– Team Up
March 5, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Before I get to the review, let’s appreciate the art of this new Incineroar-GX card. It perfectly describes this Pokémon, and you would have already seen Incineroar in a boxing ring many times: the main games (Z-move), the anime (when Professor Kukui uses it), Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Final Smash), and this card. If that isn’t a masterpiece of an art, I don’t know what is.
Moving on, it has three effects which could synergize well with itself or other Pokémon. The Scar Charge Ability lets you put three damage counters on itself. In exchange, it lets you fetch three dark energies from your deck to this Pokémon. This is phenomenal energy acceleration, as it easily gets Incineroar ready to attack because two of its attacks cost three energy! Indirectly, it also helps out other Pokémon possessing attacks like Dark Pulse found on Darkrai-EX from BreakPoint and the new Zoroark & Greninja-GX from Japanese’s Night Unison subset. Dark Pulse does more damage for each dark energy attached to all of your Pokemon. This ability also synergize with its GX attack, which I’ll get to it soon. Also, since it places damage on itself, it can very easily amplify Drampa-GX’s Berserk attack to do 80 plus 70 more.
Crushing Punch would be your only option for Incineroar-GX if your GX attack is already used up on the match, but it is not bad. 130 for CCC is good value, though a bit short of 2HKOs; Choice Band will barely secure it. It also has another effect that discards a Special Energy attached to the Defending Pokemon. If decks were to rely on special energy, then Incineroar-GX definitely sets them back, unless the opposing Pokémon was to be KO at that point. It might send some Prism Star Special Energies to the Lost Zone! It’s Darkest Tornado GX also costs CCC and does 10 damage plus 50 more for each damage counter on this Pokémon. If you used Scar Charge, then that three damage counters become 160 damage, and with Choice Band, is enough to KO most Basic GX/EX Pokemon. Otherwise, it’ll take six damage counters to KO anything in the game.
So it seems like it has things going for it, but couple things against it. It is a Stage 2, which takes deck space due to needing those evolving Pokémon and Rare Candy. Item lock may not be prominent in Standard, but in Expanded, there’s Seismitoad-EX and Vileplume discouraging item usage. Even if you get it in play, it’s Fighting weakness makes it hard to stay in even with 250 HP, and it gives up two prizes if it’s KOed. Ability lock does hamper Incineroar’s momentum. And while those attacks are splashable, it’s ability suggest dark energy to make the most of it. However, if you don’t have any dark energy in your deck, I believe Scar Charge still lets you damage itself. Triple Boost Energy may help Incineroar attack right away, but it discards itself when your turn ends.
Overall, this is worth experimentation for this new card. There is another Incineroar-GX card from Sun & Moon, and even though you could run the two together, they fulfill a different role and perhaps not suited to be together. In Limited, if you can get it out, then you could build a 40-Card deck that focuses on this Pokémon. Scar Charge single-handedly fuels up its attack.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Smash Ultimate made Incineroar a pretty popular pick in my head. Gotta love wrestling moves and heels!
Incineroar-GX is a Stage 2 Darkness Pokemon-GX, 250 HP, with a Fighting Weakness, a Psychic Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. His Crushing Punch is a 3-for-130 that decimates Special Energies, discarding any one of them on the opponent’s Pokemon. Then there’s Scar Charge, an Ability that lets you put 3 damage counters on Incineroar-GX to attach 3 Dark Energies straight from your deck to him, perfect for charging him up for any of his attacks. This includes Darkest Tornado GX, which for 3 Energy deals 10 damage, plus 50 more for each damage counter on Incineroar-GX, and on top of that lets you spin around and not look like an idiot.
Spoiler alert: you will still look like an idiot spinning around while shouting “DARKEST TORNADO GX”
On the one hand, Incineroar-GX is a pretty good Pokemon. His attacks are powerful to 2HKO most anything that isn’t a Tag Team-GX before boosting, with Choice Band helping out to 2HKO those guys, and Darkest Tornado GX only needs a few damage counters to become a powerful OHKO against anything! And he’s never really inactive thanks to Scar Charge, which while it does soften him up a little bit, it powers him up so that all his moves are active, and it sets up his GX move right away too.
On the other hand, there are a few Fighting Pokemon being teched around into spaces primarily to counter Fighting-Weak Pokemon, the most prominent of which currently is Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. Unfortunately, this hurts Incineroar-GX as well, since he’s also Weak to Fighting moves. Onix from Lost Thunder is the perfect candidate for a lot of players, thanks to his Basic status and his strong generic Land Crush. Incineroar-GX does have the benefit of having completely generic Energy costs, but he’s not as easily techable into other decks, and he benefits more so from a deck running Dark Energy thanks to Scar Charge.
It’s hard to say if Incineroar-GX will make it to the competitive level, but I do think there’s potential as a rogue strategy. It could be the case that he gets run into certain decks alongside other Pokemon with generic Energy costs to create a sort of Rainbow strategy – Onix could also be included pretty easily into such a deck! So there’s definitely potential to have Incineroar-GX at the forefront of a deck, but given the current environment, it’s hard to see him making the big entrance when so many other fighters right now are just overshadowing him.
Standard: 3/5 (he’s definitely got a lot of potential)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (but it’s gonna be hard to fit him in against certain decks)
Limited: 4.5/5 (though he is incredibly powerful)
Arora Notealus: I think Gen 7 did a great job with the starters and their final evolutions. I know most people tend to make fun of one of the starters right off the bat, but all 3 of the Pokemon from Gen 7 had really cool and unique concepts for the Pokemon evolutions. Between a ghost archer owl, a singing seal prima donna, and a dark cat wrestler? I think they nailed it. Hopefully the Gen 8 starters prove to do the same…even if people are already picking on the monkey or the sobbing tadpole chameleon. The rabbit’s cool though.
Next Time: An unexpected tech card shows up? I guess if you’re that heavy and all, you kinda need it.
Time to grapple with Incineroar-GX (SM – Team Up 97/181, 167/181, 188/181)! As a Pokémon-GX it is worth an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t take advantage of certain pieces of support, AND has to deal with certain anti-Pokémon-GX effects. The flipside of things is that Pokémon-GX always have much higher HP scores and often an Ability/attack combo or two regular attacks in addition to a GX-attack. The effects of these Abilities and attacks also tend to have a better return than you would expect on a baseline version of the Pokémon in question, though that doesn’t mean they’re automatically good; sometimes it just means they have a more powerful version of a bad idea or a good idea which was poorly implemented… but it is still bad in the end. There are even a handful of effects that reward a Pokémon for being a Pokémon-GX. Being a [D] Type comes with some nice tricks BUT they’re not so good at exploiting Weakness AND face a good chunk of Resistance, though neither are overly abundant in the competitive sphere. Being a Stage 2 means Incineroar-GX is slow to the field and requires hefty card investment, at least relative to Basic and Stage 1 Pokémon. Just so you don’t forget, there are bits of Stage 2 support and Evolution counters, they just don’t see as much play as their Basic-focused counterparts because Stage 2 Pokémon don’t see as much play as Basic Pokémon.
Incineroar-GX sports 250 HP, as high as we’ve seen on a Stage 2 Pokémon-GX and usually enough to survive an attack on average; most decks can pull it off once, maybe even twice during a game, once they’re in full swing. Except Incineroar-GX goes from “fairly durable” to “somewhat fragile” against [F] Types due to its [F] Weakness. The metagame is such that plenty of decks are already splashing in [F] Types, on top of established [F] Type decks, and 130 damage in one-shot – which Weakness turns into 260 – is quite doable for most of these decks. The [P] Resistance shouldn’t be ignored, either; requiring an effective 270 damage to be OHKO’d isn’t a meaningless distinction. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is disappointing; this is still large enough you’ll need special consideration to get Incineroar-GX out of your Active slot if forced there prematurely BUT isn’t quite high enough for Buff Padding. Though there is some benefit to it only being [CCC], as it means the Ability “Scar Charge” could pay for the Retreat Cost. Scar Charge has you place three damage counters on the Incineroar-GX that uses it, search your deck for up to three [D] Energy cards, then attach them to that Incineroar-GX. Scar Charge also states that it is a once-per-turn Ability, and can only be used before you attack. The wording is such that if you have more than one Pokémon in play with Scar Charge then each may use the Ability once during that turn. While the self-damage is not insignificant, neither is it crippling; if you don’t heal it, then Incineroar-GX is ever-so-slightly sturdier than Zoroark-GX after one use of Scar Charge. If you do choose to heal, Scar Charge does so little that Potion deals with all the damage, at least from a single use.
Multiple uses of Scar Charge would add up but will you need them? The regular attack found on Incineroar-GX is “Crushing Punch”, which does 130 for [CCC] PLUS it discards a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active (if there are any). This means Incineroar-GX can 2HKO most of the cardpool, with a Choice Band bringing everything but the protected or extremely buffed into range. Unfortunately, Scar Charge damaging Incineroar-GX does cause a bit of an issue with the 2HKO strategy, but again, just a little healing can take care of that… and if your opponent’s attacker relies on Special Energy, then you may be out of retaliatory KO range even without healing. I might prefer just having the attack’s base damage hit a bit harder, though; not every deck runs or at least relies on Special Energy and another 10 to 30 damage would clear some key damage thresholds. “Darkest Tornado-GX” does 10 damage plus 50 more for each damage counter on the attacking Incineroar-GX. One use of Scar Charge not only covers the attack’s [CCC] cost but sets it up to do 160 damage; add a Choice Band and you’re OHKOing almost everything that isn’t an Evolved Pokémon-EX/GX. It only takes another three damage counters for Darkest Tornado-GX to one-shot anything lacking a damage-mitigating effect or combining already massive HP with an HP buff. On one hand, [CCC] is good because ANY Energy can meet these requirements; even if Scar Charge isn’t an option, an already present [D] Energy plus a Double Colorless Energy from hand brings either attack online. On the other hand, the designers usually (though not always) reward Type-specific requirements more than [C] requirements, and it is hard to justify running Incineroar-GX in a deck where Scar Charge isn’t going to be the go-to option for powering it up. It makes you wonder if a [DDD] Energy requirement would have upped the base damage enough to matter. Just 10 more damage a Choice Band-assisted Crushing Punch would OHKO Tapu Lele-GX, while three damage counters alone would let Darkest Tornado-GX do the deed.
Incineroar-GX Evolves from Torracat which Evolves from Litten and… none are really worth detailing. Just note that they’re ALL [R] Types and NOT [D]. Likewise, there are two “regular” Incineroar cards AND a different version of Incineroar-GX, but I can’t recommend running them alongside this version. Today’s Incineroar-GX may need to tag team with others, just not its close family; pick a 60 HP Litten if you plan on using Professor Elm’s Lecture, otherwise, go with one of the 70 HP versions, and pick a Torracat to run alongside Rare Candy in case of Item-lock or inconsistent hands. From there, you might include some healing and/or Energy-moving effects. Healing can allow Incineroar-GX to do its thing as your main attacker while moving the Energy off of Incineroar-GX OR using Nanu to swap Incineroar-GX with a Basic [D] Pokémon from your discard pile lets something else assume the role. Yes, making sure you understood what Nanu is and how it works and might be used is indeed why I had us review Nanu prior to Incineroar-GX; they have uses apart from each other but “Surprise Guzzlord-GX!” is hard to forget. Judging by its absence in the results posted over on Limitless, it may also be difficult to make function. Whether just focusing on Incineroar-GX itself or trying to find a way to exploit its Ability to fuel something else, Incineroar-GX looks solid. It may even have a chance in Expanded, where you could swap it out with classics like Yvletal-EX and/or combo it with Scramble Switch, but not only would Incineroar-GX be competing with other viable decks while still trying to cope with its [F] Weakness, is it really worth it compared to just running Dark Patch and a different [D] Type attacker? Too often, I am thinking the answer will be “No, it isn’t worth it.” I still see enough potential, though, to give it a half-decent score. If you pull Incineroar-GX and the rest of its Evolution line, even if only as singles, go ahead and work them plus about five Darkness Energy into your Limited Format deck. It is a little more space than I’d like to dedicate to a long-shot, but getting out a Stage 2 Pokémon-GX that powers itself up is quite the payout. Only skip it if you have enough other truly exceptional pulls that you really will need the space.
Incineroar may not be my favorite Pokémon, but I’m definitely fond of him. I’ve tried to be realistic throughout the review, however; Incineroar-GX has a lot going for it but I don’ think it is quite there yet but even in Expanded, it isn’t too far away. Incineroar-GX is good enough you shouldn’t forget about it, and if you are an Incineroar fan or can easily obtain a playset, to experiment with.
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