– Cosmic Eclipse
January 13, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Dusknoir from Cosmic Eclipse is another one of those Stage 2s that not only would I have to talk about the Stage 2, but also lower stages as well because they also somewhat contribute to the evolutionary line just like Piplup from that same expansion. Additionally, the Duskull line from Cosmic Eclipse…is the only evolutionary line that’s standard legal while the rest of them are Expanded, so that makes it easy for me to discuss those three.
Duskull has an ability called Spiritborne Evolution, which lets you discard 3 cards from your hand and search your deck for Dusclops and put it over Duskull. This is one of the few abilities which lets you evolve on the first turn of the game. Such effects aren’t safe from the ban hammer: Flabebe from Forbidden Light was banned from Expanded because Floette from Cosmic Eclipse has an ability which can make your opponent lose a card from their hand. So, if Dusclops would ever have anything that can disrupt your opponent, then Duskull would surely get banned. So far, there isn’t any Dusclops that does that…at the moment. Dusclops from Cosmic Eclipse has only one attack. Disable does 20 damage for one energy and also prevents your opponent from using certain attacks. For Pokémon with only one repeatable attack (with or without using up their GX attack), this could create a soft lock. It wouldn’t matter to Mewtwo & Mew-GX however, as Disable wouldn’t be able to target attacks from Pokémon in the Bench or in the Discard Pile. Using it once due to evolving on the same turn seems reasonable, but eventually you would have to evolve it very soon…
…because Dusknoir get far bulkier with 160 HP. It’s Grim Marking ability only works when it’s on the Active, and when it’s knocked out by your opponent’s attack, you get to distribute 4 damage counters on any of your opponent’s Pokemon. It does almost exactly what Spell Tag does, and you can attach it to Dusknoir. Combine those two together, and you get to distribute 8 damage counters instead of 4! This makes Dusknoir being knocked out NOT be in vain, as it helps set up for future KOs. Blacephalon comes to mind, as its Fireworks Bomb can place 12 damage counters if your opponent has exactly three prizes left, otherwise it’ll let you place 4 instead. Assuming your 3 Dusknoir/Spell Tag got knocked out before sending out Blacephalon, that’s already at least 24 damage counters on the board, enough for Blacephalon to clean up and grab multiple KOs. Psych Up is a good 60 for one attack and even becomes 120 for 1 energy if it doesn’t get switched, bounced, or retreated.
I’ve seen various Dusknoir decks being used and I’ve even used that deck myself. It got me a couple wins here or there due to careful damage counter placements. For Expanded, if I really want to put more damage counters, then I would further put Bursting Balloons and/or Rock Guard Ace Spec, which is what I did for casual play. I don’t think that other Dusknoir cards from the Expanded format would be worth running alongside this card, as various abilities moving damage counters around instead of placing them. For Limited, if you pulled the Blacephalon promo, then it also contains the 3-2-2 line; you pretty much made a 40 card deck of a deck archetype.
Today we look at Dusknoir (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 85/236), as well as Dusclops (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 84/236) and Duskull (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 83/236) because it is an evolution line that at least tries to make the whole thing relevant. We’ll begin with what the three Stages have in common. All are [P] Types, so they can benefit from support like Mysterious Treasure and Spell Tag. All are [D] Weak; only “No Weakness” is good, but [D] Weakness is one of the less dangerous ones at the moment. Similarly, “No Resistance” is the worst one, so having any is appreciated. [F] Resistance used to be pretty handy, but hasn’t meant much lately, however.
Duskull is a Basic Pokémon with 40 HP, Retreat Cost [C], an Ability, and an attack: easy to field, but easy to KO (including while on your Bench!). Duskull’s Ability is “Spiritborne Evolution”, and it comes with a massive three card (from hand) discard cost. Paying it lets you fetch a Pokémon that evolves from Duskull. Right now, that means Dusclops though the actual text is generic in case we ever get some alternatives in the future, or something that can copy Abilities. Spiritborne Evolution works the first turn Duskull hits the field, even if it is the first turn of the game, however, you won’t be able to immediately evolve Dusclops, so it is no faster than using Rare Candy. Duskull also can use “Ominous Eyes” for [P] to place two damage counters on an opponent’s Pokémon; it might come in handy in a pinch but be glad you can skip it.
If you use the Ability, you cannot skip Duskull, and we’re looking at your only Standard-legal option now. SM – Cosmic Eclipse 84/236 has 90 HP, meaning it is an easy OHKO while Active and for the better Bench-hitters. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] makes it easy for it to be stranded up front if your opponent chooses to not finish it off right away… but is still too low for it to take advantage of cards like Buff Padding. Its “Disable” attack does 20 damage and has you pick one of your opponent’s Active Pokémon’s attacks; your opponent can’t use the selected attack next turn… unless they bring up something else with that attack. Or take advantage of the many tricks one has available to shake attack effects. If your opponent’s options are already limited, it can help an Active Dusclops stick around long enough to evolve, but the odds aren’t good.
Dusknoir is a Stage 2; whether you use Duskull’s Spiritborne evolution and then manually evolve from Dusclops or use Rare Candy on a Duskull that has been in play for a turn already, you’ll need at least two turns for Dusknoir to hit the field. It has 160 HP is decent, a little more likely to survive an attack than not, but not durable enough you can rely on it doing so. Its Retreat Cost is the same as Dusclops, and no better here than there. Dusknoir has the Ability “Grim Marking”: if Dusnkoir is KO’d, you get to distribute four damage counters on your opponent’s side of the field how you like. Unless the KO happens while Dusnkoir is Benched or is the result of something other than the damage from your opponent’s attack. Spell Tag works the same way, and is great in certain decks, so we know four damage counters can matter… but if you’ve run a deck like that, you also know that sometimes, it just isn’t enough.
Dusknoir knows the attack “Psych Up”, which costs [P] and does 60 damage. Psych Up also places an effect on Dusknoir (or whatever used the attack, if something else copies it): next turn, that Pokémon’s Psych Up does 120 damage. 60 for [P] could be good. 120 for [P] sounds like it should be good… but I’m skeptical. You see, this kind of attack isn’t new and it rarely works out. If one Dusknoir uses this attack and is KO’d, the next copy does not recieve the benefit. If a Dusknoir that just used Psych Up is forced to the Bench, the effect is reset. 120 alone misses some key numbers, so you’re counting on being KO’d in a manner that triggers Grim Marking so that Dusknoir can hit critical damage thresholds in a timely manner.
Though Duskull can help this line, I’m not sure if it helps enough. With the new T1 rules slated to go into effect soon, I don’t know if the discard cost can reliably be met when going first, and it could be a pain even when going second (and still having access to a Supporter). Even right now part of me wonders if you shouldn’t just focus more on Rare Candy than Spiritborne Evolution for your evolving needs. I can see the appeal of this card; slap a Spell Tag on it and you get to spread eight damage counters when that Dusknoir is KO’d, while bopping your opponent’s Active for 60 (sometimes 120) damage at the cost of only one Energy but how does that actually stack up against current, competitive decks?
Dusknoir might frustrate control focused decks, if they can’t constnatly force a reset of Psych Up. If they’re stall/mill, though, they probably aren’t going to trigger Grim Marking or Spell Tag, though. Big hitters are likely to take Dusknoir down in one hit, so no bonus damage from Psych Up but you’ll get your damage counters from Grim Marking (and maybe Spell Tag). Be aware decks that are easily brought down from such things may have their own counter measures… like slapping a Stealthy Hood on whatever needs to be safe from Abilities. I’ve heard talk that Night March is a threat again in Expanded; if this is true, Dusknoir probably would be a problem for that deck, but so are other damage spread decks. Dusknoir should be pretty great in the Limited Format, provided you get the full line… and if Vince is right, there’s a very good chance of that indeed.
Dusknoir hasn’t impressed me, but I’ve already confessed to being rather clueless about it and its use. It really could be a rogue deck about to go mainstream, and I’m just not aware… but going through it, there is a lot here that looks good at a glance and even leads to some fun combos but I’m not convinced it will provide enough return for the effort. I think we’ve got some Johnny-bait, here.
You know it just seems appropriate that Dusknoir gets on our review list as they announce the remake of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon for the Switch – PMD DX. I know technically Dusknoir is the villain from the 2nd set of games – Explorers of Time/Darkness – but I’ll always remember Blue Mystery Dungeon because no joke, that game had me tearing up at the end of it, and I’m digging the new aesthetic to play around with.
Dusknoir in the meantime is a Stage 2 Psychic Pokemon, 160 HP, with a Darkness Weakness, a Fighting Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. Psych Up is a decent 1-for-60 that does 60 more damage if you attacked with Psych Up last turn, so it can be a 1-for-120 on subsequent turns. Grim Marking is also a neat Ability that lets you put 4 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon any way you like, though you have to have Dusknoir Active and get KO’d.
I was gonna initially dunk on this card, since it hasn’t shown up much in the meta, but I should point out that these types of effects like Grim Marking did make it into a pretty meta-relevant deck in the Malamar archetype. Probably the most comparable card in the deck would be Blacephalon, which also helps spread damage counters in the deck. The main difference between these two, outside of Basic vs Stage 2, is that Blacephalon’s damage is in the form of an offensive attack, whereas Dusknoir’s Grim Marking is a slower defensive Ability. In the meantime though, Dusknoir can dish out heavy damage to the Active Pokemon for relatively cheap, whereas Blacephalon can only put out so much damage each turn outside of specific conditions.
Overall, it’s hard to argue in Dusknoir’s favor against a Basic Pokemon that does the same thing without needing to lose a Prize, but it does have a couple of points in its favor with Psych Up. Other useful decks Dusknoir could be in serve as more counters to Psychic-Weak decks, since Dusknoir’s boost occurs before Weakness and Resistance are applied. This can be useful against stuff like Mewtwo & Mew-GX, but again, it’s hard to argue you can get away with using a Stage 2 Pokemon to counter a Basic. The speed element is a huge factor in the match-up, and that makes it a tough sell in most cases.
Standard: 2/5 (he’s strong in certain cases, but there’s a huge uphill battle for him)
Expanded: 1.5/5 (he’s either got to compete with cards that do his job better or fight against stuff that’s faster to get out)
Limited: 4/5 (but when the speed and match-up is in his favor, Dusknoir can do a lot)
Arora Notealus: It’s not that Dusknoir is a bad card – it’s just outmatched in a lot of ways. It’s the same thing that inherently puts Evolution Pokemon at a disadvantage compared to Basics – the Basic Pokemon will always be able to come out faster than any Evolution Pokemon can, and the difficulty of making it easier for Evolution Pokemon to come out faster than they do already is that it tends to break the game in lots of ways. This is why Evolutions are reliant on their moveset and Abilities to make it through the TCG, and for me, Dusknoir just falls short of that line.
Next Time: Sometimes you have to just give it your all for the team, even if it means self-destruction!
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