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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Ampharos EX

- Ancient Origins

Date Reviewed:
November 6, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2
Expanded: 1.88
Limited: 3.90

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Emma Starr

Today we look at Ampharos EX, whom if they weren’t an EX, would evolve from sheep…somehow (I mean, in Stadium 2, the thing makes the bleating sound of a sheep, but it’s honestly weird because…it just has hardly any semblance to a sheep whatsoever!).

It’s Retreat Cost of two, though somewhat easy to pay using its first attack, is actually pretty generous, considering how awfully slow it is in the games. It’s 170 HP is right near many other EXs, but Fighting weakness is never good, because Fighting types are still popular, and probably will be for quite some time now still.

It’s first attack which I briefly mentioned earlier is Thunder Rod, which lets you search the top 4 cards of your deck for any amount of Electric energy, then attach it to Ampharos EX. It only costs a Colorless Energy, which is nice if you need to quickly power it up, but the real problem is that Ampharos EX has to be active to use this, obviously. I feel if this were an ability, it’d be much more viable to make use of, even with the threat of Silent Lab or Hex Maniac around. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Additionally, until the Magnezone in Breakthrough came out, Electric types haven’t had many forms of Energy acceleration available to them for a while, only having the mediocre Eelektrik (NoV 40), which is now cursed to live in Unlimited. But as Breakthrough isn’t legal for another few weeks, it’s a nice way to power up if Ampharos was your starting Pokemon. If not, however, and your opponent is already powered up before you, forgoing damage in your turn can be painful, and thus, the new Magnezone is definitely your friend, if you can get him out quickly enough.

Ampharos’ main attack, Sparkling Tail, does 100 damage for two Electric and two Colorless, but comes with the awful effect of the damage not being effected by Weakness, Resistance, or other effects on the Defending Pokemon. Which means that despite being an Electric type, this WON’T OHKO a Shaymin EX, Lugia EX, or Yveltal EX. If you want big damage on them, I guess Thundurus EX (PC 26) will have to do (He has a cheaper main attack, but damages himself badly), or you can change one of your other EXs to an Electric type via the Jolteon from yesterday. Are there any positives to this effect? Well, you can do 20 more damage to Pokemon who resist Electric, and…you can ignore the 10 damage reductions of Shield Energy…and…that’s about it, unless the other reviewers think of something else, but even for a normal main EX attack, 100 damage is pretty lackluster compared to the normal 120 or 130 damage attacks. At least Mega Ampharos EX more than makes up for this weakling, however.

Standard: 2/5 (Useful only for Mega Evolving into Mega Ampharos EX)

Expanded: 2/5

Limited: 3/5 (Mega Evolve, then zap Lugia EX and everything else into oblivion. If you didn’t pull the Mega though, AmpharosEX is still decent here, I guess.)


Otaku

We conclude this week with Ampharos-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 27/98, 87/98).  As a reminder, XY: BREAKthrough officially released November 4th, which means it won’t be legal for tournament play until three weeks later (November 25th); if I notice something quite relevant I’ll mention it but I am still trying to get a handle on the set (and new game mechanics) so for now, this is a review that is for a pre-XY: BREAKThrough environment. 

Ampharos-EX is a Lightning-Type so as with yesterday’s CotD it enjoys hitting some significant and important Pokémon for double damage via Weakness, only faces Resistance on BW-era releases, negligible Type-based counters1 and some useful not far from overwhelming support.  Exploiting opposing Weakness nets a “good” Type standing even though the rest is dancing around one side or the other of “neutral”.  As you can tell by the name alone, Ampharos-EX is a Pokémon-EX and because I still frequently run into players that struggle with the concept, being a Pokémon-EX only guarantees a few things: being worth an extra Prize when KOed, being unable to access certain pieces of support and being a target of certain detrimental (for the player running the Pokémon-EX) effects.  Pokémon-EX that are not Mega Evolutions gain one other benefit if the underlying Pokémon is normally an Evolution; instead it becomes a Basic Pokémon.  Everything else associated with Pokémon-EX may be common but aren’t universally present; almost all of them get an HP boost but it varies in amount, with other attributes and card effects that tend to (but not always) are better than that of non-Pokémon-EX counterparts.  Being a Basic is a pretty big deal right now; especially as Ampharos are otherwise Stage 2 Pokémon; it takes minimal time and effort to get a Basic into play, while Stage 2 are on the clunkier side of things. 

Ampharos-EX does cash in on an HP bonus; it has 170 which is 10 more than the largest contemporary Stage 2 cards and 30 points more than its most recent non-Pokémon-EX counterparts, Ampharos (BW: Dragons Exalted 40/124) and Ampharos (BW: Black Star Promos BW67).  This is enough to have solid odds of surviving a hit; few decks will hit this amount rapidly, reliably and repeatedly though yes some of the best right now can indeed lay claim to all three.  Fighting-Types have an even easier time of due to the Weakness, to the point where I consider Fighting Weakness to be one of (if not the) worst right now, even when that Type isn’t fielding the top deck.  There are multiple Fighting-Types that can score a OHKO with a single Energy attack: as long as the attack does at least 30 damage for [C] or [F], Fighting Stadium plus Muscle Band plus Strong Energy means a 90 point attack doubles to 180 (non-Pokémon-EX attackers in this situation can hit for only 20 if they use Silver Bangle instead of Muscle Band).  Ampharos-EX enjoys Metal Resistance; with the XY-era this has again become typical of Lightning-Types and while it isn’t a huge advantage it can be useful; after all it has 170 HP to work with on this card.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you’ll likely be able to pay (and recover from paying) it but high enough you probably should include something to lower the cost or bypass manually retreating Ampharos-EX. 

Ampharos-EX keeps things relatively simple as it has no Ancient Trait nor an Ability; just two attacks.  The first is “Thunder Rod”, which costs [C] and allows you to look at the top four cards of your deck and then attach any [L] Energy you find there to Ampharos-EX (itself).  Other cards are shuffled back into your deck.  Only basic Lightning Energy cards provide [L] in deck, so everything else will be returned to the deck and the best you can do is four Energy; for an attack this is good enough you might use it, even benefit from it, but not so good that you should really plan on doing so as a general strategy.  The second attack is “Sparking Tail” and it requires [LLCC] to hit for 100 damage, with its effect text stating that Weakness, Resistance and any other effects on the opponent’s Active don’t apply to the damage being done.  This is a bit misleading because unless there has been an inhouse revision, rulings have stressed that Weakness and Resistance are considered separate game mechanics from “attack effects”, while this wording makes them all sound related.  That is just a pet peeve though and not relevant to the quality of the attack which is… okay.  It hits hard enough to take out typical Safeguard Pokémon and ignoring all the other stuff is nice but exploiting Weakness - as emphasized earlier - is a big deal for Lightning-Types; not applying Weakness is a big, hidden cost for the attack.  100 damage is the minimum I want to see on a four Energy attack as well.  The first attack is a decent lead in to this one, though, and combined with the rest of the card this is a solid deal. 

Still you shouldn’t bother with Ampharos-EX unless you’re running M Ampharos-EX and Ampharos Spirit Link; the latter is easy to remember as it is simply the usual Spirit Link Pokémon Tool that keeps the otherwise crippling Mega Evolution rules from nerfing these big Pokémon.  We reviewed M Ampharos-EX here as our eighth place pick for the Top 15 cards of XY: Ancient Origins.  As a Lightning-Type Mega Evolution with 220 HP Fighting Weakness, Metal Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [CCC] and lacking an Ancient Trait or Ability, it is a pretty natural extension of the regular Ampharos-EX.  The similarities underscore similar strategies or confirm some decisions for running the lower Stage: for example as the Retreat Cost go up it becomes even more necessary to run an effect to deal with Retreat Costs.  The lone attack is “Exavolt” which requires the same [LLCC].  This time though the base damage is 120 and the attack’s text states you may choose to hit for both an extra 50 damage (so 170 total) as well as Paralyze the opponent’s Active, but doing this means the attack will do 30 damage to M Ampharos-EX itself (as opposed to doing no self-damage with the base 120). 

The only thing that has really changed since my review of M Ampharos-EX is that I realize how poorly worded parts of it were; I had to reread some spots multiple times before I realized what I meant.  Ouch.  M Ampharos-EX isn’t a totally worthless Mega Evolution, but it suffers because while the attack effect seems sweet, it is a bit self-contradictory; if you are hitting so hard that you’ll 2HKO almost anything in the game, that is when you’d want the guaranteed Paralysis.  When you’re hitting hard enough to OHKO many things in the game, then the Paralysis is wasted at those times, but you still suffer the 30 points of self damage you would take when you were hitting something that could survive to be Paralyzed.  Paralysis is a pretty potent effect, so I can understand why they didn’t want to do a 120 with Paralysis/170 damage split (and reduce or lose entirely the self-damage), but at the same time it isn’t so strong of an effect that M Ampharos-EX can confidently try and lock opponents.  Either you need several other effects to institute a “hardlock” that is difficult (if not high improbable) to escape or you have to settle for a softlock most decks running Keldeo-EX + Float Stone can deal with… and in the case of the former you get a much more difficult setup that can misfire and potentially clash with itself even when “working”. 

So back to Ampharos-EX; sometimes a Pokémon with a Mega Evolution can be better than its Mega Evolution and see play, or is good enough to compensate for a less impressive Mega Evolution and get them both into decks.  I don’t see a lot of room for Ampharos-EX in Expanded, and in Standard it mostly benefits from a lack of other, better options.  It is a marvelous pull for Limited play; its Energy costs are flexible enough that while you will still need to run Lightning Energy, you could work it in with another Type or two without overly straining things.  More importantly, if you don’t mind risking the Fighting-Type2 presence in this set, Ampharos-EX is otherwise a great pull for a +39 build where it is your only Basic Pokémon (and thus you have to open with it).  Thunder Rod should rarely fail to speed things up by at  least a turn (as the deck should be limited to mostly basic Lightning Energy anyway, plus whatever lucky pulls you got otherwise), while the effect of Sparkling Tail can prevent awkward stalling while 2HKOing almost everything else you could possibly encounter. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2/5 

Expanded: 1.75/5 

Limited: 4.8/5 

Summary: Ampharos-EX does serve a purpose beyond being a stepping stone for M Ampharos-EX since it can attack to self-accelerate Energy and/or be used to punch through problematic protective effects, but it doesn’t do such things well enough to be a strong attacker in its own right, while M Ampharos-EX is at best “good” in a field of “greats”, providing little added incentive to run Ampharos-EX.  Seems great for Limited, though that is true of most basic Pokémon-EX.

1 Not to be confused with Weakness based counters: I am referring to detrimental effects that target a card based on the subject’s Type.

2 This is something you’ll need to really consider: while we skipped some of these Fighting-Types for actual review, Limited is where they can shine and if you don’t have a Flash Energy attached, are impossible for a lone Ampharos-EX to defeat except due to a misplay or improbable levels of bad luck on your opponent’s part.


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