Pyroar – Flashfire
Date Reviewed: January 28, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Pyroar from XY FlashFire is this week’s Throwback, and it was reviewed twice before, being:
–the 3rd best card of the set, and…
The reason why it made it through the countdown is because it has a feature that was deemed important at the time. It’s ability, Intimidating Mane, states that it takes no damage from your opponent’s Basic Pokémon. Basic Pokémon is used pretty frequently than Evolution Pokémon due to taking less deck space and are easy to be put into play, as opposed to Evolution Pokémon, which takes up deck space and is slower to get into play. When Pyroar was released, many decks were still using Big Basic Pokémon as Pokémon-EX were still heavily used than Evolutions, and there are many great Basic Pokémon-EX attackers at the time. Mega Evolutions were frequently played as much due to the instant end of their turn clause. Having Pyroar in play means that unless your opponent has any Stage 1, Stage 2, Mega Evolution, Lysandre, an attack that bypasses protective effects, or Garbodor’s Garbotoxin to get around this ability, they won’t have much to do and is a auto-win in your part. Pyroar’s Scorching Fang might be an expensive attack, but it does the job well. With Muscle Band and discarding a fire energy for the bonus damage, you can outright OHKO Zacian-V!
However, that’s not to say that Evolution Pokémon are incompetent, because later on down the road, Pokemon-GX can appear on different stages, and there are plenty of good Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon-GX that doesn’t care about Pyroar’s ability and can OHKO it with ease. Zoroark-GX is perhaps the chief example, as not only it has the Trade Ability to support your deck, but also has the Riotous Beating attack that can OHKO Pyroar if you have a full Bench. I think Zoroark-GX alone cripples Pyroar’s viability, but there’s much more counters than that. Pokémon V-MAX can damage Pyroar as well as they’re not basic Pokémon.
I think Pyroar’s viability relies on the current metagame. If decks use some Evolution Pokémon, then it’s a bad pick; Conversely, if most decks ran only Basic Pokémon, then you have a better chance of winning the entire tournament. This make it pretty tricky to score, so I’m just gonna score the side of average. Pyroar is still a good counter (and doesn’t care about future game mechanics as long as they’re still Basic Pokémon) that can block most attackers in the Expanded format, including Basic Pokémon-GX/EX, Prism Stars, TAG TEAMs, and even Pokémon-V! If that ability doesn’t surpass what we have now (Decidueye or Altaria), then I don’t know what will. I did not chime in on the past two reviews, but that was around the time I briefly skimmed through Pojo.com’s COTDs (the day I was really into keeping track of each card was during the XY Furious Fists top X countdown).
Pyroar (XY – Flashfire 20/106) is our Throwback pick for today. This card was released as part of the second set for the XY-series, back in May of 2014. We first reviewed it as the third best card of XY – Flashfire, then as the eighth best card of 2014. If that doesn’t sound impressive, understand that XY – Flashfire also debuted Black Smith, Fiery Torch, Lysandre, and Pal Pad! Pyroar is a baseline Pokémon; not a Pokémon-EX or any other specialty mechanic from that time frame. That means it is worth only one Prize, and both didn’t and still doesn’t have to worry about being singled out by counters to specialty mechanics. Pyroar’s Fire typing both was and is good. The Fire type had and still has some solid support, though I’m not sure if any modern Pyroar-using decks include it (more on that later). If you’re attacking with Pyroar, you can hit Zacian V for Weakness and don’t have to worry about natural Resistance. You might crash into some of the few effective examples of anti-type effects, though. I don’t recall if exploiting Fire Weakness was all that good back when Pyroar-released, however.
Being a Stage 1 was and still is decent; being a Basic is usually better, but you’re not as slow or demanding as most other Evolutions. 110 HP hasn’t aged well; while it still wasn’t big back in the day, it wasn’t as easily reached (or exceeded) as in the present. Still, it isn’t so low as to be excruciatingly fragile. Water Weakness currently isn’t much of a problem, and even if it was… again, 110 HP. You’re mostly only worried about the attacks which do 60 to 100 damage scoring a OHKO instead of a 2HKO. The HP also means the lack of Resistance, while technically the worst, didn’t and still doesn’t matter. Last for the bottom stats, the Retreat Cost of [CC] is “okay”; low enough you can often pay it, but high enough you’d prefer to avoid doing so.
Pyroar has one Ability and one attack. “Intimidating Mane” prevents all damage done to this Pyroar by attacks from your opponent’s Basic Pokémon. Pyroar released at a time when the metagame was mostly Basic attackers, so this made it very hard to KO. Far from impossible, however. Including a clutch Evolution attacker to deal with such a thing was a reasonable counter. Some Basics have effects that let them attack through Abilities. Other cards can shutdown Abilities. Intimidating Mane only stops the damage being done to Pyroar itself; attack effects go through, as does damage done to other Pokémon (unless they also have protective effects). Still, it is a very good Ability. Pyroar’s “Scorching Fang” attack did not age as well. [RCC] for 60 was kind of low back then, and is definitely low now. The attack’s effect lets you discard a [R] Energy from Pyroar (as in, the attacking Pokémon) to do an extra 30 damage. At the time Pyroar released, 90 was enough to 2HKO most of the metagame, and 3HKO anything already out or that would release for years. In the present? Scorching Fang is bad but not awful.
Historically, Pyroar was good when it first released. The dominant deck? Not that I can recall. Keep in mind, when it first released Garbodor (BW – Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW – Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW – Legendary Treasures 68/113) was still Standard-legal, and we would eventually receive Garbodor (XY – BREAKpoint 57/122). Both of these Garbodor cards had “Garbotoxin”, an Ability which shut down other Abilities, so long as the Pokémon with Garbotoxin had a Pokémon Tool attached. Pyroar had to evolve from Litleo, leaving the evolution line vulnerable for at least one turn. However, don’t think Pyroar meant nothing. Even though it was in none of the World Championship decks in the 2014 World Championships, everything that got a deck had answers to Intimidating Mane. Some ran Evolutions, or Basics with attacks that ignored Abilities, or just being able to use Hypnotoxic Laser to Poison Pyroar. Even decks without a direct answer just had to hope something else knocked Pyroar decks out of the running before such decks faced Pyroar.
Though we thought well of Pyroar by the end of 2014, I am pretty sure it was old news by the time it rotated from the Standard Format after being legal for the 2014, 2015, and even 2016 World Championships. The same problems for Pyroar persisted through these times. I will stress that the World Championships are just a snapshot; some iconic decks from this time like Night March, as well as the Yveltal-EX based Darkness decks, failed to become World Championship decks. By the World Championships, though, it is as I said; everything had an answer to Pyroar, even though that last season I doubt anyone was bothering with it. Expanded was similar; while it was a metagame dominated by Basics, you had the various counters to Intimidating Mane, as well as the competitive Evolution-focused decks that left this flaming lion out in the cold.
A year ago something unexpected. At least, it caught me off guard. At the Regional Championship held in Collinsville, IL, on February 29th, 2020, John Mostowy took fourth-place with his “Hoopa Walls” deck. The deck used Hoopa (Shining Legends 55/73), a Basic protected by the “Scoundrel Guard” Ability. Scoundrel Guard prevents the damage done by attacks from your opponent’s Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX. The deck also included a 2-1 line of Pyroar, handy for walling against any Basic attackers, including the then brand-new Pokémon V. It was nice to see Pyroar doing well, less so if you lost to it. I do not think such a deck works now; so many more Pokémon V are available, plus other changes to the metagame. Still, it reminded me that Pyroar existed, and so we are finally re-reviewing it.
- Standard: N/A
- Expanded: 2/5
Pyroar can still be a decent wall in the right deck, and we have an example of that from as recently as a year-ago. For the Expanded Format, that’s still decent. I doubt we’ll ever see this Pyroar reprinted, so it won’t ever be Standard-legal again… but if it was legal now, it wouldn’t be that impressive. Zacian V decks have Aegislash V and most other competitive decks have a Pokémon VMAX they can use to flatten Pyroar. Even an update with better HP and attacks would have a lot to overcome.
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