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Kevin Kobayashi

A BREAKthrough Review

Mees Brenninkmeijer and Kevin Kobayashi review the upcoming set, BREAKthrough.

10/27/2015 by Kevin Kobayashi

Hello, readers and welcome to 60cards' first premier collaborative article. This time, I will be switching it up, and introducing my first joint article with one of my teammates and good friends, Mees B. Today we will be reviewing the upcoming set, BREAKthrough.

The set is quite weak in comparison to the last couple of sets that we've had, mainly because a lot of the cards seem like they want to be in a format without giant Pokémon-EX, and more so in a format where Rare Candy and slower attackers arise. A perfect example of wasted potential is the BREAK Evolution mechanic. While it is a great idea in theory, BREAK Evolution is simply too underpowered with cards like Seismitoad-EX, Giratina-EX, and other huge Pokémon-EX that can deal a ton of damage quickly. In a slower format, BREAK Evolution would have been a great way to mix things up. I think that if they rotate to a slower game in the future, then BREAK cards may see more success.

The cards in this set remind me of cards from the Diamond & Pearl era. They are fairly creative and provide many different opportunities for each player to win the game. Old Abilities are reintroduced, such as Retreat Aid Dodrio, and Bench Barrier Mr. Mime. BREAK reminds me of the LV.X concept, and seems to function identically.

Regarding the review of the set: Mees' review will always be first (in italics), and my review will be second.  

BREAKthrough

Houndoom-EX/M-Houndoom-EX


There’s not much to say about the Basic Houndoom-EX. Its first attack doesn’t discard enough cards to make a dedicated mill deck and the second attack doesn’t deal enough damage to even 2HKO other Pokémon-EX. The Mega, however, shows a lot more potential, with the ability to OHKO if you manage to power up his attack by 20 damage. Beacon Energy and Blacksmith make the discard cost manageable and make Houndoom quick to power up.

Houndoom-EX is an interesting card. Hypothetically, if Grass-type attackers such as Sceptile-EX become prominent, the card is a sure star. The first attack is fairly average but provides a way to get some sort of disruption going if you are struggling early. The second attack accelerates a Fire Energy from your discard to one of your Benched Pokémon. It is fairly average, but the Mega is what makes the card competitive. For two Fire Energy, Inferno Fang deals 80 damage, but will deal 80 more if you discard two Fire Energy cards from M-Houndoom-EX, for 160 total. With two Beacon Energy, you can simply reattach both and continue to deal 160 damage every turn. With support from Blacksmith, attaching Energy should never be an issue. I think that this card will be strong provided that you find the correct partner. It also seems like a fairly strong turn-two deck.

Glalie-EX/M-Glalie-EX


Personally, I don’t think the Basic EX is very good. It has the potential to deal decent damage, with a sometimes hard-to-meet penalty. However, when this card does get a good start and support (most notably Judge), it has the ability to OHKO most stuff with a Muscle Band attached. The Mega continues this trend, but has another big penalty on its attack. This card can’t really do much without damage on it, and Megas (and especially a Water Mega, where Rough Seas comes to mind) usually try to tank. I don’t think this card currently has a position in the meta, but it’s not outright unplayable from the start.

Glalie-EX at first glance seems quite average. The first attack paralyzes on a flip. It’s fairly hard to rely on a flippy attack, despite the low cost of one Water Energy. The second attack is a bit more intriguing. For [W][C][C], Glalie-EX deals 50 damage, but deals an additional 100 damage if you have the same amount of cards in your hand as your opponent. There are many ways to match hand size, and with a Judge reprint in this set, it is quite realistic. The Mega Evolution of Glalie-EX wants to be Evolved once it takes 100 damage or more. Unfortunately, with such an unfortunate requirement that your opponent has to swing into the Glalie, it is quite easy to play around. Also, if you do have ten damage counters, your remaining HP on the mega would be 120. By the time the M-Glalie-EX is set up, your opponent should already have ways to deal with it. I think that this card is subpar in every way, and only is good in specific niche scenarios.

Zoroark/Zoroark BREAK:


I essentially view this card as a nerf to Keldeo-EX, which was way too easy to include in any deck and combined with Float Stone gave your whole deck the option to Retreat for free. Zoroark's attack is also pretty decent given the fact that almost any deck is currently forced to play multiple Shaymin-EX to set up. The BREAK Evolution doesn’t help the card that much, and the Stage 1 is the reason you would play the pair. It does, however give some options with it’s cheap attack.

Zoroark and its BREAK Evolution seem mildly playable. The Zoroark has a fair amount of substance, providing an Ability that allows it to leap into the Active position and an attack that swings for a fair amount of damage for the cost. The BREAK Evolution has more potential, providing access to your opponent’s Defending Pokémon’s attacks. For a single Darkness Energy, Zoroark BREAK can copy the Active Pokémon to pressure them in a pinch. I think that the BREAK is much more playable than the Stage 1, and if I was to attempt to build a deck with Zoroark I would focus on the BREAK Evolution.

Raichu/Raichu BREAK:


Raichu is already a very good card, but the new Raichu takes a different route: instead of focusing on big KOs, it spreads damage around, trying to weaken Pokémon-EX even before they attack (or kill those juicy Shaymin-EX). The BREAK Evolution would be used for sudden OHKO potential, just making Raichu a little bit juicier.

Raichu has become quite the powerhouse, but with more buffs to the electric mouse, the card should find its way back into the metagame. Lightning type is always relevant, and with multiple different Raichu that are playable and the BREAK boosting its HP as well as giving it a way to swing for 170, I could see a dedicated Raichu deck becoming quite powerful. [L][C] deals 50 all of your opponent’s Pokémon-EX, setting up KOs for your other Raichu. Raichu BREAK deals 170 damage for [L][C][C], and requires you to discard all Energy attached. This is a great option to end a game because it is a guaranteed 170 as opposed to the other Raichu relying on your Bench to be full to deal more damage.

Marowak/Marowak BREAK:

Despite a Donphan-like attack, this card doesn’t reach quite the same potential. The two-Energy cost really hurts this card’s viability, and the low HP on the non-BREAK Marowak amplifies this problem even more. The attack on the BREAK Evolution is very niche and hard to really gain advantage from in a game. Its typing is very good, however, and that just might make this card somewhat playable.

Marowak seems fairly weak to me. I think that it is a playable card only because of all the Fighting support that we currently have, such as Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium. For one Fighting Energy, it snipes for 30, disregarding Weakness and Resistance. The second attack is much more interesting. For [F][C], Marowak deals 60 damage and switches out if your opponent is an EX. It is quite similar to Donphan, but the difference is that it has a BREAK Evolution. The BREAK bumps Marowak to 140 HP, and gives you a nice Revenge-esque attack that deals 20 damage plus 40 damage for each Prize that your opponent has taken. It may be functional in its own right. 

Empoleon:

Very interesting card that might boost the playability of some Basic Pokémon with cool attacks that deal too little damage to justify playing them. With Archie’s Ace in the Hole, this card can come out as soon as turn one and and give you a massive advantage over the course of a game. I personally feel like this card has a shot at making Seismitoad-EX viable in Standard again.

The only reason that I bother reviewing this card is because Archie’s Ace in the Hole puts it into another spectrum of playability. There are quite a few cards that can make use of Empoleon, but significantly, Seismitoad-EX can abuse this card if the Trainer engine is built to quickly assimilate multiple Empoleon on the Bench. Of course, there are many other cards that will be able to use Empoleon, and rightfully so. The double PlusPower effect per turn is excellent, and the fact that the card stacks makes it very powerful. I won’t be surprised to see this card in the future metagame.

Magnezone/Raikou:

Magnezone is basically the new Blastoise, and Raikou has Keldeo-EX’s attack to go along with it. You use Magnezone to dump a bunch of Energy on Raikou and go to town. The Magnemite has a really cool Ability which makes starting one a lot less bad, since simply getting out a second copy of one will relieve it of its Retreat Cost. Raikou is essentially an EX disguised as a non-EX Pokémon, having a base 140 HP if you count his Ability and being able to easily 2HKO and sometimes OHKO Pokémon-EX makes this card a definitive powerhouse.

I decided to review both Magnezone and Raikou because I think that the cards when combined make a perfect pair. Magnezone is absurd, and reminds me of Magnezone Prime from 2011. The Ability rivals Emboar’s Inferno Fandango. Lightning acceleration has relied on Manectric for too long, but with Magnezone’s release, Lighting will now have more options to set up attackers. The attack on Magnezone is very average, but it’s most likely that you will be using Magnezone as a support Pokémon and less as an offensive threat. In terms of offensive threats, Raikou seems to fit the bill quite well. Raikou has a built-in Hard Charm if there is a Lightning Energy attached to it. The attack costs three Colorless and deals 50 damage plus 20 more for each Lightning Energy attached to Raikou. This is reminiscent of Keldeo-EX’s Sacred Sword, but the difference is that it is a non-EX attacker, which in this case makes it a much bigger threat.

Mewtwo-EX (ALL):

This card doesn’t live up to it’s ancestor’s hype, even though the Mega has a stronger version of X Ball. Fact is, most cards either don’t use a lot of Energy but still have high HP, or have the ability to easily OHKO Mewtwo-EX. I don’t see much potential in this card for the future, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on it, because it combines a potential high damage attack with decent survivability.

I am heavily disappointed by all of the Mewtwo cards printed in this set. Mees and I were on the fence whether to review them all, but they are so poor that we decided to just clump them into one review. Overall, they all are awful cards. I find that they all are very generic with no real uniqueness to them, and you would be better off playing other cards that deal damage based on Energy stacking, rather than Megas that are far too easy to play around. The artwork and playability do not correlate whatsoever. Binder fodder at best.

Mismagius:

Since N got rotated, there is no really good and dedicated comeback mechanic in the game. Ace Trainer is okay, but nothing sets your opponent back as a reshuffle-and-draw-one type of card. Mismagius provides this effect and it comes in Ability form, meaning that you can still play a Supporter on your turn (Hex Maniacs comes to mind to further disrupt your opponent). Just having this card in your deck will make your opponent play more cautiously with their resources, simply because you have the ability to make them redraw and force them to rethink their strategy.

This is my favorite card from the set. I have always loved cards that catch your opponent off guard, and Mismagius is one of the best ways to do just that. Finding a Misdreavus early in the game and Benching it puts enormous pressure on your opponent. Just by Benching the Misdreavus, it notifies your opponent that a) you are capable of disrupting their hand at any time, and b) they have to waste resources to knock it out or they can lose the game by dead-drawing. Sometimes the attack on the Misdreavus isn’t worth it, and your opponent will fall into the trap of knocking it out and losing the exchange. This card creates a mind game all on its own, and boasts some spooky disruption.

Octillery:

Decent draw card, but I'm unsure how much impact this card will currently have. Drawing up to five in a format where Shaymin-EX can draw up to six simply isn’t very strong. And with no major threats to your hand, this card will seldom bail you out of tough situations, and most of the times sit on your Bench doing nothing.

A fairly vanilla Stage 1 draw card, but something that gives a great consistency boost to many decks. While drawing to five is probably pretty useless right now, in the future it should be a pretty strong card. The card’s power reminds me of something from the Diamond & Pearl sets, and the overall theme of this set seems to want to revert back from the incessant power creep that the game has spiraled into. With Sycamore and all of the overpowered draw Trainers, drawing to five is irrelevant, and it would be more practical to just play two Shaymin-EX rather than try to fit a 1-1 Octillery line into your deck, which can quickly be sniped by all of the overpowered EX attackers and Crobat pieces that are so prominent in the game right now.

Smeargle:


Very interesting card with a lot of potential but no current use in the format. There are no good different-Energy decks that have no way of dealing with Energy issues already. Very cool card though, and hopefully it gets some good use in the future.

A card with such unique potential that is sure to do damage in the upcoming metagame. In Expanded this card is very interesting, and even in Standard it will find its way to relevancy. Being able to swap Energy cards makes playing multi-type decks more plausible, and provides more options for decks in regards to Energy swap. In expanded, Ho-Oh and Smeargle are meant to be. In Standard, no partners come to mind but I am sure that someone will be able to make good use of it.

Gallade:


A good Maxie target, but I’m unsure of the impact of the Ability in the long run. Looking at the top five of your deck is great, but without other cards that complement this Ability it only ensures good topdecks every turn. The rest of this card is amazing though, having a hard-hitting attack for just a Double Colorless Energy and a monstrous 150 HP on a non-EX. Watch out for Gallade.

Easy to overlook due to the fact that it's a Stage 2, but what if it was a Basic? Would it be playable? Maxie asks you this question as you pull the Gallade from your discard, use Gallade’s Ability to rearrange the top five cards of your deck, pitch Unown to draw those cards, attach Double Colorless and Muscle Band, and swing for 150 to seal a tight Game 3 on an opponent’s Pokémon-EX. Hey, a guy can dream, right? This card is very playable. I think it has the precise amount of depth to win big events. Let’s call this my dark horse of the set. 150 HP is massive when you factor in that it only gives up one Prize. One attachment means that it can swing as soon as it hits the board. Fighting type gives it Fighting support (Strong Energy, Fighting Stadium, Maxie). A guaranteed 130 damage, and 150 with Muscle Band. I am a huge fan of Gallade.

Mr. Mime:


Cheap semi-reprint of the old Mime, but there isn’t much spread or snipe in the format currently. This card pretty much kills any spread deck from ever becoming Tier 1 though.

A much needed piece of the Stage 2 puzzle is finally back in the metagame. Mr. Mime provides a great shelter for all of your Basics that will be sniped by Bench damage. It gives more playability to decks that need time to set up and in my opinion should always be in the format, as it is very balanced and a great tech card.

Dodrio:


Another very cheap reprint from an older set, this Dodrio reduces Retreat Cost. I love this card for the current format, even though Float Stone is being reprinted. The ability to Retreat without sticking a Tool on one of your Pokémon is very well received. Megas that do not already have free Retreat (I’m looking at you, Mega Manectric-EX) often have a hard time managing no Float Stone because of the Spirit Link attachement. Dodrio relieves this problem and can easily be teched into decks.

The spiritual predecessor to this card saw a ton of play in the 2011 Chandelure/Vileplume deck that terrorized my local area. Dodrio is similar to Mr. Mime in the sense that it is a very balanced card. Very easy to solve a Retreat Cost issue of any deck. It provides a nice niche to anything that needs to Retreat in a pinch. I like the fact that multiple Retreat options have been offered: Ability Retreat via Dodrio and Item Retreat via Float stone.

Assault Vest:


I love this card, because it tries to tackle a problem our current anti-Special Energy cards have right now. Aegislash-EX is weak to Hex Maniac, and Enhanced Hammer loses any effectiveness if your opponent is prepared to have a new one ready every turn. Assault Vest doesn’t have this problem, and with fewer decks absolutely needing Muscle Band, this card can be really interesting.

I am really excited for Assault Vest to come into a meta swarming with Special Energy, and punish players for playing Special Energy. Even with Enhanced Hammer, I felt that we didn’t have enough Special Energy hate. The benefits of playing Special Energy have almost always outweighed the costs. Assault Vest will nerf Special Energy a bit more, which opens up room for more traditional Energy lines, and will make people think twice before playing Special Energy in their decks. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact this card will have on Special Energy counts in decks as a whole.

Giovanni’s Plans:

I really like this card. I like the options that it provides and how it allows you to choose which option to have. This makes it strong as a one-of, that can be discarded and reused via VS Seeker. Very strong.

This card is interesting. It functions as either a draw card or a double PlusPower. There are many times where I am a bit short of a KO and need the extra damage to finish the game. With Muscle Band in the same format, you can come up with 40 damage out of nowhere, which is really nice to surprise your opponent with. If it was just a double PlusPower without the option of a draw card, I bet that it would still be remotely playable. Being able to VS Seeker for damage is strong, and this damage is reliable (unlike Iris). I think that Latios can use this card quite well, and it probably will see play in decks that barely miss the KO mark on occasion. I am excited to for Giovanni’s Plans.

Parallel City:

This card is amazing. It has multiple uses in one card, and the role of this card changes during the game. Early game it can be used to limit your opponent’s ability to play Shaymin-EX, but late game you can use it to discard your own Shaymin-EX and deny your opponent Prizes.

Parallel City is a card that I have been waiting for since I began playing this game in 2009. A Stadium that offers so many options for one slot in your deck is almost always worth playing. The fact that it provides two different options when played creates a lot of havoc, and provides an element of control that no other Stadium could ever provide. The top side of the card limits the Bench to three Pokémon, similar to Giant Stump. The bottom side reduces damage from Fire, Water, and Grass Pokémon by 20. There are many ways to abuse this card, and it creates unfavorable scenarios for most strong Pokémon-EX. It is especially devastating to Seismitoad-EX. Since you get to choose which side applies, you can always find a favorable situation to abuse the card. If you draw into the card early, you most likely want to limit your opponent’s Bench to three. If drawn into the midgame, you can destroy their Bench or damage output. Cards like Giratina or Ninetales, that lock Stadiums into play, will find ways to abuse this card to an unrivaled degree. This card is excellent, and one of my favorites from the set.

Outro:

We decided to review only the cards that we felt were most relevant, and had to cut out others like Chesnaught BREAK. Some cards have no chance for playability and are really doomed to the binder forever. Notable reprints in this set include Heavy Ball, Float Stone, Town Map, Super Rod, Fisherman, and Judge as well. I also found slight interest in the Noctowl that deals 30 damage times the number of Items in both yours and your opponent’s hands. It could be a fairly strong card with the right build.

This set is going to revive a lot of old decks thanks to the new amount of tech cards that we are granted. The set seems perfect for Expanded lists, and less powerful in Standard for this season, however. The direction that they are heading with this set is intriguing, because it appears to relieve the power creep that the game has created with cards such as Sycamore and Seismitoad-EX.

The best part about the Pokémon Trading Card Game to me has always been bluffing. It can be difficult to bluff in Pokémon, but it doesn’t have to be. The correct list can provide tricks to get out of sticky scenarios, and create many unfortunate situations for your opponent. The highlight of my career has been playing decks that can steal games out of nowhere with cards such as Black Belt, Mesprit LA, and other notable disruption or damage modifications. The game has suffered from a lack of creativity from the spectrum of the card creators, which has really damaged how the game is played. The amount of attention that you have to pay to the game has seemingly decreased, and overall the game has felt more like solitaire, and less like chess to me.

I think that with a set like BREAKthrough. it will revive what the game should feel like, more options per turn and more interaction with your opponent. I hate watching my opponent go first and rip an Archie’s because I know that it is very realistic to achieve board control turn one with a deck like Archie-Blastoise. Back in the day, each player had a fairly even amount of setup before they began to trade Prizes. Winning plays were made by small adjustments during the game, which created scenarios where you could sneak the win last turn or calculate how to win the game. I don’t want to come off as complaining, because I am not. But I do want to emphasize how much better the game can be, and as I previously stated, BREAKthrough iis definitely a step in the right direction. 

Lastly, I want to thank bulbapedia for the Raichu scan. Some are missing as you noticed, but we are still waiting for some images! Thank you all for being a part of the 60cards community and taking the time to read our article. Have a great day!

-Kevin (and Mees)

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