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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Blaziken

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
March 12, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.50
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 4.00

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

You know you've got an interesting starter when it doesn't have the Ancient Trait the others have and isn't graced with an EX card yet. That's why Blaziken strikes me as the odd one out in this set, though to be fair the last time we saw it was only in Furious Fists. Still, all Blaziken shall have their day as they say (or not), so let's take a look at why this Blaziken is worth that second look! 

So far, we've got something that should turn heads immediately: both of these attacks are only 2 or less Energy. That's a rare thing to see on ANY Pokemon, and when you see it on a Stage 2, you know it's to incentivize its usage. And who wouldn't want to use Blaziken? Well, aside from that crazy-eyed look he seems to be giving in this card's art. Seriously, replace those eyes with spirals, and you basically have a wacky Blaziken! 

...anyway, Blaziken's first attack is aptly named Spreading Flames, as it allows you to quickly play Fire Energy from your discard pile onto your Pokemon "in any way you like" - ahh! I love that phrase! Using actions "in any way you like" is probably the greatest incentive of all for any card! Granted, this is your attack - but hey, 3 Fire Energy! Even Blacksmith can't beat that! Just...probably not Blaziken's best usage, seeing as he will have to face off against the surge of Watery Primal Kyogre-EX decks that are no doubt popping up, let alone Garbotoad already out and about (though he'll probably last one or two Quaking Punches). 

As for Heat Blow, it's a cheaper, weaker, and less versatile Burning Shot - or another way to look at it is a cheaper, stronger Flamethrower! It deals 100 damage, so it'll probably OHKO anything weak to it (take THAT Genesect-EX!), but aside from that, don't expect to go crazy with it. Even with Spreading Flames fueling up Blaziken a good bit (which why would you do that when you can fuel up a big Fire guy on the Bench), it's only a good attack. 

"I'm sorry, a good attack you said?" Yes, and that's just the truth of Stage 2s. You saw how Swampert only barely scraped by to climb into our Top 10 list - that takes guts! Panache! A real good ability, and a pretty good attack! And Blaziken...just lacks the ability, honestly. If he had Omega Barrage, that'd be scary-powerful, but if he had Omega Barrier, it might...help? Or maybe he should get Alpha something, even though I don't think any Fire/Fighting types are graced with Ancient Traits that aren't Omega. Still, some extra Ability of some kind could have helped him out. 

Maybe Blaziken-EX will be good? If they make one. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (Spreading Flames is too slow on Blaziken but fantastic on anything else; just don't think you should set up a Stage 2 to then set up another attacker) 

Expanded: 2/5 (you've got Entei-EX for fire-charging, don't waste your time with Blaziken unless you want to go with power...and even then, go with the Furious Fists one) 

Limited: 4/5 (could be a nice late-game cleanhouse finisher...on anything not named Primal Kyogre-EX, but hey, he can hit it for decent damage!...kinda) 

Arora Notealus: I'll never understand what made GameFreak think to design a kung-fu chicken. Maybe they saw Hot Shots! Part Deux's poster where Charlie Sheen shoots a bug-eyed chicken and thought to themselves, "...we can make that a Pokemon. Just throw the flames in the background on the chicken." BAM!! Flaming Chicken Archer Pokemon!...except without the archer. 

Next Time: An oldie but goodie? Maybie...I mean maybe 


Otaku

Since I am typing this up immediately after yesterday’s review, I am of course still down with a cold and am struggling to bring my usual level of mediocre-but-competent reviews to you.  Speaking of yesterday’s CotD, take advantage of that link to go read mine since it went up late because I wrote it late and submitted these two on the same day and I’ll be referencing it a lot, though if you really don’t want to, I’ll include enough that you can skip it if you insist.  We are nearing the end of Fire Week for XY: Primal Clash which makes sense; we are almost out of Fire-Types from this set and this is the Thursday CotD.  Today we go big with Blaziken (XY: Primal Clash 28/160)… but would we be better off just going home instead? 

 

The sad part is that even in my impaired state, that is up to par with my usual attempts at wordplay.  Focusing on the actual review subject again of course its a Fire-Type and again, I’ve had no surprise revelations or epiphany to re-evaluate the Type itself; most Grass- and Metal-Type Pokémon are Fire Weak and see enough successful competitive play that in terms of Type-matching its a solid Type, and unless you go to the extremes of Unlimited, Fire-Types never have to worry about Resistance… though a few cards like Hariyama (XY: Furious Fists 52/111) can fake Resistance and serve as the rare (and usually not that great) example of an anti-Type card.  Mostly such things are just worth mentioning and maybe familiarizing yourself so you don’t get an embarrassing loss crashing into one first round at a tournament and making the wrong plays due to your total surprise.  I… have some first hand experience with similar things.  The other mixed blessing of being a Fire-Type remains that while they’ve got decent Type match-ups and some solid direct (Blacksmith) and indirect (Scorched Earth) support, we just don’t currently have a standout Fire-Type deck.  So there’s a niche waiting to be filled, but if it were easy to be filled something else would already be there. 

Being a Stage 2 didn’t magically become easier since the last time we looked at one either.  Needing two more cards of investment at at least one more turn of time with Evolution acceleration (two more without) wouldn’t be so bad if the designers could figure out a good way to employ the lower Stages in the line but so far… nada.  Instead it all comes down to Blaziken to get Torchic and Combusken/Rare Candy into decks with the nigh impossible task of outperforming big Basic Pokémon that can hit just as hard without the extra time and cards.  Blaziken sports 140 HP, a decent amount that will usually allow it to survive a hit, though the comfort zone is far smaller than even until just recently as the last few sets have really stepped things up with more OHKOs and pseudo-OHKOs, either due to combos or Mega Evolutions really starting to come into their own and plus recent Type support offerings (namely those belonging to the Fighting-Type).  Water Weakness is a concern; on one hand there isn’t a Water-Type version of Mewtwo-EX or Yveltal-EX but on the other hand there are examples like Seismitoad-EX plus a few others that are less about raw power than technical prowess… or even that function in support roles but are worthwhile attackers (especially against Weakness).  Blaziken has no Resistance - a missed opportunity perhaps but the norm.  The single Energy Retreat Cost is easy to pay as you’ll often have the Energy and be able to afford the loss, and is a little less common (and thus I feel a little more impressive) since this is a Stage 2. 

Blaziken has two attacks and they are actually quite low priced, though if they don’t do something useful they could still be too expensive.  For [R] it can use Spreading Flames to attach up to three [R] Energy (which currently means just basic Fire Energy) to your Pokémon in any way you would like.  On a Basic, especially one that could take a hit, this could be good but on a Stage 2, it is just a decent option to have but not one you’ll be likely to use; you’ll have to be setting up for something seriously impressive to  invest in and then sacrifice a Stage 2 line for some Energy acceleration.  Even with 140 HP, you’ll need a little luck to use Spreading Flames twice and since you had to attach an Energy to the card itself, that is only a net gain of five Energy (assuming you get the maximum number of attachments).  If Blaziken goes down in just one hit, you’re only two Fire Energy ahead after all of that.  The second attack is a bit more straightforward; Heat Blow requires [RC] and hits for 100, though you must discard an Energy attached to itself for using the attack.  100 for two is a good return though the damage you’re hitting isn’t enough to generate a OHKO outside of Weakness (or stupidly complex combos not worth the hassle).  If you could reliably stream Blaziken though, as you are only giving up a single Prize and the more reasonable buffs available puts anything lacking special protection in 2HKO (plus a few smaller things in OHKO), you might have something. 

Before we try to brianstorm combos or a deck, let’s look at where Blaziken comes from; yesterday we established that the main benefit of Torchic is it can be oh-so-adorable or in the case of yesterday’s specific version - XY: Primal Clash 26/160 - impressive looking but not actually all that good.  As such whichever one you run is pretty inconsequential save the Expanded only option of BW: Dark Explorers 14/108; just skip that one unless it is your only option.  So let us move onto Combusken.  You have one choice that is only good for the Expanded format - BW: Dark Explorers 16/108 - and two good for either Expanded or Standard - XY: Furious Fists 13/111 and XY: Primal Clash 27/160.  All three are Stage 1 Fire-Types with 80 HP, Water Weakness, no Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [C], no Ability, no Ancient Trait but with two attacks.  BW: Dark Explorers 16/108 sports Double Kick for [C], which is grants two coin flips good for 20 points of damage per “heads” to the opponent’s Active as well as Flamethrower which costs [RRC] and does 70, plus requires you discard an Energy attached to Combusken.  XY: Furious Fists 13/111 has Slash for [CC] to hit for 30 or Midair Strike for [RCC] which is good for 50 plus another 20 on a coin flip.  XY: Primal Clash 27/160 has Quick Attack at a cost of [R] and hitting for 20 (plus another 20 on a “heads”) or Spiral Kick for [RC], which does a flat 30.  None of these are great, because you really want to be setting up for Blaziken or else need something that is a good spare opener/closer; none of these cards suit such purposes.  Still if you get stuck with a Combusken Active and might as well attack, I favor XY: Primal Clash 27/160; its Quick Attack is a decent deal and while Spiral Attack is badly overpriced, its only two Energy instead of the three required by the “big” attacks on its peers.  You really could use any of them, though… and of course, as many Rare Candy as you dare in light of Item lock. 

Alright, so what about other Blaziken?  In Expanded you can use BW: Dark Explorers 17/108 and for Standard you have XY: Furious Fists 14/111.  They have the same attributes as today’s Blaziken except their Retreat Cost is one more (so [CC]) and both also have two attacks.  BW: Dark Explorers 17/108 can use Blaze Kick for [RC] to score at least 40 points of damage with a coin flip determining if it hits for another 30 (so 70 total) on “heads” or Burns the Defending Pokémon (on “tails”).  Its Flamethrower attack requires [RRC] plus forces you to discard an Energy attached to Blaziken but deals 130 damage.  With some buffs that aren’t too complicated, Blaze Kick can hit 2HKO range and Flamethrower OHKO, at least against Pokémon-EX with 180 or less HP and no protection (Silver Bangle, Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank City Gym).  XY: Furious Fists 14/111 has the simple but potentially effective Clutch attack for [CC], which deals 50 damage while preventing the opponent’s Active from manually retreating (though workarounds abound).  For [RRCC] and a two Energy discard cost it can use Burning Shot to deliver 150 damage against one of your opponent’s Pokémon (if the target is on the Bench, don’t apply Weakness or Resistance).  Steeper Energy costs but this one needs fewer buffs to score a OHKO.  Both are decent options to have but never proved successful on their own, so I don’t think they’ll help today’s version see play or crowd it out of the field. 

So what can you do with Blaziken?  All three can tap Blacksmith for some amazing Energy acceleration; sure there are Pokémon that can speed it up even more but especially with Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, Blacksmith is usually more reasonable, even at the cost of a draw card for the turn.  Unlike the other two, XY: Primal Clash 28/160 can use its “big” attack with just Blacksmith alone; your other manual Energy attachment can go somewhere else.  The others hit hard enough that you had reason to try to build into a OHKO combo but that might have been the problem; being combos they were more complex and thus less reliable and ate up more deck space.  I could still running a single copy of XY: Furious Fists 14/111 for when you can make good use of the snipe.  In the end there are likely too many problems for this to have a serious chance.  A 2HKO strategy falls apart against most Fairy Transfer builds, as they will soak one shot then heal it away with Max Potion.  I danced around it a bit earlier, but Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108; BW: Plasma Freeze 117/116) has seen renewed usage thanks to Archie’s Ace in the Hole.  It is mostly there for the draw power but can still be great for taking down smaller or Water Weak Pokémon.  Now… Blaziken doesn’t have that great of prospects for competitive play aren’t great to begin with but for both casual, fun play or the hope of sneaking a win by going rogue are both doused if you have a lot of Water in the environment. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.5/5 

Expanded: 2.5/5 - I don’t believe it really gains or loses anything here; the one extra Blaziken option isn’t bad but it isn’t overly good and I’m not noticing anything else really pertinent.  Then again, I’m also still coping with that cold. 

Limited: 4/5 - You know the drill; obviously skip it if you have a good +39 deck prospect instead, but otherwise whether you are running a little or a lot of Basic Fire Energy you should be able to get a lot out of Blaziken.  It would score higher but it is still a Stage 2, plus you really might lack the room for even the few Fire Energy you’d need just to enable Heat Blow. 

Summary: Blaziken actually looks fairy solid, but its lower Stages let it down and as I’ve said before, we are in a time where so many good and great cards have accumulated to form the metagame: if many of them can’t compete those that are merely “adequate” don’t have much hope.  I like it for a fun deck, though I’m not sure how much fun it would actually be if you end up slamming into a lot of Water.


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