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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Excadrill #56

Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed: July 16, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.87
Limited: 4.38

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National

Excadrill #56 (Dark Explorers)

Hello and welcome to a new week of Dark Explorers reviews here on Pojo’s CotD.

We kick off with Excadrill #56 – a card that got a bit of interest when it was first released and even saw some play during Spring Battle Roads. By the time National Championships came around though, it had completely dropped off the radar. So, was this card just a five minute wonder, or could it make a comeback? Let’s find out.

Excadrill is a Fighting Type Stage 1 with 120 HP. Fighting is a very good Type to have right now as it hits two major deck Types for Weakness (anything based around Darkrai-EX, plus Lightning decks). Its Water Weakness is definitely a plus as very little of that Type sees play (maybe a Kyogre-EX or Kyurem-EX in an Energy Trans deck like Klinklang, or Empoleon DEX). 120 HP used to be a very frustrating number, as it put a Pokémon within OHKO range of the Unova Dragons which dominated tournaments. Now however, Reshiram has all but vanished from the competitive scene and Zekrom won’t one-shot Excadrill due to its more than useful Lightning Resistance. In fact the majority of attacking Pokémon these days are unable to get a OHKO without some serious attack Boost (like Dark Claw or PlusPower). Mewtwo is the exception of course, although even he would need 4 Energy to take down a fully powered up Excadrill.

OK, so he’s fairly durable, but what are Excadrill’s attacks like? The first, Tunnel Strike, costs a single Fighting Energy and does 30 damage to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. The slight downside is that, if they have nothing Benched, you can’t hit the Defending Pokémon instead. Overall though, 30 damage for one Energy is decent, and when you couple that with sniping, it becomes an attack with the potential to set up later KOs or finish off Weak/low HP Pokémon without resorting to Pokémon Catcher. By attaching a second Fighting Energy to Excadrill, you can use Dig Uppercut. The damage output here is a relatively low 50, but the effect is extremely good as it allows you to put a card from your discard pile into your hand. Obviously, this is extremely useful. Game-changing Trainers like Pokémon Catcher or Crushing Hammer can be recycled without Junk Arm. Discarded Pokémon can be brought back without the need for Super Rod. Even cards that are near-impossible to recover like Supporters and Special Energy are now accessible once more. It’s most definitely a very powerful effect.

So, why isn’t this card seeing more play? Well, I suspect it basically comes down to that damage output. Unless Excadrill is hitting for Weakness it is going to have a tough time knocking out Basic EX Pokémon and most Stage 2s, and as for a Fighting Resistant Tornadus-EX with an Eviolite attached . . . forget it. Of course you could play it with some more threatening alternative attacker, but then you would be missing out on the benefits of Dig Uppercut.

Basically, I would class Excadrill as being semi-competitive. It doesn’t have what it takes to mix it with the big boys, but it is exploitable as a card for small tournament or League play.


Modified: 3 (more damage, even at an increased cost, would have been nice)

Limited: 4.5 (easy to set up, relatively fast, and recycling your few good cards would be brilliant)


Welcome back, Pojo readers! I'm back from my two-week hiatus, so I hope you've all had a great time while I've been gone! We're reviewing more Dark Explorers cards this week, so be sure to check back for updates to see if your favorite card is being reviewed. Today we're going to kick things off with Excadrill #56.

Excadrill is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon. The only commonly played Fighting type in my meta these days is Terrakion, but that could change with the release of upcoming sets. As it stands, Excadrill has harsh competition with Terrakion and Donphan Prime (until it rotates) for Fighting-type slots, so it needs to make the most of what it has. Fighting typing is also great to have right now, as both Zekrom/Eelektrik and Darkrai variants are incredibly popular. 120 HP is great for a Stage 1, allowing Excadrill to take at least one moderate hit, while probably standing up to at least some of the hardest hitters of the metagame for a little bit. Water Weakness is essentially irrelevant right now, but be careful, as you will run into the occasional Empoleon or Kyurem. Lightning Resistance is great against the aforementioned Zekrom and friends, and a Retreat Cost of 3 is fairly high, but not wholly unexpected. Be sure to use Switch to move Excadrill from the Active Position.

Excadrill has two attacks. Tunnel Strike snipes one of your opponent's Pokemon for 30 damage for a single Fighting Energy, which is great for its cost. 30 damage is just enough to be relevant, as it can take out very weak Basics as well as pick off any other Pokemon your opponent may have on the Bench. Given that sniping is usually a good ability to have, Excadrill can possibly find a niche in both Modified and Limited, depending on your meta (chances are it's probably a bit too slow for Modified). All in all, this attack's damage to cost ratio is good, but is something that would be better on a Basic, though it is still decent on Excadrill.

Dig Uppercut is Excadrill's "big" attack, dealing 50 damage for two Fighting Energy, but the attack also puts a card from your discard pile into your hand. This is a very interesting attack effect, as it can get back any card, regardless of card type. As for the damage output, 50 damage is decent, but not amazing, so you'll want to pair Excadrill with a more powerful attacker to put opponents away.

Modified: 2.5/5 Excadrill is very average, but not in a bad way. 120 HP with favorable bottom stats is great, but unfortunately both attacks are just short of the cusp of widespread playability. Sniping for 30 damage is good, but probably not good enough to warrant using on a finally-Evolved Stage 1. Dig Uppercut is also very interesting and has great potential, but is hampered by its disappointing damage output. Overall, Excadrill is *almost* playable, but other, stronger options will probably take its place. That being said, after the rotation, Excadrill's Dig Uppercut could end up having a niche as a decent recursion engine, so that's worth keeping in mind for the future.

Limited: 4.5/5 Excadrill does nearly everything you could want it to do in Limited. 120 HP is great, and both attacks are VERY helpful, as sniping is very powerful here and recursion is always amazing. The only slight downside is Excadrill's heavy reliance on Fighting Energy, which stops it from being an automatic inclusion into any deck in this format. That being said, if you're running Fighting and pull an Excadrill or two, be sure to run it, as you won't be disappointed.

Jebulous Maryland Player

Excadrill 56

I put an email address up if anyone wants to contact me for whatever reason. This is my first time writing reviews, so any comments or feedback would be appreciated. I'll be glad to answer any questions that you have.

Excadrill is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon with 120 HP, a weakness to Water, resistance to Lightning, and a retreat cost of 3. The high retreat allows it to be searched by Heavy Ball. The weakness doesn't seem to be too much of a problem; Vanilluxe, Kyurem, and Empoleon are the Pokemon that come to mind that would take advantage of it (though is VVV going to be playable after the rotation? It looks doubtful at the moment, Vileplume has big shoes to fill). The resistance comes in handy when facing Eelektrik variants (and the fact that a lot of the Pokemon in those decks have Fighting weaknesses). There is no form of energy acceleration for Fighting, so having low cost attacks helps it out (though the good attack requires 2 attachments, which could hurt depending on the situation).

'Tunnel Strike' costs 1 Fighting and does 30 damage to one of your opponent's benched Pokemon. This isn't that spectacular. Darkrai EX's attack does 90 to the defending, and 30 to 2 benched Pokemon.
This is a VERY watered down version of that attack. It's great for picking off babies (which rotate out of the format...) and 30 HP Tynamos (which have stopped being used since Tyrogue and Darkrai EX showed up in the competitive scene).

'Dig Uppercut' costs 2 Fighting and does 50 damage. You can then put any card in your discard into your hand. The damage is not that great, even if it hits for weakness it still can't take out a Zekrom.
It can OHKO Eelektiks though. The second part of the attack is what is great. You can get ANY card from your discard. Energy can be retrieved via powers/abilities, attack effects, and trainers. Pokemon can be retrieved via trainers. Tools can be retrieved via Sableye.
Supporters can be retrieved by... this. I can't think of any cards that can easily get a Supporter back other than an attack like this.
So this attack adds the ability to recycle Supporters (although I'm sure you would just get whatever you thought you would need at that time). A problem with getting a card back is that you have to wait until your next turn to use it (so an N on your opponent's next turn would mean having to part with what you got back). With Junk Arm going away, this attack has become more valuable than it was at the time it came out.

When I pulled this card from a pack and read it, I wanted to use it in a deck. So I did. I ran Zoroark, Sableye, Excadrill, Groudon EX, and a bunch of hammers. The goal was getting out the Brutal Bash Zoroark fast to do high damage. Sableye to recycle Dark Patch and Hammers.
Excadrill to give Dark and Lightning decks some trouble if the Dark Rush was not going well. Groudon EX... because I pulled it and wanted to play it. The deck was in no way competitive. It was pretty clunky too, but I enjoyed playing around with it. When I did get Excadrill out, I usually had a choice of whatever I wanted.

In Limited, you get whatever you want back, which is helpful if you don't have other cards to do the job.

Modified: 3/5
Limited: 4/5
Combo's With: any card in the discard pile


Greetings readers!

Today we will look at Excadrill (BW: Dark Explorers 56/108); can you dig it?


Excadrill is a Stage 1 Fighting-Type Pokémon. Being a Stage 1 isn’t the greatest right now; the format is a little more diverse than it has been recently, but for the most part big Basic Pokémon (some Pokémon EX, some not) dominate and Evolutions are played in a supporting role or not at all. Still, at least you can get into play second turn without relying on Evolution acceleration like Rare Candy. The Fighting-Type is handy, though; still a good amount of Fighting Weakness (and on important Pokémon) floating around. Damage being doubled for Weakness really is pretty broken when you think about it, at least given the differences between the Pokémon TCG and its video game counterpart.

Excadrill sports 120 HP, which should be/would be good except as anyone actively playing now knows, attacks are hitting harder and faster than in most previous formats. The maximum HP a Stage 1 Pokémon currently sports is 140, and the biggest attackers can OHKO even that without exploiting Weakness. 120 wouldn’t be that bad, except many decks can still hit this with only a little extra effort or set-up. The good news is that Excadrill has Weakness that isn’t too painful and actually posses Resistance! Water Weakness isn’t completely safe, but the decks that really use it best are more focused on spread than big hits, and of course Weakness is not applied while a Pokémon is on the Bench. Lightning Resistance is helps against the Lightning decks that are still seeing adequate play, allowing you to survive but their biggest attacks (just remember most will have off-Type attackers as well).

The three Energy Retreat Cost is hefty, and you won’t want to be paying it. Try to find some alternatives to manually retreating or something to lower your Retreat Costs. The good news is that this big a Retreat Cost qualifies Excadrill as a target for Heavy Ball, making it just a little easier to search out of your deck.


Excadrill has two attacks, so it won’t be Bench-sitting if it sees play. For (F) it can use Tunnel Strike, a simple attack that hits one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon for 30 points of damage (and of course doesn’t apply Weakness/Resistance). This isn’t good enough, but it is close; the problem is it leaves the Active Pokémon completely alone. If it hit the Active for at least 30 as well, we would have a pretty spiffy opening attack. Since it only hits one Pokémon on the Bench, a Stage 1 needs to be swinging for a good 40 points of damage. Remember, you don’t even have the option of using it to swing at the Defending Pokémon.

Now the second attack does hit the Defending Pokémon, but for (FF) 50 damage is a poor return. Fortunately it does have a pretty spiffy effect as Dig Uppercut lets you add a card from your discard pile to your hand. That really is quite handy, but whatever you grab your opponent has an entire turn to deal with… and this is the card’s “big” attack.


First let’s see where Excadrill comes from: Drilbur. We’ve got three options in English: BW: Emerging Powers 54/98, BW: Emerging Powers 55/98, and BW: Dark Explorers 55/108. All are Fighting-Type Basic Pokémon with Water Weakness and Lightning Resistance. BW: Emerging Powers 55/98 has 60 HP and a single Energy Retreat Cost while the other two clock in at 70 HP with two Energy Retreat Costs. BW: Emerging Powers 54/98 has two attacks with the first needing (C) and the second needing (F). They form a basic combo: said opening attack (Hone) raises the damage done by the Pokémon’s next attack by 30. Given that there is always a risk of being KOed before delivering that next attack and I would hope to be Evolved next turn (which erases the effect of Hone), it isn’t especially appealing. BW: Emerging Powers 55/98 has a monstrous (FFC) on his lone attack, which hits for 40. For a basic the damage return is only poor because it is the card’s only attack… but again I would rather be Evolving and attacking with Excadrill, and today’s version doesn’t even need that much Energy. BW: Dark Explorers 55/108 needs (FF) to deliver a solid 30 points of damage… but again this is a Basic going into a Stage 1 so I don’t really want two Energy attacks. Unless your deck also runs Skyarrow Bridge for some reason, stick with one of the two 70 HP versions.

Interestingly enough, there are three other Excadrill! That is a bit odd, but could be useful. Besides today’s version we have BW: Emerging Powers 56/98, BW: Emerging Powers 57/98, and BW: Dark Explorers 57/108. All are Stage 1 Fighting-Type Pokémon with Water Weakness and Lightning Resistance, like today’s card. BW: Emerging Powers 56/98 only has 110 HP and a Retreat Cost of two (so no Heavy Ball); all other versions sport 120 HP. Its first attack for (C) hits for 30 and for (FFF) it hits for 80 and allows you to discard an Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon. That missing 10 HP could matter, but 110 is an unusual amount of damage, with most attacks being more likely to hit for 100 or 120 without extra help. What really holds it back is that (FFF) is a pretty massive Energy cost in today’s game, and 80 damage a low return, even with the nice Energy discard.

BW: Emerging Powers 57/98 also has a Retreat Cost of just two (still not easy to pay and not a target for Heavy Ball). For (FC) it hits for 30 points of damage and gets a coin toss dependent effect; tails does nothing but heads blocks all effects of attacks, including damage, done to Excadrill the next turn. The wording means the effect rests on Excadrill and not the Pokémon it attacked, making it a bit harder to ditch. Handy for the effect, but the damage is a bit low. Earthquake hits everything on your Bench for 10 points of damage, but at least it scores a solid 70 points of damage for (FCC); with almost any form of Energy acceleration you’ll need two turns at most to use it (probably on your first turn as Excadrill).

The final choice is BW: Dark Explorers 57/108, which we will cover tomorrow. I will go into more detail then, but for now I will note it has the heftiest Retreat Cost of all three (four Energy), and the most expensive attacks with one for (FCC) and the second for (FCCC). It does however hit the hardest and the second attack even bypasses Weakness. Personally, I probably wouldn’t run any of them alongside today’s version unless said other version was meant to be the actual focus and you just wanted a single copy of today’s to retrieve spent cards on occasion.

So is there a deck for this card? I won’t rule it out completely, but it will be coasting on Type-matching and the coattails of another card; Sableye (BW: Dark Explorers 62/108). I’ve been toying with some decks that spam the most disruptive Items in the game at the opponent, then using Sableye to keep those Items coming back. The downside is that I am not doing any damage while this happens. Normally I try to build something up while tearing down my opponent’s set up and rapidly ripping through my own deck. Excadrill may actually be worth trying, and I hope to test it soon (but sadly not before this article goes up). Since it does have a good chance of hitting for Weakness, only recycling one card will be worth it in those match-ups plus it can grab any one card, not just Items. Probably back them up with one or two other cards and while one isn’t dealing out a lot of damage, one shouldn’t be taking much either.

Now to be clear, I will be testing it for BW-On; it might work in HS-On, but it is hard to anticipate if that is worthwhile owing to Junk Arm also retrieving discarded Items. If you’re really curious, I encourage you to try it out; you still have cards like Black Belt that would be hilarious to constantly use over and over again after your opponent expends most resources pulling ahead early game by KOing two or even three of your Sableye. It would be nice to have a good use for Black Belt.

As for the remaining two commonly played formats, Unlimited is still quite the mess due to older cards interacting with current (revised) rules. Even ignoring decks that win the very first turn of the game or all but win by forming a “lock”, Excadrill just pails in comparison to what else we could use; I bump it’s score by half a point since a deck built around it would enjoy that retrieved card. Limited is the opposite, I think. While you’ll mostly be retrieving Pokémon and Energy, that matters a lot more in Limited. That one good Pokémon you pulled can be rebuilt as Excadrill grabs all you need to replay it while hitting for solid damage. If you did get a few Trainers, it is pretty amazing getting them to use again and again. The lower than average HP and damage outputs (due to so many Evolutions being unable to see play) makes both its own HP and attacks that much better, plus hitting the Bench is much more important in a format where an opponent is likely to build something there or retreat something injured. Lastly, you’ll have the chance of pulling the other Excadrill in this set as well, which enjoys the same generic benefits but is friendly to being run off-type, and worth mentioning since it gives a slight increase to the possibility of running a more fleshed out Pokémon line.


Unlimited: 1.5/5

Modified (HS-On): 2/5

Modified (BW-On): 2.5/5

Limited: 4/5


While this card didn’t score tremendously high, it scores much better than I had expected. If testing proves it worth supplementing Sableye, and indeed that using Sableye in such a manner doesn’t quickly become predictable and a “bad” play, I’ve actually underscored it and deserves somewhere between half and a full point’s bonus. Not good Excadrill, but not bad either.

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