– Dragons Exalted
June 20, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today’s Throwback is another familiar card that I used to have. Ho-Oh EX from Black & White Dragons Exalted is a pretty interesting card to use at the time. You can read two past reviews: September 13, 2012 and 10th best card lost to rotation August 11, 2014. Looking at what this card does, it acts like an engine of energy acceleration and an attacker. But to cover some things from this card…it is a Basic Fire Type with 160 HP, weak to Water, resist Fighting, and a retreat cost of two. The weakness was unfavorable because the next set after Dragons Exalted is Boundaries Crossed, and that set came with a good amount of Water Pokemon, mainly Keldeo-EX and Rain Dance Blastoise. Before writing it off, we’re still looking at what it has to offer.
The ability, Rebirth, does live up to its name. If Ho-Oh EX is in the discard pile, you flip a coin. If you flip heads, not only you get to put this Pokémon from the discard pile onto your Bench, but you also get to attach three different basic energy cards from the discard pile into this Pokémon. Getting three energies in one turn is fast, but if you can’t make use of those energies stuck on one Pokémon, then it’s still useless. Thankfully, the format had Energy Switch, which helped facilitate energy management at the time, and eventually, more methods can help them in the Expanded card pool. The Rebirth ability can also lead to…
…it’s attack. Rainbow Burn costs CCC for 20 damage, plus 20 more damage for each different basic energies attached to this Pokémon. As of current, there are nine different basic energy cards: Grass, Fire, Water, Lightning, Fighting, Psychic, Metal, Dark, and Fairy. Back when it came out, Fairy energy had not existed at the time, so the max damage was 180. At a minimum, three different energies would get you to deal 80 damage. With all nine different basic energies attached, it will do 200 damage. This attack is met with much ridicule; you have to run different types of energies, and even then, it’d be a long shot to meet OHKOs at the time. Sure, you can OHKO something with eight different energies attached to Ho-Oh EX, but it will soon be OHKOed back by an opposing Mewtwo-EX’s X Ball, Yveltal-EX’s Evil Ball, and other damage scaling users, for the price of two energies! Sadly put, this attack is WAY underpowered.
Being that it’s attack is lackluster even on today’s standard, Ho-Oh’s only niche left is getting energies. Instead of a one-time use of Energy Switch, you can make use of Golduck BREAK, whose Hyper Transfer allows you to move as many basic energies from your Pokémon to another of your Pokemon. Battle Compressor helps get you the exact pieces onto the discard pile, ready to hopefully pull off Rebirth and couple more energies. While Ho-Oh makes itself at home to this strategy, there’s cards that can interrupt your strategy. Garbodor’s Garbotoxin shuts down all abilities from Pokemon in play, their hand, and even the discard pile. So unless you have Tool removal, Rebirth will not activate at all, let alone having an already unreliable ability that requires a coin flip. Even worse, if your opponent started with Wobbuffet from XY Phantom Forces as their Active Pokemon, you won’t be able to use it until you force it out from the Active.
Overall, Otaku’s insight is pretty spot on when he reviewed it on the day this card was about to leave the Standard Format. There are other alternative methods to accelerate energy that doesn’t need a card that gives up two prize cards and doesn’t rely on luck. Specific type, Stage, or other sub-category support from different mediums usually excels well. Things like Dark/Aqua Patch that guarantees a single Dark/Water energy, Welder/Blacksmith that accelerates Fire energies, Malamar’s Psychic Recharge, Eelectrik’s Dynamotor, Bronzong’s Metal Links, Naganadel’s Charging Up, and much more. As far as Rainbow Burn, this attack can’t OHKO Tag Teams at all (unless Fire Weakness is present) and the bare minimum of three energies would 3HKO most of the time. This is me talking about the state of the Expanded format for this card, it just simply can’t keep up. Ironically, Ho-Oh would not benefit from Fire based support based on the ability and attack.
As this card is legal in the Legacy Format, Ho-Oh might have a breather here. Yes, Garbotoxin is still a problem, but they aren’t in play immediately due to having to evolve Trubbish, this waiting a turn, and Tool Scrapper helps overcome an obstacle. Rainbow Burn is still being ridiculed as underpowered and prone to retaliatory KO, but it can go to the 2HKO route. The maximum HP is around 180 (with Wailord being 200), so you’ll need all eight different energies to achieve the OHKO unless Eviolite buffers damage. It’s a shame that it can’t benefit from Silver Bangle, and Choice Band doesn’t exist in Legacy, so Ho-Oh is really stuck with variable damage that doesn’t get boosted. For Limited, I don’t remember a card that gets Ho-Oh in the discard pile to maximize the effectiveness of this ability. Even regarding Trainer cards (which there are just four in the Dragons Exalted Set: Tool Scrapper, Devolution Spray, Rescue Scarf, and Giant Cape), none of them interacts with sending cards to the discard. So it’s a matter of manual setup, and waiting two turns of not attacking.
Ho-Oh EX is a functional Pokémon to utilize (Rebirth is a very good ability despite the coin flip, and there are other Pokémon that can help manage energies constantly), but because of the hostile environment both existing formats offers, Ho-Oh would either have to be accommodated to deal with threats or to be retired.
Today’s Throwback is Ho-Oh-EX (BW – Dragons Exalted 22/124, 119/124). The crew’s original reviews from shortly after this card released were favorable. The re-reviews from around the time it rotated from the Standard Format were mostly favorable, though I thought power-creep was leaving Ho-Oh-EX in the dust. So, why are we looking at it now?
The Hartford, CT Regional Championship from May 4th is now over two months old, but it is still the most recent Expanded Format event for which I have results. Wanting something relevant to the Expanded Format, I looked through Jose Marrero’s 1st Place deck and was surprised to see today’s Ho-Oh-EX. Why would anyone risk running a 160 HP Pokémon-EX with an attack that only does 20 plus 20 more for each different Type of basic Energy attached to it? Especially when the printed attack cost is also [CCC]?
The answer is its Ability “Rebirth” and Rayquaza-GX. Rebirth can be activated once per turn, prior to your attack, for a copy of this Ho-Oh-EX in your discard pile. You flip a coin, and if it is “heads”, you Bench Ho-Oh-EX while also attaching up to three basic Energy cards of different Types to it. Ho-Oh-EX’s own”Rainbow Burn” isn’t worth using – especially as this deck only runs basic Grass Energy and Lightning Energy cards. However, when backing a Rayquaza-GX with sufficient basic Energy cards in the discard pile, Rebirth essentially becomes “Flip a coin, and if “heads”, Rayquaza-GX’s “Dragon Break” does +60 damage.”
It doesn’t hurt that Ho-Oh-EX is still a Basic, and while its 160 HP is effectively lower now than before, it still isn’t a super-easy OHKO for most decks. It even enjoys [F] Resistance. Yes, Ability denial renders this card useless. [W] Weakness hurts, considering Seismitoad-EX works in so many decks, and Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; BW – Plasma Blast 16/101) decks are still a thing. The Retreat Cost of [CC] can even cause a bit of a hang-up… but Rebirth is still a potent Ability, and it looks like someone found a good way to utilize it indirectly.
You could also still try using Ho-Oh-EX as an attacker in its own deck, but I’m guessing it can’t handle that based on what we’ve been seeing, lately. Just be glad it has a surprise use in Expanded, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so with older packs, enjoy it in Limited.
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