– Secret Wonders
June 6, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I was asked to find a Throwback card for this week, and I decided “Well, how about another Dusk Stone related card…in a bygone mechanic?” That’s how Honchkrow LV.X came to be today! There is an older review regarding this card, but that was at least 12 years ago. As a Level Up card, it retains its previous stage, so Honchkrow LV.X is still a Stage 1 card, which can benefit from support related to Stage 1 cards such as Triple Effect Eeveelutions from XY Ancient Origins or Bodybuilding Dumbbells. All Honchkrow cards are Dark Type, and this Level Up card is no different. It can only exploit a decent chunk of Psychic types – who represent the Ghost type in the games – for double damage, but all Fairy Pokemon resist Dark types. 110 HP on a Level Up card was acceptable back then, but with power creep continuing to happen with newer cards, recent Honchkrow has at most 110 HP, so leveling it up won’t make a difference on the HP. Even more shocking is that Pokémon can reduce its Max HP if you tried to use old and newer cards. Empoleon from Ultra Prism that is about to level up to Empoleon LV.X will have its Max HP reduced from 160 to 140! Back to Honchkrow, while 110 HP is nice, it’s Lightning Weakness is risky, depending on what you’re facing (and I haven’t kept track of considerable amount of older cards), but Fighting resistance can be handy at times. Perhaps the best thing for Honchkrow LV.X is that it has FREE retreat, something all regular Stage 1 Honchkrow cards lack!
Level Up cards are similar to Break Evolutions as it retains certain parts of the card, but for Level X cards, it retains just the attacks, Stage, and/or Pokémon Powers. The HP, type, weakness, Resistance, and retreat cost are overwritten. Honchkrow LV.X adds two more attack in addition to whatever the original Stage 1 card had. Feint Attack costs CC and does a flat 40 damage, which seems underwhelming when factoring the fact that it doesn’t apply Weakness. However, there are several smaller targets that can be OHKOed by this attack. Darkness Wing does 60 damage for DDC and if you knock out the Defending Pokémon with this attack, you can get a card from your discard pile onto your hand. The damage output CAN be improved with Darkness Energy. And no, I’m not talking about basic Darkness Energy or Dangerous Energy, but rather, a very, very older Special energy card that was first printed in the Neo era until Call of Legends. This Special energy card provides D energy regardless of Pokémon, but if it’s attached to a Dark Pokemon, it gets to deal 10 extra damage, and multiple energies like this can stack! If it had three special Darkness Energy attached to it, for example, their attacks can do 70 and 90 damage respectively!
There are eight regular Stage 1 Honchkrow cards in the unlimited card pool (Honchkrow-GX doesn’t count!!!):
–Honchkrow (DP Mysterious Treasures 10/123) has an Poke-Body and an attack. Dark Genes states that as long as this Pokémon has the energy necessary to meet the attack costs, Murkrow can use any attacks printed on Honchkrow cards without meeting the attack costs. Makes sense for both this card and it’s Level X card to contribute! Dark Wing Flaps cost DDC for 50 damage, and randomly select one of your opponent’s cards from their hand, and shuffles that card into their deck. This effect can be annoying unless your opponent has ways to search them out.
–Honchkrow (Platinum Supreme Victors 29/147) has a Poke-Power and an attack. As long as this is your Active Pokemon and your opponent’s Bench isn’t full, you can put a Basic Pokémon from your opponent discard pile onto their Bench. This is such a trolly Pokemon Power, as it can let you put a much smaller target (like a Pokémon with 40 or less HP) for you to OHKO and get prizes! Otherwise, you can send a useless Pokémon to clog up your opponent’s Bench space! Riot has the potential to be good in its time; it costs DCC for 30 damage, plus 10 more for each Pokémon from both players that isn’t an Evolved Pokemon; that could range between 30 to 140 damage before factoring Special Darkness Energy or other damage boosting cards! Also complements well with this Level Up card!
–Two Honchkrow cards appeared in HeartGold & SoulSilver Undaunted! The first Honchkrow (HS Undaunted 15/90) has two attacks. Whirlwind costs CC for 20 damage, and your opponent has to switch their Active Pokemon with one of their Benched Pokemon if any. Blindside costs DD and you deal 50 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokemon that already has damage counters on it. Luckily, there’s Poke-Blower that may be able to help you put one damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon…if you flipped heads on a coin flip. Those attacks rely on luck, which isn’t good for this card.
–The second Honchkrow (HS Undaunted 16/90) also has two attacks. Shadow Bind costs DC for 30 damage, and keeps the opponent’s Defending Pokémon from retreating, although to can switch or bounce. Vengeance costs DCC for 10 damage, plus 10 more damage for each Dark Pokemon in your discard pile. If you can load up your discard pile with Dark Pokemon, then your damage output can improve considerably. Sadly, it is heavily outclassed by Flareon (BW Plasma Freeze 12/116) in the Legacy Format since Flareon’s own Vengeance attack can work with any Pokemon in the discard regardless of type. Also it cost CC as opposed to DCC and has higher HP!
–Onwards to Black & White, Honchkrow (BW Dragons Exalted 73/124) has two attacks. Whirlwind does 30 for CC and your opponent has to switch their Active Pokemon with one of their Benched Pokemon if any. Diving Swipe does 70 for DCC and discards a random card from your opponent’s hand. In an era where EX Pokemon ran rampant, Honchkrow does not see any play at all. Even with Honchkrow LV.X, this is not a good choice as it doesn’t increase HP since it’s already at 110.
–Honchkrow (XY Phantom Forces 52/119) has two attacks, and they combo well with each other. Hypnoblast cost D for 20 damage, and puts the opponent’s Active Pokemon to sleep. Following up that attack, Nightmare Mambo cost DCC for 60 damage, plus 60 more damage if the Defending Pokémon was Asleep. Still doesn’t help the Level Up card as much besides 10 more HP and free retreat.
–Honchkrow (SM Guardians Rising 79/145) has two attacks. Feint Attack costs D and does its usual thing for a flat 30 damage whatsoever. Raven’s Claw costs CC for 10 damage, plus 10 more damage for each damage counter on all of your opponent’s Pokemon. If enough spread damage is accumulated on your opponent’s side, then Raven’s Claw can potentially deal a lot of damage. However, trying to keep the damage on the board is not easy, and your opponent may flush all damage with Max Potion, limiting the effectiveness of Raven’s Claw.
–Honchkrow (SM Ultra Prism 72/156) has two attacks. Rip and Run costs D lets you randomly discard a card from your opponent’s hand, and you switch this Pokémon with one of your Benched Pokemon. This might be a good hit and run tactics. Speed Dive does 90 for DCC.
Regardless of which card fits the bill, it takes a deck slot and another turn to Level Up your Active Honchkrow – similar to evolving. However, there is a way to bypass a particular evolution, albeit a shaky one. Dusk Stone will chiefly evolve Murkrow onto any Stage 1 Honchkrow cards, and Level Max (Platinum 107/127) gives you a 50% chance to let you Level Up your Pokemon from your deck (if you flipped heads, hence the 50% chance). Hypothetically, if Honchkrow LV.X were to be converted into being a Break Evolution, it would probably have around 140 HP and keep the Darkness Wing attack. Wishful thinking, but while Honchkrow is decent back then, the modern days renders this older card hopelessly underpowered, despite available shortcuts. And based on older reviews, there’s no Honchkrow in DP Secret Wonders, so Honchkrow LV.X is useless in Limited.
Update: Now that I’ve finished writing about other Honchkrow options, I find that only Honchkrow (DP Mysterious Treasures 10/123) and Honchkrow (Platinum Supreme Victors 29/147) are worth pairing with this Level Up card. For the former, you can swarm with various Murkrow cards to copy Honchkrow’s attack with ease. For the ladder, this Poke-Power can invite certain combinations, so that’s another good option to use. Most importantly, however, and I forgot to mention it in the beginning, is that Level Up cards counts as this Pokémon as well, so you can only have four of any combination of the original Pokémon and/or it’s Level Up card, something like 2 Honchkrow and 2 Honchkrow LV.X but not 4 Honchkrow and 3 Honchkrow LV.X. Keep that in mind for deckbuilding purposes. So looks like Honchkrow’s glory days are heavily numbered because the other recent Honchkrow cards are a disappointment except for the Guardians Rising version. That card can compliment with Honchkrow-GX, but that’s a different story on a different time. This Level Up card would have no business in Expanded anyways because it can’t copy abilities.
Afterthought: Yup, we would’ve reviewed Murkrow from Secret Wonders as well. It had a built in held item in the form of Dusk Stone printed on that particular Murkrow card as opposed to needing an actual item to do it! But better late than never, since we’ve briefly mentioned it in some way or form.
Today’s Throwback Thursday pick is Honchkrow (DP – Secret Wonders 132/132) a.k.a. Honchkrow LV.X. Let’s start by establishing that the DP-era is when work forced me to all but give up the Pokémon TCG. I tried to keep up, but I failed. I didn’t start to come back until the HS-series was introduced, and I didn’t really get back until I was finally able to get the PTCGO reliably working on my computer… by which point we were a few sets into the XY-era. So for both our sakes, let’s run through what the Pokémon TCG was like at this time, namely the differences between now and then. For all the Gen IV associated sets, instead of three main kinds of cards (Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy), we had five (Pokémon, Trainers, Supporters, Stadiums, and Energy). Both before and after this time in the game, Stadium and Supporter card were just a subclass of Trainer. As such, cards released during this time that refer to “Trainers” should be read as referring to “Items”. The player who went first could not use any Trainers (Items, Stadiums, or Supporters) but could attack.
Weakness and Resistance went from always being “x2” and “-30” to plus or minus an amount between 10 and 40, though some still had “x2” Weakness. The primary non-attack effect wasn’t an “Ability”, but a Poké-Body or Poké-Power, which in turn were subclasses of the original Pokémon Power. If an effect mentioned it worked against BOTH Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers, it would also work on old school Pokémon Powers and vice versa. If, however, it only applied one or the other, that was all it affected. Some Pokémon would have another kind of non-attack effect, the “Held Item”. These were themed after the things a Pokémon might hold onto in the video games but did not preclude the Pokémon having a Tool attached to them. During this time, they went back to printing Pokémon with Levels, but now they appear right after the card’s name…
…which us to how this card is officially named “Honchkrow” but referred to as Honchkrow LV.X, and what that means. Pokémon LV.X cards are neither Basic nor Evolution cards while in your hand, but a “Level-Up” card; when in play, they are treated as being the same Stage as the Pokémon immediately under it. You must put the Level-Up card onto a Pokémon with the same name, but which is not a Pokémon LV.X. This is referred to as “Leveling Up” that Pokémon. You can only Level-Up a Pokémon in the Active Position, and (similar to Evolving) you cannot Level-Up on your first turn or the first turn a Pokémon was in play. Pokémon LV.X are seen as “extensions” of the Pokémon under them. Not only do they have the same Stage, but access to any attacks, Poké-Bodies, Poké-Powers, and even Held Items printed on that underlying Pokémon. You cannot put a Level-Up card directly into play. If you use an effect that would return the highest Stage of Evolution to a player’s hand, both the LV.X and the actual highest Stage of Evolution are affected.
Whew! Not much space left to discuss Honchkrow LV.X, though it is a self-imposed limit so I guess we’ll just go long. Let’s start with the name; Honchkrow LV.X, as stated, counts against how many Honchkrow you can run in your deck. Typically, this means something like a 3-1 or a 2-2 split, though you can run less, like a 1-1 count. Count, not line; you still need your Murkrow so that they can Evolve into the regular Honchkrow. Honchkrow LV.X must Level-Up from a Pokémon with that exact name; you cannot slap it on top of a Honchkrow-GX (for example). The Level-Up rules mean Honchkrow LV.X counts as a Stage 1 once it is in play, but is harder to put into play than a Stage 2. Pokémon LV.X have their own support, counters, and are also excluded from the beneficial effects of various cards. Honchkrow LV.X has 110 HP, which is 20 more than Honchkrow (DP – Mysterious Treasures 10/123). It has been so long I could be mistaken, but I believe its HP score was “okay” back then. I do not remember the metagame for this time period, so I cannot comment on whether the [L]+30 Weakness was particularly dangerous or the [F] -20 Resistance hand, but a perfect free Retreat Cost has always been a beautiful thing.
Honchkrow LV.X brought a version of “Feint Attack” and the new attack “Darkness Wing”. Feint Attack let you pick one of your opponent’s Pokémon and do 40 damage to it, and its damage was unaffected by Weakness, Resistance, or effects on the Pokémon you hit. Decent damage for the Energy, but remember this was at a time when Double Colorless Energy wasn’t legal. There were some other Special Energy cards that provided multiple units at once, but they all came with other drawbacks. [DDC] paid for Darkness Wing to do 60 damage, and if the damage from Darkness Wing KO’d your opponent’s Active, you were allowed to add a card from your discard pile to your hand. Not great damage for three Energy back then, but from what little I recall/looked up, seems adequate to good. We need a Murkrow and Honchkrow.
At the time this card released, Honchkrow (DP – Mysterious Treasures 10/123) was the ONLY Honchkrow in existence, though we would get Honchkrow (PL – Supreme Victors 29/147) before Honchkrow LV.X would rotate from the Standard Format. We’re not going into detail on these cards, because from what information I’ve gathered, “Honchkrow” decks were a thing and DID run Honchkrow LV.X… BUT probably just one as it was almost entirely for the HP bump. Yes, even though the older of the two had a Poké-Body that would allow your Murkrow in play to use the attacks of that Honchkrow) for free so long as it had enough Energy to pay for the attacks… and Honchkrow LV.X would inherit that Poké-Body! It is possible that this is actually a good deck, and I had the misfortunate of only finding comments about it during a time when it wasn’t good but… Murkrows were likely OHKO’s for competitive decks back then, and neither Honchkrow LV.X nor the Honchkrow in question has good enough attacks to make spamming them look appealing.
Plus, Murkrow (DP – Secret Wonders 95/132) had the Held Item “Dusk Stone”, which let you Evolve it the turn you put it into play. Which means it was really good at Evolving into its Stage 1 form, but its Stage 1 form wanted it to remain a Basic. Perhaps we ought to have reviewed the Murkrow instead? Getting back to Honchkrow LV.X, it couldn’t be re-released in anything resembling its original form. I’d almost be interested in Darkness Wing making a return, but then I realized I wanted it to cost less, do more damage, and return a card to hand regardless of whether the damage scored a KO. In other words, I really wanted something that only resembled it. If you’re able to play in a Limited Format tournament using DP – Secret Wonders packs, you can’t run this except as a dead card. There are no Honchkrow in DP – Secret Wonders. If you run it with a set that also has Honchkrow, and is from around this time, I suppose it is decent if you get both (plus a Murkrow).
Yeah… I definitely should have had us just review Murkrow (DP – Secret Wonders 95/132). Too late for that now. If Honchkrow LV.X was ever a good card, I’ve failed it and you. From what I can tell, it was kind of good in a deck built around the available Honchkrow of the day, but it was a functional – NOT competitive – deck and even then, you’d be running two Honchkrow LV.X at most.
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