Base Set: Electric

So, I know what many of you are thinking.  Your first thought is probably going to be along the lines of “Holy shit, an update?  He does those now?”  Your second is probably going to be along the lines of “Wait a minute, what about the GSC review?”  Still more of you are probably going to think “I just wish he’d get back to doing the anime.”

All very valid thoughts to have.  I’ll explain them in order.

First, yes, updates are still a thing.  I’ve been on a long unplanned hiatus for several months as a result of first moving several states away from anything I’ve ever known, then getting a job with a less-than constant schedule.  All the while, I’ve been fighting a dearth of inspiration that even affected my fanfic output even worse than the existing problem of burning myself out had.  So I’ve had a rough couple of months.  However, I fully intend to get back on the horse with writing, and I see no reason to not start here.

Second is in regards to the GSC review.  It will be finished; don’t you worry.  However, GSC happens to be a set of games that I have very strong feelings about, and writing about them from an objective standpoint is going to be difficult.  I’m going to be taking a short break from posting those until I finish writing the whole review, and then I’ll post it over a few days.

Finally- yes, I am still going to be writing about the anime every so often.  The big problem with writing about it, though, has mostly been that while it’s a great time killer and is really good for relaxing after I finish a long day at work, there are a lot of episodes not worth commenting on, or that feel like a drag to write about.  When I can think of an episode worth blogging about, I will do so, but there won’t be any regularity to them.  At least, not at first; who knows what the future will bring?

So, with all that explained, I move on to what is doubtless the final question on your minds:  “He said he wasn’t doing TCG reviews anymore, didn’t he?  That he just wasn’t feeling it?”  A fair question.  But I’ve found myself actually regretting leaving this one hanging.  On top of that…  Either my ego is just that out-of-control, or I think the reviews I wrote were actually pretty good.  Who knows?

But I figure that my comeback could be enhanced slightly by beginning to tie up a loose end.  With all that out of the way, let’s discuss the Base Set’s Electric element.

Electric:  Three words:

Spike.

Recoil.

Paralysis.

These three words make up the bulk of Electric’s gameplay, featuring spike attacks that hit the opponent’s bench, powerful attacks with low energy costs that also damage the attacker, and low-power attacks that have a chance to paralyze.  This level of versatility in attack forms is really only matched by Grass, but Electric has a slightly higher damage output.  It also hits most Water-types and some Colorless Pokémon with Super-Effective damage, something that Grass has trouble matching at all.

So, what’s not to love?  Well, simply put, Electric-types are garbage, defensively speaking.  Their sole weakness is Fighting, but Fighting also happens to be one of the most hard-hitting attackers in the game.  On top of this, Electric-types are second only to Fire in terms of Energy drain- most Stage 2 Pokémon require 3 Energy or more to use attacks, and those will almost always be colored.  In addition, their HP is deceptively low- they have okay numbers, but the numbers are offset by recoil.

As a result of these problems, Electric needs to have a strong early game, and near-perfect follow-up in order to win.  Unlike the other colors, mono-ing Electric is absolutely a bad move, and should be avoided.

035: Pikachu

Let’s jump right in with our franchise mascot.  Right off the bat, I want to call attention to the artwork.  Times have changed, haven’t they?  I bet that if you showed it to a younger fan, they’d think it was fake- especially when you compare it to something like the Furious Fists Pikachu.  Our mascot is so vastly different from when he started that it makes you wonder what he’ll look like in another 19 years…

Back on track, we have our first red flag in his HP, which is 40.  Remember, this is very low, and most Fighting-types will be able to drop him very quickly.  Sadly, this is a trend amongst evolving Electric Basics, as you’ll soon see.

His attacks are slightly better- one Colorless for 10, and one Electric plus one Colorless for 30.  Two for 30 is impressive, especially on an evolving Basic, but it’s here that we meet our first instance of recoil damage- a 50% chance of receiving 10 damage.  Given that it would take two turns to use this attack, Pikachu is probably already injured, especially if he went second.  Your best bet is to keep Pikachu out of the Active spot if you need him for more than a sacrifice.

036: Raichu

Right away, we see that Raichu’s health has doubled since evolving, and that’s good.  However, his energy count starts at 3, and 4 is needed for his strongest attack.  On top of this is one recoil attack replacing the other, and this one is overall nastier than the other.

It’s the 3-Energy attack I want to call attention to, though, so let’s examine it a minute.  Agility only does 20 damage for one Electric and two Colorless, which doesn’t sound good until you read the effect.  If you win a coin flip, you get a free dodge.  Your opponent’s attack on your next turn can basically be nullified.  What makes this hilarious is that if your opponent is running Fire, they might lose out on Energy by attacking you.  The damage is less-than-impressive, but the faux-Paralysis is worth the cost.

His second attack, Thunder, is not as good effect-wise.  Three Lightining and one Colorless nets you 60 damage, with a 50% chance of dealing 30 damage to yourself.  The 60 is good- really good, actually.  That effect, however, really limits Raichu’s stopping power.  Save the attack for when it looks like Raichu’s about to faint- you might take your opponent with you, and there’s a chance that you’ll be allowed to keep your attacker.  However, this is still relying too much on luck to save the card.

037: Magnemite

Remember the one-trick pony in Squirtle and Wartortle?  Here, we’re giving you another one of those.

Magnemite is frail- exactly as frail as Pikachu, but it has a single saving grace in that its most useful attack only requires one Energy, and has a chance to paralyze rather than deal recoil.  That’s Thundershock- one Lighting deals 10 and a chance for paralysis.

Its second attack?  Selfdestruct, but you’re probably never going to use it.  It’s a pity, because Selfdestruct is actually a very interesting attack.  In addition to blowing itself up and dealing 40 to the enemy, it also deals spike damage to every Benched Pokémon, ensuring that whatever enters play does so crippled.  It costs one Lightning and one Colorless, so it should be easy to use in theory.  However, here’s where its HP and Weakness come back to bite it- Selfdestruct is a sacrifice move, and should only be used when there’s no other alternative.  However, it’s very easy to take Magnemite down from full to zero in a single attack, so the attack is unlikely to ever be used.

038: Magneton

Hey, look!  It’s Magnemite 2.0!

On the surface, not a lot has changed from Magnemite.  It now has 60 HP instead of 40, and its attacks have all increased in damage and Energy cost.  However, offsetting this is how much extra beef 20 HP gives it.  It’s harder to one-shot now (although it is still very much within the realm of possibility,) so that makes Selfdestruct much more viable.  In addition, the extra damage output from Magnemite (30 on Thunder Wave versus 10, and 80-spike-20 on Selfdestruct instead of 40-spike-10) really does make a lot of difference.

039: Voltorb

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

A 40-HP basic with a single attack- one Colorless for 10.  Worthless by itself.

040: Electrode

I don’t know where to begin with this one.

Well, let’s start with the sure thing.  Three Lightning for 50 is great, even with a chance of 10 Recoil.  It’s kind of weird, given that its Basic form had no two-energy attack, but I’ll take it.  Its 80 HP allow for it to deal with most of the pains of recoil, so as an attacker, it’s unmatched among its Electric peers.

It’s the Power that I’m iffy about.

Buzzap allows Electrode to be sacrificed and converted into a Double Energy of any kind, which sounds really great until you realize that you’re handing a Prize card to your opponent when you do this.  On one hand, it’s really good for Energy burners like Ninetales or Charizard.  On the other…  It really has no place anywhere else.  No other scenario is going to be worth that Prize Card, not to mention the weirdness of Electrode of all things exploding and giving Energy…

And just hold on a minute here.  Electrode, the legendary detonator, doesn’t have a damaging Selfdestruct, nor does its Basic form?  And Magnemite does?  Who was putting these cards together?

041: Electabuzz

Let’s start out with the fact that this is a 70-HP Basic.  You will not one-shot Electabuzz on the first turn.

This alone would make it a great opener, but it just gets better from here.  One Lighting gives you a 10-damage attack with possible paralysis.  Great, but nothing we haven’t seen before.  On the other hand, an additional Colorless gives you 30 plus the possibility of 10 recoil…  if you don’t deal an extra 10 damage to your opponent.  30 for two is good, but the potential to deal 40 for two is, at this point in the review, unprecedented.

Electabuzz’s biggest achilles heel aside from the Fighting weakness is his retreat cost of two.  Other Electric-types from this set have, for the most part, had a retreat cost of one, meaning that getting them out of trouble without blowing them up could in fact be done.  Electabuzz, meanwhile, needs to sacrifice all of his offensive power to leave, something potentially very dangerous.  If Electabuzz looks like he’s out, probably best to go down swinging.

042: Zapdos

All rise for the disappointment of the yea- wait, that’s later?  Okay, then.  Disappointment of the week.

90 HP on a Basic is incredible.  No argument there.  And Zapdos’s damage output is unmatched, except by Charizard at this point.  But Zapdos has two massive problems that stop it from getting anywhere.  First is the Energy requirement for it: always four, and three are guaranteed to be Lightning.  THe second is the attack drawbacks.  The first attack is Raichu’s Thunder, verbatim: 60 damage for three Lightning and a Colorless, and a chance for 30 recoil.  And this is the less-risky attack.

Without a doubt, Zapdos’s Thunderbolt is the worst attack in the set.  Four Lightning Energy- that is, non-substitutable Energy- go into this 100-damage attack.  And then you discard all of them.

The thing is, I can see that this attack is supposed to be like Fire Spin,  And it fails to reach its Fire counterpart’s menace for a number of reasons.  First is the lack of an Energy Burn counterpart, so it is forced to use one kind of Energy with no substitutions.  Second is the fact that instead of discarding two Energy, you discard all of them.  That’s not me substituting four for all- the wording on the card says “all Energy attached to Zapdos.”  So yes.  You can lose more than four to this attack. ANd speaking of four, that’s how many turns you’ll be required to sit and sponge damage before you can attack again.

And without Trainer support, sponging damage is what you’ll be doing.  Remember Electabuzz being a slow retreater because of its two requirement instead of one?  Zapdos does him one better, and has a retreat cost of 3.

Without building an entire deck around this thing, you are not- I repeat, not!- going to get your money’s worth out of Zapdos.  It’s either dead on arrival, or burns itself out.

***
With that all wrapped-up, next time, I’ll be looking at the Psychic-type… if my next entry is about the TCG.  Until then, Tom Pokénutter out.

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