Emboar – Battle Styles
Date Reviewed: April 5, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Another card I’ve mentioned in multiple reviews during our countdown, Emboar (SW – Battle Styles 025/163). Emboar is a Single Strike Pokémon, letting it make use of their support. Other than that, it is a baseline card, with the traditional card name, no Rule Box, worth only one Prize when KO’d, etc. It is a Fire type, which is handy when attacking most Grass and Metal types, as they’re usually [R] Weak. [R] Energy support has some powerful plays like Welder. [R] Pokémon support has… Heat [R] Energy for what seems to actually be worth the effort. Probably won’t matter, but there’s also Vaporeon (SW – Vivid Voltage 30/185); if it has a Memory Capsule, the Abilities of all [R] Pokémon get ignored. Looking at Emboar, its going to be more about its Ability than its attack, but this still seems like a solid package.
What is a concern is that Emboar is a Stage 2. This is normal for the Emboar Evolution line, but that doesn’t change that this makes Emboar slow and resource intensive. At least, if you follow the normal Evolution process, you’re going to have to run Tepig and Pignite alongside and… they’re all filler. Just by virtue of being fellow Single Strike Pokémon, if you run them go with Tepig (SW – Battle Styles 023/163) and Pignite (SW – Battle Styles 024/163). Fortunate, there are shortcuts. Not only might you use Rare Candy to skip Pignite, but Single Strike Style Mustard lets you Bench Emboar directly from your deck to your Bench. The catch is that this Supporter may only be used when it is the last card in your hand. Similar cards worked well in the past, but they also had support options we currently lack.
Emboar has 180 HP, and that’s good. Not quite as beefy as a Basic Pokémon V, and Emboar requires more cards and time to hit the field, but it is also only worth a single Prize. [W] Weakness is going to sometimes be an issue; Inteleon VMAX/Frosmoth decks seem to still be a thing, and perhaps not as scarce as I originally thought. A [W] type just needs 90 damage to score a OHKO. Emboar’s lack of Resistance is typical, so I won’t dock it for not having anyway, but it is also the worst. A Retreat Cost of [CCCC] is the max printed Retreat Cost for anything in Standard and Expanded; either you’re packing options to switch it out from the Active or to tank. On the plus side, there is a tiny bit of support specifically for Retreat Cost [CCCC] Pokémon, so Emboar can use it.
Emboar has the Ability “Fighting Fury Stance”. It states the attacks of your Single Strike Pokémon do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active. As is typical, this only applies when attacking your opponent’s Active, and happens before Weakness and Resistance. Not that anything is naturally [R] Resistance outside of the Unlimited Format. 30 is a decent amount, but it can still fail to make a difference, or even backfire. Be wary of what card effects you may or may not trigger due to the amount of damage your attacks do, and whether you’re reducing how many turns it actually takes your attackers to score KOs. Based on the wording, Fighting Fury Stance should stack with itself. Getting multiple Emboar into play seems rather daunting, however.
If you’re not used to damage bonuses like this, know that they only works for attacks intended to do damage in the first place. For example, if you use the “Laser Focus” attack of Single Strike Urshifu V (SW – Battle Styles 085/163, 150/163, 151/163) to attach two Energy cards from your deck to itself, that will not do any damage regardless of how many instances of Fighting Fury Stance are on your Bench. If an effect sets the attacks damage to “zero”, whether that effect comes from your own side of the field or your opponent’s, Fighting Fury Stance won’t increase it to 30, either. So if your Mankey (SW – Battle Styles 066/163) uses its “Focus Fist” attack and you get “tails”, the attack still does zero damage.
Now, if an attack does zero damage because enough damage was subtracted from it, then Fighting Fury Stance’s damage bonus might help. For example, the +30 from Fighting Fury Stance is enough to counteract the -30 from attacking a Pokémon with Metal Goggles equipped. When it still won’t help is when the damage reduction is such the net result is still zero or less. Moving on, Emboar knows one attack, “Heat Crash”. For [RRCC] this attack let’s Emboar do 130 damage. This is low for the Energy, but as long as Fighting Fury Stance is in effect, Heat Crash will actually do 160 damage. Heat Crash is still pricey enough I wouldn’t count on using it, but this is functional filler; still something mostly just thrown on the card, but practical enough you might still make use of it a little.
Being a Stage 2 is likely why Emboar was given Fighting Fury Stance. If Emboar was a Basic, Emboar would be a staple for most, if not all, Single Strike decks. If it was between using running Houndoom (SW – Battle Styles 096/163, 179/163, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH090) or the hypothetical Basic Emboar, the latter would probably win out. If it was a Stage 1, the odds would still be good that Emboar shows up in many decks. The former would definitely be too good, the latter possibly too good. As is? Emboar is either just right, or maybe not quite enough. As already stated, +30 damage per Emboar is already enough to likely make a difference. It is just a matter of having enough room in your deck to run Emboar, whether evolving manually or using Single Strike Style Mustard.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
In Standard, Emboar has just enough going for it that it gets a solid three-out-of-five. In Expanded, while you’ll have an easier time reliably fielding Emboar via Single Strike Style Mustard, you face far, far more competition and counters, so it is a net loss. Emboar was our 21st-Place pick for a Top 15 list; better than not placing it at all, but not enough to make the actual countdown. It is possible it won’t ever feature in a truly competitive deck, but it still has a chance right now.
Emboar may not have made the countdown, but had the countdown become a bigger list, then it would have been the 21st best card of Battle Styles. That’s because it has an ability called Fighting Fury Stance, which lets Single Strike Pokemon deal 30 extra damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon. Emboar is also a Single Strike Pokémon, so Heat Crash’s damage output becomes between 160 to 250 depending on how many Emboar were in play. It also helps that as a Single Strike Pokémon, it can not only be used as fodder for Tower of Darkness in order to draw 2 cards, but also can be bought into play from the discard pile via Single Strike Style Mustard without the need of lower stages. On top of it all, this ability stacks; with four Emboar in play, any Single Strike Pokémon can boast dealing an extra 120 damage!
As always, dealing extra damage can sometimes be a good or a bad thing depending on the circumstances. Good if the extra damage mattered when OHKOing or 2HKOing things; Bad if it doesn’t. Single Strike Energy already provided bonus damage, so depending on the attacker, you might not need a full four Single Strike Energy AND a full four Emboar to do the job, but you can do that if you want the experience to enjoy the satisfaction to dealing 200 extra damage of any attack. I suppose Emboar might be your other alternative for when you’re running a Single Strike deck that doesn’t benefit from Single Strike Energy (because that energy card couldn’t cover part of the attack cost other than colorless).
I don’t know how often Emboar would be used in a single strike deck, and several Single Strike Pokémon that I browsed through didn’t stand out as much outside of Single Strike Urshifu V-MAX. Maybe as more Single Strike cards keep on coming, Emboar will continue to be helpful. Bench space is somewhat tight and sometimes you might not be able to always play Single Strike Style Mustard due to fulfilling a steep requirement or if the Bench is full. Other than those concerns, Emboar is still a piece of Single Strike support that should not be forgotten about.
I am quite fond of those “…do 30 more damage to…” abilities, but they usually are limited to certain targets. Incineroar UNB works for any Pokémon, but it can’t be stacked. Flareon CEC worked only for the GX versions of Eeveelutions, and the ability can’t be stacked either. Now, Emboar supports Single Strike Pokemon and is also stackable. In the long run, however, Emboar’s relevancy may be short-lived if the designers discontinue making those battle styles, so a three-out-of-five in standard is as good as it gets, even after acknowledging how easy it is to bring it to play.
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