Today, we’re looking at one of the cards from a mini set: Greninja (Detective Pikachu 9/18). This is actually a Secret Rare since the star is glittery according to the card, so good luck pulling one! There used to be a YouTube video from PTCGradio about this card from a different language, but was removed swiftly, so I couldn’t get the details before, but I can finally analyze it. Being a Stage 2 is pretty slow, as it takes two turns to evolve outside of Rare Candy or Meganium as well as devoting more deck space. The water typing allows Greninja to hit most Fire types and some Fighting types for double damage, as well as tapping in on support from both formats. 140 HP for a Greninja card is higher than previous Greninja cards sans the one from Kalos Starter Set, though the Grass weakness can still be a problem, and there are some decent grass decks going around. A retreat cost of one is okay; you could fork over an energy most of the time or use Escape Board to eliminate it.
Greninja has an ability and an attack, both of which seems extremely familiar from various past cards. Evasion Jutsu is quite iffy, as it creates a scenario of whether it be completely useless or utterly broken. When this Pokémon is about to be damaged, you flip a coin. If heads, prevent that damage! This can happen even if it is on the Bench and even if it comes from your own attacks like Giratina’s Shadow Impact for instance. It does not, however, prevent Special Conditions or effects that place damage counters, so Greninja is not entirely safe. Another thing you can’t cheat on is that Victory Star Victini does NOT allow you to flip a coin for Abilities, only attacks. Furious Shurikens is also another familiar attack on a different name, as it cost WW and does 50 damage to 2 of your opponent’s Pokemon. This can help set up multiple KOs, and I don’t see any restriction regarding targeting, so you can hit the Active, and Weakness/Resistance will be applied to it. All in all, this seems to be a standalone card that doesn’t need much support, and you can use whatever cards to speed up the process even further. But sadly, having a 50/50 ability and a mediocre spread attack doesn’t make this a great card……..for Standard at least. Plus, there was another Greninja card from Japanese’s Night Unison set to compete with. It is a Stage 2 Dark Type with 130 HP, weak to Fighting, Psychic Resistance, and free retreat. Bring Down cost CC and makes you choose one Pokémon with the fewest HP remaining except this Pokémon, and that Pokémon is knocked out. Mist Slash costs DD and does 70 damage, without being affected by Weakness, Resistance, or any other effects on the Defending Pokemon
Expanded could shake things up for this Greninja because of the format’s vast card pool. There are several more Greninja options (which I won’t go through all of them, I’m really dismissing the Kalos Starter Set and XY24 Promo) and even a card another Stage above it! Greninja (XY BreakPoint 40/122) is a Stage 2 Water type with 130 HP, Grass weakness, and free retreat. It has two single energy attacks. Shadow Stitching costs C for 40 damage, and provides a one turn lock of disabling Abilities from your opponent’s Pokemon in play, hand, discard pile, and even cards that come into play from their deck! Moonlight Slash costs W for 60 damage, and does 20 more if you return a water energy attached to it into your hand. Greninja (XY 41/146) is a Stage 2 Water type with 130 HP, Grass weakness, and a retreat cost of one. It has an ability and an attack. Water Shuriken is an ability which lets you discard a Water energy from your hand and place 3 damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon. Mist Slash costs W for 50 damage without being affected by Weakness, Resistance, or any other effects on the Defending Pokemon. Greninja (XY Black Star Promos 162) is a Stage 2 Water type with 130 HP, Grass weakness, and a retreat cost of one. It has two attacks. Aqua Shower costs W and does 20 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokemon. Dual Cut costs WC and flips two coins; it does 60 damage for each heads.
And finally, there’s Greninja BREAK (XY BreakPoint 41/122)! This is a Break Evolution of a Stage 2, which is even slower than an ordinary Stage 2, as it takes even more cards in your deck slot and even four turns to evolve. It is a Water type with 170 HP, and maintains the attacks, abilities, weakness, resistance, and retreat cost from your previous Evolution. So it may be weak to Grass or Fighting, or it may have Psychic resistance, and it may or may not retreat for free. It adds an ability called Giant Water Shuriken. If this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon, then you may discard a water energy from your hand and place SIX damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon. This is one serious snipe, as it takes out 60 HP Pokémon, which would’ve been used to evolve, or just sit there as a tech against other stuff. It even helps to make the other player using Professor Elm’s Lecture to grab more than one of the same Pokémon for the sake of getting at least someone to evolve when one of them goes down. Ditto Prism Star may be out of luck even for one turn if Greninja Break is already in play, because that player will simply use that ability to KO it and send it to the Lost Zone.
It’s overall playability seems deteriorated over the years. It has seen a lot of play back then, racking up multiple placements in various tournaments and even place highly at Worlds. Worlds 2016 has Greninja Break decks placed as high as second for Masters Division; World 2017 had second place on Senior Division; and Worlds 2018 had placed fourth place in Senior Division. Greninja BREAK haven’t seen any placings lately while looking at Limitless; the World Championship 2018 decklists are its latest appearances for this golden frog, and it’s best days are going to be numbered. Despite that, this is still a good card which can still catch opponents off guard if you get it fully set up. It may seem hard, but there is Frogadier (XY BreakPoint 39/122) whose Water Duplicates can fetch three more Frogadier from your deck into your Bench, ready to evolve next turn. It helps to use Rare Candy (which no one did in Greninja Break decks) in case one of your Frogadier is prized or if one of them gets Knocked Out. Overall, it was a deck archetype that was once deemed inconsistent but was able to make it work.
So, is the new Greninja going to supplement Greninja BREAK, or is it going to be brushed aside? Well, Evasion Jutsu isn’t reliable enough to help its longevity outside of players cheating to get heads on every coin flip (don’t even bother with whatever tactic you have, it’s time consuming and even the Judge May cease the match). Furious Shurikens needs two energy, and with most Greninja BREAK running between six to ten energies, there’s not much time to invest. The retreat cost of one is considered painful because with free retreat, you can use Giant Water Shuriken multiple times for multiple Greninja BREAK in play. Escape Board eats up your tool slot for a specific Pokémon when it could’ve been Choice Band or Bursting Balloon. Suppling snipe with spread may be useful, but not enough to deal the biggest blow to whatever is in front. However, if you can’t get more than one Greninja BREAK in play, then such a last resort of stall, snipe, and spread is the second best way. For the most part, it doesn’t seem to help Greninja BREAK as much. You can’t use this in Limited play, mostly because it is a mini-set. And even if you can, there’s no Froakie and Frogadier in that mini-set.
- Standard: 2.5/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Limited: N/A
Greninja doesn’t seem to do anything noteworthy in either formats, except that it made me write a lot due to being a Greninja card, which means a lot on Expanded. You may be able to steal a win that you shouldn’t have. Effects like this is pretty tempting, but you’ll be disappointed if you expect your luck to push very hard, and even more so in PTCGO, where the computer will flip a coin for you (it could flip tails every time). Overall, Greninja is not much different than many past cards that did a similar thing.