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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


- XY: Evolutions

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 7, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.13
Expanded: 1.88
Limited: 3.38

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Nidoking's always been a cool Pokemon of untapped potential...with unfortunate printings that have been hit or miss in the TCG. 

Here in Evolutions, we get an independent Nidoking that doesn't rely on Nidoqueen, which is usually a good sign since neither has gotten an EX that makes them easy to get into play. That being said, Nidoking can only really do so much, as his attacks aren't the strongest. Rumble does 2-for-40 and keeps the opponent from Retreating their Pokemon while Tail Swing does 3-for-100 and hits a couple of the Benched Pokemon for 20 damage. 

Rumble won't be able to do much on its own, unless you wanna get your opponent to expend resources in the attempt to pull out a Pokemon that's active, but Tail Swing can bring out a total of 140 damage overall across the field. That's pretty good, all things considered, even if it is spread out a bit more, but Tail Swing itself can only 2HKO most Basic Pokemon-EX and doesn't quite hit the numbers to threaten the same for Megas without some additional help. On top of that, Nidoking's only got 150 HP to work with, and he is weak against any mirror match-ups, meaning he's got some very specific timing as to when he can bring it all together. 

Course this set also brings out a BREAK Evolution, which I'll talk about in more detail tomorrow, but on his own, Nidoking is...okay. He's not stellar, but he's not absolutely dreadful either. He's a middle-of-the-road kind of card, and for a few of us, that's all we need. 


Standard: 2.5/5 (he can be effective in the right hands) 

Expanded: 2/5 (but he's going to require some investment to bring out the bigger numbers) 

Limited: 3/5 (and at that point, why not just go for something better?) 

Arora Notealus: This is probably the biggest takeaway from the majority of the "reprints" and "upgrades" to these classic Pokemon here in Evolutions. Sure, they're much better now than their original printings would have been in today's game, but a lot of these only reworked what the Pokemon did to make it do things better or differently if its original form wouldn't be improved that much by a simple adjustment of damage numbers. For instance, the original Nidoking's attacks were Thrash, which did 3-for-30 with a coin flip to either do more damage or take damage himself, and Toxic, a 3-for-20 that upgraded the amount of Poison damage done. This Nidoking outclasses his grandpa, but he's only so much these days. 



Nidoking (XY: Evolutions 45/108) is our subject today.  This is a Psychic Type Pokémon; nearly all Darkness and Metal Type Pokémon enjoy Psychic Resistance while many Fighting and Psychic Types suffer Psychic Weakness.  I am unaware of any anti-Psychic Type cards, and there is a handful of explicit Psychic Type support, with some of it proving useful.  Not a lot of great tricks that work with [P] Energy but the Psychic Type does have multiple noteworthy members that if they don’t overshadow Nidoking, could work well beside it in a deck.  As a Stage 2 without access to more than the general shortcuts, Nidoking takes a few turns and cards to hit the field, outperforming only BREAK Evolutions of a Stage 2 (and possibly of a Stage 1), and Stage 1 Evolutions of Restored Pokémon (and possibly Restored Pokémon themselves).  Its 150 HP is 10 shy of the maximum we’ve seen printed on a Stage 2, and enough to have solid odds of surviving a hit.  Its Psychic Weakness is dangerous, even more so in Expanded. The lack of Resistance on Nidoking is typical; a missed opportunity but even were it present, it would be a minor benefit.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is burdensome enough to warrant dedicating more than a few slots to alternatives to manually retreating at full price, including more than one such answer (and in multiples).  Nidoking has two attacks, the first of which is “Rumble” for [PC]; this attack does 40 damage while preventing the Defending Pokémon from manually retreating on his or her next turn.  The second is “Tail Swing” for [PPC], doing 100 damage to the opponent’s Active and 20 to each of his or her Benched Pokémon.  Both attacks have a decent return in the form of damage plus effects, but not a lot of synergy with each other beyond staggered Energy costs.

Nidoking has to come from someplace, and unless we want to rely on obscure, uncompetitive combos, that means Nidoran and either Nidorino or Rare Candy.  We should also address the other currently legal versions of Nidoking.  I was going to discuss Nidoqueen but then I realized this Nidoking doesn’t have any effects dependent upon her and no currently legal Nidoqueen has an effect that references him.  We have three versions of Nidoran from which to pick: BW: Plasma Freeze 43/116, XY: Steam Siege 43/114, and XY: Evolutions 43/108.  There are also three We have three options for Nidorino as well: BW: Plasma Freeze 44/116, XY: Steam Siege 44/114, and XY: Evolutions 44/108.  For other Nidoking we have BW: Plasma Freeze 58/116 and XY: Steam Siege 45/114.  Yes, all Nidoran are card number 43, all Nidorino are card number 44, and one of the other Nidoking is card number 45, like today’s Nidoking.  None have an Ancient Trait and all but Nidoking (BW: Plasma Freeze 58/116) are Psychic Type Pokémon with Psychic Weakness, no Resistance, and have never been reviewed.  For reference sake, the review of Nidoking (BW: Plasma Freeze 58/116) can be read here; Baby Mario and Ness reviewed it, and I think they mostly get it right, save Ness was a bit generous in scoring, and I would have been as well since I remember the days when backing a Nidoking with four Nidoqueen (or vice versa) wasn’t only viable but made for a top deck.  History however has proven this Nidoking has yet to live up to even a slightly below average score. 

All Nidoran are Basic Pokémon with 60 HP, Retreat Cost [C], and no Abilities.  BW: Plasma Freeze 43/116 is only legal for Expanded play, and its lone attack is “Hit Back” for [P], doing 30 damage but only if Nidoran has damage counters on itself.  XY: Steam Siege 43/114 is the only Nidoran with two attacks, which are “Come Along” for [C] and “Peck” for [PC].  Come Along allows you to search your deck for and Bench a Nidoran while Peck does a flat 20 damage.  XY: Evolutions 43/108 can use “ Stab” for [P] to flip two coins, good for 10 damage per “heads”.  All Nidorino are Stage 1 Pokémon with no Abilities and two attacks.  BW: Plasma Freeze 44/116 is only legal for Expanded play and has 90 HP with a Retreat Cost of [CCC].  Its first attack is “Double Kick” for [PC], which has you flip two coins and does 30 damage per heads.  For [CCC] it can use “Horn Attack” to do 50 damage.  XY: Steam Siege 44/114 has 80 HP with a Retreat Cost of [CC].  Its first attack is Peck, surprisingly still priced at [PC] and doing 20 damage.  Its second attack is “Nido Press” at a cost of [PPC], doing 40 damage and if you have a Nidorina in play it does an additional 40 (for 80 total).  XY: Evolutions 44/108 has 90 HP with a Retreat Cost of [CC].  Its first attack is Horn Attack, but this version costs [P] and does 20 damage.  Its second attack is “Fury Attack” for [CCC] and has you flip three coins, good for 30 damage per “heads”.  None of these are particularly good; use whichever Nidoran you want unless you are trying to make a Nidoqueen and Nidoking deck, in which case I guess Nidoran (XY: Steam Siege 43/114) is ever so slightly better due to its Come Along attack.  For Nidorino, XY: Evolutions 44/108 has the better HP with the better Retreat Cost, so use it (and Rare Candy). 

All Nidoking are Stage 2 Pokémon.  The Expanded only BW: Plasma Freeze 58/116 is a Fighting Type with 140 HP, Water Weakness, Lightning Resistance, Retreat Cost [CCC], and has two attacks.  The first attack is “Lovestrike” which costs [CC] and does 20 damage plus 40 per Nidoqueen on your Bench.  For [FCCC] it can use “Horn Drill” to do 90 damage.  Unlike Beedrill (XY: Evolutions 7/108 which we reviewed last week here, there is no Evolution acceleration for Nidoqueen.  You can try to use Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick to get this Nidoking into play without Evolving, but to get Lovestrike hitting for a decent amount worth the hassle, you’re talking about Benching at least two Nidoqueen (preferably three or four).  Like with Beedrill, you gain all the issues of swarming a Stage 2, plus you’re running a second Stage 2 line.  None of the currently legal Nidoqueen benefit this Nidoking other than fueling Lovestrike.  I mentioned using Nidoran (XY: Steam Siege 43/114) if you were going to run Nidoking alongside Nidoqueen; this is me clarifying that if you use this Nidoking with a Nidoqueen, you’re shooting for a “fun” deck.  Horn Drill is just flat out overpriced, so there goes the idea of including it as a single to exploit Fighting Weakness. 

Nidoking (XY: Steam Siege 45/114) has the same 150 HP of today’s Nidoking but with a Retreat Cost of [CCCC].  Its “King’s Palace” Ability gives a +20 boost to the damage done by attacks from your Nidoqueen, before applying Weakness or Resistance.  The wording means it should stack with other copies of itself; two Nidoking with King’s Palace means a total bonus of +40, three means a total bonus of +60, and four means a total bonus of +80.  This Nidoking can use the attack “Power Lariat” for [PPC] to do 60 damage plus 30 per Evolution Pokémon on your bench.  If you go all out with Sky Field in play and have eight Evolution Pokémon on your Bench, that’s a massive 300 damage.  Even if Parallel City comes along and caps your Bench size at three, as long as all are Evolution Pokémon Power Lariat can swing for 150.  A normal Bench of five Pokémon allows for the effect of Power Lariat to raise its damage to 210.  Seems like some decent numbers, and it is… however you either have a bunch of “filler” Evolutions on your Bench that are easy to put into play, you go the Nidoqueen route which means either of them can hit hard but your deck is going to be a mess, or you take some of the best Stage 1 Pokémon and ignore King’s Palace, focusing on Power Lariat.  The last option seems like the most plausible deck, however it still will be cramped for space and even in Expanded - where you can use Dimension Valley to drop the cost of Power Lariat - you’re probably not going to get a reliable enough Power Lariat out of the deal to make it worthwhile. 

Wait, we have multiple cards referencing Nidoqueen and even a card each referencing Nidoran and Nidorina… why aren’t I covering them?  I am going to be blunt; as much as my obsessive tendencies makes me want to include them, this review is going to be long enough as is and nothing about any legal version of them changes what I said above as they don’t help any Nidoking or receive enough help from Nidoking to make the two a competitive deck.  A fun deck?  Sure.  Not a competitive deck, however.  Now why am I not discussing Nidoking BREAK?  Because I scheduled it for tomorrow’s review as this one was already going to be massive.  The short version is that I don’t think it will make today’s Nidoking (XY: Evolutions 45/108), but it might help it a little even though it means you’re effectively running a Stage 3 Pokémon (more than I can say for the other Nidoking).  So should you use Nidoking (XY: Evolutions 45/108) in Expanded or Standard play?  Probably not, but you can try.  Tricks like Dimension Valley give the deck better support in Expanded but it faces more threats that can easily score a OHKO against it, so I think it evens out for Expanded and Standard.  If you can keep Nidoking around long enough to use Tail Swing twice while Bench damage isn’t being blocked, nothing is being healed, and your opponent isn’t able to stagger their play of new Pokémon, its actually quite formidable.  That isn’t hugely impressive; I did just give three separate conditions and you cannot run counters to ensure all three.  Nidoking should shine in Limited play, at least, where its stats and effects are far more useful, as are its lower Stages. 

So now we take a moment to look at the inspiration for not only Nidoking (XY: Evolutions 45/108), but Nidoran (XY: Evolutions 43/108) and Nidorino (XY: Evolutions 44/108).  I speak of Nidoran (Base Set 55/102; Base Set 2 83/130; Legendary Collection 83/110), Nidorino (Base Set 37/102; Base Set 2 54/130; Legendary Collection 56/110), and Nidoking (Base Set 11/102; Base Set 2 11/130; Legendary Collection 31/110).  All of these are Grass Type Pokémon, because when the game first released and until the release of Diamond & Pearl, video game Poison Types were lumped in with the Grass Type instead of the Psychic Type.  They all remain Psychic Weak and lack Resistance like their Poison Type inspired counterparts, and all just have attacks and no old-school equivalents to Abilities, Ancient Traits, or any other specialty mechanics.  Nidoran (Base Set 55/102; Base Set 2 83/130; Legendary Collection 83/110) only had 40 HP, but still had a Retreat Cost of [C] and a single attack.  The attack was “Horn Hazard” for [G], though, and it was “tails fails” but did 30 damage.  For a very short period it was actually used to exploit Grass Weakness in certain decks! 

Nidorino (Base Set 37/102; Base Set 2 54/130; Legendary Collection 56/110) only had 60 HP but also got away with a Retreat Cost of [C].  Its attacks were the familiar Double Kick and Horn Drill, though they are familiar because they are attacks that are used in other places, including other cards already mentioned in this review.  Its Double Kick required [GCC] to flip two coins good for 30 damage per “heads”, while its Horn Drill required [GGCC] to do 50 damage.  Nidoking (Base Set 11/102; Base Set 2 11/130; Legendary Collection 31/110) had 90 HP with a Retreat Cost of [CCC].  The other two had HP scores at least close to in proportion to their modern counterparts, but Nidoking only does that if we compare it with specialty mechanics (like being a Pokémon-EX) that don’t have an old school counterpart.  Good for it that it finally got big.  The attack on this version were “Thrash” and “Toxic”, the former requiring [GCC] and the latter [GGG].  Thrash did 30 with a coin flip; “heads” meant +10 damage to the Defending Pokémon, while “tails” meant 10 damage to itself.  Toxic did 20 damage, plus “double Poisoned” the Defending Pokémon so that it took twice the usual Poison damage between turns.  These attacks were pretty bad; I think the designers expected Nidoking to have a bigger role they overestimated its usefulness for exploiting Grass Weakness, as well as the usefulness of Special Conditions and Stage 2 Pokémon in general.  I get why their modern counterparts share so little with the originals. 


Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.75/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Nidoking has many good pieces to it, but the combination of being a Stage 2 with the easily exploited Psychic Weakness really takes it down a peg.  That kind of baggage meant it had to be rather exceptional to justify competitive usage.

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