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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 BREAKthrough

- #2 - Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK

- BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
November 26, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.00
Expanded: 3.65
Limited: 4.95

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

Back to the main COTD Page


...wait, hold the phone. Is this right? There's a Stage 1 Pokemon as our #2?? And on top of that there's a BREAK Evo with it? 


Yeah, your eyes aren't fooling you - Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK are our #2 card!...cards? Something like that, and to be fair, the points added up that it actually ties with Mr. Mime (I'm sure Otaku's mentioned the way we rank our Top 10s enough to know how it works). So technically, Mr. Mime's also our #2 card? To go with our cards? 

Eh, whatever, the point is we've got Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK here and now - and he's actually quite a powerful Stage 1! Sure, his 100 HP and Fighting Weakness might have some people scratching their heads, but he's probably one of the more solid Stage 1s to come out in a LONG time. And considering the BREAK evo only adds an extra 40 HP, what does that give Zoroark? 

Well for starters, he's got the Stand In Ability, which ought to look familiar since it works like Keldeo-EX's Rush In Ability - if Zoroark is on the Bench, you can switch him out with the Active Pokemon! That's already a great Ability, if Keldeo-EX was any indication - you can remove Status Conditions, bring out a fresh face, and potentially flip the game in your favor. Combine it with Float Stone, which got reprinted in this set, and Zoroark ends up being a bigger pain than ever! 

Now Mind Jack isn't phenomenal as far as attacks go - it's a 2-for-10 that does an extra 30 for every Benched Pokemon your opponent has, which can go a long way against decks that require a lot of set-up or that like having a lot of Bench-sitters like M Rayquaza-EX or decks running things like Ariados. I'd say an average deck though will have around 3 Benched Pokemon, which is still a great 100 damage, but maybe that's not enough - maybe you need to do a lot more damage a lot faster! 

Enter Zororark BREAK. 

Alongside the additional HP, Zoroark BREAK brings back an old favorite of Zoroark's in the form of a cheaper version of Zoroark (DEX)'s Foul Play. It effectively works the same - copy the opponent's Active Pokemon's attack. This could work out well for Zoroark BREAK, since you could copy off an opponent's Tidal Storm or Emerald Break, among other things - and unlike SOME MEGAS that have this kind of attack, you can STILL use Stand In and Mind Jack! 

Will Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK prove to be a powerful duo? Well, if nothing else, Zoroark and Float Stone oughta show up in a few decks as tech against Statuses, but I imagine that there'll be more play than with stuff like the other...BREAK evos. 


Standard: 4/5 (solid Ability and a couple pretty good attacks combine to make a potent Stage 1) 

Expanded: 4/5 (though Keldeo-EX is a bit better here, but Zoroark BREAK does do Zoroark (DEX)'s job a little better with Foul Play) 

Limited: 5/5 (...yeah, I'd run that) 

Arora Notealus: I know there's not a lot of good ways to make the card game version of Zoroark emulate the Illusion Ability without doing some complicated nonsense, but for what it's worth, they do make good work with usage of things like Foul Play to mimic his...well, mimicry! 

Next Time: A Stadium to redefine the game.



Hopefully that helped set the mood or at least backfires in a manner you find funny, dear reader.  Technically second place was a three way tie in terms of voting points alone: yesterday’s subject Mr. Mime (XY: BREAKthrough 97/162) and the tag team we are looking at for today: Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough BREAKthrough 91/162) and Zoroark BREAK (XY: BREAKthrough BREAKthrough 92/162), though that may have been a bit unfair considering these two were allowed to compete together.  Now let’s see why this dynamic duo rocks! 

Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) is a Darkness-Type; when it comes to Weakness and Resistance only a small chunk of the Psychic-Type (namely those that correspond to the video game Ghost-Type) while Darkness Resistance is universal to the Fairy Type… though as they are the newest Type, the pseudo-Ghost-Types and Fairy-Types are actually about equal in number.  Cards that explicitly counter the Darkness-Type exist but aren’t worth playing; they have far more to fear from indirect Type counters like a particular Darkness-Type’s Weakness.  Darkness-Type support is good, but mostly because the Darkness-Type includes some great cards like Yveltal-EX and Darkrai-EX.  The support that explicitly works for the Darkness Pokémon-Type includes the still good Dark Patch and not much else that is good.  Dangerous Energy is merely “okay” (if room is tight, some of the more generic Special Energy will likely crowd it out) and there just isn’t anything else for Standard.  Though it was a huge boon at the time, now it seems the Darkness-Type pays for being the first Pokémon-Type to receive Type-specific support as cards like Dark Claw are totally obsolete; if you use what is simply a Darkness-Type only Muscle Band instead of Muscle Band, you telegraph your decks focus (possibly content) to your opponent.  Shadow Circle just cares about a source of [D] Energy being attached to a Pokémon, but it does negate Weakness when that condition is met making it handy for actual Darkness-Type cards, at least some of the time. 

Being a Stage 1 isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either.  If you can make room you can use something like Wally to surprise your opponent with a first turn appearance, though that only makes sense when you have an Ability you absolutely wish to rush into play or if you’re going second and you’ve got a formidable attack.  Most of the time it means an extra card and a turn delay (and Wally just trades the turn delay for an additional card).  The 100 HP is actually a bit annoying; my guesstimate is that means only the lower half of attacks will fail to score the KO, but I am taking damage being done by at least remotely competitive decks not frequency of attacks over all.  A lot of things are going to score the OHKO and while 10 more wouldn’t have made much of a difference even just another 20 so it had 120 likely would have, but wishing for more HP is typical.  Zoroark also makes you wish it had 10 less HP because it is just outside of Level Ball range and only barely more durable for it.  It isn’t even any better off against Fighting-Types due to its Weakness; not only does it mean things like Lucario-EX and Landorus-EX just need a Strong Energy or (other source of [F] plus Muscle Band) for the OHKO due to their damage being doubled, but that would be true with only 90 HP as well.  The Psychic Resistance is appreciated but only gets us to the slightly better 120 threshold for OHKOs.  The Retreat Cost of two would normally be more or less average; low enough you’ll often have it handy and be able to recover from having paid it, but high enough you’ll want to find a workaround… and as we are about to discuss, this card gives you a reason for wanting it as low as possible. 

Zoroark lacks an Ancient Trait but sports the Ability “Stand In”, which allows you to promote it from the Bench to the Active slot, replacing your current Active Pokémon, sending it to the Bench.  It is a once-per-turn Ability, but multiple copies may each be used once per turn.  It is quite familiar as this is the same wording as the “Rush In” Ability found on Keldeo-EX.  This is a good Ability: we know from experience that this can enable many useful tricks like resetting attack effects, ditching Special Conditions or simply saving a retreat or Switch, so the only question is whether the rest of Zoroark keeps it useful.  The attack is “Mind Jack”, which costs [CC] and hits for 10 damage plus another 30 per Pokémon on your opponent’s Bench.  This is another familiar attack, but this time the name is the same and the details are adjusted.  Absol (BW: Plasma Freeze 67/116 also can use Mind Jack, but its version requires [DC] and hit for 20 plus 20 per Benched Pokémon.  Again, this means we know it can be a vicious attack from past experience, and Zoroark even does it better than Absol did, albeit as a Stage 1 and not a Basic Pokémon… and again that is a significant difference. 

So what happens when we BREAK Evolve this card?  Zoroark BREAK remains a Darkness-Type, loses its status as a Stage 1 Pokémon as it becomes a BREAK Evolution, gains 40 HP (so that it clocks in at 140) and an additional attack: “Foul Play” for [D], which allows you to select and use one of the attacks from your opponent’s Active Pokémon and use it as Foul Play.  If that sounds confusing and like it might need some rulings for clarification, no worries; this is another case of recycling, though this time it is from a card we will get to a bit later.  This is a context sensitive attack because even though you get to ignore the upfront costs (namely Energy requirements), sometimes you’ll only have a weak, inexpensive attack to copy in the first place or even no attack at all.  You have to still do everything else required (at least if you are able) and apply all effects, which can also leave you effectively unable to attack.  It doesn’t usually do Zoroark BREAK a lot of good to copy Night March because unless you’re tossing it into a Night March deck you’ll swing for zero damage.  Not so great against attackers like the original Rayquaza-EX (BW: Dragons Exalted 85/124, 123/124) that do damage based on a specific Energy Type being discarded from it; even if you’re running Rainbow Energy or the exact needed Type how likely are you to have enough attached (and not need it for other purposes) so that you can discard it all for a “Dragon Burst”? 

Then there are attackers like Landorus-EX: “Hammerhead” only costs Landorus-EX a single [F] Energy to use in the first place, so you’re coming out ahead copying it with a pseudo-Stage 2 like Zoroark BREAK for [D].  The second attack “Land’s Judgment” does 80, with an optional discard of all attached [F] Energy to add [70] damage.  The magic phrase “If you do…” means that you can’t cheat the system and discard “zero” [F] Energy to use the clause; you can Foul Play Land’s Judgment for 80 damage no problem, but you’ll need a source of [F] attached so that you can discard it if you want to swing for 150 (80+70).  With something like a Rainbow Energy card paying for Foul Play, you could do just that to score 150 for one, though.  Things can be really great though; when Zoroark BREAK is facing down a Tyrantrum-EX you won’t enjoy the benefits of its “Despotic Fang” Ability, but you can use “Dragon Impact” for the bargain price of [D] and while you still will get hit by the “Discard 3 Energy attached to this Pokémon.” clause, if you have less than three attached to Zoroark BREAK, you just have to discard as many as you can.  That means you’ll probably be swinging for 190 for just [D] plus discarding that [D] Energy. 

Zoroark BREAK has to come from another Zoroark and it doesn’t have to only be today’s version, so we should look at the other options available.  Before that, however, we ought to look at the Zorua available as Zoroark must Evolve from them.  There is Black & White 70/114 (also released as BW: Trainer Kit - Zoroark Half Deck 13/30 and 23/30), McDonald’s Collection 9/12, BW: Emerging Powers 66/98, BW: Black Star Promo BW12, BW: Dark Explorers 69/108 (also released as BW: Legendary Treasures 89/113), BW: Dark Explorers 70/108, XY 72/146, XY: BREAKthrough 89/162 and XY: BREAKthrough 90/162.  There are also other Zoroark we can BREAK Evolve from: Black & White 71/114 (re-released as BW: Black Star Promos BW09 and BW: Next Destinies 102/99), BW: Emerging Powers 67/98 (re-released as BW: Trainer Kit - Zoroark Half Deck 17/30 and 30/30), BW: Black Star Promos BW19, BW: Dark Explorers 71/108 (re-released as BW: Legendary Treasures 90/113) and XY 73/146.  All Zorua and Zoroark are Darkness-Type Pokémon with Fighting Weakness, Psychic Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Trait and no Ability (today’s card excluded). 

All Zorua are Basic Pokémon with Retreat Cost [C].  Black & White 70/114 has 60 HP and can use “Lunge” for [CC] to hit for 30 damage if you get “heads” on the coin flip (“tails” means the attack does nothing).  McDonald’s Collection 9/12 has 50 HP and two attacks: “Scratch” for [C], doing 10 damage and “Fury Swipes” for [DC] giving you three coin flips good for 10 damage per “heads”.  BW: Emerging Powers 66/98 has 50 HP, “Ram” for [D] and doing 10 damage and “Rising Lunge” for [DC] doing 20 damage plus another 10 if you get “heads” on the mandatory coin flip.   BW: Black Star Promo BW12 has 60 HP and the attack “Jump On” for [DC]; it does 20 damage plus 10 if you get “heads” on the mandatory coin flip.  BW: Dark Explorers 69/108 has 50 HP, “Ascension” for [D] which allows you to search your deck for a card that Evolves from Zorua and Evolve into it plus “Scratch” for [CC] which does 20 damage.  BW: Dark Explorers 70/108 has 60 HP; for [C] it can use “Paralyzing Gaze” (flip a coin; if “heads” the opponent’s Active is Paralyzed) or for [DC] can use “Shadow Bind” (20 damage and the Defending Pokémon can’t retreat during your opponent’s next turn).  Those are all the Expanded only options. 

XY 72/146 has 50 HP, “Scratch” for [D] doing 10 damage and “Nasty Plot” for [DC] to allow you to search your deck for a card to add to your hand.  XY: BREAKthrough 89/162 has 60 HP and two attacks: “Moon Madness” for [D] which Confuses the opponent’s Active and “Dark Edge” for [DC] which hits for 30 but you have to discard an Energy from Zorua.  XY: BREAKthrough 90/162 has 60 HP and can use “Whiny Voice” at a cost of [D] to pick a random card from your opponent’s hand, reveal it and then shuffle it into your opponent’s deck, then also has Dark Edge for [DC] to hit for 30 but also require you discard an Energy from itself.  The top picks are BW: Dark Explorers 69/108, XY 72/146, XY: BREAKthrough 89/162 and XY: BREAKthrough 90/162 with BW: Dark Explorers 69/108 being the choice for Expanded because Evolving is this card’s job; the three XY-era Zorua offer you unrestricted search of your deck (though at a price you’re only using it when you’re desperate), Confusion to try and slow the opponent down or hand disruption to try and slow the opponent down.  Break the tie with what suits your deck best or roll a die if you think it is a tie. 

All Zoroark are Stage 1 Pokémon with 100 HP and two attacks (again, excluding today’s version).  Black & White 71/114 has a Retreat Cost of only [C] and sports familiar moves, though some of that is because we looked at it after discussing cards released well after it.  It has Nasty Plot for [D], which debuted all the way back on Weavile (Diamond & Pearl 40/130) for the same cost, but nothing between the two appears to have it (the earlier Zorua released after this Zoroark).  Foul Play uses a mechanic that dates all the way back to Base Set, but the attack itself was new to the TCG when introduced on this Zoroark with a cost of [CC]; Zoroark BREAK copied it.  It was first reviewed here and then one of its reprints got a look here: needless to say reviews that are over four and three years old are pretty out of date, though still have some merit.  The short version is that the first set of reviews are overly generous while the latter are closer to what was true then, with the present being slightly less favorable due to increased competition.  Unless Zoroark BREAK proves too much of a hassle, this Zoroark is probably ready for retirement as Foul Play was its main claim to fame; Nasty Plot was a nice for emergencies, but ideally you shouldn’t need to burn an attack (with a serious chance of being OHKOed) just to search your deck for a card. 

BW: Emerging Powers 67/98 is one of those cards you forget even exists.  It has a Retreat Cost of [CC] and two vanilla attacks: for [D] it can use “Fury Swipes”, flipping three coins good for 20 damage per “heads”; an average of 30 damage isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either.  “Night Daze” requires [DCC] to do a flat 80 damage, definitely below the competitive threshold without extenuating circumstances, though if you insisted on using it at least with a Muscle Band it could 2HKO anything with 200 HP and no healing, HP boosts, damage reducing effects, etc.  It actually received a review and while it was from a format long past, the basic gist of it remains: this card just doesn’t do enough for what it asks and what it does do, it does in plain, predictable manner.  Don’t worry about this version.  BW: Black Star Promos BW19 is in a similar boat, though it has a better Retreat Cost of [C].  Its “Punishment” attack required [C] to hit for 20, with a bonus of +20 if you were attacking a Stage 2 Pokémon.  Yes, this was a card released either right before or as Pokémon-EX released and not only did they dominate right away, but prior to them it was mostly regular big, Basic Pokémon as well as Stage 1 cards doing the attacking.  Even if you wanted something that was good to use against Stage 2 Pokémon, the damage bonus is so small it hardly matters.  “Snarl” is even worse though: [DDC] to hit for 60 and reduces the damage done from the Defending Pokémon during your opponent’s next turn by 20.  Don’t use this one either. 

BW: Dark Explorers 71/108 has the slightly worse Retreat Cost of [CC] again, but sports two strong attacks.  “Brutal Bash” requires only [CC] and does 20 damage for each Darkness-Type Pokémon you have in play; solid with a full-ish Bench of Darkness-Types and brutal like it claims to be when you’ve got Sky Field in play and eight Darkness-Types on your Bench (that’s 180 damage!).  The second attack - Dark Rush - requires [DD] and also can swing hard but is more difficult to optimize because it does 20 damage times the number of damage counters on Zoroark, so without HP boosts that means upwards of 180.  Tricky for a 100 HP Pokémon to reliably soak a hit, though.  This Zoroark took 7th place on our Top 10 for BW: Dark Explorers, never lived up to expectations but it is still a good card and may be worth BREAK Evolving from… after all 140 HP can survive a hit better.  XY 73/146 drops back down to a Retreat Cost of [C].  Its first attack is “Corner” which requires [D] to hit for 30 and prevent the Defending Pokémon from retreating during your opponent’s next turn; not brilliant but sometimes useful.  For [DCC] it can use “Night Claw” for a solid 100 damage, but unfortunately you have to flip a coin and if it is “tails” you have to discard two Energy from Zoroark.  This one is a “maybe”, just because it is the only Standard legal option besides today’s pick; if you can’t force your opponent into a large Bench you may need a fallback like a copy of XY 73/146.  Maybe. 

So… how do you run Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) and Zoroark BREAK?  Well, for starters Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) is the real winner of the two; Zoroark BREAK has a real chance of working out because the new Zoroark looks good and Zoroark BREAK looks solid.  Stand In won’t work better than Keldeo-EX most of the time, but Keldeo-EX isn’t Standard legal; if you can manage to work in a Stage 1 line for the same switching effect, it will serve its purpose and be a good back-up attacker.  In Expanded you still may consider switching over; while it needs more slots, some decks can’t utilize Keldeo-EX very well as an attacker and so should still consider if they can squeeze in a Stage 1 instead.  Most of the time the answer will be “no”, but not always.  In Standard play one expects Zoroark plus Zoroark BREAK decks.  Though most players and decks can learn to operate with a smaller Bench to minimize the effectiveness of Mind Jack, that is when you fallback to Foul Play and see if you can squeeze a few copies of Target Whistle into your deck; few decks don’t have Basics in the discard pile you could forcibly revive. 

In Expanded, Mind Jack is still good, so while it probably won’t be the next big thing, you could build a deck around Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162), Zoroark (W: Dark Explorers 71/108, BW: Legendary Treasures 90/113) and Zoroark BREAK; while all have attacks that are set-up reliant by spreading things out between three of them it is much harder for all three to fail.  It will happen and that’s a lot of cards worth of set-up, so while I fancy the idea in practice it hasn’t gone so well.  In Limited play, only skip these two if you are building a +39 deck, a deck where you select a single big, Basic and fill the other 39 card slots with non-Basic Pokémon cards.  Remember, the attack doesn’t even need [D] Energy and there are two Zorua, improving odds of pulling at least one, though both of those do need [D] Energy to attack. 

Ratings - Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) 

Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 3.35/5 

Limited: 4.9/5 

Ratings - Zoroark BREAK 

Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3/5 

Limited: 4.8/5 


Summary: Another new toy to play with, this one looks like it has some staying power at least in Standard where it the competition is less.  Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK can deliver a real pounding as well as a replacement for Keldeo-EX and its Rush-In Ability. 

This was my second place pick, though mostly for what it might accomplish in Standard.  We’ll see if this is rookie has staying power.

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