– Shining Legends
January 8, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
It’s not often you end up with a review on an evolving Stage 1 Pokemon, so when one comes up, it’s always noteworthy for some reason or another. Such is the case with Croconaw, part of the evolutionary line-up for the 2nd Gen starter Totodile! So now what exactly makes Croconaw so special?
Bite’s a mediocre move at best, being a 3-for-60 vanilla move, making it more expensive than it should be for the damage output. Not really worthwhile, but it’s very rare for Pokemon like this to be noteworthy for an attack. No, Croconaw’s main appeal comes from its Ability, Plunge. Plunge basically does what its name implies, tossing Croconaw into the Active slot as long as you move all the Energy from your Active Pokemon to Croconaw.
That’s an effective way to swap things around without having to worry about meeting any Energy requirements for Croconaw, but does it really make the Switch worth it? If we’re just talking about Croconaw himself, the answer’s likely no – he’s only got that Bite move, and I’ve already mentioned it’s pretty inefficient. The other alternative to figuring out if it’s worth it to take the Plunge is in Croconaw’s evolution, Feraligatr.
As of now, there are only two Feraligatr in both Standard and Expanded – one from Shining Legends, which this Croocnaw comes from, and one from Phantom Forces. Feraligatr (PHF) has 150 HP and can use either Hyper Whirlpool, a 3-for-60 move that flips coins until you get Tails to discard the same amount of Energy from the opponent as the number of Heads flipped, or Second Strike, a 4-for-80 move that does 80 more damage if the opponent’s Active Pokemon has damage on it already. Meanwhile, Feraligatr (SLG) has 160 HP and can use either Crunch, a 3-for-80 move that discards an Energy from the opponent’s Active Pokemon regardless, or Hydro Splash, a 4-for-130 vanilla move. Both Feraligatr have their own merits, both have the potential to 2HKO Pokemon with their stronger moves, and both can get rid of your opponent’s Energy, which, unless your opponent has a Pokemon that doesn’t require a lot, can effectively disrupt them to some degree.
The biggest weakness in all of this comes down to how much Energy Croconaw can grab with Plunge. If he can grab 3 Energy, that can trigger all of them at once, or at least make it easier to hit the strong moves. 2 Energy at least is ideal, since you can attach the 3rd, but beyond that you’re just risking Croconaw being in a weird spot. And I mean come on, how hard can it be to get 2-3 Energy onboard? It also does require though that you not worry about your Active Pokemon getting crushed and KO’d in the meantime, which is…debatable, depending on what deck you’re up against.
In short, it’s an overall strategy that’s interesting to look at and has potential, but it’s going to be slower than a lot of other strategies.
Standard: 2.5/5 (Croconaw’s realistically only as good as his evolution)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (and in either case, he’s going to be powerful but slower)
Limited: 3.5/5 (in slower formats, though, this kind of strategy can be dangerous, so it’s likely to make a Croconaw/Feraligatr player dangerous to encounter)
Arora Notealus: Croconaw is personally one of the more appealing evolving Stage 1 Pokemon out there. I mean, he looks like a freaking caveman crocodile! What’s not to like about that! He practically oozes charm, which isn’t something you can say about every evolving Stage 1 Pokemon.
Side Reviews: Pokemon Collector – Nothing wrong with a powerful search card like this, really. It even had a major use in the early Black & White era, helping to retrieve Pokemon-EX from the deck until it would be rotated out. In today’s game, I could see it having a similar function to retrieving big Pokemon-GX or be used to retrieve some of the evolving Basics. Either way, it would likely see a lot of play in today’s format.
Hydreigon – Hydreigon’s a really interesting Pokemon that can use its Ability, Weed Out, to remove excess Benched Pokemon, letting you select 3 that you’d like to keep. This could be useful for simply denying a KO, freeing up your Bench, or even putting cards into the discard pile to load up for other moves. The main issues are that you have to at least keep 3 of your Pokemon, and you’re relying on a Stage 2 to be in play to use it. Dark Destruction’s a fair 3-for-120 that can discard an Energy from both Hydreigon and the opposing Active, but it’s not likely going to make Hydreigon a force to be reckoned with.
Registeel – Registeel’s main appeal is Turbo Arm, which is a 1-for-30 that turns out any basic Energy from the discard pile to a Benched Pokemon. Very useful, and it’d be generic if that 1 Energy didn’t have to be Metal, but it does give Registeel a potent use in various Metal decks. It’s also the best we’ve got for Energy acceleration as of right now, so it might be worth it to run it in other decks, space providing. Iron Hand is hardly worth the 3-for-90 slot, even with the Regice clause that lets you heal for 30.
Next Time: Another rare legendary? And it’s shiny too!
We begin this week with something unusual: Croconaw (Shining Legends 19/73), an Evolving Stage 1 Pokémon. Normally, Pokémon like this are lucky to get mentioned when we cover their Stage 2 counterpart (assuming it’s worth a review). Stage 1 Pokémon are just a stepping stone people would skip entirely if the various shortcuts that allow such a thing were easier to use fast and reliably. So why did I decide to start the week with this card? Sure, it has a pretty good Ability: once per turn (before you attack) “Plunge” allows you to move all Energy from your current active to Croconaw itself, then promote itself to be your new Active. It would be much more impressive, though, if Croconaw had more than 90 HP, wasn’t saddled with a [CCC] Retreat Cost, and did more than 60 damage for [WCC].
The game needs better Evolving Pokémon. Why? The full story is an article I’ve been meaning to write for years. The short version is game balance and customer satisfaction. I can’t prove it, but my hypothesis based on seeing what has not worked well for the game over the years is that you don’t get as good or as pleasing of game balance when Evolution lines are all about the final Stage. I’m not sure any Pokémon has no fans, so it just makes sense to ensure that the various Stages and Types are on more or less equal footing. Except I don’t think you can make an Evolving Basic the exact same as a non-Evolving Basic the same as a Stage 2 etc. and keep it all balanced. You can, however, be mindful of various bits of the game and still give everything a purpose, beyond being a stepping stone or “cost” of using an Evolved form.
Croconaw provides some sweet combos for Feraligatr decks. Plunge allows Croconaw to simultaneously deal with stranded Pokémon and/or Energy, and of course, engage in Acerola or Max Potion shenanigans. You do need to plan ahead, as you want to either have Wally handy or (preferably) stagger your Evolution line so that you’ve got a Croconaw that entered play before the current turn so that you can Plunge then Evolve into Feraligatr. Notice how I didn’t specify a particular Feraligatr card; that’s because we don’t have a worthwhile option, even in the Expanded Format. I’m not sure we’d even have one in the Legacy Format (ignoring that cards released after the BW-era aren’t legal there, anyway). We don’t have a good Totodile, either. Shining Legends was last years “bonus set”, with boosters not available in the usual fashion. Hypothetically, you could organize a (probably unsanctioned) event around it, so I’ll score it for the Limited Format, and that’s the only place Croconaw is likely to shine. You’ll still need Totodile, but here, Feraligatr itself is optional.
Unless we get a decent Feraligatr or Feraligatr-GX in the future.
This card…….looks extremely similar to Marshtomp from Platinum Supreme Victors! That ability did the same thing, but requires a coin flip. This card doesn’t need a coin flip. If Croconaw is on the bench, you move all Energy cards from your active Pokemon to Croconaw, and put Croconaw on the Active spot. So what can Croconaw do with those energies?
You can fuel up Croconaw’s Bite attack, which does 60 damage for WCC, which is underwhelming. Or even better, you can evolve it to Feraligatr, which there are two versions in the Expanded format card pool. The one from XY Phantom Forces is a water type with 150 HP, weak to grass, and a retreat of three. Hyper Whirlpool does 60 for WCC and lets you flip coins until you flipped tails. For each heads, discard an Energy from your opponent’s active Pokémon. Second Strike costs WWCC for 80 damage, plus 80 more if the Defending Pokémon already has damage counters on it. The one from Shining Legends is a water type with 160 HP, weak to grass, and a retreat of three. Crunch does 80 damage for WCC, and discards an Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon. Hydro Splash does 130 damage for WCCC. If you are participating in Expanded and you want to use Feraligatr, then use the Phantom Forces version since both attacks (Hyper Whirlpool and Second Strike) are far better than Crunch and Hydro Splash.
Even then, Feraligatr is fun to use, but won’t be able to cut it in tournament play. Croconaw, however, does a good job of fueling up energies while letting the previous Active Pokémon step aside and getting healed by Max Potion in the process (if that’s what you are intending to do, I think that’s a good idea).
Croconaw (Shining Legends, 19/73) returns to the Standard format in the Shining Legends expansion set. Croconaw has a cool ability that allows you to move all of the energy from your active Pokemon (whatever Pokemon that might be, doesn’t necessarily have to be a Feraligator or even a Water Pokemon but Wishiwashi GX might not be a bad idea because of its high HP and high energy attack cost) to that Croconaw. Then you move that Croconaw into the active position where you’ll (hopefully) evolve into Feraligatr and begin attacking with a fresh, undamaged Pokemon. You could also then potentially use Max Potion or Acerola on the previously (and presumably damaged) active Pokemon to heal it up. And you can potentially rinse and repeat this, cycling a new Feraligatr into the active several times.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite work in reality. Part of the problem is the only Feraligatr we have in Standard right now isn’t all that great. It does have a whopping 160 HP, however, which means as a non-GX Pokemon, it’s probably not going to get OHKO’d, which is the real lynchpin of this whole process. Still, it requires a lot of energy (three to do 80 damage and 4 to do 130), and in today’s meta, that makes it tough for Feraligatr to be competitive. Plus, it has Grass weakness, and Golisopod GX and Tapu Bulu GX are very common and very good Pokemon that will almost certainly OHKO Feraligatr.
Standard: 2 out of 5
Unfortunately, Croconaw and Feraligatr just aren’t good enough to compete in today’s meta. It has a good trick – and if it could move energy from the active to any Pokemon and not just itself, I guarantee you this card would see a LOT more play. As it is right now, however, I would take a pass on Croconaw… at least until we get a Feraligatr GX.
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