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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Noctowl

- XY BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
January 19, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.25
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 2.88

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

NOCTOWL!! 

He's pretty nice. Not a shiny one like Ash's in the anime, but still, Noctowl has things going for him. At the same time though, I do always wish that Noctowl's regular design was actually the shiny version and that the shiny would be something else, but whatever, he's cool for a bird! 

And now we get to talk about his card!.......oh boyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! 

Speed Dive, while awesome sounding, is a 3-for-70 generic strike, and the day that I see a vanilla attack that's worth running is the day I start going competitive in Pokemon TCG...which I've not been particularly competitive in it...ever, but that's not the point! It's just the kind of attack that's plastered onto a card to flesh it out - it's not good on Megas, it's not good on regular EX, it's not good on Basics, and it's not good on Noctowl, so MOVING ON!! 

The highlight that makes Noctowl "rare" - as in gives him the star that's printed on the bottom-right of the card - is High Flight, which is...eh? It's just 2-Energy for an attack that reveals both players' hands and does 20 damage for each Item card in them - not Supporters, Stadiums, Trainers in general, Pokemon, or Energy cards, just Items. This would include Tools at least, since those count as Items, but...wouldn't most people be playing their Items, not keeping them in hand? 

I mean, I could understand holding back on Tool cards - you wanna make sure they end up on the right cards, after all, can't have Spirit Links on Pokemon that makes no sense to have Spirit Link cards on - but if it's just a plain old Item, aren't we just playing it? Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but I'd like to think that Items get played - you don't hang onto Ultra Balls, you're only hanging onto Rare Candies until you can evolve which usually oughta be pretty fast, you're using up Battle Compressors to mill the deck, that sort of thing! There aren't many Item cards you'd hold onto for very long, so the idea is a bit...silly. 

But I suppose Noctowl's bound to hit something if you just hold your entire deck in your hand. 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (I can see a little bit of the appeal here, but competitively speaking? I think Items get played as fast as they can) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (maybe comboing him with Seismitoad-EX could work - force your opponent to keep a hold on their Items, and then when they finally KO Seismitoad-EX, you just revenge-kill them with Noctowl) 

Limited: 2/5 (here though...the Item pool is small, and in turn the Items are meant for quick-plays; you'd have to be focusing solely on Noctowl to make him work) 

Arora Notealus: I'm not necessarily saying Noctowl's a bad card - he's a niche card with a niche appeal. Still better than Parasect at least, but you know, details.

Next Time: THE DARK BIRD RISES ONCE MORE!!


Otaku

Noctowl (XY: BREAKthrough 120/162) is our second card this week.  It is a Colorless-Type which means it won’t ever hit for Weakness or run into Resistance, and there is some decent Type support and less-than-impressive anti-Colorless-Type cards out there.  All in all not a great Type but not a bad one either.  Being a Stage 1 is somewhat similar; being a Basic is best but Stage 1 Pokémon is the simplest of all the other Stages to get into play, requiring only one other card (in this case, Hoothoot) and waiting a turn to manually Evolve.  If you don’t want to wait, you can add another card to the mix (Wally), which eliminates the wait and Evolve into Noctowl from your deck but costs you your Supporter for the turn.  90 HP is pretty easy for nearly all decks to OHKO, though not all can do it neatly and efficiently; this can be a bit more important than it sounds should an opponent be forced to expend as much in resources as would have been required for something larger.  Should it matter, 90 HP also keeps Noctowl a Level Ball legal target.  The Lightning Weakness isn’t good, but with 90 HP it will be an issue with particular attacks and not even particular decks, because so many attacks are going to already take the OHKO before Weakness.  Noctowl has Resistance!  Huzzah!  Fighting Resistance can be handy, but on 90 HP mostly for throwing off damage calculations.  The Retreat Cost of [C] is easy to pay and to recover from having paid most of the time, though a free Retreat Cost would have been better (and I feel appropriate). 

Noctowl lacks any Ancient Trait or Ability but does have two attacks.  For [CC] it can use “High Flight” to force both players to reveal their hands, then does 20 damage times the total amount of Items in both player’s hands.  Focusing on Items is a mixed blessing; decks tend to run a lot of them but that is because they are so easy to quickly play.  Catching a lot of them in hand can be a bit tricky, unless of course you have an Item blocking effect going.  Though unlikely, this card could hypothetically OHKO anything in the game if hand sizes get large enough while Items can’t be burned up.  “Speed Dive” is the second attack and it requires [CCC] to do 70 damage.  This is not good but it does hit just hard enough you might legitimately use it as a back-up attack.  Most of the time though you’ll want to focus on High Flight as a single Double Colorless Energy will cover its entire cost and again, with the right back-up you can score some nice, high damage output. 

There are two Hoothoot to choose from when running Noctowl: BW: Plasma Freeze 91/116, only legal in Expanded, and XY: BREAKthrough 119/162.  Both are 60 HP Basic Pokémon with Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Trait, no Ability and just one (different) attack on each of them.  BW: Plasma Freeze 91/116 can use “Dual Draw” at a cost of [C] which forces both players to draw two cards.  That actually isn’t a bad trick; if you’re attacking with Hoothoot you probably are in a bad way and could use some more cards even if you’re also helping out your opponent… and sometimes you might not be helping out your opponent as the draw is mandatory; if your opponent is low enough on cards this could actually let you win via deck out!  XY: BREAKthrough 119/162 needs [CC] to use “Proclaim the Night”.  The name is more impressive than the effect but once again, for an Evolving Basic this is a pretty solid attack as it blocks your opponent from playing Item cards from hand during his or her next turn.  Seismitoad-EX is in no danger as “Quaking Punch” is still a far better deal, but if you have reason to run Noctowl already, this could be a solid lead in (even if running other Item denying cards as a kind of back-up).  Either seems like a solid pick, not that you have a choice in Standard anyway. 

There is one other Noctowl you could run: BW: Plasma Freeze 92/116, which we never reviewed before so here’s a quick rundown.  It is functionally almost identical to today’s version, except with two different attacks, though the first one still costs [CC] and the second [CCC].  “Powerful Vision” does 10 damage times the number of cards in your opponent’s hand which might be adequate.  I don’t know of a lot of tricks to force your opponent into a large hand so once again it would mostly be about locking things down and hoping the hand size builds up due to being unable to use more cards.  Without some form of lock, the natural pacing of the game would likely lead to a hand that (at least during your opponent’s turn) is on the small side.  The big attack is “Fly”, which requires a coin flip: “tails” means the attack does nothing, while “heads” results in 50 damage to the opponent’s Active as well as preventing all effects of attacks - including damage - done to Noctowl (or rather “this Pokémon”).  The protection is unreliable - besides flipping wrong there are ways to get around it - and the damage yield is very poor for three Energy.  The effect doesn’t compensate doing absolutely nothing on “tails”.  In Expanded I am almost tempted to include a single copy for Powerful Vision, in case your opponent can keep his or her hand low on Items but it probably makes more sense just to focus on your own hand in those cases. 

Officially released January 4, 2016 is Noctowl BREAK (XY: Black Star Promos XY136).  I actually didn’t know this card would be released by the time we actually got to Noctowl; perhaps it will get a full review another day, but for now it still gets a quickie.  It remains a Colorless Pokémon, but trades in being a Stage 1 (and benefitting from cards like Training Center) for being a BREAK Evolution (which currently doesn’t have any Stage specific effects).  A BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1 is basically a Stage 2 without the perks of effects that specifically reference Stage 2 Pokémon, so that is actually a bad thing.  It does mean an HP boost, with Noctowl BREAK sporting 130 HP.  40 more HP is a good thing, but not that impressive as it comes with being a pseudo-Stage 2.  The card adds no Ancient Trait or Ability and will use everything else from the underlying Noctowl, but it does add one attack.  “Night Scan” requires [CCC] to use forces your opponent to reveal his or her hand; the attack then does 60 damage plus another 30 more for each Trainer found there.  This is clearly designed to work alongside today’s Noctowl, though I am not completely sure if it is worth the effort of investing one more turn and two more cards (another Energy and Noctowl BREAK itself) as the HP merely shifts from something like “highly probable” OHKO to “probable” or “somewhat probable” OHKO.  With competitive decks often being half to two-thirds Trainers and so many Trainers other than Items having restrictions for using them, that could be a nice, big hit when otherwise things are going poorly. 

Getting back to today’s subject, the most obvious use for this Noctowl is with Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98).  You’ll block your own Items unless you include tricks around its Ability (Irritating Pollen) but unlike normal that isn’t a waste as all Items stuck in your hand also add to the damage done.  Forest of Giant Plants allows you to speed Vileplume into play, so the main reason not to try this is… you’re already running something better.  Over at The Charizard Lounge you can see the results for most of the City Championships that have happened so far.  Yes I messed up as claimed a full eight weeks worth of results in previous weeks’ CotDs even though this weekend was the eighth and final week of City Championships; an embarrassing slip up.  For now we still have the first six weeks of City Champions to reference and Noctowl/Vileplume didn’t make the top four of any event.  It did manage a single top eight finish, so there may be some hope.  The biggest thing going against it is that there is a much more popular Vileplume variant using Vespiquen (XY: Ancient Origins 10/98); I don’t know if the two Stage 1 lines could play nice in a deck that also has a Bench-sitting Stage 2 Pokémon, or if it is even needed with a good enough Vespiquen build. 

I am uncertain if this card is better in either Standard or Expanded or roughly the same.  I would think that N use might make the strategy less effective in Expanded, but that’s just a hypothesis and not based on observed results, let alone testing.  In Limited this is a solid pull, but not for not for High Flight as your opponent will probably have few (if any) Items in hand.  Instead you’ll be happy for a Stage 1 that can fit into nearly any deck thanks to its Colorless Energy costs and deliver a solid 70-for-three with Speed Dive.  HP scores tend to be lower on average here as well as damage output, so Speed Dive becomes better due to the different environment. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.5/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Noctowl combos naturally with Item lock strategies, but other attackers may crowd it out from a place at the (competitive play) table even though it almost feels like a deck being spoonfed to players.  It would only seem more blatant if the card had released alongside Vileplume.


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