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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Empoleon BREAK - PR-XY134
Date Reviewed:  July 25, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary
Standard: 2.25     Expanded: 2.50    Limited: Promo
Back to the main COTD Page



Welcome to a week where we take a break.  In fact, we’ll be looking at four different BREAK Evolutions.  Plus one day really will be a day off. ;) 

First up is Empoleon BREAK (XY: Black Star Promos XY134).  As a Water Type it hits Weakness against nearly all Fire Types and a some Fighting Types, but only has to deal with Water Resistance on most BW-era Grass Types.  There are some anti-Water Type effects, but I’d probably only worry about running into Parallel City… and not for its anti-Water effect.  The Water Type has some very good and at least some of it will be a real help.  As a BREAK Evolution, Empoleon BREAK only has to worry about general Evolution support (and counters); I can recall no BREAK Evolution specific effects.  As Empoleon is a Stage 2, that means Empoleon BREAK will act like the non-existent “Stage 3”, which means a lot of time and cards to get it to the field, even with shortcuts.  It also means that its HP is 170, 10 higher than any current Stage 2 and on par with a Basic Pokémon-EX.  Less impressive due to the difference in resource commitment, but still good as you’ll often be able to take a hit (nothing is OHKO proof so don’t take that as faint praise).  Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost will come from whichever Empoleon you use, as will any added effects, so we’ll just cover the attack on Empoleon BREAK, called “Emperor’s Command”.  For [WC] it does 30 damage times the number of Pokémon your opponent has in play, giving a range of 30 to 180 (or 240 with Sky Field).  Good but not great.  Similar attacks, like the one on Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) work well because it costs [CC] so you can easily power it up in a single turn.  All in all though Empoleon BREAK has potential. 

So to get Empoleon BREAK into play, we need to use Empoleon.  We could put Empoleon into play directly via Archie’s Ace in the Hole but we can also Evolve from Prinplup or directly from Piplup via Rare Candy.  It is also possible a deck might try both, getting out one Empoleon ASAP via the Supporter and then Evolving some of the others normally or with Rare Candy.  So as is my way we’ll look at Piplup, Prinplup and Empoleon.  For Piplup we have BW: Dark Explorers 27/108, BW: Legendary Treasures 33/113, BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25, and XY: BREAKthrough 36/162 (reprinted as XY Trainer Kit: Suicune Half Deck 16/30).  BW: Dark Explorers 28/108, BW: Legendary Treasures 34/113, and XY: BREAKthrough 37/162.  Finally we’ve got the following Empoleon: BW: Dark Explorers 29/108 (reprinted as BW: Plasma Freeze 117/116), BW: Black Star Promos BW56, BW: Legendary Treasures 35/113, and XY: BREAKthrough 38/162.  All of these are Water Type Pokémon with no Resistance or Ancient Trait.  Everything but Piplup (XY: BREAKthrough 36/162), Prinplup (XY: BREAKthrough 37/162), and Empoleon (XY: BREAKthrough 38/162) are Expanded only with Lightning Weakness; those three are all Grass Weak and legal in either Expanded or Standard. 

All Piplup has 60 HP with Retreat Cost [C] and no Ability.  BW: Dark Explorers 27/108 has the attack “Fury Attack” for [W] to flip three coins good for 10 damage per “heads”.  It was reviewed here for… um… reasons?  BW: Legendary Treasures 33/113 has “Water Splash” for [WC] to do 10 plus flip a coin; if “heads” the attack does +20 damage (or 30 total).  BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 is the only version with two attacks; first is “Charm” for [C] which reduces the damage Piplup takes by 20 from attacks by the Defending Pokémon during your opponent’s next turn, while the second is “Peck” for [WC] to hit for a flat 20.  XY: BREAKthrough 36/162 has “Wave Splash” to do a vanilla 30 damage for [WC].  In Standard you have no choice, but in Expanded I would go with BW: Legendary Treasures RC6/RC25 as if you are attacking with Piplup you probably could use something that could (ever-so-slightly) improve your odds of survival.  Unless you expect significantly more Lightning than Grass attackers, in which case stick with XY: BREAKthrough 36/162. 

All versions of our Stage 1 form Prinplup lack Abilities.  BW: Dark Explorers 28/108 has 80 HP, Retreat Cost [CC], and two attacks: the first is “Razor Wing” for [C] to do 20 while the second is a bigger version of Fury Attack,  still flipping three coins but this time requiring [WCC] and doing 30 per “heads”.  BW: Legendary Treasures 34/113 has 90 HP, Retreat Cost [CC] again, but only one attack, recycling Wave Splash but this time it costs [WC] and does 20 with an extra 30 on a coin flip.  XY: BREAKthrough 37/162 has 80 HP but Retreat Cost [C] for a change, and the attack “Ice Beam” for [WC] to do 30 and (on a coin flip) inflict Paralysis.  In Expanded decide whether 90 HP or Retreat Cost [C] is more important and whether Grass or Lightning Weakness is a bigger liability.  If you think you’ll be able to meet the Energy costs often enough to matter, Ice Beam seems much better than Wave Splash; you’re still attacking out of desperation and a chance your opponent can’t attack might buy you the time you need.  If Item lock wasn’t a real concern I’d advise Rare Candy alone, but instead you’ll probably need to run both. 

At last we come to the Stage 2 Empoleon, all of which have 140 HP, Retreat Cost [CC], and either two attacks or an Ability and one attack.  BW: Dark Explorers 29/108 goes with the latter, having “Diving Draw” (an Ability) and “Attack Command” (…an attack).  Diving Draw lets you discard a card from hand to draw two from your deck once per turn; not a lot on its own but handy, and in multiples phenomenal.  Attack Command requires [W] and does 10 damage times the total number of Pokémon in play; even if your opponent can run without a Bench your own side of the field provides 10 to 60 damage (together you can reach up to 160 with Sky Field and two full Benches).  It was reviewed here four years but opinions were mixed; this ended up being one of the Stage 2 Pokémon that were sometimes a strong deck in the format and other times not.  Archie’s Ace in the Hole gave it some new life (like many other Stage 2 Water Types with Abilities) but I don’t recall seeing it as much recently.  Still it’s a good card, just crowded out of competitive play or perhaps just waiting to make a comeback.  No really; it has done that before though admittedly it required a dramatic change (release of Archie’s Ace in the Hole) to do it. 

BW: Black Star Promos BW56 has two attacks.  The first is Fury Attack yet again and is a blend of the previous two (but in a positive way): the [W] Energy cost of the Piplup version with the 30 damage per heads of the Prinplup version.  Which still only makes for an okay attack.  “Cold Crush” requires [WCC] to do 70 damage, and gives you the option to discard an Energy from Empoleon itself to discard an Energy from your opponent’s Active.  Also an okay attack, but there are easier ways to discard Energy (even on attackers), so it too is merely “okay” and that does not cut it for a Stage 2.  This one never got reviewed though we’ve certainly looked at less interesting or useful cards.  BW: Legendary Treasures 35/113 is the second Empoleon with two attacks and this time it’s “Surf” and “Emperor’s Strike”.  For [WC] Surf does 50 while for [WWC] Emperor's Strike does 70, with another 60 if the Defending Pokémon has more HP than Empoleon itself.  In the review for it here Baby Mario nailed the big flaw with the card; even if you could get it up and running without having a setup that would serve you better with a different main attacker, it is way too easy for Surf to drop something to below where Emperor’s Strike would gain its bonus damage, but be far from scoring a 2HKO.  Finally we have XY: BREAKthrough 38/162 with its Ability “Dignified Fighter” and attack Hydrosplash.  The Ability is a form of Basic support, as it ups their damage by 20 when they hit the opponent’s Active and yes, it stacks.  So why don’t we see it everywhere?  Well it’s on a Stage 2 and even with Archie’s Ace in the Hole that is asking a lot.  The attack has a solid damage return as this time it’s 70 for [WC], but if you’re shortcutting it in play you can’t afford to power it up manually and there isn’t a good Energy acceleration option in this case.  We looked at this one here and while it took 7th place in our Top 10 list for XY: BREAKthrough and it didn’t live up to expectations.  Oops. 

So which Empoleon to use with Empoleon BREAK?  Well the real answer is the depressing (and far too common) one: Empoleon BREAK probably isn’t worth using.  Why?  Well I think you’ll need to build your deck around an Empoleon because if you’re just slipping a few Empoleon into a deck, you probably won’t have room.  Unlike when you’ve got the BREAK Evolution of a Basic, you’re not dodging any worthwhile Stage counters; Empoleon can already attack Jolteon-EX through the protection offered by its “Flash Ray” attack (for example).  So what about a deck built around Empoleon?  I haven’t seen one do well recently but yes, then a copy is worth it just in case.  You can almost count on Emperor’s Command to get a solid hit, just because I don’t expect a lot of opponent’s to drop their Bench low enough to render the damage worthless.  Most decks won’t fill their Benches either though; it would mostly be there for when your Empoleon is staring down M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108, XY: Roaring Skies 105/108) or other attackers that want to keep a big Bench and are beefy.  I would look towards Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108) or Empoleon (XY: BREAKthrough 38/162) to be the Empoleon worth using, but I’ve got no good suggestions beyond that.  This wasn’t released in a way that you should be able to use it for Limited play, but if it was and was in a set that gave you a way to get it into play, it would be worth running with a substantial enough Evolution line, but not something upon which you would rely. 


Standard: 2.25/5 

Expanded: 2.5/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: I was very excited about Empoleon BREAK because I misread its attack; instead of your opponent’s Pokémon I thought it counted all Pokémon in play.  Still its attack isn’t bad, it just isn’t enough to justify so much investment (regardless of however you get Empoleon BREAK into play).  Now if something changes to make an existing Empoleon good or a new one that was a winner was released, then it would prove better (but still not something to run heavily).  Greninja BREAK this isn’t.

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