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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Fates Collide

#10 - M Alakazam EX

- Fates Collide

Date Reviewed:
May 9, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.75
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 4.38

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Welcome to the Top 10 List for Fates Collide! As always, we'll be taking a look at some of what we think were the best cards in the set - and already, we're starting with what was the top of MY list! 

Now at first, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Wow, this is the first time Alakazam has been a card in a long while!" And you're right, it's been almost 7 years since he was last seen in the game - that last time being in Rising Rivals, as a Basic Pokemon SP! And now he's back again with Alakazam-EX and, more importantly, M Alakazam-EX! 

So why was this my top pick? How is it that the big Mega of this set just barely hit the Top 10? Well, really, that should say more about the other cards on this list, but let's start with the basics. M Alakazam-EX has 210 HP, which is a little bit on the low side for a Mega-EX but ultimately not that bad. He is however weak to other Psychic-types, which in today's game means he's susceptible to the most powerful deck in the format, Night March. And that's about it for all the negatives. 

...no, seriously, that's all the negatives! 

His Retreat Cost is only at 1, meaning a simple Mystery Energy is all that's needed to get him free retreat. Heck, one Mystery Energy is all you need to access his attack, which only costs one Psychic Energy while Dimension Valley is in play! And that already makes him a MAJOR contender in the upcoming rotation! But most important of all, of course, is the attack itself: Zen Force. 

At 2-for-10, it looks pretty bleak, but as we've learned in the past, never underestimate the weak-looking attacks! Zen Force starts out small, but it can add on damage to the tune of 30 extra points for every damage counter on your opponent's Pokemon. Again, that's 30 EXTRA points for every damage counter! So that means it'll start out at only 10, but then it gets bumped up to 40, then 130, and then 400 DAMAGE!! Over the course of 4 turns, M Alakazam-EX is hitting numbers UNHEARD OF in the game! 

...well, unless you pump up things like Keldeo-EX and Mewtwo-EX to ungodly levels. 

But how does one get damage counters on all those Pokemon faster than with Zen Force? Fortunately, that's what Alakazam-EX's main aim is! He can put 3 damage counters on any of your opponent's Pokemon with Energy - which is also just enough to KO small fry like Joltik - and when he Mega Evolves into M Alakazam-EX, his Kinesis Ability can put 2 damage counters on your opponent's Active Pokemon and put down ANOTHER 3 damage counters on one of your opponent's Benched Pokemon, setting them up for 70 and 100 damage on their own! Couple this with other effects like the Crobat line-up or even Trevenant BREAK, and you've got a handy deck that's ready to decimate and keep on trucking. 

So while M Alakazam-EX may not be the absolute best Mega of all time, he's high up on my list for his access to lots of widespread damage maneuvers and a super cheap attack that can do a LOT of damage. And I mean M Tyranitar-EX levels of damage!! 

...okay, maybe not that many, but still! 

Rating 

Standard: 4/5 (he's got a lot of power going, but he's just getting released into a weird format at the moment) 

Expanded: 4/5 (with rotation set to shake things up, he might get more powerful...or less powerful, depending on the sets) 

Limited: 5/5 (there's no question though that he's going to be a powerhouse!)

Arora Notealus: Mega Alakazam is probably one of the more interesting Mega Evolutions. I mean, you go from a Psychic dual-wielding spoons to someone who looks like they've been training in the mountains for years, harnessing their mind and enduring intolerable levels of pain, suffering, and cold to strengthen themselves in ways unfathomable... 

...with more spoons. 

Next Time: We BREAK into another Evolution that...could be useful!


Otaku

Welcome as we finally start covering XY: Fates Collide, beginning with our Top 10 list for the set.  Think of these as “promising picks”; the set only released last week be legal for Standard or Expanded play until May 23 (three weeks after the official May 2, 2016 release date).  Unlike our year end review where we can look at what actually worked, here we are giving our best guesses as to what will do well.  I can’t speak for the entire review team, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of, let alone play test, these cards; I’m operating on the early reports of others and my own theoretical analysis.  What is like our year end list is each reviewer was free to pick his or her own criteria for making the list, save for the traditional “no reprints” rule.  We also had a little discussion about reviewing multiple cards at once, because in addition to the BREAK Evolutions in this set, we had a few other cards that were so closely related, it was worth at least considering officially reviewing them at the same time.  On the other hand our last few attempts at it were went poorly, so you may or may not get some two-in-one reviews this list. 

With all that said, 10th place goes to M Alakazam-EX (XY: Fates Collide 26/124, 118/124)!  This marks the return of Alakazam in any form to the TCG.  Current Psychic Type support seems to do them well, though it isn’t as much as the Types I usually praise (like Fighting).  The big payoff is going to be Dimension Valley, as it should matter for this card (more on that when we get to the card’s attack and usage).  Also of note is going to be Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32); besides being a useful card that is also a Psychic Type, its “Bide Barricade” shuts down Abilities except for Psychic Type Pokémon and while M Alakazam-EX lacks an Ability, I’m going to be explaining why it’s often going to rely on some from other Psychic Types. I  don’t recall anything that explicitly affects the Psychic Type in a negative manner, nor did a quick search turn any up.  The main branch of the Fighting and the Psychic Type are both Psychic Weak, while while Psychic Resistance is abundant as it is found on nearly all Darkness and Metal Types.  Just remember that plenty of Fighting and Psychic Types won’t be Psychic Weak while even one of the most common forms of Resistance is still far less common than a Pokémon having no Resistance at all. 

As a Mega Evolution, you get some extra bonuses and drawbacks alongside the usual for being a Pokémon-EX.  Being a Pokémon-EX means giving up an extra Prize when KOed, being the specific target of certain counters, and being unable to use a few beneficial effects.  I say this every time we look at one, but even the first of those, but if you’re online or at League you know plenty of people who seem to forget any or all of these when brainstorming around a particular Pokémon-EX.  There is an added benefit because of the specific Pokémon involved; the short version is legal problems with Kadabra means it doesn’t show up in the TCG anymore, so in addition to the Basic Pokémon Alakazam-EX not having to deal with being a Stage 2, the-powers-that-be don’t have to worry about said Kadabra issue.  M Alakazam-EX would be incredibly hard to play if (legal issues aside) you had to Evolve it from a Stage 2.  Yes the Mega Evolution rule means your turns end once you Mega Evolve, but we have Alakazam Spirit Link to get around that; Spirit Link cards make Mega Evolutions easier than Stage 2 Pokémon to manage, though a little trickier than Stage 1 Pokémon.  It also grants access to Mega Turbo and Stantler (which we won’t probably be using), but also means dealing with Faded Town placing damage counters on all Mega Evolutions in play between turns, Giratina-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 93/98) being immune to both attack damage and effects thanks to its “Renegade Pulse” Ability.  How much those two matter will depend on your local metagame. 

Being a Pokémon-EX usually means an HP boost, while being a Mega Evolution means being bigger still.  The last plain Alakazam card, DP: Mysterious Treasures 2/123 (from almost nine years ago!) only had 100 HP.  Even taking into account power creep, if we had a regular Alakazam right now I doubt it would have more than 130 HP, but M Alakazam-EX enjoys an HP score of 210.  The good news is that this makes OHKOs difficult for many decks, just as it is with most Mega Evolutions, but the bad news is that 2HKOs should be pretty reliable unless you can interfere with them.  Even 220 has a noticeably better chance of avoiding a OHKO and sometimes even a 2HKO, and that is before Weakness.  Psychic Weakness was to be expected and even if we had a radical metagame shift that meant every other Psychic Type stopped seeing play, M Alakazam-EX would still have to contend with itself.  I am not predicting such a shift so instead M Alakazam-EX will have to worry about splashed in Psychic Type attackers, Night March decks, and Trevenant BREAK decks.  No Resistance is typical so I won’t hold it against the card, but I will point out that not only might Mega Evolutions be a good place to test out giving some Types access to appropriate forms of Resistance, the only one that would apply here (Fighting) would be welcome as even if the Fighting Type often overpowers or bypasses it, with 210 HP you benefit from making them rely on such tricks.  The Retreat Cost is a nice note upon which to end the attributes; [C] is a good Retreat Cost that is easy to pay both up front and in the long term. 

M Alakazam-EX lacks an Ancient Trait, which isn’t a surprise since the mechanic seems to have been dropped after XY: Ancient Origins.  Ancient Traits are the only effect other than a single attack we have - as of yet - seen on a Mega Evolution.  So the one attack present is “Zen Force” for [PC], a nice looking price as it means Dimension Valley would drop the cost to just [P].  Zen Force does 10 damage, plus 30 more for each damage counter on the opponent’s Active Pokémon.  For a Pokémon that is neither Psychic Weak nor Resistant or other effects that block or reduce the damage being done, no damage counters still means 10 damage done, one counter means 40, two means 70, three means 100, four means 130, five means 160, six means 190, and seven means 220.  Respectively, that would mean KOs at the 10, 50, 90, 130, 170, 210, 250 HP levels.  Why did I list all of those?  While the 10 damage the attack can do against an uninjured Pokémon is bad (even for a single Energy), at least it can get the ball rolling.  The rest we see hitting some key KOs, but we have to also remember how much work is going into them.  Taking out bigger, non-Pokémon-EX Basics means a solid three damage counters have to already hit the field.  The smaller of the two common Basic Pokémon-EX cards requires four.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it has to come from somewhere.  The next amounts do start to sound like a lot, at least if you aren’t going for 2HKOs using another attacker before changing out to M Alakazam-EX.  So let’s talk strategy. 

First we’ll cover Alakazam-EX (XY: Fates Collide 25/124, 117/124, 125/124), which actually does work at being a strong lead in to M Alakazam-EX.  It is a Basic Psychic Type with 160 HP, Psychic Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], no Ancient Trait, the Ability “Kinesis”, and the attack “Suppression”.  The aspects of the card that are the same as M Alakazam-EX are as good or bad as they are for M Alakazam-EX.  160 HP is a concern for two reasons: the going rate for attacking Basic Pokémon-EX is split between those with 170 and 180 HP so those decks already score a OHKO, while others that just barely whiff on the OHKO can hit 160.  Weakness again plays a huge role; the classic Mewtwo-EX (BW: Next Destinies 54/99, 98/99; BW: Black Star Promos BW45; BW: Legendary Treasures 54/113) and the Psychic Type attackers in Night March decks can reach OHKO levels with relative ease.  Mewtwo-EX needs a little more help but it also is easy enough to fit into several decks.  The Retreat Cost being a bit higher isn’t too bad, but it does mean the deck might have to dedicate more slots to lowering Retreat Costs or bypassing manually retreating than would otherwise seem needed. 

Kinesis triggers when you go to Mega Evolve into M Alakazam-EX and places two damage counters on the opponent’s Active and three on the opponent’s Benched Pokémon of your choice.  This means 90 HP or less Pokémon become an easy KO, while 130 HP or less can be set up for an effective OHKO, by Zen ForceIt also sets up for some future combos, which I’ll get to after covering Suppression.  Suppression has the same [PC] cost as Zen Force and places three damage counters on any and all of your opponent’s Pokémon with an Energy attached.  More than one Energy attached to a particular opponent’s Pokémon still means only three damage counters are attached, and most decks won’t have Energy on multiple in play Pokémon until they’ve got at least a partial setup.  A few decks will rarely have Energy attached to something on the Bench, and some decks that would can cut back once they realize that they are up against Alakazam-EX.  Suppression isn’t bad, but it isn’t likely to do a lot of good without a lot of additional combo pieces we won’t be discussion and which still can’t ensure it does a lot of spread.  It isn’t worthless for leading into a Zen Force the next turn, but I wouldn’t want to leave it up front and Active in order to try. 

Sticking to the M Alakazam-EX line, we’ve got a solid but not yet competitive combo; effects that reduce damage, block damage counter placement, or heal can really throw off reliable 2HKOs which may not have been enough to prove competitive anyway.  The suggestion I’ve seen most is using the Abilities on Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) and Golbat (XY: Phantom Forces 32/119; Generations 31/83) to place the damage counters you need to score the OHKOs.  Crobat backed decks were made famous by Landorus-EX but presently, while they still exist they are no longer the powerhouse they once were… unless you’re facing something like Night March, where you’re probably better off sticking to just the Crobat and ignoring your M Alakazam-EX line, or at least saving it until you don’t have to worry about the unfavorable Prize exchange rate.  Lest that sound like a major coup, my point is that whatever other Crobat deck you’d be using to try and mess up Night March is probably a better call than M Alakazam-EX.  Using cards like AZ, Devolution Spray, and Super Scoop Up you can spam the Evolution triggered Abilities like mad, but we are adding a lot of moving pieces in order to try and get the needed damage counters in play to capitalize upon Zen Force. 

So what would I do?  Well, if I decide to give M Alakazam-EX a chance I probably will try the Crobat version, but I’m thinking there has to be better options.  Looking at attacks, there are quite a few Pokémon skilled at spreading damage or damage counters.  Maybe the M Alakazam-EX line should be backing up Trevenant BREAK, providing a few extra damage counters as they Mega Evolve, then popping up front to take the last OHKO needed to win.  I am most inclined to try going the opposite direction of adding lots of extra Pokémon: Kinesis provides three damage counters on a Benched target and two to the Active, so what if we use Absol (XY: Roaring Skies 40/108)?  Its “Cursed Eyes” Ability moves exactly three damage counters from one of your opponent’s Pokémon to another.  That means Evolving Alakazam-EX into M Alakazam-EX followed by Benching an Absol can get five damage counters on the opponent’s Active Pokémon, so that Zen Force hits for 160 damage before Weakness, Resistance, and effects, which effectively OHKOs up to a 210 HP Pokémon.  This leaves you room for the many bounce effects you’ll need to spam these things plus other cards to assist in setup and maintenance.  Sounds fun and effective, though you may need to consider some supporting attacker(s) because of the various protective effects, as well as certain cases of Type matching. 

So that covers Standard and Expanded.  What about Limited?  Take this with more than a grain of salt because not only has it been years since I’ve been able to make a Pre-Release, this is the set where the new rules go into effect.  I am guessing that it will be difficult to pull both Alakazam-EX and M Alakazam-EX, and a little more luck also get Alakazam Spirit Link as well.  If you manage all three, do not attempt to run Alakazam-EX as your only Basic; besides the fact your Evolution pack should have the decent beginnings of a deck in it, the M Alakazam-EX line should be terrible on its own.  Your opponent by all rights should be able to take out M Alakazam-EX before you take four Prizes, even with its 210 HP, because Suppression and Zen Force can’t hit hard and fast without help.  Kinesis can set up for two relatively easy KOs, but if your opponent has to they can just stop attaching Energy cards to infinitely stall against Suppression, and unless said opponent blunders into it, only two solid OHKOs are happening from Zen Force, and that might be after several turns of trying to get M Alakazam-EX onto the field.  Backed by a fleshed out deck, you should be able to take the risk, even without Alakazam Spirit Link.  Do the normal back and forth with other attackers and save M Alakazam-EX for critical KOs. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.5/5 

Expanded: 3.5/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: M Alakazam-EX has some slick tricks that actually have substance behind them, but in the end I think this card is going to be a better M Tyranitar-EX as this tactic seems better for bounce spam than tanking.  It is entering a crowded field where almost all of its moving parts are going to be attacked by disruption or negation, so I don’t expect it to become the new top deck, let alone hold that position for a little while.  It might enjoy its 15 minutes of fame while holding onto a loyal base that won’t let it die out. 

M Alakazam-EX did not make my own personal top 10 list and missed by a decent margin, however I know that many think I’ve sold it short, and I can see why with what it brings to the table.  It received 15 voting points, beating out the next highest ranked card by three and missing a tie with tomorrow’s 9th place finisher by just one point.  There are several cards that I think are just as deserving of a review, but I no longer am sure they deserved it more.  In fact my only regret about M Alakazam-EX taking 10th place is that it took more time and effort than expected, and as such this review is going up late.


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