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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Jan. 23, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.17
Expanded: 3.37
Limited: 4.15

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


Gen IV didn't just bring a load of evos to older Pokemon - it also brought out a legion of legendaries! A legendary legion, if you will! Probably the weirdest of which is Heatran, a Fire/Steel four-legged monstrosity that hangs around Stark Mountain, so far the only Legendary which can be male or female. The lore is that it's meant to represent the planet's core...so apparently the core of the planet is this thing. What a strange Pokemon. 

Still, being derived from a legendary has its benefits. For starters, Heatran is a Basic with 130 HP, and his Steel typing means he can work with Bronzong. In fact, he kinda has to, consider the cheapest attack he's got is 3 Energy. Steel Drop isn't that impressive, dealing only 40 damage most of the time, though with a Stadium in play that goes up to 80. Makes a good way of getting rid of Fighting Stadium and Virbank City Gym from your opponent so you don't have to deal with them. Then you can finish them off with Steam Blast for 130 damage and a discard!  

It's interesting that what Steel Drop lacks in power, Steam Blast more than makes up for it, allowing Heatran to manage KOing a good chunk of Pokemon-EX already over two turns and even moreso with Muscle Band, but as is the most case with Pokemon like this, he probably won't survive beyond that. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice back-up attacker for Dialga-EX, Cobalion-EX, and Aegislash-EX, but would I run him as a headliner in a format that loves hitting 170-180 in one turn? Only if I could KO with that Steam Blast at least, cause Steel Drop's gonna take a lot of investment to do ANYTHING of the sort. 

Heatran's an interesting option. He strikes me as a tech option to get rid of Stadiums and finish off weakened EX, but aside from that, there's not a whole lot I'd used him for. Then again, that's probably all you really need from him! 


Standard: 3/5 (rather niche in what he can do, but that's still valuable, and he's not too bad as back-up support) 

Expanded: 3/5 (about the same, just with more chances to get that Steel Drop to deal 80 with more Stadiums around) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (the big Stadium here of course is Dimension Valley, and THAT'S a good target to hit! That, and hitting for 130 damage is really good) 

Arora Notealus: I think it's really silly that Heatran is weak to Fire. Again, designers not accounting for his Fire-side when making a Steel-typed card. Where's the variation! The last Steel-typed Heatran at least was weak to Water, that actually makes sense! 

Weekend Thought: What's the most promising card of this week? Or do you think there's a card in this set that promises more? Or maybe you're thinking of a card later on down the road? It's not much further till we hit the new set (Feb 4!!), so get ready for the clash!


So shall we end the week on a high or a low point?  Lets find out by making our way through our subject for today: Heatran (XY: Phantom Forces 63/119)!  It is a Metal-Type, which is pretty solid right now; their direct and indirect Type support doesn’t make the Type a powerhouse like say Fighting’s does, but its there and it works with Steel Stadium if you want to block (and even get rid of) Special Conditions, Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119; XY Black Star Promo XY21) for Energy acceleration, Klinklang (BW: Plasma Storm 90/135) for protection from Pokémon-EX and some great (and more than just simple) beatsticks like Aegislash-EX, Cobalion (BW: Noble Victories 84/101, 100/101; BW: Legendary Treasures 91/113), Cobalion-EX and Dialga-EX (XY: Phantom Forces 62/119, 62/119).  Heatran is a Basic Pokémon as you would expect, and if you read ahead then you know we are ultimately checking to see if it should be joining the ranks of those beatsticks. 

Its 130 HP isn’t guaranteed to survive a hit, but its got decent odds (especially if the opponent has a less-than-perfect set-up) and since it is not Pokémon-EX that 130 is as good as we’ve ever seen on a Basic card that was legal to play and lacking any “special mechanics” (like being a Pokémon-EX).  The Weakness and Resistance are a lot more relevant than they were for yesterday’s pick because since Heatran does have so much more HP; a lot of Fire-Type attackers still hit hard enough that they won’t benefit much (or at all) from Weakness, but there are definition exceptions that happen to also be the ones you’re most likely to face in the competitive scene, like Pyroar (XY: Phantom Forces 20/106).  The good news is that Resistance proves even better the more HP you have; Psychic Resistance is still mostly going to be a benefit against Mewtwo-EX as it is still such a widely used (and available) attacker, but it can irritate Night March players (especially ones that rely on Mew-EX), Deoxys-EX players as well as a few others.  Just remember that a lot of the ones I just named see play because of attacks that have variable damage; Heatran is “resistant” to being OHKOed by them, not immune to it.  Finishing off the rest of the cards attributes is the Retreat Cost of [CCC]; this is very expensive and so unless you desperately need to keep a Heatran from being Active or actually need its attached Energy in the discard pile, you’ll either need to resign yourself to not retreating, use something to lower this cost or bypass manually retreating entirely.  In Expanded, there is actually an upside to it: Heavy Ball compatibility. 

Heatran has no Abilities, so what does it bring by way of attacks?  Neither are inexpensive, but the Energy costs to build upon each other which is a useful bit of synergy.  For [MCC] it can use Steel Drop for 40 which is… bad.  The good news is that the attack has an easily met condition to do 40+40 or 80 total points of damage; there just needs to be a Stadium in play.  The attack doesn’t discard the Stadium either, so while such an effect can be useful in this case it means that unless your opponent runs few or no Stadiums and you for some reason aren’t either, you really should be getting that 80 for three.  Tempering my enthusiam for the attack is the fact that 80 for three is about the going rate; 90 is preferred but 80 with either Muscle Band or Silver Bangle still 2HKOs almost all Pokémon-EX and even 170 HP specimens like Yveltal-EX and Mewtwo-EX could be 2HKOed if you Steel Drop twice and toss a Hypnotoxic Laser somewhere in the mix.  The card’s really big attack is Steam Blast for [MMCC] and looking at the effect text it also requires you discard an Energy attached to Heatran.  Four Energy really needs to yield at least 100 points of damage and preferably 120.  With the discard it needs to yield at least 130 so its worth the effort of trying to build it into a OHKO against Pokémon-EX and can score a OHKO against most non-Pokémon-EX and… it actually hits for 130 base damage!  Woo-hoo!  Given that its most likely partner is Bronzong and the risk of even a 130 HP Pokémon being OHKOed, that Energy discard is a pretty tame drawback. 

So all in all, these aren’t great attacks - it isn’t like it got Outrage for [CC] plus an attack with manageable drawback for [MMC] good for 120 points of damage -  but they are above “average” and into “good” territory.  If your Heatran survives that long, you’re in a solid position to 2HKO just about anything; even without help that is 210 damage if you have a Steel Drop lead into a Steam Blast… so with a little help even Mega Evolutions are threatened with a 2HKO and most everything else a OHKO.  True, to actually OHKO your typical Pokémon-EX that sees competitive play, you’ll need to get to that 170-180 range.  That can be done with Hypnotoxic Laser, Muscle Band and Virbank City Gym.  You could also use Silver Bangle but if you’re using it alongside several Pokémon-EX (as I am) then there isn’t much of a point; the extra 10 isn’t worth not working with said Pokémon-EX you should also be running. 

Another surprise; there are a lot of cards I postulate about but this time, not only do I have what I’ve seen accomplished by others or learned about second hand via reports but I’ve been testing this on the PTCGO.  I’m not a good player; I think I’m about average or perhaps a little below, especially when you compare me to the competitive player base and not just the general.  So no, I can’t say that I won all my games with it.  I don’t think I lost more than usual or rather than I would have with most of my other decks.  I ran into a lot more Seismitoad-EX and (in separate decks) a lot more Pyroar.  Still overall I thought Heatran performed well; it was able to OHKO cards like Donphan (BW: Plasma Storm 72/135) in a single hit if I could catch (or force) that pugnacious pachyderm active.  My build did include two Double Colorless Energy - I don’t know if more are normal or not - but this also made Heatran useful when Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) disables other Energy acceleration. 

There are no other regular Heatran so I think its main competition are the Metal-Type beatsticks I mentioned earlier, and as most of those are Pokémon-EX, that mostly means Cobalion (reviewed in the past here and here) is its main rival for a place in the deck but as I don’t find it necessary to run either maxed out, I am thinking that the two can both fit.  Cobalion has 10 less HP (and yes, I found that to matter during my own play) but its good at punishing Energy laden targets while only having two Energy on itself with its Energy Press attack, while Iron Breaker was good for making my opponent burn extra resources to avoid an attack lock… or actually getting a soft attack lock on the opponent.  Heatran was great for its raw power as a non-Pokémon-EX, which I keep emphasizing because obviously Aegislash-EX can do solid damage while hiding behind its Ability, Cobalion-EX can hit faster than any of the others (just needs [M]) and discard Special Energy or for [MMC] hit for 100 without worrying about protective effects on the Defending Pokémon and Dialga-EX is better for a solid OHKO plus also can sometimes score a very soft attack lock against other Pokémon-EX. 

There might even be some use for Heatran splashed into off-Type decks so long as they also include Energy acceleration that works with Heatran: Cobalion is an even bigger rival for this role except when you want reliable damage without risking (for example) two Rainbow Energy in a Fairy Transfer deck.  Cobalion can hit a Metal Weak target (like say other Fairy-Types in a mirror match) for 80 x 2 and at a cost of just [MCC].  Add a Muscle Band in there and all currently released Fairy-Types end up OHKOed… at least without other protective effects.  If you did have to use Steam Blast, it lets you discard the Energy of your choice so you just make sure its a basic Fairy-Type Energy.  At least, that’s my theory; I’ve never tried it myself and given that Xerneas-EX is so Energy hungry, Cobalion might still be the better choice. 


Note: Rated for specialized decks, primarily Bronzong. 

Standard: 3.25/5 - This isn’t the kind of card you’re likely going to splash into a lot of decks, but in a Bronzong deck where it belongs, it does its job of being as big a beatstick as you can have without it being a Pokémon-EX and hitting hard enough to OHKO even a Donphan without any buffs and OHKOing most of the other things you’re likely to encounter when it is being boosted.  With Double Colorless Energy, it isn’t completely helpless should Bronzong fail to show or Abilities end up turned off. 

Expanded: 3.25/5/5 - Same score, slightly different circumstances.  This falls into the “more competition, more support” angle.  It isn’t because of specific attackers returning to the fold though: the competition are more attacking decks in general while the additional support is of course Heavy Ball and less obvious, Level Ball.  Level Ball can’t help Heatran directly (use it for Bronzor and Bronzong) but it is possible to build a Bronzong deck where every target is Heavy Ball compatible.  That cuts out some of the deck’s mainstays so it might make things a little too different, but Heavy Ball still helps a little for the more traditional build. 

Limited: 4.8/5 - This seems nearly good enough for its own +39 build.  The main problem is you almost certainly won’t pull the Stadiums to use Steel Drop, and that slows you down so much that its 130 HP is likely getting overwhelmed.  Fortunately for any real deck, you just need to make room for basic Metal Energy cards then work this in.  Even if Steel Drop only hits for 40, that isn’t too bad thanks to the usual lower average HP and damage output of this format, and Steam Blast is quite likely to score multiple OHKOs before Heatran goes down if it is built up on your Bench first. 

Summary: If “everyone” knew Heatran was a solid pick for Bronzong decks when I was composing this list… I didn’t.  That is the ultimate point of this review; it provides a foundation (at least in terms of attacks) that can be built up for fantastic trades or if the combo doesn’t work out, still be a decent attacker regardless.  With it, you don’t have to worry as much about things like Safeguard or opposing decks that you know will OHKO whatever attacks.  Cobalion fills this role as well, but I think there is room (and need) for both in the deck. 

Oh, and hopefully by the time you see this, the reviews that I missed this week (because they were late) should be up.

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