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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 15 Ancient Origin Cards

#8 - M Ampharos

- Ancient Origins

Date Reviewed:
Sept. 2, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.65
Expanded: 3.93
Limited: 4.5

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Well now, HERE we've got the ever-fabulous M Ampharos-EX on our side! I just love his fantastic mane of draconic hair...even though it has really nothing to do with his new Dragon-typing in the games, but hey, if Altaria can do it, so can Mega Ampharos! 

But I don't wanna get ahead of myself. I should be grateful Ampharos has an EX! And a decent one at that, with the ability to add more Energy onto himself and be able to deal an uncontested 100 damage to the opposing Pokemon. But Ampharos-EX ain't on the list, and Daddy M Ampharos-EX is here to tell you why with Exa Volt! 

Exa Volt is a brutal attack...okay, not M Tyranitar-EX levels of brutal, but brutal none the less! What its 4-for-120 strike lacks in utter decimation, it makes up for with the power to give a little extra boost to 170, though M Ampharos-EX does deal himself 30 damage. Still, that's not a problem because, unlike some other attacks of this nature, Exa Volt also throws in another bonus: Paralysis. 

Of the many Status Conditions in the game, Paralysis could arguably be the best one (you could also argue Poison's the best). Like its brethren Sleep and Confusion, its main goal is keeping the opponent's Active Pokemon from attacking, but rather than flipping a coin at some point to figure out whether that Active Pokemon will attack, Paralysis just says, "NOPE," and keeps it tapped until the end of the opponent's turn. Which is basically just long enough for M Ampharos-EX to smack it with a less powerful Exa Volt with no penalties! 

...okay, even M Tyranitar-EX, if he gets tagged, will not be able to stand up to this. 

The main ways of countering this strategy are to either Switch out the Paralyzed Pokemon (thus curing it of its Status Condition) or else just wait for the KO to switch in a counter to M Ampharos-EX. Hopefully, you'll have figured that one out by then, cause if not, it's gonna be Exa Volt Central all the way to Loserville! 

Smell ya later, guys! 


Standard: 4/5 (a powerful decent attack, though not as much acceleration at the moment, and it does damage you back - be careful of that!) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (hello, Eelektrik, my old friend, I've come to charge with you again) 

Limited: 5/5 (ABSOLUTELY) 

Arora Notealus: Because in Megas softly creeping, beating Trainers and just sweeping, with Exa Volt, a devastating blow, stuns them whole, there is much for Ampharos... 

Next Time: And now for something completely different...


First some Pokémon TCG relevant announcements.  Monday it was officially announced that Shiftry (BW: Next Destinies 72/99) has been banned from Expanded play.  I made no mention of it yesterday because I am pretty bad about checking the official site for news announcements so by the time I found out, it was Tuesday (and so Tuesday’s CotD was already finished and submitted).  As with Lysandre’s Trump Card, they went ahead and explained why they chose to ban this card but also gave the notice that they were prepared to ban cards as needed if they were causing trouble in Expanded.  Of course, Shiftry was only “broken” by Forest of Giant Plants plus the large amount of draw power currently available to rip through a hyper-specialized deck first turn… but I’ll settle for Shiftry being gone getting us from “Condition Red” to “Condition Yellow” or maybe even “Condition Blue” when it comes to cards/combos/decks that such the fun out of competitive play. 

So today we look at our eighth place finisher, M Ampharos-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 27/98, 87/98).  It is a Lightning-Type and XY: Ancient Origins gives them a bit more support, but the main piece relevant here would be Flash Energy; it isn’t as potent as Strong Energy for Fighting-Types, but removing Weakness is still a solid trick, albeit often available through other methods not unique to the Lightning-Type.  In terms of Weakness and Resistance, Lightning Weakness appears on some very high profile cards while Lightning Resistance that used to appear on certain Fighting-Types is once again missing so looks like that is now only a concern for Expanded.  Thanks to hitting some important cards for Weakness and having a decent specific Special Energy, I’d say the Lightning-Type is looking good though not great.  Being a Mega Evolution carries all the issues of being a Pokémon-EX (gives up an extra Prize when KOed, can’t access certain support cards, object of certain counter cards), the issues of a Stage 1 (requires additional turn to Evolve, additional card to get into play) and adds in Mega Evolutions having at least one specific counter-card (Faded Town) and either having to add in a Spirit Link or giving up an attack because Mega Evolving will otherwise end your turn.  M Ampharos-EX does benefit from Mega Evolution support (Mega Turbo) and the fact that Pokémon-EX which would normally be a Stage 1 or Stage 2 are instead Basics… like Ampharos-EX became (it would be a lot more difficult if this had to go on top of a Stage 2). 

M Ampharos sports 220 HP; we have Mega Evolutions with upwards of 20 more HP, so this isn’t bad but it isn’t the best.  Most of the time you should survive a hit but nothing is immune to OHKOs and this is a little less insulated against them than the likes of Primal Groudon-EX (either version) or Wailord-EX.  It is still 40-50 points over most typical Pokémon-EX and even more over “regular” Pokémon.  The Fighting Weakness is why I was so keen on Flash Energy; it isn’t a wholly reliable solution as you need an Energy attachment and effects to discard Special Energy are at most “Uncommon”.  Particularly in the case of Fighting-Type decks, most run at least a few Korrina, which means it just takes finding room for even a single Enhanced Hammer for a solid counter-tactic to emerge.  So don’t let that make you overconfident about the Fighting Weakness as while Landorus-EX has shifted to only be Expanded legal we still have Pokémon like Lucario-EX that can use a Fighting Stadium/Muscle Band/Strong Energy open to to hit for [(30+20+20) * 2] = 180 damage.  If your opponent can use a Hex Maniac before hand, the same set-up allows Hawlucha (XY: Furious Fists 63/111) to score a OHKO!  I mean even if you max it out, you won’t always have Flash Energy.  M Ampharos-EX is a little extra durable against Metal-Types thanks to its Resistance; it is a small bonus against only a single Type but it is still appreciated.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is not; it isn’t the worst but it is too high to reliably pay, and recovering from the loss is painful as well.  Pack alternatives to manually retreating at full price! 

As a Mega Evolution, M Ampharos-EX has but a single attack (Exavolt) for [LLCC], and the effect allows it to almost function as two different effects.  You can either do the base 120 damage, or you can hit for an additional 50 (so 170 total) plus inflict Paralysis at the cost of doing 30 damage to M Ampharos-EX itself.  120 for four is about what I expect normally, so it wouldn’t be overly thrilling on a Mega Evolution.  The 170 with Paralysis, even with 30 self-damage is impressive.  The question is if that will be enough.  At a glance that may seem like a no brainer, either: 

“Of course it is enough: if you can’t score a OHKO, you left them Paralyzed so next turn you score a 2HKO with only 30 damage taken by M Ampharos-EX!”


“Of course it isn’t enough: the Paralysis is too easy to deal with and the Energy cost is too much to easily meet.  Your opponent can just drop a Switch or try a Super Scoop Up to void your efforts while taking M Ampharos-EX out faster than you can set up another!” 

I actually thought the latter, but upon further reflection I am thinking the third option you were expecting is most accurate: even though the attack is a good deal it is still going to be difficult to meet the cost multiple times per game.  While some decks will be caught flat footed, too many will either have two solid single Prize attackers they can sacrifice or they’ll have something larger that if you Paralyze it, they can get it out of the way and if you don’t, you’re just not hitting hard enough for your investment.  Speaking of investment, we should discuss Ampharos-EX because we aren’t getting to M Ampharos-EX without it and preferably Ampharos Spirit Link to avoid giving up an attack. 

Ampharos-EX is much like its Mega Evolution: the differences are that it isn’t a Mega Evolution but a Basic Pokémon-EX, has 170 HP a Retreat Cost of [CC] and two attacks (“Thunder Rod” and “Sparkling Tail”).  While I wasn’t thrilled with the [CCC] Retreat Cost I’d rather it showed up again here for Heavy Ball and Expanded play because [CC] isn’t enough of an improvement that you won’t still need adequate retreat assistance or alternatives.  Thunder Rod needs [C] to be used, and it allows you to look at the top four cards of your deck, attaching as many of the [L] Energy cards as you like to Ampharos-EX.  The other cards are then shuffled back into the deck.  This attack probably sounds better than it is; how many basic Lightning Energy cards (the only ones that provide [L] while in deck) do you plan on running?  I don’t know the exact odds but you might whiff or you might get up to four Energy attached.  You’re doing this as your attack for the turn though so there is a real risk you’ll never get to cash in on that Energy; either from discarding effects or being KOed.  Sparkling Tail is also decent, needing [LLCC] and only hitting for 100 points of damage, but also ignoring Weakness (bad), Resistance (slightly good) and all other effects on the opponent’s Active Pokémon (good).  That might sound like it should balance out to be more than simply adequate for an Evolving Pokémon-EX, but whiffing on an opponent’s Weakness and needing four Energy is a significant hurdle. 

So with that out of the way, at last we come to how to use this card and… I don’t have anything concrete.  I haven’t encountered many people using this card and I haven’t heard or read compelling examples for how to run it.  Double Colorless Energy can shave a turn off of powering up.  Flash Energy will likely be important for matches against Fighting-Types… but the rest of the time it’s just a less useful Lightning Energy.  The more special Energy you run, the less effective Mega Turbo or Thunder Rod will prove, the former being most relevant.  Rough Seas could help you heal the 30 self damage from the second clause in the attack but you’ll risk helping Water decks, perhaps a bit too much.  You might consider Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98) to block Items and thus improve your chances of locking the opponent with Paralysis, but in doing so you also cut off access to your own which can be an issue with Mega Evolutions because Spirit Link cards are so important.  This also eats up room and clashes with support for the other logical backing: something to move damage counters.  In Standard it would have to be spamming Absol (XY: Roaring Skies 40/108) while in Expanded you could try Dusknoir (BW: Boundaries Crossed 63/149; BW: Plasma Blast 104/101).  This would allow you to attempt a soft lock while taking out other targets.  For Limited play, go ahead and run it if you also pull an Ampharos-EX. 


Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.35/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Those are scores for a deck actually built around M Ampharos-EX as opposed to some other considerations; it looks interesting and might manage a soft-lock deck or perhaps even a hardlock deck, but the latter would be rather hard and there would still be a potential means of escape.  It isn’t bad, it just isn’t all that great.  If you go the lock approach, you might actually suffer for what would normally be the card’s sweet bonus of double damage against Pokémon like Yveltal-EX. 

M Ampharos-EX tied with tomorrow’s card at 11 points, and I used the fact that it has both general and deck specific application to break the tie… and not just the fact that it appeared on my Top 15 list while M Ampharos-EX didn’t.  Though I may sound kind of down on the card, it is only because it is here in the number eight slot; I would seem like I was building it up if it hadn’t made the list so high.  Even if I am correct and this isn’t as good as it seems at a glance, it still does enough that you might want to pick up a play set when you can get a good deal and start experimenting.

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