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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Top 10 XY: Evolutions Cards

#5 - Ninetales BREAK - XY: Evolutions
Date Reviewed: Nov. 14, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary
Standard: 2.50   Expanded: 3.38   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


Coming back in on Monday, we've got the powerhouse Ninetales BREAK BREAK-ing into the Top 5 of our list!...yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh 

So all there is to Ninetales BREAK is the 140 HP and the new attack, Explosive Fireball. At 2-for-10, it's not much at first, but you have to discard all the Fire Energy on her, and for each one, she'll do a lot more at the tune of 60 damage for each one. At the minimum, you'll need 1 Fire Energy anyway, so that's 70 damage off the bat, and providing you fulfilled the cost, that's 130 damage total - pretty much 2HKO range for most anything!  

Combined with Burning Energy, Ninetales BREAK is pretty good. Probably her best form to go with is Primal Clash in Standard, since you can then seal off your opponent's Stadium cards and not have to worry about competing with something like the 3-for-120 Fire Blast attack over on the Evolutions reprint. Certainly an interesting card, and hopefully one that will see some decent play with the Fire support out there. 


Standard: 3/5 (it's a good time to be a Fire Pokemon) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (keep in mind though that Volcanion-EX won't work with anything but Basic Fire Pokemon) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (I feel like that's just a good reminder) 

Arora Notealus: It's interesting that Ninetales has had the EX treatment and now the BREAK treatment just before it's gonna get the Alolan treatment. Heck, will Ninetales see the upcoming GX treatment, or will she get access to the rare Dual-Typing with Water/Fairy in the TCG? 

Next Time: Who's the real star around here?


Breaking into the top five for this set, fifth place goes to Ninetales BREAK (XY: Evolutions 16/108).  Being a Fire Type has its perks.  Nearly all Grass and Metal Types are Fire Weak, but you don’t have to worry about facing anything that naturally has Fire Resistance unless we delve into Unlimited play.  The Fire Type has some great support, but one key card (Blacksmith) is confined to the Expanded Format.  Battle Compressor for two Fire Energy cards and a Blacksmith, followed by a VS Seeker to attach [RR] to a Fire Type is good acceleration, and Fire Energy support like Fiery Torch and Scorched Earth also work well with the basic Fire Energy focus.  If you do have room for a Double Colorless Energy, a Fire Type attacker can go from zero to [RRCC] ASAP.  Attackers like Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY121; XY: Evolutions 12/108) and Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 15/98) which at least in the past had some competitive success.  Still available in Standard is Volcanion-EX; since it ups damage done by Basic Fire Types it actually may hurt Ninetales BREAK.  At least the Volcanion (XY: Steam Siege 25/114; XY: Black Star Promos XY145) can serve as a solid opener in either Expanded or Standard play, providing a big Basic that can do a little damage while accelerating [R] Energy from the discard pile.  There are some anti-Fire Type effects, but they aren’t so hot.  The most competitive of them is incidental; people run Parallel City for its Bench shrinking effect, but if you can handle hitting yourself with that effect, your opponent is saddled with an effect that drops the damage done by Fire (plus Grass and Water Types) by 20. 

As the BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1, Ninetales BREAK is a pseudo-Stage 2 Pokémon.  We now have an anti-BREAK Evolution effect, but I don’t recall any BREAK specific support; at least generic Evolution support still applies.  So while you do dodge a few (usually unimportant) anti-Stage 2 effects, you miss out on effects which support them while still having a similar resource burden.  This is somewhat offset by BREAK Evolutions having a chance of Evolving from something… well… better.  I’ve long stated the designers need to make Evolving Pokémon more beneficial, so that the justification for running the entire Stage doesn’t rest on the final form, and BREAK Evolutions can demonstrate that a little, provided we have some good options from which to Evolve (so many cards, even what released as a fully Evolved Pokémon, are filler).  Ninetales BREAK has 140 HP, a decent amount for a Stage 2; big enough that a 2HKO is more likely than a OHKO, but the margin is for this is just 10 or 20 HP, meaning OHKOs are going to still happen quite a bit.  BREAK Evolutions gain their Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost from their next lowest Stage, plus any Abilities or attacks found there, so we’ll cover the last thing Ninetales BREAK brings to the table: its own attack.  For [RC] it may use “Explosive Fireball”, which requires you discard all {R] Energy attached to itself, but is good for 10 damage plus 60 per Energy discarded in this manner. 

So minimum base damage output is 70 unless you can use Explosive Fireball without copying its actual attack cost, and the return on Energy invested is actually pretty good if it is all [R] Energy: now the effective minimum base damage is 130 at [RR], with [RRR] dealing 190, [RRRR] dealing 250, etc.  Those are either at or just above some key amounts for OHKOs, so the challenge is finding an effective way to supply that much Energy.  Blacksmith can provide [RR], allowing a manual Energy attachment to hit [RRR]; this is Expanded only but it would also allow either Muscle Band or Silver Bangle to bring the damage into smaller Mega Evolution range.  Burning Energy might be an option, provided we can keep Ninetales BREAK from being KO’d; attachments aren’t going to be particularly fast without convoluted combos that I half remember.  If Ninetales BREAK does not survive to the next turn, all using Burning Energy does is give you a source of [R] Energy that can’t work with various effects conducive to basic Energy card use.  Expanded also provides more access to cards that can accelerate basic Fire Energy but as they are Evolutions and we already have a card that is practically a Stage 2, just doesn’t seem worth it.  Perhaps in Standard play it just has to be Volcanion to open, maybe some Max Elixir (used on Vulpix) and/or Exp. Share for when you have an attack that does not shed all its Energy (so something other than Ninetales BREAK up front). 

I’m seeing four options for Vulpix: BW: Dragons Exalted 18/124, BW: Legendary Treasures 20/113, XY: Primal Clash 20/160, and XY: Evolutions 14/108, while our options for Ninetales are BW: Dragons Exalted 19/124 (also BW: Black Star Promos BW66), BW: Legendary Treasures 21/113, XY: Primal Clash 21/160, and XY: Evolutions 15/108.  Only those with an XY-era release are still Standard legal.  All are Fire Type Pokémon with Water Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], and no Ancient Trait.  Since Ninetales and Vulpix share bottom stats and Ninetales BREAK just uses whatever is on Ninetales, let us evaluate those quick.  Water Weakness is not good, but exactly how bad it is, I cannot say.  Why?  Circumstances; there are enough Water Types that go from 2HKO to OHKO against the lower Stages thanks to Weakness, and even enough that pull the same trick against Ninetales BREAK that it is pretty bad.  However at the same time, this isn’t like the Fighting Type where nearly anything that attacks for damage can be buffed into OHKO status, even when fueled by a single Strong Energy.  No Resistance is easy; it’s the worst Resistance but the mechanic already provides niche benefits so lacking Resistance is mostly a non-issue.  The Retreat Cost of [C] is nice and low; free would be better, but odds are you won’t need to include anything beyond the usual complement of alternatives to manually retreating at full Price. 

All Vulpix have 60 HP and no Abilities, and all but XY: Primal Clash 20/160 have just one attack.  BW: Dragons Exalted 18/124 can use “Singe” for [R] to afflict the opponent’s Active with Burn.  BW: Legendary Treasures 20/113 can use “Firebreathing” for [RC] to do 20 damage and flip a coin; “heads” means another 10 damage, “tails” means just the base 20.  XY: Primal Clash 20/160 can use “Roar” for [C] to force your opponent to change out his or her Active (your opponent’s picks his or her new Active) while for [R] it can do “Gnaw” for 10.  XY: Evolutions 14/108 can use “Confuse Ray” for [RR] to do 20 damage and flip a coin; this time “heads” Confuses the opponent’s Active while “tails” adds nothing (in either case, 20 damage is done).  So as an Evolving Basic, Vulpix should mostly be setting up for a Ninetales and none of them do that job particularly well.  BW: Dragons Exalted 18/124 and XY: Evolutions 14/108 cause Special Conditions, something a particular Ninetales enjoys, with the latter possibly helping to avoid damage (“heads” to Confuse, opponent can’t ditch Confusion, either doesn’t attack or does attack and gets “tails”).  If Special Conditions are a concern, try to use BW: Dragons Exalted 18/124, otherwise I’d favor XY: Primal Clash 20/160 just in case “Roar” can mess with your opponent’s set up. 

Getting to the Ninetales, BW: Dragons Exalted 19/124 has 90 HP with one Ability and one attack.  The former is “Bright Look” which triggers when you Evolve Vulpix into this Ninetales and allows you to select one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and force it into his or her Active slot.  In short, it’s a bonus Lysandre provided you can make use of one when you go to Evolve (at least you can decline if you don’t) and assuming Abilities are working.  The latter is “Hexed Flame” for [R], which does 20 damage plus 50 more for each Special Condition currently affecting the opponent’s Active.  While there are five Special Conditions (Burn, Confusion, Paralysis, Poison, and Sleep), three of them (Confusion, Paralysis, and Sleep) are mutually exclusive so the most you can layer at once is three (Burn, Poison, and one of the three indicated by changing your card’s position).  That still means upwards of 170 damage from Hexed Flame, but scoring that many can be tricky plus there are effects which block Special Conditions.  Still these are both a good Ability and attack, though be careful not to let the two clash, like forcing up a new Active after you already layered Special Conditions on the previous one.  We reviewed it before here and it still exists in that grey area where it isn’t bad, but no deck has forged it into something great.  That isn’t to say it lacks a deck; it is often partnered up with a good source of Special Conditions, often Amoonguss (BW: Next Destinies 9/99) as it has a coming-into-play Ability that inflicts Confusion and Poison. 

Ninetales (BW: Legendary Treasures 21/113) also has 90 HP and one attack, but no Ability this time.  The attack is “Color Coordination” which for [CCC] does 50 damage, plus 40 if Ninetales has a basic Energy card that is the same Type as the Defending Pokémon.  For three Energy you ought to be hitting for 90 damage anyway; we reviewed this Ninetales here but when it comes to playing you ought to just skip it.  Ninetales (XY: Primal Clash 21/160) once again has 90 HP, one Ability, and one attack.  This time the Ability is “Barrier Shrine” which prevents both players from playing Stadium cards from hand; this allows you to lock in a particular Stadium or lock out all Stadium cards.  Well, there are a few caveats; obviously if Abilities go down, Stadiums are back online, and even if you lock a particular Stadium onto the field a card like Delinquent can still discard it.  Really obscure is Gothitelle (XY: Furious Fists 45/111), whose Ability allows it to play Stadium cards from the discard pile, which means it also gets around Barrier Shrine.  Its attack is “Flickering Flames” for [RRC] and does 70 damage and puts the opponent’s Active to Sleep.  The Ability is great in the right deck, useful in general, and useless (or backfires!) in the wrong deck.  The attack is solid, especially in light of the Ability probably being the card’s focus.  We looked at it before here. 

Finally Ninetales (XY: Evolutions 15/108) is the update of the original Ninetales (Base Set 12/102; Base Set 2 13/130; Legendary Collection 17/110).  It has 100 HP (instead of the original 80) and revised attacks.  “Lure” allows you to force an opponent’s Benched Pokémon into the Active slot, just like the original, but now it only costs [R] instead of [CC] and it prevents that Pokémon from manually retreating until the end of your opponent’s next turn.  “Fire Blast” requires [RRC] (it used to need [RRRR]) and does 120 damage (the original did 80), while having you discard an [R] Energy from Ninetales itself (the original specified “[R] Energy card”).  Both attacks are improved, but mostly because Energy Removal/Super Energy Removal really hurt the original Ninetales; yes Rain Dance was an issue regardless, but the infamous Haymaker deck really needed to keep Ninetales from powering up, as Haymaker doesn’t work too well when it cannot OHKO the opponent’s Active but said Active can OHKO the typical Haymaker Pokémon.  Needing one less Energy and doing 40 more damage is a definite improvement, but probably isn’t good enough to justify running it, at least on its own.  Lure is better, but the same problem applies; you’re giving up an attack to change out your opponent’s Active and you need to use it instead to go on the offensive.  Oddly still better than back in the day, where you had Gust of Wind (Lysandre as an Item, before Trainer lock was really a thing) to do the job and it didn’t have the added effect of blocking the target’s retreat the next turn. 

Time to put it all together; we don’t have a great Vulpix but both Ninetales (BW: Dragons Exalted 19/124, BW: Black Star Promos BW66) and Ninetales (XY: Primal Clash 21/160) provide useful Abilities.  Bright Look is better, but requires more effort to reuse; Barrier Shrine can also be tricky to properly time, but once it’s in play it’s in play, so you could run both in the same Expanded deck.  If you have room for a few copies of Hypnotoxic Laser then Hexed Flame can be a fallback attack.  Blacksmith plus a manual Energy attachment can hit most key damage amounts, and if we add in Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym we can take out most targets in one hit (with everything only needed for things like Mega Evolutions).  In Standard you may as well blend the two legal Ninetales together, trying to lock in a solid Stadium with XY: Primal Clash 21/160 while XY: Evolutions 15/108 might just barely be worth it as an alternate attacker.  For Energy acceleration, either you’ve got to try to use Max Elixir on Vulpix or Volcanion on whatever is Benched and hope it survives to the next turn.  Not thrilled with either approach as using Max Elixir means that Vulpix has to survive at least one more turn, and that assumed you immediately Evolve into Ninetales this turn.  I guess with Wally you could pull it all off in a single turn.  If you go with Volcanion, the issue is simply why bother with Ninetales BREAK at all?  I guess if you needed XY: Primal Clash 21/160 to lock in a Stadium anyway, a single one might be a decent TecH option.  Volcanion, thanks to Volcanion-EX, can become a great attacker hitting so hard for a single (attached) Energy. 

As you can tell, this is me coming up with totally untested ideas that aren’t even good enough to be called Theorymon, but if you really want something… there it is.  At least in Limited play, yeah Ninetales BREAK is great (assuming you pull Vulpix and Ninetales as well).  Enjoy it there for sure. 


Standard: 2/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Ninetales BREAK has a very good attack, but it’s basically a Stage 2 without some of the perks and I can’t think of a good way to fuel it except in Expanded play.  Don’t write it off, but know its role. 

Ninetales BREAK took fifth place with 10 voting points; six of those came from me because it was indeed my fifth place pick, but I’m having some buyer’s (voter’s?) remorse.  So far, the first six cards we’ve reviewed haven’t been overly impressive, and would be lucky to sneak onto a Top 10 at all if they had been in a more - shall we say - competitive expansion.  Just one point separates today’s card from last Friday’s sixth place finisher, Brock’s Grit, and only one point separates it from tomorrow’s fourth place finisher as well.

Zach Carmichael

Today we begin our countdown for the top 5 cards from the new Evolutions expansion with Ninetales BREAK. It’s interesting that Pokémon decided to pay fan service to a number of Pokémon from the first generation, such as Nidoking and Starmie, though new BREAK cards. Unfortunately, these cards miss the mark in terms of playability, and that is why ultimately I cannot recommend Ninetales BREAK outside of casual play. 

With only 140 HP, Ninetales BREAK is lackluster for being what is essentially a glorified Stage 2 (if not worse because it cannot take advantage of Rare Candy). Its Explosive Fireball attack does 10 damage and forces you to discard all Fire Energy on it, in return doing 60 additional damage for each Energy card discarded. I can’t really justify playing this card in either Standard or Expanded because it just doesn’t keep up with other attackers. In order to KO a typical Pokémon-EX that has a Fighting Fury Belt, you would have to discard a whopping four Energy, a feat that is near impossible without proper acceleration.  

That said, there are a couple options as to which Stage 1 Ninetales you will want to pair th BREAK with. First we have the one that was recently released in Evolutions. It has a 10 more HP than its Roaring Skies counterpart, and its Lure attack is essentially a Lysandre without the drawback of having to use your Supporter for the turn. Fire Blast is mediocre at best, doing 120 damage for three Energy and having to discard. The BREAK will be able to use these attacks, but I don’t see it really coming out until mid-game given such low HP on the Stage 1.  

The other option is the Ninetales from Primal Clash, whose “Barrier Shine” Ability makes both players unable to play Stadium cards. Again, the attack is pretty bad, but the Ability is very strong in a format dominated by the polar opposites of Parallel City and Sky Field. But that is where the line is drawn as far as playability of Ninetales – unfortunately it just lacks the “oomph” to keep up with other decks, particularly Water-type ones like Greninja BREAK and Seismitoad-EX. 


Standard: 1/5

Summary: While it is good to see Pokémon release cool-looking cards for a number of popular Pokémon from the original games, the majority of them will remain in binders of collectors, Ninetales BREAK included. It is slow to set up, has mediocre HP, and its attack needs a lot of Energy do really make a dent in the popular Pokémon-EX attackers that continue to dominate the format. 

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