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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



- Promo XY-20

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 1, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.62
Limited: Promo

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

Greninja EX (Promo XY-20) 

We finish the week with a look at the last in the trio of XY starter EX Pokémon. By now, you will see that there is a definite pattern to these cards: relatively cheap but uninspiring first attack, followed by a second attack that does 120 damage. 

Actually, Greninja’s first attack, Sharpshooting, isn’t terrible: a 30 snipe to the Bench is always a useful way of setting up a future KO or (more rarely) finishing off a heavily damaged Pokémon. The thing is that Landorus EX (which will soon get a ton of support) does it better, and so does Plasma Kyurem for that matter. As for Aqua Blast, the 120 damage is ok, and the cost and single Energy discard are bearable, but in a format of overpowered EX Pokémon, it registers as barely adequate. Being a Water Type means that Greninja can benefit from the Energy acceleration of Blastoise BCR, but the fact is that he can’t make the very best use of it, not compared to Keldeo EX and Black Kyurem EX, anyway. 

Greninja is probably the best of the three tinned starter EXs. He has good Typing and reasonable, if not spectacular, attacks. You could use him if you really wanted to, but better options exist, and that is enough to stop him seeing significant amounts of play. 


Modified: 2.5 (Decent, but decent isn’t good enough)

Limited: N/A (promo)


And now the card you've all been waiting for (whether you knew it or not)! Welcome back guys, we're wrapping up this week with another EX promo, and naturally we didn't forget about our third Gen VI starter! Here we have the magnificent Greninja-EX!

Now is he really as magnificent as I say he is? And is he better than his XY counterpart, a tall order given that that guy's got a nice damage-dealing Ability AND an attack for 1 Energy. Granted, that cheap attack only does 50 damage that can't be messed with in any form, but we'll see what an EX Greninja can pull off!

His first attack, Sharpshooting, fires off a blast of 30 damage to anyone on board, ignoring Weakness and Resistance on Benched Pokemon. It's similar to the Ability of his XY counterpart, except that that one required 1 Water Energy to be discarded, and you could still attack after the fact. Here you only need the 1 Water Energy attached to Greninja-EX, but you have to attack to pull it off. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately the Ability wins out simply because multiple Greninja can deal up to 120 damage on their own before an attack whereas Greninja-EX will only ever be able to do 30 once per turn.

His next attack ought to prove more useful, Aqua Blast, which is essentially a Water-themed version of Garchomp-EX's Power Blast from yesterday, though with the notable exception that you must discard a Water Energy from Greninja-EX in order to deal the 120 damage. Its cost is about as hefty as Garchomp-EX's attack, though it's much more manageable and replenishable within a Blastoise deck. Question is, would you really be running Greninja-EX in a Blastoise deck?

At the moment, probably not while Black Kyurem-EX (PLS) and Keldeo-EX (BCR) are around, and seeing as they're both still in the format, that's not going to change soon. Greninja-EX does match up rather well with his XY counterpart; though the counterpart does have that sweet Ability, Greninja-EX does have the advantage of being more versatile in Water decks.

Still, don't expect many to run Greninja-EX over their favorite piledrivers. Sure there may be some who run him, but ultimately you'll see far more Black Kyurem and Keldeo beating you outright than Greninja.


Modified: 2.5/5 (he stacks up favorably, but falls short in favor of what's been timeless)

Expanded: 2.5/5 (about the same, honestly, just not that much better)

Limited: N/A

Arora Notealus: Charging up dat shuriken just like in da movies!

Weekend Thought: If you could make a Pokemon-EX, which Pokemon would it be and what would you give them?


As a reminder September 3, 2014 will mark the official annual rotation, when the Standard format shifts from the 2013-2014 Modified (BW:Next Destinies to XY: Flashfire, BW Promo BW33+, McDonald’s Collection 2012 and all XY Promos) to the 2014-2015 Modified (BW: Boundaries Crossed and later, BW Promos BW55+, McDonald’s Collection and all XY Promos); nothing from XY: Furious Fists will be legal for sanctioned Standard play until that time.  If I believe I can make a sufficiently educated guess, I’ll score for both Modified Formats and the new Expanded Format (Black & White and later sets, all BW Promo and XY Promo series cards, all McDonald’s Collection cards) that also begins then. 

We wrap up the week (and start the month) with Greninja-EX (XY Promo XY20).  We begin with the obvious at a glance; its a Water-Type.  Water Weakness is reasonably common thanks to the current popularity of Fire-Types, and as some Fighting-Types are also Water Weak things should remain solid in the near future.  In terms of Type support, true Type Support (that which is based on the Pokémon’s Type) is severely lacking while they are well known for pseudo-support in the form of Blastoise (amazing Water Energy acceleration), Keldeo-EX (Great Ability, solid attack) and Suicune (Safeguard Pokémon with a decent attack)... though I refer to it as such because Blastoise doesn’t care about Pokémon-Type and the other two are easy to use with neither Water Pokémon nor basic Water Energy (though the latter is nice when attacking with Keldeo-EX). 

Being a Basic Pokémon is great; fast and minimal space requirements.  Being a Pokémon-EX is not so great, giving up an extra Prize when KOed, being unable to access certain support cards and being targeted by certain counter-cards.  The benefits of being a Pokémon-EX are external to the actual game; the designers tend to favor them with better HP values, Abilities, and/or attacks but its not guaranteed… as we’ve seen with the many Pokémon-EX that no one bothers using.  Speaking of HP, Greninja-EX sports a respectable 170 HP, just 10 below the max printed on Basic Pokémon-EX; enough to usually survive one hit but noticeably less safe than 180 due to popular attack combos hitting 170 easier than 180. 

Grass-Type Weakness is bad; Virizion-EX scores an easy 2HKO and feasible OHKO with Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym.  Genesect-EX obviously scores an easy OHKO even without G Booster.  There are others, but those are the two most likely to cause issues.  There is no Resistance to even feign balancing this out (Resistance is more or less functional; Weakness is grossly overpowered), which is disappointing.  In the video games, Greninja is a Water/Dark-Type hybrid, so that should qualify it for Darkness, Fire or Water Resistance (with no conflicts) or Psychic Resistance (with video game Poison-Types hitting for less than they should).  The single Energy Retreat Cost is nice; anything that lowers its Retreat Cost will zero this out (hello Skyarrow Bridge… and good by given your pending rotation), though it isn’t as valuable as it would be if most decks aren’t more or less required to have Retreat Cost lowering tricks or alternatives to manually retreating. 

Sharpshooting requires (W) and allows Greninja-EX to attack one of your opponent’s Pokémon for 30 points of damage (obviously not applying Weakness/Resistance for Bench targets).  This is… actually fairly balanced but in the current format that translates to “underpowered”: it pales in comparison to the 30 to the Active/30 to the Bench for [F] you get from something like Landorus-EX.  Aqua Blast requires (WWC) and scores 120 points of damage, but requires you discard an Energy from this card, similar to Power Blast on Garchomp-EX (yesterday’s CotD).  This isn’t as easy as one might like to power-up outside of Blastoise, but in decks that can boost the effective damage, its a decent number. 

Which is where we find the small niche that Greninja-EX occupies.  I have no proof it beyond minor usage on the PTCGO, which is hardly compelling, but in my limited personal experience, this is a solid choice for Greninja (XY 41) based decks.  Why?  The preferred partner for Water Shuriken Greninja is Miltank; one Energy buys 80 points of damage, with one Water Shuriken boosting that enough for the 2HKO against almost anything, two putting anything with 140 HP into OHKO range and three putting 170 HP Pokémon-EX into OHKO range with four taking out anything but M Pokémon-EX (based just on printed max HP scores) in one shot.  What use is a mediocre Pokémon-EX? 

Set-up can take time.  Ideally a Greninja deck gets its first Greninja onto the field come the player’s second turn (first turn Evolution is legal).  That may be the goal, but even a “successful” build will often enough not get a Greninja out until that player’s third turn.  If your luck is bad, it can be a bit longer, and smart opponent’s will exploit a lone Greninja in play, prioritizing its KO, should the situation allow: then Miltank can only do 10 for [C] or 60 for [CCC] until you get another Stage 2 into play.  Neither Greninja nor Miltank are especially big; most competitive decks should OHKO either, though Greninja takes just a bit more work.  Greninja-EX can usually take a hit and still get off one or two attacks that help set-up for later Greninja and Miltank.  If you need to, while Greninja decks do struggle with that much Energy on the field, you can even power up Aqua Blast, which needs all of two Water Shuriken to become a OHKO even against 180 HP Pokémon-EX.  Sharpshooting plus two Water Shuriken OHKO a Benched Jirachi-EX in one turn; of course three Water Shuriken do the same but I find getting three Greninja in play all at once to be a sign that I am already winning while one or two is much more common.  Sharpshooting is blocked by more effects than Water Shuriken, but is nice for those times when you can’t use Abilities. 

In fact, the main reason not to run Greninja-EX in the deck boils down to Tropical Beach; if you’ve got that, you are going skip attacks often enough anyway.  So if Greninja decks can handle the shift to BCR-On, this is probably a little better there.  The new Expanded Format is still largely conjecture to me, but I suspect it will either have even more competitive decks than the previous BW-On, current NEX*-On or future BCR-On Modified Formats or that there will be less but they will be that much stronger… so odds are Greninja-EX won’t perform as well there.  It is illegal for Limited play, but would likely be amazing there; single Energy snipe and a since you’re not using the Energy for anything else, having to attach an Energy over and over again for a steady 120 would quickly win you the game, barring a very fortunate opponent. 


Modified (NEX*-On): 2.75/5 - I think is good for Greninja decks, but didn’t even allow for such a thing until after I faced it, and then I tried it myself and find it does reasonably well.  Greninja decks are seen as competitive but not “top Tier”, so being useful-but-optional to such a deck doesn’t create that high of a score. 

Modified (BCR-On): 3/5 - Another of my optimistic scores (I’ve awarded many this week), but without Tropical Beach for early game competition, this card gains a much needed edge, though still only in Greninja decks. 

Expanded (BW-On): 2.5/5 - Again hopeful; there were some small Bench-sitters when BW-On was the “Standard” or current Modified Format, which in turn helps Greninja decks in general plus Greninja-EX a bit directly; otherwise the increased competition would likely drive out any deck that isn’t currently near the top. 

Limited: N/A - If it were legal I’d give it a 5/5.  I believe it to be an excellent “+39” candidate, though this isn’t just Theorymon but speculation over a hypothetical, as you don’t get to use this in official Limited play as it is a Collector’s Tin promo. 

Summary: Greninja-EX is not a great card, but it has just enough of a nice that if I have to choose between labeling it as “good” or “bad”, I’m calling it good.  Like a lot of cards, even if you don’t want to call it “good” in terms of competitive play, its probably better balanced than most of the competitive Pokémon-EX that do see heavy play. 

*I have no clue why, when writing out formats this week, I kept referring to BW: Next Destinies on and later Modified as “NDX-On”.  I think it might have been a typo that I absentmindedly kept copying over and over again.  Even “looking funny” probably wouldn’t be enough, as I personally abbreviate BW: Boundaries Crossed as “BOX” so BCR-On doesn’t really look right to me either; I just use the latter because it seems to be the closest to official and appears to be more widely understood.

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