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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Incineroar-GX
- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 27, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.13
Expanded: 2.13
Limited: 3.88

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Welcome to another exciting week of Sun & Moon reviews! Today we get to cover the one Starter-GX that didn't make it into the Top 10, Incineroar-GX. While we can agree that Decidueye-GX deserves his spot, and we may have different opinions on Primarina-GX, Incineroar-GX is pretty much an agreeable skip in sorting out the Top 10, and we'll get to see why. 

To his credit, Hustling Strike is a decent first attack. For 1 Energy, it may only deal 10 damage, but it does an extra 20 damage for every Fire Pokemon on your Bench. Ideally you stack up to 4 Fire Pokemon onto the Bench to hit 90 damage, though at that point you might as well fill it out to 5 for 110 damage (or 8 if you play Sky Field to boost it up to a potential 170), thus allowing Incineroar-GX to cheaply hit anything for a lot of damage...I say cheaply, but realistically this means running enough Fire Pokemon to flesh out your Bench without setting up potential Lysandre targets for your opponent to get around. Not to mention this is all to make the weakest attack Incineroar-GX has good. 

Tiger Swing isn't that impressive though. For 3 Energy, you deal 80 damage and flip two coins for an extra 50 damage per head. On average, you should be dealing 130 damage, which is pretty nice, but otherwise you're gonna be dealing either 180 damage, which is amazing, or 80 damage, which is insulting, and that sort of inconsistency isn't looked highly upon in the competitive scene. Not to mention the damage variation means that Incineroar-GX is likely to 2HKO more than OHKO most anything in the game, though worst case scenario means he's 3HKO-ing Basic Pokemon-EX or GX. 

And then we come to Burning Slam GX, which is a powerful 3-for-200 blow that Burns the opponent's Pokemon. For anyone not in the know on Burn, it's a Status that is similar to Poison in that it deals damage between turns, the only difference being that it involves a coin flip. Prior to the Sun & Moon expansion, Burns were dealt with by flipping a coin, and if you landed Tails, the Burn would deal 20 damage. Now, though, there's been a slight ruling update: now no matter what, the Burn deals 20 damage FIRST, and THEN the coin flip is made, with a heads curing the Pokemon and tails keeping it Burned. The important thing to take from that is this: Burning Slam GX is essentially a 3-for-220, where 20 damage is dealt between turns. This is often enough going to KO something inbetween turns, at least anything short of a Mega-EX and Stage 2 Pokemon-GX.

So what does this mean? Incineroar-GX basically has only one really good attack, but it can only be used once per game, locks out all your other GX attacks, and applies a status effect that will most likely KO the Pokemon it's afflicting - if it's not already KO'd, thus rendering it a bit moot. Hustling Strike requires investment in Bench space real estate, and Tiger Swing will range wildly back and forth so that it's not a consistent means of defeating Pokemon. So while Decidueye-GX runs rampant shooting arrows at everything, and Primarina-GX sings in the background to heal off damage and discard Energies, Incineroar-GX is left behind to try and figure out how to make things work for himself without demanding so much from everyone around him. 

Maybe he'll get a Dark version of himself? 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (at least he's got 250 HP to work with) 

Expanded: 2/5 (and Fire's pretty popular with Volcanion, so he's got that going for him) 

Limited: 4/5 (but on his own, well, he's really only good in a small pool) 

Arora Notealus: This generation's starters all have amazing evolutions, in my opinion - they each bring a unique Typing to the main evolutions, and their designs are all amazing! Decidueye, Incineroar, and Primarina - probably some of the best starter line-ups in a Pokemon game...for a long while? Or maybe ever? Hmmmm... 

Next Time: Time to look at some small fry.


Otaku

*cue intro*

That’s right, today we look at the one fully Evolved Sun & Moon starter Pokémon to not make the Top 10: Incineroar-GX (Sun & Moon 27/149)!  This card did not even qualify as a runner-up from our top 10 countdown, but we’ll get to the next in line for those cards later this week.  Does that mean this is a bad card?  Let’s take a look at it in detail and try to figure this out!  So as the name reminds us, this is a Pokémon-GX and so it gives up an extra Prize when KO’d; this is the same baggage that Pokémon-EX face, but without having to deal with mechanic specific counters (we don’t have anti-Pokémon-GX effects) or being excluded from beneficial effects yet.  Based on translations, we will be seeing such things eventually, but for now the only effect that references Pokémon-GX is the “Lunar Fall-GX” attack found on Lunala-GX, and that is a good thing for Pokémon-GX because it states that the attack’s effect (KO an opponent’s Basic) doesn’t apply to them.  Being a Pokémon-GX includes an HP boost and having a GX-attack in addition to two other attacks or an Ability plus an attack, all of which we’ll detail later. 

Incineroar-GX is a Fire Type; in terms of Weakness and Resistance, most Grass and nearly all Metal Type Pokémon are Fire Weak while nothing is Fire Resistance (as we are not dealing with the Unlimited Format).  This is fairly good; after all, we had not one but two Grass Type Pokémon-GX make our recent Sun & Moon top 10 list.  Of course, the actual metagame will vary (neither did as well at the most recent Regional Championship as I expected), but combined with some of the Grass Types we already had, it is still a good thing.  The rest of what the Type brings is a mixed blessing; the short version is that there is some very good Fire Type support (even more in Expanded than Standard), but not only does much of it work better with other Fire Types, the most noteworthy in Standard play - Volcanion-EX - is for Basic Fire Pokémon, not Evolutions.  As a Stage 2, not only is Incineroar-GX unable to make use of such a thing, but it has the baggage of needing extra time and space to Evolve.  There are also some effects that specifically punish Fire Pokémon or Energy usage, but the only thing particularly relevant is Parallel City; one side of it caps a player’s Bench size to three Pokémon while the other subtracts 20 from the damage done by the attacks of Fire, Grass, and Water Types.  I’ll explain later, but odds are your opponent will benefit more from shrinking and restricting your Bench. 

Incineroar-GX does sport an impressive 250 HP to (somewhat) compensate for being a Stage 2 and Pokémon-GX; nothing has a higher printed HP score, and at least for now, it only has shown up on a few other Stage 2 Pokémon-GX plus Wailord-EX.  This is enough to frequently survive an attack, but there are plenty of exceptions, especially among Water Types thanks to its Water Weakness.  You have some technical attackers that suddenly do good damage, in addition to having awesome attack effects and big hits that now secure a OHKO with less effort (sometimes when they couldn’t have otherwise).  Vaporeon (XY: Ancient Origins means any Stage 1 attacker might double as a Water Type.  The lack of Resistance is typical, and I am starting to think it does matter a bit more on these massive Pokémon-GX; -20 on top of 250 HP has a better chance of buying an extra turn.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] definitely matters; you’ll probably want options to help a stranded Incineroar-GX tank or get out of the Active slot without retreating at full price, and probably both. 

Incineroar-GX sports two regular attacks in addition to its once-per-game GX-attack.  First up is “Hustling Strike” which costs [R] and does 10+ damage, where the “+” is 20 more damage for each of your Benched Fire Type Pokémon.  This means a base damage range from 10 (nothing on your Bench) to 110.  Parallel City knocks the maximum down to 70 by capping your Bench size at three, while Sky Field allows you to have up to eight Pokémon on your Bench, which means upwards of 170 damage if all are Fire Types.  For a single [R] Energy, this is good; even if you’re not scoring OHKO’s, remember that you’ve got 250 HP, and could Max Potion away the damage you do take between uses of Hustling Blow.  The second attack is “Tiger Swing” for [RRC], which does 80+ damage.  This time, the “+” is two coin flips, where each “heads” adds 50 damage and each “tails” changes nothing.  That means one in four possible outcomes yields 80 damage, one in four yields 180, and the remaining two out of four yields 130; 130 mean damage is again enough for 2HKO’s, with the flips being neither too risky or profitable.  The third and final attack is “Burning Slam-GX”, which also costs [RRC].  This attack does 200 damage and Burns the opponent’s Active; thanks to the new Burn rules, that means you’ll net an effective 220 damage, enough to OHKO most Pokémon.  Maybe more if the afflicted Pokémon fails his or her Burn check (now making it removes Burn) and doesn’t otherwise shake the Special Condition.  This isn’t a brilliant GX-attack, but I think it is a good one.  Putting it all together, it seems like Hustling Strike would have to be the deck focus, but the other two are decent fallback options, even factoring in the flips or one-time usage. 

So how about the rest of the line?  We already have three Litten to consider: SM: Black Star Promos SM02, Sun & Moon 24/149, and SM: Black Star Promos SM08.  We only have Sun & Moon 25/149 for Torracat, while for regular Incineroar, it is just Sun & Moon 26/149.  All members of this line (including Incineroar-GX) are Fire Type Pokémon with Water Weakness, no Resistance, and lacking an Ability.  All Litten are Basic Pokémon with Retreat Cost [C].  SM: Black Star Promos SM02 has 60 HP and the attack “Combustion” for [RC], doing 30 damage.  Sun & Moon 24/149 70 HP, the attack “Bite” for [R] doing 10 damage plus the attack “Flare” for [RC] doing 20.  SM: Black Star Promos SM08 is back to having 60 HP, but also with two attacks: “Collect” costs [C] and lets you draw a card while “Scratch” costs [RC] and does 20 damage.  None of these are great; and even taking their best features (70 HP, Collect, and Combustion) would still give us a filler Basic just meant to act as a stepping stone for Evolutions, but with what we have available I’d go with the +10 HP of Sun & Moon 24/149.  Torracat (Sun & Moon 25/149) is a Stage 1 with 90 HP, Retreat Cost [CC] and two attacks: “Fury Swipes” needs [R] and has you flip three coins, each good for 20 damage per “heads”, while [RRC] pays for “Flamethrower” and 90 damage, but you also must discard an attached Energy card from Torracat itself.  No other options for this Stage yet, except Rare Candy.  Incineroar-GX can attack for a single Energy, so I would definitely include Rare Candy, but Item lock means I definitely would also include Torracat. 

Incineroar (Sun & Moon 26/149) is a Stage 2 with 160 HP, which means today’s actual subject received a +90 HP bonus for being a Pokémon-GX.  160 is still somewhat solid, with a decent chance of surviving a hit.  It has the same chunky Retreat Cost of [CCC] as well.  For [RC] it can use “Fire Fang” for 30 damage and Burn, which is solid; two Energy for about 50 damage.  For [RRC] this Incineroar may use “Darkest Lariat” instead; you flip two coins and do 100 damage per “heads”.  This is mediocre, as again the odds are one-in-four for both minimum and maximum base damage, or two in four for the middle amount of damage.  The big difference is the spread; minimum damage is zero, while the maximum is 200.  The mean, median, and mode all end up being the same 100 points of damage; a decent return for 100 damage, but while hitting 200 damage is higher than on Tiger Swing, it just isn’t worth one in four outcomes being no damage.  Unless we get some real strong anti-Pokémon-GX in the future and (for whatever reason), we can’t counter it in a better way, I won’t be using this Incineroar at all, even as a one-of with today’s Incineroar-GX. 

I risked my review going up late so that I could at least try a couple of games with Incineroar-GX; unfortunately, I had nowhere near enough time to carefully test over a couple dozen matches.  I’m not sure if I got even a half-dozen games in, and that is a pathetic sampling size; the evidence I am about to present is thus anecdotal, save where it pertains to my experience in trying to build a deck around this card.  Both approaches I tried, I cannot claim as my own.  I wasn’t using someone else’s lists, but in hindsight, perhaps I ought to have because things went terribly.  It is possible that most of my problems came from bad luck (I was constantly struggling to draw what I needed when I needed it) or from bad matchups (so few matches and at least one was against a Water Type deck).  All attempts were in the Standard Format.  First I tried the Sky Field/Hustling Strike focused deck.  The huge issue is finding enough room for everything you need for the strategy (Max Potion, Sky Field, Fire Types for your Bench), and everything you need for the deck to run well (draw and search cards, maybe a few less general Supporters and Items).  Professor Sycamore and Ultra Ball are your best friends and worst enemies, as they can get you what you need but so often force you to toss something else you’ll need soon (sometimes later that same turn!).  Shifting focus away from Sky Field to a more general “big Fire” kind of build, things didn’t go much better.  I suspect this was because I foolishly still tried to rely too much on Hustling Strike (even with four Fire Types on your Bench, it’s a decent attack) and Max Potion, making it too difficult to use the other attacks as I ought to have been.  Plus, I totally did have multiple misplays while learning the deck, but that isn’t an uncommon thing for me with proven decks I know. 

Here is what nearly seemed to work, because odds are almost even that Incineroar-GX is never going to cut it or I just didn’t build and run it anywhere close to optimally.  When you can pull off the Sky Field trick, Hustling Strike can be very threatening, but you have to remember that many Pokémon right now are Mega Evolutions, Evolved Pokémon-GX, or the usual 170 to 180 HP Basic Pokémon-EX bulked up to 210-220 HP thanks to Fighting Fury Belt.  Throw in the demands of filling your Bench the first time and then refilling it after Sky Field gets discarded, and even if you want to go this route, it shouldn’t be your only focus.  Maybe just one or two Sky Field, so you can pounce on the opportunity should it present itself?  I tried Scorched Earth as an alternate Stadium, but I think that requires more Energy (or cards that add Energy from discard to hand) than I had room for, so it didn’t work out too great either. Max Potion also underperformed; your 250 HP will usually take two hits to drop, often enough three… but even with Puzzle of Time, I would run out of Max Potion pretty quick.  One may be Prized.  You’ll probably have to toss another with Professor Sycamore or Ultra Ball unless you go a full-on alternate Trainer engine. 

Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114) is a pretty obvious inclusion; it is a big, Basic Pokémon that is not a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX.  For [R], it can do a little damage while attaching a [R] Energy to up to two of your Benched Pokémon; this makes some of the bigger attacks a lot more affordable.  At the same time, once you have Incineroar-GX up and running, now your opponent can Lysandre it up front and try for a OHKO if you haven’t finished your Max Potion regimen.  While it helped with reusing discarded Fire Energy itself, that wasn’t enough to make use of the larger attacks on Incineroar, at least as often as I wanted: none of my deck builds had room for the additional Fire Energy and Energy supporting Trainers of a Volcanion-EX deck.  My initial Husting Strike focused attempt only ran seven or eight Fire Energy… when you’re attacking for just one most of the time, that seemed like it ought to be enough, and has been in other decks, but not here.  I experimented with a few other Basic Fire Types, but they just didn’t add anything worthwhile besides a few extra bodies if I had room via Sky Field for them.  I didn’t use any Basic Pokémon-EX because they interfered too much with the tanking strategy; if my opponents were already trying to exploit a Benched Volcanion, how much more a Benched Charizard-EX or Emboar-EX that might still fall into OHKO range.  After all, I couldn’t afford to run Fighting Fury Belt as it wouldn’t help Incineroar-GX. 

On the Pokémon Tool front, I did give Heavy Boots a try; if the rest of the deck wouldn’t constantly whiff, that +20 HP would have come in handy.  The rest of the deck did frequently fail, however, which meant most of the time I had no Incineroar-GX to make use of the Item, or no Energy for it to attack with, or no Max Potion to heal after hanging on a turn.  I tried out Weakness Policy but, as expected, running one meant it couldn’t reliably show up when I needed it… not even as discard fodder!  If it would clutter my hand, it would show up, so most of the time I slapped it on a Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108), which I used to augment my draw most of the time, even if it meant a lower damage output for Hustling Strike until my opponent gave me an excuse to discard it (Parallel City) or forced it up for an easy OHKO.  I am thinking now that Exp. Share and/or Float Stone would have served me better, but I didn’t have a tremendous amount of room for Tools as is; I think I could only fit in three total.  Something that may help Incineroar-GX are some future cards, revealed in Japan.  There is an upcoming Fire Type Oricorio; it is a 90 HP Basic that (sadly) is still Water Weak, but its first attack costs [R] and - if it was translated accurately - allows you to search your deck for and Bench three Fire Type Pokémon.  Still a bit slow (you can’t attack if you go first), but it might improve reliability.  The other upcoming release is Choice Band, currently a promo in Japan.  While attached, that Pokémon does and extra 30 damage to Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX.  Unlike Silver Bangle (which granted +30 against Pokémon-EX), there are no attachment restrictions.  This means Incineroar-GX itself can more easily reach (or reach at all) certain key HP scores with its three attacks.  Expect to see Choice Band in a lot of decks. 

So for Standard play, I recommend cautious testing for Incineroar-GX.  On paper, I like its stats and attack, but in practice, I couldn’t make it work; so many cool combos, but too little deck space for making a reliable deck build, let alone adding in all those TecHs and tricks.  I didn’t try it for Expanded play; Blacksmith and Battle Compressor could really help Tiger Swing and Burning Slam-GX in setting up all quick and reliable.  You’ve also got Muscle Band for extra damage, and either Trick Coin or Victini (BW: Noble Victories 14/101, 98/101; BW: Black Star Promos BW32; BW: Legendary Treasures 23/113) to reflip for Tiger Swing.  You also have more competition, not just for Fire decks but in general.  This includes some crazy fast decks, some crazy hard hitting decks, and some crazy lock decks, all of which will mess with this cat.  It is a great pull for Limited play, assuming you get the full line and can run a deck built around mostly Fire Energy.  Don’t rely on Hustling Strike, as there is a lot of Water Types in Sun & Moon, so even if you do pull enough Growlithe (Sun & Moon 21/149), Litten, and Torkoal (23/149) to reliably fill your Bench, include some variety.  As an added bonus, regular Incineroar can help out a lot more here. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.25/5 

Expanded: 2.25/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary 

Perhaps it is just my love of cats that blinded me, or my inner-Timmy, Johnny, and pyromaniac all joining together to override my not-so-inner Spike’s blunt warnings about how a Stage 2 attacker is too slow, especially one that isn’t all about self-contained brute force.  Every trick Incineroar-GX does, something else seems to do better, though not all the same tricks at the same time.  I’ve got some small hope left for the future of this card, though. 

If you think I was all keyed up earlier in my review, it gets worse: both times while “grading” these cards, to work out my personal top 10 list for the set, I awarded Incineroar-GX a “B-”.  Converting the above numerical score to those letter grades is a “D+”.  So yeah, this was supposed to be one of the highlights of this week.


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