– Dragon Majesty
September 25, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised that Altaria-GX didn’t make it to the Top 5 of Dragon Majesty. Perhaps there’s something I overlooked? Or maybe I overestimated its abilities? And that’s why these reviews can be useful – to give that extra thought to the cards.
Altaria-GX is a Stage 1 Dragon Pokemon-GX, 200 HP, with a Fairy Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Bright Tone’s a good start, as a 2-for-50 that also prevents Altaria-GX from taking any damage from your opponent’s EX/GX during the next turn. Sonic Edge tacks on an additional Water Energy to the cost, and it’s a 3-for-110 that’s unaffected by any effects on the Active Pokemon. And finally Euphoria GX puts the opposing Pokemon to Sleep and heals up all the damage from all of your Pokemon.
So we’ve got a Pokemon that can protect itself from attacks at the cost of doing less damage, can hit past any effects that are on the opposing Pokemon, and it can heal off everything while putting them to Sleep? What’s not to like about that? Chances are strong that you’re running into some heavy hitters, and usually those are Pokemon-EX/GX! A couple turns preventing the damage from such moves would be really beneficial for not only setting up other Pokemon but for even stalling out until you can hit Sonic Edge, and that’s guaranteed damage! In a pinch, Euphoria GX can come in real handy to wipe out your opponent’s progress and potentially stall them out further! What could go wrong?
Well…truth be told, a lot of things can go wrong. First off, 200 HP is actually on the low end for a Stage 1 GX, so Altaria-GX is likely to get KO’d more easily than most other Stage 1 GX. The protection that Bright Tone offers is pretty good, but it only works against EX/GX, and there aren’t always going to be just EX/GX attacking you – often times, there’s a non-EX/GX attacker around to counteract the power of the EX/GX while trading out Prizes more favorably, and Altaria-GX can’t do much against that. Bright Tone’s damage is also going to be affected by effects on the opposing Pokemon, so you might have moments where you need to decide on protecting Altaria-GX while doing less damage or using Sonic Edge to ideally get a KO, only to open up Altaria-GX and put her in a vulnerable position. And in regards to Euphoria GX, how often does your opponent do damage to a Pokemon and not try to KO it right away? Considering Guzma can get around Bright Tone and get that Pokemon you were saving Euphoria-GX for, it’s a huuuuuge issue to bring up against her.
So there are some pretty widespread counters to the moves that Altaria-GX can make, and there are ways to play around her attacks. Her damage output, admittedly, is also on the low side – at best, she can 2HKO most things that aren’t Stage 2 GX, but she needs a boost to reach those Stage 2 GX scores, and taking up 3-4 turns unboosted to protect itself with Bright Tone just ends up allowing for more set-up by the opponent to get around it. Altaria-GX can ultimately end up costing a lot of time in the long run, and that’s likely the discouraging aspect that kept her from being ranked higher on most other people’s lists.
It’s hard not to acknowledge all of these weaknesses to Altaria-GX’s playstyle, but I wouldn’t sell it short either. Just because there are a lot of workarounds doesn’t mean that the card is bad necessarily – it just means that there needs to be inclusions of workarounds for those workarounds. It’s likely that Altaria-GX works better with a partner Pokemon to get around its own weaknesses, and with the right partner in mind – possibly a Fairy or Water Pokemon – Altaria-GX could pull off some real wonders!
Standard: 3/5 (the meta isn’t exactly in her favor, but there’s a lot that she can do too)
Expanded: 3/5 (it’s best to know the strengths and weaknesses of a card to maximize its effectiveness)
Limited: 4/5 (and who knows? it might end up the case that the perfect card comes along that lets it go to Worlds – you never know!)
Arora Notealus: Altaria-GX is an interesting card with a lot of promise, and it’s got the right tools to set itself up for greatness, but the end result is that, in a format that really likes pushing for higher and higher numbers, she can’t exactly perform at the same level as other Pokemon. Sure, she’s got the defensive option, but that won’t help without a few tricky stall maneuvers, and even then it’s a question of whether the stall will aid you or your opponent more. Given the right partner though, I think Altaria-GX could turn out to be a sleeper hit in formats to come.
Next Time: Spark the passionate fires that will burn your way to victory!
Altaria GX (DRM 41) floats into the meta from the Dragon Majesty expansion set. This 200 HP, Stage 1 Dragon Pokemon has garnered the interest of many players because of its attack Bright Tone which for a Fairy and a Colorless energy does only fifty damage but protects Altaria from all damage (but not effects or special conditions) done to it by EX and GX Pokemon on the next turn.
Sonic Edge also isn’t a bad attack, only 110 damage but will cut through any effects on your opponent’s active Pokemon (although it does have that ridiculous multiple energy cost of one Fairy energy, one Water energy, and then another Colorless energy as well). And Euphoria GX (for a single Fairy and a single Colorless energy) will make you an autowin against spread decks because (in addition to putting the opponent’s active Pokemon to sleep) it heals all damage on all of your Pokemon.
Last Friday, I detailed out on PDC that I’m seeing GX featured attackers in about three quarters of the matches I play on PTCGO. The IRL meta reflected that in Philadelphia, with six of the top eight finishers there playing GX archetypes. It stands to reason, then, that Sonic Edge might function as a very effective attack and could significantly disrupt your opponent’s strategy in a majority of the matches you play. Also, with Choice Band and a couple baby Altaria on the bench, that fifty damage could easily become eighty, one hundred, or even 120 damage.
I also took a look at how many Guzma the top decks ran in the first three tournaments of the season. Of the 134 decklists available, 132 of them ran Guzma, and the overall average number of Guzma in a decklist was 3.48. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here, but this means that good decks will probably frequently have outs to get around Sonic Edge with Guzma. However, you can counter this back with Guzmas of your own – if they’re Guzma’ing up something from the bench, that means they can’t KO the Altaria GX that is already completely powered up.
When I started writing this review last weekend, I was skeptical of Altaria GX. I had seen a couple of videos on it that were favorable, but the videos were from sources that I don’t know that I 100% trusted – meaning they’ve shown videos where they’ve had good success with decks, but when I’ve gone to replicate those decks, I didn’t do nearly as well as they did. The further I got into the review, however, the more I started to get sold on the idea of Bright Tone’s potential to wall many of the decks in the format. Moreover, the most successful non GX deck – Garb / Baby Buzz / Shrine – relies heavily on SPE. I decided to tech in 4 E and 4 Crushing Hammers and take a chance on Altaria GX.
I had some success with Altaria GX. I went 8 W 6 L overall. I only lost once to a GX featured Pokemon (Solgleo GX Metagross GX), and I wouldn’t be surprised if I beat it in a rematch (I didn’t see any draw support cards for at least the first five or six turns). Against GX decks, I went 7 W 1 L… so you can tell how well I did against non GX archetypes – and how unlucky my matchups were considering three quarters of the decks I come across on PTCGO are GX decks!
Standard: 3 out of 5
You can find my video on Altaria GX here. It’s part of the ever-growing list of GX hate that’s becoming pretty prevalent in the meta. Honestly, right now, you play GX decks at your own risk. There are plenty of archetypes out there that are near wins – or even auto wins – against GX featured decklists… and Altaria GX is definitely one of them.
Our second selection this week is Altaria-GX (Dragon Majesty 41/70, 68/70, 72/70); some may wonder how Altaria (Dragon Majesty 40/70) made our Top 5 list for Dragon Majesty instead of Altaria-GX… and whether that is you or you’re just curious enough to continue reading, I’ll explain why. Just reading its name, you know Altaria-GX is a Pokémon-GX, with all the pros and cons that come with it; better stats, possibly better effects, a GX-attack, giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, and various effects that include or exclude it. As a [N] Type, it can make use of their new Support. Note: Dragon Majesty only became tournament legal as of September 21, so we don’t have major tournament results that include it available yet. Altaria-GX is a Stage 1 Pokémon, so not as fast or efficient as being a Basic but still quite functional in the modern metagame. 200 HP is likely to survive an attack, excluding Weakness. [Y] Weakness isn’t bad right now. No Resistance doesn’t help but is typical, while a Retreat Cost of [C] is good. Put that all together, and you’ve got an adequate start.
Altaria-GX has three attacks, the first of which is “Bright Tone” for [YC]. This allows Altaria-GX to attack for 50 damage while also placing a protective effect on its; until the end of your opponent’s next turn, the attacks of Pokémon-EX/GX won’t do damage to this Pokémon. Just in terms of the Energy being invested, the damage is acceptable, but in practice, it may be too low as the protection may not be as great as the designers imagined. The effect of the attack rests on Altaria-GX; nothing else is protected, and if you can Bench Altaria-GX the effect stops working for it as well. Even if Altaria-GX is stuck on the Bench, you can still try for a KO against anything else your opponent has in play; have Guzma, will travel. Effects of attacks other than damage aren’t blocked, even those that can still directly KO Altaria-GX (like damage counter placement). There are some Pokémon-EX/GX that can bypass this protection; indeed, Altaria-GX’s next attack does just that! The real issue is that even GX-focused decks should be running a non-GX back-up attacker; even before considering effects like this, such a thing is warranted. In a pinch, a Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon-GX may even be able to attack using its lower Stage(s).
How about the card’s other attacks? “Sonic Edge” does 110 damage for three, and that damage ignores any effects resting on your opponent’s Active. Before we get into the minutiae of the attack’s effect and what exactly it means, let’s just look at the damage versus the Energy requirements. 110 for [CCC] is very good (maybe even great). 110 for [XCC], where “X” is any non-C Energy requirement, is still very good. [XXC] is still good to very good in the right deck. Sonic Edge needs [WYC], so your deck must supply two different Energy Types; this is far from impossible, but it definitely complicates things and can keep Altaria-GX from easily working in a deck that would have otherwise had it. Now, as for the finer points of what Sonic Edge does and does not ignore, the first thing to understand is Weakness and Resistance are not “effects” but “game mechanics”, so they still apply! The next thing is recognizing “…effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon.” is misleading; after careful consideration “…effects being applied to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.” looks clunkier but is more accurate.
If this is still clear as mud, the shortest explanation I can make is to look carefully at the wording. If the effect says something like the Pokémon being attacked takes less damage, you’ll ignore that effect but if it says the Pokémon attacking does less damage, that will still apply. Fortunately, the GX-attack is much simpler to explain; “Euphoria-GX” costs [YC], leaves your opponent’s Active Asleep and heals all damage from your side of the field. Both healing effects and Special Conditions require luck or combos to be especially effective in the current metagame. The top decks focus on OHKO’s, and if they can’t do it to your Active they can usually do it to something on your Bench. Special Conditions go away if the Pokémon afflicted Evolves, Devolves (I think), heads to the Bench, or (of course) leaves play entirely… plus there are some card effects that prevent or remove Special Conditions. Sleep does prevent the Sleeping Pokémon from retreating or attacking BUT there is a Sleep Check between turns to see if it goes away; your opponent need merely flip “heads” and barring any obscure, triggered effects the Sleep will go away before it ever made a difference.
Wait! I said something about combos! The bad news is that just about everything I can think of to do with Altaria-GX, either is too broad (it works with as well or better with a different attacker) or so niche I’m not sure if it will be needed. You can build a deck squarely focused on Altaria-GX, but if you have too much of a Bench then Bright Tone may not work. If you rely too heavily on Bright Tone, Buzzwole/Garbodor (SM – Guardians Rising 51/145) or a similar deck will wreck you. Even with heavy Energy disruption, you’ll have to keep your Item count quite low because your opponent can trade two Garbodor for one Altaria-GX and have it come out even, possibly in your opponent’s favor due to “Trashalanche” only requiring one Energy. Sonic Edge is designed to be niche; if there are no protective effects on your opponent’s Active to bypass, it is just a low-ish 110 for a too-complicated three Energy. Various Bench-sitters can improve the effectiveness of your attacks BUT they create “outs” to the soft-lock Bright Tone might provide, and unless you constantly replace them, then your opponent just has to take out your support to keep Sonic Edge from being a credible threat.
So, for the Standard or Expanded Formats, I am thinking Altaria-GX has one real hope; TecH in a deck that already runs Altaria (Dragon Majesty 40/70). You give up +20 damage for all your [N] Types to exploit an opponent who can only attack effectively with Pokémon-EX/GX, is trying to hide behind an effect-based wall OR the rare situations where the mass healing will matter (such as against certain spread decks). Assuming the Energy requirements don’t sour the deal; in Expanded you’ve got Double Dragon Energy, but the Standard Format will require other Special Energy or the actual Basic Energy, and that might be a deal breaker. How many decks can easily supply [Y] Energy, other than actual [Y] decks? Why would [Y] decks be using Altaria (Dragon Majesty 40/70)? I don’t think you can play a sanctioned Limited Format match using Dragon Majesty, but if you manage to snag enough packs and play it for fun (or in an unsanctioned tournament) with your friends, Altaria-GX is an okay pull. It is those Energy requirements; Water Energy cards and Fairy Energy cards aren’t a common pairing. Well, if you were planning on a +39 deck then its also the fact that Altaria-GX is a Stage 1, so that doesn’t work anywhere near as well as it does for Basic Pokémon.
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