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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Absol
- XY: Black Star Promos XY178

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 13, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.13
Expanded: 2.13
Limited: Promo

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

With the end of the year and the impending arrival of the Sun and Moon set, it's appropriate really to end up taking a look at Absol. 

Really though, Absol's a tricky Pokemon to work around. Sure, Shadow Cage isn't threatening anyone, at 3-for-60 and keeping an opponent from retreating, but that's where Lamentation brings a certain worry. Ideally you're looking to OHKO Absol as to avoid losing much to the Ability, since every time Absol takes damage from an attack it discards a card from your hand.  

Course since the ideal goal is to OHKO Absol, let's see how hard that'll be at 100 HP! 

...it won't be. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (props for the discard threat though, I can see that being useful against some decks) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (keeping in mind it's random) 

Limited: N/A (and not available in a main set) 

Arora Notealus: I wonder if the Pokemon Company's been consistent about printing an Absol card out right as things are about to get a major shake-up. Hmmm...there's the one from Plasma Freeze that came out before VirGen decks, the one from Roaring Skies before Ancient Origins gave us Forest of Giant Plants among other things, Absol-EX and M Absol-EX were released right around Roaring Skies... 

Next Time: Time to just sit back, relax, and wait for the...something.


Otaku

Our second promo this week is Absol XY: Black Star Promos XY178).  As you would expect, it is a Darkness Type Pokémon (in the video games, it can only be a Dark Type).  Some Psychic Type Pokémon are Darkness Weak (those that correspond to the video game Ghost Type) and so far all Fairy Type Pokémon have Darkness Resistance, unless they are BREAK Evolutions.  There are anti-Darkness Type effects but they’ve never proven competitive (at all).  Explicit Darkness Type support restricted to the Type has includes some potent cards like Dark Patch and… well that is main the one that remains relevant as others like Dark Claw are obsolete.  Some potent effects also work with [D] Energy; while that means they can be used totally off Type, it just becomes easier to work with Darkrai-EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW: Black Star Promos BW46; BW: Legendary Treasures 88/113) and its “Dark Cloak” Ability or the other Darkrai-EX (XY: BREAKpoint 74/112, 118/122) and its “Dark Pulse” attack.  Which leads us to the final benefit of the Darkness Type: it has an excellent stable of attackers, such as Yveltal (XY 78/146; XY: Black Star Promos XY06; Generations RC16/RC32; XY: Steam Siege 65/114) and Yveltal-EX (which has only one version, so I won’t list reference numbers).  While crashing into Resistance against Fairy Types can be an issue, I’d be more worried that the Darkness Type has so many good cards in it, Absol won’t be able to compete: what is normally a pro can become a con. 

Absol is a Basic Pokémon; it can function as your opening Active, it has a natural synergy with many card effects, minimum time for it to hit the field, minimum space to run it in your deck, even some fantastic Stage support.  All that goes against being a Basic is that there are some good anti-Basic Pokémon effects.  Absol has 100 HP; this isn’t great but at least it’s three digits.  Probably a OHKO, but every now and then your opponent can whiff.  The Fighting Type will have an even more reliable OHKO, relevant as they have this tendency to use single Energy attacks that do decent damage, then stack additional damage buffs on top of them.  In fact using their usual tricks, they’ll probably go into overkill territory, again even while one of their Basics attacks for a single Energy card.  Psychic Resistance is handy but probably not game changing; again 100 HP isn’t huge by modern standards.  Still better than having no Resistance at all.  The Retreat Cost of [C] is good; no deck should really leave out alternatives to manually retreating like Switch or Escape Rope, but you shouldn’t need as many of them (at least if everything has a similar Retreat Cost).  Plus any Retreat Cost lowering effects drop Absol to a perfect free Retreat Cost (like Skyarrow Bridge). 

Absol has an Ability and an attack.  The Ability is “Lamentation”, a name I quite like.  The actual effect is that when this card is your Active Pokémon and is damaged by an opponent’s attack, even if the attack KO’s Absol, then your opponent must discard a random card from his or her hand.  I wish it worked while Absol was Benched as well, but overall that is pretty impressive.  Yes your opponent might be able to discard something they can spare, have nothing in hand, or worse that they want to discard.  There is still the risk that something “good” will get hit (barring an empty hand, which is a victory in and of itself for you).  The attack is “Shadow Cage” and it costs [DCC] to do 60 damage and the Defending Pokémon cannot retreat during the next turn.  Without building it into a combo, blocking your opponent’s retreat is likely to be a non-issue.  It wouldn’t be a problem if the attack did more damage; even 10 more would reach some critical threshold (especially after buffs).  I’d rather the attack did more like 80 or 90 though, or else only had a cost of like [DC] or [CC].  It isn’t horrible, but it falls short of being mediocre, let alone adequate.  There is some small synergy here, but it relies on luck; luck that your opponent has something that cannot hit hard but which you may strand up front, and/or luck that the random discard will make it harder for your opponent to get around being unable to naturally retreat. 

There are other Absol that technically compete with today’s version for deck space: BW: Plasma Freeze 67/116 and XY: Roaring Skies 40/108.  Their stats are the same as Absol XY: Black Star Promos XY178) except that BW: Plasma Freeze 67/116 is a Team Plasma Pokémon, able to tap their support but also vulnerable to their counters; I’ll be referring to it as Absol [Plasma] for the rest of the review.  Absol [Plasma] has two attacks, “Mind Jack” and “Fearsome Shadow”.  The former costs [DC] and does 20 damage plus another 20 for each of your Benched Pokémon while the latter is “Fearsome Shadow” which costs [DCC] and does 60 damage plus forces your opponent to reveal his or her hand.  This was the eighth place finisher in our countdown of the top 10 cards of BW: Plasma Freeze, proving important because at the time there wasn’t another good Darkness Type attacker who was not also a Pokémon-EX.  In some ways it is better now, as cards like Sky Field allow Mind Jack to reach new heights, but we now have a few other options for a Basic Darkness Type attacker, including the aforementioned Yveltal.  Fearsome Shadow should be ignored for the most part as like Shadow Cage it just isn’t worth the Energy.  It is only legal in Expanded play, and it is a bit of competition for today’s Absol.  Just a bit though because you might wish to run it as a solid attacker whereas today’s would most likely be run for the Ability. 

XY: Roaring Skies 40/108 has an Ability and an attack, like today’s Absol.  The Ability is “Cursed Eyes”, which triggers when you play this Absol from your hand to your Bench; you may move three damage counters from one of your opponent’s Pokémon to another.  Its attack is “Mach Claw” for [DC], which does 30 damage while ignoring Resistance.  Cursed Eyes is optional, so it can only backfire if you make the wrong call.  You’ll probably try to keep this Absol in hand until you can make decent use of the Ability; otherwise it would be likely that Cursed Eyes could prove somewhat meaningless as there might not be three damage counters to move, or someplace you would want to move them.  Mach Claw is definitely a filler attack, but at least it only requires two Energy.  Just having the attack do 20 more damage would serve far better than ignoring Resistance, barring Klefki (XY: Furious Fists 73/111).  It is the Klefki that causes Fairy Types to have Resistance -40 instead of -20; I don’t think Fairy decks bother with it but it is an exception to what would otherwise be a universal rule.  Mach Claw helps get damage on the board for the Cursed Eyes of the next Absol or (if you’re really lucky) the same one.  Cursed Eyes can help Mach Claw score a KO since it moves damage around; neither of these are great combos, but at least they exist.  This Absol was reviewed here; I thought it had good potential but so far it looks like I’m wrong.  It is still Standard legal, and hypothetically at least could compete with today’s Absol should a one-time shift of three damage counters matter to a particular deck considering either Absol.

Before we discuss whether or not to run Absol XY: Black Star Promos XY178), let us ask where it could come in handy.  Losing a single random card from hand may or may not be painful; one of the ways to make this more likely is to combine it with other forms of disruption or control.  Other effects that wreck your opponent’s hand can set up Lamentation to wipe out your opponent’s last card from hand, leaving him or her topdecking.  Other forms of disruption and control can still help, though; the goal is to remove options from your opponent.  This also can combo with Shadow Cage, though it is a bit less likely.  If you don’t want to worry about using Shadow Cage at all, then Absol might be a partner for a hit-and-run style attacker; use a much better attack and then force your opponent to ignore the real threat (the attacker) and take out Absol while losing a random card from hand.  So with these in mind, what kind of deck can make use of this Absol?  Unfortunately, nothing is coming to me.  Hit-and-run style decks might be the most promising at the moment, but that still isn’t a good fit; as stated earlier the HP just means Absol takes one hit, discards one card, and is gone.  Probably a lot better to throw up a disruptive wall like Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32).  So probably not something to use in Standard or Expanded play, and as a promo it won’t be legal Limited.  If it were reprinted in a set, then everything about it becomes pretty solid and it would be something to include in most decks (since it only needs one of three Energy be [D]). 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.75/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: Hand disruption can really dominate in most TCGs.  Pokémon tends to have ample draw/search power making it less effective, and apart from that Absol doesn’t have the HP to be a good punching bag or the attack to be not-quite-glass-cannon.  Expanded provides more combo opportunities than in Standard, but also more alternatives at counters, so I’m just calling it a wash and scoring both formats the same.  All hope isn’t totally gone, though; it is plausible (just unlikely) that a future deck could make use of this card.


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