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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


#7 - Marowack

- Fate Collide

Date Reviewed:
May 12, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.63
Expanded: 3.63
Limited: See Below

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Marowak? MAROWAK?! Marowak made it onto the Top 10 List?! 

...no, I'm not actually mad, I'm just happy to see him on board! 

Truth be told, Marowak has a lot of benefits too, similarly to Barbaracle from yesterday. Again, he's that Stage 1 100 HP Pokemon that has an okay attack in Bonemerang - 2 Energy for a chance to hit 0, 60, or 120 damage? Yeah, no thanks - and yet stands out majestically for his pros, once again starting out with a unique Ability. This time, it's Bodyguard! 

What does it do? Well, Marowak shields you, the player, from any sorts of effects from your opponent's Pokemon's attacks. That's not too bad-oh wait a sec, does it also protect your HAND as well? Umm, yeah, that's what he does! Well well, not too shabby eh? But wait, what does all that even mean? What is Marowak Bodyguarding against? It's not like this is Magic and you're getting poison counters or anything! You don't have Life Points like in Yugioh! So what gives? 

Well, there are some attacks that are specifically targeted towards the player and the player's hand. Maybe you've heard of Seismitoad-EX? And his Quaking Punch that prevents the player from using Item cards in their next turn? Or how about Giratina-EX's Chaos Wheel, which keeps them from using Tools, Special Energy, or Stadium cards? Yes, there are attacks that affect the player in Pokemon, and yes, these are probably some of the most dominant effects in the game. Not only that, but Bodyguard can also block against discarding attacks - I don't recall too many off the top of my head, but I believe Absol-EX has something to that effect. 

So while Marowak won't be blocking stuff like Barbaracle's Ability, he still has some prime uses. And just like Barbaracle, he has access to Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, which means he can be played in anything and used as a tech set-up. But similarly to yesterday's card, perhaps it's just me but he seems a fair bit niche in his usage to really appeal in the long run. No doubt he'll play an important role for as long as Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX haunt the format, but don't expect that he'll be the highlight of every deck. 

...course, I could just be full of it and not even know it! 


Standard: 3.5/5 (once again, a relevant enough Ability puts a Stage 1 onto our Top 10 list!) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (I mean, there's no doubt he'll see the play you'd expect from him) 

Limited: 2/5 (buuuuut let's not go overboard with it, okay?) 

Arora Notealus: Honestly, I like Marowak a lot. Sure, there's a lot of grim questions to ask ourselves, but when you can give your Pokemon a nickname like, "Marrownin," I think there's a lot to be said for the design choices that led to such a thing. 

Next Time: A legend returns...but not quite the way you'd expect.


Our seventh place finisher is Marowak (XY: Fates Collide 37/124).  This is a Fighting Type, which means it has a lot potentially going for it.  When it comes to Fighting Weakness there are three Types (Colorless, Darkness, and Lightning) that have it, with it being a significant portion of Colorless and on nearly all of the latter two Types.  Fighting Resistance is the most abundant last I checked, though no Resistance is still far more common and Psychic Resistance is such a close second that - as my search couldn’t take into account reprints or what is actually competitive - it should be pretty easy for them to swap positions in Expanded.  The Reason Fighting Resistance is so common is that the video game “Flying Type” is represented as part of the Colorless Type in the TCG, and when a Pokémon is part Flying in the video games its TCG self often gets to keep that Resistance.  For all this talk though Resistance is usually a stumbling block but not a hurdle; remember to adjust for it and you’ll usually be fine.  Weakness on the other hand is a fantastic boon as doubling damage can make a mediocre attack into a killer.  The Fighting Type does face some Type specific counters but like most such cards, they are worth noting but not discussing in detail because they just aren’t that good or commonly played.  Fighting Type support is great as you’ve got two Stadium cards (Fighting Stadium and Scorched Earth), two Supporters (Korrina and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick), a Pokémon Tool (Focus Band), a Special Energy (Strong Energy) and several strong attackers that technically work off Type but work best with their native support.  Did I mention the new Regirock-EX (XY: Fates Collide 43/124). 

Marowak is a Stage 1; the turn delay and extra card required make this Stage noticeably less effective than being a Basic, but also noticeably better than all the others.  Stage 1 Pokémon have been able to function as the main attacker, Bench sitter, and sometimes even secondary attacker or Bench sitter in both recent and less recent successful, competitive decks.  You can use Wally to get it into play without waiting a turn at the cost of your Supporter or Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick just as fast while trading away needing a Cubone for more restrictive usage requirements, but we’ll have to see how this pans out to know if either are worth it.  Marowak has 100 HP, which means most of the time it’s going down in one hit; if an opponent has a lackluster set-up or using attacks that aren’t meant to hit the opponent’s Active hard in the first place, it can survive, but otherwise it’s OHKO territory.  Grass Types especially will have an easier time and while normally with 100 HP it wouldn’t make much of a difference, at least in Expanded I can name an important setup attack (Emerald Slash) that does 50 damage exactly (plus attached up to two [G] Energy from deck) that isn’t the only reason people use Virizion-EX, but is important to key decks (like VirGen).  Marowak lacks Resistance, which might have helped in edge cases but isn’t critical so moving on, we have the Retreat Cost of [CC]: low enough you can probably pay it if you must, but high enough you would prefer not to give up that much Energy. 

Marowak has an Ability and an attack.  The Ability is “Bodyguard” which actually does protect a part of the body: your hand!  Apparently people with my sense of humor get to name these things.  Bodyguard prevents effects of your opponent’s attacks done to you or your hand as well as canceling out any existing ones, which is a pretty specific role.  If you’re not new to the game, this is an almost straight up counter to two attacks that have been doing reasonably well since the cards featuring them released: “Quaking Punch” on Seismitoad-EX and “Chaos Wheel” on Giratina-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 93/98).  Since a Card of the Day is most likely to help new players, I’ll state what even slightly experienced players ought to know by heart: Quaking Punch does a paltry 30 damage but also blocks the opposing player from using Items during his or her next turn for a cost of [CC] while Chaos Wheel needs [GPCC] to do 100 damage while locking the opponent out of playing Stadium cards, Special Energy cards, or Pokémon Tools from hand during his or her next turn.  You expect Quaking Punch to be powered up in a single turn but the collective player base realized pretty quick the same went for Chaos Wheel in decks focused upon it (except perhaps when teamed up with Seismitoad-EX, where it still only took two turns thanks to Double Colorless Energy and Double Dragon Energy). 

So Bodyguard is in an odd place; attacks that place an effect on your hand (as opposed to your Pokémon in play) aren’t all that common, but those two I just named are powerful and at times have been the dominant force of the metagame.  Even when they haven’t been as important, they remain significant and predictions of their demise as a factor in competitive play have always been premature and greatly exaggerated.  Bodyguard alone is enough to strongly consider Marowak in any deck where you can work it in but what about the attack?  “Bonemerang” is an iconic attack for Cubone and Marowak cards, with this version requiring [FC] to flip two coins; each “heads” is worth 60 damage while “tails” are worth zero.  Four possible outcomes in coin flip results (heads/heads, heads/tails, tails/heads, tails/tails) but only three for damage: 0, 60, or 120.  60 damage average isn’t bad for two Energy, it just isn’t good either, and while 120 for two is, it isn’t so good as to be worth the risk of whiffing on damage entirely, especially with the split looking like 25%/50%/25% for 0/60/120.  I wouldn’t even have spent this much time on a vanilla, filler attack but besides Bodyguard requiring so much discussion that we spilled over into a second paragraph that then needed filling out, we’ll get to a related card that means the attack has a little more significance. 

We only have two Cubone to pick from: BW: Dragons Exalted 60/124 and XY: BREAKthrough 77/162.  Both are Basic Fighting Type Pokémon with 70 HP, no Ancient Trait and no Ability.  BW: Dragons Exalted 60/124 is only legal for Expanded play, has Water Weakness, Lightning Resistance, Retreat Cost [C] and two attacks: “Headbutt” for [F] to do 10 damage and “Beat” for [CC] to do 20.  XY: BREAKthrough 77/162 has Grass Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC] and a single attack (Whimsy Tackle) that does 50 damage for [FC] but requires a coin flip (“tails” fails).  As usual neither is great, though BW: Dragons Exalted 60/124 seems to be the better of the two except remember how one of the main threats today’s Marowak counters is Seismitoad-EX.  When you’re countering a Water Type that has horrible damage output, you probably don’t want the Basic from which you Evolve to sport damage doubling Weakness.  If Marowak is the kind of Bench-sitter you don’t play down unless you know you need it, then XY: BREAKthrough 77/162 becomes the obvious choice.  Running a split of the two if you are uncertain (like myself) about the actual state of your metagame is thus my recommendation. 

You have two other Marowak to either compete with or compliment XY: Fates Collide 37/124: BW: Dragons Exalted 61 and XY: BREAKthrough 78/162.  Both are Stage 1 Fighting Type Pokémon with 100 HP, no Ancient Trait, no Abilities, and two attacks.  BW: Dragons Exalted 61 is only an option in Expanded play; it has Water Weakness, Lightning Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [C], the attack “Bone Lock” for [F] (30 damage and the Defending Pokémon can’t retreat during your opponent’s next turn), and attack “Vortex Chop” for [FCC] (60 damage, plus 30 if the opponent’s Active has any kind of Resistance).  XY: BREAKthrough 78/162 has Grass Weakness, no Resistance, a Retreat Cost of [CC], the attack “Sharp Shooting” for [F] (30 damage to the opponent’s Pokémon of your choice), and the attack “Bone Windmill” for [FC] (60 damage, if the opponent’s Active is a Pokémon-EX, you switch this attacker with something on your Bench).  There is also Marowak BREAK (XY: BREAKthrough 79/162), the BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1 that is a Fighting Type with 140 HP and the attack “Bone Revenge” for [FC] (does 20 damage plus 40 more for each Prize card your opponent has taken).  Marowak BREAK received a past review here.  We haven’t heard much from Marowak (XY: BREAKthrough  79/162) and/or Marowak BREAK in terms of competitive play recently, though it had a few strong finishes but for the 2015-2016 City Championship series it looks like a deck starring the two managed three Top 8 finishes in the Masters Division. 

So what does that mean for Marowak (XY: Fates Collide 37/124)?  It may end up reinvigorating that deck, which used the many damage boosting tricks found on Fighting Types coupled with a few useful “blockers” (Robo Substitute or Pokémon that are difficult to damage) to employ the hit-and-run tactics that are still strong even in a format with Lysandre to counter the strategy.  A few other things have changed since late last year/early this year, and must once again leave you hanging as I am uncertain if this approach just needs that favorable matchup against attacks that affect your hand or not.  More likely is just working in a 1-1 or 2-2 Marowak into a deck with the space or (as so few decks have said space) that is great except for its terrible matchup against things like Seismitoad-EX.  Then there is the third and perhaps most likely use, and that comes because of cards like Archeops (BW: Noble Victories 67/101; BW: Dark Explorers 110/108) and Gallade (XY: BREAKthrough 84/162).  How?  These cards either currently or during earlier this format have seen competitive success worked into decks without their lower Stages thanks to Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick.  So instead of trying to rebuild a deck and add in the resources needed to pull off a reliable Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick or including (and Evolving) from Cubone, you just add in a TecH copy of Marowak (XY: Fates Collide 37/124).  Just one card difference from the current list.  Just don’t forget that since Bodyguard is an Ability, your counter can be countered by things like a Hex Maniac. 

What about Limited play?  XY: Fates Collide doesn’t have a Cubone or alternate means of playing Marowak, so unless you’re using multiple sets it isn’t an option.  At recent Pre-Releases this card was a dead pull.  Now Limited play includes some official rules for things like using multiple sets in one go, they just aren’t used often because the main Limited tournament is the Pre-Release.  So if you do blend Marowak in with a set that contains a Cubone, it becomes a decent but not great pull.  You can’t splash it into just any deck because it required a source of [F] to attack and while said attack is more impressive in Limited play than in Standard or Expanded, it still isn’t great.  The Ability will rarely matter. 


Standard: 3.75/5 

Expanded: 3.75/5 

Limited: N/A or 3.25/5 (see previous paragraph) 

Summary: Marowak releases well after it would have been a deck staple, but in enough time to still have a significant presence.  Thanks to Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and there being sufficient decks that affect your hand (there is a little more than just Quaking Punch and Chaos Wheel), it is something most decks wish they had room for but don’t.  Decks that really need it (like those the aforementioned attacks cripple) will have to make room for a 1-1 or 2-2 line, or a slot (maybe even two) if they already can handle Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick.  Bodyguard is in a rather dynamic position, as several other facets of the game could make it more or less important.  If it works a little too well, we might get a cycle of hand effects diminishing, then Marowak diminishing, then hand effects escalating, then Marowak escalating, etc. 

Marowak is an interesting contrast to yesterday’s pick Barbaracle (XY: Fates Collide 23/124).  Its Ability had far more general application but also was more easily countered and I can think of fewer decks that use Archie’s Ace in the Hole for a splashed in Water Type (they tend to use them for something more essential instead).  Since I didn’t state it yesterday, Barbaracle earned 18 voting points to secure its eighth place finish, beating out ninth place Delphox BREAK by only two points.  Marowak earned 23 voting points to take seventh place, so unlike our other CotDs, it wasn’t really close going this direction; Marowak missed tying for sixth place by only one voting point.  Personally, I had it as my seventh place pick, which still seems about right.


Oh boy, Marowak. This card released around 6 months ago as a Japanese gym challenge promo, and now we finally get it stateside... without a Cubone in the set to go with it, so it's useless in Limited. However, when you actually have a Cubone to use it with, Marowak is extremely useful. Its Ability, Bodyguard, prevents your hand from being affected by your opponent's attacks. This card stops Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX from locking your hand, effectively reducing their attacks to pure damage. This alone is a massive benefit against these decks, and if they can't stream Hex Maniac then they become much weaker. While the attack isn't anything to write home about, the Ability alone is enough to make Marowak a strong addition to decks that can fit it in.
I had this as my second place pick.

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