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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Malamar

- XY58 Promo

Date Reviewed:
October 29, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.25
Expanded: 2.00
Limited: Promo

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Otaku

And now... Cthulhu! 

Okay, not really.  Ignoring the hankering I have not to play some Pokéthulhu, let us look at Malamar (XY: Black Star Promos XY58).  Of course it is a Darkness-Type (it is the week’s theme after all) and even though we have been seeing some strong Darkness-Type decks in the recent Autumn Regional Championships, the Type itself doesn’t strike me as overly strong.  It isn’t bad, but it is merely “good” and not “great”: only a portion of Psychic-Types are Darkness Weak, all Fairy-Types are Darkness Resistant, there are actual anti-Darkness-Type cards (though they aren’t any good) but the main thing is that while the Darkness-Type contains potent cards, most are not new or flat out old: Yveltal-EX, Shadow Circle, Darkrai-EX, Dark Patch and a few others, but steadily growing weaker or less significant.  There is no Darkness-Type based Supporter and while that might seem picky, it has been a good deal for several Types and shows us how much better the Type could be. 

As a Stage 1 it Evolves from Inkay and requires a two card investment and a turn of waiting to Evolve, or a three card investment for no turn of waiting (like Wally).  Basics are better, but the other Stages really aren’t and you can still make good use of a Stage 1.  Its 90 HP is small - few decks will fail to OHKO it at least one of rapidly, reliably and/or repeatedly, though against an incomplete set-up or something attacking for the effect and not the damage, it could still survive.  Don’t count on that against the Fighting-Type; most serious Fighting-Type attackers need a single buff to get into OHKO range, and it's a type that specializes in just that.  The Psychic Resistance only shaves off -20 damage per hit from that Type; it won’t save you a lot, but it can come in handy some of the time.    The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you’ll often be able to pay and recovering from paying it, but it is high enough you’ll be better off including something to lower the cost or bypass manually retreating entirely.  With Darkrai-EX being on Type, that seems like a safe bet, perhaps with a Keldeo-EX if you are really worried. 

Malamar must like variety: it has an Ancient Trait, an Ability and an attack.  The Ancient Trait is “Θ Stop”, which protects Malamar from the effects of opposing Abilities done to it.  Not a major benefit, but in key match-ups it can be pretty handy.  The Ability is “Contrary” and it’s a doozy: while Malamar is your Active Pokémon all coin flips made by your opponent are treated as “tails”.  Nothing about it only applying to one or only applying to flips for attacks or any of the usual restrictions.  While some decks have very few coin flips, others have many with the typical deck having at least a few (often important) ones.  This seems pretty spiffy and with Θ Stop on top of it, a card like Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119) and its “Bide Barrier” won’t turn off Contrary.  For [DCC] you can use its attack “Conform” which does 40 points of damage and if your hand is the same size as your opponent’s, the opposing Active is Confused.  This is a pretty poor attack with its low damage for the Energy invested, but with Contrary (and Θ Stop protecting Contrary) your opponent will fail their Confusion check… unless they simply rid themselves of Confusion and/or force something else up front. 

Malamar needs to Evolve from Inkay and we’ve got five options spanning six releases, all of which are both Standard and Expanded legal: XY: Kalos Starter Set 18/39 (with McDonald’s Collection 2014 6/12 being a reprint of it), XY 74/146, XY 75/146, XY: Roaring Skies 41/108 and XY: Ancient Origins 45/98.  All are Darkness-Type Basic Pokémon with Fighting Weakness, Psychic Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Traits and at least one attack; XY: Kalos Starter Set 18/39 and XY 74/146 have 60 HP while the rest have just 50.  XY: Kalos Starter Set 18/39 has a single attack (Peck) for [D] that does 10 damage.  XY 74/146 is the only one with an Ability (Upside-Down Evolution) that states once per turn if it is Confused, you may search your deck for a card that Evolves from itself and Evolve it (which counts as Evolving for game purposes).  For [D] it’s “Confusion Wave” attack Confuses both itself and the opponent’s Active.  XY 75/146 can “Tackle” for [C], hitting for 10 damage or “Puncture” for [DC] to do 20 damage that isn’t affected by Resistance.  XY: Roaring Skies 41/108 also has two attacks: “Rip Off” allows you shuffle a random card from your opponent’s hand (that he or she must reveal to you) back into his or her deck for [D], and “Psybeam” for [DC] which does 20 damage to and (on a successful coin toss) Confuses the opponent’s Active. 

That just leaves XY: Ancient Origins 45/98.  It has “Ink Spit” for [D] to hit for 10 damage and place a condition on the Defending Pokémon; if it tries to attack the next turn your opponent has to flip a coin and if “tails” the attack does nothing.  Now which one should you use?  While 60 HP is better than 50, it isn’t a large enough advantage to be the only factor; this card’s job is to Evolve so the versions with attacks that make them harder to KO (in this case, all by messing with your opponent’s Pokémon) are desirable, though remember that attacking at all with something you want to Evolve is usually only acceptable on your first turn (if even then).  Fortunately XY 74/146 gives us both the 60 HP and an attack that can help protect it (by Confusing both Active Pokémon).  Normally hitting itself would be a drawback, but it contains an Ability that helps it Evolve if it manages to survive its time in the Active spot and if it is Confused during your turn.  It actually was interesting enough that it got its own review here. 

There are three other Malamar to choose from: XY 76/146, XY 77/146 and XY: Ancient Origins 46/98.  All are Stage 1 Darkness-Type Pokémn with Fighting Weakness, Psychic Resistance, no Ancient Traits, no Abilities but two attacks.  XY 76/146 has 100 HP and a Retreat Cost of [C].  For [D] it’s “Mental Trash” attack has your opponent flip four coins; for each “tails” your opponent must discard a card from hand (or all if he or she has less).  For a familiar [DCC] it can use “Distortion Beam” to hit for 30 damage and flip a coin; on “heads” the opponent’s Active is Asleep and on “tails” it is Confused.  It was reviewed here during my last absence from the review crew.  XY 77/146 also has 100 HP, this time with a Retreat Cost of [CC].  For [C] it can use “Mental Panic” to place a condition on the Defending Pokémon so that the opponent must flip a coin if it attacks the next turn: “tails” fails.  Like most such effects, this can be reset in the usual ways (leaving and returning to the Bench, from the field entirely or by Evolving).  For [DDC] it can use “Puncture” to hit for 70 damage while ignoring Resistance.  It was reviewed right after the other one here, again without me.  XY: Ancient Origins 46/98 has 90 HP with a Retreat Cost of [C].  For [C] it can use “Entangling Control” to force one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon into the Active slot while also leaving it Confused.  For [D] it can use “Trash Tentacle” to put a card from your discard pile into your hand.  We haven’t reviewed this one and no, it isn’t scheduled for tomorrow. 

None of the other Malamar have panned out (and I don’t expect XY: Ancient Origins 46/98 to break the trend).  While they have some solid effects, they are on smallish Stage 1 Pokémon and in the form of attacks; you can only get away with being that kind of attacker when you have some form of protection, are hitting disproportionately hard and/or engaging in a serious level of control against the opponent so they can’t hit you back (or at least not hard).  None of these qualify, plus today’s promo version needs to be Active for its Ability to work which means these clash with it pretty violently.  So how could you use Malamar (XY: Black Star Promos XY58)?  I am not sure if you should; Contrary can be downright scary but an Escape Rope, Lysandre or similar effect means your opponent can get around it, and some very strong decks have few or no coin flips to spoil.  Still you could try it in a porter style deck; using the hit-and-run tactics of something like Gengar-EX to actually score some decent damage, perhaps with Munna (BW: Boundaries Crossed 68/149) or Hypnotoxic Laser or the other methods of inflicting Sleep or Confusion from the Bench (those two are just the easiest to fit in and yes are only examples of Sleep).  That is a lot to work into a deck alongside Gengar-EX though, just a 1-1 line of Malamar might fit into the existing versions (with a far less reliable return). 

As such I think this card does have some potential in Standard and Expanded, but I’m not sure how to effectively tap it.  It can be a nightmare for certain coin flip heavy decks but if the flips aren’t central to the strategy and/or frequent, it might not even be a nuisance.  It isn’t legal for Limited, where it would have otherwise been a fearsome pull unless the hypothetical set with a re-release lacked an Inkay just with its built in tricks. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.25/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: Malamar (XY: Black Star Promos XY58) is an interesting card that makes my inner-Johnny go crazy trying to calculate intricate combos but my but not-so-inner-Spike points out that most are losing propositions for competitive play.  It does a bit better in Standard because for now Professor Birch is seeing usage and so yeah, having that automatically be a “shuffle and draw four” card is a bit more threatening.  If we see some nasty general usage, staple level coin flip based cards where “tails” is really unpleasant (unlike Hypnotoxic Laser where it just means no Sleep) or similarly coin flip reliant deck rise to the top, this might be the answer.


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