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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Roaring Skies Cards: #10 - Hydreigon EX

Date Reviewed:
May 4, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.38
Expanded: 3.50
Limited: 4.38

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

WELCOME ONE AND ALL TO THE ROARING SKIES EXPANSION, SOMETHING THAT WAS PRACTICALLY TEASED ALL THE WAY BACK SINCE PRIMAL CLASH WAS REVEALED!! Seriously, if you didn't call a set with Rayquaza at the helm, I don't know what to tell ya. Needless to say, this is an interesting set! Not only do we tap into the Dragon-type a bit more, but Colorless gets a fair bit of support too! Way to keep us on our toes! 

Now technically, the set comes out May 6th - the middle of the week here - but we wanted to be on top of the good stuff before it came out. So for what it's worth, think of this as the Top 10 Predictions for the best cards in the set!...okay, so that's pretty much every Top 10 List of ours, but we're still gonna be in the dark about how good some of these may or may not be till Wednesday at LEAST!! 

Take Hydreigon-EX here for example. He's once again a Dragon-type card and has finally been elevated to EX status...where he's an okay EX. His attack Shred is 3-for-80 and works like earlier Shreds, only it's that slight bit weaker to not be able to 2HKO without boosting. Not to say that's a bad attack, just weaker than what we're used to seeing with other EXs.  

But then there's his Ability, Dragon Road. Dragon Road takes the Stadium aspect of the game and uses that to its advantage! With the mighty powers of...being a...dragon, I guess, Hydreigon-EX forms the mighty Dragon Road, allowing his fellow Dragon-Types to traverse its path and lower their Retreat Cost by 2!! Which is...actually really big, when you think about it.

Just looking at Hydreigon-EX on his own, he goes down from 3 to 1 as long as a Stadium's in play. The scary thing is, most Dragon-types only have 2 or less for a Retreat Cost - so essentially, with only a couple minor exceptions, Hydreigon-EX gives Dragon-types a Free Retreat Cost. You know how I've said switching stuff around isn't that big of a deal? IT'S BECAUSE OF GUYS LIKE THIS THAT THAT'S THE CASE!! 

Granted, Dragon-types don't have a dedicated Stadium of their own at the moment to call home - their best bet is going to be stuff like Virbank, Silent Lab (less so with Hydreigon-EX), and other commonly used Stadiums - but by capitalizing off of your opponent's Stadium, Hydreigon-EX becomes a powerful ally to have! And consider this: having two Hydreigon-EX gives ALL of your Dragons free retreat. 

Hello Lance, how are you? 

Rating 

Standard: 3.5/5 (not that great without a Stadium himself, but once there's one in play, he's fantastic support) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (think of the earlier Dragons that benefit from Free Retreat!!)

Limited: 4/5 (Shred's a lot better here, and cheaper retreat is still a powerful option to have, but be wary that there's only one Stadium in the set) 

Arora Notealus: Hydreigon, buddy ol pal, you continue to be one of my favorite Dragons...even if you are 4x Weak to Fairies and have since fallen from the grace of OU into UU...WHATEVER, YOU'RE STILL AWESOME AS THE MOST BRUTAL POKEMON TO EVER LIVE!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 

Next Time: A familiar friend to support you!


Otaku

Welcome dear readers to our Top 10 Promising Picks of XY: Roaring Skies!  This set reminds me of why we could really use some more CotD writers; it is another one where there are so many cards that either are promising or look promising that we could really use more reviewers to provide a wider variety of outlooks (or else as much confirmation as one can get via consensus).  Drop Pojo a line if you’re interested.  We only had two lists this time; one from aroramage and one from me and we only had four cards in common between us (only one that was in the same slot)! 

Hydreigon-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 62/108; 103/108) takes our 10th place spot.  It is a Dragon-Type which isn’t so great for hitting Weakness (I only know of BW-era Dragon-Types having Dragon Weakness) but doesn’t need to worry about Resistance and just got some new Type support this set, so I’d say that is a solid start.  It is a Basic Pokémon (even though normally its an Evolution) because it is a Pokémon-EX.  Being a Basic is a huge advantage over being an Evolution right now due to the pace of the game and so many potent cards (both generic and specific) to fit into a deck and is also the one inherent benefit of being a Pokémon-EX (though they often get higher HP scores and better Abilities, Ancient Traits, and/or attacks).  The drawbacks of being a Pokémon-EX still apply though; Hydreigon-EX gives up an additional Prize when KOed, can’t access certain beneficial effects and there is a significant body of anti-Pokémon-EX effects out there (most notably Safeguard, though not all are passive). 

Hydreigon-EX does make good on the probable (but not guaranteed) HP boost of the Pokémon-EX template; it sports 180, the third highest score printed on Basic Pokémon-EX (there are only three with more).  This is enough that it is hard (but not impossible) to OHKO and about as good as it gets right now.  Besides decks that deal massive amounts of damage or employ more technical means of achieving an effective (though often not actual) OHKO, Weakness will make it easier to fell this beast, but fortunately it is Fairy-Type Weakness and while there are definitely some good Fairy-Type attackers, they are almost totally restricted to Fairy-Type decks.  That may not seem comforting, but we have some very splashable attackers right now like Mewtwo-EX that allow your Weakness to show up in almost any build, something Hydreigon-EX doesn’t have to worry about.  The lack of Resistance is the norm; I wish there was one but Resistance is no where near as useful as Weakness is deleterious.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is not good, but it isn’t awful.  Usually you’ll have a trick to reduce it and in some builds you might be packing something avoid manually retreating at all… plus in Expanded it makes Hydreigon-EX a legal Heavy Ball target.  With its Ability though I would gladly trade that extra bit of search for having a Retreat Cost of no more than [CC]. 

Said Ability is Dragon Road; simply put it reduces the Retreat Cost of all Dragon-Type Pokémon by [CC] so long as there is a Stadium in play.  Any Stadium will do and given how the Ability is worded, it should stack.  Almost no Dragon-Types have a free Retreat, with most having a score or [C] or [CC].  Even for the chunkier ones, a lowered Retreat Cost is still a big boon and this approach is far more balanced than (for example) Dark Cloak on Darkrai-EX.  However just viewing it in terms of building a competitive deck, you’ll either have to Bench two Hydreigon-EX so that (as long as your opponent doesn’t run something to increase Retreat Costs) all of your Dragons retreat for nothing while a Stadium is in play (and Abilities are Active) or accept that some (including Hydreigon-EX) aren’t going to hit that perfect free Retreat.  Hydreigon-EX also has a single attack: Shred requires [DPC] and does 80 damage while ignoring all effects on the opponent’s Active Pokémon.  This is a familiar attack and is useful for getting around things like Agility or Safeguard, though if your opponent uses an effect that would increase the damage you do to it, that too is sadly ignored.  Weakness and Resistance are not effects so it is quite rare for this to lower the damage you would do.  80 is about 10 less than I like to see, but that just means you’ll need a simple buff if you wish to score a 2HKO.  The Energy cost is the usual tricky Dragon-Type business, but it isn’t too hard to meet even without Double Dragon Energy.  I would advise some caution; I legitimately can’t tell if my concerns are mere nitpicks or the Achilles’ Heel of this card’s effects. 

Hydreigon-EX is thus part of the new Dragon-Type support.  If you’re running a Dragon-Type deck, you should consider it.  It has some steep competition though; while most of said competition doesn’t work in all Dragon-Type decks, it often fits better for particular build.  There are quite a few ways to deal with Retreat Costs that are well established and the universal damage blocking effects are usually based on coin flips or don’t apply to attacks against the Active.  If I am running a Dark Trance deck (I am not predicting that deck to make a comeback) you’d need two copies in play to zero out Retreat Costs and it wouldn’t work for off-Type attackers that the deck likes.  It would provide a “guard break” style attacker (to borrow a term from non-Pokémon video games) but even what appears to be an obsolete archetype like Dark Trance likely runs a wide enough variety of attackers that most popular defensive effects could be bypassed already… so I’d stick with the tried and true Darkrai-EX (possibly with Keldeo-EX) over Hydreigon-EX. 

Where the card likely does the most good is with its set-mate Reshiram (XY: Roaring Skies 63/108).  This newest Reshiram is a Dragon-Type with an interesting Ability; you can only use said Ability while Reshiram is Active but the effect is that you can attach a [R] Energy from your hand to one of your Dragon-Type Pokémon.  The simple combination of these two Basics would allow you to constantly promote a Reshiram after KOes to score a bonus from-the-hand Energy attachment.  Hydreigon-EX can only use Fire Energy for the [C] Energy requirement in Shred and Reshiram has just a single attack for [RRLC] that does 110, so odds are you’d want a third attacker but right now we are doing all of this with Basic Pokémon so there is likely room.  Throw in Double Dragon Energy (Dragon-Type specific Special Energy, provides two units of Energy that count as all Types) and you can actually power up a decent amount of Dragons.  You also can use a Switch (or similar cards) to also provide extra Energy attachments.  I don’t have any firm ideas (at least that don’t have superior alternatives already legal), but this seems like a good basis for something in Standard or Expanded.

I think Hydreigon-EX might be a bit better in Expanded; besides Heavy Ball you’ve got more Dragon-Types and Stadiums to work with and there are some interesting combos.  For example, Skyarrow Bridge sounds like competition but the two together would allow any basic Dragon-Type with a Retreat Cost of [CCC] or less to retreat for free.  In Limited play, this is a good choice for a +39 deck.  It is also a good choice for a deck that can pay the [PDC] cost of Shred without a lot of hassle and/or for one that runs a lot of Dragon-Types if you either pull Sky Field (only Stadium in this set) or sufficient other Dragon-Type support. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.5/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Summary: Hydreigon-EX is a good Pokémon-EX, but I’d feel better if I knew of a specific deck that made good use of it.  This did not make my own Top 10 list though it was one of the cards I considered,  I can’t say I am completely comfortable with it making the list (there are a few cards I think deserved to make the Top 10 more than it) but I can see why it would impress.


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