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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Talonflame

- Roaring Skies

Date Reviewed:
June 8, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.90
Expanded: 1.90
Limited: 3.17

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

Talonflame (Roaring Skies) 

The best thing that you can say about Talonflame is that its attacks are cheap. In fact, they’re not even bad value for what they are. For a single Energy of any colour, Grand Loop lets you draw three cards and switch out Talonflame if you choose; while Brave Bird does a decent 90 for two Energy. The 20 points of recoil damage aren’t ideal, but hey, this thing will still one-shot Fire-Weak EX Pokémon like Virizion, Genesect, or Aegislash. 

 Unfortunately, though, Talonflame is a Stage 2, and while an attack like Grand Loop would be super nice on an evolving Basic, and Brave Bird on a Stage 1 could be used to abuse Weakness, neither of these attacks has a place on the highest evolutionary Stage in today’s format. You simply cannot be using such a resource-heavy Pokémon for draw and niche-hitting purposes. 

There was a time when 90 for two on a Stage 2 Pokémon was stupid good (Infernape DP). Now, it is barely worth a second glance. 

Rating 

Modified: 1.5

Expanded: 1.5

Limited: 2.5


aroramage

Hey guys, I'm back! Sorry for disappearing last week, I ended up moving some stuff around into a new apartment, but now I'm good and settled! So let's get back into the swing of things with this week's set of cards! 

Today we've got Talonflame, the only Fire line-up in the set and the only Fire Pokemon aside from Fletchinder (his pre-evo) and Victini. Once again, we've hit that doomed Stage 2 Pokemon that could be really good but won't be played because Pokemon-EX exist. Talonflame is no exception, though it should be noted he's got some great cheap moves here! 

Take Grand Loop for instance - it only costs one, and it nets you three cards and switches Talonflame onto the Bench. Simple, removes Talonflame from getting threatened, and benefits you all at the same time by keeping him out of danger and putting your attacker up at bat. It's not bad. Not great, but not bad. 

Then you've got Brave Bird, which only adds another Fire Energy and deals 90 damage - that's right, 2-for-90! That's a 2HKO on most anything outside of Megas and a OHKO for any Grass-Pokemon that isn't M Venasaur-EX - and who runs that? That's a powerful bird! The only drawback is that he deals 20 damage to himself, which would put him in range for an opposing 90-damage move plus Muscle Band to KO. Not the best attacking move out there. 

So why will Talonflame not see play? Despite the cheapness of his attacks, Grand Loop is outclassed by Shaymin-EX's Ability Set Up; while Set Up only gets you up to six cards, Grand Loop forces you to attack so you can't "set up" combos and what-not. And Brave Bird, while a nice cheap high-damage-dealing attack, isn't going to help cement Talonflame on the map since his HP is about so-so. Oh, and there's the fact that he's a Stage 2. 

Still, he's not a bad pick, and I won't fault anyone trying to make him work. Just trying to make him work in tournament play. 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (does things that other Pokemon do better and who aren't Stage 2) 

Expanded: 2/5 (not too much better here) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (the draw-and-switch does a lot here, and Brave Bird can KO more things here if the opponent's not careful) 

Arora Notealus: It's funny that one of the most powerful Pokemon in the video games hasn't done nearly as much in the TCG. Maybe one day there will be an exceptional Talonflame card...maybe... 

Next Time: From the fire in the sky to the depths of the ocean!


Otaku

Welcome to another week of reviews.  It might be a bit boring, but I suggested that unless we had a better theme to go with, we stick with reviewing recent cards by Type as it is a lot harder to miss something that way.  With a week of Grass-Types out of the way, let’s heat things up by moving onto Fire-Types!

Not a lot of them to review, actually.  I’m trying to avoid the ones I think are going to be pretty hopeless or uninteresting to review so looks we are going to cover Talonflame (XY: Roaring Skies 15/108).  Being a Fire-Type means scoring double damage against most Grass-Type as well as most Metal-Type Pokémon, though there are a few with alternate Weaknesses (often Lightning-Type for something that was part Flying-Type in the video games).  The main Grass-Type deck would be VirGen and it is quite a benefit if your attacks get into OHKO range against Genesect-EX and Virizion-EX due to Weakness.  The main Metal-Type seeing play seems to be Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119) but it isn’t overly big and while it might be backing up other Metal-Types, it also sees play with anything that can make decent use of Metal-Type Energy acceleration.  Nothing in the Standard or Expanded card pools has Fire Resistance, though there are some anti-Fire-Type effects, including “Thick Fat” found on cards like Hariyama (XY: Furious Fists 52/111) that fake it (said Ability reduces the damage taken from Fire-Types as well as Water-Types by 30).  Fire-Type support is there, but with mixed results; you’ve got Blacksmith and we keep getting more and more non-Supporter draw effects so that you might be able to afford using it to attach two Fire Energy cards from your discard pile.  For the competitive metagame, this is probably “average” at best, maybe a little below.

Being a Stage 2 is unambiguous: unless you’ve got a great “shortcut” option available or your line is one of the few lucky ones with worthwhile lower Stages or a ludicrously powerful end Stage, you’re probably not seeing competitive play.  Well, at least successful competitive play.  Even that last option isn’t what it used to be; quite a few potent effects still aren’t enough to earn a Stage 2 Pokémon success on the tournament scene when it needs so much more time and deck space relevant to Basic Pokémon.  Disregarding my opinion that HP scores across the board are too low for what the-powers-that-be seem to want to do with this game, Talonflame isn’t something known for its HP, Defense, Special Defense, etc. (anything that the TCG does or could represent with HP) so 130 is appropriate in that sense… but functionally it isn’t good enough right now.  Just another 10 or 20 makes it that much harder to OHKO, and while 130 is more likely to survive than not, it’s gone from being comfortably outside the typical attack range to the “than not” portion reflecting that decks take time to set-up or recover from an opponent’s big play than actual durability. 

Water Weakness is… disappointing.  This enables that card we love to hate but still run when we want to win - Seismitoad-EX - to use Muscle Band alongside the Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo for Quaking Punch OHKO.  Lightning-Type Weakness would have been more appropriate given that the video game counterpart has Rock Weakness x 4 (doesn’t work because Rock is part of the Fighting-Type in the TCG) and the Water-Type in the TCG contains the Ice-Type which does not hit this Pokémon for double damage in the video games.  Only the video game Electric Weakness directly corresponds to the TCG Lightning Weakness and while being Lightning-Weak is dangerous right now, it is both safer than the Water Weakness and brings Weakness diversity since nearly all Fire-Types are Water Weak.  The lack of Resistance is acceptable only because that is typical of most modern TCG cards, though since I’ve already been looking at the video game Talonflame I’ll point out that it takes only half damage from Fairy-, Fighting-, Fire- and Steel-Type attacks, a quarter of the damage from Grass- and Bug-Types and is Immune to (takes no damage from)  Ground-Type moves.  The odd marrying of Fighting/Ground/Rock is why those are out but the others?  Interesting and I can’t image that all are unbalancing.  Talonflame does get the free Retreat Cost it deserves: this is perfect and perfectly appropriate as the Pokémon’s main claim to fame is its speed. 

In fact, the speed (or rather base Speed Stat) is reflected in the attacks of Talonflame as well.  For [C] it can use “Grand Loop” to draw three cards and then switch places with one of your Benched Pokémon while it just needs [RC] to access its other attack - Brave Bird - which hits for 90 while Braviary does 20 to itself.  Both of these attacks are actually pretty solid, maybe even at the threshold of being “good” but there is a problem; they don’t work so well with the rest of the card.  As a reminder, the format currently has easy access to Double Colorless Energy and again Fire-Types have Blacksmith.  So in a weird way [C] and [RC] are almost too low of costs - easily met so you might as well have had to pay a bit more so you could get a bit more.  While we have good dance partners for Grand Loop, drawing three cards is a trick for a Basic you open the game with, not an Evolution.  Not saying it can’t have a set-up attack, but it needs a better one… especially because there is N in a low of decks to provide hand disruption: you may never get to use those three cards.  Not to make this a Create-A-Card but making Grand Loop search for three cards or draw more even upping the cost to [CC] might have been better, with Brave Bird requiring [RRCC] but hitting hard enough that at least with a Silver Bangle it could OHKO typical Pokémon-EX  may have been warranted.  As is, it is just going for a 2HKO and it probably won’t survive that. 

What about its lower Stages?  Other versions?  We have five different versions of Fletchling with a total of 10 different releases to pick from for both Standard and Expanded.  All are Colorless-Type, Basic Pokémon with 50 HP (except XY: Roaring Skies 82/108), Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Abilities and no Ancient Traits.  XY: Kalos Starter Set 31/19, XY Trainer Kit: Sylveon Half Deck 1/30, 19/30 and McDonald’s Collection 2014 11/12 can use Razor Wind for [C] to flip a coin: 20 it “heads”, nothing if “tails”.  XY 11/116 and XY Trainer Kit: Bisharp Half Deck 1/30 can use Me First for [C] to draw a card or Peck for [CC] and 20 damage.  XY: Flashfire 86/106 has the classic Quick Attack for [C], doing 10 damage plus another 10 with a successful coin flip.  XY: Phantom Forces 89/119 and XY Trainer Kit: Latias Half Deck 4/30 are a bit of a remix with Peck and Quick Attack, this time costing [C] and [CC] while hitting for 10 and 10 (+20 on “heads”), respectively.  Finally XY: Roaring Skies 82/108 has only 40 HP and Acrobatics for [C], hitting for 10 damage with two coin flips good for another 10 damage each.  None of these attacks are especially good at keeping Fletchling alive to Evolve (its main function) or at taking Prizes or anything else that directly contributes to a win (not its job, but then why give it attacks focused on doing damage?).  XY 11/116 and XY Trainer Kit: Bisharp Half Deck 1/30 because if I am attacking with Fletchling, I probably just need options. 

Things are a bit simply with Fletchinder as there are just four versions each released once: XY 27/146, XY: Flashfire 17/106, XY: Phantom Forces 9/119 and XY: Roaring Skies 14/108.  All are Stage 1 Fire-Type Pokémon with no Abilities and no Ancient Traits.  All except XY: Roaring Skies 14/108 have Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance and Retreat Cost [C].  XY 27/146 has 70 HP and two attacks: Flame Charge for [C] that allows you to search your deck for a [R] Energy and attach it to itself plus Fire Wing for [RC], hitting for 30 points of damage.  XY: Flashfire 17/106 enjoys 80 HP but has just one attack - Firebreathing - for 20 damage, plus another 20 if you get “heads” on the coin flip.  XY: Phantom Forces 9/119 also has 80 HP but sports two attacks: for [R] it can use “Peck” for 20 and for [RRC] it can use “Combustion” for 60.  XY: Roaring Skies 14/108 drops the HP back down to 70 and like its set-mate Talonflame is Water Weak, has no Resistance but also enjoys a perfect free Retreat Cost.  For [C] it can use Peck Off which does 10 damage but before that discards all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.  I appreciate that some versions offer potentially useful “tricks” but I say go with XY: Flashfire 17/106 for the HP (and of the two with 80, the better attack) or with XY: Roaring Skies 14/108 for that free Retreat Cost.  It is hard to say which will be more valuable as both 70 and 80 HP are likely to be OHKOed but similarly how often will you need to retreat this Pokémon? 

There are also two other Talonflame to consider, both of which have been reviewed before.  XY 24/146 was reviewed back on April 2, 2014 while XY: Phantom Forces 10/113 was our December 9th, 2014 CotD.  Since things have changed a bit since they were last looked at, I’ll run through them quickly, but focus on what is different from today’s card.  Both have Lightning Weakness and Fighting Resistance, making it a bit easier to understand why they deviated with today’s Talonflame by giving it Water Weakness, though it doesn’t excuse the lack of Resistance.  Both also lack an Ability or Ancient Trait but have two attacks.  Both also apply the pricing options I had wondered might be better for this card.  XY 24/146 has Devastating Wind for [C], allowing you to force your opponent to shuffle his or her hand back into the deck and draw four cards.  That isn’t what I was talking about and is a pretty poor attack.  Flare Blitz requires [RR], hits for 100 damage but requires you to discard all [R] Energy attached to itself; a bit underpowered but even though it came out the set before Blacksmith, it actually takes advantage of that card.  Discarding all the Energy attached isn’t a huge deal since not only is it likely to be OHKOed after attacking but its odds of survival go up a tiny bit due to attacks like X-Ball and Evil Ball (on Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX, respectively). 

XY: Phantom Forces 10/113 is in a similar boat, except it gets an annoying Retreat Cost of [C] - not that hard to pay but again Talonflame seems like one of those Pokémon that should have a natural free Retreat Cost.  It has possibly the best single Energy attack of the three, though that isn’t saying much: Acrobatics does 30 for [R] plus gives you two coin flips for an additional 30 per “heads”.  Even if it’s only one of four possible outcomes, 90 for [R] is still pretty good, or at least intimidating.  Its “Jet Shoot” attack requires [RRC] and again shows that the card is trying to take some advantage of Blacksmith… except it only does 120 damage while increasing the damage Talonflame takes the next turn by 40.  The drawback isn’t terrible it just doesn’t give quite enough of a damage bump especially given that you really need to be able to score a OHKO against most common attackers that aren’t Mega Evolutions.  Jet Shoot at least has the potential with a Muscle Band and/or Silver Bangle, Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym but why put all this effort in when you can accomplish as good or better feats with something else. 

So… no real help from its lower Stages or other versions.  Is there a reason to use this Talonflame?  Nope; every reason I can think of to use it applies more to another card, even another Talonflame.  Even the Weakness shift doesn’t help because if another Talonflame was worth using, it would probably be worth just including something else to deal with the Weakness instead of something that can’t even 2HKO M Manectric-EX on its own (and if you don’t block self-damage, still gets OHKOed back by Turbo Bolt).  Talonflame does just enough to not be totally hopeless and a little interesting and of course, if you can pull even a 1-1-1 line and don’t pull something that precludes you running said line (like a Pokémon-EX around which to build a +39) then it can burn brightly there, being quite open to splashing with other Types and providing draw if you want to focus more on set-up than early offense. 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.5/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Well, hopefully that was interesting; Talonflame didn’t look too appealing at first glance but it wasn’t totally vanilla.  Its Grand Loop would be great on an Evolving Basic and handy on a Stage 1 or Pokémon-EX (Evolving or not).  Brave Bird would probably be too good on an Evolving Basic or big, Basic (whether it Evolves or not); 90 for two can add up really fast but just right on an Evolving Stage 1 as an “emergency” attacker, at least in the current cardpool.  On a Stage 2 though, we’ve used up a lot of the room for additional support and neither Fletchling nor Fletchinder provides said support.  At least looking at this card now should prevent anyone from selecting one of its lower Stages for a later “filler” review. ;) 


Emma Starr

                Normally, when you’re a Stage 2 Pokémon, to make it these days, it would need to have a really awesome ability to be very useful. Unfortunately, Talonflame lacks one. And the 130 HP is just not the most ideal either, along with that dreaded Water weakness, though the free retreat is definitely nice. So, does Talonflame have what it takes to bring on the heat (yes, that was lame, I know…)

                For one Colorless, Grand Loop lets you draw three cards, and lets you switch out to a benched Pokémon. It’s a nice effect, though I feel if this was an ability that could activate on your bench, and then Talonflame would be your active, I feel this card could have been more useful. As it is, however, it’s still nice to see some draw power from an attack, but this sort of attack on a Stage 2…is just bothersome. Hopefully the REAL attack can hold its own…

                Brave Bird does 2-for-90, with 20 damage being given to Talonflame himself. Really, that actually isn’t as bad as it sounds, as Talonflame most likely won’t be sticking around for to long anyway, usually. However, the damage-per-energy count is…very nice. In fact, in our college’s Pokémon Club, I used a card similar to this one, Blaziken (PC 28) in our pre-release tournament, and it mopped the floor with its low cost 2-for-100 attack every time I got it out, and even helped me win the entire tournament. Although both have an underwhelming effect to them, sometimes raw damage…just plain works. And this is no problem for the energy-efficient Talonflame.

                Standard: 2.45/5

                Expanded: 2.45/5

                Limited: 3/5


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