– Sword & Shield
April 10, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Dark Type Toxicroak?! Pokémon Checkup?! What is going on?!
Don’t worry. I initially had the same reaction, but it makes a lot of sense if you’ve read the changes the Pokémon TCG are implementing for every new generation. Poison types that used to be Psychic Types (or even Grass types way back in the old days) become Dark Types. And Pokémon Checkup acts like as if it was “in between turns” when dealing with Poison and Burn status conditions and other stuff.
But anyways, back to Toxicroak. This is another one of those Pokémon that amplifies the amount of damage you take when your Pokémon is affected with a Special Condition, specifically Poison as it makes you put two damage counters instead of one in between turns…I meant during Pokémon Checkup. It only works if you’re able to inflict the Poison Special Condition, and it’s only attack, Poison Claws, is NOT a reliable way to do so. Doing 70 for DCC might be something, but if you fail on a coin flip, then that defeats the purpose of what Toxicroak is trying to accomplish.
I’m pretty sure there are ways to instantly inflict such special conditions, and it’s a lot easier in Expanded where Hypnotoxic Laser can do just that.
Toxicroak (Sword & Shield 124/202) is a Darkness-Type. It that comes as a surprise, remember that the VG Dark Type was moved from TCG Psychic to TCG Darkness. This is good for hitting Weakness against some [P] Types, slams into Resistance against [Y] Types, and can access some legendary support… in Expanded; in Standard, there’s some nice looking stuff that hasn’t lived up to expectations. Anti-[D] effects also exist, but shouldn’t matter here.
Toxicroak is a Stage 1, so it is a bit more demanding to run than a Basic, but not bad. 110 HP is on the deep end of “low”; against a proper setup or a big Bench hit, it won’t last, but it can survive weaker hits. I’m blanking on strong [F] Type decks right now, but the Type has access to some strong, proven support, so I think it will rebound sooner rather than later. Lack of Resistance is typical; with the HP it might have made a difference, but probably not. A Retreat Cost of [C] is good and low; Escape Board, U-Turn Board, etc. can zero it out completely!
Toxicroak has the Ability “More Poison”; during Pokémon Checkup – the phase formerly known as “between turns” – this Ability places two more damage counters on opposing Pokémon that are Poisoned. I’m uncertain as to whether or not the extra damage counters are being placed by More Poison directly, or if it just alters how many damage counters the Poison itself places. I’m not sure if that actually matters from a game play standpoint. What does matter is that multiple instances of More Poison stack, and it also works with Poison that already places multiple damage counters naturally, or other effects like that of Virbank City Gym.
Toxicroak also knows the attack “Poison Claws”, which costs [DCC]. It requires a coin flip; you’ll do 70 damage no matter what, but you’ll only Poison your opponent’s Active on a “heads”. Definitely an under-powered attack. Even though the Energy cost is mostly [C], even when you get “heads” so that the attack Poisons for an extra damage counter, even though your Ability adds two more damage counters because of Poison, 100-for-three is underwhelming. After Twin Energy releases next set, the attack will be a hair better, but still mediocre.
There are many options for Croagunk, but none are good so I won’t go into specifics, other than warning you that XY – Steam Siege 58/114 – or rather, it’s “Poison Up” attack – is Johnny Bait. At least they all have a Retreat Cost of [C], and you can pick between 60 HP or 70 HP versions, as well as whether they’re [D], [F], or [P] Type, though not every Type has both HP scores available. As they’re just stepping stones to reach Toxicroack, adjust according to the rest of your deck.
There’s one other Toxicroack worth touching upon, though it is only legal for the Expanded Format. XY – Steam Siege 59/114 can wall against damage from opposing Poisoned Pokémon via its Ability. Its attack isn’t great but it is a [F] Type, so you can boost it with their support or just focus on keeping your opponent’s Active constantly Poisoned. Given how easy it is to shake or even prevent Special Conditions, you’ll probably need a good deal of control, or at least disruption, backing it up… but it might make for a functional deck.
Getting back to just Toxicroak (Sword & Shield 124/202), its Ability is its selling point, but is that enough? More Poison isn’t new! We saw a version that only added one damage counter on Seviper (SM – Burning Shadows 50/147; SM – Black Star Promos SM46; Shiny Vault SV15/SV94). While the Ability is Weaker, it was on a 100 HP Basic. It did indeed see some success, but checking semi-recent Expanded Format results, I’m not finding it. Toxicroak takes twice the space, but provides twice the extra damage counters per copy.
As is usually the case, it is all a numbers game. Can you find a way to Poison where the additional damage counters are going to result in faster KO’s? I don’t have anything specific, and it could be a matter of finding something that already does multi-Poison, or just something that hits reasonably hard and where the bonus damage counters for Poison shave at least one turn off of how long it takes to score a KO. Your attacker may not even need to be the one inflicting the Poison; the one example I found of a high performing deck using Seviper is this Seismitoad-EX deck from 2017 (via LimitlessTCG).
Considering that was an Expanded Format deck even back then, and Expanded has Hypnotoxic Laser plus Virbank City Gym. Toxicroak would take more deck space than Seviper, but besides adding twice the counters, it would let the deck use a card like Alolan Muk (Sun & Moon 58/149) to shut down the Abilities on Basics. Twin Energy means Seismitoad-EX effectively has eight copies of Double Colorless Energy now, before recycling effects. I think Toxicroak has potential in Standard, and more potential in Expanded.
Its best bet might be the Limited Format, however. Everything about Toxicroak becomes better here, even though you’re probably lacking any external combos with it. Even things that are technically more awkward, like being an Evolution when you probably have to rely on drawing into your Pokémon, because your opponent is probably having the same problems, and likely can only deal with Special Conditions through evolving or retreating.
Toxicroak has potential as a future combo piece, but doesn’t appear to be doing anything right now.
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