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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 XY: Evolutions Cards

#2 - Dragonite-EX
- XY: Evolutions

Date Reviewed:
Nov. 17, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.70
Expanded: 3.45
Limited: 4.00

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Well hey, Dragonite's back! And he's an awesome EX again! AND he's Colorless! What're the chances of all that? 

So what exactly is Dragonite-EX's big appeal today? Well Hyper Beam's alright, being a 4-for-130 that discards an Energy off the opponent's Active Pokemon. It's funny that it shares a trait with Raticate, but Raticate's is also much cheaper...and much weaker. I wouldn't be openly relying on Dragonite-EX's attack to get you through the day, but it's a pretty good way of getting rid of your opponent's advantage. 

Then there's the Ability, and this is what a lot of people have been looking forward to with him: Pull Up. Ignoring the similarities to your local diaper brand or whatever you wanna call those, Pull Up is all about recycling resources, and that's where Dragonite-EX hits the sweet spot. You can only grab Basic Pokemon from your discard pile, but you get to add them to your hand, which means they're immediately available to get played and utilize their power again. 

Think of those come-into-play Abilities, and you see some appeal behind Dragonite-EX. 

But as of now, there aren't a whole lot of decks that need to recycle back Basic Pokemon. Volcanion definitely would for either the Basic form or the EX hybrid, and surely there's a good one or two other decks that wouldn't mind having access to something they tossed out without using Karen to put it back into the deck...oh right, and then there's M Gardevoir-EX (STS). That's right, you can not only utilize those Pokemon for their effects, you can power up Despair Ray and then on your next turn be able to recycle and re-use them again! In some sense, Dragonite-EX makes an already big contender even bigger. 

And that's probably Dragonite-EX's biggest strength: supporting the decks that love grabbing their stuff back. 


Standard: 4/5 (expect to see a few copies in those M Gardevoir-EX builds for sure, and maybe in some other Basic-centric strategies) 

Expanded: 4/5 (it's where Dragonite-EX can shine the most!) 

Limited: 5/5 (I mean, what's not to like? grab what you need and plow through!)

Arora Notealus: It's nice to see Dragonite getting the EX treatment again. It did always make me wonder if they'd consider giving him a Mega Evolution, but then I can't really think of what that design would look like. And I guess it's a little late to consider him for his Alolan form, huh? One can still dream, I suppose...

Next Time: And the #1 card...is actually two cards?


The runner up for our Top 10 XY: Evolutions cards is… Dragonite-EX (XY: Evolutions 72/108, 106/108)!  Which means our first place finisher must be- oh, right, unlike in a pageant setting it could theoretically be one of several cards.  So let’s get down to business; as a Colorless Type Dragonite-EX will neither enjoy exploiting Weakness nor have to suffer Resistance (because we aren’t worried about Unlimited play).  Though not overly abundant there are pieces of Colorless Type support, and though there are some Colorless counters as well, they are fewer and have never seen any real success.  Perhaps the biggest strength for this Type is one technically not limited to it; as most Colorless Types have [C] Energy costs, they can work with just about anything.  Still with the Type support that is available and having multiple cards a bit better at cashing in on the likes of Double Colorless Energy it can still prove pretty strong for its own deck “Type” as well.  Being a Pokémon-EX means giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, dealing with Pokémon-EX counters, and being excluded from certain card support.  It usually means better stats (typically HP) and effects than on a non-Pokémon-EX, but it isn’t guaranteed with HP bumps being as small as +20 while some get saddled with two poor attacks.  What is guaranteed is that if it isn’t a Mega Evolution, it will be a Basic Pokémon, even if the “regular” version would be a Basic, Stage 1, Stage 2, or Restored Pokémon. 

In this case, Dragonite-EX cashes in as a Basic instead of being a Stage 2.  This makes it as fast and space efficient as it can be, allows it to take advantage of cards like Fighting Fury Belt, allows it a certain synergy with various game effects, etc.  The bad news is that there are some effective counters for Basic Pokémon, and (as we’ll see) you really prefer not opening with Dragonite-EX.  Its 180 HP is the higher of the two typical scores for Basic Pokémon-EX, and 20 over

Dragonite (XY: Roaring Skies 52/108), the larger of the two contemporary Dragonite cards.  That would seem like a paltry bonus but again, the Stage difference means Dragonite-EX will often be able to survive a hit.  Weakness is one of the times where it will likely fold, because Weakness is a really unbalanced game mechanic in the modern TCG; damage multipliers tend to do that.  It is not as dangerous as it could be - I don’t recall us getting the Lightning Type equivalent of Mewtwo-EX (BW: Next Destinies 54/99, 98/99; BW: Black Star Promos BW45; BW: Legendary Treasures 54/113) - but even in Standard play where there isn’t a standout Lightning Type deck, you have to be on the lookout for it.  Resistance seems fairly balanced as a mechanic, which is why I often downplay it.  Kind of depressing that “works like it ought to” comes across as “forgettable” in the modern TCG, but what it means is that with the 180 HP on Dragonite-EX, you’ll have a decent shot against Fighting Type attackers of -20 damage making a difference.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky and will necessitate you pack a few extra cards to compensate. 

Dragonite-EX goes the more promising Ability-with-attack route.  “Pull Up” is a terrifying name… well it is if you’re a lifelong fat guy like me who has never managed to do one.  It actually is a helpful Ability that triggers when you Bench Dragonite-EX from hand, allowing you to add two Basic Pokémon from your discard pile to your hand except for Dragonite-EX.  To be clear, the text expressly reads Dragonite-EX, so that means Dragonite-EX (XY: Furious Fists 74/111, 108/111) is also off limits.  Not a huge limitation though, and as the Basics are going to hand it means you can reuse coming-into-play effects, use them as discard fodder, or actually play them again.  It is worded as an optional effect, but not variable; you choose not to use it and you add zero Pokémon to hand or you add two to hand.  The only way to add a single Pokémon to hand is if you have just one in your discard pile when Pull Up triggers.  The attack is “Hyper Beam”, a favorite attack of mine in the video games because I never was remotely competitive there and I only got to really enjoy the multiplayer during Gen I, when it was one of the best Normal Type moves.  Its [CCCC] cost is easier than Type specific four Energy costs, but by no means easy.  Your reward for doing so is 130 damage plus discarding an Energy from your opponent’s Active.  In an era where Mega Evolutions and Basic Pokémon-EX (the latter often with Fighting Fury Belt) are a thing, it seems like a solid attack.  Not quite high enough to build into OHKO-range for other typical Basic Pokémon-EX in Standard play, but with Dragonite-EX having decent bulk its 2HKO capacity and disruptive element are welcome.  Though I will admit, normally I prefer single Energy attacks to discard an opponent’s Energy, as if I am investing heavily I prefer the target not survive the blow.  The Ability is the real star, but Hyper Beam is quality “filler”. 

As already mentioned, there is another Dragonite-EX, so that means they compete for the same space in decks.  Dragonite-EX (XY: Furious Fists 74/111, 108/111) is also a Basic Pokémon-EX with 180 HP, Retreat Cost of [CCC], no Ancient Trait, a -coming-into-play Ability, and an attack and that’s all they really have in common.  It is legal for Expanded play only.  It is a Dragon Type, so it has a different bit of Type support, including the most excellent Double Dragon Energy, Type specific counters no one really uses, and a few notable members which are not explicit Type support but that sometimes play nice together.  Dragon Weakness is currently only found on BW-era Dragon Types, and hitting it hasn’t been a major bonus for some time, but at least Resistance isn’t an issue either.  As an XY-era Dragon Type it is Fairy Weak, which right now might be a little more dangerous than Lightning Weakness: the main Fairy Type deck I think of is Rainbow Road, and it’s going for a OHKO even before Weakness.  Lack of Resistance is the worst Resistance, but again it’s a well balanced mechanic so its presence versus absence doesn’t swing things in a major manner (most of the time). 

“Bust In” triggers when you Bench this Dragonite-EX from hand; you are allowed to move basic Energy from your other Pokémon to itself, and if you do then you promote this Dragonite-EX to your Active slot.  Moving Energy around can enable some very potent combos, though it hurts that it only works with basic Energy cards because again, Double Dragon Energy.  The attack is “Jet Sonic” for [GGL] and does 80 damage, with the option of discarding an Energy from Dragonite-EX itself to boost the damage by 40.  80 for three is decent, but less so when it’s two different, basic Energy Types; not crippling by any stretch, and it is nice that when you do not need 120 you’ve got the option to not discard an Energy, but this doesn’t play as nicely as I’d like with the Ability.  People tried to make decks around it competitive, but it was always just a “functional” archetype; it could beat you if you let it but you didn’t expect to see it in the top cut (or at least I don’t remember it being a major “thing”).  We gave it eighth place in our Top 10 countdown for XY: Furious Fists and that is about what it deserved; it didn’t pan out but based on the available data it certainly had the potential.  Most of the modern (even pre-rotation) metagame postdated this Dragonite-EX.  It doesn’t help today’s version but it doesn’t really hurt it, either. 

So getting back to Dragonite-EX (XY: Evolutions 72/108, 106/108), does it have a place in decks?  It is a decent bit of general support and ought to be functional in many decks, however not optimal.  It does not hurt most decks to have a big Basic with a decent (though pricey) attack and an Ability that can get back other attackers, Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108), etc.  Where we expect it to shine, however, are decks that need a big Bench.  Like I said, get your Shaymin-EX back into hand to play it down again; same for Hoopa-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 36/98, 89/98; XY: Black Star Promos XY71) to snag some more Pokémon from your deck.  Why would you do that?  You could be running an M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108, 105/108) or an M Gardevoir-EX (XY: Steam Siege 79/114, 112/114).  Decks that like to run a particular Basic heavily might also cash in, such as decks focused on Volcanion (XY: Steam Siege 25/114; XY: Black Star Promos XY145) and Volcanion-EX, provided they can spare the Bench space. 

Other decks are more likely to benefit from already established Pokémon reclamation methods.  I believe the two main considerations are the deck needing to keep certain Basics in play and if it will still have room for that resorting to Dragonite-EX.  M Rayquaza-EX decks may already make use of Winona, making Dragonite-EX a bit easier to snag on the fly, with Double Colorless Energy, Max Elixir and/or Mega Turbo, Hoopa-EX, and Shaymin-EX all feeding into the equation.  M Gardevoir-EX doesn’t have to wait for the opponent to trash a Sky Field since it discards its own Bench to fuel its “Despair Ray”; Dragonite-EX gives you another warm body on the Bench and adds two you already used up back into hand.  Dragonite-EX might prove to be a “space saver”, as a TecH copy of it means reusing two existing cards from your deck, instead of running a spare of each.  Like nearly all coming-into-play Ability blessed Basics, Dragonite-EX can benefit from judicious Ninja Boy plays, but unlike them it is plausible you’re building up to attack with it.  So yes, Dragonite-EX has a place in Standard and Expanded play; it might be even better in Expanded, where it can combo with Battle Compressor.  In Limited I would consider it a must run unless you pull a different big Basic Pokémon-EX and wish to build your deck entirely around said other pull (a +39 deck).  Don’t go that route with Dragonite-EX as while its attack is good, I worry it is not fast enough to take four Prizes before your opponent overwhelms its HP, and of course the Ability goes totally to waste if you have no other Basics in your deck. 


Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.4/5 

Limited: 4.5/5 

Summary: Composite scores again; in terms of general usage Dragonite-EX isn’t quite a three out of five, but when you factor in the few decks where it will make an excellent addition, that gives its score a significant boost. 

Dragonite-EX claimed third place with 18 voting points, beating out our third place duo of Rattata (XY: Evolutions 66/108) and Raticate (XY: Evolutions 67/108) by three points, and only missing a tie for first place by one point.  No complaints from me as eight of those points were from my own Top 10, where I gave it third place.  Okay, perhaps one caveat; this is a card worth making a Top 10 list, but in most sets it wouldn’t be good enough to claim second place.  A great set?  It’d be near the bottom of the list.  An “average” set?  I’m guessing somewhere in the middle, maybe as high as fourth place, but not in the top three.  Within the confines of XY: Evolutions though, this card was in the running for first place, even on my own list, so a second place finish is a just fine.

Zach Carmichael

Ever since watching the first Pokémon movie back in the ‘90s, Dragonite has always been a favorite of mine. The jolly, orange giant has been featured a lot in the TCG and that trend continues with Evolutions. Thankfully, this Dragonite-EX is probably the most playable card in the set, though I suppose that isn’t saying a whole lot given that the majority of Evolutions are direct reprints of their Base Set counterparts. What makes me most excited about this card, though, is that it should give new life to what was perhaps the most hyped deck before the season started – Mega Rayquaza-EX.  

Dragonite’s “Pull Up” Ability allows you to basically recover 2 Basic Pokémon from the discard pile when you play it down. This is a very strong Ability and helps counter one of the most annoying Stadiums that is legal, and that is Parallel City. Initially, the card was used mainly to get rid of liabilities on your Bench, such as Shaymin-EX. But with Sky Field being used in a number of decks, Parallel City is suddenly much more powerful, often times shutting out decks like Rainbow Road and M Rayquaza-EX in an instant because they simply cannot recover after going from as many as 8 benched Pokémon down to 3. The problem isn’t necessarily not having enough Stadiums in these decks – they often run 4 Sky Field – it’s that the one-time effect of discarding down to 3 is just too devastating.  

Dragonite-EX circumvents this by letting you recover Pokémon. In the case of M Rayquaza-EX, this will let you get back Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX, which will give the deck explosiveness out of nowhere if timed correctly. Likewise, Rainbow Road decks can use Dragonite-EX to recover the dual-type Volcanion-EX and another Basic to add 90 damage to Xernea’s Rainbow Force attack in a pinch. Its Hyper Beam attack isn’t terrible either, doing 130 damage for 4 Energy – easily powered up thanks to Max Elixir and Double Colorless Energy – and discarding an Energy with no drawback. And because it’s a Colorless-type, Dragonite-EX should be splashable in a number of decks. 

Besides M Rayquaza-EX decks, it’s hard to say where Dragonite-EX will provide some use. Night March decks already have both Buddy-Buddy Rescue and Puzzle of Time, though being able to recover Night Marchers or even a Shaymin-EX on the fly thanks to Battle Compressor could be huge. Other decks don’t really need to recover Basics and have Super Rod if they must. 


Standard: 3.5/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 2.5/5 

Summary: Resource management is often a big factor that distinguishes player skill in the Pokémon TCG. Dragonite-EX provides a safety net when it comes to recovering Pokémon in a pinch, and this will greatly benefit M Rayquaza-EX, Rainbow Road, and future decks that rely on having lots of Pokémon in play. While it is unlikely that Dragonite-EX will have its own deck, I think it is arguably the best card in Evolutions and will be a popular tech this season.

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