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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


 Houndoom EX

- XY BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
January 13, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.62
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 4.12

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Ever since they were first introduced back in Next Destinies, Pokemon-EX have been a dominant force in the game. It's almost guaranteed that you'll lose if you're not running a Pokemon-EX, with exceptions including Pokemon like Vespiquen and Flareon with their vengeance-style attacks and the Night March series, all of which revolve around more Pokemon in your discard pile meaning more damage, but I digress - the point is, most main attackers in a deck usually have an EX in the title. And yes, that naturally includes the new Megas. 

Houndoom-EX is an example of one of the EXs that is not an attacker. 

Actually, he kinda reminds me of Manectric-EX in a way - two very cheap attacks, both dealing low damage...well, at least for Manectric-EX. Unfortunately, Houndoom-EX is stuck with only 1 attack that can do damage, and it's...okay. Starting off with Melting Horn, it costs only 1 Energy but does no damage and mills the top 2 cards of your opponent's deck. That's not terrible, save for if you're facing the aforementioned "Vengeance" decks, in which case...good luck with that. Otherwise, it's a minimal milling effect that only really works to maybe incentivize your opponent to beat you faster before they run out of cards. 

That aside, Grand Flame is a 2-for-50 attempt at being a good Energy accelerator, but really it's a bit lackluster. I mean, yeah, you're able to power up some other Fire-type to dealing more damage, but come on, 2-for-50? That's barely decent for an EX, and no his Mega form shouldn't be an excuse to make him worse, especially since this is his second attack that should be actually stronger than his first attack, not just something that does more damage with numbers!! 

*phew* Sorry, just REALLY needed to get that off my chest. 


Standard: 2/5 (you're only using him for Grand Flame MAYBE or evolving him to M Houndoom-EX) 

Expanded: 1.5/5 (at least he's got an Energy accelerator...) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (some Pokemon don't even get that much) 

Arora Notealus: Seems to me like Houndoom-EX was a way of making Manectric-EX again but making it weaker so it wasn't comparable, or at the very least "different." Eh, you say "tomato," and I say, "Goodbye." 



Today we look at Houndoom-EX (XY: BREAKthrough 21/162; 153/162) as we continue our Fire flavored week.  Nothing has changed since I started: nearly all Grass- and Metal-Types have Fire Weakness so unless Houndoom-EX has a huge damage output or does no damage at all, that comes in handy at least some of the time.  Nothing is Fire Resistant and if there is an anti-Fire-Type effect in the current card pool, I missed it.  Fire support is underwhelming: Blacksmith is great and has synergy with less direct support like Fiery Torch or Scorched Earth (which work with basic Fire Energy) but there isn’t the equivalent of Strong Energy (already gave my thoughts on Burning Energy) in terms of quality and there is no equivalent of Korrina, Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick or Focus Sash.  Notice how not all of those are insanely powerful cards; a quick pokepedia.net search didn’t show much for Fire Pokémon.  For the record I set the Format to “Expanded” and Text Search to “ R Pokemon”; the space is necessary to prevent phrases like “your Pokemon” or “her Pokemon” from registering. 

Being a Basic is still the best; minimum space in deck, minimum space in play, minimum time to get into play, Stage specific support (mostly in Expanded) and a natural synergy with many card effects with the only drawback being a lower HP cap (based on currently released cards) than Evolutions, being unable to access cards specifically meant for Evolutions and some anti-Basic Pokémon effects.  One of these is remedied by being a Pokémon-EX as even Basic Pokémon-EX tend to have HP scores in excess of a Stage 2 Pokémon.  Speaking of which Pokémon-EX have to deal with giving up an extra Prize when KOed, dealing with certain Pokémon-EX specific countermeasures (like Silver Bangle) and being unable to access certain useful card effects (like Silver Bangle… again).  Besides having more HP, Pokémon-EX are likely to have better attributes all around and/or effects than a Pokémon would normally be allowed, at least as a Basic and enables a Pokémon which would normally be an Evolution to be a Basic instead, at which point I think we just came full circle. 

Moving onto the actual HP score, Houndoom-EX has 170 HP, the lower of the two typical scores for Basic Pokémon-EX and quite serviceable; it isn’t guaranteed to survive a hit but should be able to take one much of the time.  Water Weakness is an issue specifically because it runs into certain cards like Regice (XY: Ancient Origins 24/98) and Suicune (BW: Plasma Blast 20/101) that would fall a little short of a OHKO but now just need a Silver Bangle or Muscle Band or even Hypnotoxic Laser with a Virbank City Gym in play to score a OHKO, while Seismitoad-EX even without boosting scores a 3HKO instead of a 6HKO (and usually will be buffed to the point it scores a 2HKO instead of a 3HKO).  Lack of Resistance is typical (and I’m running short on time) so we’ll move onto the Retreat Cost of [CC]; this is low enough you’ll often enough be able to both pay the Energy and recover from having paid the Energy to manually retreat but would be better off if you can reduce the cost or avoid paying it altogether. 

Houndoom-EX has two attacks and they both have low costs: [R] for “Melting Horn” and [RR] for “Grand Flame”.  The former discards the top two cards of your opponent’s deck but does no damage while the latter scores 50 damage while attaching a [R] Energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  These are solid attacks, especially on a 170 HP Basic Pokémon-EX; the damage output isn’t so hot but the effects can be surprisingly good. I didn’t think so until I was proven wrong by players building and doing well with decks that focus on Houndoom-EX; not M Houndoom-EX but Houndoom-EX itself.  If you don’t believe me, go check out recent-ish tournament results over at The Charizard Lounge and you’ll see a few different, distinct Houndoom-EX decks in addition to M Houndoom-EX in its own deck. 

Still, let us cover M Houndoom-EX briefly (because it will be tomorrow’s CotD).  It is a Mega Evolution so it has all the ups (usually even better attributes and effects than Basic Pokémon-EX) and downs (turn ends upon mega Evolving, anti-Mega Evolution cards), with Houndoom Spirit Link to deal with that first and most critical drawback.  M Houndoom-EX is still a Fire-Type with Water Weakness, no Resistance, no Ancient Trait and no Ability but has 210 HP, a Retreat Cost of [C] and a single attack (Inferno Fang), with said attack requiring [RR] tp hit for 80 damage and the option of discarding all Energy attached to M Houndoom-EX itself in order to hit for 80+80 damage.  160 falls just a bit short of OHKOing the typical Basic Pokémon-EX, but with the right support a deck can clear that threshold.  It just isn’t as simple as “use Muscle Band” because you really want to use Houndoom Spirit Link first.


Obviously if you want to use M Houndoom-EX, you have to use Houndoom-EX, but like I said has three other decks where it was listed as being the focus, with M Houndoom-EX being listed as something separate.  Most of these decks seem to focus on Melting Horn.  If you actually read the link I gave earlier, this is just me interpreting the results presented there in light of what I have encountered on the PTCGO or discussed on online with other players.  We have Houndoom-EX partnering Bunnelby (XY: Primal Clash 121/160) for a mill deck; the idea is that Houndoom-EX is just hard enough for the typical attacker to OHKO that you can heal it and keep milling until you win.  I didn’t think much of this when I encountered it but it might just be that I was frequently running decks that had an edge; while this deck didn’t manage to win any of the recent City Championships it managed to make the top four 12 times spread out over eight weeks, with three second place finishes among them.  All at once would have marked it as a fad, and 12 isn’t that much considering the volume of tournaments involved, but that tells you there is something there.  The other variants had much lower representation; the others were with Crawdaunt (XY: Primal Clash 92/160) like to work alongside the mill, Houndoom-EX on its own (not sure if it was focused on mill or streaming low amounts of damage) and M Houndoom-EX versions. 

If I didn’t know about the tournament results, I’d assume this was only a lead-in to M Houndoom-EX because milling two cards doesn’t seem like much and neither does scoring 50 for two, even when it includes a little Energy acceleration for your Bench.  This might be a deck I need to try.  For Limited play, it is a big, Basic Pokémon-EX; it shouldn’t be too horrible to find room for basic Fire Energy in your deck even if nothing else uses it and it has just enough HP and damage to try running it in a +39 deck (where it is the only Basic Pokémon in your 40 card Limited deck).  You even have the option of attacking and setting something else up or trying to mill an already likely small deck into oblivion. 


Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Summary: I still find it a bit surprising Houndoom-EX has become the focus of a deck, but I am starting to understand why.  It isn’t the best mill card we currently have… or is it?  The choice between something worth two Prizes but somewhat difficult to OHKO versus something (Bunnelby) that discards just as much for the same amount of Energy but that still gets OHKO if the opponent can get off an attack might leave the two as equals.  In Expanded there is more competition (in general) and more issues with using a Houndoom-EX deck (Water Weakness is worse here) and its variants (so is Fighting Weakness).

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