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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Salamence

- Roaring Skies

Date Reviewed:
July 6, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.75
Expanded: 2.75
Limited: 3.5

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Emma Starr

            Today’s card is the always-awesome Salamence. In fact, this Salamence is so awesome, it has 3 attacks, which is getting dangerously close to the amount of moves most Pokémon in the games can have! So, let’s not waste anymore time, and start this!

            …Okay, being Stage 2 is never too ideal these days, but Rare Candy or Wally/Evosoda can spped things up. With 160 HP, it can really hold its own, especially with having three different attacks that can all serve a really good purpose, from damage to discarding Stadiums. In fact, let’s start with that one! For a mere Fire Energy, Shatter does 60 damage, AND discards a Stadium that’s in play! While the damage alone is really good for just one Energy, this can be very useful for getting rid of troubling Stadiums like Rough Seas or Silent Lab, without having to rely on your access to a different one to get rid of it. A very decent attack already, but wait until you see what else it can do!

            For one Water and two Colorless, Power Howl does 20 damage times how many cards your opponent has in their hand. Oh boy, can this be abused if you have the right setup. If you bring out N early enough in game, you can easily do 120 damage in one turn, or 100 if they have five Prizes left, etc. What if they Syciper? 140 damage for them, then! However, let’s not forget that this can also be the ultimate Shaymin EX counter, which will let you do a constant 120 damage regardless of how late in the game it is. This attack is just so deliciously evil!

            Everything’s been all fun and deadly already, but let’s finish with a blast! A Steam Blast, to be precise! For two Fire Energy, one Water, and a Colorless, you do a whopping 170 damage, but you have to discard 3 of your energies. Although you can outright KO some EXs at full health with this, you may be using Double Dragon Energy for this guy, but due to how this attack works, you’ll be discarding the poor Double Dragon Energy off of him (Unless you run Fire-Water, and if so…good on you!). Regardless, it may be crippling to be bumped down to your 60 damage Stadium-discarding attack (if you still have Fire Energy left on him), 60 damage is still pretty good for a one energy attack, to be honest.

            Standard: 3.5/5 (Curse you, the fact you’re a Stage 2! Regardless, by far one of the most versatile cards ever made, and I really want to see this Salamence be used in so many hilarious, destruction-filled ways!)

            Expanded: 3.5/5

            Limited: 3/5 (Wally exists here, but Rare Candy doesn’t, obviously. You won’t be seeing Syciper or N here, either. But outright KOing EXs could easily win you a game. If you see yourself swimming in this card, Bagons, and Shelgons, it may even be worth building a deck around, if you don’t pull an accessible specific-typed EX, at least. And even then, you may still want to consider it if you get enough Double Dragon Energies. Shaymin EX can easily be turned into a joke when Salamence is around, you know…)


aroramage

Welcome back to another week of Roaring Skies madness! Or should I say, Dragon madness! Today we get to take a look at one of the most powerful Dragon Evolutions out right now, Salamence! 

Salamence here is one of a few cards blessed with the power of having three attacks - three!! And they're all pretty decent attacks too! Let's start off with Shatter, which is already a powerful 1-for-60 strike! On top of that, it completely annihilates any Stadium in play - no Silent Lab, Virbank, Fighting Stadium, nothing! All the Stadiums are wiped out the moment Salamence makes his attack! Then there's the interesting Power Howl, which for 3 Energy deals damage based on the number of cards in your opponent's hand. Not always the most reliable, but it can still do a decent chunk of damage every now and again.

And then there's Steam Blast, which tears through opponents for a whopping 170 damage - 170 DAMAGE!! That's more than Dragonite's Heavy Impact for 1 Energy LESS!! There is one small drawback to this one though: you have to discard 3 Energy to use it, but on the plus side, you'll have guaranteed a KO on just about anything that isn't a Mega! 

Unfortunately, that's where all the good stops. The truth is Salamence is a ridiculously powerful Pokemon with heavy drawbacks that will keep him from seeing play. Sure, Steam Blast will OHKO most anything in the format, but you can't use it multiple times in a row because of the discard. Shatter may be good for getting rid of Stadiums, but your opponent can easily play without Stadiums, and if they keep good tabs on their hand size, Power Howl is effectively useless. In short, all that power he's got quickly goes to waste. 

And then we're left with nothing but another Stage 2 for the binder. But hey, even dragons can soar in their dreams. 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (he's got a lot of power, but he's also got too much against him to be competitive) 

Expanded: 2/5 (probably about the same here; at least he won't be Mewtwo-EX bait with Steam Blast) 

Limited: 4/5 (your opponent isn't always likely to empty out their hand against Power Howl, and Steam Blast is way too good to pass up even without the acceleration)  

Arora Notealus: Salamence is one of my favorites from Gen III, and no it's not because he's the pseudo-legendary. Honestly, I associate him more with the awesome Elite Four member Drake more than anything! I mean come on, that design was awesome, and you have seen no other like it since then! Admit it, you miss that guy already. 

Next Time: The other Unova dragon takes center stage!

 

Welcome to XY: Roaring Skies Dragon Week - Part II!  So… if you’re a regular reader you’re only seeing this if you decided to go back and re-read them, because these reviews are going up about eight weeks late.  I am just glad I could get them submitted, even late because… I’m obsessive; I just don’t like leaving out my two cents. 

The first card of the second week is Salamence (XY: Roaring Skies 57/108).  Why are we looking at it first thing in the week?  Unlike Reshiram (XY: Roaring Skies 63/108) it isn’t because it is a piece of Dragon-Type support.  Instead it is because it is a Stage 2; not only do they take more time and resources to get into play than Basics or Stage 1 cards, but as I like to cover all the cards in a line they also tend to take longer to review and thus when possible, I schedule them for Monday when I (at least in theory) will have a full weekend to work on said review.  Being a Stage 2 tells us that this card has an uphill battle; it isn’t hopeless, there are some Stage 2 cards that see a significant amount of competitive play, but it isn’t as easy as being a Basic, Stage 1 or Mega Evolution (Restored Pokémon are the hardest contemporary mechanic to utilize, I think).  Nothing from the weekend suggests that the Dragon-Type is any better or noticeably worse off than I thought it was before; not much Weakness to exploit (only BW-era Dragon-Types are Dragon Weak), no Resistance to annoy but some solid support.  Oh, and at least one “counter card” so obscure that not only did it take me eight weeks to notice it, but when marathoning through my incomplete reviews I still keep forgetting to mention it.  Notice that being a “good” Type doesn’t mean said Type is going to show up (let alone dominate) in the Top Cut; even with 12 decks (four per age group) you’ve still got a lot of competition. 

Salamence sports 160 HP; this is as good as we’ve seen on a Stage 2 and only bested by most Pokémon-EX plus Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124).  It is within OHKO range for many decks focused on dealing damage (as opposed to say initiating some kind of lock while dealing damage) but it isn’t going to be an easy threshold for a lot of decks.  You can’t count on it to survive but neither can your opponent reliably count on it going down in one hit.  Fairy Weakness is common to Dragon-Types and while it allows that Type to pound you pretty bad for less than it costs to do the same to other Types, there aren’t many Fairy-Type attackers being splashed about (at least successfully) so its mostly going to result in a single bad match-up versus the few Fairy-Type decks that see play.  No Resistance is the worst Resistance but no Resistance is more common than “no Resistance” is the norm so I won’t hold it against Salamence.  The Retreat Cost of [CCCC] is as large as we’ve seen on anything recent and for most formats has been the largest printed.  Pack something to either make it lower or avoid paying it at all, or to “tank” while up front. 

Salamence has no Ability or Ancient Trait to help it out but it is one of the few cards with three attacks.  The first (Shatter) requires [R] to deal a respectably 60 damage while discarding a Stadium in play.  Next is “Power Howl”, requiring [WCC] to do 20 damage times the number of cards in your opponent’s hand.  Rounding it out is “Steam Blast” for [RRWC]; the attack discards three Energy from Salamence itself but delivers a 170 damage hit.  Shatter has a great Energy-to-damage ratio and useful effect, though it can backfire if you like your current Stadium (or were counting on Hydreigon-EX and its “Dragon Road” Ability, which needs a Stadium in play to function).  Power Howl discourages your opponent from keeping a large hand and could get quite large - even just a five card hand means a solid 100-for-three.  Most players struggle to maintain a large hand and there aren’t any methods to easily force your opponent into a build up, so if their deck is efficient they likely will keep their hand size down without seriously damaging their own options.  I tend to think of this as the “spare” attack on the card because as such, it is good but if it were the “cheap” or the “big” attack, it wouldn’t cut it.  Steam Blast is painfully expensive but delivers on the damage.  Given that Salamence isn’t guaranteed to survive anyway, the massive discard cost might not be a major concern. 

Salamence Evolves from Shelgon which Evolves from Bagon which makes me crave bacon (preferably turkey bacon).  That last bit isn’t important but I had to get it out of my system.  We have four releases of Bagon: BW: Dragon Vault 6/20 (reprinted as BW: Plasma Blast 62/101), XY: Roaring Skies 54/108 and XY: Roaring Skies 55/108.  All are Basic Dragon-Type Pokémon with no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ability and no Ancient Trait.  BW: Dragon Vault 6/20 (and BW: Plasma Blast 62/101) have 50 HP, Dragon Weakness and a single two attacks: “Headbut” for [C] doing 10 damage and “Dragon Claw” for [RW] doing 20 damage.  XY: Roaring Skies 54/108 and XY: Roaring Skies 55/108 both have 60 HP and Fairy Weakness instead.  XY: Roaring Skies 54/108 has a single attack (Continuous Tumble) for [RC] which has you flip until you get “tails” and does 20 damage per “heads”.  XY: Roaring Skies 55/108 has two attacks; the first (Leer) requires [C] to have you flip a coin and if it is “heads”, you Paralyze the opponent’s Active Pokémon.  Its second attack is the adorably named “Almost Flight” for [RW], doing 20 damage with 10 points of recoil damage to itself.  Bagon has one job (though I wish it had two…) and that is to Evolve into either Shelgon or Salamence and for any one Energy Paralyzing the opponent, even on a coin flip, aids in that.  Plus it is one of the two 60 HP versions. 

Shelgon has three releases but only two options: BW: Dragon Vault 7/20 and its in set reprint BW: Plasma Blast 63/101 plus XY: Roaring Skies 56/108.  Both are Stage 1 Dragon-Type Pokémon with 80 HP, no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of [CCC].  The big attacks even both cost [RWC]!  The differences are that BW: Dragon Vault 7/20 and BW: Plasma Blast 63/101 are Dragon Weak and have the attack “Knock Away” for [C] to hit for 10 (plus 20 with a successful coin flip) while XY: Roaring Skies 56/108 is Fairy Weak and has the Ability “Exoskeleton”, which reduces the damage it takes from attacks 10 after applying Weakness/Resistance.  Unsurprisingly I favor the latter.  There are three other Salamence to consider: the Expanded-legal only BW: Dragon Vault 8/20, the soon-to-rotate BW: Plasma Blast 64/101 and the not-yet-legal XY: Black Star Promos XY59.  There is some variety to them, but all are Stage 2 Dragon-Type Pokémon with no Resistance.  BW: Dragon Vault 8/20 has 140 HP, Dragon Weakness and Retreat Cost [CC].  Its Ability (Scornful Storm) allows you to make your opponent shuffle his/her hand into his/her deck and draw four cards, once per turn (though if you have multiple copies of Scornful Storm in play, you could use each).  For [WRCC] it has Shred to hit for 90 points of damage that ignores effects on the Defending Pokémon. 

BW: Plasma Blast 64/101 jumps things up to 150 HP, still sports the Dragon Weakness, has a Retreat Cost of [CCCC], the Ability “Breakwing” and the attack “Gaia Crush”.  The former only triggers when you Evolve one of your in play Pokémon into Salamence; you may then discard all of your opponent’s Tools in play but you do not have to (it is optional).  The latter requires [WWRC] and hits for 100, plus discards the Stadium (if any) in play (and is not optional).  XY: Black Star Promos XY59 also has 150 HP but is back down to Retreat Cost [CC].  It is the only version with an Ancient Trait, the familiar Δ Evolution, which allows you to immediately Evolve one of your in play Pokémon into Salamence.  You still have to pick a Pokémon normally capable of Evolving into Salamence but you no longer have to wait a turn and can even use it on a player’s first turn.  It then has two attacks; for [C] it can use Call for Goons to search your deck for and Bench up to three Basic Pokémon while for [RWCC] it can use Dragon Pulse for 130 damage while also discarding the top card of your own deck.  None of these alternatives are overly impressive; you might include a single of either Ability version but probably not both if you were seriously focused on attacking with XY: Roaring Skies 57/108. 

Should you build a deck around XY: Roaring Skies 57/108?  Probably not if you want to win tournaments, but it does have some nice attack options.  The problem is the usual; be it Standard or Expanded it is hard to justify the intense setup requires for the needed return.  You’ll need to both speed Salamence into play but also to ready Steam Blast ASAP.  Salamence has to try and tough out most Mega Evolutions because it just takes too much to pump up Steam Blast to score a OHKO.  A 2HKO is pretty plausible.  In Limited though, unless you absolutely cannot include the needed Energy (or even just basic Fire Energy) or of course pull something better, then this is a nice powerhouse for your Limited deck. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.5/5 

Expanded: 2.5/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Salamence is a Stage 2 that only struggles because its lower Stages aren’t really helping it’s set-up, because there are Basics that hit too fast and too hard and because there are a lot of “disruption”/“control” elements that are far, far too easy to implement… but as all of those are the reality of competitive play “struggle” it does.  In fact, that might be a bit generous.  Enjoy it in Limited if you can, and XY: Ancient Origins as well as rotation don’t seem too likely to affect it. 


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