Carracosta (Unified Minds UNM 45)
Carracosta (Unified Minds UNM 45)

– Unified Minds

Date Reviewed:
October 16, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.85
Expanded: 3.00
Limited: 3.25

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

Reviews Below:

aroramage avatar

Fossil Pokemon do have a tendency to have these powerful lockdown effects on their Abilities, which makes it seem like it’s worth trying them out to go into. Although that hasn’t been as successful as just cheating them out.

Carracosta is a Stage 2 Water Pokemon, 160 HP, with a Grass Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. Ancient Custom is the Ability to dress up in cultural clothing from the distant past and reenact different cultural events from that time period. Or you could look at it as Carracosta’s way to negate the effects of your opponent’s Pokemon’s Tools. Which makes sense, since they probably didn’t exist in Carracosta’s time period, so they’re not “era appropriate”. If you need to educate your opponent on that, Aqua Impact is a 3-for-80 move that does 20 more damage for each Energy in their Pokemon’s Retreat Cost. Oh, and it requires Fighting Energy instead of Water Energy.
Ignoring Aqua Impact’s odd cost for a Water Pokemon for a moment, Ancient Custom does seem to have a bit of potential when it comes to the TCG. This kind of effect is dependent on there being Items to utilize, and there are some to be had for sure. The main problem is that right now at the time of this writing, there aren’t many Tools utilized at all – and if there are, it’s Escape Board, which is probably the most useful Tool at the moment. When the game is very Tool-centric, this kind of Ability is great, but even in a Tool-centric format, is it worth it to push for a Stage 2 Pokemon that relies on an Item to be in play and either a Stage 1 Tirtouga or Rare Candy to get to it?
That’s the fundamental problem with a lot of Fossil Pokemon – most of the time, even when they have great Abilities to work with, they’re not ideal to go into. They cost too many resources to get all the way up to that point. By comparison, Stage 2 Pokemon that usually see play have some kind of Energy acceleration or draw power to them, and even they are at the edge of inclusion.  It makes recommending them difficult over other better options that can offer that same kind of effect without as many cards.
It’s not that Fossil Pokemon are bad, really. They just happen to run under the same general rules as Stage 1 and 2 Pokemon, and that makes things difficult for them by default. With the exception, perhaps, of Pokemon-GX!
Standard: 2.5/5 (at the moment, not a Tool-heavy meta, but has its place in Fossil decks)
Expanded: 3/5 (probably does better here where more Tools with more uses see play)
Limited: 3/5 (there are a few Tools in this set, with pretty powerful effects)
Arora Notealus: Carracosta comes at a time when most Tools in the format aren’t really competitive. Not bad, per se, just don’t see a whole lot of play. With the rise of Tag Team-GX and some powerful Trainer cards in the Item and Supporter categories, there hasn’t been a real need for a lot of Tools in the game, which makes things difficult on Carracosta only by association. If things changed, maybe he’d see play, but he’s a Stage 2 Pokemon and would really need to earn the slots he’s in to be of concern for most players.
Next Time: An ancient relic that helped in earlier times…
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Coming Soon

Otaku Avatar

Carracosta (SM – Unified Minds 45/236) is a Stage 2, which means it’ll take multiple cards, time, and effort for it to hit the field. The [W] Typing lacks any great support right now, but it can come in handy for exploiting Weakness. 160 HP is somewhat sturdy, considering this Pokémon is not a Pokémon-GX. [G] Weakness isn’t too dangerous right now, though it will be an issue if you do run into it (given the HP). Resistance would have been handy, though a total lack of it is typical. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is a pain to pay but too low for Buff Padding.

Carracosta has one Ability and one attack. The former is “Ancient Custom”, which creates a one-sided Tool lock to use against your opponent. Your opponent may still play Tools, and they can trigger the effects of other cards, but the Tools themselves are treated as if they had no effects. The latter is “Aqua Impact”, priced at [FCC]. It does 80 damage plus another 20 per [C] in the Retreat Cost of your opponent’s Active. The attack is underwhelming unless you can exploit Weakness, high Retreat Costs, Karate Belt, and/or Martial Arts Dojo. Pretty niche uses, but collectively they aren’t obscure. It is worth noting that the most likely way a Pokémon would have its Retreat Cost reduced – a concern for Aqua Impact – is via Float Stone, Escape Board, or U-Turn Board, which Ancient Custom neutralizes.

To get Carracosta into play, you have quite a few options. You can manually evolve Unidentified Fossil into a Tirtouga – yes, even older ones that are Restored Pokémon – and then manually Evolve again the next turn into Carracosta. You can also just skip Tirtouga by using Rare Candy to Evolve Carracosta directly from Unidentified Fossil. Archie’s Ace in the Hole can bench any [W] Type Carracosta or Tirtouga from your discard pile if its conditions are met (which is currently all of them). Tirtouga itself could also hit the field through the effect of Cover Fossil or the Ability of Ditto {*}. There are other tricks, but these are the ones I think have a chance of mattering.

I honestly didn’t think too much of Carracosta when I first saw it, but it looks like I was wrong. Decks using it have not won anything major, but they’ve had some decent finishes. A Cranidos (SM – Ultra Prism 65/156) deck included it as a single (along with a few other Fossil Evolutions) and finished 62nd (out of 118) at Worlds. More recently, at the Regional held in Cologne, Germany, this style of deck managed 26th-place out of 726 Masters… and managed to squeeze in one copy each of Lance {*}, Salamence (SM – Celestial Storm 106/168; SM – Black Star Promos SM140), and Salamence-GX. Slightly more common are decks focused on the combination of Aerodactyl (SM – Team Up 130/181), Aerodactyl-GX, and Carracosta. One of these finished 66th at Worlds, then 28th (out of 762 Masters) at the Regional Championship held in Atlantic City, NJ. Most recently, one took 46th at the Knoxville, TN Regional Championship (out of 778 players).

It still isn’t a tremendous amount of data, but it does appear that Carracosta using or even focused decks can be competitive. I’d prefer an actual win but even finishing where they have, they’re within spitting distance of winning an event outright. How about the Expanded Format? There are more options for getting Tirtouga or even Carracosta into play, and while they’d run afoul of anti-Item effects (indirectly) or Ability-denial (directly), Tools for me but not for thee is very tempting; Choice Band, Float Stone, Muscle Band, etc. I cannot think of a good combo to speed Carracosta to the field in a single turn and also manage to reliably power it up. For the Limited Format, it seems like a solid pull. Carracosta can work mostly off-Type and the set has a decent amount of Tools.


Standard: 3.2/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 3.5/5

Carracosta doesn’t to any one thing especially well, but it counters Tools, exploits [W] Weakness, and punishes high Retreat Costs decently, given that it is a Stage 2. If it was a Basic Pokémon with everything else about it the same, it would have been amazing. Fortunately, as is Carracosta is already seeing play, so think about getting a playset.

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