– Darkness Ablaze

Date Reviewed:
August 20, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.00
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 4.25

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:


Hydreigon (SSH – Darkness Ablaze 110/189; SSH – Black Star Promos SWSH037) is our 9th-place pick.  Let’s address the elephant in the room: this is a Stage 2 Pokémon, making it noticeably more demanding to run than most other Stages, in terms of deck space, cards-per-copy, and time to Evolve.  While some of the Deino and Zweilous are not awful, none are good enough to discuss.  You’ll want to use Rare Candy, but that may not be as easy as it used to be, given that Item-lock is back in Standard and in a big way.  The good news, at least, is that Hydreigon is a single-Prize Pokémon, so everything else about it doesn’t have to compensate for anything else.  Its [D] typing should be good right now, both in terms of type matching and type support… but a bit more on that later.

Hydreigon has 160 HP, which is good but not uncommon for contemporary Stage 2 Pokémon.  Still, it should sometimes be able to soak a hit, maybe just a tad more likely than not, though I may be underestimating the last few sets worth of power creep.  Grass Weakness was one of the safer ones, but Decidueye (SSH – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SSH – Black Star Promos SWSH035) seems poised to change that, and this Weakness does enable a OHKO where one wouldn’t be in that match-up.  Lack of Resistance is typical; any Resistance would be better, but probably not make a huge difference.  A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky and awkward, but while it is still too high for Air Balloon and too low for Buff Padding, as a [D] Type Hydreigon can use the new Hiding [D] Energy to retreat for free.

Hydreigon has the Ability “Dark Squall”, which lets you attach as many [D] Energy as you want from your hand to your Pokémon.  Yes, it says “1 of your Pokémon” but that is on a per Energy basis; technically each use of this Ability attaches one Energy at a time.  Also misleading is how it doesn’t specify basic Darkness Energy, but that’s the only card that counts as [D] while in hand.  The only limits on how many Energy you can attach in a turn is how many basic Darkness Energy cards you can get into your hand during your turn, before you attack.  Plus one, as you still have your manual Energy attachment (which can be used on any Energy card).  “Pitch-Black Fangs” is the usual filler attack, but with this Ability, its [DDC] asking price to do 130 damage isn’t bad.  It isn’t good, either, but it can sometimes do the job if you have to risk attacking with Hydreigon itself.

You should avoid attacking with Hydreigon if at all possible, so what to run with it?  Something that can make good use of a lot of basic Darkness Energy and can’t be better served by other forms of Energy acceleration.  So, that means not Eternatus VMAX.  It only needs [DC] to attack and is a Pokémon VMAX.  A Japanese deck did well using Weavile-GX, Darkrai {*}, and Scoop Up Net.  I think Eternatus VMAX might be set just using the new Supporter Rose, the new Item Turbo Boost, or a combination of the two.  What does that leave?  Technically quite a lot, but nothing especially worthwhile springs to mind.  It is a bit more flexible than it seems, as you could just use the Darkness Energy to cover [C] requirements, and it isn’t impossible to run something that has a small non-[C] and non-[D] cost, so long as whatever it is is still making good use of all that basic Darkness Energy.

By now, you can probably see where this review is heading… but if not, let me ask: when was the last time one of the Abilities really made good?  Frosmoth’s Ability is not exactly the same, but it is close, I thought it could be big… and it wasn’t.  Magnezone (SM – Ultra Prism 83/156; Shiny Vault SV29/SV94) and Magnezone (SM – Forbidden Light36/131) have the same Ability as Hydreigon, but for [M] energy and [L] Energy, respectively… and they never really amounted to much in the competitive scene.  It is certainly possible a partner for Hydreigon will emerge who makes the effort of running this Stage 2 worthwhile, but for now, I’m not expecting that in Standard or Expanded.

Expanded seems even less hopeful, due to more Ability denial, but there are more combo partners as well.  I think the deciding factor, however, is the competition.  The most recent example of this kind of Ability to do well is actually one of the older Expanded-options: Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; BW – Plasma Blast 16/101).  I didn’t realize that as recently as this past January, it had managed a 14th-place finish at an event with 756 players!  The catch is that it was an Archie’s Blastoise variant.  Specifically, it used Blastoise’s “Deluge” Ability to fuel Mewtwo & Mew-GX.  While that could be done with Hydreigon, you don’t have the equivalent of Archie’s Ace in the Hole to directly Bench it from your discard pile: that makes a huge difference.

Thanks to Vince, I was reminded I was having a flashback to how Pre-Release events used to work.  This usually only mattered when there was a question of exactly how many copies of a card you could theoretically pull, such as in the Familiar Bell review.  You now only receive four packs from the set… but that isn’t a problem for Hydreigon if you get it as one of the four Pre-Release promos (which used to be illegal to run in your Limited Format deck, but they changed that years ago).  If I remember correctly (now), the 23-card Evolution pack you get corresponds to your promo, so if you get Hydreigon that way, you should pull a fleshed out line with which to use it.  Hydreigon is great here, though it might be a bigger help covering [C] Energy requirements than actual [D] ones.  The usual caveat also applies; if you pull a Basic Pokémon V worth running as a  Mulligan deck, that’s going to be the better play.


  • Standard: 2/5
  • Expanded: 1/5
  • Limited: 4/5

Hydreigon did not make my own list, but , once again, I’m the odd man out for our team of three.  I can see why the others included it, but these kinds of decks haven’t been working lately, Archie’s variants possibly excluded: the tournament where it made good is from over 6 months ago.  Hydreigon doesn’t have its own version of Archie’s Ace in the Hole, or even something remotely close, so I’m pretty confident that I made the right call leaving it off of my own list, but the raw potential means I could have understood it making out countdown, albeit not this high.

20200820: Edited because I forgot about a new, likely strong Grass type deck: Decidueye!


Clocking in as the 9th best card of Sword & Shield Darkness Ablaze is one of my favorite cards in TCG besides Sylveon:

Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon!

Oops, wrong series (though seriously, this hyped-up card will come out soon at the end of this month via Mega Pack)! Hydreigon (SS Darkness Ablaze 110/189) gets the spotlight for today! Sure, this might seem off-putting when you look at most of the cards. A Stage 2 Darkness Type with 160 HP, weak to Fight…I meant Grass (I’m so used to older type matchups), and a retreat cost of CCC, it has an Ability and an attack. Pitch-Black Fangs costs DDC (which can be easily fulfilled with ease, as you shall see) for 130 damage. Might be a solid 2HKO against most things except against TAG TEAMs and VMAX Pokemon, but it gets the job done occasionally. It’s ability, Dark Squall, is the main selling point of this card that’s worth being on this countdown, as it lets you attach as many Darkness energies from your hand to any of your Pokemon. Abilities like this is why certain Pokémon are able to attack almost immediately even on the turn they are played.

Yes, this Ability is incredible and it has the partners to abuse this trait. But whether or not Hydreigon is essential to dark based decks remains to be seen. I haven’t seen other type based acceleration such as Magnezone’s Magnetic Circuit (both Lightning and Metal), Emboar’s Inferno Fandango, or Blastoise’s Deluge (who benefits from Archie’s Ace in the Hole without the need for lower stages) showing up in tournaments. I guess maybe because having to devote deck space for Stage 2 seemed to make decks inconsistent; you would have to run certain lines like 2-1-2, 3-2-3, or the like in addition to Rare Candy. And that’s before being unable to play items (because Vikavolt-V’s Paralyzing Bolt keeps you from playing those), having their Abilities offline, or being outright OHKOed. Those factors heavily frustrates such Pokémon from being used. There’s also competition from other sources other than Abilities that doesn’t even have to be related to Darkness type support.

Rose is a Supporter card that’s actually worth the hassle if you initiate damage control. He lets you attach 2 basic energies from your discard to one of your Pokemon VMAX, and then discard your entire hand. Turbo Patch also provides energy acceleration even though it may be unreliable. If you flipped heads, you get to attach a basic energy from your discard pile onto one of your Pokemon that isn’t a Pokémon-GX. Those two cards  does give Hydreigon a run for its money, and could be efficient than running the entire evolutionary line just for unlimited acceleration. Eternatus V-MAX only needs two energies to do the job, and Rose chiefly covers the cost without the redundancy of Hydreigon, although it could help fuel up damage output of Dread’s End since Hydreigon is a Dark Type and provides a secondary form of acceleration if for some reason you didn’t have Rose and/or no dark energies in the discard pile. Despite massive competition from other sources, Hydreigon will occasionally see play in Standard for when those other alternatives doesn’t suit your style.

Now that I’ve covered Standard, here’s where the real fun – or mess – begins….in Expanded! There are several other Hydreigon cards in that format that can just be good as today’s card. Most specifically, one from Black & White Dragons Exalted (with another point in Legendary Treasures, was 2nd best card of Dragons Exalted) (two reviews: https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2012/Aug/23.shtml and https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2013/Dec/3.shtml) and one from XY Phantom Forces (one review: https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2015/Jan/19.shtml). The Dragons Exalted version has the Dark Trance ability which lets you move your Dark energies around as you see fit while the Phantom Forces version has the Dark Impulse ability which lets you attach a dark energy from your discard pile into your Active Pokemon. Those other abilities are extremely useful in their own right, but the real problem in Expanded is this:

You can only run up to FOUR of those Stage 2 Hydreigon cards in your deck!!!

Let’s assume you really want to use multiple Hydreigon card. So far, with today’s card in the mix, you have at least THREE different Stage 2 Hydreigon cards which provide dark support. How will you construct your deck? X/X/2-0-2? X/X/1-1-2? X/X/3-1-0? Etc.? And that’s before factoring those cards might be in the prizes. Well, the less stressful part is that while there are several good useful utilities, you don’t have to use all of them. Just pick the one that you’re comfortable the most. Dark Trance seems redundant because you, as the player, need to make sure you’re attaching the right amount of energies to your desired Pokémon (so that you don’t have to move energies around); That kinda rules out that card, making the others bearable to decide. And even if you’ve used Max Potion to flush out all damage and discard all energies, a couple of Energy Retrieval or Fisherman can help you get those back, and you can, once again, attach as many as you want. Maybe you would run 2 of today’s card and 2 of the Phantom Forces version. Then your dream deck is partially complete.

But I’m not done yet; we gotta look at one of the retired mechanics: BREAK Evolution! Here one review of that (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2017/Feb/1.shtml). And Hydreigon actually has one from XY Steam Siege. The Abilities, Attacks, Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost will be retained even after Break Evolving, but it does provide you more HP and it’s Type may change. In Hydreigon’s case, regardless of whatever is underneath it, it will always be a Dragon Type with 190 HP, and it’s still worth a single prize. It also has an additional attack called Calamity Blast, which costs PDDC for 150 damage. You must discard 3 energy attached to Hydreigon Break and this attack also does 50 damage to 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. Having 250 damage on the board is decent, but having the damage specifically assigned is not ideal. With Muscle Band, it barely causes 2HKOs. It was reviewed once, and it requires too much investment to do such a thing. It also means that you’ve deliberately shut off Eternatus VMAX’s Ability and reduce its damage output of Dread’s End once you Break Evolve.

So that pretty much covers Expanded; more Hydreigon options that is enough to build a Hydreigon deck with or without partners. In Limited, Hydreigon is one of the four pre-release promos found in the Build and Battle Kit. You’re guaranteed a 3-2-2 line, and once you get Hydreigon in play, you’re pretty much prepared to use any attack with ease!


  • Standard: 4/5
  • Expanded: 3.5/5
  • Limited: 4.5/5


Hydreigon joins the group of other Stage 2 Pokémon that provides unlimited energy acceleration. Even if it currently doesn’t see a lot of play in this format, this feature isn’t something to forget or underestimate either. I had Hydreigon as my 6th place pick not only because of past history from other Pokémon that did the same thing, but also there were other cards that are far more important than this.

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