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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
April 25, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.50
Expanded: 1.67
Limited: 3.38

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

Back to the main COTD Page



...sorry, I just like the name of the move. Poliwrath probably won't end up on anyone's top Stage 2 list for the Sun & Moon era, but he's at least decent I suppose. His first attack, the aforementioned move, is a 1-for-30 hit that guarantees Confusion on the opponent, which just means when they attack and flip Tails on a coin toss, they'll instead take 20 damage. Unfortunately, Confusion isn't what it used to be back in the days of Base Set, when it would've also required the flip to the Bench, so for better or worse, Confusion got nerfed a few years back to the point that it's now the worst Status Condition to give a Pokemon. At least, if your goal was to do damage or stun the opposing Pokemon. 

Wake-Up Slap is the other move, and you can see it's meant to combo with SPLIT SPIRAL PUNCH!! Though it's a 3-for-80 move normally, if your opponent's Pokemon is affected by a Special Condition, Wake-Up Slap does 80 more damage and then removes the condition. This can make something like Confusion on the opposing Pokemon into more of a winning condition, as if it remains from your previous turn, your opponent not only may have taken an additional 20 damage from the Confusion, they'll definitely take 160 damage from Wake-Up Slap. Between the two moves, that's a possible 190-210 damage! 

Unfortunately, that's where all the goodness stops. Keeping in mind you need at least a DCE to get Poliwrath straight from SPLIT SPIRAL PUNCH to Wake-Up Slap, and that the combo takes 2 turns to enact from a Stage 2 with 150 HP, it might be difficult for Poliwrath to pull off. Never mind that he has to compete with Pokemon-EX and Pokemon-GX currently, or that his current Weakness still has access to the powerful Forest of Giant Plants Stadium card. 

His chances might improve once the card rotates out, but even then, I doubt people will put their eggs all in the Poliwrath basket. 


Standard: 2/5 (he's pretty good for what he's worth, but he's not top-tier competition) 

Expanded: 2/5 (not that that's any fault of his own, it's just that his competition...is much tougher) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (not to mention that he doesn't have much of a speedy access to his form aside from Rare Candy) 

Arora Notealus: Poliwrath is still an old favorite, but he's probably gonna need that GX treatment if he wants to at least be considered competitive. Nothing to be done with that, it's just the times we live in now. Hey at least Evolution's relevant again! 

Next Time: Poison the sea! Poison the sea~ When you're getting pricked by this guy who's ticked, you'll want to beeeeeeee~ Not dealing with it. 

...seriously, you don't want to be dealing with that.


Poliwrath (Sun & Moon, 32/149) spins its way to us via the Sun & Moon base set.  A Stage 2 Pokemon with 150 HP, it has two attacks, Split Spiral Punch and Wake Up Slap.  Split Spiral Punch does 30 damage and leaves the opponent’s active Pokemon confused, and Wake Up Slap does 80 base damage and 80 more if the opponent’s active Pokemon is affected by a special condition. 

Unfortunately, Poliwrath falls into the same category as several of the other Stage 2 Pokemon from Sun & Moon.  It doesn’t hit for enough damage, it takes too long to evolve and get powered up, and it doesn’t have enough HP to compete with the EX and GX Pokemon that dominate the game right now.  In five matches, I don’t think I would say that any of those games were competitive.  It’s almost as if right now there should be two standard formats: one for the EX’s and GX’s, and one for everybody else.  I’ve seen postings online where they have decks classified into four or five different tiers.  Right now, it seems like there are only two tiers.  If there were a format where Stage 2’s could compete against each other, then Poliwrath and Krookadile (Sun & Moon, 85/149) and Toucannon (Sun & Moon, 108/149) and many other Stage 2’s out of this most recent Sun & Moon set would probably have competitive, fun matches against each other.  Right now, it’s just really hard to play with these Stage 2’s.  You really have to tell yourself not to get frustrated and wrapped up in losing.  The main Pokemon in the meta right now just have too much of an advantage over these lesser Pokemon. 


Standard: 1 out of 5


Poliwrath just doesn’t have what it takes to be competitive in today’s meta.  Again, in a world without EX and GX Pokemon, it would undoubtedly compete more than in today’s meta, but right now I cannot even begin to advise anyone to play this card.


We begin this week with Poliwrath (Sun & Moon 32/149), and I’m still trying to get my “abridged” review style down.  I prefer to explain why things are as they are but unless you’re new, you probably don’t need me to go into exacting detail why being a Water Type is reasonably good or why being a Stage 2 is not.  If some of you reading this think I do need to go back to that approach, let me know.  So moving on, 150 is good but not great, Grass Weakness is a little worse than normal right now, lack of Resistance is typical, and Retreat Cost [CCC] is chunky enough to demand extra deck space to deal with it.  Its first attack is “Split Spiral Punch” for [W], which does 30 damage and Confuses the opponent’s Active.  Its second attack is “Wake-Up Slap” for [WCC], which does 80 damage, plus another 80 damage (for 160 total) if the opponent’s Active is affected by a Special Condition.  Then it removes all Special Conditions from the opponent’s Active.  The Energy costs seem appropriately staggered; a manual Energy attachment from hand takes a Poliwrath from being able to do nothing to using Split Spiral Punch, and then (next turn) a Double Colorless Energy from hand readies Wake-Up Slap.  Individually, the attacks are mediocre; not bad but definitely not enough to justify the running a Stage 2.  Together, they are… still mediocre. 

Let me explain; let us assume an ideal situation.  You get Poliwrath up and running by your second turn, attack to do 30 damage and Confuse your opponent’s Active, and they can’t remove that Confusion.  Your opponent even flips “tails” when his or her Active Pokémon tries to attack while Confused, so Poliwrath takes no damage and your opponent places three damage counters on his or her Active again.  For best case scenario results, either that is a self-KO of something with 60 or less HP or something worth two Prizes has six damage counters on itself.  If the former, you hope Split Spiral Punch keeps it up because you use it again.  If the latter, you attach that Double Colorless Energy and use Wake-Up Slap to do 160 damage for a 2HKO of a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX.  I said an ideal situation, so now your opponent can’t do much to Poliwrath because he or she had invested in whatever it was you just KO’d.  This is highly unlikely.  Your opponent will have a turn to attack before you can with Poliwrath, and an aggressive deck will probably score a OHKO.  Even if your opponent attacks while Confused, there is a 50% chance the attack will work.  Retreating, Evolving, using a Switch, etc. can all deal with Confusion, so your opponent may not even have to flip.  You can avoid your opponent getting a free hit if you can pull off Archie’s Ace in the Hole, have some means of promoting Poliwrath from your Bench, and you are going second.  This is difficult, and in Expanded, you could use this to set up some much better attackers (or support Pokémon to enable better attackers). 

What if we only save Split Spiral Punch for emergencies, and inflict Special Conditions through other card effects?  The more we add, the more easily countered Poliwrath becomes because there are competitive counters for Abilities, large Benches, Evolutions, and Items.  So we can do this, but I don’t know if it will truly be worth it; 160 damage for three Energy is appealing, but it is still coming from a Stage 2.  Even future releases seem unlikely to solve this problem, but I may be mistaken.  A possible ray of hope comes from a card already released: Politoed (XY: Furious Fists 18/111).  An alternate Evolution for Poliwhirl, it has the Ability “King’s Song” which lets you ignore the [C] requirements in the attack costs of Poliwag, Poliwhirl, and Poliwrath cards.  This would make Wake-Up Slap cost only [W], and 160 for one Energy is very tempting.  This is two Stage 2 Pokémon, plus you’re going to have to use something like Ariados (XY: Ancient Origins 6/98) or Hypnotoxic Laser (we are talking Expanded, here) to supply a Special Condition.  You’re not going to get the Poison bonus damage, and what I just said still applies; there are so many ways for your opponent to shut this down and better decks with similarly complicated set-ups.  Limited is the only place to give Poliwrath a whirl. 


Standard: 1.5/5 

Expanded: 1.25/5 

Limited: 3.25/5 


Poliwrath is high-quality filler; it takes a strategy that might have worked a decade ago but is far too slow for the rapid pace of the competitive metagame, but at least it looks like some thought went into crafting it.

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