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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Arcanine
- XY: Evolutions

Date Reviewed:
Nov. 6, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.08
Expanded: 2.08
Limited: 3.33

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Another week, another Pokemon to review. 

Arcanine got revamped from his previous iteration and operates very differently, so let's take a look at that. He's got Scorching Breath, which is 4-for-150 straight out, just that it prevents Arcanine from attacking in the next turn. 4 Energy's a lot, but luckily that's where Burning Road comes into action; if Arcanine switches out to the Active spot from the Bench, he can gather up as much Fire Energy as need be from the others. So it's pretty easy to see what can happen: play Arcanine, Switch things around, power him up, and Scorching Breath them away. 

Probably the biggest thing that will hold him back though is that "can't attack next turn" clause. Sure, 150 is a LOT of damage - enough to KO a good portion of the non-EX cast of Pokemon and threaten a lot of the Pokemon-EX - but it's not gonna threaten anybody if it's 150 damage every two turns. One way of looking at that is that he'll inflict an average of 75 damage each turn, simply because he's being...Truant. 

...oh geez, he ain't seeing competitively play ever. 

Rating 

Standard: 2/5 (...okay, that's a slight exaggeration) 

Expanded: 2/5 (he'll probably end up getting the occasional KO off the side or something) 

Limited: 3/5 (but he's a tech option at that point, not the main headliner) 

Arora Notealus: Such is the life of Arcanine, always wanting to be that Legendary Pokemon without ever gracing that Legendary status. I mean, that would be silly, wouldn't it?...hmm...suddenly want to see Mega Arcanine...hmm... 

Next Time: PREPARE FOR TROUBLE!! AND MAKE IT DOUBLE!!


Otaku

We fire up the week with Arcanine (XY: Evolutions 18/108).  As a Fire Type it will hit most Grass and Metal Types for double damage thanks to Weakness, with nothing naturally Fire Resistant unless we mess with Unlimited-only cards (and we’re not).  The Fire Type has some nifty support but not a lot of it is available to Arcanine in the Standard Format.  Blacksmith can provide a quick double [R] Energy attachment from the discard pile at the cost of your Supporter for the turn, but it’s Expanded only.  Volcanion-EX has an Ability that allows you to discard a [R] Energy from hand to increase the damage done by your Basic Fire Type Pokémon, but Arcanine isn’t a Basic.  Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114) provides a high HP Basic Pokémon with a low Energy attack that accelerates [R] Energy from the discard pile but it is so good and can work with Volcanion-EX, it tends to make more sense as a focus.  I’m not overly thrilled with Burning Energy in the first place, but peeking ahead we see that today’s Arcanine has no discard costs, so Burning Energy isn’t any help.  If we don’t end up needing a Stadium for something else, Scorched Earth is still an option.  At least most Fire-Type counters aren’t so hot; the main one you are likely to encounter is the other effect on Parallel City, which only drops the damage done by [R] Type Pokémon (and [G] and [W] Types) by 20.  Even if that 20 does make a difference when it comes to KO’s, your opponent is hitting his or herself with the Bench-shrinking effect that normally gets Parallel City into a deck. 

Arcanine is a Stage 1 Pokémon, the Evolution that requires the least amount of cards and effort to hit the field.  Of course, the Basic Stage is the fastest and most space efficient, but being better than the rest still leaves Arcanine functional.  130 HP is around where I find it more likely a Pokémon survives a OHKO than doesn’t, but it’s a narrow margin of success; quite often Arcanine isn’t sticking around for a second turn while it remains Active.  Its Water Weakness is typical and could be problematic; Water Type attackers aren’t everywhere in Standard, but the ones I do see placing well at tournaments will most likely benefit from the boost.  It is worse in Expanded where many of the same decks are still viable plus Seismitoad-EX can be used almost anywhere and often is, and it definitely enjoys the damage boost.  Lack of Resistance is typical and while Resistance can help, -20 damage against Pokémon of one Type out of 11 wouldn’t make a difference all that often.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you often can pay but high enough you’d prefer not to; normally that would mean you would have only the usual need for retreat (assisting or replacing) or tanking options but peaking ahead you’ll see something that suggests we’ll need a little extra for Arcanine. 

That something is the Ability on Arcanine, “Burning Road”.  This Ability states that once during your turn (before you attack) if this Pokémon (Arcanine) was on your Bench but became your Active, you’re allowed to move any number of [R] Energy attached to your other Pokémon to itself.  Energy movement is an interesting form of Energy acceleration; less blatant than additional attachments, it can still enable some exceptional combos, and is better at abusing cards like Max Potion than the forms of Energy acceleration with more raw power.  Arcanine can use that Energy to fuel its attack, “Scorching Breath”, which costs [RRRC].  That is not an easy price to meet, and the effect text states that “this Pokémon” can’t attack again the next turn.  The payoff is a single big 150 damage hit.  Without some good combos, that is underwhelming; you’ll need a buff to take out your typical Basic Pokémon-EX, even if they are not sporting Fighting Fury Belt.  It isn’t worthless by any means, as retreating normally resets such effects, and I believe Pokémon Ranger would as well.  Without the clause, it’s decent damage, but even taking into account the combos which can fairly easily get around said drawback, the damage ought to be a bit higher. 

So Arcanine has to come from somewhere, and there are other Arcanine cards to consider, so let’s address them.  So for Growlithe we have BW: Next Destinies 10/99, BW: Next Destinies 11/99, BW: Legendary Treasures RC4/RC25, XY: BREAKpoint 10/122, and XY: Evolutions 17/108.  For Arcanine we have BW: Next Destinies 12/99, BW: Next Destinies 13/99, and XY: BREAKpoint 11/122.  Not available outside of Japan is Arcanine BREAK, which I’ll go ahead and address on the unlikely chance we get it as a promo, but unless I missed an announcement for it, seems pretty unlikely it will release anywhere else.  Something we are likely to receive is the already revealed Arcanine for the first Sun & Moon inspired set, and I’ll risk trusting a translated spoiler of the card and mention it here as well.   All are Fire Type Pokémon with no Ancient Trait, and all but Arcanine BREAK have Water Weakness with no Resistance (because BREAK Evolutions gain those traits from their previous Stage).  All the BW-era released are only legal for Expanded play while all the XY-era releases are recent enough to still be Standard legal.  None of these Growlithe cards have ever been reviewed on their own.  Arcanine (BW: Next Destinies 12/99) was reviewed here while Arcanine (BW: Next Destinies 13/99) was covered here. 

All Growlithe are Basic Pokémon and none of those currently legal have an Ability.  BW: Next Destinies 10/99 has 80 HP, Retreat Cost [CCC], and two attacks.  The first is “Stoke” for [C]; Stoke requires you flip a coin and if “heads” you attach a [R] Energy from your deck to this Pokémon while “tails” means the attack does nothing.  For [RC] it can use “Firebreathing” to do 10 damage and flip a coin; “heads” means +20 damage (so 30 total) while “tails” means just the base 10 damage is done.  BW: Next Destinies 11/99 also has 80 HP but with a Retreat Cost of [CC] and just one attack - “Combustion” - for [RC], doing 20 damage.  BW: Legendary Treasures RC4/RC25 also has 80 HP with Retreat Cost [CC] but this time two attacks.  [CC] pays for “Rest” which heals all damage from itself but leaves it Asleep.  “Lunge” is the second attack and it requires [RCC] to do 40 damage, but it requires a coin flip and “tails fails”.  It also has the power of very adorable artwork.  XY: BREAKpoint 10/122 drops down to 70 HP but keeps the Retreat Cost of [CC].  It only has a single attack - “Bite” - for [CC] that does 20 damage.  XY: Evolutions 17/108 also has 70 HP and Retreat Cost [CC], but has two attacks.  For [C] it can use “Hind Kick” to do 10 damage, then switch itself with one of your Benched Pokémon.  A Basic that doesn’t reliably help your setup (or slow down your opponent’s) is mostly a placeholder, but as is often the case none of the stats or effects really stand out.  A little to my surprise, XY: Evolutions 17/108 might be the best of the lot even though it’s got the lower of the two HP scores; getting itself to the Bench via attack is about as handy as +10 HP (at least in the current format).

All Arcanine are Stage 1 Pokémon with no Ancient Traits.  BW: Next Destinies 12/99 shares the 130 HP of today’s Arcanine but has a Retreat Cost of [CCC].  It is also the only other one with an Ability; “Blazing Mane” only works while this Arcanine is Active, Burning an opponent’s Active that attacks and damages it (even if Arcanine is KO’d by the attack).  Recently in Japan, reports indicate that the Burn Special Condition either has changed or will change with the shift to Sun & Moon; remember despite my preferred screen name I’m easily discouraged so I’ve never gotten around to learning Japanese and must rely on other sources.  If true, Burn will soon automatically place two damage counters between turns.  However there will still be a “Burn Check” as well after that, with it now being to see if Burn goes away on its own (like Sleep does).  That would probably help this card a bit; Burn’s main issue is under the current rules it has only a 50% chance of placing two damage counters between turns, and with the combination of the game’s pacing and odds of an opponent being able to shake Special Conditions on his or her next turn, that makes it rather underwhelming.  This Arcanine has the attack “Fire Spin” for [RRC] to do 100 damage, but it requires a coin flip; while the attack works either way, if the result is “tails” then Fire Spin discards two Energy from Arcanine itself.  With modern game pacing I rather wish that the discard was automatic and the attack hit harder, but as is Fire Spin is okay.  For now I don’t think this is Arcanine is worth running instead of or alongside today’s, but after that rules change, just maybe. 

BW: Next Destinies 13/99 drops down to 120 HP, but still has a Retreat Cost of [CCC], and it has two attacks but no Ability.  Its first attack is “Crunch” for [RC], doing 30 damage and giving you a coin flip to discard an Energy from the opponent’s Active.  For [RCC] this Arcanine can use “Heat Blast” do do 70 damage.  While not horrible, this card fell short back when it was new and power creep has widened that gap.  Again, not something to run with or instead of today’s Arcanine but this one you can safely leave in the binder barring some bizarre, radical future support (something that powers up Fire Type Stage 1 Pokémon that lack an Ability?).  XY: BREAKpoint 11/122 has the lowest HP of the lot at 110, but it at least also gets the Retreat Cost of [CC].  It also lacks an Ability but has two attacks; “Flop” for [C] does 30 damage while for [RRC] it has “Flamethrower” doing 90 damage but also requiring you discard an Energy from itself.  I almost missed this Arcanine, and now I see why; both attacks are somewhat decent attacks if they are backing something else that is more substantial like an Ability or a stronger, larger attack.  So yet again, not something to complement or compete with today’s Arcanine. 

The revealed Sun & Moon Arcanine has 130 HP and Retreat Cost [CC].  It has two attacks but no Ability.  The first attack is translated as “Searing Flame” for [RCC] and does 60 damage plus it Burns the opponent’s Active.  With the new Burn rules in effect there, that’s an effective 80 damage for three; decent by modern standards, but if the expected power creep occurs, a bit low.  Its second attack is “Firestorm” and basically it tells you that this Pokémon wishes to be Charizard (XY: Evolutions 11/108), reviewed just last week.  For [RRRR] and a three Energy discard its Fire Spin does 200 damage.  10 less damage for costing [C] less isn’t too bad, and Arcanine is a Stage 1, but Charizard has its “Energy Burn” Ability that makes the effective cost of Fire Spin on Charizard [CCCC].  I wasn’t overly impressed with that Charizard even though my inner Timmy was so excited to see it, so I don’t expect too much out of this probable future Arcanine.  If we are fortunate enough to get it, Arcanine BREAK acts like a pseudo-Stage 2 (the same hassle to hit the field but without some of the support).  It has 160 HP and brings the attack “Turbo Flame” for [RC].  Turbo Flame does 80 damage and attaches two basic Energy cards from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  I’m not sure if Arcanine BREAK would be worth using even if we had it, but a similar attack has done wonders on M Manectric-EX, being slower (BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1) with less HP but also being worth one less Prize hypothetically might work, or we might be in the same boat.  Still some combo potential with today’s Arcanine. 

So the bad news is I don’t have a proven deck for Arcanine, but at least I have a decent one to at least try.  Burning Road moves [R] Energy from any of your in play Pokémon when Arcanine goes from the Bench to the Active spot; this means you can tap multiple Benched Pokémon for Energy and that brings us to Team Magma’s Camerupt (Double Crisis 2/34).  Yes our second place pick for the Top 5 cards of Double Crisis gets another chance.  Team Magma’s Camerupt has a poor attack and decent Ability, “Burning Draft”.  Burning Draft allows you (once per turn before attacking) to attach either an [F] or [R] Energy from the discard pile to Team Magma’s Camerupt itself.  Theoretically this and some other cards could have given us a Team Magma deck, and the card’s predecessor Team Magma’s Camerupt (EX: Team Magma VS Team Aqua 19/95) actually was part of the deck that won the 15+ Age Bracket (what we now know as the “Masters Division”) of 2004 Pokémon TCG World Championship.  We already have (and had) a big, Basic Pokémon-EX partner for Team Magma’s Camerupt (Double Crisis 2/34) in the form of Camerupt-EX but it never proved viable.  Do I think Arcanine can change that?  Probably not, but it does have some things going for it like not being a Pokémon-EX and being able to use the Energy from Team Magma’s Camerupt to directly fuel itself.  With Energy moving around, you might be able to include Max Potion (should Arcanine survive), but Bursting Balloon (or Muscle Band in Expanded) are probably better choices to help hit key damage amounts.  Basically, we probably have a solid fun (maybe even budget) deck, but not something you’d take to Worlds. 

Today’s Arcanine (and its Growlithe set-mate) are reworked updates of the original Arcanine (Base Set 23/102; Base Set 2 33/130; Legendary Collection 36/110) and Growlithe (Base Set 28/102; Base Set 2 42/130; Legendary Collection 45/110).  The original Arcanine was still a Fire Type Stage 1 Pokémon with Water Weakness and no Resistance, but everything else is similar but different: 100 HP instead of 130, Retreat Cost [CCC] instead of [CC], and two attacks instead of an Ability and an attack, with neither attack being Scorching Breath.  100 HP was only 20 shy of the maximum for any Pokémon back when this card first released, and unlike some other examples, also the maximum when the most recent version of it released as well.  Excluding specialty mechanics like Pokémon-EX, exceptional Pokémon like Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124), and then rounding down the new and old HP scores are to scale.  The lowered Retreat Cost is a flat out improvement, but what about the card effects?  Well the original Arcanine had Flamethrower for [RRC] doing 50 damage and requiring you discard a [R] Energy in order to use the attack.  Its second attack was “Take Down” for [RRCC] which did 80 damage to the opponent’s Active and 30 damage to itself.  I am not sure if that was overpriced at the time: based on how I calculated damage from Energy costs it was just a tad bit over, but so were most cards of the time.  This Arcanine did not have a strong, competitive deck but it did have a budget deck, “Turbo Puppy” (sometimes called “Turbo Arcanine”).  In fact, this could have created a successful deck except for two cards. 

No, nothing to do with a strong Water deck at the time (though that did exist), but rather because of Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal.  This Arcanine was one of several Stage 1 Pokémon that, either by taking a chance and building on the Bench or by utilizing Electrode (Base Set 21/102, Base Set 2 25/130) and Double Colorless Energy you could get one Arcanine up and running while building the next.  Unfortunately S/ER meant you got only one attack out of sacrificing an Electrode and then Arcanine needed manual Energy attachments or another sacrificial Electrode.  Without S/ER, at least according to my minimal testing, Turbo Arcanine decks could quickly press the ever popular Haymaker decks because they used all or mostly Basic Pokémon in the OHKO range of Take Down.  If your opponent couldn’t take down Arcanine down in one hit (even including the self damage), then Arcanine could trade evenly with Haymaker Basic beatsticks.  In this hypothetical, you also could risk Super Potion (the original, less impressive version) or just settle for regular Potion to heal some of the damage Arcanine was taking, and what is historical fact is that when this deck was used, it included Defender to both soak the self damage and some of what your opponent would try next turn.  It might have had a chance being reprinted in the Legendary Collection; while it was missing some important dance partners it had some new ones as well, but probably not as there were new rivals. 

Arcanine (XY: Evolutions 18/108) overall does improve on the formula, but thanks to power creep it basically just keeps pace; it was a solid budget deck in the earliest days of the game, it will probably be a decent-ish one now (and a suitable “fun” deck at least).  It should be a fairly solid pull for Limited play due to the Ability; while you’ll still need a Fire Energy heavy deck, Burning Road means that Energy can be scattered about your various other cards, meeting [C] Energy costs there.  As long as you can promoted Arcanine from your Bench and those other cards managed to safely retreat earlier (or just never were put into service), Arcanine is locked, loaded, and able to OHKO almost anything shy of a Pokémon-EX or BREAK Evolution (and sometimes even those).  The inability to attack again the next card is a bigger hurdle here, but it is also plausible to try and save Arcanine as either your finisher, or your emergency attacker.  You know, when you either don’t need to attack again (you just won) or you may need to attack again, but you were going to lose without it (because it took down something about to defeat you). 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.15/5 

Expanded: 2.15/5 

Limited: 3.65/5 

Summary: Arcanine is an interesting update to its Base Set counterpart, and while it can be very different in some respects it ends up serving a similar role: functional, but not truly competitive as it creates a working deck but one that isn’t capable of winning entire events.  Enjoy it in casual play, and keep an eye on it in case I missed something, or perhaps in case a future release helps it out.


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