– Champions Path
October 19, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This Monday, we’re looking at Machamp (Champion’s Path 026/073). Machamp has no specialty mechanics and is worth only one Prize when KO’d. Machamp is a Stage 2 Pokémon, the slowest and most resource-intensive of the core Stages of Evolution (Basic, Stage 1, and Stage 2). Machamp’s [F] typing should be valuable right now. Eternatus VMAX decks mean exploiting Fighting Weakness is valuable. In terms of type support, Fighting enjoys Martial Arts Dojo and Karate Belt, and more is on the way.
170 HP is relatively good; this would be small for a multi-Prize Pokémon but is somewhat sturdy for a Stage 2 worth only one Prize. Psychic Pokémon are mostly Darkness or Metal Weak; this means Psychic Weakness is relatively safe right now. No Resistance isn’t as bad as it looks; most Pokémon lack it. A Retreat Cost of three is a little worse than it looks: a cost of four is barely any more difficult to cover but comes with access to additional support.
Machamp knows two attacks. The first is “Macho Revenge” for [FC], which lets Machamp do 20 damage for each [F] Pokémon in your discard pile. The second is “Dynamite Punch”: priced at [FFC], this attack allows Machamp to do 200 damage to your opponent’s Active, while Machamp then does 50 to itself. These attacks aren’t bland, but they are still mediocre. To begin with, we know they’re not really optimized in terms of Energy costs. Yes, Karate Belt can shave [F] off of both attacks, but only when you’re behind in taking Prizes. [CC] and [FCC] would just have worked better in the current cardpool. Twin Energy is just more helpful than Karate Belt.
Macho Revenge resembles some historically strong attacks, like “Bee Revenge” found on Vespiquen (XY – Ancient Origins 10/98). Be Revenge does 20 plus 10 damage per Pokémon in your discard pile and costs [CC]. Any Pokémon that is not a [F] type does nothing for Macho Revenge: all the typical Pokémon-based support a deck like this would run clashes with its main goal. Trainers can probably handle that, but now we come to the next hurdle: deck space versus damage output. Vespiquen was a Stage 1 line, taking two-thirds the slots of Machamp. While Machamp does nearly twice the damage of Vespiquen, it needs to compensate for power creep and less room for discard fodder.
20 per [F] Pokémon doesn’t seem like enough; 10 [F] Pokémon in your discard pile is still 10-20 damage short of OHKOing most Basic Pokémon V! Dynamite Punch is better, but not by much. The self-damage means Machamp goes from being a little more likely to survive an attack to a little less likely, and the Energy costs aren’t easy to meet in a single turn, even with the usual Energy acceleration. It also means you don’t need to fixate on running just Fighting type Pokémon, so cards like Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202) are back on the table.
Machop and Machoke aren’t helping Machamp too much. There is one Machoke that is actually a good card: Machoke (SM – Guardians Rising 64/145). It isn’t Standard-legal but in Expanded its “Daunting Pose” offers some quality Bench protection. In both Formats, you’ll want to use Rare Candy at least some of the time, so that Machamp can hit the field a turn earlier. If it wasn’t banned, Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick might actually make for a competitive Machamp deck in Expanded. If so, it would be just barely; Macho Revenge only working for Fighting types really hurts.
One idea that might have a chance is running Machamp with Excadrill (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 115/236, 246/236). This Fighting type Excadrill does decent damage for just [F], but with self-mill as a drawback. Fill your deck with [F] Pokémon and use Machamp as a cleaner, right? It is self-mill, not tactical deck-thinning. I don’t like my odds of prepping for Machamp in such a haphazard manner.
Even in the Limited Format, it matters. If you pull the entire Machamp line, don’t pull anything better, and your deck’s Energy can be all or mostly Fighting, run it. Just remember Macho Revenge will have no support save what you pull, as Champion’s Path isn’t really supported in the Limited Format (no Pre-release Kits for it). Dynamite Punch is worth it so long as your opponent cannot force you to waste it on weenies.
Machamp seems like a good example of a “bait” card. At a glance, especially if you remember Vespiquen or other similar, older attackers, it seems like it should have at least a budget deck around it. A little thought, a little deck-building, and the cracks quickly begin to show. This could all change, but it means we need Fighting Pokémon who help draw or search or discard from the deck in a controlled manner.
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