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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Pyroar BREAK - Steam Siege
Date Reviewed: Aug. 31, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary
Standard: 3.25 / 5.00    Expanded: 3.25 / 5.00     Limited: 4.00 / 5.00

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Today we’ll look at Pyroar BREAK (XY: Steam Siege 24/114) on the last official day of the 2015-2016 Standard Format.  In some of the more recent reviews it has slipped my mind to specify whether I was talking about the current XY-On Standard Format or the new PRC-On version that goes into effect tomorrow (September 1st).  Some of that is because in those reviews, it just didn’t matter: I am looking at you, Greedy Dice.  The rest is just absentmindedness on my part.  Today it will matter so I’ll specify; when I discuss Standard in today’s article it will mean PRC-On unless I indicate otherwise. 

Pyroar BREAK is the BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1, which means it functions as a Stage 2 without access to Stage 2 support like Rare Candy, Miltank (XY: Flashfire 83/106), etc.  Still committing at least three cards to getting Pyroar BREAK to the field, with a three turn wait until it hits the field.  You can speed things up a bit by investing an extra card in a Wally.  Being a Fire Type Pyroar BREAK hits nearly all Grass and Metal Type Pokémon for double damage thanks to their almost universal Fire Weakness.  Nothing is naturally Fire Resistant, though a few cards effects can fake it; these are also the only anti-Fire effects of which I am aware in the current cardpool, but as such effects aren’t particularly good (countering one Type out of 11), I may have easily missed some.  The only one I would expect to see in competitive play is Parallel City, and that just provides that Resistance like -20 damage (to Grass and Water Types as well), but is most likely being run for the effect of its other half (which shrinks maximum Bench size to three).  What is a concern is that nearly all Fire Types are Water Weak; so a deck that needs to counter them may do so by incorporating a Water Type attacker into the build.  Fire Type support, as is often the case, breaks down into three (sometimes overlapping) categories: those which apply directly to Fire Type Pokémon, those which apply to Fire Type Energy, and then all the stuff that just works better in a deck focus on Fire (Pokémon and/or Energy). 

So for the cards that specifically apply to the Fire Type, one of their best tricks is lost in the shift to PRC-On: Blacksmith.  Still an option in Expanded, it is hard to turn down attaching two basic Fire Energy from the discard pile, even at the cost of your Supporter for the turn.  Burning Energy hasn’t prove too hot, but that may be changing.  It won’t benefit Pyroar BREAK directly as Burning Energy only attaches itself to a Fire Type Pokémon from your discard pile if that specific Fire Type Pokémon discarded that specific Burning Energy from itself as part of its attack, and Pyroar BREAK doesn’t do that with its own attack.  Volcanion-EX is the final bit of major Fire Pokémon support specific to the Type (possibly the last bit as well) but it cannot help Pyroar BREAK; the impressive Ability “Steam Up” can improve the damage done by Fire Types by simply discarding an [R] Energy from hand, but only for Basic Pokémon.  There are many cards that can work with basic Fire Energy, but only a few are relevant; besides generic basic Energy support, there are many specific to the Fire Type that either aren’t particularly good, or which might be good but not squeezed into the same deck as Pyroar BREAK.  Scorched Earth has seen some success as added draw for Fire Energy using decks (also works with Fighting Energy), while Volcanion (not Volcanion-EX) can use its first attack to attack one basic Fire Energy card from the discard pile to two of your Benched Pokémon… which bleeds into the next category of strong Fire Types that just work better in Fire focused decks.  Other notables (which I won’t be detailing) include but aren’t limited to Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY121) Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 14/98), Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 15/98), and Flareon-EX. 

Pyroar BREAK has 160 HP; not the maximum we’ve seen on a Pokémon BREAK, but the most we’ve seen on one which BREAK Evolves from a Stage 1 and the maximum seen on actual Stage 2 Pokémon.  I think you’ll notice the difference most with the decks that straddle between hitting hard or relying upon effects; those that focus on damage still will manage some or all of scoring rapid, reliable, repeated OHKOs against this target number, while those focused more on effects are just happy it has less than the typical Basic Pokémon-EX and much less than the typical Mega Evolution.  The last thing Pyroar BREAK supplies for itself is its attack; [RRC] buys 180 damage to the opponent’s Active courtesy of “Kaiser Tackle” but also does 50 to Pyroar BREAK itself.  Even if it is at full health, that sends it down to 110 HP, a probable OHKO… but at the same time it is hitting hard enough to OHKO almost all Basic Pokémon-EX and Evolutions (other than Mega Evolutions) without any additional help.  At least it is doing damage and not placing damage counters; unless your opponent uses a card effect to change the a self-damaging attacker’s Weakness to its own Type, doing damage is easier to block than damage counters.  Neither Kaiser Tackle nor the rest sells me on using Pyroar BREAK, but so far it looks good enough that it might actually be worth the effort. 

To get to Pyroar BREAK we have to go first through Litleo and then through a Pyroar.  I am seeing four options for Litleo - XY: Flashfire 18/106, XY: Flashfire 18/106, XY: Phantom Forces 11/119, and XY: Steam Siege 22/114 - and four for Pyroar - XY: Flashfire 20/106, XY: Black Star Promos XY26, XY: Phantom Forces 12/119, and XY: Steam Siege 23/114.  Maybe we ought to have reviewed this card last week; until September 1st all of these are Standard legal, but after that only Litleo (XY: Steam Siege 22/114) and Pyroar (XY: Steam Siege 22/114) fit that bill.  All of these cards are Fire Types with Water Weakness and no Resistance, which means Pyroar BREAK is going to be Water Weak with no Resistance as well.  All Litleo are Basic Pokémon without an Ability, while all Pyroar are Stage 1 Pokémon with Retreat Cost [CC]; that means Pyroar BREAK will have that Retreat Cost as well.  Looking at the Litleo a little closer, XY: Flashfire 18/106 has 70 HP, Retreat Cost [CC], and the attack “Combustion” for [RRC] doing 60 damage; XY: Flashfire 19/106 has 60 HP, Retreat Cost [CC], and can use “Fire Mane” for [RC] to attack for 30 damage; XY: Phantom Forces 11/119 also has 60 HP and Retreat Cost [CC], but can attack with “Roar” for [C] to force your opponent to change out his or her Active, or for [RC] use “Live Coal” to do 20 damage; our last Litleo - XY: Steam Siege 22/114 - is the third with 60 HP but the first with Retreat Cost [C], and can use “Lunge” to attack for [RC], doing 30 damage (“heads”) or no damage at all (“tails”) depending upon the mandatory coin toss.  When you have a choice, go with XY: Flashfire 18/106 or possibly XY: Steam Siege 22/114 for the Retreat Cost. 

Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106) has 110 HP, the Ability “Intimidating Mane”, and the attack “Scorching Fang”.  The Ability keeps the attacks of Basic Pokémon from damaging Pyroar, though effects still get through, while the attack does 60 for [RCC] with the option of discarding [R] from itself to do another 30 damage (or 90 total).  Good Ability, mediocre attack, though at least the discard is optional so you may skip it when you don’t need it, and the Energy cost keeps this version Double Colorless Energy compliant.  This Pyroar was reviewed here as the third best card of its set and again here as the eighth best card of 2014; it might have actually deserved those ranks back then (I reviewed it for the 2014 list and had it as my personal eighth place as well), but it seems to have just become less and less important as time went by, promising to punish the heavy Basic usage but failing because either we could negate the Ability or because enough decks could naturally get around it (as they had attacking Evolutions).  Pyroar (XY: Black Star Promos XY26) has 100 HP (the smallest of the Pyroar) and two attacks.  The first is “Crunch” for [RC], doing 30 damage and giving you a coin flip to discard an Energy from the opponent’s Active.  For [RRCC] you can use “Royal Fire” to deliver 120 damage but must discard two Energy from “this Pokémon” (Pyroar itself).  This released at a time when Hypnotoxic Laser, Silver Bangle, and Virbank City Gym were all still Standard legal, which meant for a Double Colorless Energy and Blacksmith you could go for a fast 180-ish damage (give or take Weakness, immunity to Special Conditions, etc.) and it saw no successful play; neither attack is horrible but they are at best mediocre, plus it hit not too long before Seismitoad-EX. 

Pyroar (XY: Phantom Forces 12/119) is has 110 HP, Ability, and attack like the original.  Its Ability is “Flare Command” which requires you discard a [R] Energy from itself to force your choice of the opponent’s Benched Pokémon into the Active slot once per turn, before you attack.  At a cost of [RRRC] its “Inferno Rush” attack does 110 damage to the opponent’s Active but does 30 damage to Pyroar itself.  That means yet another good Ability paired with a bad attack, and while there was some initial hype this Pyroar didn’t have as much of an initial impact.  Finding room for a Stage 1 line and being able to spare a [R] Energy for the Ability ended up being too tricky, even if you tried using it to backup XY: Flashfire 20/106 (so that Litleo would already be in the deck).  It did get a review here at least, where it probably was a bit overrated.  The newest Pyroar is XY: Steam Siege 23/114, which has the highest HP at 120, and has two attacks.  The first is “Flame Charge” for [RC], which does 60 damage plus searches your deck for an [R] Energy to attach to Pyroar itself.  For [RRC] it can instead attack with “Incinerate” to do 90 damage, but before that you get to discard all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent’s Active.  These attacks may be adequate; the damage and effects aren’t bad for the Energy going into them, but neither are they bargains.  Pyroar has to survive the turn in the Active slot if it uses Flame Charge plausible but not easy with 120 HP - and with so few options for discard Pokémon Tools the secondary effect might just make the attack worth it.  However it may not; some are mostly important on Actives (Fighting Fury Belt) while others are for the Bench (Exp. Share). 

So… which do you use with Pyroar BREAK?  Well you’ll have no choice in the new Standard, as only Litleo (XY: Steam Siege 22/114) and Pyroar (XY: Steam Siege 23/114) will be legal.  As I’ve basically said though, the attacks on that Pyroar coupled with the attacks on Pyroar BREAK might just be enough to prove worth it, at least in a deck built around Fire Types.  No sense rushing, so I’m thinking Volcanion can do its usual opening act with its first attack while also serving as a decent backup main attacker with its second.  Max Elixir can still work on Litleo, so it might be worth the hassle, while Exp. Share might be nice Tool choice since we are entering a format where it is hard to discard.  XY-On Standard would have allowed you to use Pyroar BREAK to enhance Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106), and you could use Protection Cube to deal with the self damage.  Probably just would have kept it in hand until right before you’ll actually attack with Kaiser Tackle, as plenty of decks will would have had Xerosic or Startling Megaphone, plus you might want the option of an alternate Pokémon Tool as well.  Such a deck could also include Pyroar (XY: Phantom Forces 12/119) as a single, maybe a double; just use it for its Ability and only BREAK Evolve from it if necessary… though it can also use Protection Cube.  Don’t forget Blacksmith to fuel Energy attachments as well.  This is basically what you can do for Expanded play as well, just remember there are added concerns like Tool Scrapper and other older cards to potentially combo with or be countered by.  For Limited, run it if you get the line, but don’t hold your breath on pulling it when it can do some good.  Also you’ll need your Energy to be about half basic Fire Energy if you do, and thus much of your deck Fire or capable of using the Energy. 


Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Pyroar BREAK has some chops, but it might not be enough.  It loses a lot of good options from which to BREAK Evolve as the format rotates, and said options face stiffer competition in Expanded.  Still it may do enough to be a functional deck in this new era, especially if Type-matching goes its way.  Likewise, if say Water Types surge forth, it’s probably going to be lucky to see casual play.  Not a guaranteed winner, not a hopeless loser, I think it’s just a little above average, which is a higher opinion of Pyroar BREAK than when I started with the card.  Mostly because Pyroar (XY: Steam Siege 23/114) may not be as bad as I thought.

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