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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 15 Ancient Origin Cards

#4 - M Sceptile EX

- Ancient Origins

Date Reviewed:
September 8, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.00
Expanded: 4.00
Limited: 4.50

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Personally, I welcome our new reptilian overlords. 

Rating 

Standard-nahhhhhhhhh, okay. 

So M Sceptile-EX here has gotten a bit of hype thanks to the powerful entity that is the Forest of Giant Plants. Of course, if Forest of Giant Plants was so ridiculous, how come it isn't higher up on our overall list? 

...shush, it's M Sceptile-EX time. 

In all seriousness, Forest of Giant Plants is widely considered one of the most broken cards in recent history not for its effect alone but for the Pokemon it paves the way for because of its effects. Why else would Shiftry, a card from YEARS ago that wasn't even that good, suddenly out of nowhere get banned? That's the power of the Forest of Giant Plants, and M Sceptile-EX here is another prime example of how powerful the Stadium - and subsequently Grass decks - have become! 

Of course, a good Mega EX deserves a good EX, and Sceptile-EX is worked up to be probably one of the more powerful and dangerous EX to come out. Sceptile-EX can take care of opponent's in a simple 2-turn maneuver with Sleep Poison causing Sleep AND Poison for 1 (with a coin toss and an extra 10 damage for trying), and Unseen Claw, which will deal an extra 70 damage on top of its 60 damage if the opposing Pokemon's affected by a Status Condition - all for 2 Energy. Not too shabby, really, and it combos insanely well with Ariados from earlier. 

M Sceptile-EX capitalizes on the cheap insanity by also only have an attack with 2 Energy - Jagged Saber, which deals only 100 damage (which...well, for 2 Energy, that's actually pretty good), but here's the kicker! With Jagged Saber, you get to also put down 2 Grass Energy onto any of your Benched Pokemon, and if you do end up doing that, you get to instantly HEAL ALL THE DAMAGE FROM THEM!! 

Combined with a little bit of swapping action, M Sceptile-EX suddenly has MUCH more staying power than many other Pokemon - suddenly that 2-turn KO becomes a 3-turn KO, and that in turn is eaten by another turn to deal with the new M Sceptile-EX out-front! All the while you can't hit it with Abilities thanks to Theta Stop, that Ancient Trait of M Sceptile-EX's, and Ariados could totally be on their Bench Poisoning your dudes easily! 

Have I even mentioned that M Sceptile-EX could come out on Turn 1 with Forest of Giant Plants? 

Rating 

Standard: 4/5 (a normally clunky and not-so-powerful EX made powerful by the furious speed of a Stadium and the lasting power of Jagged Saber) 

Expanded: 4/5 (like, how crazy can this guy be?) 

Limited: 5/5 (WHY WOULDN'T YOU?!...prolly cause you didn't get all the pieces, but other than that, WHY WOULDN'T YOU?!) 

Arora Notealus: M SCEPTILE-EX GONNA KNOCK YOU OUT!!...EVENTUALLY!! 

Next Time: And now for something to help you against this kind of threat.


Otaku

Our second CotD this week and four place pick is M Sceptile-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 08/98, 85/98), having accumulated 23 points from the voting, which is pretty impressive when you consider that this go round the best a card could score was 30 out of 30.  So why did it rank so high?  So far I’ve been the guy skeptical, cautiously optimistic and even raving over this card, so today I’ll try to actually find the proper balance as we go through the card. 

M Sceptile-EX is a Grass-Type so it can hit some key cards for Weakness (more in Expanded than in Standard), doesn’t have to worry about Resistance and enjoys some solid support, probably most noteworthy being Forest of Giant Plants.  Being a Mega Evolution carries all of the baggage of being a Pokémon-EX, plus a little extra.  Like all Pokémon-EX M Sceptile-EX is worth an extra Prize when KOed, can’t benefit from a few support cards that specifically exclude Pokémon-EX and is vulnerable to a fe counter-cards that specifically target Pokémon-EX; being a Mega Evolution adds in the need to Mega Evolve (which is like Evolving into a Stage 1 but it ends your turn immediately after you do it), access to Mega Turbo and being vulnerable to Faded Town.  Already something worth noting: the Sceptile-EX => M Sceptile-EX line has access to Sceptile Spirit Link; coupled with Forest of Giant Plants this means you can give up your Pokémon Tool (or run cards to change it out after the fact) so that you can nullify the entire time element of Mega Evolving (though you are increasing the cards invested). 

Being a Mega Evolution so far has always carried at least better HP than a card would normally attain and M Sceptile-EX does not break with tradition: 220 isn’t a huge boost but it is only 30 shy of the record set by Wailord-EX and at least 30 (usually 40 or 50) HP above Basic Pokémon-EX.  No HP score is safe from being OHKOed, but it will take a pretty massive (and thus unlikely) hit to take down M Sceptile-EX in one shot.  The Fire Weakness would be one of the exceptions; it turns a fairly attainable 110 damage in one shot into a 220 damage OHKO.  The combination of rotation plus a few of the new cards this set may finally have given the Fire-Type some teeth again, something it hasn’t enjoyed since XY: Flashfire was new.  M Sceptile-EX has no Resistance so let us move onto its Retreat Cost of [CC]; this is pretty typical and is neither low enough to be cost effective nor high enough to be cost prohibitive.  You probably should have an out to paying full price (or at all) in your deck, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be something you need to be able to reuse over and over again. 

M Sceptile-EX possesses an Ancient Trait and a single attack.  The former is “Θ Stop”, which protects M Sceptile-EX from the effects the Abilities of your opponent’s Pokémon that are done to M Sceptile-EX.  To give you an idea, this does nothing to an Ability like Safeguard, which doesn’t actually do anything to M Sceptile-EX itself but it would protect against something like “Surprise Bite, found on Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119), which places damage counters on the target.  If it is something that affects multiple Pokémon, like “Thorn Tempest” - found on Forretress (XY: Flashfire 60/108) - which places a damage counter on all of the opponent’s Pokémon when a player Evolves one of his or her in play Pokémon into said Forretress, anything with Θ Stop will be protected but anything without it will still take damage.  The attack is “Jagged Saber” for [GC], and it does 100 damage plus gives you the option of attaching up to two [G] Energy from your hand to your Benched Pokémon how you like; so 0, 1 or 2 (your choice) Grass Energy (not your choice as nothing else counts as [G] in hand so far) and if you choose two Energy you may attach them both to the same Pokémon or one apiece to two different Pokémon.  While the Ancient Trait almost seems minimal the attack has quite a lot of variability to it.  Does that make it good?  In a word, “yes” but you know I’m going to use more than a single word. 

I also however am going to touch upon our options for Sceptile-EX because that is a contributing factor to the potency of the whole package.  We actually have two options for this one: XY: Black Star Promo XY53 and XY: Ancient Origins 7/98 (and 84/98 for the Full Art).  Both are Grass-Type Basic Pokémon-EX with 170 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ability, no Ancient Trait and two attacks.  XY: Black Star Promo XY53 can use “Agility” for [G] to hit for 20 and if you get “heads” on a mandatory coin flip Sceptile-EX is protected from damage and effects by attacks from the opponent’s Pokémon during your opponent’s next turn and for [GGG] it can hit for 130 damage, though it cannot use “Strong Slash” again on the next turn (at least not without using a trick to “reset” the effect).  This isn’t a bad prelude (or fallback) and you can find a more detailed review of it here.  XY: Ancient Origins 7/98 and 84/98 can use “Sleep Poison” for [G] to hit for 10 damage and again flip a coin for a bonus; this time “heads” both Poisons and puts the opponent’s Active Pokémon to Sleep.  For [GC] it can use “Unseen Claw” to hit for 60 points of damage but if the opponent’s Active is afflicted by a Special Condition the attack does an additional 70 points of damage, good for 130 total.  Either makes for a decent opening or fallback option, with XY: Ancient Origins 7/98 (and 84/98) flat out being a good attacker in its own right… 

…which almost seems odd as between Forest of Giant Plants, Sceptile Spirit Link and at least one Mega Turbo you can ready M Sceptile-EX in a single turn, and also brings us to half of what makes this card work in a deck.  M Sceptile-EX isn’t the hardest hitting Pokémon, but not unlike M Manectric-EX before it, it combines a solid attack that will 2HKO most Pokémon that aren’t Mega Evolutions or Weak to it while also prepping a “replacement” for itself.   M Manectric-EX is not M Sceptile-EX of course, but the basic premise is similar enough except for one thing: healing.  “Healing” effects are more often too weak to matter in the Pokémon TCG, especially as coming off the last format most decks were shooting for either a OHKO, a 2HKO or (sometimes “and”) a lock-that-blocks-most-worthwhile-healing-effects, but here as long as you can attack, attach at least one [G] Energy from hand via Jagged Saber and healing itself isn’t being blocked - Bronzong (BW: Next Destinies 76/99) could do that in Expanded - it is happening and it gets rid of all damage.  You’ll likely need help keeping sufficient Energy in hand but if you do, your opponent has to focus on OHKOs that don’t requires an Ability directly working on M Sceptile-EX to have a chance.  Wait, I said it could only attach Energy to (and thus heal) Pokémon on your Bench so how does that work?  Attack, retreat, repeat as needed, with the occasional added step of using something to get Energy cards back from the discard pile.

 

Of course there is more to it than that.  Our ninth place pick and set-mate Ariados can help edge up the damage done by Poisoning non-Grass-Type opposing Actives from the Bench, hurried into play again by Forest of Giant Plants (now you see why that ended up our 12th place pick), while also helping Sceptile-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 7/98, 84/98) be an awesome, inexpensive back-up attacker.  If it didn’t seem like Item cards would prove too important I would even suggest using Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98).  Specifically Sceptile Spirit Link, Mega Turbo and a means of getting Energy from the deck or discard pile back into hand (so you can keep accelerating and healing) plus the usual power plays (like VS Seeker) add up to something too important to lose… but we’ve already seen Japan is getting Fisherman back in the Noivern and Raichu BREAK decks, so we are likely to get it in our next set.  That matters because it is a Supporter that allows you to add four basic Energy from your discard pile to your hand… at which point we might actually get a deck that at a glance seems too complex to work. 

So what does this mean in terms of the formats?  Standard will see M Sceptile-EX decks, though they will struggle against the OHKO decks of the format.  The decks that can’t score a OHKO easily (or at all) will in turn struggle against M Sceptile-EX, as will decks with Grass Weakness though the latter more for falling back on Sceptile-EX (either version but preferably XY: Ancient Origins 7/98, 84/98) as that can deliver actual OHKOs against the likes of Wailord-EX, Primal Groudon-EX (either version), Primal Kyogre-EX (either version) and Seismitoad-EX (unless Weakness chases it away, I expect it to at least stick around as an opener).  In Expanded Virizion-EX can squeeze into M Sceptile-EX decks to protect against Special Conditions but also can cause problems as the deck itself will almost always want to be able to inflict Special Conditions itself (both as a general attack buff and for Unseen Claw specifically).  Your reward is that now you gain some more important cards to OHKO: Keldeo-EX and Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135; BW: Plasma Blast 16/101).  Likely there are a few others I’m missing and some of these may not remain popular but odds are good at least a few will remain prominent. 

For Limited play, Sceptile-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 7/98, 84/98) is a great pull, worth building a +39 deck (a deck where it is the only Basic, ensuring you start with it but also ensuring you lose if it is KOed).  If you also manage M Sceptile-EX you can consider it; Mega Evolving can ditch a problematic Special Condition and you can then do a reliable 100 each turn, but the bonus effects won’t matter at all.  The fact that this set also contains Sceptile Spirit Link and Forest of Giant Plants also helps as if you manage the unlikely feat of pulling both Sceptile-EX and M Sceptile-EX, getting those two doesn’t require tremendous additional luck).  As this set does so much for Grass-Types you have two incentives for going with a fully fleshed out Limited deck instead; you may pull enough additional, good Grass-Types that your odds are actually better this way, plus you won’t have to worry about the handful of Fire-Types in this set.  There aren’t a lot of them but because (as I stated) XY: Ancient Origins has such a strong Grass-Type presence, working Fire into your own deck is a pretty good idea.  Not only do you have some strong (albeit higher rarity) pulls, but any deck using Stage 1 Pokémon also have a Flareon (XY: Ancient Origins 13/98) - our 15th place pick - because while it is a Stage 1, it is also just an Uncommon.

Ratings 

Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 4.15/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: M Sceptile-EX is an impressive card and frankly more than a little too potent for the health of the game but because that is true of so much of the competitive card pool I don’t know if most folks would notice.  Last format my primary deck was Landorus-EX/Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) so I certain felt it as I started running into the deck on the PTCGO (both in Expanded and during the period when XY: Ancient Origins was added but the rotation hadn’t actually been implemented).  It pretty soundly thrashed me which is probably why I had this as my number one pick for for XY: Ancient Origins.  Now?  Now I think I overrated it (though the collective list gets it about right), but mostly because of my usual deference to general usage cards over the deck specific.  M Sceptile-EX earns it marks in its own deck, but some of the last few cards (and at least one of the next cards) earns similar or better marks in most or all decks!


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