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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 BREAKthrough

- #6 - Gengar

- BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
November 20, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.43
Expanded: 3.62
Limited: 4.88

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

Back to the main COTD Page


...okay, I'm not gonna lie, I think Gengar's probably the scariest card in the entire set. Maybe it's the scary face he's making, or maybe it's got something to do with what HE does with damage counters. I mean, maybe I've just got a thing with Pokemon that do scary things with little damage, see M Tyranitar-EX as a good example. 

I mean, Sinister Fog is a pretty decent 1-Energy attack. It can deal up to 50 (or even 80) damage to your opponent's side of the field, not to mention it can Poison the opposing Active Pokemon. I'd appreciate it a little more if it did some damage, but all things considered, he's already doing a lot with that, and he's not even up to his second attack yet: Creep Show. 

Creep Show is a special kind of attack. With 2 Energy onboard, Gengar can use this sinister attack. And what does it do? Well, you remember when I was mentioning M Tyranitar-EX and the scary things he can do with little damage? Keep in mind, M Tyranitar-EX could do more damage based on every increment of damage an opponent already had on them. 

Creep Show simplifies this: if your opponent's Active Pokemon has 3 or more damage counters, KO them. 

That's it. 

Doesn't matter what it is, doesn't matter who it is - if it's got 30 damage, it's done. Creep Show ends it all. 

The real trick is to keep Gengar around long enough to inflict the mere 30 damage. Course, there's using Team Magma's Secret Base, but there's also the usage of Faded Town on Megas and the Crobat line-up, while a bit clunky, is always an easy set of damage spread around. Tack on the occasional Dimension Valley, and Creep Show will only cost you a single Energy to KO anything you want, and that's already a better deal than M Tyranitar-EX's Destroyer King. 

Though it is on a Stage 2, so really it's almost like pick your poison. 


Standard: 3.5/5 (a fast easy KO that only needs a little extra set-up to make it work easily) 

Expanded: 4/5 (combine Sinister Fog with HTL and/or Virbank, and Gengar could be a very potent threat) 

Limited: 5/5 (sure, it's a whole turn to wait with Sinister Fog to be effective, but hey, unless they Float Stone their Active out, you're golden!) 

Arora Notealus: Just...*shudder* dat face tho. 



Gengar (XY: BREAKthrough 60/162) is the top of the bottom half of our list.  So what is our number six pick like? 

No surprise as it’s a Ghost/Poison Type in the video games, Gengar is a Psychic-Type once again in the TCG.  Even when Poison was part of the Grass-Type, even when we had δ Species Pokémon that weren’t their normal Type, Gengar has been a Psychic-Type.  Peeking ahead, this Pokémon does no damage and neither does its lower Stages so we won’t worry about what is Weak to or Resists the Psychic-Type.  There are only four cards that specifically refer to Psychic-Type Pokémon and all are support for the Type and the important one for this review is Dimension Valley, a Stadium that shaves [C] off of the attack cost for Psychic-Types.  It is one of or perhaps simply the best Type-specific Stadium available right now.  There are some solid Pokémon out there that are Psychic-Types and work better with Psychic support but aren’t dependant upon it to further boost the type, so in the end, it is somewhat good to be a Psychic-Type. 

Being a Stage 2 has a lot involved but is depressingly simple; it is a serious hurdle for a card to overcome as unless it is one of the few cards with a worthwhile Basic and Stage 1 option (or at least Basic and Rare Candy) or able to access significant Evolution acceleration, it means the Pokémon in question will be “slow” and “resource intensive”... which actually just means not as insanely fast or easy to play as the dominant Basic-Types.  It also means the 130 HP could be an issue; it isn’t a small score, only 30 below the max printed on Stage 2 Pokémon but it’s only just outside of the current typical commonly sized attack range.  To be precise about being imprecise, I should say my guesstimate of said range, which seems to be 90 to 120 damage.  The harder hitting attacks will score a OHKO and only the weaker attacks will avoid a 2HKO.  Well until we factor in Weakness and Resistance.  Darkness Weakness is terrible, allowing Yveltal-EX to easily score a OHKO and even some of the supporting Darkness-Type attackers wreak havoc that much more easily.  The Fighting Weakness can help annoy Fighting-Types, though more than one of them has an effect to just ignore Resistance anyway, and -20 will only up the durability to the the point where weaker big attacks (130 and 140 point blows) will barely whiff on the OHKO.  I do love that perfect free Retreat Cost, though! 

Gengar has no Ancient Trait or Ability, just two attacks: “Sinister Fog” and “Creep Show”, which are great names!  The former costs only [P] while the latter needs just [PC]: Dimension Valley would mean both would work for just [P].  Sinister Fog Poisons the opponent’s Active as well as placing a damage counter on each of their Benched Pokémon; barring various protective effects (though far fewer than if this was doing damage and not placing damage counters), all of your opponent’s Pokémon will have a damage counter on them before your opponent’s turn begins.  Not bad but not enough to warrant playing Gengar.  Creep Show makes things interesting; if your opponent’s Active already has at least three damage counters on it, it is KO'd by the effect of the attack.  No damage or even further damage counter placement is done, the KO just happens via fiat and is much more difficult to block because of it.  Creep Show is why you might give Gengar a shot. 

So what about Gastly and Haunter?  The only options are XY: BREAKthrough 58/162 and XY: BREAKthrough 59/162, respectively.  Both are have the same Type, Weakness, Resistance and lack of Ancient Trait as Gengar, but each has a Retreat Cost of [C].  Gastly is a 50 HP Basic with a single attack - “Sleep Poison” that costs [P] and inflicts both Sleep and Poison on the opponent’s Active, but only with a successful coin flip; “tails” does nothing.  While Sleep can help keep it alive, it is disappointing that the cost isn’t just [C] (so that Dimension Valley would zero it out) and that it requires a coin flip instead of being automatic; after all there will be a 50% chance of Sleep going away on its own between turns.  At the very least, one of these ought to have been different and that is without getting into my “Evolving Basics need to do more!” kick.

Haunter actually does more though.  Not in the attributes department; it is still a Stage 1 and only has 70 HP, which is seems even lower for Evolving Stage 1 forms than the 50 HP of Gastly is for Basics and the 130 HP is for Gengar, though by actual numbers, it isn’t.  It has an Ability that you may use when you Evolve one of your in play Pokémon into itself; if you wish both Active Pokémon are Confused.  Not as good as if it only hit the opponent’s Active (though this does open up a few potential combos, though not ones I’d recommend), but it is far better than the usual filler on an Evolving Stage 1.  The attack is “Poison Ring” for [PC] and it actually combos with the Ability and with Gengar itself as it Poisons the opponent’s Active and prevents it from retreating during your opponent’s next turn. 

So put it all together: you’ve got to run Gastly but just deal with its underwhelming nature, but Haunter gives an easy to inflict Special Condition that hits both Active (making the fact that it is easy to deal with both good and bad for it) and an attack that adds a second Special Condition while removing a normal, manual retreat as a means of dealing with either… all before you get to the main Stage 1 that has attacks no more expensive than that of the lower Stages which can do some solid spread or if enough damage counters are present, go for a KO.  Did I mention the lower Stages inflict not only Special Conditions, but ones that place damage counters?  The main issue is what to run with the Gengar line.  Dimension Valley is the most likely Stadium (Virbank City Gym is tempting as well in Expanded) and something to spread damage to help set-up for Creep Show, with the rest being pretty typical support.  Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) places that much with its “Surprise Bite” Ability and its “Skill Dive” attack, but another Stage 2 line is clunky.  Either a different opening attacker to spread some damage around or perhaps Forretress (XY: Flashfire 60/106).  Forretress is a Stage 1 and it only places a single damage counter on everything, but it isn’t too bad to spam. 

The main difference between Expanded and Standard is that less competition (even at the cost of less potential support) most likely favors Gengar here.  If you pull this card in Limited, unless you fail to pull the lower Stages or get a Basic Pokémon-EX that precludes running any other Basics in your deck, you should run even a 1-1-1 Gengar line, plus a few (probably just 3 to 5) Psychic Energy cards.  It just offers so much for so little here. 


Standard: 3.35/5 

Expanded: 3.15/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Summary: Gengar looks like a fun card that uses some interesting tricks; auto KO effects are scary, even when they’ve got conditions.  It doesn’t need a lot of Energy and even has a somewhat useful Stage 1, though as a Stage 2 it still will be slow and a bit awkward compared to the rest of the metagame.  Still it might be enough to compete. 

Gengar was my seventh place pick, so one higher is pretty reasonable.  The only real qualms are that a few of the earlier cards have outscored it, and I already accepted that was “my bad”.

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