– Burning Shadows
October 23, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Alright, so Alolan Raticate ended up with a similar problem as Alolan Persian, in that in order to gain his Dark-typing, he had to eat his weight in Berries or something. But for that, he does get some interesting perks…no, the engorged cheeks are not one of those perks.
His first attack is Enhanced Fang, which…doesn’t cost anything? Really, how have we not reviewed something without an Energy cost like this in a while? We’ve had some of the Basic Alolan Pokemon with free attacks, why not highlight on those more too? Oh well, it’s a thought for later, but we usually have so many of these guys, I guess we’re bound to mess one or few. As for this attack, Enhanced Fang only does 10 damage…well no WONDER it’s free, it’s terrible! Except for one scenario, where if Alolan Raticate has a Tool attached, it does 60 damage instead. So alright, you put down a Choice Band on him, and he’s doing 60 on normies and 90 on EX/GX.
Okay, THAT’S pretty good! What’s Hyper Fang gonna add on top of that? It’s a 1-for-60 move on its own that…requires a coin flip to do anything. Flip heads, you’re all set, but flip tails, and this attack is…nothing. Well that just means you don’t have to worry about wasting ANYTHING on Alolan Raticate, considering you’ll ever want to use Enhanced Fang. And hey, when you can be 2-3 hit KOing most anything for no Energy at all? That’s pretty good in my book.
The real question just becomes if you wanna put Choice Band on him. Hmmm…
Standard: 2.5/5 (he does need the Tool at least to be as powerful as he could be though)
Expanded: 3/5 (but he does have a lot of perks with that – depending on the Tool you attach)
Limited: 3.5/5 (this guy can be dangerous with Bodybuilding Dumbbells!!)
Arora Notealus: Don’t let his snarling puffy cheeks fool you, Alolan Raticate can be DANGEROUS in the right hands! He’s still snarling for a reason, ya know.
Next Time: Beware the mountain…crab?
Alolan Raticate (Burning Shadows, 82/147), even though it had a previous card in the base Sun & Moon set, got a new version in Burning Shadows. A 120 HP Stage 1 Dark type Pokemon, this variant grabbed our attention because its free attack, Enhanced Fang, does sixty damage if a tool card is attached to it. Obviously, this can potentially increase to ninety damage if the tool is a Choice Band (Guardians Rising, 121/145). Or, if you want to run a ton of Acerolas (Burning Shadows, 112/147), Super Scoop Ups (Burning Shadows, 124/147), and Max Potions (Sun & Moon, 128/145) and Bodybuilding Dumbbells (Burning Shadows, 113/147), you could theoretically string together a TON of sixty damage attacks (remember in my damage analysis that almost 90% of all attacks do 150 damage or less).
For the first month after this came out, people tried it with the Eevolutions, but even then, it never really found a solid standing in the meta as anything more than a novelty. Ninety damage just doesn’t cut it, even if the attack doesn’t need any energy. It can help put some pressure on opponents while letting you power up other attackers while it still does at least minimal damage to other Pokemon early in the game. And many of the most common Basic Pokemon out there now have only sixty HP (Alolan Vulpix, (Guardians Rising, 21/145), Ralts (Burning Shadows, 91/147), Zorua (Shining Legend, 52/73), Eevee (Sun & Moon, 101/149)), so Alolan Raticate does the perfect amount of damage to take these out early in the game. However, this Alolan Raticate, much like its Sun & Moon predecessor, just never really caught on.
Standard: 2 out of 5
Alolan Raticate’s free attack Enhanced Fang tempted many of us to try it when it first came out of the Burning Shadows expansion, but we quickly realized that it just didn’t pack enough punch, and you have to load your deck up with Tools as well. Field Blower (Guardians Rising, 125/145) also can potentially derail this attack a well. Overall, I just think that you can find a lot of cards that will get you more wins than Alolan Raticate.
We begin this week by looking at Alolan Raticate (SM: Burning Shadows 82/147). This is actually the second Alolan Raticate released: the first is Sun & Moon 77/149 and we reviewed it on the old site here. I don’t recall how long we’re leaving that review up, so I’ll just compare and contrast the two. Both Alolan Raticate are Stage 1 Darkness-Type Pokémon with 120 HP, Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CCC], and two attacks. For  – no Energy – SM: Burning Shadows 82/147 can use “Enhanced Fang” to do 10 damage, with an extra 50 (60 total) if it has a Tool attached. [D] pays for “Hyper Fang”, which does 60 damage but requires a coin flip, and if it comes up tails, it does nothing. Sun & Moon 77/149 also has two attacks: [CC] pays for “Evil Orders”, an attack that allows you to search your deck for up to as many cards as you have Benched Pokémon and add them to your hand, while [DCC] allows it to use “Endeavor” to do 60 damage and flip two coins, with each heads adding 30 damage to the base 60.
Being a Stage 1 isn’t as good as being a Basic, but it is better than the rest; just one more turn and one more card over being a Basic, not as many perks with game mechanics or rules and with their own support, which we’ll come back to when we discuss how to use Alolan Raticate. The Darkness-Type is most formidable in the Expanded Format but is merely adequate in Standard play. Standard not only lacks powerful cards like Dark Patch, but it also sees fewer relevant Darkness Weak Pokémon while Darkness Resistance is common thanks to cards like Gardevoir-GX. 120 HP can sometimes survive a hit, though that is mostly early game or when the opponent is struggling. Neither Fighting Weakness nor Psychic Resistance should matter all that much. Fighting-Types are scarce right now but tend to hit hard and fast when they show up, so doubling the damage probably results in overkill; while Psychic-Type attackers are somewhat common, the -20 Resistance provides only matters in edge cases. That Retreat Cost of [CCC] is painful, though easily remedied in Expanded; in either Format, it is possible (but unlikely) that being Heavy Ball legal will help.
At last, we get to the attacks. Enhanced Fang is the star of SM: Burning Shadows 82/147, as attacking for damage with no Energy required frees up space for other cards… like heavier counts of Tools to trigger the bonus damage. Choice Band is a pretty obvious pick for both Formats, with Muscle Band added in for Expanded; 90 damage against Pokémon-EX/GX or 80 damage against anything… at least before other effects. Some of the other usual Tool options are tempting but might be too easy for your opponent to work around, in addition to dropping your damage output to 60 (which is still decent for no Energy on a Stage 1). Hyper Fang is mostly filler; if you simply cannot get a Tool attached but can spare a [D] Energy, it is better than nothing. Sun & Moon 77/149 and its Evil Orders are tempting, but you’ve already got to have a pretty good setup going before it provides a good return. Endeavor averages 90-for-three, with the mixed blessing of coins determining if it is actually 60, 90 or 120; not enough to be worth focusing a deck around it, which is a problem as neither is Evil Orders. It is nice that the [CC] cost in both attacks makes Double Colorless Energy and/or Dark Patch natural fits and could help you skip straight to Endeavor… but I already said neither attack is worth it, and this isn’t enough to tip the balance.
So SM: Burning Shadows 82/147 shouldn’t have to compete with Sun & Moon 77/149 for deck space, but is there a place to run it? I’ve seen a budget deck built around it backed by Flareon (XY: Ancient Origins 13/98), Jolteon (XY: Ancient Origins 26/98), and Vaporeon (XY: Ancient Origins 22/98); each of these has an Ability that causes all of your Stage 1 Pokémon to gain the Typing of the relevant Eeveelution, in addition to retaining what it already has. You’ll still suffer -20 when attacking into Darkness Resistance, but those three are among the more prominent forms of Weakness; suddenly Enhanced Fang can do 160 or 180 for no Energy! Many strong decks run on little to no Energy, but that usually requires dedicating the space being saved on other cards, like Special Charge; even if it is only a handful of extra slots, it might be enough to build a deck that reliably streams (and recycles) Alolan Raticate.
Of course, that is for Expanded play; in Standard, I am thinking you’ll have to pack in disruption and/or other methods of bolstering your damage output. Haven’t seen anything good first hand, but it does make me wish I had more time to experiment. For Limited Format play, SM: Burning Shadows has three Uncommon Tools and two Secret Rare; the latter will almost never matter, but the former might make Alolan Raticate worth running. I suppose 120 HP with a flip to do 60 isn’t too bad when your options are less robust, either. Not a must run, but not bad, and it is a bit easier for lucky pulls to make it pretty good than, say, your typical Stage 2. That actually counts for a lot in the Limited Format… and means an aggregate score as it is usually about average, but often enough kind of awesome.
I am liking Alolan Raticate a lot more than I expected, but I worry that my scores are almost misleading. Remember that there is a big difference between a card meant for a specific deck and something general; Alolan Raticate might have a decent, budget-friendly Expanded Format deck, and could be just a release or two away from having one in Standard, but it will need a lot of help to go full-on competitive.
I can understand now why it caught 21times’ eye while we were making our individual Top 10 lists for SM: Burning Shadows… or rather his Top 24 as his 21st place pick. Didn’t make my own list, but it is already showing up some of my own picks from near the bottom of my Top 25. I don’t think it deserved to make the actual Top 10 (or even a Top 20, had the site gone that far) but I’m glad he gave us an excuse to look at it before moving onto the next set.
Attacks that cost no energy is a blessing to a Pokémon card. Not only you don’t have to devote energy to this attack, but free attacks makes Max Potion have no drawback. In that case, Alolan Raticate’s 120 HP is adequate for tanking and healing and it has a very good free attack.
Ill get the second attack out of the way. Hyper Fang is a good 60 damage for 1 energy, but can fail 50% of the time. Enhanced Fang costs no energy and does 10 damage plus 50 more if this Pokémon has a Pokémon Tool attached to it. Depending on the tool, the damage output could rise, like Choice Band pushing it to 90 against EX/GX Pokemon, or Muscle Band doing 80 to everybody else. If you feel that you’re not doing enough damage, then Reverse Valley and Professir Kukui can help you reach some numbers.
Overall, Alolan Raticate is a pretty good attacker as well as being splashable. Expanded has Eeveelutions from XY Ancient Origins that adds type coverage. My complaints would be having to evolve from a rattata whose HP is quite low and it’s three retreat cost, although you can attach a Float Stone, making it a pivot Pokemon doing 60 for free while retreating for free. But faults aside, I will give this a try! In Limited, to get the most out of Enhanced Fang, there’s Bodybuilding Dumbbells for more HP as well as doing 50 more damage.
Howdy there, readers. I’m truly sorry if last week I didn’t give my insight, due to some.. real life problems.
Anyway, today’s card is one of those backbones for some surprisingly effective rogue decks, or just an inclusion for decks that needs a effective backup attacker with extremely minimal investment. And SM Burning Shadows does gives us one possibility; Alolan Raticate (SM BUS 82/147) and its signature Enhanced Fang attack.
But first, let’s start with the basics; typing. Alolan Raticate here is a Dark type with 120 HP. That is decent, and because of its party piece it has, not a lot of relevant Pokemon can attack it for super effective on the cheap, with the most relevant Fighting Pokemon, which is weak to, being Gallade (XY BKT) and even then its usage only restricts itself in Gardevoir-GX (SM BUS) decks. It can attack mostly Dark-weak Psychic types for super effective damage, which may be something to look out in the near future. It resists Psychic types, which seems promising, given the relevance of both Espeon-GX (SM Base) and Garbodor (SM GUR) in the meta.
Now towards the party piece that this fat rat has; it has a free attack that can actually deal monstrous damage. Enhanced Fang deals 10 plus 50 more if it has a Tool attached. Now there are a lot of Tools which it can use; the most popular being Choice Band (SM GUR) which can boost the damage by 30 against Pokemon-EX and Pokemon-GXs, Bodybuilding Dumbells (SM BUS) which boost its health to a more bulky 160 HP, and Float Stone (XY BKP) to zero out its massive 3 retreat cost. Now obviously the Band outclasses those other 2 items in sheer versatility, and it is one of the key components that makes Alolan Raticate lethal. When attacking against a Dark-weak Pokemon-EX or Pokemon-GX, this attack, for ZERO energy, can deal (10 + 50 + 30)x2: 180 damage! Add a Professor Kukui (SM Base) there and the maths goes all the way to (10 + 50 + 30 + 20) x 2: 220 damage, enough to defeat any Dark-weak Mega Pokemon (with their HP average sitting at 220) and most common Stage 1 Pokemon-GXs! This is why Alolan Raticate is a very versatile attack that can fit in any deck whatsoever because of its very unique traits; attacks for free and it is at least a 2 card investment (1-1 Alolan Raticate line). Another thing to consider here is that Alolan Raticate here is a Stage 1, so getting it in play isn’t too difficult on its own, and it can run its course from there.
However, as good as A-Raticate is, there is still one problem; this attack won’t one shot anything in a reliable and continous fashion. This drawback is acceptable however, since this attack is free, so its ludicrous for it to be able to one shot any Pokemon with such a minimal investment. The 3 energy retreat cost is also crippling, since Alolan Raticate isn’t the type you want to invest Energy to, so to get it out of the active you only have 3 options, all of which are risky; leave it for a knock out (which gives your opponent a prize), using a Guzma (which waste your possible draw Supporter for the turn), or use a Switch item card (which makes your Garbodor matchup worse).
But, despite that, you do get what you pay for; a free attacker which can attack for solid damage, works well in a “Toolbox” deck, and is a solid external attacker, but you have mobility issues and a questionable typing coming into the future.
Standard: 3/5 (Definitely a worthy inclusion if you can find the room; otherwise there are way better inclusions than the fat rat)
Expanded: 4/5 (The AOR Eeveelutions are there and being a Stage 1, it benefits well to get the additional typing to hit for Weakness. But, it is still a tech, and can you find the room?)
Limited: 3.5/5 (A great pull that has a very easy investment and requires minimal energy usage; a great attacker in its own right.)
Next on SM Burning Shadows: