– Rebel Clash
June 15, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We took yesterday off, so today we have two reviews going live, not one. If you haven’t already read our review of Burning Scarf, you may want to do that before continuing with this review. It isn’t a requirement, however, as I’ll still address Burning Scarf later on in this review. This review is for Arcanine (SSH – Rebel Clash 028/192). I’ll begin by pointing out what it is not: this isn’t a multi-Prize Pokémon, nor is there an extra mechanic like being an Ultra Beast. While there are bonus mechanics for such things, there are also counters, but you don’t have to worry about that… and of course, giving up fewer Prizes when KO’d is a good thing.
Arcanine is a Fire Type: they’ve got good support and can exploit a good deal of Weakness at the moment. The latter is almost a surprise, because they’ve been a hot Type for a while, yet they haven’t driven away all the decks built around [R] Weak Pokémon. Being a Stage 1 isn’t acceptable; they’re not as efficient as Basics, but they’re not as challenging as Stage 2 Pokémon. 130 HP is within OHKO range, but not by a huge margin; against a more technical attacker, some 2HKO decks, etc. Arcanine might actually survive a hit.
[R] Weakness isn’t a huge problem right now; despite my predictions, the Water level hasn’t been rising. They’re kind of rare in competitive play. Lack of Resistance is the worst, but so common it isn’t worth more than acknowledging. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is decent; it is higher than most decks want to pay, but probably affordable in a pinch. Even if it isn’t, Air Balloon can zero this out completely.
Arcanine has one Ability and one attack: former is “Warming Up” and the latter is “Fire Mane”. Warming Up states that Arcanine has +100 HP when it has Burning Scarf attached. As long as you can keep Burning Scarf attached, Arcanine has HP a max HP score on par with Zamazenta V. Arcanine would only be 10 HP lower than the smallest TAG TEAM Pokémon, and most other Pokémon-GX are smaller. All without being worth more than one Prize (before other effects) when KO’d. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make use of other Tools at the exact same time.
Fire Mane costs [RRC] to do 130 damage. This is too low to reliably 2HKO most larger targets, like Pokémon VMAX, and even the largest TAG TEAM Pokémon. It may also fail to OHKO larger single Prize Pokémon as well. At the same time, it isn’t awful; there’s no discard costs or other drawbacks with which you have to deal. It also helps that we have Welder, so Arcanine can go from zero to attacking in a single turn, so long as Welder can attach two Fire Energy from your hand, and you have one of any other Energy for the turn’s manual Energy attachment. Burning Scarf may also help…
…not just by triggering Warming Up, but through its own effect. Burning Scarf is a Pokémon Tool that can be attached to anything, but its effect only works for [R] Pokémon. If your equipped Fire Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, and attacked by your opponent’s Pokémon for damage, then Burning Scarf Burns your opponent’s attacking Pokémon. Unless your opponent’s Pokémon are immune to Special Conditions, or able to heal them before the Pokémon Checkup, that means Fire Mane’s 130 is joined by two more damage counters, for an effective 150 per turn. Still a little low, but noticeably better.
So, a 230 HP, single Prize Pokémon effectively doling out 150 per turn and that hits Zacian V for double damage… what’s not to love? Well, even 230 HP is far from OHKO-proof. That’s not a problem when you’re trading favorably, but how often is that happening in the metagame? Not enough, it seems. Arcanine has been legal for the last four events listed by Limitless. We only have a Top 8 and a Top 16 for the this past Weekend’s events, but we have the entire Top Cut for the Limitless Online Qualifier Series #3 and #4. No Arcanine, but plenty of decks that can power through Warming Up for a OHKO, or have the HP and damage output that – even as multi-Prize Pokémon – they’ll be able to trade Prizes favorable with Arcanine.
Things are worse for Arcanine in Expanded, I think. There are just so many stronger attackers, even of the single-Prize variety, and more ways to discard Tools and/or shut off Abilities. Arcanine should be a beast in the Limited Format, at least if you can pull Burning Scarf alongside it. You still have to worry about all three cards showing up at the right time, and running enough basic Fire Energy so that they’re not scarce, either. Wait, I said three cards… oh, yes, you’ll need a Growlithe. Growlithe (SSH – Rebel Clash 027/192) could be handy in general; its “Odor Sleuth” attack is flippy, but the flip is to reclaim a card from your discard pile. For Standard or Expanded, use any version with 80 HP.
Arcanine has an interesting combo going with Burning Scarf, but it just isn’t quite good enough. Fire Mane, its attack, is the big letdown. Another bonus effect, or more damage, or being [CCC] so it could use Triple Acceleration Energy… these are just a few of the tiny changes that could have made a big difference. I should also clearly mention the elephant in the room; timing. Boss’s Way and Tool Scrapper can mitigate whatever advantage Warming Up and Burning Scarf would have granted.
For Expanded, today’s card can Break evolve into Arcanine Break, getting 160 HP (or 260 HP with Burning Scarf) with the Turbo Flame attack, which costs RC for 80 damage as well as attaching 2 basic energies from the discard pile onto one of your Benched Pokemon. As it acts like a pseudo Stage 2 with the benefit from Rare Candy, it may take a couple of turns to evolve one stage at a time. Not to mention ability denial can prevent you from gaining HP.
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