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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Alakazam EX

- Fates Collide

Date Reviewed:
July 21, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.38
Expanded: 2.38
Limited: 2.38

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

BEHOLD THE MIGHTIEST OF POKEMON IN THEIR MOST ULTIMATE FORM, THE GREATEST OF THE PSYCHICS FROM THE FIRST GENERATION, ALAKAZAM!! 

...is what I'd say if that was the case. Let me be perfectly honest, Alakazam-EX on his own is a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE Pokemon-EX. You're not gonna be playing him on his own - you HAVE to play his Mega Evolution. And why is that exactly? Well it's really very simple - Alakazam-EX was DESIGNED to support his Mega Evolution. 

Let's start with Suppression, his attack. For 2 Energy, you put 3 damage counters on every opposing Pokemon with Energy attached to them. Aside from being an instant KO on small fry like Joltik, Suppression does an okay amount of damage in the first place. At the least, you're putting 30 damage on your opponent's Active Pokemon, but what of their Bench? Are you going to be hitting them? Cause if you're not, you're only dealing 30 damage a turn on a single Pokemon, and for 2 Energy that's not a good trade-off. 

But what of his Ability? Well Kinesis is going to be completely useless to you if you don't run M Alakazam-EX, because it only activates when you evolve Alakazam-EX into that M Alakazam-EX! On the bright side, when you do Alakazam-EX hits your opponent's Active with 2 damage counters and one of their Benched Pokemon with 3 damage counters. It's nice cause it sets up M Alakazam-EX to use Zen Force and deal a fair amount of damage to the opponent easily. But for Alakazam-EX? It does NOTHING. 

Let's be honest here: Alakazam-EX's only purpose is to set up M Alakazam-EX. On his own, his Ability is useless, and his attack won't do a whole lot of damage. Sure, over time it'll do a lot, but when it takes you 4-6 turns to deal enough damage to KO stuff, it's a sign that you're not gonna be the main attraction of the deck. As support for M Alakazam-EX, he's great, but otherwise, he's got the most niche potential. 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (alongside M Alakazam-EX, he's at least a 3/5, but on his own, he's not that great) 

Expanded: 2/5 (keep in mind that he's designed to combo well with M Alakazam-EX more than to be played on his own) 

Limited: 3/5 (which is probably why I'm ranking him lower than his Mega form)

Arora Notealus: Okay, Alakazam-EX himself may not be amazing, but can we take a moment to appreciate that secret artwork done by Mitsuhiro Arita? Personally my favorite of the three! 

Next Time: A DOUBLE TREAT OF MEGA EVOLUTION SWEET!!


Otaku

Today we look at Alakazam-EX (XY: Fates Collide 25/124, 117/124, 125/124).  We discussed it a little when we reviewed M Alakazam-EX as our 10th place pick for this set, but time to go all out (plus get an update on M Alakazam-EX).  Alakazam-EX is a Psychic Type; most Psychic Types and many Fighting Types are Psychic Weak, at least in terms of raw card counts (several currently doing well are not).  Psychic Resistance is almost universal on Darkness and Metal Types, but Resistance just isn’t as big of a deal as Weakness.  The Psychic Type has a decent amount of explicit support (stuff that works only for the Psychic Type) and if there are any equivalent counters, I’m not finding them.  There is a grey area because Psychic Types don’t have a collective counter, but often face individual ones; splashing an attacker that hits the specific Weakness of a particular Psychic Type, or the card that provides a counter-effect to their most useful trick.  The support actually mirrors this as there are Psychic Type Pokémon best known for being used off Type, but which work a little better in a Psychic Type deck.  All in all a good (but not great) Type.  Being a Pokémon-EX has not changed since yesterday; extra Prize when KO’d, can’t use certain cards, get to deal with anti-Pokémon-EX effects, better HP than normal, often better effects than normal, and unless you’re a Mega Evolution you’re a Basic instead of the usual Stage of Evolution.  Being a Basic is the best Stage for the reasons I’ve also mentioned most days this week: minimum space requirements, minimum time to get into play, make your deck legal/reduce the risk of a mulligan, a natural synergy with certain card effects, and specific Stage support, with the only real drawback being certain counters for being a Basic Pokémon. 

Alakazam-EX has 160 HP, which is just a bit low; most Basic Pokémon-EX (whether they Mega Evolve or not) have 170 or 180 HP.  There are a few with 190, a few with 160, and a few extreme outliers like Wailord-EX and its 250 HP or Jirachi-EX and its 90 HP.  160 is more likely to survive an attack than not, but still it is easier to OHKO than 170 HP.  Weakness might be when that is most obvious as 80 becomes a OHKO whereas with 170 HP it takes 90 (which doubles into 180 so your opponent has to overkill or fall short).  Alakazam-EX is Psychic Weak as is typical of video game Psychic Types in the TCG (in the video games, Psychic resists Psychic); Psychic Types in the TCG can be bruisers with high damage output, but also tend towards effects (including damage counter placement).  Plenty of the ones seeing successful competitive play can do enough damage with at least one attack (and maybe a Muscle Band), but I think it safer than say having Fighting Weakness.  Lack of Resistance is typical; it would have been nice having one slightly safer matchup but probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you probably will be able to pay it if you must but still high enough you’ll wish to avoid manually retreating at full price.  Should you take advantage of Mystery Energy, a single copy will zero out the entire cost. 

Alakazam-EX has an unusual Ability called “Kinesis”.  Kinesis specifically triggers between attempting to Evolve into M Alakazam-EX from hand and the act of Evolving actually resolving!  This Ability allows Alakazam-EX to contribute without risking it being overpowered in its own right, so while the mechanic might be a bit confusing in the end I think I welcome this change.  When triggered Kinesis places two damage counters on your opponent’s Active and three on one of his or her Benched Pokémon (your choice).   Alakazam-EX also has an attack for [PC], “Suppression”.  I like the cost already, as Dimension Valley can shave that down to just [P].  The attack places three damage counters on all your opponent’s Pokémon with Energy attached.  Not three per Energy, but a simple binary condition: no Energy attached means no damage counter placement, while any amount of Energy means three damage counters.  Separately, Kinesis is pretty good unless you can’t Mega Evolve from hand; it will rarely score KOs on its own (the Bench hit actually is enough to take out the smallest Pokémon) but can help bringing larger targets into range of more traditional attacks.  Suppression is usually quite weak as mostly it means placing three damage counters on your opponent’s Active, sometimes on another Pokémon.  Occasionally it's an amazing amount of spread, though.  The effects only somewhat play off each other; remember you actually will have to use Suppression first unless you use M Alakazam-EX with something like Shrine of Hidden Memories or Celebi-EX. 

So clearly we should review M Alakazam-EX, which is also a Psychic Type with Psychic Weakness and no Resistance.  Being a Mega Evolution includes everything from being a Pokémon-EX, except you end up as a pseudo-Stage 1 instead of a Basic, with some additional support and counters, plus dealing with the Mega Evolution rule ending your turn unless you have Alakazam Spirit Link handy.  M Alakazam gets a 50 point bump over Alakazam-EX, but the bad new is that still leaves it with 210 HP, which is one of the lowest scores you’ll see on a Mega Evolution (though not the lowest).  The good news is that 210 is still high enough that most of the decks that can score a OHKO against it can do so against just about everything, and very few decks score such a hit rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly.  The Retreat Cost drops to [C] which is better as it means you won’t have to depend as heavily on alternate switching methods or Retreat Cost reductions; you’ll often be able to afford a single Energy (both up front and in the long run).  For that low [PC] Energy cost  M Alakazam-EX can use “Zen Force” to do 10 damage plus 30 more for each damage counter already on the opponent’s Active.  So it’s slow and weak with support but just Mega Evolving should turn it into a solid 90 damage, or rather two damage counters from the Ability and 10+30+30 from the attack. 

So what does this mean for running Alakazam-EX?  Again let me stress you should only use it with M Alakazam-EX; you don’t have an alternate way to play the Mega Evolution, but while some Evolving Pokémon-EX have some potential on their own, Alakazam-EX is almost totally useless solo.  The two can be quite formidable together, especially when combined with other damage spread.  The catch is that they aren’t better than “the rest” when it comes to such decks.  In fact, the top decks do spread better or damage better, and even when it comes to combining spread with damage, they either do it better or add in another component (like Item lock) that means it is okay they can’t deliver a big hit to an already injured target.  It doesn’t make Alakazam-EX or M Alakazam-EX bad; but it does leave them outclassed and waiting for some new combo pieces to compensate, or most likely for rotation.  The exception is Limited play where they shouldn’t be run solo but together Alakazam-EX and M Alakazam-EX are a great combo, finishing off injured Pokémon before retreating to let something else take a few swings (and only giving up one Prize by doing so).  Of course, today we are scoring Alakazam-EX, so it’s actually going to fare worse in Limited play, since again you need M Alakazam-EX or else you should avoid it.

Ratings 

Standard: 2.75/5 

Expanded: 2.75/5 

Limited: 1.75/5 

Summary: Alakazam-EX really ought to have been reviewed with M Alakazam-EX, but after having several disastrous multi-card reviews in prior a prior Top 10, we were avoiding it this last time.  I want to give Alakazam-EX a higher score because while I’m not completely in love with how Kinesis works, it is a step in the right direction to spread out the usefulness of an Evolution line.  Suppression is just far too weak of an attack though; I don’t know why does not place three damage counters per Energy attached to your opponent’s Pokémon (all of them).  Few decks keep a lot of Energy in play on different targets, and those that load up a single target usually won’t have enough for Suppression to score a OHKO.  As you can use a different opener (or wouldn’t even have to attack with it if you went first), that isn’t a huge wound for the card. 

As I kept stressing, this review is serving as an update for M Alakazam-EX as well.  The good news is it has proven useful with Trevenant BREAK and Trevenant (XY 55/146).  It gives the deck an effective “big” hitter that barely needs any Energy.  However using it that way breaks the lock, and while it is still good for spreading extra damage counters, moving what you have already in play with Absol (XY: Roaring Skies 40/108) or just focusing more on Trevenant and Trevenant BREAK are what have been top cutting or winning at recent National Championships.  It has done well enough that at least I don’t mind it taking 10th place; being part of good (but not the best) build of a winning deck as well as showing up in your own functional (but not tournament winning) deck is acceptable for 10th place, even if it isn’t thrilling.


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