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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Poison Barb
- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
April 4, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.37
Expanded: 2.25
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


Would you like a deterrent for your opponent's like Bursting Balloon? Can't seem to find anything that does damage and lasts longer than a single turn? Maybe you want a status effect instead? Well then Poison Barb might just be the tool for you! 

Poison Barb is a simple Tool that while equipped will inflict Poison onto any Pokemon that does damage via attack on the Pokemon it's equipped to. That's not too shabby, giving instant-Poison a whirl...buuuuut it's also not that impactful either. The problem is that this is more of a reactionary card, and if your opponent can, they'll work to play around it. 

Fortunately, there's not a whole-lot that can be done about it at the moment. There aren't very many Tool-discarding attacks in the game - at least nothing particularly competitive - and Tool Scrapper is relegated to Expanded formats, where it's run in few decks as a tech. So the likelihood of the Pokemon losing track of Poison Barb is a bit low.  

That said, the damage dealt by Poison Barb is still Poison damage, and while it may help out against the likely 1 Pokemon you get with it, that's about as far as it will likely go. Unless you aim to be KOing whatever gets hit with Poison Barb while retaining the Pokemon equipped with it, and thus be able to capitalize on it, it may not end up the card that wins you the game. 10 damage between each turn only goes so far, and while Expanded does add Virbank, keep in mind it also keeps the Tool Scrapper among other Tool-removal items. 

And of course, Item Lock's a thing. 


Standard: 2.5/5 (it's a decent card in its own right, though it'll find a tough time with spacing) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (at least it's got something going for it) 

Limited: 3/5 (that's more than what you can say about...well, a few cards) 

Arora Notealus: I wonder why not make it a discard-on-attack kind of Item? Maybe it would've been too offensive and they wanted a more defensive option? Who knows. 

Next Time: Come enjoy the sunny beach! And have a treat served by our...rat?


We look at the Trainer - Item - Pokémon Tool Poison Barb (Sun & Moon 124/149), which triggers when the Pokémon to which it is attached (which must be Active) is damaged by an attack from your opponent’s Pokémon.  Even if the damage KO’s the Pokémon with Poison Barb equipped, the attacking Pokémon is now Poisoned.  This is a handy little effect, as your opponent gets just a bit closer to being KO’d from doing what they have to in most decks: attacking your Active for damage.  Being a Trainer carries a few perks, like being a legal target for Trainers’ Mail or Skyla, without many drawbacks because (thankfully) general Trainer counters are not currently competitive.  Being an Item makes it quite easy to play and opens up a few other bits of support but means Poison Barb has to deal with Item lock (in both Expanded and Standard play).  Perhaps the most important of all, being a Pokémon Tool means several things.  There is a bit of Tool support but several Tool counters, though for now Standard only has mediocre options with regard to the latter.  There are a lot of useful Tools in Standard and even more in Expanded, so the competition is extra fierce, as most Pokémon may only have one Tool attached at a time.  Tools usually have an effect while they are in play, which is kind of nice, except even if your opponent cannot discard it, KO’ing the Pokémon to which it is attached usually disposes of the Tool. 

I believe the card’s biggest problem is that the Poison can’t do much on its own.  There are some combos that definitely exploit a card like Poison Barb, but you know things are bad when Rocky Helmet matches your damage output.  Rocky Helmet doesn’t benefit from Virbank City Gym, but it also doesn’t have to worry about the effects that prevent Special Conditions (or just Poison) in the first place, and Expanded is the format of Hypnotoxic Laser… which brings us to how Poison doesn’t stack.  Once your opponent’s Active is Poisoned, further instances of Poison only matter if your opponent changes out to a new Active and/or removes the Poison so it can be re-inflicted.  For Standard play, the big competition is probably Bursting Balloon, which discards itself at the end of your opponent’s turn but places six damage counters under the same situation where Poison Barb just Poisons.  Then there are just some of the other fantastic Tools like Fighting Fury Belt, Float Stone, Spirit Link cards, etc. that you might (or even need) to attach instead. 

I’ve seen a few decks that use this card well, but I don’t recall seeing them top-cutting any recent events.  Completely possible I missed that, but I think the best example of using Poison Barb well is having it as a backup option in an Ariados (XY: Ancient Origins 6/98)/Raticate BREAK deck that packed a good chunk of its own disruption as well.  Poison Barb isn’t worthless in most match-ups, in theory.  Poison and/or the damage counters it places between turns only matter if they are triggering an effect, or actually reducing how many turns it takes to score a KO.  There are enough close calls it may only be inadequate for being the suboptimal play, and I will not be surprised if there are decks with which I am unaware that can leverage the Poison as well or better than Raticate BREAK, but I still don’t think it overly good for Standard play and expect it to be worse in Expanded due to the many removal options and increased competition.  I’ll add that revealed, translated Japanese cards mean it will soon have to deal with a solid, Tool removing Item in Standard as well, so its window for use may be quite small.  Do enjoy it in Limited play, where Special Conditions tend to be nastier as they are often harder to remove or power through. 


Standard: 2.5/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 5/5 


Poison Barb feels like a niche card without the niche.  I keep expecting more decks like the one with Raticate BREAK to show up, but I haven’t heard about nor seen them.  With more competition and counters coming, I am worried we never will.



Poison Barb (Sun & Moon, 124/149) – again, another brand new, never before seen card coming out of Sun & Moon.  By attaching this tool to a Pokemon, if that Pokemon is damaged from an attack, the attacker is now poisoned.  I imagine this card might be more effective in Expanded than Standard, but you can still find a number of ways to use this card.  Although I have personally only used it in one particular deck (an experimental Toxicroak (Steam Siege, 59/114) Toxapex (Sun & Moon, 63/149) deck that pretty much failed miserably), I could see a number of potential places of value for this card:

·         M Tyrantitar EX (Ancient Origins, 92/98)

·         Sceptile EX (Ancient Origins, 84/98)

·         Raticate Break (Breakpoint, 89/122)

·         Solgaleo GX (Sun & Moon, 89/149)

·         Water Box decks with Manaphy EX (Breakpoint, 32/122)

·         Mew, especially when used with Passimian (Fates Collide, 29/124)

·         Talonflame (Steam Siege, 96/114)

·         Darkrai GX (SUM2

I don’t know if those exactly will work, but just taking some time to throw some darts at the wall, that’s what I come up with.   

Unfortunately, the meta contains a wide variety of options when it comes to moving cards out of the active position and back down on to the bench, which will cause the effect of poison to fall off of the affected Pokemon:

·         Float Stone (Breakthrough, 137/162)

·         Escape Rope (Primal Clash, 127/160)

·         Switch (Sun & Moon, 160/149)

·         Solgaleo GX

Moreover, we also have cards like Pokemon Center Lady (Flashfire, 93/106) and Big Malasada (Sun & Moon, 114/149) that will heal a poisoned Pokemon and remove that condition from the Pokemon as well.  Finally, IMO – and I have no testing to support this – I think that you’d get more mileage out of using Bursting Balloons (Breakpoint, 97/122) than you would from Poison Barb.  A Bursting Balloon would do 60 damage if an opponent hits you.  It would take six turns for Poison Barb to equal that amount.  And here’s the big thing: if an opponent’s active pokemon is attacking you and you haven’t KO’d it in three or four tries, you’re probably not going to win the game.  Therefore, Poison Barb has a little bit of counter synergy to your overall attacking strategy.  You want to KO the opponent’s active Pokemon as quickly as possible.  You don’t want it (normally) hanging out in that active position for four or five turns, hitting you for who knows how much damage every turn.  Granted, the longer a poisoned Pokemon is in the active, the more damage it will take; however, the longer your opponent has the Pokemon in the active position that he wants, the more likely he is to win the match.


Standard: 2 out of 5


I can’t say that it’s completely worthless, but I can definitely say that I have yet to find a place for Poison Barb in any even remotely competitive deck.  I would definitely choose Bursting Balloons over Poison Barb in almost every case I can think of.

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