amount of Psychic-Types being played and that matters because Darkness Weakness is sometimes found on Psychic-Types that represent Ghost-Types from the TCG.  There isn’t a tremendous amount of Darkness-Type Weakness out there, but it exists.  Darkness Resistance, on the other hand didn’t exist until recently but now its found on every Fairy-Type released so far.  Darkness-Type support isn’t as impressive as it once was; they lack direct support outside of Zoroark (BW: Dark Explorers 71/108; BW: Legendary Treasures 90/113) and all that is simply an attack on a Stage 1 attacker that hits harder for each Darkness-Type you have in play.  In terms of indirect support, however, they fare much better thanks to Darkrai-EX, Shadow Circle, Yveltal (XY 78/146; XY Black Star Promos XY06) and Yveltal-EX that have helped shaped the format (less so the middle two).  The are also a few cards that seem to specifically counter, but they aren’t very good.  Taking all of this into consideration (and the fact that the other Types have finally been getting their own support) and the Darkness-Type is probably middle-of-the-road by now. 

Being a Stage 2 is definitely a disadvantage right now, though to be fair it has been for years at this point.  For a while things were really looking up for Stage 2 Pokémon but now that Item lock is so easily available via Seismitoad-EX, it has gone from challenging to get a Stage 2 deck (whether the Stage 2 is an attacker or Bench-sitter) set up in a quick and reliable manner to frustratingly difficult.  With the intermediary Stages usually being nothing but filler, stepping stones to get said final form into play, very few have the raw power or niche usage to justify running them in competitive play.  Moving onto HP, Greninja sports 130, which seems to be around the amount where a card goes from being a little more likely to be OHKOed to being a little more likely to survive; it is far less thrilling on a Stage 2 than a Basic Pokémon, of course.  Fighting Weakness will render you a relatively easy OHKO for Fighting-Types; many will just need a Muscle Band and a Strong Energy for their single Energy attack(s) to reach OHKO range.  Greninja does sport Psychic Resistance, which is nice; not gaming breaking, but far better than no Resistance at all and sometimes quite handy.  The single Energy Retreat Cost rounds out the bottom of the card; its very good as you’ll rarely be unable to afford it. 

So the good news is that Greninja has an Ability and an attack.  What do they do?  Mist Concealment triggers when you play Greninja from hand to Evolve one of your Pokémon (so something like Evosoda wouldn’t trigger it); when you do Greninja is protected from all effects of attacks by your opponent’s Pokémon including damage during your opponent’s next turn.  That’s really handy, but can be bypassed by anything that ignores effects on the Defending Pokémon in addition to using Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) to shut off Abilities or attacking a different Pokémon.  As this is an Ability and not the effect of an attack, it won’t go away if you force Greninja to the Bench.  For [DC] Greninja can attack with Shadow Bullet (awesome name) for 60 damage plus 20 to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon.  This isn’t bad, but its not especially good; “adequate” might even be too strong.  Why?  For two Energy, the damage hits the going rate of 60; 70 would be better so that a Muscle Band would hit that magic 90 to the opponent’s Active Pokémon, but if it really is against a Pokémon-EX you can do so with Silver Bangle, while so far the only non-Pokémon-EX that would be too big to survive two Muscle Band boosted attacks (without HP boosting effects) is Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124). 

So what happens when you mix the Ability and attack?  Good things… if you can get the set-up I suggested going.  One turn of being nigh invulnerable means you should be able to use Shadow Bullet twice.  If you aren’t able to boost the damage output then you’re going to struggle to keep up in Prizes, let alone pull ahead.  If you can get off one but you lose your Pokémon Tool, your Energy or anything else you may have been using to up your damage, then again, it will be a struggle.  We’ll delve more into what to try to combine with all of this but first let us address getting Grininja into play.  Froakie currently is available in two flavors, though there are four actual Froakie cards: Kalos Starter Set 12/39, XY Black Star Promos XY03 and McDonald’s Collection 2014 4/12 versus XY 39/146.  All are Basic, Water-Type Pokémon with Grass Weakness, no Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [C] and no Abilities.  XY 39/146 has 50 HP plus a single attack - Bounce - that costs [W], hits for 10 damage and has you flip a coin; if the result is “heads” you must switch Froakie with a Benched Pokémon.  The attack could help keep it alive, but requires your run a source of [W] Energy.  The other three enjoy 60 HP and two attacks: Pound for [W] which does 10 damage and Water Drip for [WC] which does 20.  60 HP is barely better than 50 but while Bounce is the better attack to have, its such a minor benefit that the 10 HP matters.  Go with the 60 HP version. 

So what about Frogadier?  Straight up two options; Kalos Starter Set 13/39 or XY 40/146.  Both are Water-Type Stage 1 Pokémon with 80 HP, Grass Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Costs of [C] and no Abilities.  Kalos Starter Set 13/39 can do 20 for [W] with its Water Drip attack or for [WWC] it can hit for 40 with two coin flips good for an additional 20 damage per “heads”.  XY 40/146 has a single attack - Lick - for [WC] which does 30 damage plus gives you a coin flip to inflict Paralysis on the Defending Pokémon.  The short version is that neither of these are good, especially if you don’t have a reason to run a source of [W] Energy already in the deck.  The threat of Item lock means you can’t afford to skip them entirely, though.  Pick whichever one strikes your fancy as it likely won’t matter.  At least Rare Candy still triggers Mist Concealment (Evolution via Rare Candy still counts as Evolving from your hand), so if your Items aren’t being locked down and you don’t plan on trying to bounce Greninja (either the entire line or just the highest Stage of Evolution), it is most definitely the way to go. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon the other two Greninja available for play as well; Kalos Starter Set 14/39 and XY 41/146 which were reviewed here and here about a year ago.  What has changed since then?  Surprisingly a lot, but in the end things went almost full circle.  To give you an idea without having to go back and read those reviews, both are Water-Type Stage 2 Pokémon with Grass Weakness, no Resistance and Retreat Costs of [C].  Kalos Starter Set 14/39 has 140 HP and two attacks: Mat Block costs [W] to hit for 40 with a coin flip to discard an Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon and Aqua Edge to hit for 80 damage at a cost of [WWC]; bad but if attacking with a Stage 2 wasn’t already so dangerous in the first place, honestly not too far off as the attacks just a little underpowered (as opposed to massively underpowered). 

XY 41/146 has 10 less HP (so 130) but an Ability plus an attack; Water Shuriken is still amazing as it allows you (once per turn, though multiple copies stack) to discard a [W] Energy (currently that means just basic Water Energy) from your hand to place three damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokémon.  The set-up was incredibly difficult but if you did it, a full four meant up to 120 damage on one Pokémon (or 30 on four different ones or 60 on one and 30 on two others etc.).  The attack would have been good on something else, but was merely “okay” here: Mist Slash required [W] (being inexpensive was pretty important) and scored 50 points of damage… a very reliable 50 because the effect made the attack ignore Weakness, Resistance and any effects on the Defending Pokémon.  Too bad there weren’t a lot of things important for a Greninja to ignore but ignoring Weakness was (and is) something it could have exploited.  After the release of XY: Flashfire but before the last set rotation and release of XY: Furious Fists Stage 2 Pokémon nearly had something of a resurgence.  Then almost as quickly as it happened, it reversed and now they are still so hard to play.  During this time, Greninja (XY 41/146) saw successful competitive play while Kalos Starter Set 14/39 did not and remained pretty useless.  These cards aren’t much competition for today’s Greninja anymore, but neither are they going to compliment it. 

Which finally gets us to where I’ll try and come up with at least a hypothetical “fun” deck in which to use this card.  The good news is… yes I do have an idea.  At first I was tempted to try and indeed return Greninja to hand over and over again to spam its protective effect, but not only is that incredibly complicated, its actually pretty fragile.  Not only could your opponent use N, Red Card or some similar effect to disrupt your hand, not only would you need luck (in addition to skill) to get Greninja back into play over and over again so that it wouldn’t clash with your own usage of almost any draw Supporter - not even just “the good ones” - as well as Bicycle because you’re either discarding your hand, shuffling your hand away or need to shrink your hand to draw more cards; a Cheren, Tierno and Roller Skates the draw power I want to try to rely upon.  The only reliable bounce available comes in the form of the Ace Spec Scoop Up Cyclone or the Supporter AZ (which doesn’t bounce attached cards), or you can return a Greninja to the deck with Cassius but that makes you even more dependent upon draw and search and all require running a lot of Rare Candy and Frogadier.  Even if you somehow kept this strategy flowing, you’re going to have to get multiple Froakie, Frogadier and/or Ditto (BW: Boundaries Crossed 108/149) into play so you can keep Evolving into protection and that means your opponent could turn to Bench hits, Lysandre, etc. to keep taking Prizes while ignoring Mist Concealment. 

So… what else could one do?  Bench a few Robo Substitute or any Pokémon you feel is worth risking being KOed in place of Greninja.  Anytime you successfully Evolve into Greninja, its protected, so if your opponent decides to attack around it, well you’ve got your 130 HP Stage 2 that has Energy still handy for the next turn.  Technically that is also true of the Bounce strategy, but by just leaving it as is, you can keep attacking with it and force your opponent to choose; deal with what is attacking and hope you (the player running Greninja in this hypothetical) can’t get the next one going or hope that you can’t take sufficient KOs.  Robo Substitute is there because you just don’t care if your opponent forces it Active and KOs it for no Prizes, but it still keeps you from losing due to “Benching Out” should your opponent succeed in taking out your Greninja (this would also be useful if you did attempt to constantly bounce Greninja to spam Mist Concealment).  The turns when Mist Concealment isn’t in effect you’ll be Benching and attaching an Energy to your next attacker… probably a Froakie waiting to Evolve itself.  This is still pretty complex but at least seems a little more doable, and its still fairly fragile: both have to worry about Abilities being shut off or Items being prevented from seeing play, but this one “just” has to worry about the normal hassles of set-up and maintaining the field instead of doing all that while successfully bouncing an attacker. 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.75/5 - This is actually a decent score for a Stage 2 right now; the established “good” ones are doing well to clock in as a with all they have going against them, with former borderline cases now down to about .  This card actually feels pretty close to being legitimately useful, as opposed to blatant filler or creative but clearly nerfed. 

Expanded: 1.95/5 - This is why I like having two decimal places in the score, even if it looks like I’ve mixed a decimal based number with a fraction; here Greninja gains access to Dark Patch and a few other useful tricks like (maybe) Shedinja (BW: Dragons Exalted 48/124) that really should help it, but it still strikes me as being too complex/fragile for the format to be anything more than a fun (and hopefully functional) deck, so still not quite worth a . 

Limited: N/A - This card is only a promo and thus under normal circumstances cannot be used for Limited play.  If it were re-released into a set the rest of the set would matter, the same if the promo were merely allowed into a typical Limited event.  Barring extenuating circumstances (such as being released in a set with disproportionate amounts of Fighting-Types and/or Psychic-Types like the last two) I would think it - like many Stage 2 Pokémon - it would be something you’d really try to work into your deck unless they were really incompatible, like if you had a +39 deck or absolutely couldn’t make room for enough basic Darkness Energy without cutting something as good or better. 

Summary: Greninja is an interesting concept and had it released when Broken Time-Space was legal then it might have been “broken” itself (though there were ways to shut down Poké-Powers, Poké-Bodies and possibly both at the same time).  As is, right now, it is sadly underpowered because we have this bizarre metagame where it seems like for one moment we are being encouraged to run decks built around big, Basic Pokémon, driving with almost pure Supporter based draw power but then we get stuff to encourage more use of Evolutions, good Item based search and even the return of Item based draw power and… then we get counters to Items and it all shifts back to mostly big, Basic Pokémon, though now instead of games that are mercifully short when they are one-sided, they get to be potentially tedious as you’re locked down while Seismitoad-EX slowly beats you down.  It makes this card somewhat bittersweet; it’s not just filler (which is good) but at the same time Greninja seems likely to go to waste because Greninja isn’t going to have a chance to make use of what it has going for itself.


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