Rare Fossil
Rare Fossil

Rare Fossil
– Darkness Ablaze

Date Reviewed:
September 20, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.00
Expanded: 2.00
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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For the start of this week, we’re talking a look at the start of an Evolution line.  Actually, the start of four evolution lines, as today we look at the Trainer-Item card Rare Fossil (SW – Darkness Ablaze 167/189).  When you use this card, you put it in play as if it was a Basic Pokémon  While in play, Rare Fossil counts as a Basic, Colorless Pokémon with 70 HP, with no Weakness, no Resistance, and no Retreat Cost.  Not a “free” Retreat Cost; it cannot manually retreat. It can be discarded from play, however, whether it is your Active or on your Bench, so long as it is still your turn.  The effect text of Rare Fossil also states it ignores Special Conditions.

If past rulings for similar cards are still in effect, Rare Fossil will count as both a Basic Pokémon and a Trainer-Item while in play.  Anywhere else, and Rare Fossil is only a Trainer-Item; you cannot put it into play as part of your opening setup, you cannot fetch it from your deck with Quick-Ball, etc. because it is just a Trainer-Item when not in play.  Its 70 HP is very low, though not the worst an evolving Basic Pokémon has had to deal with; it is a concern not just because it cannot evolve if it is KO’d (duh), but because being treated as a “Basic Pokémon” includes giving up a Prize, just as it did for Unidentified Fossil.  At least the lack of a Weakness and immunity to Special Conditions ought to make it ever-so-slightly more durable than its HP suggests.

Currently, Rare Fossil can evolve into or is referenced in the effect text of:

  • Arctovish (SW – Darkness Ablaze 054/189)
  • Arctozolt (SW – Darkness Ablaze 066/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH036)
  • Dracovish (SW – Darkness Ablaze 053/189)
  • Dracozolt (SW – Darkness Ablaze 065/189)
  • Relicanth (SW – Darkness Ablaze 040/189)

The first four are all Stage 1 Pokémon which evolve directly from Rare Fossil, though Arctovish and Dracovish are [W] type Pokémon, so one could Bench them directly from the discard pile through the effect of Archie’s Ace in the Hole.  Hypothetical future Water type Arctovish, Dracovish, and Arctozolt are also all possible.  We’ve already reviewed the above Arctozolt, and we’ll eventually get around to the others, so I won’t be discussing them.  Relicanth may also receive a review, but I will mention that it is a Basic Pokémon itself (like usual), with an attack named “Fossil Search.”  For [C], this attack lets you search your deck for up to two Rare Fossil cards, and Bench them.

There are also some older cards that are also compatible with Rare Fossil, because they reference “Fossil” cards in general.  Unfortunately, none are really worth playing, but since I already looked them up:

  • Carracosta (BW – Plasma Blast 28/101) has an underpowered or overpriced attack that does more damage if you discard an Item card with “Fossil” in its name from your hand.
  • Relicanth (BW – Plasma Blast 24/101) has the attack”Fossil Hunt” for [C], which adds two cards with “Fossil” in their names from your discard pile to your hand.
  • There is a Supporter called Fossil Excavator, which lets you add one of
    •  A Trainer with “Fossil” in its name
    • A Stage 1 Pokémon that evolves from a Fossil
    • A Stage 2 Pokémon that evolves a Fossil
  • Relicanth (DP – Great Encounters 51/106) can use “Primal Calling” for no Energy to add three Trainers with “Fossil” in their name from your deck to your hand.

There’s a decent, maybe even a good chance that Rare Fossil is going to be vital for a Gen 8 Fossil Pokémon that will – sooner or later – be released and need it to hit the field.  It isn’t guaranteed, however, because shortcuts for fielding these cards are not uncommon, and sometimes we can go quite a while before a Fossil Pokémon makes good.  So long, in fact, that the Fossil mechanic can change how it operates.  The original Fossil mechanic was very similar to the current one, and was in use for approximately the first half of the TCG’s life, though exactly what Trainers-played-as-Pokémon could evolve did change during the Diamond & Pearl era.

Fossil Pokémon were absent in the HeartGold & SoulSilver sets, and the Black & White era introduced “Restored Pokémon” and… that failed pretty hard, leading to the “evolves from Trainer” approach returning in the Sun & Moon series.  I’ve said it before, but I think “Fossil” Pokémon should be handled like Team Plasma Pokémon and Ultra Beasts; just slap a label on the cards, and anything “special” about them is handled through having support and counters for them.  None of this “evolving from Item cards” or “Weird new Stage” nonsense that has already failed.  Transitioning back to Rare Fossil, this means its best use is in the Limited Format, because there’s a lot going for it in its own set.


  • Standard: 2/5
  • Expanded: 2/5
  • Limited: 3/5

Something the older Fossil Trainers that had you play them as Basic Pokémon had that Rare Fossil lacks is they (originally) didn’t give up Prizes when KO’d.  Some of the later ones did, but they got additional effects to compensate.  While being part of a branching evolution line can be a strength, it can also be a weakness as sharing a Basic means competing for that Basic.  While being an Item that gets played as a Basic can be really useful, it too is a double-edged sword; Vikavolt V can keep you from playing Rare Fossil from hand, and all that nice Pokémon search and recycling won’t work with Rare Fossil.


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