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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 

Top 10 BREAKthrough

#7 - Empoleon #38/162

- BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
November 19, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.50
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 4.65

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Now Empoleon's a surprisingly familiar face, and no I'm not just saying that cause he's been around since Gen IV. He's actually been around the last couple few formats as well, as the powerful LTR version with swift Diving Draw and the powerful and cheap Attack Command, although it's become significantly less threatening in recent history. So here to prove himself a potential threat once more, Empoleon steps up to the arena and prepares his assault! 

...by powering up his brethren instead. 

Truth be told, Empoleon didn't make it on our list for his stellar 2-for-70 vanilla Hydro Splash, though that is honestly one of the better vanilla attacks out there. No, he comes out thanks to the power of Dignified Fighter, an Ability that effectively gives all Basic Pokemon an extra Muscle Band's worth of damage to their attacks. Kind of a strange thing to claim you're dignified when you're just powering up your own attacks, but hey, naming conventions aside, this is a stellar Ability! 

As of late, the main attackers in most decks have been Megas. Whether it's M Manectric-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, M Rayquaza-EX, M Tyranitar-EX, whatever it may be, there have been a load of decks centered around Mega evolutions and their extreme power, and the trend isn't going to slow down any time soon. But once upon a time, the big Pokemon on the block were Big Basics and regular Pokemon-EX, and while Empoleon's Ability won't make a lot of the EXs on-par with the power level of those Megas, it can certainly give a healthy aid even to those evolving Pokemon-EX! 

To give you an idea: 

-Machamp-EX's Crazy Hammer can now OHKO most any non-Mega Pokemon-EX so long as he's got a Status

-Giratina-EX can lock stuff down with Chaos Wheel and 2HKO any Pokemon-EX not named "Wailord-EX"

-Lugia-EX, Yveltal-EX, and Mewtwo-EX can deal another 1 Energy's worth of damage with their various "Ball" attacks

-Seismitoad-EX can hit for 50 damage using Quaking Punch and stun the Items your opponent uses 

Needless to say, the application will vary from deck to deck, and you may not need to run Empoleon in most of these decks, but there's no denying that an extra Muscle Band is always nice, especially when it's in the form of a Pokemon that gives it to all of your Basic Pokemon! Sure, he's a Stage 2, so that requires a bit more investment than a mere Muscle Band, but the flexibility of his Ability and the power it provides could definitely help out a lot of Basic-centric decks! 

...well, certainly in Expanded if not Standard. 

Rating 

Standard: 3.5/5 (a fairly solid Stage 2 with a powerful damage-boosting Ability) 

Expanded: 4/5 (who works well with all your Basic Pokemon-EX support!) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (if you can get him, your Basics will become a lot more powerful in this format!) 

Arora Notealus: Leading the army of Basics against our opponents once again, Empoleon really is turning into a regal general of sorts in Pokemon, huh? 

Next Time: A twofer! Featuring the ghastliness of a ghoulie and a researcher extraordinaire!


Otaku

Sliding into sevenths place is the penguin potentate, Empoleon (XY: BREAKthrough 38/162)! 

As a Water-Type, it can hit the Weakness nearly all Fire-Types and some Fighting-Types, will only face Resistance on BW-era Grass-Types (and even that isn’t universal), doesn’t have to worry about Type specific counters because even though a few exist they just haven’t been worth using and the especially important part, gains access to Water-Type support, specifically Archie’s Ace in the Hole.  As a Stage 2, one would normally have to give up a lot of deck space and wait at least two turns (possibly three) for Empoleon to hit the field, Archie’s Ace in the Hole can bench it from your discard pile directly so long as you can make Archie’s Ace in the Hole your last card in hand while a copy of Empoleon is in your discard pile and an open slot for it to fill on your Bench.  If you do go for more traditional Evolution, then you’ll have to deal with the aforementioned drawbacks, but can cash in on Dive Ball for easy search.  In either case, the rest of the Water-Type support (both exclusive to Water-Types and not) is a nice bit of backing for a card, though I don’t think it is the best of all Types. 

For HP, Empoleon is in that range past what is required for 2HKOing a Mega Evolution but still below what is needed to OHKO most Basic Pokémon-EX; a fairly solid amount that can often enough surve a blow, especially if a deck is employing damage buffs that are specific to fighting Pokémon-EX.  The Grass-Type Weakness can be dangerous; it makes no difference against attacks that would take the OHKO regardless, but it can enable supporting attacks to become rather vicious besides saving moderately sized attacks from needing an a small damage boost.  At 140 HP Resistance might have come in handy but doesn’t matter because it isn’t there.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is high enough you will prefer not to pay it but when you must it is reasonable to pay as well as to recover from having paid it.  The card has no Ancient Trait but has a simple Ability called “Dignified Fighter” that boosts the damage attacks from your Basic Pokémon do by 20 points before applying Weakness and Resistance, and the even simpler attack is “Hydro Splash” for [WC] which hits for 70 damage.  The attack is just sort of there and the Ability won’t help Empoleon directly, but it can buff other attackers while being a Bench-sitter, so I think Dignified Fighter looks pretty potent.  It may be too difficult to be worth it, but based on the wording it should stack. 

Again, I already think this is a card to play via Archie’s Ace in the Hole, but we’ll take a look at the lower Stages as well as other Empoleon anyway.  The options for Piplup are BW: Dark Explorers 27/108, BW: Legendary Treasures 33/113, BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 and XY: BREAKThrough 36/162.  For Prinplup you can pick from BW: Dark Explorers 28/108, BW: Legendary Treasures 34/113 and XY: BREAKThrough 37/162, plus you could use Rare Candy.  For Empoleon we have BW: Dark Explorers 29/108 (given the Secret Rare treatment as BW: Plasma Freeze 117/116), BW: Black Star Promo BW56 and BW: Legendary Treasures 35/113.  All Piplup, Prinplup and other Empoleon are Water-Types (...well some could have been Metal) with no Resistance or Ancient Traits.  Only one has an Ability (we’ll get to that), while both the Piplup and Prinplup from XY: BREAKThrough are Grass Weak (like today’s Empoleon): the rest are all Lightning Weak. 

All Piplup are Basic Pokémon with 60 HP and a Retreat Cost of [C]; all have a single attack except for BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 which has two.  BW: Dark Explorers 27/108 has “Fury Attack” for [W], allowing you to flip three coins good for 10 damage per “heads”.  BW: Legendary Treasures 33/113 knows “Water Splash” for [WC], which does 10 damage or - with a successful coin toss - 30.  BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 allows you to use “Charm”, at a cost of [C], to knock off 20 damage from attacks done by the Defending Pokémon or for [WC] to use “Peck” to do 20 damage.  XY: BREAKThrough 36/162 has “Wave Splash” for [WC] and it does 30 damage.  This card is being run to survive so go with BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 for what little good soaking 20 damage may do you, unless Lightning Weakness proves so bad it makes more sense to go with XY: BREAKThrough 36/162, though I doubt it will especially matter which Piplup you use. 

All Prinplup are Stage 1 Pokémon (obvious but I hate breaking form) with… less uniformity than among the Piplup.  BW: Dark Explorers 28/108 has 80 HP, a Retreat Cost of [CC] and two attacks: for [C] it can use “Razor Wing” to hit for 20 damage and for [WCC] it can use “Fury Attack” to flip three coins, each good for 30 damage per “heads”.  BW: Legendary Treasures 34/113 has 90 HP and still a Retreat Cost of [CC] but only a single attack; it is “Water Splash” for [WC] but this time it hits for 20 with a successful coin toss adding 30 to that (so 50 total on “heads”).  XY: BREAKThrough 37/162 is back down to 80 HP but only has a Retreat Cost of [C] and a single attack - “Ice Beam” - for [WC] that does 30 damage plus has you flip a coin and if it is “heads” the attack also Paralyzes the opponent’s Active.  Use Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Rare Candy when you can but if you do need a Prinplup go with XY: BREAKThrough 37/162 due to its capacity to Paralyze and retreat for only [C] or BW: Legendary Treasures 34/113 just for the 90 HP.  Surprisingly, BW: Dark Explorers 28/108 got a Card of the Day review, which you may read here. 

Now for what might really matter, the other Empoleon.  Besides all being Stage 2 Pokémon they each have the same 140 HP and Retreat Cost of [CC] as today’s subject.  BW: Dark Explorers 29/108 (and BW: Plasma Freeze 117/116) is likely familiar to you: the “Diving Draw” Ability allows you to discard a card from your hand to draw two cards once per turn (though you can use multiple Diving Draw on the same turn), and has proven strong enough to see successful competitive play.  Its attack also is good; “Attack Command” only requires [W] but does 10 damage times the number of Pokémon in play, counting both sides of the field.  It was reviewed here, but I’m kind of surprised it didn’t get any follow ups because again, it has risen to and fallen from prominence, I think more than once.  BW: Black Star Promo BW56 and BW: Legendary Treasures 35/113 both have two attacks.  The former can use “Fury Attack” for [W] to flip three coins, each good for 30 points of damage on “heads” or at a cost of [WCC] use “Cold Crush” to hit for 70, plus you may discard an Energy from itself to also discard one from the opponent’s Active.  The latter can “Surf” for [WC] to do 50 damage or for [WWC] use “Emperor’s Strike” to do 70 damage, plus another 60 if its HP is lower than the that of the opponent’s Active Pokémon when the attack was initiated.  BW: Legendary Treasures 35/113 was reviewed here and wasn’t impressive back then, either.  BW: Dark Explorers 29/108 could be a rival or a partner in a deck, but the other two are best left to collectors. 

So… back to Dignified Fighter; is it really worth benching a Stage 2, even if you can put it directly from the discard pile to one’s Bench?  After all Machamp (XY: Furious Fists 46/111, XY: Black Star Promos XY13) boosts the damage done by all Fighting-Types and while people tried it, it didn’t have a lasting impact on the metagame.  Why would Empoleon be any different?  I think because of the Basic Pokémon capable of working with it: Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 97/98).  There are probably others, but we have two Pokémon used for their attack effects and not their damage output.  A single Empoleon on the Bench means Seismitoad-EX hits for 50 points of damage before adding in Muscle Band.  If you can get two copies of this Empoleon on your Bench and Muscle Band onto Seismitoad-EX, suddenly you’re not only locking Items but also 2HKOing your opponent’s 180 HP (or less) Basic Pokémon-EX.  While most likely quite difficult, a full three Empoleon on the Bench plus a Muscle Band will allow Giratina-EX to not only block your opponent from playing Special Energy cards, Stadiums and Pokémon Tools from hand but to swing for 180 damage while doing it.

Yet so far, I haven’t heard anyone really discussing it so maybe I’m wrong about it.  I think Empoleon will back at least a semi-successful deck and I’ll need someone to walk me through why it isn’t going to be playing Bench-sitter for some really annoying ones in Standard, probably in Expanded as well.  If you pull the full Evolution line in Limited, go for it, even if it is just a 1-1-1 and you don’t want to run any Water Energy for it to attack with because it can boost a lot of your weaker Basic attackers to threatening range.  Unless you pull a Basic Pokémon-EX worth running by its lonesome. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.5/5 

Expanded: 3.3/5 

Limited: 4.8/5 

Summary: While not might in and of itself, with what it can do for other Basic attackers, especially the ones that aren’t as easy to boost more than once seems ripe with potential.  Empoleon is something to experiment with and eventually I think to go for some wins. 

For my own list, I had Empoleon as my number one pick because I kept seeing Seismitoad-EX returning to the forefront.  We’ll see if my phobia made for a foolish prediction.


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