– Darkness Ablaze

Date Reviewed:
September 23, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 1.00
Expanded: 1.00
Limited: 3.00

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

Reviews Below:

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Milotic (SW – Darkness Ablaze 039/189) is another Pokémon largely defined by its Ability, so we’ll again start there today.  “Bright Heal” may be used to heal 20 damage from all of your Pokémon, once per during your turn for each instance of it in play.  Individually, this is a weak but widespread healing effect, maybe enough to help something just barely survive an extra turn, but useful against damage spread.  You most likely need a combo to really take advantage of Bright Heal.  Spreading accumulated damage among multiple targets, defensive buffs, high HP scores, more healing (including multiple instances of Bright Heal)… you don’t need all of these, but probably at least two or three.

Milotic also has an attack, “Surf”, that is almost pure filler.  It does 80 damage for [WCC]; at least it isn’t too hard to splash into an off-type deck, and can make use of a variety of Energy acceleration tricks, both thanks to its mostly Colorless cost.  Why would you attack with it, though?  Possibly because it is a single-Prize Pokémon, lacking any specialty mechanics; it might be about trading Prizes, or about bypassing protective effects.  Another possibility is exploiting Weakness; the metagame could have mutated by now, but if it still resembles the Players Cup Finals, then there’s at least a decent chunk of [W] Weak Fire types trying to exploit the many [R] Weak Metal types.

Milotic is a Stage 1, so it isn’t fast nor is it space-efficient as a Basic but neither is it as slow or demanding as a Stage 2.  This doesn’t help the above uses, but it doesn’t hurt them too bad.  120 HP is more likely to be OHKO’d than not, but at least the margin isn’t as huge.  Against more technical attackers, or just a half-complete setup, Milotic has a real chance of surviving a hit.  I expected [L] Weakness to be an issue, due to Vikavolt V and the remains of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks… but none made the Top 16 of the Players Cup Finals, so this might be one of those times when I was really, really wrong.  No Resistance is the worst, but also typical, so it doesn’t really matter.  A Retreat Cost of [CC] is just right for Air Balloon to zero it out, but if you’re paying the full price to retreat manually, its doable but you might regret it in the long run.

Unless you are in Expanded, using something like Ditto {*} or Archie’s Ace in the Hole to field Milotic (the former is plausible), you have to go through Feebas to get to Milotic, and that hurts.  All versions have 30 HP, and the best option is probably Feebas (Dragon Majesty 28/70) has the Ability “Submerge”, protecting itself from damage while it is on your Bench, and that’s the best Feebas.  In Standard, you’re stuck with Feebas (SW – Darkness Ablaze 038/189), which can only use “Nap” to heal itself by 20 damage… for [C], because it is a filler attack.  Such a puny Basic is not how you want to start your evolution line, and there are some spread decks to worry about.

Frosmoth/Inteleon VMAX decks, as well as Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035)/Galarian Obstagoon decks can hit the Bench.  Milotic can help counter this, but a deck could just run Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds 76/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM215) and its “Bench Barrier”.  Bench Barrier won’t stop damage counters from Abilities, so Galarian Zigzaoon and Galarian Obstagoon don’t care, but at least it can handle the bonus Bench hits from Inteleon VMAX or Decidueye.  Milotic’s healing works regardless of what left damage on your Pokémon, but healing requires surviving.

Again, you really need a combo to make this healing worthwhile.  The problem is I’m not seeing any great combo partners for it, except maybe some chunky Pokémon V or Pokémon VMAX, including a few still on the way.  Milotic is an obvious target for effects like Boss’s Orders, but it is only worth one Prize; if you’re trying for pure stall the trade-off doesn’t work, but if your big ol’ Pokémon V/MAX is hitting hard enough, you’re okay giving up one Prize instead of it being hurt… or stretching out its HP if your opponent takes the Pokémon V/MAX head on.  Expanded is similar, though I’d be more tempted to rely on the powerful healing (Max Potion) or bounce effects (AZ, Acerola, Super Scoop Up, etc.).  If you’re not running a Mulligan deck, though, then Milotic should be worth the effort in Limited… but mind those Feebas.


  • Standard: 1/5
  • Expanded: 1/5
  • Limited: 3/5

Wait!  It isn’t as bad as it looks!  Milotic really is a card to remember as we receive bigger and more durable Pokémon V/MAX.  Champion’s Path actually has a few that might have potential backed by a Milotic Swarm… or maybe I’m wrong and Milotic is actually the semi-splashable [W] type that can make Metal decks even better.  If I had any examples of it doing well, or if it just didn’t evolve from Feebas, Milotic would have been a two-out-of-five for Standard.  Full disclosure, though; I originally picked this card because I thought it had more merit.

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