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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Aerodactyl #53

Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed: May 22, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.50
Limited: 3.40

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

Aerodactyl (Dark Explorers)

Today’s card, Aerodactyl, is one of the new ‘Restored’ Pokémon. Yeah, ok, it’s just a fancy new world for ‘Fossil’.

In the past I’ve ranted about how it doesn’t matter how good these Restored Pokémon are because the mechanic for getting them into play is so luck-based and takes up so much space in the deck, that they are next to unusable in competitive play. Aerodactyl however has a chance thanks to two things: firstly he doesn’t need to be evolved once benched (unlike Archeops and Carracosta), and secondly we now have the Twist Mountain Stadium which can get him into play on a coin flip. This is actually feasible, and this is how it should always be done. Don’t even think about using Old Amber.

So, what do we get for our Stadium and successful flip? Well we get something with a low 90 HP, a nice Retreat cost of one, and a Weakness that it won’t really have to worry about (Grass). Unfortunately the attack is pretty poor (three Energy of any Colour for a vanilla 40 damage), but then you wouldn’t be using it except in very rare situations (desperation, maybe attacking for Weakness to get a KO). Nope, the major attraction here is the Ancient Scream Ability. This states that your Pokémon’s attacks do an extra 10 damage. The Ability does stack, so if you ever had four of these out, your attacks would get a boost of 40.

How good is this? Well I am never going to say that a card which can increase damage output is bad: look at how much play PlusPower gets in current decks, and remember when even non-SP decks were using Crobat G and Poké Turn? That extra 10 damage can make the difference between you taking a Prize (or two if it’s an EX), and you sitting there while your Active gets smacked around next turn by a Pokémon you failed to knock out. The issues with Aerodactyl mostly concern unreliability (that coin flip again) and the fact that it takes up bench space while being an easy target for Pokémon Catcher. If you can live with those drawbacks though, this card’s Ability is extremely powerful.

I can see some people trying it with Empoleon DEX to give a big boost to the damage output, or with Tornadus-EX in some uber-fast donk deck. It maybe won’t see a ton of play right now, but effects like this always seem to find a place in the format eventually.


Modified: 3 (There will be decks where Aerodactyl is worth the effort)

Limited: 2.75 (impossible to get out unless you pull the Stadium or Old Amber. Decent Colourless attack though)


Greetings once again, Pojo viewers! Today we continue reviewing the cards that just missed the Top 10 cut from Dark Explorers, so there will still be quite a few gems this week. Today we're reviewing Aerodactyl, the new Restored Pokemon from the set.
Aerodactyl is a Fighting-type Restored Pokemon, meaning it can only be put into play through the effects of its Item (in this case, Old Amber Aerodactyl) or Twist Mountain. For those of you that need a reminder, Old Amber works just like the two fossils in NVI did, with the user looking at the bottom seven cards of their deck, and putting an Aerodactyl onto the Bench if they find one there. Given how much more difficult it is to play these Pokemon than their normal counterparts, they tend to be fairly good in terms of stats and abilities in comparison. As a Fighting type, Aerodactyl has to fight Terrakion and Groudon-EX for deck space, although Aerodactyl does something a bit different, so it fills a different niche. 90 HP is fairly standard for a non-Evolved Restored Pokemon, being just enough to take a weak hit or two but still falling to bigger assaults. Grass Weakness is great right now in Modified as Grass sees little play; no Resistance is unfortunate but not unexpected, and a single Retreat Cost isn't bad an easy paid, although it's a shame it can't be lowered by Skyarrow Bridge.
Aerodactyl has an Ability and a single attack. Ancient Scream acts as a constant PlusPower, making each of your attacks do 10 more damage to the opponent before Weakness and Resistance, and the best part is that these are stackable! Therefore, if you can get out multiple Aerodactyls, you'll have an even greater boost. This sort of Ability is great in both Modified and Limited, provided you can get Aerodactyls out.
Wing Attack, Aerodactyl's only form of offense, deals a somewhat weak 40 damage for three Colorless Energy, although it is boosted immediately by Ancient Scream to 50. 50 damage for three Energy is very expensive, even with the use of Double Colorless. That being said, the Colorless Energy requirements make this attack very good in Limited.
Modified: 3/5 Many people will be experimenting with Aerodactyl in the coming weeks to try to get it to work, and they may just figure it out. Ancient Scream's effect is really nice, and will often give you that little extra push you need to get that KO, but there are a few other things to consider. First of all, Aerodactyl is a Restored Pokemon, so you'll have to dedicate some of your other deck slots into maximizing getting it out, by using cards like Old Amber Aerodactyl and Research Record, Twist Mountain, or some combination of the three, which will in turn decrease other areas of your deck's consistently if you're not specifically building around Aerodactyl. Additionally, Aerodactyl is very easy Pokemon Catcher bait, as it has a somewhat low 90 HP score, and an expensive attack with relatively little offensive power. In spite of these potential pitfalls, Aerodactyl can be an excellent supporting Pokemon for your deck's main strategy.
Limited: 4/5 A universally applicable Ability and an attack with Colorless Energy requirements mean that Aerodactyl is very playable here. There only reason it's not a 5/5 is that it's somewhat difficult to get out, but since both Old Amber Aerodactyl and Twist Mountain are in the set, you could get lucky and pull enough of those to get it to work as well.


Our next “near miss” is Aerodactyl. I wonder if we are intentionally going alphabetically with these, or if this is how it actually broke down?

Starting strange is the Stage; Aerodactyl is a “Restored Pokémon”. Restored Pokémon are a mechanic for handling Pokémon that, in the video game, are revived from some sort of fossil. Aerodactyl is the first Restored Pokémon to previously Evolve through the old method for handling “Fossil” Pokémon, Evolving from a Trainer (played like a Basic Pokémon) such as Mysterious Fossil. There were other methods for getting such Pokémon into play as time went on, but the original Aerodactyl (Fossil 1/62, 16/62) started just that way.

Restored Pokémon can only be played via the effect of another card; currently that means Trainer cards. I will explain more under usage, but the currently available options mean that being a Restored Pokémon is worst Stage a Pokémon can be, save a Pokémon that Evolves from a Restored Pokémon. You always need another card to get them into play, and right now, that card is Old Amber Aerodactyl (an Item) and Twist Mountain (a Stadium). Items can be blocked plus Old Amber Aerodactyl works by searching the bottom seven cards of your deck, giving good odds of failing without a lot of extra effort (e.g. proper deck build). With Twist Mountain, a single copy can service multiple Restored Pokémon but not only does it require a successful coin toss to work (and the target Pokémon in hand), but Skyarrow Bridge is popular enough that you shouldn’t expect too many turns from a single copy. Overall I’d say this puts a Restored Pokémon on par with Stage 1 Pokémon, and that is how I’ll judge their stats. So 90 HP is poor for a Stage 1 Pokémon, especially one that does not Evolve; Aerodactyl will be an easy OHKO for the strongest decks and most will just need a PlusPower or other simple combo to do it as well.

Being a Fighting-Type is actually quite good right now and will indeed help Aerodactyl by allowing it to score double damage against most Lightning- and Darkness-Type Pokémon (which could be the majority of decks until the next set). The Grass Weakness is not good, but neither is it especially bad; there are only a few Grass Pokémon that see regular play, and right now they aren't being run as attackers; some aren't even run in decks that can let them attack for damage!

Now a lack of Resistance is common, but for this card it is tragic that Aerodactyl lost its traditional Fighting Resistance. It was the first TCG card to be a Fighting Resistant Fighting-Type, and it's long served it well. Fighting-Type Pokémon seem to finally be coalescing into solid decks to exploit the abundant Fighting Weakness, so major missed opportunity for Aerodactyl. At least it enjoys a good Retreat Cost of just one; I don't care to see much higher on Pokémon generally depicted as flying, though I know that's more personal bias than game mechanic.

Aerodactyl has an Ability and a single attack. The Ability - Ancient Scream - boosts damage from your attacks done to the Active Pokémon during your turn, before Weakness and Resistance are applied. It is important to note that "Active Pokémon" is plural: self-damaging attacks will hit both the Defending and Attacking Pokémon for that extra damage. It is nice that it triggers before Weakness/Resistance, allowing Pokémon striking Weakness to enjoy +20 points of damage and those facing Resistance the possibility of punching through it.

The attack is much, much less impressive: Wing Attack does 40 points of damage for (
CCC). On a Stage 1 Pokémon, you'd expect a return of at least 60 points for that, and it'd still be viewed as "weak". On a Basic Pokémon, unless it was something meant mostly to Evolve, you'd expect 50. Only on the scale of an Evolving Basic Pokémon (which Aerodactyl is most certainly not) would 40 for (CCC) be even mildly good.

Fortunately there is some intentional synergy here... or perhaps unfortunately some intentional toning down. Ancient Scream is going to always be applied (unless I missed the release of a card that shuts down Abilities), so the attack is actually going to hit for 50 points of damage before Weakness/Resistance; still a bit weak but not bad for a Bench-sitter. At least this is enough for it to OHKO another Bench-sitter, Eelektrik, thanks to Weakness.

Ancient Scream doesn't care about Pokémon Type, and by being able to use any Energy Type for Wing Attack you could use it in any deck with almost any form of Energy acceleration, including something as simple as Double Colorless Energy. This means Aerodactyl probably is expected to become a Bench-sitter, but one that can quickly power-up in most decks and strike to exploit one of the two most desirable Weaknesses to exploit right now: Fighting.

To reiterate, Aerodactyl can only be played through two cards at the moment: the Item Old Amber Aerodactyl and the
Stadium Twist Mountain. Perhaps I am underestimating Restored Pokémon, but that really doesn't sit well with me. You can play a card like Research Record to improve your chances with Old Amber Aerodactyl, but that just lets you see the top four cards of your deck, decide which ones to keep on top of your deck and which to move to the bottom, and arrange them how you like in each spot. If Research Record finds an Aerodactyl on top of your deck, you can make sure Old Amber Aerodactyl works, but if you come up dry on the Research Record you are only able to figure your odds less those top four cards. Still, you were searching the bottom seven, so eliminated the top four from contention is a massive eleven card spread; if you play a Pokémon Collector or solid draw card before hand, even first turn that is about a fourth of your deck.

If Aerodactyl shows up in your hand, it is a dead card without the
Stadium Twist Mountain. Its 50% success rate isn't good when it's the only non-specific way to play a Restored Pokémon, and remember a target that Twist Mountain can hit is one Old Amber Aerodactyl can’t. It is nice to have a way of using an otherwise “dead” Restored Pokémon in hand, but to use one you have to be in a position where at least one copy of the target card can’t be affected by the other. Nothing to help copies in the discard pile either save the standard “shuffle into the deck” recursion cards. If you max out Twist Mountain, odds are after a few turns it will be the final Stadium in play the rest of the game since decks just don’t seem to run that Stadiums. Early copies are likely to be discarded by an opponent's Stadium, especially with the popularity of Tornadus EX encouraging their use.

The good news is that while Old Amber Aerodactyl can miss, it is a form of search as well as the means of playing the card, and nothing prevents you from playing multiple copies of Old Amber Aerodactyl in a single turn, on top of flipping for Twist Mountain if at least one of your Aerodactyl are in hand. This means they could be in play as early as first turn, unlike actual Stage 1 Pokémon. In fact, you almost always want to swarm Aerodactyl since it isn't hard to OHKO and swarming ramps up its competitiveness quite a bit. While getting out and maintaining four Aerodactyl on the Bench is hard, +40 points of damage per turn does amazing things… and even +20 or +30 are effective. Many Pokémon that don't currently need anything specific on the Bench would do well to at least consider Aerodactyl, but realize it is a big commitment: odds are you’ll need to run both Old Amber Aerodactyl and Twist Mountain, probably at least two copies of each and even a full four and four isn’t unreasonable if your goal is to get them out ASAP first turn.

Aerodactyl will not always be a tempting OHKO, either; not because it is too hard to OHKO but because it will just not be the smartest target. If I've got four Aerodactyl in play, I've only got two attackers. Unless a single 10 points of damage is making a crucial difference, the attacker itself will be more or at least as important to take down. The main exception will be when the attacker is somehow “protected” and Aerodactyl is not.

So who should be the attacker paired with it? I'd consider the other two currently released restored Pokémon; you'll need to run some Basics to make the deck legal, and while your odds aren't great with a single Old Amber Aerodactyl or the equivalent, if you can spam them and fall back on
Twist Mountain you might be able to build a fast, fast deck.

Energy acceleration might be an issue, since Carracosta (BW: Noble Victories 26/101) needs (WWCC) to hit for 80 points of damage and discard one Energy from the Defending Pokémon, while Archeops (BW: Noble Victories 61/101, BW: Dark Explorers 110/108) needs (FFC) to hit for 60 to the Defending Pokémon and 10 to two of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. With a large compliment of Aerodactyl the damage can be made decent and then the Abilities of the two can matter: Carracosta has a 50% chance (“heads” on a coin flip) to block 50 points of damage it would receive (after Weakness and Resistance), while Archeops steals copies the original Aerodactyl (and a few other Pokémon) by preventing both players from Evolving (at least from hand).

There are several Pokémon that have been overlooked because they don't do quite enough damage. It won't do the new version any good, but first Zoroark (Black & White 71/114, BW: Next Destinies 102/99) would be much more formidable with a Dark Claw and Bench full of Aerodactyl; with all those damage bonuses a duplicated attack regularly fall into OHKO range, and a partial set-up might suffice.

Cinccino (BW: Next Destinies 85/99) has a protective Ability and an attack that hits harder if it uses it over and over again. The catch of course is that besides the Ability failing half the time, the attack resets if an opponent can force Cinccino out of the active slot (such as with Pokémon Catcher). As such a natural partner for it is Vileplume (HS: Undaunted 24/90) to block Items. Aerodactyl will only be able to use Twist Mountain to get into play (at least for most of the game) but if this idea has any merit, that should be enough; your opponent should be struggling to OHKO Cinccino, while it will now be able to hit for up to 140 in one shot.

Another Cinccino may have merit here: the original (Black & White 89/114) uses Do The Wave. The same problems as always are present, but so is the reward: each Aerodactyl is worth 30 points of damage here (20 from Do The Wave's effect and 10 from Ancient Scream). Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108) is in a similar boat.

In Unlimited, scoring high damage isn't overly important, though it is worth noting you can blend the Aerodactyl and their support. More decks would favor extra damage counter placement than just boosting attacks; plenty of Pokémon hit hard enough in this format to KO something not protected by the "Baby Rule" or Focus Band.

In Limited it all depends on what else you get. The good news is that when your deck is only 40 cards, even using Old Amber Aerodactyl first turn is checking seven cards out of 28; 25% of the remaining deck! If you get a Twist Mountain it won't be going anywhere, either. Without even one of these Aerodactyl is totally dead, and while I'd try to work it in, I wouldn't expect much unless I got multiples.

Of course, getting it into play would be well worth it; the lower average HP scores and damage output make Aerodactyl itself more impressive, the +10 damage of even a single copy more relevant and the easy-to-splash nature becomes even more important here. The score is something of an average; obviously with nothing else its actually just 1/5. With multiple means and/or copies of Aerodactyl to improve the odds, it gets closer and closer to "must run" status.


Unlimited: 1.5/5

Modified: 3/5

Limited: 3.6/5

Aerodactyl looks to be the best designed Restored Pokémon yet, but that isn’t saying much. Even with
Twist Mountain to help, all of them seem far too hard to get into play for what they give you. Still I hear/read a lot of talk wanting to combo Aerodactyl with just about everything, and not all of it comes across as people letting their inner Timmy or Johnny run wild. Keep an eye on this one.

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