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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Jan. 21, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.50
Expanded: 2.67
Limited: 2.75

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


Murkrow was a pretty interesting Pokemon way back in Gen II, and when Gen IV evos came around, he was lucky enough to receive one in the form of Honchkrow. Honestly, that's really awesome! I think Honchkrow's one of the better looking Gen IV evos that came out (others including Electivire, Tangrowth, Magmortar, and Lickilicky), so it's good to see the old Don back in business. 

Honchkrow in the TCG has been notable for being a strong supportive attacker, usually equipped with attacks that can get you the cards that you need or, in the case of the first Honchkrow from Mysterious Treasures, fueling your flock of Murkrow with a decent attack so long as he's got the Energy for it! Nowadays, you've got the Dragons Exalted Honchkrow in Expanded that isn't that fantastic, and now you've got today's card for Standard! Which isn't fantastic either, but it's somewhat better than his DEX counterpart. 

To start, all you need is a Darkness Energy, and Honchkrow can use his Hypnoblast attack. It only does 20 damage, but it also puts the opponent to Sleep, which while not the best condition isn't all that bad if your opponent's unlucky enough to flip Tails twice in a row and not have some manner of switching out. Provided all that works in your favor, Honchkrow only needs a DCE to go straight to Nightmare Mambo, which does 60 damage normally plus 60 more damage if the Defending Pokemon's Asleep - like with what you used Hypnoblast for! 

Perhaps a better way of going about it though is using HTL to Poison AND put to Sleep your opponent's Pokemon before striking with Nightmare Mambo - then you've dealt 120 damage AND get an extra 10-30 (depending on the presence of Virbank) from Poison. Tack on some Muscle Band, and you've got yourself a 150-170 damage dealing attack, which can OHKO most Pokemon! 

Honchkrow works a bit faster than most Stage 2s at least, being only a Stage 1, but he himself is about as vulnerable to being KO'd with only 100 HP to his name. Never mind that HTL is a coin toss or that waiting for two coin flips (between turns) to make sure Nightmare Mambo works is extremely inefficient and unlikely to happen. Or that Virizion-EX, Steel Shelter, and Sparkling Robes all exist in some manner or other, or more importantly Keldeo-EX and Switch are around. 

Honchkrow does have a nice combo, but seeing how unreliable it is, it's better to stick to some other options in terms of offensive power. And knowing Dark decks, they've got a few. 


Standard: 2.5/5 (not bad combo, just impractical) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (better than his cousin) 

Limited: 2/5 (I'm not terribly optimistic about his combo working out better here, and you lose a lot of what could make it work) 

Arora Notealus: I kinda want the designers to go back to using Honchkrow with his flock of Murkrows like they started with. It'd be really cool! You just get him to have certain powers based on the number of Murkrow in play - like an attack that deals 60 damage per Murkrow would be perfect! 

Next Time: Now where'd I put those keys again...


Today we look at Honchkrow (XY: Phantom Forces 52/119), a Stage 1 Darkness-Type Pokémon. Darkness-Types are a little more useful for hitting Weakness post  XY: Phantom Forces but it still isn’t overly common, but at least Resistance isn’t currently a “thing” in the Standard or Expanded card pools while Expanded has the most excellent Dark Patch as direct type support and both Standard and Expanded enjoy great indirect support in the form of several established, strong attackers.  Being a Stage 1 slows it down versus being a Basic but isn’t unworkable and has the slight bonus of getting around Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106) and its Intimidating Mane. 

Honchkrow has 100 HP; enough that the average deck should score a OHKO most (but not all) of the time.  Lightning-Type attackers and Fighting-Types suffering some exceptions; Lightning Weakness means a lot of the more commonly scene attacks of that Type score a reliable OHKO while Fighting Resistance can vary from a minor nuisance to a somewhat real issue for Fighting-Type decks as an effective 120 HP shifts from being more likely than not a OHKO to just a bit more likely than not to survive a hit.  The single Energy Retreat Cost is good but not great and while it isn’t grounded in actual logic I guess I just feel like Flying-Types (especially ones that are fully Evolved) should have a free Retreat Cost as a common design trend, especially if they aren’t overly large on the HP.  Quite a minor point that is mere color commentary, especially given that with Dark Cloak a Darkrai-EX easily provides just that. 

Honchkrow has two attacks, so for better or worse no Abilities.  At a cost of [D] Hypnoblast does 20 points of damage plus afflicts the Defending Pokémon with Sleep.  Not brilliant but useful; could hit a bit harder for my tastes.  The second attack forms a pretty obvious combo with the first: Nightmare Mambo requires [DDC] and does 60 damage plus another 60 (so 120 total) if the opponent’s Active Pokémon is Asleep.  It also just has a fun name.  This leads to a potential 140 damage over two turns, but besides effects and game actions that can remove Sleep it has a 50% chance of curing itself between turns, so even if your opponent doesn’t Evolve, play the appropriate Trainer, etc. only one out of four possible outcomes for the two Sleep Checks leads to you scoring that big damage.  For the Energy going into the attack, it really needs to do a solid 90 or so up front so that even against a Pokémon-EX that is awake you’d be in 2HKO territory.  The maximum damage isn’t too bad though, at least due to the card pool but we’ll come back to that. 

First let us check our options for Murkrow and other Honchkrow for Expanded and Standard.  For Standard this is the only Honchkrow and the only Murkrow is its set-mate, XY: Phantom Forces 51/119, which is a Basic with the same Type, Weakness, Resistance and Retreat Cost with a so-so 60 HP and two underwhelming attacks: Ambush at a cost of [D] and dealing 10 damage plus another 10 with a successful coin flip and Wing Attack for a definitely overpriced [DCC] that only yields 30 points of damage.  Expanding to Expanded we also can use Murkrow (BW: Dragons Exalted 72/124) with its same everything but HP and attacks: 10 more HP for a solid 70 and different-but-similarly so-so attacks as Peck costs [C] but does only 10 damage while its Wing Attack does only 20 but also just requires [DC].  The older option definitely wins out for Expanded.  Honchkrow (BW: Dragons Exalted 73/124) also has the same Type, Weakness and Resistance as today’s card but enjoys 10 more HP while needing to cope with a Retreat Cost of [CC].  A decent trade, but what about its attacks?  For [CC] its Whirlwind attack does 30 points of damage and gives you the option of forcing your opponent to change out their Active or for [DCC] it hits for 70 while discarding a random card from your opponent’s hand.  These Energy costs are a bit easier to pay but the damage is low or the effects might need to be more potent.  I think if I am going to try my luck with a Honchkrow, I’ll stick to today’s version. 

So what can you do with a Honchkrow that hits harder when the target is Asleep?  Three options spring readily to mind; Hypnotoxic Laser requires a successful coin flip but also inflicts Poison guaranteed, improving your odds of scoring a KO in multiple ways.  (BW: Boundaries Crossed 68/149) has an Ability that each copy of itself can use once per turn; you flip a coin and if it is “heads” the opponent’s Defending Pokémon is Asleep but if Tails, yours is.  The newest option is Malamar-EX, which has an Ability that automatically renders the opponent’s Active Pokémon Asleep when you attach an Energy to said Malamar-EX.  If you’ve got a decent enough way to move the Energy around and/or get extra attachments you stand a decent chance of getting 120 out of a Stage 1 attacker… which can use Muscle Band or Silver Bangle plus Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank City Gym to hit that magic 170 or 180 damage mark.  Item lock, Ability lock and immunity to Special Conditions can all ruin this and of course, other than getting around Intimidating Mane there isn’t much incentive to do this in competitive play (and there are many other options for dealing with Intimidating Mane, including successful, proven ones).  Still, it definitely is more than just pure filler and if you can set them up effectively (big “if”) then you might be able to come out ahead in trading Prizes. 


Standard: 2.5/5 - Actually fairly close to being a legitimate choice for some decks, though in the end the effort you need to bring it up to the competitive level is better spent on something else. 

Expanded: 2.75/5 - Even closer to being more than a “fun” deck thanks to Dark Patch. 

Limited: 3.5/5 - You won’t be able to work it into just any deck, but where it fits it should be fairly good: its harder to ditch Sleep than in constructed and this set has multiple Darkness Weak Evolution lines. 

Summary:  This Honchkrow feels like a near miss; its hard to imagine it getting any additional support to make it worthwhile, or enough otherwise great Darkness-Type attackers getting the boot in a hypothetical future rotation for it to rise to greatness.  Might be fun though.

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