– Detective Pikachu

Date Reviewed:
March 26, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.00
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: N/A

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Time to patrol with Arcanine (Detective Pikachu 6/18)! Being a Stage 1 is a bit slower than being a Basic, taking additional card slot and turns to evolve, although you can benefit from Ditto Prism Star evolving into any Stage 1. Reliable Fire type support is about to come for Standard (Fire Crystal and Wielder comes to mind), but for Expanded, there’s Blacksmith for recovery and energy acceleration, and Burning Energy acts as if the discard never happened. The Fire type can exploit weakness found on Grass and Metal types. 120 HP is a probable OHKO from any medium sized hits, though the water weakness makes the job far easier. And the retreat cost of three is unbearable, it will most likely be stranded in the front unless you have other methods to switch out.

Arcanine has an ability and an attack. Security Guard states that if this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon, all of your Pokemon takes 30 less damage from attacks after applying Weakness and Resistance. Most spread attacks deal around the tens, twenties, or thirties range, and Security Guard cancels most spread attacks. However, by virtue of the wording, it cannot reduce the amount of damage counters placed, which is different than dealing damage versus an effect. Another workaround is to switch the Active Arcanine with another Pokémon, turning off its effect. All in all, damage reduction can be useful if certain attacks change from 2HKOs into 3HKOs, or it the target’s outside of KO range. Next is Sharp Fang, which deals 90 damage for RCC. While we have considerable inflated HP due to the advent of Tag Team Pokemon, this is still a good number to go for against most Basic EX/GX Pokemon regarding 2HKOs, or OHKOs if Weakness is factored in.

Arcanine can’t do much while Active, so we have to make the most of it. Standard has very few options for Stage 1 Arcanine cards that shouldn’t clash with today’s card. This can be said the same for Expanded as well, but with the addition of Arcanine BREAK. It is a Fire type with 160 HP and adds an attack. Turbo Flame costs RC for 80 damage, and puts 2 basic energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokemon. Differences in attack name, cost, or damage, this effect has been seen before from Rayquaza (SM Guardians Rising) and Mega Manectric-EX. Both have seen competitive play for their time. Arcanine BREAK would’ve joined the ranks, but it needs better Stage 1 Arcanine cards. The two Arcanine cards that I can think of that could help Arcanine BREAK see a bit more play is today’s card and one from Black & White Next Destines 12/99. That version had an ability and an attack. Blazing Mane is a retaliatory ability in which it places a Burn Special Condition on the attacker that damaged Arcanine. Fire Spin does 100 damage for RRC, and an unlucky two energy discard from that Pokémon if you flipped tails. For the most part, if you want Security Guard to work for as long as you can, you stick to only today’s card. With Arcanine BREAK and damage reduction, it takes 190 damage to KO it, with calculations being different for multi hit KOs due to factoring damage reduction. Another example is that 2HKOs would need 110 for each hit.


  • Standard: 2/5
  • Expanded: 2.5/5
  • Limited: N/A


Like Greninja from last week, Arcanine is more useful in Expanded than in Standard due to the differences in card pool from those formats. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Diancie-EX (XY Fates Collide) to work as a damage reduction user, so maybe I don’t have enough confidence to use Arcanine.

Otaku Avatar

Arcanine (Detective Pikachu 6/18) surprises no one by being a [R] Type; this is handy for punishing nearly all [G] Type and [M] Type Pokémon due to their Weakness and NOT having to worry about Resistance but… that’s about it. It isn’t that there is no [R] Type support or counters, it is just that even former powerhouses like Blacksmith and Kiawe are starting to feel the power creep while Volcanion-EX and its “Steam Up” Ability only help Basic [R] Types. Heat Factory {*} is still a nice option for either Expanded or Standard, but it isn’t a game-changer just a good bonus for decks running on basic Fire Energy. Arcanine is a Stage 1 Evolution, which is pretty good right now. Being a Basic is still the best, BUT Stage 1 Pokémon are still reasonably fast and reliable while only taking up twice the deck-space. Plus, Ditto {*} means they’re easier to TecH into many decks now. 120 is a bit low for a Stage 1 and within rapid, reliable, repeated OHKO range for many decks but there’s a mitigating factor we’ll address after rounding out the bottom stats. [W] Weakness isn’t too bad in Standard but may be more of an issue in Expanded. No Resistance is the worst but is also typical. That Retreat Cost of [CCC] might hurt; you’ll need to dedicate a bit of extra space in your deck to helping Arcanine vacate the Active position or be resigned to it staying there until it is KO’d.

Back to that “mitigating factor” for the HP; Arcanine has the Ability “Intimidating Fang”. The good news? Arcanine reduces the damage all your Pokémon take from attacks by your opponent’s Pokémon. The bad news? It is one of those Abilities which only work while the Pokémon with it is Active and it kicks in after Weakness/Resistance. So the 120 HP acts like 150 HP against OHKO’s, 180 against 2HKO’s, etc. Reducing the damage one takes only matters if it triggers an effect or shifts the number of turns required for a KO. “Big” attacks that swing for 150 (or more) damage still score a OHKO and 90 to 110 is still 2HKO but 120 to 140 becomes a 2HKO instead of a OHKO. Except when Weakness is involved; [W] Types can swing for 80+ to score a OHKO, but that’s a little better than 60+ doing the deed. Another benefit is Intimidating Fang versus attacks which do damage to multiple Pokémon; the protection extends to your Bench as well. As such attacks often don’t hit the Active particularly hard, your opponent is likely to really feel it; Buzzwole-GX and its “Jet Punch” or Tapu Koko (SM – Black Star Promos SM30, SM30a, SM31) and its “Flying Flip” won’t hurt either Arcanine or your Bench. They’d need damage buff just to ding your Active Arcanine a little. Intimidating Fang does nothing against Abilities (not that many do damage) or damage counter placement (whether from Abilities or attacks).

Which brings us to Arcanine’s attack, “Sharp Fang”. If it’s clearly bad, there probably isn’t any point to Arcanine. While intimidating Fang could still wall, there are usually better options, even for decks that wouldn’t use the attack like stall/control or hit-and-run decks. If it is a good attack, we might have a decent deck focus. Sharp Fang costs [RCC] and does… 90 damage. Nothing else. This is… ambiguous. I remember when this was a great amount for three Energy, then a good amount, then a decent amount. Thanks to Choice Band, it is still acceptable, but barely. Even two-thirds of its Energy requirements being [C] isn’t a huge help. I’m glad that I can use Double Colorless Energy to help it along, but as stated earlier, basic Fire Energy actually has decent support in the Pokémon TCG; the two can and have mixed successfully before but Arcanine may have been better of requiring [RRR] but hitting for another 30-to-50 damage. I don’t want to dismiss this Pokémon outright, but I’m not coming up with any compelling ideas for it in a deck. Remember how often I’ve suggested using Lurantis (SM – Black Star Promos SM25) to help a dubious attacker hit better numbers? Add Arcanine to the list, I guess. If you just enjoy Arcanine, its another Pokémon you could slap under Turbo Arcanine to see if that would make a difference.


Standard: 2/5

Expanded: 2/5

Limited: N/A

Arcanine has a good – but not great – Ability, so-so stats, and iffy attack. There’s enough here that it was worth the review, but its main appeal is being a tie-in to the Detective Pikachu film.

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