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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Twofer:

Talonflame

& TalonFlame BREAK

- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Sep. 2, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

See Reviews Below

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

So what if I told you there was a Stage 2 Pokemon that you could play on your first turn? 

"Oh that's easy, what with Forest of Giant Plants." 

True, true. Now what if I told you there's a Stage 2 Pokemon that you could play...on SET UP?! 

"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-" 

Welcome to Talonflame, who has the unique Ability to be played as your Active Pokemon at the beginning of the game! Thanks to Gale Wings, you can start out with a 130 HP Stage 2 Colorless Bird!...yeahhhhhhhhh!! Okay, but on top of that, he's also got a fantastic maneuver in Aero Blitz. It only costs 1 Energy, and you get to deal 40 damage and add 2 cards from your deck straight to your hand. It's honestly crazy what this card can do in terms of setting you up - it's practically phenomenal!  

But then how come such an amazing card didn't even show up on our Top 10 lists? Well, while he does have a lot going for him, Talonflame has a LOT of disadvantages because of the very nature of his Ability. Gale Wings only ever works in setting up, meaning that unless you run the whole Fletchling line-up in your deck, any other Talonflame is dead weight. In fact, if you don't end up with a Talonflame in your opening hand but you do get a Basic, ALL of your Talonflames are dead weight. And that's a dangerous risk. And let's face it, Talonflame is much more highly tailored to setting you up than KOing Pokemon with Aero Blitz. 

That being said, is Talonflame any good? Well since he's technically not a Basic himself, if you end up with a bad hand but still have Talonflame, you're not technically required to put him down cause of his Gale Wings, meaning you can reshuffle your hand back into your deck for a better chance at an even better start. And if you do manage to get him in hand, he's got a lot of promise to helping you out for a cheap 1-Prize trade-off. That's not too shabby. 

Honestly, I wouldn't knock him till you try him. I've seen a couple of deck lists running 3 copies of him as an alternate starter, so he's got potential. Just don't rely on that potential - and be aware of the risks of running Talonflame - and you'll be alright. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (a decent start-up card that is...well, useless outside of starting up) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (but with his Colorless costs, he's workable into any deck) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (heck, in Limited he's probably even better for setting up!) 

------

     

On top of all of that, he's also got the benefit of holding onto a BREAK Evolution! And what does Talonflame BREAK do? It grants him the Flare Blitz move for 2-for-150! 

...uh huh. 

See, there's a bit of a problem with Talonflame BREAK, and it's that it assumes you're running a few things first: Talonflame, Fire Energy, Burning Energy in particular, and probably Volcanion-EX and Volcanion. But at that point...aren't you just basically playing a Volcanion deck? So why throw in Talonflame BREAK? Well he's effectively an alternate attacker to Volcanion, capable of dealing a LOT more damage! 150 damage to be precise! Though he won't be able to benefit off of Volcanion-EX's Ability. And he discards all the Fire Energy attached to himself, so there's that...Burning Energy would be nice. 

I'd say as an alt attacker, Talonflame BREAK is a decent option in the Volcanion deck. Outside of that though, I wouldn't be planning on running him in just any deck. Talonflame has a lot of promise in other decks, but Talonflame BREAK is decidedly niche - he wants Fire decks and he'll only stay in Fire decks. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (not too shabby to be fair, but you know how things are with BREAK Evos) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (at least Talonflame can search out BREAK so easily) 

Limited: 4/5 (and with the additional support, he can be something to worry about) 

Arora Notealus: Talonflame getting a BREAK Evolution just makes things more interesting. Course, Talonflame himself was already fascinating enough in my opinion, so this is just icing on an already delicious cake! 

...like cinnamon icing or something. 

Weekend Thought: What did you think of these cards? Potential? Too lacking? Too much? Too lucky? Discuss it all!


Otaku

We end this week with two-for-one review: Talonflame (XY: Steam Siege 96/114) and Talonflame BREAK (XY: Steam Siege 21/114).  We’ll focus on the former, then the latter. 

Talonflame is a Stage 2, which means it is slow… except this one has a little trick we’ll get to in a bit.  Still, getting it into play via manually Evolving it means three cards and three turns, or three cards and two turns if you replace the Stage 1 with Rare Candy, or two turns and four cards if you decide to use Wally for some odd reason.  It is a Colorless Type, so nothing is either Weak nor Resistant to Talonflame.  There are some anti-Colorless-specific effects but they aren’t particularly good, while there is also a little Colorless Type support explicitly for their Type: Altaria (XY: Roaring Skies 74/108; XY: Black Star Promos XY46) can cancel out the Weakness on Colorless Types, Aspertia City Gym grants Colorless Pokémon in play +20 HP, while Winona allows you to search your deck for three Colorless Pokémon at once.  There are also some useful Colorless Type support Pokémon - most notably Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) - as well as some good attackers like Lugia (XY: Ancient Origins 68/98, 94/98).  Yes, in some earlier reviews I wasn’t sure if this should count; the synergy only comes when you’re running other Colorless support, unlike with some other Types where it may be due to shared Energy requirements. 

Talonflame has 130 HP; the lower end of what is typical for a Stage 2, but still enough to be more likely than not to survive an attack, at least if damage output remains high even in a post Night March Standard Format (and I certainly think it will).  Talonflame has Lightning Weakness, which can be dangerous.  Even if no new Lightning Type decks surge ahead with the new and current Standard Format, some of the established ones which survived rotation - like Jolteon-EX and Raichu (XY 43/146; Generations 27/83, RC9/RC32) - are still formidable, and may simply have been waiting for this same rotation to get back on their feet.  Other widely played Lightning Weak cards like the Lugia-EX, Shaymin-EX, and Yveltal-EX have already provided an incentive to work the Type into existing decks.  Fighting Resistance is appreciated; the Fighting Type tends to stack damage bonuses and/or include some tricks to ignore Resistance, but by that same note they can whiff on the last -20 or the Resistance counter, or just forget they need them and it can still help you quite a bit.  Talonflame enjoys a perfect free Retreat Cost; its only a drawback if you need an emergency way to discard Energy or come up against an effect that specifically punishes low Retreat Costs. 

Talonflame has one Ability and one attack.  “Gale Wings” allows you to play Talonflame as your opening Active Pokémon provided it is in your opening hand.  This is quite potent but at the same time quite specific; past your game’s opening, Talonflame can’t make use of this Ability at all!  If you max it out, you have decent odds of opening with at least one, and the others may still act as discard fodder, but there is always the risk they will end up cluttering your hand or being your draw at the wrong moment.  That or you go ahead and run the lower Stages as well.  “Aero Blitz” requires only [C] to do 40 damage, and has you search your deck for any two cards you want to add to your hand.  Note that it isn’t optional; plus as it is unrestricted search, I don’t think you can “fail” it (opposing deck size is public knowledge).  This would be brilliant if we still had first turn attacks, but even with the current rules it is a good attack; the damage or the search alone might be mediocre (even for just one Energy) but both together let you put pressure on your opponent while developing your hand for the next turn.  If the damage or the search is somehow wasted, at least the other still went through. 

Talonflame BREAK is the BREAK Evolution of a Stage 2, meaning most of the time it’s acting like a Stage 3: ouch.  Its Fire Typing means nearly all Metal Types and the vast majority of Grass Types will take double damage from its attacks, while nothing is Fire Resistant.  The Fire Type has a few tricks though one of the best - Blacksmith - is now Expanded only, and the Fire counters either aren’t good, or are shared with other Types and still amount mostly to faking Resistance (see Parallel City).  Its 170 HP is great for something worth a single Prize; this is the same as the lower of the two typical Basic Pokémon-EX scores.  Of course those can be OHKO’d as well, but still it is durable.  Its Weakness, Resistance, Retreat Cost and even additional attacks (and potentially an Ability) are supplied by the regular Talonflame from which it BREAK Evolved.  Talonflame BREAK does supply an attack though: for [RR] it can use “Flare Blitz” for 150 damage, but it also must discard all attached Fire Energy from itself.  That is enough to deal with most things that are not Pokémon-EX, and with a boost it can even take out some of those as well!  This is seems like a fairly good BREAK Evolution, relative to the others; there are some better ones, but this doesn’t really disappoint. 

If you really want to focus on Talonflame BREAK, you’ll need more than just the one loan Talonflame that XY: Steam Siege 21/114.  That means going through Fletchling and Fletchinder, and we may as well glance at the other Talonflame cards while we are at it.  There are seven options for Fletchinder: XY: Kalos Starter Set 31/39, XY 113/146, XY: Flashfire 86/106, XY: Phantom Forces 89/119, XY: Roaring Skies 82/108, Generations RC25/RC32, and XY: Steam Siege 94/114.  All are Basic, Colorless Pokémon with Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Traits, and no Abilities.  XY: Kalos Starter Set 31/39, XY 113/146, XY: Flashfire 86/106, and XY: Phantom Forces 89/119 are all Expanded only and have 50 HP while XY: Roaring Skies 82/108, Generations RC25/RC32, and XY: Steam Siege 94/114 are legal for either Expanded or Standard play but only have 40 HP. 

XY: Kalos Starter Set 31/39 has one attack, “Razor Wind” for [C] and it does 20 damage but requires a coin flip; on “tails” the attack does nothing.  XY 113/146 can use “Me First” for [C] to draw a card or for [CC] use “Peck” to do 20.  XY: Flashfire 86/106 can use “Quick Attack” for [C] to do 10 damage, plus 10 more on a “heads”.  XY: Phantom Forces 89/119 reuses attacks but tweaks them a bit: Peck is back but for [C] and doing just 10 damage, while Quick Attack returns however it now costs [CC] and does 10 plus 20 on “heads” (just that base 10 on “tails”).  XY: Roaring Skies 82/108 can use “Acrobatics” flip two coins; the attack then does 10 damage plus another 10 per “heads”.  Generations RC25/RC32 has the attack “Warble” which lets you search your deck for up to two Fletchling to add to your hand, at a cost of [C].  XY: Steam Siege 94/114 can use Peck yet again, but this time it costs [C] but does 20.  None of these are particularly good; if you can’t decide then go with XY 113/146 for Expanded so you can try and draw with Me First while enjoying 50 HP, while in Standard Generations RC25/RC32 is pretty and maybe adding two Fletchling to hand is useful. 

There are five Fletchinder, assuming you don’t just use Rare Candy; Item lock is still a thing so I recommend considering one of these if you’re not just using today’s Talonflame.  So the options are XY 27/146, XY: Flashfire 17/106, XY: Phantom Forces 9/119, XY: Roaring Skies 14/108, and XY: Steam Siege 95/114.  All are Stage 1 Pokémon without Ability or Ancient Trait.  All but XY: Steam Siege 95/114 are Fire Types, while all but XY: Roaring Skies 14/108 have Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, and Retreat Cost [C] (it has Water Weakness, no Resistance, and a free Retreat Cost).  XY 27/146 has 70 HP with two attacks; for [C] it can use “Flame Charge” to search the deck for an [R] Energy to attach to itself, while for [RC] it can use “Fire Wing” for 30 damage.  XY: Flashfire 17/106  has 80 HP with only the attack “Firebreathing” for [R], which does 20 damage plus (on a coin toss) another 20 damage.  XY: Phantom Forces 9/119 also has 80 HP and brings back Peck doing 20, but this time for [R], while for [RRC] it can use “Combustion” to do 60.  XY: Roaring Skies 14/108 is back down to 70 and a single attack; “Peck Off” needs [C] to discard all Pokémon Tools from the opponent’s Active, and then do 10 damage to it.  XY: Steam Siege 95/114 has 70 HP and can use “Glide” to do 30 for [C].  I value that free Retreat Cost on XY: Roaring Skies 14/108, so go with that if you’re not sure which to pick… unless it needs to be Colorless, in which case go with XY: Steam Siege 95/114. 

There are three other options for Talonflame: XY 28/146, XY: Phantom Forces 10/119, and XY: Roaring Skies 15/108.  All three are Stage 2 Fire Type Pokémon with 130 HP, no Ancient Traits, no Abilities, but with two attacks.  XY: Roaring Skies 15/108 has Water Weakness with no Resistance while the other two have Lightning Weakness and Fighting Resistance.  XY: Phantom Forces 10/119 has a Retreat Cost of [C] while the other two have free Retreat Costs.  XY 28/146 can force your opponent to shuffle his or her hand into his or her deck, then draw four cards with “Devastating Wind” for [C], while it also has Flare Blitz for [RR] like Talonflame BREAK, but this version only does 100 damage.  It was reviewed here and now it’s even less impressive.  XY: Phantom Forces 10/119 starts off with another familiar attack - Acrobatics - but this time it costs [R] and does 30 plus 30 more per “heads” (still flipping two coins).  The second attack is “Jet Shoot” which for [RRC] does 120 damage, but any damage done to Talonflame (“this Pokémon”) is increased by 40 during your next turn.  At least it is after Weakness and Resistance.  This version was reviewed here and I think something is wrong with the Average scores.  XY: Roaring Skies 15/108 has “Grand Loop” for [C] which allows you to draw three cards, then switch this Talonflame with one of your Benched Pokémon, while for [RC] it has “Brave Bird” which does 90 damage to the opponent’s Active and 20 damage to itself.  This version was also reviewed, and here is the link; four reviews for that one and each of us gave a different score; I think I may have been a bit generous.  None of these are worth using; even if you’re going for Talonflame BREAK use today’s Talonflame. 

So should you use either of today’s cards?  Talonflame (XY: Steam Siege 96/114) is definitely a “yes”; it already did well at Worlds, used to support Greninja BREAK.  With just three or four Froakie and four Talonflame, it was likely to open and was useful for helping that deck, a slower deck, get itself going.  It also served as a pivot Pokémon.  What about Talonflame BREAK?  If a Fire deck is using the previous Talonflame then yes, add one in just in case you are able to BREAK Evolve it.  If you wish to focus on Talonflame BREAK then unfortunately, you’ll have to Evolve most (possibly all) Talonflame from its lower Stages.  I just don’t think it is worth it, even though Talonflame BREAK is pretty solid, at least in Expanded where Muscle Band or Silver Bangle, maybe Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym allow it to do some impressive OHKOs, with Flare Blitz refueled by Blacksmith.  So in a weird way, I think Talonflame BREAK shouldn’t be run because of its lower Stages.  In Limited, I say go for this Talonflame, but only Talonflame BREAK if you’ve got a full Talonflame line.  Even a Talonflame with no support isn’t too bad as a dead card here; you probably can’t use it as discard fodder but hey, it’s worth the risk. 

Ratings 

Talonflame 

Standard: 3.35/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Talonflame BREAK 

Standard: 2/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 3/5 

Summary: So yeah, Talonflame ought to have made the Top 10.  It is specialized, but it seems good at what it does.  Talonflame BREAK is better than its scores suggest; it just doesn’t lend itself to today’s regular Talonflame, which is the only Talonflame really worth using.  If you’ve got a low Basic Pokémon count deck, give Talonflame a chance, and if we get another decent (or better) Talonflame, then give Talonflame BREAK a shot as well.  Just skip Talonflame BREAK for now, though.


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