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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Torchic

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
March 11, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2
Expanded: 2
Limited: 3.75

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Once again we come to a Pokemon of which there are two in the set: Torchic, the Pre-Cooked Dinn-I mean, uh, Chick Pokemon. Rarely do we review early Basic Pokemon like Torchic here; normally, we're looking at the far superior Stage 1/2/EX that will usually dominate the game. To give you an idea, the last three evolving Basics that we reviewed were Joltik, Eevee (FUF), and Inkay (XY) - and I wasn't even around for that last one!! 

So what does this Torchic have that the other doesn't? It's a little weaker at 50 HP (compared to the other's 60 HP), but it has the advantage of having two attacks and an Ancient Trait. This time, we've got Omega Barrage, which gives this Pokemon the ability to attack TWICE each turn - TWICE!! That's amazing! Can you imagine this kind of ability being widespread? Suddenly those 2HKOs we've been talking about - they're all OHKOs!! And those OHKOs? Chances are you're KOing TWO Pokemon now!! 

Torchic shows off a slightly different use for the trait though; since her attacks are only 1 Fire Energy each - and chances are you'd rather not be attacking with Torchic's 50/50 Claw for 20 - you can use Flare Bonus. Remember how Scorched Earth made it on our Top 10 List as a Stadium that accelerates Fire/Fighting decks? Torches does that even more so with Fire decks - discard a Fire Energy, draw 2 cards. The text might as well read "Discard 2 Fire Energy and draw 4 cards," given Omega Barrage's dual-attack clause. 

The biggest problem is that this is a one-trick pony, cause chances are with only 50 HP, Torchic ain't sticking around in the Active slot for long. While Scorched Earth only triggers once each turn, at least it's able to stick around and trigger once each turn. Really at that point it's a matter of figuring out if drawing 4 cards is in your best interest to gain the upper hand for losing only 1 Prize to the opponent, 3 Energy, and 1 potential Blaziken. 

Oh yeah, have I mentioned that Torchic can still evolve into that guy? 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (incredible draw power, but not really sticking around long) 

Expanded: 2/5 (survivability was not on the course list when Torchic went to school) 

Limited: 4/5 (I'd say the draw power is invaluable here, even if it is likely Torchic may not stick around for long; on the off chance he does though, hopefully you'll have drawn into a Combusken to play on top of him!) 

Arora Notealus: Torchic represents the Fire Starter of Gen III and is an adorable little fluffball. As far as generation starters go, I think Gen III has a fairly good line-up. You've got this guy who becomes the godly Blaziken, Mudkip that evolves into the powerful Swampert, and Treecko, who's really cool to look at even as a Sceptile. Glad to see they all got Mega Evos! Now for the TCG to award their hard work with MORE MEGAS!! 

Next Time: Torchic evolves into Combusken, which further evolves into Blaziken! Huh. Neat!


Otaku

So I’m still sick; in fact as is often the case this cold is getting worse before it gets better.  I’ll save you the details other that I can’t even make a joke for Fire Week about burning up (thankfully no fever) and my sleep cycle is all out of whack.  The latter is why this review is going up at best a day late, though the bizarre ramblings about chicken nuggets I suspect I would have written in my sleep deprived state might have been more entertaining for today… we review a twice Evolving Basic Pokémon.  Normally we skip such cards because the designers don’t do a lot with them.  Regular readers will know how much that frustrates me as it seems like improving Evolving Pokémon seems like the most effective way to balance the end result (that is whatever said Evolving Pokémon Evolve into) against non-Evolving Pokémon.  The designers have tried this before, but only here or there and usually alongside widespread Evolution acceleration, overpowered end Stages or underpowered final forms.  The last of those three just means we go all Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101) while the first two are unfortunately previously tried solutions to balancing out the greater time and card investment required of Evolutions that at best provide a delicate balance that seems to eventually fall apart.  Of course the other side of this is pacing big, Basic Pokémon and even Stage 1 Pokémon since if they are awesome instantly they will still overwhelm a Stage 2 line where the Evolving Basic form and Evolving Stage 1 form actually provide a return instead of serving as mere stepping stones. 

So… why are we looking at this Torchic (XY: Primal Clash 26/160)?  At a glance you’ll notice its a Full Art-ish card and of course a Fire-Type and… that is it really.  I wanted to do a Fire Week for XY: Primal Clash but we had already covered Ninetales (XY: Primal Clash 21/160) and Camerupt-EX and unlike some of the other Types, that meant pickings were slim.  Being a Fire-Type is likely of less benefit to Torchic than other cards because (peeking ahead) it isn’t so great at attacking for damage (hitting Weakness on most Grass-Types and Metal-Types being somewhat important) and it is so small that it can be dangerous using a card like Blacksmith to directly accelerate Energy to it before you Evolve (and if you were about to Evolve, then usually it doesn’t matter that you attached to Torchic instead of Blaziken or Combusken).  I suppose it is still good that it doesn’t need to worry about Resistance; I’ve already jumped ahead a bit by pointing out you won’t want to try to use this card to attack for damage very often, but if its not so good at it, you don’t want Resistance to render it completely useless. 

So, being a Basic is good.  Being an Evolving Basic should be good (see my opening lecture) but usually is not.  50 HP is bad; it has almost always been low enough that even the first turn where attacking was allowed, there was a risk of being OHKOed.  Yes, even in some of the older (but not oldest) formats where things were pretty restrictive so that the player going first might be able to attack but not be able to play Supporters or Items and/or Pokémon had been designed so that you struggled to hit hard first turn (the latter being a good thing in hindsight).  The thing is now we are getting something we asked for but not in the way many of us asked for it.  Golbat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) and Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) helped demonstrate some of what I was lecturing about in the earlier paragraph and gave us a Stage 2 proving strong and competitive right now!  Unfortunately it continued the trend of doing so by seeming kind of abusive; spamming a coming-into-play Ability while backing big, Basic Pokémon attackers up front, including mainstays like Landorus-EX and Seismitoad-EX.  You already had to worry that a Torchic with its 50 HP was going to be forced Active and KOed before it could Evolve; now we are in a metagame where even just 10 more HP would have improved its odds of surviving while its being assaulted on the Bench. 

At 50 HP Weakness is unlikely to matter normally, as most decks can hit that hard (or harder) immediately but in this case Seismitoad-EX is a popular, prominent exception; Quaking Punch has just the one drawback of hitting for a mere 30 points of damage so that while you can lock down Items your opponent will have several turns to try and get around that and still take the KO.  With Torchic a completely standard Quaking Punch without any buffs still scores the OHKO thanks to Weakness.  There is no Resistance on the card which is typical and it is iffy with 50 HP whether such a thing would really have mattered.  The single Energy Retreat Cost is easy enough to pay though isn’t a huge benefit because it is also a pretty typical site on Evolving Pokémon. 

So besides getting some nice art, the main thing Torchic has going for it is its Ancient Trait Ω Barrage.  This allows it to attack twice.  Its first attack is Flare Bonus, which requires [R] and allows you to discard an [R] Energy from hand to draw two cards.  This isn’t a huge bonus, but especially doubled up and in a deck running Blacksmith it can be a nice trick.  The second attack is Claw, also just requiring [R].  It hits for 20 but requires a coin flip; on tails the attack does nothing.  On one hand this little fellow could actually get somewhat broken as a Basic with Ω Barrage should it have a reliable, damaging attack.  Thanks to Double Colorless Energy and Blacksmith you would even have a chance of fueling an attack that required [RRCC] T2 (while you could meet that cost T1 there isn’t really a point since you can’t attack then).  The thing is, by the logic that this card shouldn’t risk having a reliable attack for damage since most reasonable costs you’d assign could be met via Energy acceleration on the first turn in which you could attack and you’ve got Ω Barrage making that even more useful than normal… why have a damaging attack at all?  20 for [R] isn’t impressive without buffs and since its coin flip based any buffs risk being wasted.  Still if I open with a Virizion-EX or Genesect-EX against a Silver Bangle equipped Torchic, my opponent could take a fast lead through luck, which is almost worse than it just being a reliable (technical 2HKO but effectively a) OHKO.  Just don’t include a damaging attack at all!  If that makes the Ancient Trait less useful, then perhaps Torchic was a poor place for such an Ancient Trait in the first place? 

Still the potential draw factor means if you’ve got a reason to run Torchic in the first place, then this one might be the best pick.  What are the other options?  There is a single Expanded-only option, BW: Dark Explorers 14/108.  It has the same everything as this card except no Ancient Trait and just one attack instead of the two: Reckless Charge for [RC], good for 30 damage to the opponent’s Active and 10 to itself.  You can safely ignore this one.  The Standard legal options are BW: Dark Explorers 15/108 (reprinted with new art as BW: Legendary Treasures RC5/RC25), XY: Furious Fists 12/111 and XY Black Star Promo XY37 (re-released with new art as XY: Primal Clash 25/160).  All of these are also almost identical to today’s Torchic, but with 10 more HP, no Ancient Trait and different attacks.  BW: Dark Explorers 15/108 (and thus BW: Legendary Treasures RC5/RC25) can simply Peck for 10 damage at a cost of [R] or for [RC] use Live Coal for 20.  XY: Furious Fists 12/111 has just Quick Attack for [RC], good for 10 damage plus another 30 (so 40 total) with a successful coin toss.  Lastly XY Black Star Promo XY37 (and XY: Primal Clash 25/160) have Ember, allowing them to attack for 20 reliably for just [R], though there is a coin toss to see if you have to discard a [R] Energy attached to Torchic itself. 

So which version to go with?  It is important to remember that Ancient Traits, like Abilities and attacks, are lost when a Pokémon Evolves: it is possible a future release will alter this fact but I have seen nothing like that yet in spoilers from Japan.  You will seldom want to attack with Torchic and instead will want it to remain safe on the Bench to Evolve into either Combusken or directly into Blaziken via Rare Candy.  There isn’t much point in trying for damage but at the same time the current format will make it hard to benefit from drawing; you’ll need the Energy in hand to discard and decks don’t run that much Energy right now.  Your hand must survive intact until your next turn as well; until N rotates out (so that at least your opponent must intentionally try to disrupt you such as with Red Card) that’s actually tricky and not really in your own hands (please pardon the expression)  Plus the “No attacking T1” rule that makes an opening Torchic a little more likely to survive until you’ve at least had a turn to do something also means you might not have the option to attack with it at all.  So… despite looking cool I’m thinking you should pick the 60 HP version you prefer most.  None of the other attacks are all that good and thanks to Blacksmith (and the fact that if you’re attacking, you’re likely desperate) even the two Energy attacks are about as viable as the single Energy.  BW: Legendary Treasures RC5/RC25 it totally adorable and that might be as good of a reason as any. 

Wait… don’t I normally cover Evolutions?  Shouldn’t I since I’m the one stating this card is really only going to be played to Evolve if it is played at all?  Yeah, but guess what the next review is? 

Ratings (deck specific) 

Standard: 2/5 - While I did suggest going with HP, 60 isn’t that much better than 50 and none of the other Torchic are all that great: a two out of five in a deck built around Blaziken is at worst half a point lower than I should score any other Torchic currently available.  The “wow” factor of having an Ancient Trait/being a Full Art-ish card could provide a legitimate (but very small) competitive bonus and the really daring (and/or foolish) might have a slight use as a decoy opener in a Fire deck; the draw isn’t that useful but it isn’t useless and again running just the Torchic misleads the opponent and can cause them to underestimate the rest of your deck.  Then again, you’re burning a slot and a Prize to do this.

Expanded: 2/5 - The only direct competition isn’t competition and if there were any combos to really help it, I miss them.  So the score remains the same. 

Limited: 3.5/5 - Here the only major drawback (as draw power is amazing here) is that in a set with a so-so Fire-Type presence, the attack both requires an [R] Energy attached to Torchic and another each time you use the attack as part of the discard cost.  If you can work in a decent amount of basic Fire Energy cards (which will depend upon the rest of your pulls) and of course aren’t running a +39 deck, it is a must run.  Otherwise not. 

Summary: This Torchic is pretty and features an interesting gimmick, but it doesn’t seem to use it that well.  Eventual rotations or completely hypothetical future releases might help in the future, but for the now, just get some because they look so slick (and value them accordingly). 


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