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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 New Cards of 2014

#8 - Pyroar - Flashfire

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 17, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.67
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 4.57

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National

#8 Pyroar FLF 

Pyroar’s journey through the format has been a strange one. In a time where Basic attackers absolutely dominate, a card with an Ability that makes it invulnerable to said Basic attackers should be incredibly powerful, yet many players are convinced that Pyroar decks are a poor choice for tournament play because of fundamental inconsistency.

There may be some truth in that, but the fact is that Pyroar remains a pain in the rear end that just won’t go away. Deck building and deck choices would be so much easier if everyone just agreed not to play it, but that isn’t going to happen. Pyroar decks may not be the biggest feature in the metagame, but they are still winning tournaments and (let’s not forget) claimed the runner-up spot at US Nationals. Anyone who wants to play Vrizion/Genesect, Bronzong, or Plasma decks is pretty much praying that they can avoid the Pyroar match up.

With an adequate attack, decent support from Blackmith (now enhanced by VS Seeker), and an interesting tech option with Pyroar PHF, I expect Pyroar to stick around for at least a while, making life awkward for those who think it’s a bad card and therefore don’t include ways of dealing with it in their deck. The biggest threat to Pyroar’s playability in future comes from the Mega Evolutions and their Spirit Links . . . once those take hold of the game, it may be the end of the road for the Royal Pokémon.


Modifed: 3.5 (not as good as we thought it might be, nor as bad as some people say it is)

Expanded: 3 (a few more options for evolution decks weaken its power slightly)


Speaking of Intimidating Mane, Pyroar's is amazing! Not long after his premiere in Flashfire - heck, even with the mounting anticipation from sneak previews of the set - Pyroar started headlining his own archetype and paved the way for a new breed of deck to take on the Pokemon-EX! See the thing about Pyroar is that his Intimidating Mane can just halt Basic Pokemon, which most Pokemon-EX are (with the exception of those Megas). So naturally, he got to see a lot of play since his debut!
With Intimidating Mane halting those Pokemon-EX (and with most of the Megas not seeing much play due to their own mechanics), Pyroar pounced down on them with his Scorching Fang, an attack only aided by support like Blacksmith! In fact, he's probably a big reason Garbodor (LTR) has seen a lot of play; granted, Garbodor should see a lot of play anyway over things like Bronzong and Virizion-EX, but Pyroar was undoubtedly the force of nature that demanded that if you were running EX, you ran Garbodor. A lot of the decks at Nationals ran Garbodor as a means of countering Pyroar, and even then Pyroar decks still showed up in the Top 8!
Pyroar's pretty tough to counter otherwise, and while Lysandre can swap him around to grab at another more vulnerable Pokemon, it only delays the inevitable stall wall. Although come to think of it, maybe Target Whistle can grab a little Litleo and have that Lysandre'd for an easy Prize in an otherwise stalwart match-up. And once Primal Clash comes out in English - which let's be honest, you know you've been looking at the spoilers for that - we're bound to see an influx of aquatic Pokemon on the rampage, and not just Basics! Something to keep in mind for Pyroar decks of the future!
Pyroar is going to continue leading the way for non-EX to fight back, and with the presence of powerhouses like Lucario-EX, Dialga-EX, and most undeniably Seismitoad-EX, he's going to continue seeing a lot of use and a lot of play. Expect to see decks either running Pyroar himself or running Garbodors to counter him.
Standard: 4.5/5 (his biggest counters are Garbodor and evolved Pokemon, only one of which is more prominent than the other)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (even more Basic Pokemon and Pokemon-EX means more need for Pyroars and Garbodors)
Limited: 4/5 (still powerful and has a lot of support, but there's less Big Basics in this format; don't get tripped up by those evolutions here)
Arora Notealus: Hopefully we'll see some of the female variants to Pyroar showing up in the TCG too. Don't get me wrong, the mane is the best part about Pyroar, but it'd be cool to have a little variation in our looks, and the female ponytail look ain't half-bad! It's only right for the only Fire/Normal Pokemon we know of!


Welcome as we hit the middle of the first week of the Top 10 Cards Of 2014 Countdown!  The lists were collected and averaged out from the CotD to create the master list for reviewing.  As with our Top 10 lists for individual sets, reprints are excluded: without this rule cards like Double Colorless Energy place (possibly take it) most years.  For my own list, my main guideline was card impact.  I evaluated the card according to breadth of impact (how widespread its usage/response to its usage was), depth of impact (how deeply it affected the decks that used it/needed to counter it) and time of impact (how long did it affect how we played). 

Our third review this week - counting them out like that will make more sense when towards the end it gets wonky due to scheduling around the holidays - is of course our eighth place finisher, Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106).  Intimidating Mane can be quite insane in a format that is so dominated by Basic Pokémon usage, enough to compensate for the shortcomings of its Scorching Fang attack.  You can read our original review of it here.  So what’s its place in the format like right now?  It still sees competitive play, but its not the force it was shortly after release, even though its actually got a few new tricks to help it, like Pyroar (XY: Phantom Forces 12/119) which we reviewed here or how Battle Compressor and VS Seeker make Blacksmith easier to use. 

Breadth: Pyroar is just barely able to sneak into decks outside of its own, though I’m not sure if it really has seen noteworthy success when it does.  In a deck at least partially built around it, its actually kind of junk unless your opponent lacks any good, Evolved attackers and Basic Pokémon that can attack through or around protective effects and either doesn’t run Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) or at least can’t keep Garbotoxin working long enough to easily win the game.  That sounds like a tall order, but pre-Pyroar it was actually pretty common.  Once you’re at least forcing less efficient attackers or reliance upon Hypnotoxic Laser, its going (try to) to slowly smack down all your big, Basic Pokémon and take the win.  What really boosts the performance of Pyroar in this area is that while the card itself isn’t being splashed in everywhere, especially when Pyroar was popular, other decks had to adjust to it.  If you didn’t have a Pyroar counter, you knew your deck was in trouble.  Note the tense: since then Pyroar seems to have dialed back: it still has a presence, but if the recent City Championship results are an indicator, its not what it once was. 

Impact: This is a really hard area to score; Pyroar shifted the metagame as decks went to adjust for it, but it wasn’t that large of a shift.  First it was “everything needs a Pyroar counter” but it turned out that most of the Pyroar counters were either already seeing some play (just making them a little more important) or ended up being good for more and more things as time went on.  Though the format is still dominated by big, Basic attackers there are enough Evolutions in the mix that Pyroar is vulnerable at least as often to them as due to Garbotoxin.  Unless the last chunk of City Champion results is significantly different, Donphan (BW: Plasma Storm 72/135) is making a huge showing (the largest if you don’t lump the various “big, Basic attacker” decks together).  So while it seemed like a serious shift before… now even if Pyroar vanished, things would proceed quite similarly. 

Time: Even this category is not straightforward.  Pyroar has a decent amount of time for us to feel its impact this year -  XY: Flashfire was the second expansion released in 2014 (well, outside of Japan), early enough to be legal for the 2014 World Championships - but this category isn’t just about how long its been out, but how long its been having a noticeable impact.  This is bleeding over into the other categories a bit but while Pyroar had a good deal of time time, it burned a lot hotter at first, then started to flicker and now as the year closes, it had a solid but not mindblowing showing at the City Championships, far behind Donphan decks, Yveltal-EX decks, and VirGen decks. 


Standard: 3.5/5 

Expanded: 3.75/5 

Limited: 3.5/5 

Summary: Pyroar was hot stuff at first and can still burn you bad if you’re running the wrong deck, but by the close of the year, its a solid deck that feels at least a little different from typical beatdown decks because it is more defensive in its approach… then again so is Donphan so I guess it isn’t really that different after all.  Pyroar actually clocked in at exactly eighth place in my own list as well, and going through it again, that does seem pretty apt; it makes the list but its not going to define it.  The only reason it seems a bit oddly placed for me is likely because I had different 9th and 10th place finishers.

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