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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Raichu Break - XY BREAKthrough
Date Reviewed: January 25, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.63/5 ; Expanded: 2.63/5 ; Limited: 4.0/5 

 


aroramage

Welcome to an electrifying week...er, well, at least couple of days for BREAKThrough! First off is today's card, the electrifying Raichu BREAK!! 

As one might recall from our Top 10 list BREAK Evos - I know, it feels so long ago! - Raichu BREAK can evolve from any Raichu card and gains the various attacks, Weaknesses, Resistances, and Retreat Cost of that Raichu card. So naturally, half of this card is, in some sense, "missing" - or maybe more appropriately "blank," seeing as it depends on what you put it on top of.

So what does BREAK evolving a Raichu do? Well it gives it 130 HP and what is pretty much an all-or-nothing style of attack in Grand Bolt. For only 3 Energy, Grand Bolt will deal a whopping 170 damage, which is enough on its own to KO most any small Pokemon-EX and anything that's weak to Electric attacks! The only caveat to that though is that you have to discard all the Energy attached to Raichu BREAK. 

And that's a pretty hefty setback. 

Sure, we've got stuff like Magnezone, who can fuel Raichu BREAK's attack with ease, but getting rid of all that Energy constantly turn after turn, in the long run, is going to suck you dry. So Raichu BREAK is better off as a finisher of sorts, someone to end the game as quick as possible in as few moves as possible. Luckily, he's also got a nice pick of options for BREAK evolvers, and I'm thinking the best one to pair him up with is Raichu (XY), although the Raichu included in this set isn't so bad either - Circle Circuit's just a generally nicer attack, given how easy it can be to mobilize your Bench. 

So why didn't Raichu BREAK make it to the Top 10 list? Well, the short of it is, he's a risky gambit that needs the right timing to be played, so if you do play him, play him wisely. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (never mind that he's effectively running as a Stage "2" for Raichus) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (just without the advantages of a Stage "2" like Rare Candy - though Eels here will make things work exponentially better for him) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (Grand Bolt will devastate anything here!...just...it's all in the timing) 

Arora Notealus: FEAR THE MIGHTY GOLDEN RAICHU!! 

Next Time: What's got four legs and calls the lightning?


Otaku

We begin the week with Raichu BREAK (XY: BREAKthrough 50/162).  As the BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1 Pokémon Raichu BREAK is like a Stage 2 Pokémon without the Stage 2 Pokémon support.  I do not believe any cards currently reference the BREAK Stage but it can tap general Evolution support so long as it does not specify a Stage: you can use Evosoda or Wally to get out a BREAK Evolution, attack through Intimidating Mane on Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106), etc.  Just because it is still relatively new I’m going to hammer down on the point: while clearly not any of the other outlier Stages (Restored, Mega, anything else I’ve forgotten), the Evolution Stage Raichu BREAK is “BREAK”.  Apparently the designers wished to emphasize this as well since it is also a part of the card’s name in addition to being in the little Stage indicating portion of the card’s upper left corner.  So no, card card effect that references being a Stage 1 like Flareon (XY: Ancient Origins 13/98) won’t apply, nor will an effect like the bonus damage “Powerful Friend” attack on Miltank (XY: Flashfire 83/106) or the HP bonuses for Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon from Training Center apply.  Probably the big one from a gameplay standpoint is that you can’t use Rare Candy; at first I thought that it would be utterly silly to want to do that as the BREAK Evolution only replaces part of the information on the highest Stage of Evolution, but I guess if we had a really good one it wouldn’t matter if underneath it has the attacks and/or Ability of an Evolving Basic, let alone the bottom stats. 

Raichu BREAK is a Lightning-Type, allowing it to hit many Pokémon but no specific Type for Weakness: instead of having a single Type that is always or at least nearly always Lightning Weak, quite a few Types have a segment of cards that are Lightning Weak.  Some Water-Types (nearly all BW-era) are Lightning Weak, but mostly it corresponds to cards that belong to the video game Flying-Type.  The Flying-Type is mostly represented through a chunk of the Colorless-Type, but it is spread through out nine of the 11 total types (only the Dragon-Type and Fairy-Type lack even a single Lightning Weak example).  Still this only matters when something important is Lightning Weak and we’ve got Lugia-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 68/98, 94/98), M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108, 105/108), Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) and Yveltal-EX as some nice, juicy two Prize examples where Lightning Weakness is a wonderful thing.  Lightning Resistance can be a nuisance but only in Expanded, where a chunk of the Fighting-Types from the BW-era sets will have it.  The only anti-Lightning-type card is… not really: M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 61/108), which has an Ancient Trait that reduces the damage it takes from four Types, one of which is Lightning.  Lightning-Type support includes Flash Energy if you can afford to burn your Special Energy on negating your own Weakness and… basically just Rough Seas to have a Stadium that heals 30 damage from all of your Lightning-Type Pokémon (shared with Water-Types… plus your opponent if they run the either of those Types). 

Raichu BREAK has a 130 HP which is… okay-ish?  While more durable than a regular Raichu it is on the low-average side of Stage 2 Pokémon, which as stated is what Raichu BREAK is the equivalent of in terms of putting it into play.  You’ll sometimes survive a hit, and more often than things much smaller, but you just barely fall outside of the kind-of-critical 120 damage threshold.  Weakness, Resistance and Retreat Cost are supplied by whatever Raichu you use, so we are going to jump right to the one thing left on this card: the attack “Grand Bolt”.  It requires [LCC] to use plus it forces you to discard all Energy attached to “this Pokémon”, but the payoff is 170 damage in one shot.  Regardless of Weakness, that takes out a large chunk of the format in one shot with various options to boost that damage if you want it to be (or fake being) a OHKO.  It might have to be your final shot from Raichu BREAK, but it is a good way to go down swinging.

Pichu is the lowest Stage in the Evolution line… or would be if “baby Pokémon” were still a thing in any manner.  I favor just slowly phasing them in as regular Basics, planning a gap so that you could turn something like Pichu into a regular Basic, Pikachu into a regular Stage 1, Raichu into a regular Stage 2… but that just adds to the list of “possibly bad ideas Otaku would implement if in charge”.  There are no Pichu in Expanded or Standard now anyway.  Pikachu on the other hand is plentiful.  Pikachu has nine distinct versions spread out among 15 releases… and we didn’t even get all the promotional Pikachu that Japan received.  Most of these are so unimpressive, even I’m gonna skip all of them except the one you should be using: XY 42/146, also available as McDonald’s 2014 Promo 5/12.  It is a Basic, Lightning-Type Pokémon with 60 HP, Fighting Weakness, Metal Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Trait, no Ability but two attacks: “Nuzzle” for [C] and “Quick Attack” for [CC].  Nuzzle has you flip a coin and if “heads” the opponent’s Active Pokémon is Paralyzed, a decent way to try and keep an Active Pikachu alive, though “tails” does nothing.  Quick Attack does 20 and also requires a coin flip, this time doing 10 more damage if it is “heads” (“tails” still means the base 20 damage).  If you really need to finish something off, this might actually do it for a cost you can manage when desperate.  This is… adequate compared to nearly all Evolving Basic Pokémon in the TCG and is the best Pikachu we have right now: use it! 

So how about that Raichu?  Surprisingly with all those Pikachu we only have five Raichu to pick from among but once again there is one clear winner (XY 43/146), however there might be an okay runner-up to try out in the form of the newest option (XY: BREAKthrough 49/162) so I’m going to cover both of them… but resist my usual urge to do a mini-write-up for all of them.  Both the Raichu we are bothering with are 90 HP Stage 1 Lightning-Types with Fighting Weakness, Metal Resistance, no Retreat Cost, no Ancient Trait, no Ability and two attacks.  XY 43/146 can attack with “Circle Circuit” for [CC], hitting for 20 damage times the number of your Benched Pokémon, or with “Thunderbolt” for [LLC], hitting for 100 damage but also needing to discard all Energy attached to itself.  This card has actually been reviewed… twice.  The first was March 5th, 2014 while the second was nearly a year later on January 5th, 2015, where it was an “Honorable Mention” for our Top 10 cards of 14 list.  I didn’t get to review it the first time, while the second time I think I sold it a bit short and even if I hadn’t, it is better now than ever before thanks to the nature of the format and Sky Field, as now Circle Circuit can shoot for OHKOs without exploiting Weakness.  Can the new card on the block - XY: BREAKthrough 49/162 - compete with that? 

No, but it does have a nifty trick with its first attack, “Thunderclap Shot”, which hits all of your opponent’s Pokémon-EX for 50 damage at a cost of [LC].  If there was a way to up the Bench damage by 10 while also leaving your Pokémon Tool slot open so you could equip Wide Lens we would have a brutal play for those Benches full of Shaymin-EX.  The second attack “Electrosmash” sounds kind of cool but it’s actually pretty vanilla: 70 damage with a coin flip for a bonus 20 (“tails” still does the base 70) at a cost of [LCC].  This seems easier to write off… except that isn’t actually all that bad, especially when attacking into Weakness.  Not enough to run this over XY 43/146 and its Circle Circuit, but this attack doesn’t require a Bench full of Pokémon or discarding all of your Energy, plus it is priced so that it can use Double Colorless Energy, though since the first attack is not that is almost a waste. 10 more damage for Thunderclap Shot and changing its cost to [CC] and you’d have to decide which Raichu to focus upon (though you’d run both just in case).  Either the 10 more damage for Thunderclap Shot or making it cost [CC] and I think I’d take a chance on running it as a one-of alongside XY 43/146.  As is, still tempting but probably not worth it. 

So should you run Raichu BREAK with XY 43/146?  If you have room for some basic Lightning Energy cards in addition to all the other stuff a Circle Circuit deck needs, then I think a copy or two isn’t a bad call, but mostly as insurance for when you can’t fill your Bench.  If you are running something like the Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) line as well, this allows an incomplete Circle Circuit set-up to not only still take a OHKO, but to threaten everything currently legal with an effective OHKO.  Don’t expect it to be your go-to attacker, though.  Not sure if it holds up as well in Expanded as Standard: a few extra problems/rivals versus a few extra, useful cards seems close enough to call it a wash.  For Limited play Raichu BREAK is a good pull because XY: BREAKthrough 49/162 is also a good pull.  If you save “Grand Bolt” as a finisher, you won’t even need a tremendous amount of basic Lightning Energy in the deck. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.75/5 

Expanded: 2.75/5 

Limited: 4.5/5 

Summary: Raichu BREAK is a solid enough card, but that is because it has a great card to BREAK Evolve from so it might have a place as a TecH attacker in those decks.  Without that lead in, it would likely have no place at all in competitive play, and that assumes it does work as I have described.


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