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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



Dragon Vault

Date Reviewed: Oct. 15, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.67
Limited: 3.50

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

Dragonite (Dragon Vault)

Hello, and welcome to an all-Dragon week of reviews here on Pojo’s CotD. The decision to make Dragon its own Type was a good one, I think. Everybody loves Dragons, and it adds something new to the game. I wonder how many years it will be before we get the next one, and what will it be? (Ice? Rock? Poison?).

Today’s card features the OG of Pokémon Dragons, Dragonite himself. Sadly, he has not done well at the hands of the card designers and has had some truly awful cards in recent history (I’m looking at you, Dragonite from Triumphant). In fact, you have to go all the way back to Dragonite δ from Delta Species to find the last truly good Stage 2 Dragonite (the SP one doesn’t really count).

Of course, being a Stage 2 gives Dragonite some pretty big obstacles to overcome if he is going to see any play. Stage 2s are relatively slow, take up a lot of room in the deck, and have to compete with today’s massively powerful Basics. 150 HP is slightly above average though, so Dragonite is reasonably durable, except against other Dragons, thanks to the same-Type Weakness. The Retreat cost of three is pretty high (especially for a Pokémon that can fly round the globe in 16 hours). At least it means that Heavy Ball search is an option.

Dragonite’s first attack is the classic Hyper Beam. As in the video games it takes a while to power up, thanks to that Lightning and two Colourless cost, unlike in the video games, it is a disappointingly low damage attack, doing just 50. It does give you a coin flip chance to discard an Energy from the Defending Pokémon though, and this can be quite disruptive to an opponent (unless they have ways of coping though Dark Patch or Eelektrik NVI), and you could always run Victory Star Victini to improve your odds of hitting heads. In fact, you need to be running Fliptini anyway because the second attack, Hurricane Tail, is even more of a flip fest. For one Grass and three Colourless Energy (yeah . . . Lightning and Grass are on different Blend Energy, forcing you to run two Types), you flip four coins and do 60 damage for each heads. The potential is obviously huge (240 damage), but we all know just how unreliable attacks like this are in major tournaments. Going for a Hurricane Tail OHKO should be a real Hail Mary move, not part of a deck’s basic strategy. The consequences of coming up short are often so severe that they can decide games.

So, what we have is a Stage 2 that can reliably do very mediocre damage combined with Energy disruption, or risk everything on coin flips going for massive OHKOs. I suppose this at least gives you options, but when you consider that there are safer and less space consuming ways of doing it better, the card doesn’t seem all that attractive. If you want Energy disruption (that can hit the Bench as well as the Defending), there is the Crushing Hammer/Darkrai-EX/Sableye option. If you want a card that can KO absolutely anything in one hit, then we have Rayquaza-EX/Eelektrik. Both of those decks are far more efficient, less luck-based, and nowhere near as clunky as the Stage 2 Dragon.

It’s still a lot better than the one from Triumphant though.


Modified: 1.75 (has something to offer, but too slow and inconsistent to make the grade)

Limited: N/A (mini set)


Welcome back, Pojo readers! I hope that all of you had a good weekend, and that you all did well at the Regional Championships if you happened to go! We're reviewing more Dragon Vault cards this week, so be sure to check back daily for more updates. We'll kick things off by reviewing the final evolution of the first Dragons in Generation I. Today's Card of the Day is Dragonite.
Dragonite is a Stage 2 Dragon Pokemon. As a Dragon, Dragonite has stiff competition with Garchomp, Hydreigon, and Rayquaza for a Dragon-type attacker slot, as all of these Pokemon are somewhat commonly seen in Modified today. 150 HP is fairly substantial for a Stage 2, as Dragonite should be able to easily take huge hits (provided they aren't hitting for Weakness). Unfortunately, Dragon Weakness still means that Garchomp and Hydreigon make quick work of Dragonite. Equally unfortunate are Dragonite's lack of Resistance, as well as its large Retreat Cost of 3.
This Dragon Pokemon has two attacks. Hyper Beam does 50 damage for a Lightning and two Colorless, with the additional effect of discarding an Energy from the Defending Pokemon if you manage to flip heads. This attack is fairly standard in terms of cost and effect, and should be passable at the very least in both Modified and Limited (although it is somewhat lacking in damage for Modified). Hurricane Tail, Dragonite's second attack, allows you to flip four coins for a Grass and three Colorless Energy, dealing 60 damage for each heads. While this attack can max out at 240 damage, you're likely to only average somewhere around 120 damage, so there are generally better options for the cost.
Modified: 1.5/5 Dragonite has slow, inconsistent attacks, and is therefore outclassed by its stronger and faster brethren. Of course, one could easily build a ridiculous Dragonite deck with Eelektrik NVI and Victory Star Victini, but there are generally better options.
Limited: 3.5/5 Dragonite is a slow yet effective Pokemon to use in Dragon Vault Limited (if such a thing would exist). Hyper Beam deals decent damage (especially with the very common Dragon Weakness) in the format, and the Energy discard can be potentially crippling if your opponent's Pokemon relies on a particularly strange Energy combination. Additionally, Hurricane Tail should easily score many KOs on opposing Dragons, even if you aren't so lucky with flipping. Overall, Dragonite is a solid option that your opponent should definitely look out for in Dragon Vault Limited.


If you’re reading this, then I forgot to write an actual intro.


Dragonite is unsurprisingly a Dragon-Type Pokémon; the Dragonite Evolutionary line was the first and only Dragon-Type Pokémon in the video games (where Dragonite itself is a Dragon/Flying-Type hybrid). If you want to know where part of the mystique and power of the Dragon-Types come from, blame this Pokémon and its kin for making us work so hard for what we got.

As a Dragon-Type, Dragonite enjoys the benefits you might be sick of hearing, but for the newer players:

  • The Dragon-Type is still a novelty; many players will want to play it because it is the “new” thing.
  • All Dragon-Type Pokémon released so far are Weak to Dragon-Types, so the simplest way to counter one Dragon-Type is with another.
  • Nothing printed so far has had “natural” Dragon-Type Resistance.
  • The Dragon-Type has some direct support (e.g. specifically refers to the Dragon-Type).

Separately some of these aren’t much, but together it makes for a great package.

Being a Stage 2 is not so great, though; naturally the slowest Stage to get into play and requiring the most cards barring unusual mechanics like Restored Pokémon, this basically tells you the rest of this card had better be more than simply good, or it will be another pretty addition to the collection and nothing more.

Dragonite sports 150 HP; as good as it gets for current Stage 2 Pokémon, and there are very few Pokémon that exceed it without utilizing a “special” game mechanic (like Pokémon-EX). Outside of being hit by its Weakness, Dragonite should be able to take survive at least one shot from all but the biggest attacks. Said Weakness is of course to Dragon-Type Pokémon, and this Weakness will allow most Dragon-Type attackers to OHKO Dragonite, though usually with only their “big” attacks.

No Resistance is still the worst Resistance, even though so far it too is universal amongst Dragon-Type Pokémon, and is in fact the standard for most Types. This makes it is less a problem and more a missed opportunity for Dragonite, so let us move along to the final Stat: Retreat. With a Retreat of three, Dragonite is feeling pretty chunky. The good news is this makes it a legal target for Heavy Ball. The bad news is that none of its lower Stages are legal targets and it will be a pain to pay if you need to retreat.


Dragonite has two attacks. Both require more than two Energy; this clearly means Dragonite isn’t a speedy attacker without some outside help. As a Stage 2 this isn’t as great an issue as it would be for a Basic Pokémon; you can’t drop this into play in a single turn anyway, but must Evolve from a Dragonair or a Dratini (the latter via Rare Candy). This means you’ll have up to two manual Energy attachments to “fuel” the card before it sees play.

It still matters, though; you won’t have an inexpensive rebound attack if you fall behind your opponent in a resource war. Both attacks are mostly Colorless, however, and that is almost always a good thing; both can use most other forms of Energy acceleration, lessening the speed issue.

Hyper Beam for (LCC) hits for 50 points of damage and if you get “heads” on a coin toss, it allows you discard an Energy from the Defending Pokémon. Discarding Energy is potent, but since it isn’t reliable, it doesn’t offset the low damage yield. Compare this card with Garchomp (BW: Dragons Exalted 90/124); for just (F) it can hit for 60 and automatically discard a Special Energy card from the Defending Pokémon (if one is present). Hitting any kind of Energy isn’t worth an extra (CC) to the cost making the discard coin flip dependant.

For (GCCC) Dragonite can use Hurricane Tail, which gives you four coin flips that score 60 points of damage per “heads”; the damage yield isn’t bad but it isn’t reliable. Just to give you an idea, four coin flips means 16 possible outcomes that can be grouped together as follows:

0 Heads/4 Tails: 1 of 16 or 6.25% = Zero points of damage

1 Heads/3 Tails: 4 of 16 (so 1 of 4) or 25% = 60 points of damage

2 Heads/2 Tails: 6 of 16 (so 3 of 8) or 37.5% = 120 points of damage

3 Heads/1 Tails: 4 of 16 (so 1 of 4) or 25% = 180 points of damage

4 Heads/1 Tails: 1 of 16 or 6.25% = 240 points of damage

Minimum Damage: Zero

Mean Damage: 120

Median Damage: 120

Mode Damage: 120

Maximum Damage: 240

Honestly, this is not bad for four Energy; scoring no damage is horrible and could cost you the game, and 60 points of damage is not much better unless you’re finishing something off, but that only accounts for 5 out of 16 possible outcomes, 31.25% (under 1/3). I put 120 points of damage for four Energy as roughly “average” in terms of performance right now, and 11 of 16 (68.75% or just over 2/3s) results hit at least 120.

The odds of you completely whiffing are the same as you hitting hard enough to OHKO a Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124), even one sporting a Giant Cape! Since I said those odds are low, more important is that you’re setting up to 2HKO most of the format, barring Weakness and various forms of protection, of course.

While the two attacks have two different non-Colorless Energy-Types for requirements, unlike some of the Dragon-Type Pokémon, they are split up one-per-attack, allowing a player to simply ignore one if they wished to use Dragonite in a mono-Type deck. This is good since these two Energy are not on the same Blend Energy card, and currently don’t have anything that really “works” together.

Overall, I would say that in the attack department, Dragonite unfortunately comes up just a bit shy; the combination of Hyper Beam being overpriced (or underpowered) coupled with either a challenging Energy-Type combination to access both attacks or being forced to rely completely on one attack or the other is really painful.


If you want to use Dragonite, you’ll have to run Dratini. We currently have two versions: Dragon Vault 1/20 and Dragon Vault 2/20. Both are Dragon-Type Basic Pokémon with 40 HP, Dragon-Type Weakness, no Resistance, and require a single Energy to retreat. Dragon Vault 1/20 has a single attack (Wrap) that for (GL) hits for 20 and on a successful coin toss Paralyzes the Defending Pokémon. Dragon Vault 2/20 has two attacks; Hypnotic Gaze for (G) automatically puts the Defending Pokémon to Sleep, while for (L) Tail Whap hits for 10 points of damage.

All three attacks are horribly overpriced. As such, it boils down to whether or not your deck can pay for Hypnotic Gaze; Dratini exists only to Evolve, and does nothing to really help Dragonite or Dragonair save inflict a Special Condition that might preserve Dratini long enough to do so. Since Sleep has a 50% chance of going away between turns, automatic Sleep is no better than a 50% chance of Paralyzing the Defending Pokémon in the short run, so it comes down to the deck build being able to supply (G) for Hypnotic Gaze, simply because you shouldn’t have time to power up a two Energy attack like Wrap.

Dragonair can be skipped through Rare Candy usage, but should you? Again we have two versions, Dragon Vault 3/20 and Dragon Vault 4/20 that both sport 70 HP, Dragon-Type Weakness, no Resistance, and require two Energy to retreat. Again all the attacks are overpriced. Dragon Vault 3/20 has Tail Whap which does 20 for (CC) or Dragon Pulse which does 70 for (GLC) while discarding the top card of your deck. Dragon Vault 4/20 has Healing Melody and Slam. The former costs (G) and removes 10 points of damage from all of your Pokémon; the latter allows you to flip two coins and do 30 points of damage for each result of “heads” for a price of (LC).

Rare Candy should definitely be used, but I hate running on Rare Candy alone, so I would go with Dragon Vault 3/20; if you’re forced to attack, small reliable damage or medium but expensive damage is my preference to weak-but-widespread healing or unreliable medium damage. So now that we have gone through the lower Stages, it seems pretty clear that this is a Pokémon that will be fortunate to see League play. Is there any good way to run it?

Not that I am aware of, but the best I can come up with as pure Theorymon is to use “minimalist” Energy acceleration like Double Colorless Energy and Exp. Share to keep things flowing, and Victini (BW: Noble Victories 14/101, 98/101) to improve your results with attacks. It seems like a long shot, but perhaps the easy Prize that Victini offers can be exploited; it is quite easy to search out and get into play (unlike Dragonite itself) so keeping one in play isn’t impossible. If your opponent doesn’t have a highly efficient set up and the coin flips go your way, Dragonite could triumph in a brawl.

Well, that was the Modified format, what about Unlimited? Far better options exist for big damage and for Energy removal, even when we get past the onslaught of decks that win on their first turn or put you into a restrictive lock. As for Limited, I can’t recommend using Dragon Vault for that, but if this card were to be reprinted (along with the needed cards to get it into play), if the lower Stages included weren’t too bad you get a fairly splashable Stage 2 attacker, and combining Grass Energy and Lightning Energy isn’t a big deal here, where decks are often running three different Basic Energy Types. So it wouldn’t be a top pull, but a good one if you got the minimal support it needs.


Unlimited: 1/5

Modified: 2/5

Limited: N/A

Combos With: Victini BW: Noble Victories 14/101, 98/101, Double Colorless Energy, Exp. Share


Dragonite is a near miss for a playable deck, maybe even a viable one. Unfortunately, the things that make it a near miss are internal; being a Stage 2 attacker that needs support, an overpriced first attack, and an unreliable second attack. Dragonite fans should take some comfort in knowing that at least this has a shot in more casual environments, but I will be shocked if this becomes a strong deck. Please, but shocked.

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