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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Ninetales EX

- XY BREAKpoint

Date Reviewed:
May 2, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.90
Expanded: 1.83
Limited: 3.67

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

Back to the main COTD Page


And now we're back to this week's picks with a mix of BREAKpoint and Generations before we finally address the big elephant in the room, Fates Collide! Looking at the cards...I just realized how crazy powerful some of these decks are gonna be. But let's not focus on that, let's talk about Ninetales-EX!

Honestly, I'm happy to see my bud Ninetales get the EX treatment! He's a cool guy with lots of potential, and while it wouldn't be likely, I think he'd make for a great Mega Evo some day. I'm sure GameFreak could be inspired by the more grandiose design of kyubis, but that's really talk for another time. For now, let's just take a closer look at Ninetales' EX debut and see if it's any good! 

Flare Bonus starts off our look at Ninetales-EX, and while it doesn't do any damage, it does provide a nice benefit. By discarding a Fire Energy, you get to draw 3 cards off of this, which is pretty neat in and of itself. Effectively, this is a +2 in terms of card advantage, and that could easily set you up for later combos while your opponent is still working to get things together, provided of course that you go second with Ninetales-EX as your starter. 

What you'd eventually be leading up to would be his Fire Blast attack, which is a hefty 4-for-130 blast that has a 50/50 chance of making you discard an Energy. Course, that chancy 50-50 means nothing if you've got Burning Energy attached to discard, since Burning Energy will just come right back on, making Ninetales-EX a pretty decent target for it. Keep in mind though that Burning Energy can't be discarded by Ninetales-EX's Flare Bonus, though even if it could based on the wording of its effect, you wouldn't be able to just attach it to Ninetales-EX again. 

So what all does this mean? Well, Ninetales-EX does have a neat little set-up going, and on his own he's a pretty decent attacker if not slow. With only 170 HP, he is a little on the lighter end of EX's, but it shouldn't mean he's going to outright lose all of it in one go if you leave him out for too long. That being said, it would take at least 4 turns of manually attaching Energy to Ninetales-EX for him to be able to attack, and that's not including any Fire Energy you're tossing out for Flare Bonus. Course, that can be circumvented with things like Energy Retrieval and Fisherman. 

Overall, he's a good EX. Not a great one, but a good one. I'd say he's a solid pick for your first EX! 


Standard: 3/5 (the draw power Flare Bonus gives is pretty nice, though without a means of recovering the Energy it can only go so far) 

Expanded: 3/5 (but Fire Blast is on the expensive side to be competitive without some form of acceleration, which only really exists for Fire-types with Emboar)

Limited: 4/5 (still, the draw power is good, and the attack can 2HKO anything once you've set up) 

Arora Notealus: Ninetales is such a beautiful Pokemon too. I mean you start out with little red Vulpix, and then you give him a Fire Stone and then BOOM!! Yellow-white fox with nine tails! And he's just fabulous too~ 

Next Time: Let's keep that heat flaring, cause I'm feeling the burn now!!


So close to the new set but not quite!  To make the wait a little more bearable, I saved back cards that looked like they had some substance or potential for this week.  Plus today’s card because I messed up the scheduling and was lucky to work in in here.  That is the kind of quality you get from a volunteer amateur professional. ;) 

First up is Ninetales-EX (Generations 13/83).  As is my custom, we’ll start with what you can tell at a distance thanks to coloration; it’s a Fire-Type.  Most Grass Types and nearly all Metal Types are Fire Weak, and have at least some representation in the competitive sphere.  Nothing is Fire Resistant unless we are discussing Unlimited (and we aren’t going to worry about Unlimited).  There are some anti-Fire effects, but they aren’t overly impressive.  The one you’re likely to encounter is almost an accident; Parallel City sees play because of its effect that reduces a player’s maximum Bench size down to three.  It has a second effect that applies to the opposite player, and that effect reduces the damage done by Grass, Fire, and Water Types by 20, so if your opponent can handle a 3 Pokémon Bench he or she can ding your damage output.  The Fire Type has one key piece of support in the form of Blacksmith.  When that Supporter first released it was a bit underwhelming but Battle Compressor and VS Seeker have made a huge difference.  It is the only really important piece of strict Type support worth using in most Fire decks, though Scorched Earth has had a good showing. 

Ninetales-EX is a Basic Pokémon, one of the few guaranteed benefits of being a Pokémon-EX (Mega Evolutions excluded, of course).  Normally Ninetales are Stage 1 Pokémon in the TCG, but being a Basic makes it less resource intensive, faster, allows it to be your opening Pokémon, and causes some card effects to favor it even though said effects don’t specify a Stage.  For example, Super Scoop Up can bounce a Basic and play it back down again, while an Evolution has to use Evolution acceleration or have another copy of the lower Stage waiting to Evolve to hit the field again.  There are some anti-Basic effects but even the best of them aren’t leveling the playing field, and so far all Pokémon Stages have some form of additional support available and specific to them, except for BREAK Evolutions.  As for being a Pokémon-EX, it has the promise of providing better attributes and effects, but not every Pokémon-EX gets both, and some barely get one; while Pokémon-EX have shaped (and often dominated) the format it is due to the best of them, not all of them.  Some get an HP bonus and some mediocre attacks and nothing else but the three drawbacks which are guaranteed unless the card itself includes a work around: giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, being the target of certain counters, and being unable to access certain pieces of support.

Ninetales-EX does get a strong HP boost, as recent versions of Ninetales (the non-Pokémon-EX variety) only have 90 HP, but being a Pokémon-EX nearly doubles that, as it clocks in at 170 HP.  This is the lower of the two typical Basic Pokémon-EX scores but still enough to often survive a hit.  The Water Weakness can be a pain: on one hand you have some decks that are focused on Water Types and this ensures they score OHKOs, on the other hand you’ve got Pokémon like Seismitoad-EX which normally has only one thing going against it, its relatively low damage.  That damage being doubled seems fairly important.  The lack of Resistance is typical and at least the card doesn’t have any effects that blatantly would benefit from even the small, rarely relevant boost that Resistance actually would have given the card.  The Retreat Cost of [C] is nice and affordable, both when you pay it and when you try to recover from having paid it.  So what about the effects? 

Ninetales-EX has two attacks, “Flare Bonus” and “Fire Blast”, both of which are recycled from past cards; I suppose that is somewhat appropriate given that this is a card from Generations.  Flare Bonus requires [R] to use as well as a Fire Energy in hand to discard as part of the effect; if you do discard said Energy you get to draw three cards.  It doesn’t specify basic Fire Energy, but that is the only card that currently provides [R] while in the hand.  The attack does no damage, which is unfortunate.  It wouldn’t be great even if it did, but it would be better lead in to the next attack.  At least it can help set up for a Blacksmith, though Fire decks aren’t hurting for ways to discard basic Fire Energy; if you’re stuck without access to another attack it can be a little help, just far from optimal.  Ninetales-EX can also use Fire Blast for [RCCC] to do 130 damage; the attack also requires you flip a coin and if it’s “tails” you discard an [R] Energy from Ninetales-EX itself.  This isn’t a bad deal, it just isn’t a good one either; it’s mediocre, nearly enough to have created a niche for Ninetales-EX.  While 130-for-four could be good elsewhere, here there are just better options for decks.

If a deck wants a big, Basic, Fire Type attacker and can afford multiple Fire Energy attachments, there is a waiting line made up of near misses or cards that have had some success (sometimes from years ago).  Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY121) seems to have set the standard for decks focused on the Fire Type; at a cost of [RRCC] its “Combustion Blast” does 150 damage, but can’t be used again the next turn unless you can send it to the Bench then promote it back to the Active slot (this resets the attack effect).  It also has had some success in competitive play, both when it first released but more recently backing up Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 15/98).  Said Entei can do 130 for [RRCC] through its “Heat Tackle” attack, with the drawback of doing 30 damage to itself should you flip “tails” on the required coin toss.  Its “Θ Double” Ancient Trait means that can still hit key KOs after buffs, just like the Combustion Blast on Charizard-EX.  This deck quickly flared in popularity but has already cooled off, with only one fourth place showing in the Masters Division of the recent State Championships series.  Ninetales-EX can’t compete with this in terms of damage or effects. 

What about splashed into an off Type deck?  If the deck can accelerate a lot of non-[R] Energy but also includes a source of [R] Energy, you create a niché where the mostly Colorless Energy requirements are more useful than even the half Colorless Energy requirements found on the Fire Types that have proven worthwhile.  For example, Fairy Transfer decks built around Aromatisse (XY 93/146) that include Prism Energy, Rainbow Energy, etc. might have some trouble meeting a [RRCC] requirement but not an [RCCC] one.  A Fire Type attacker also be splashed in to exploit Weakness, so 130 should still suffice.  Except Ninetales-EX requires you discard an [R] Energy from hand or from itself for each of its attacks; you do not want to be discarding things like Rainbow Energy if you can avoid it.  Yet another Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 11/106, 100/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY29) has its own Fire Blast attack that also costs [RCCC] and has a required discard cost, but allows you to discard any Energy (like whatever is more abundant in the deck).  It does 10 less damage but if you’re exploiting Weakness you shouldn’t need the increased damage, and this Charizard-EX has 180 HP. 

So Ninetales-EX is going to whiff on Standard and Expanded play.  Generations isn’t following the normal release guidelines; if there were Pre-Releases for it I missed them and it’ll probably take some effort to arrange even for an unofficial event.  On the off chance you can manage it, Ninetales-EX is a good pull but is a bit weak for the +39 trick, where you run your 40 card Limited deck with only a single Basic Pokémon (ensuring you open with it).  There isn’t a trick to accelerate Energy to an Active Ninetales-EX in this set, so it will take four turns before you can start using Fire Blast.  Your opponent will be able to attack you up to three times before you can start scoring KOs; with only four Prizes that means even if every Fire Blast is a OHKO your opponent will get in up to six attacks.  An average of 30 damage per attack will be enough to score a KO before you can seal the deal, though if you’re feeling daring you can still try it.  In a more fleshed out deck, as long as you have room for basic Fire Energy you can benefit from both attacks, and draw power is a precious thing in Limited. 


Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.5/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Ninetales-EX has decent attributes, but Flare Bonus is a poor and Fire Blast at mediocre.  Though at a glance it looks like this might be decent for splashing into a few decks, Ninetales-EX can’t actually get by on a low [R] Energy count as it needs them for discard costs.  This isn’t something to stress about getting, though if you insist on using it, at least it isn’t blatantly overpriced and underpowered.

The Pokémon-EX from Generations are pretty hit or miss. The only highly competitive one is Jolteon-EX, with some of rest being alright but most of them are filler. Ninetales-EX unfortunately falls into the "filler" category. Its first attack is a small homage to the Ninetales from Heartgold & Soulsilver, where you discard a Fire Energy and draw 3 cards. However that Ninetales did it as a Poké-Power, whereas Ninetales-EX has to attack to draw 3 cards. In a format with Scorched Earth, this isn't useful. The second attack does 130 damage for [RCCC], and then you flip a coin; if tails, you discard a [R]Energy attached to Ninetales-EX. This is fairly lackluster: you can use Entei (Ancient Origins 15/98) to do almost the same thing on a non-EX. If it did more damage before buffs (like 150) it could replace or join Charizard-EX in the Entei/Charizard-EX, but since it only does 130 damage, it ends up outclassed by most Fire-types in any format except Limited. There the average pool of Generations cards means Ninetales-EX can both provide draw and be a decent attacker.

Standard: 1/5
Expanded: 1/5
Limited: 3/5

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