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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Xerneas

- XY BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
January 21, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.07
Expanded: 3.07
Limited: 4.13

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 I know what you guys are probably thinking: will I ever get tired of Star Wars? The answer is no, but today we're talking about Xerneas! 

...and looking at him, I've suddenly realized why there's stuff like the Simis and Parasect running around. 

Alright, that's only really half of the card, the Rainbow Force half of the card. Unfortunately, that's also the cheaper attack, being 3 Energy for 10 damage with an effect of an additional 30 damage for each Type on your Bench. Now I know what you're thinking - M Mewtwo-EX did the same thing, right? Except no, because M Mewtwo-EX is cheaper, he doesn't require specific Energy (which Xerneas does like his Fairy Energy), and he doesn't need you to run 2-3 other Types to be effective - unlike Xerneas here. 

Fortunately, I believe Xerneas makes up for this a bit in his second attack, Power Creation. Okay, so it's 4-for-80, but if you healed Xerneas at all this turn - and I do mean ANY amount - he gets to deal ANOTHER 80 damage, effectively doubling the damage he's doing already! Even a meager Rainbow Force in a mono-Fairy deck can help KO a Pokemon-EX at that point, and even if you don't heal Xerneas on your next turn, Power Creation can still 2HKO most any Pokemon in the game! Add on a Muscle Band, and you won't even need to worry about it!

Unfortunately, Fairy decks don't have a lot of Energy acceleration at the moment, which is Xerneas' biggest constraint...or is it? Since you get more damage off of Rainbow Force for every Type you have on your Bench, and since he only technically requires 2 Fairy Energy for his attacks (Rainbow Force needing only 1, and Power Creation needing the 2nd), you could actually run another form of Energy acceleration in the deck - M Sceptile-EX anyone? 

...okay, no, you can't heal off of M Sceptile-EX AND attack with Xerneas' Power Creation in the same turn, but his attack's effect is basically what you're looking for! Bronzong can help, Blastoise or Emboar in Expanded, as well as Eelektrik, or heck even Magnezone would work! As long as you can get 2 Fairy Energy on Xerneas...actually, come to think of it, Xerneas (XY) actually HAS Geomancy, which accelerates Fairy Energy! 

And then suddenly Xerneas became a really good back-up attacker in some decks. How bout that? 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (while at first glance it doesn't seem like he'd be that great, a look around shows that, yeah, he actually could fit into a wide variety of decks!)

Expanded: 3/5 (in fact, he even benefits from being run in different decks, since he can gain power from just having another Type on your Bench - neat!)

Limited: 4.5/5 (and hey, in an environment where you can easily get any number of different Types...well, Xerneas starting to look a whole lot scarier) 

Arora Notealus: Now if only they could just give fully-evolved Pokemon that aren't EX the same treatment that they gave Xerneas and Yveltal here - not too powerful, but just the right amount of strength to be viably competitive in some form or another. 

...then again, how would you know what's rare at that point? 

Next Time: And now for something completely different: PSYCHIC SWORDMASTERS


Otaku

Our penultimate review subject this week is Xerneas (XY: BREAKthrough 107/162).  It is a Fairy-Type which means only XY-era Dragon-Types have to worry about double damage (from Fairy Weakness), nothing is Resistant, nothing currently targets the Type in a negative way and the Type’s support is… awkward to evaluate.  The cards that directly reference the Fairy-Type are so-so; either they are easy to play but don’t offer much (Wonder Energy) or they offer a lot but are really difficult to play, like Florges (XY: BREAKthrough 103/162).  The indirect support does a bit better as Fairy Garden allows anything with [Y] Energy to retreat for free, Aromatisse (XY 93/146) to move [Y] Energy around while it is in play and Slurpuff (XY: Phantom Forces 69/119) with its small but reliable draw power.  The lack of easy power plays coupled with only a select few competitive cards sporting Fairy Weakness means that the Fairy-Type is not particularly valuable to the card.  Being a Basic Pokémon is in no way ambiguous; this is the best Stage because not only does it have the obvious advantages of being the easiest to get into play while also requiring the fewest resources, not only are there a few bits of Basic Pokémon specific support, but it has a natural synergy with many card effects that otherwise work for all Types.  There are some anti-Basic Pokémon effects out there to worry about but the format is still largely geared towards Basics.   

120 HP is enough to stand a realistic chance of surviving a hit outside of decks with an incomplete set-up or using attacks for effects more than damage.  It isn’t super durable and 10 more HP would have been greatly appreciated as 120 damage seems a bit more common versus 130, even factoring in buffs.  It also means not taking advantage of how damage is always in even 10 point increments and the Weakness mechanic; a Metal-Type that hits for 60 damage scores a OHKO.  This isn’t terrible, but it will periodically matter as even if there aren’t a lot of decks focused on Metal-Type attackers, Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119) is still being used as Energy acceleration for a variety of non-Metal-Types… but that makes it easy for such decks to then include something like Heatran (XY: Phantom Forces 63/119) as a back-up attacker.  Xerneas does enjoy Resistance; being a 120 HP Basic with Darkness Resistance is actually useful.  On the unlikely chance you can squeeze in a Klefki (XY: Furious Fists 73/111) it can be incredibly frustrating for the player using a powerhouse like Yveltal-EX that is used to plowing through the opposition.  Then again if your opponent has a second Type worth using as an attacker, Resistance goes back to being a small bump and not a large hurdle to overcome.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither a small bump nor a large hurdle; it is low enough one often can afford both to pay and recover from having paid without too much effort, but enough effort is required that if one prefers to have an alternative to manually retreating at full price. 

Xerneas lacks either an Ancient Trait or Ability, but it does have two attacks.  For [YCC] it can use “Rainbow Force” which does 10 damage plus 30 more for each different Type of Pokémon on your Bench.  It has been ruled that a Pokémon with more than one Type has each Type counted separately, so if you play such a card you’ll get the damage bonus for any Types it puts into play that are not already there.  Not likely to do you much good, but in Unlimited play you could use Kecleon (PL: Rising Rivals 67/111) to instantly get +270 damage as it counts as its “Colorful Body” Poké-Body has it count as [G], [R], [W], [L], [P], [F], [D], [M] and [C] simply by being in play!  Repeated Types don’t add more damage, so if I have Golurk (XY: Ancient Origins 35/98) in play alongside Gallade (XY: BREAKthrough 84/162) and Hoopa-EX, I am only getting +60 damage, just like I would if only Golurk was in play or if Golurk was in play or if Gallade and Hoopa-EX were each in play or if Golurk and only one of the others were in play.  In Standard and Expanded, your damage will be capped due to Bench space even if the rest of your deck is working well.  We currently have 11 Types, but I think the best you can do is manage to get nine Types onto your (Sky Field enhanced) Bench as apart from Golurk everything else that alters Type does so in a manner you won’t come out ahead in terms of Bench space.  As the attack specifically only counts Types on your Bench,  Xerneas doesn’t boost itself so even with Sky Field, even with Golurk, you can only manage another seven Types.  Of course that would be 280 damage, so that isn’t exactly a tragedy.  Even with a six Pokémon Bench, so long as nothing is a repeat, you can score a sweet 190 damage for three Energy. 

For [YYCC] Xerneas can attack with “Power Creation”.  If the condition in the attack’s text isn’t satisfied, you end up with a very dissatisfying 80 damage: bad for four Energy!  Said text states the attack does 80+80 (or 160) damage if Xerneas was healed this turn.  If you can manage some healing, this is actually a good, though not quite great.  Four Energy is still a steep investment and even though you’re getting reasonably good damage from it, you’ll be risking said Energy on a 120 HP Basic.  Remember how I brought up Yveltal-EX when discussing Darkness Resistance?  Four Energy attached to Xerneas means Evil Ball hits for +80, Evil Ball requires at least two Energy to use so that is another 40, while the Resistance just cancels out the base 20 damage Evil Ball does in the first place, still leaving 120 for the OHKO.  You can’t heal “no damage” to trigger the effect either; there are still deck builds where this is a somewhat easy trick but every little piece of the combo does count.  Did I mention 160 damage falls 10 to 20 points shy of OHKOing the typical Basic Pokémon?  So Muscle Band or the like would also be required. 

There are other Xerneas a deck may wish to run as well: XY 96/146 (also released as XY: Black Star Promos XY05) and XY: Black Star Promos XY31.  Both are similar to today’s Xerneas; same Type, Weakness, Resistance, Retreat Cost, lack of Ancient Trait, lack of Ability, and with two attacks (not the same attacks, of course!).  They both have 10 more HP, and 130 is the most we’ve seen printed on a Basic that isn’t a Pokémon-EX.  XY 96/146 is well known as was reviewed here as the ninth place finisher for the Top 10 cards of XY.  I wasn’t reviewing cards at the time and all that is left is to comment on the attacks so… “Geomancy” has been a huge thing for most Fairy-Type decks actually doing something with Fairy Energy; while the [Y] cost means you only come out a single Energy ahead should Xerneas get KO'd after it attacks, that 130 HP means it usually sticks around for at least two attacks.  “Rainbow Spear” needs [YYC] do do 100 damage and after that you still have to discard an Energy attached to itself; this is acceptable mostly because the rest of the card is good as it is at best an average return for the attack’s Energy cost to use, but discarding an Energy from Xerneas tends to run counter to most decks that use it thanks to “Geomancy”.  This version has been and probably still should be the go-to version of Xerneas unless a deck is tailored around today’s. 

XY: Black Star Promos XY31 has the same Energy costs for its attacks as today’s Xerneas but… well those attacks coupled with time constraints are why you won’t find a review of it and why it is so easy to forget it even exists.  The less expensive attack is “Aurora Gain” and for [YCC] it does 50 damage while negating Weakness for the Pokémon that used it during your opponent’s next turn.  Voiding your Weakness can be handy but doing it in this manner does not offset an attack that hits about half as hard as it ought to just to match the going rate.  “Light of Life” may be even more depressing; it costs [YYCC] and does just 80 damage unless your opponent has Yveltal in play, in which case the damage is +40.  I guess I should be grateful that the damage split favors the base damage and that the text states that Yveltal-EX counts for this, but 120 for four before a applying a beneficial effect is a lot closer to the going rate.  As Yveltal and especially Yveltal-EX have proven quite formidable, Light of Life is far more useful than several other Pokémon-specific counter-effects, but it either needed to cost less Energy or hit about 30 points harder.  This promo-only version of Xerneas isn’t competition for either of the versions released in a set.

XY: BREAKthrough 107/162 has two uses because even though its attacks require effort to hit hard, the infrastructure is available to do just that with either attack.  When I first started bumping into Rainbow Force decks on the PTCGO, I dismissed them as simply being Timmy or Johnny bait, but they do pack a punch and the best builds end up being consistent enough for a Spike to consider.  They did show up during City Championships (head on over to The Charizard Lounge if you want details) but they weren’t a major presence, just one of the many decks that managed a handful of top four finishes in either Standard or Expanded play.  That actually could be the mark of a very dangerous cards; the fine art of reading and riding the metagame includes finding something strong enough to win but not so strong that players will spend deck space or time practicing just to counter it.  It could also mean that this is as good as it gets for Rainbow Force decks as people tried to win City Championships with it and the best result was a second place finish.  The biggest hurdle for the deck is keeping a large, diverse Bench in play - I’ve seen the decks setup quickly and reliably, but re-setting up after the opponent takes out Sky Field is another matter - and dealing with low Energy, high damage attackers that are non-Pokémon-EX Basics (like in Night March). 

You also might see one of these tucked into a more traditional Fairy-Type deck focused on Aromatisse and its Fairy-Transfer.  Toolbox versions can have a varied enough Bench to still get decent damage from Rainbow Force, while most include Rainbow Energy and some form of healing, which means a big Power Creation blow is feasible.  Not sure if this is particularly effective and unfortunately this kind of information requires more thorough decklists and not just a “who won what with what” summary that I have available.  For Limited play, this is tempting because of the HP and the attacks not being too restrictive on Energy.  You’ll need a source of [Y] but even Power Creation only needs two of four Energy to be Type specific; that isn’t bad here and as usual, HP scores and damage outputs are lower here.  By necessity you will likely have a varied Bench as well.  Not seeing any nice, generic healing effects to buff Power Creation, but again HP scores and damage output is lower than in the Constructed formats, so 80 for four is acceptable here. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.15/5 

Expanded: 3.15/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: I just told you that this card was the main attacker of a deck that at least managed some top four finishes during City Championships, I suggested it could be a big deal if it remains good enough to be a threat but not good enough to be the threat you can dedicate deck space to countering, so shouldn’t I be scoring it a bit higher?  Even though it is the deck focus when it is used, Xerneas is very dependent on everything used alongside it.  On its own, it is pretty bad; with the right setup it is awesome.  As such I don’t score it highly like I would a big hitter that is good on its own but great with proper support. 

Xerneas didn’t make any of the personal Top 10 lists for XY: BREAKthrough, let alone the final Top 10, but it at least show up in some of the earlier versions of my own Top 15, being cut in the final revision.


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