– Darkness Ablaze

Date Reviewed:
November 1, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 1.00
Expanded: 2.00
Limited: 3.00

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

Reviews Below:

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Hope you had a Happy Halloween… or just a good Saturday, if Halloween isn’t your thing!  We kick off November with Dunsparce (SW – Darkness Ablaze 137/189).  For want of a better term, this is a “baseline” Dunsparce; no specialty mechanics, worth only a single Prize when KO’d.  As we’re not worried about the Unlimited Format, being Colorless means no worrying about Resistance, but also no exploiting Weakness.  As a Basic Pokémon, Dunsparce requires minimal space in your deck and time to hit the field.  The only Colorless support in Standard is Powerful [C] Energy, which is a nice option to have; Expanded adds a few more potentially useful bits, as well as a few anti-Colorless effects that are unlikely to matter to Dunsparce.

Dunsparce has 60 HP, so it is highly likely to be OHKO’d if Active, and against a deck capable of damaging your Bench, it won’t last too long even there.  A low HP score like this makes HP matter far less, though it will sometimes matter that a quick 30 from a Fighting type will get doubled and OHKO Dunsparce due to its [F] Weakness.  No Resistance is technically the worst, but not only is it common, even the -30 Resistance found on Sword & Shield series cards would be unlikely to make much of a difference.  Dunsparce’s Retreat Cost of [C] is good, though not great; as long as you’re not running too tight on Energy (or Energy attachments), it should be easy to pay… and this is low enough a card like U-Turn Board can zero it out.

Dunsparce has one Ability and one attack.  The former is “Final Dig”, which states your opponent discards two cards from the top of their deck when this Dunsparce is KO’d by damage from the attack of one of your opponent’s Pokémon.  The latter is “Ram”, which costs [C] and does 20 damage, with no additional effects (good or bad).  For formatting reasons, let us look at the attack first.  Ram is poor vanilla filler, but at least it still does 20 for one and works with nearly any Energy card.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to use it, at least in most decks, but it is good you don’t have to sweat Energy typing, and can make good use of Recycle Energy, adequate use of Capture Energy or Draw Energy, and some use of Powerful [C] Energy.

Final Dig works regardless of whether or not Dunsparce is Active, which is good.  It does not work if Dunsparce is KO’d through your own card effects or attack damage, which reduces Final Dig’s usefulness.  If it did, it might enable some potent combos, but I don’t think a reliable First Turn Win would be a problem.  It is definitely bad that it won’t work when Dunsparce is KO’d through non-damage effects from your opponent’s cards.  If the discard is only happening as a result of damage from an opposing Pokémon’s attack, the Ability should really trigger anytime such an attack damages this Dunsparce.  Though the name would need to be changed.

I don’t think you’re going to find a competitive deck anytime soon that features this Dunsparce.  You may run into a casual deck that tries, however.  When I scheduled this card, I’d forgotten that Shedinja (SM – Lost Thunder 95/214) had already rotated from Standard.  If we get something like it again while Dunsparce is Standard-legal, it might make for a fun kind of mill deck.  In Expanded, it shouldn’t be too difficult to force your opponent to either KO Dunsparce or not progress towards a win… but it also shouldn’t be too difficult for them to counter some vital part of the combo (negate Abilities, discard Life Dew, etc.).  It is a long shot, but with enough control elements, it might even be competitive.

So the only place where Dunsparce is decent is in the Limited Format.  You’ll probably have room for it, it does just enough damage it can’t really be ignored here, and the 40-card deck size coupled with reduced draw, search, and recycling effects, mill is stronger here.  Though there is one way where it is weaker; more decks have to include filler, so if you have bad luck and discard double filler, you could really help your opponent out.


  • Standard: 1/5
  • Expanded: 2/5
  • Limited: 3/5

I’m being a bit generous with that Expanded Format score, because countering Abilities and/or Tools really is so easy most of the time.  Just maybe, though, there’s a control deck waiting for it to leave your opponent in a tough place: get pecked to death or KO and be milled.

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