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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Landorus EX

- Boundaries Crossed

Date Reviewed:
August 11, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.08
Expanded: 4.13
Limited: 5.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Otaku

Hello readers!  This week we’re going to look at a few of the cards that nearly made the final Top 10 list for cards lost due to rotation.  First up is Landorus-EX (BW: Boundaries Crossed 89/149, 144/149).  It snagged the number four slot for our BW: Boundaries Crossed Top 10 and then earned a re-review due to its performance at the 2014 U.S. Nationals about 1.75 years later.  I actually had it on my personal Top 10 of 2012 list (in the number four slot again) but it missed out on the official Pojo list. 

So I’ll run through the card as usual… hey, someone might be new and if that is the case, some of what was said in those older reviews might be confusing as times have of course changed.  What regrettably hasn’t changed is that ultimately being a Basic is the best Stage; I think balancing out at least the core Stages is feasible, but I know it isn’t easy.  As it has been for at least the last several formats, the natural advantage of a Pokémon consisting of a single card instead of being made up of multiple cards that have to be played in conjunction with each other and in the proper order is hard to miss… though at least unlike when Landorus-EX was new there aren’t literal pieces of Basic-specific support cards available in Standard.  Being a Pokémon-EX is technically a disadvantage, strange as that may sound.  The benefits associated with being one aren’t intrinsic while the drawbacks are: unless the designers specifically include an effect to override the rules’ text on the card stating it is worth two Prizes when KOed, prevent the various detrimental card effects that target Pokémon-EX and/or somehow force the beneficial effects that normally state they aren’t available to Pokémon-EX to work anyway then those three are guaranteed.  Most of the time though a Pokémon-EX will have better attributes and/or effects than their “regular” counterparts at right away we can see that Landorus-EX cashes in on this. 

It is a Fighting-Type and while it was very good when the card was introduced, it is great now, arguably the best Type (though XY: Ancient Origins may be about to change that).  What makes Fighting so formidable?  True back then and now is that many Colorless-Types and most Darkness- and Lightning-Types are Fighting Weak.  Glancing at current popular and successful Pokémon of the first two of those Types might make me appear a liar as you’ll see Pokémon like M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108; 105/108) and Yveltal-EX which are Colorless and Darkness-Types (respectively) and are Fighting Resistant; such Pokémon are among the exceptions that prove the rule as they are not only potent in their own rights but because they are each Fighting Resistant instead of Fighting Weak like their kin, it has helped to elevate them even further above their kin.  Fighting Resistance like this is one of the most common forms of Resistance but Resistance itself is uncommon (“no Resistance” is the most common state for Pokémon in the contemporary TCG) and the Resistance mechanic of -20 is far easier for the attacking player to deal with (whether confronting it head-on or bypassing it with an alternate attacker) then the x2 damage of Weakness is for the defending player.  All of this was largely true at the time when Landorus-EX was reviewed that first time, but then XY: Furious Fists was released a year ago and actual, direct Fighting-Type support like Fighting Stadium, Strong Energy and Korrina pumped them up even farther. 

Landorus-EX has 180 HP: at the time of its release that was as good as it got for Pokémon-EX though now both Mega Evolutions and a few fellow Basic Pokémon-EX exceed this amount.  Also relevant is that to the best of my ability, average damage yields for decks seems to have risen though perhaps it is just because I remember the older decks that were capable of OHKOing nearly anything back there in addition to their successors still available in Standard.  Still 180 isn’t an easy thing to OHKO and that is actually quite important (as we’ll soon discuss) to what is currently the premiere Landorus-EX deck.  The card’s Water Weakness is also the card’s literal Weakness; while at times it hasn’t been too bad at other times (including now) it has been a serious hurdle as it elevates minor attacks into solid hits and solid hits into OHKOs, with the Water-Type being one that regularly cashes in on this instead of having massive attacks elevated into overkill.  Landorus-EX does enjoy being Lightning Resistant; this doesn’t offset its issues from Weakness but it definitely helps.  Like the Water-Type exactly how much as varied in accordance to how often that -20 affects the turn count for the KO.  The hefty Retreat Cost of [CCC] has never been good though when released it allowed you to fetch Landorus-EX with a Heavy Ball and once it became even easier to bypass or lower it after the release of Float Stone (whether applied directly to Landorus-EX or an accompanying Keldeo-EX) and now Korrina can help set-up that combo or simply fetch a Switch, Escape Rope or other Item-based means of vacating the Active slot from your deck. 

Yeah, we are just getting to the attacks now; Hammerhead requires [F] to hit for 30 to the opponent’s Active and 30 to one of the opponent’s Benched Pokémon (if any are present) of your choice.  For [FFC] it hits for 80 damage which is a little low but offsets this by giving you the option of discarding all [F] Energy attached to itself for an additional 70 damage for a massive 150 point swing.  The usual pattern applies yet again: these attacks were really good back then and are great now.  While there are more effects to protect a player’s Benched Pokémon from damage than when Landorus-EX released, you now have cards like Muscle Band, Fighting Stadium and Strong Energy to up the damage, enabling things like attacking T2 with all three of those just listed to hit for a 90/30 split!  There are no other Landorus-EX to worry about though there is one other Fighting-Type Pokémon-EX that both competes with and compliments Landorus-EX: Lucario-EX.  It lacks Resistance but is Weak to the Psychic-Type instead of Water, has a slightly better Retreat Cost of [CC] and it has three good attacks priced at [F], [FF] and [FFF] instead of two great ones, making it a different but still formidable attacker.  It isn’t uncommon to see the two tag-teaming in a deck. 

Speaking of decks, to my knowledge the current deck where Landorus-EX is the star is “Landobats”, a deck that combined it with Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) and Golbat (XY: Phantom Forces 32/119), which was also somewhat special as not only a more recent example of a Stage 2 Pokémon making good but also where a Stage 1 form was preferable to a shortcut like Rare Candy.  The two Psychic-Types have Abilities that place damage counters on the opposing Pokémon of your choice when you manually Evolve something into them and coupled with the many damage buffs available this allowed the deck to deliver a solid hit to both Active and something on the Bench (or multiple smaller hits there)... and sometimes make devastating multi-KOs, even multiple OHKOs.  A few other attacks support Landorus-EX; alternates for when it just can’t do the job as well.  The main deck specific trick beyond that is to both spam the Abilities on Crobat and Golbat as well as dump damage easily while reducing the amount of Energy the deck requires, Super Scoop Up and Scoop Up Cyclone (sometimes also AZ or Cassius).  All have some level of drawback but when they work you can deny your opponent a Prize, redistribute certain resources that are normally committed to their initial benefactor and ditch nasty attack effects while changing out your Active.  Prior to this there have been other strong Landorus-EX decks, though I’m uncertain if any are still especially relevant, save that Landorus-EX also shows up often enough as a backup/alternate attacker in those Fighting-Type decks where it isn’t headlining, as well as the odd off-Type splash owing to Hammerhead being fairly affordable. 

This is why the card just missed our actual Top 10; while Landobats is a formidable deck, it isn’t as strong as it once was.  While not the deck that lost the most due to the Lysandre’s Trump Card ban, it does hurt that you can’t spam your resources like you once did and that you have to mind what you discard.  In fact the ban was otherwise a net gain as one of the two factors that kept Landorus-EX from making more Top 8 appearances at U.S. Nationals was likely how the other decks that did well: ones using either the aforementioned M Rayquaza-EX or Seismitoad-EX.  Those two were hit far harder by the ban, but they adjusted and they slam Landorus-EX (and Landobats decks) with two things that wreck its strategy: OHKOs and Item lock.  As more Item lock looks to be on the way in XY: Ancient Origins, Landobats might take a hit in future Expanded and were it not rotating, in future Standard.  For now though Landobats might be one of the current “gateway” decks; while it isn’t the king of the format, if a deck can’t hack it against Landobats, it is going to struggle to find significant success against everything else in the competitive field. 

In Expanded Landorus-EX actually does gain a few additional tricks as well as some more potential targets due to revived former archetypes.  In Limited play it’s a poster-mon for +39 decks; while Water has a strong presence in the on set to contain it, both Hammerhead and Land’s Judgment are amazing here, even when you run just Landorus-EX alongside 39 other cards that aren’t Basic Pokémon to ensure you open with it (but lose if it is removed from the field in any manner).  If you are worried about Water-Types outpacing its HP/damage dealing capacity, you can always run it in a more fleshed out deck; it doesn’t need too much Fighting Energy and is still fantastic when you do get it out. 

Ratings 

Standard: 4.15/5 

Expanded: 4.25/5 

Limited: 5/5 

Summary: Scoring this card is yet another reminder why I enjoy having two decimal places, though I suppose it wouldn’t have been that much different had I rounded the scores up or down to the nearest tenth of a point.  It is disconcerting seeing something like Landorus-EX going down in potency… well it’d be great if it was because the game had somehow lessened its effectiveness while becoming more balanced, but instead it is because the pacing is still crazy and damage output/HP scores have gone up again.  Landorus-EX is a beast, but it is no longer quite as overbearing as it once was. 

By my own reckoning Landorus-EX would have just made the actual Top 10 as I had it as my 10th place pick.  The fact that my current preferred deck is still Landobats has helped me be keenly aware of both its remaining strengths and contemporary weaknesses.  While it might seem that would bias me too much in its favor, I’m not playing in tournament series (just on the PTCGO) and there are certain decks/strategies I loathe (I cannot really enjoy them even when winning) and as such I’m not using it because I think it is the BDIF; just the one I’ve got a good deal of experience with that is still staying strong. 

 

Alright so for this week, we decided to cut down on Monday and Friday and make this a nice quick three-day week! So for this week, before we delve deep into the realms of the Ancient Origins set coming out...tomorrow, we're gonna take one last look at some of the runner-ups to our Top 10 Cards Lost to Rotation, starting with Landorus-EX! 

When he first came out in Boundaries Crossed, he became an immediate answer to a very common deck at the time: Rayquaza, specifically the Eels part of it. One of the weaknesses of playing with Eels is the reliance on having to play Tynamo, a 30 HP Basic. Landorus-EX in turn could smash Tynamo with ease, KOing not only an Active Tynamo with ease using Hammerhead but even be able to slap away one on the Bench as well. If a Rayquaza player is unlucky, that effectively donks them in a single turn, and thus one of many reasons that the TCG changed the rules to keep players from attacking on the first turn of the game (and why cards like Deoxys and Latios-EX make mention of being able to attack on the first turn).Not satisfied with having just one fairly effective move, Landorus-EX proceeds to bring down the hammer (hehe) upon his opponents with the power of Land's Judgment! Normally 3-for-80 is okay, but by ridding Landorus-EX of all his Fighting Energy, it can deal 150 damage - enough, with the combination of Hammerhead, to KO most Pokemon-EX that aren't Megas! Pretty powerful stuff! 

As time went on though, Landorus-EX began to see less and less play, as Rayquaza-EX wasn't the only threat he had to contend with. And when rotation came around and took his sparring partner away, it seemed like the end for Landorus-EX...except for Furious Fists. We all know the Fighting support in that set was MONSTROUS, but in a BCR-forward format, it gave Landorus-EX a new tool to play with in the form of Strong Energy. Now he could effectively hit for 50 + 30 on the first attack with Hammerhead, bringing the turn player a stronger lead than ever! 

Even with all of this, Landorus-EX himself remained a rather neutral card as the new sets came by. Neither was he a dominator like he once was nor was he something to get trampled over (outside of perhaps Primal Kyogre-EX when he showed up). A solid card, a balanced EX, Landorus-EX remains a powerful opponent to face. 

Rating 

Standard: 4/5 (the Fighting support really helped him out in the long run) 

Expanded: 4/5 (still a strong fighter against Eels at least, maybe stronger with Strong Energy) 

Limited: 5/5 (of COURSE you play this guy in Limited!) 

Arora Notealus: I remember grabbing a copy of Landorus-EX for my Water/Fighting deck. It was the kind of deck I wanted to build when I came back into the game, and over time it's had its ups and downs. Still, like Groudon-EX from DEX, Landorus-EX was a powerful player, and I will certainly miss him in the rotation. 

Next Time: Speaking of Water-types!


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