Ampharos-Ex is not exactly an impressive EX, averaging a value of about $5.00, which is almost as low as you’ll pay for an EX. But at the same time, I don’t feel as though it’s overly bad. At least, not in the vein of Ancient Trait Gyarados bad. (Which I spent 1600 words talking about in my last post.)
So let’s get all Charge Up, (!) and take a look at some of things Ampharos does right, and whether or not Amphy is well and truly Born With It.
The Initial Drop
Ampharos-Ex doesn’t start doing damage for a while, requiring a whopping 4 energy before it can even begin laying down damage, and when it does its that standard 100 that we were talking about with Gyarados earlier, worse yet the damage doesn’t even proc weakness, meaning what should have been one of the best Ex’s to be countering the runaway train that is Colorless Rayquazza-Ex. can’t one shot it off of weakness.
On the plus side, with the right application of deck manipulation cards like Trainer’s Mail, Battle Compressor (for deck thining) or even just a higher than average Energy Count, you can be swinging for 100 come turn 2 off of Thunder Rod, which is also 100 damage that is unaffected by Resistance, Abilities, Ancient Traits and Trainer Card effects, which does marginally make up for the inability to abuse weakness.
You know, just a little bit.
The fighting weakness is pretty bad in a format where Groudon-EX still exists, even
if it is in a somewhat mitigated form. Even Hawlucha runs all over it in just 2 turns (With a Strong Energy and Muscle Band attachment) if you can’t pull out the Energies you need in time.
A Steel Resistance doesn’t really do anything in the format at the moment, although it does allow Ampharos to weather Aegislash-EX a little better, and Sparking Tail can cleave through Sword-and-Shield’s Ability if you decide to attach Flash Energies. (For some reason)
Maybe She’s Born With It
Did you attach all 4 of those energies last turn? Awesome, drop a Spirit Link, play M-Ampharos and start one shotting most EX’s. The one’s you don’t? No worries mate, they’re now Paralyzed, and barring a Switch/Escape Rope/Evolution you’re peachy.
And you’ve also dealt an additional 30 damage to yourself? Hmmm, okay. Why aren’t you playing Manetric again?
Okay, to be fair, the ability to deal 170 with very minor repercussion is pretty solid, alongside a Muscle Band, you’re one shotting all Non-Mega’s without much blowback, and taking out Colorless M-Rayquazza without even proccing the extra 50 damage. Hell, if you time your Lysandre’s well, you can drag out and free prize an awkward Shaymin-EX for a
whopping 130HP worth of overkill. (God damned, stupid $40-$80 card)
Not only that, but you can undercut the 30 damage by running Stormy Seas, and healing 30 damage every turn.
So, hey it isn’t all bad news, easy kills on Shaymin’s and (Colorles) Rayquazzas, plus a stadium that consistently heals youm may as well grab all the Ampharos’ you can and build this deck now, if it’s got the ability to stomp Ray, right? Right?
No, Not Right.
Aren’t leading questions fun?
So, yeah, most Rayquazza decks will be running, most likely, a 2-2 count of Altaria. Basically what Altaria does is turn Rayquazza into an unkillable tank, that shreds through any possible defence you can throw at it.
Of course, you can still 2 hit the big scary dragon, but you still need your Ampharos to survive to the point where it can 2 hit it, which can be tricky depending on just how fast you can put M.Ampharos-EX out and fully charge it up.
I suppose, if you look at it properly, I’d suggest running at minimum a 2-2-2 count of Serene Grace Togekiss with a few Rare Candies thrown in there for good measure. (Second post in a row I’ve suggested Togekiss, this is how trends start… Or is that memes?) It offers you a secondary, larger, Energy Gamble off of the top of your deck as early as Turn 2. Of course a 2-2-2 count with, at minimum, 2 slots taken up by the Rare Candies, in an Energy heavy deck, (12 count minimum, 15 count to really capitalize on all of your Energy Rush techs) that’s a lot of space being taken up by things that don’t really need to be there.
Ampharos-EX in the Current Meta
Beyond Togekiss and Milotic, there isn’t all that much that offers anything in the way of pure Lightening Energy Acceleration. Should you get M.Ampharos-EX out, then you can spam a few Mega Turbos in conjunction with Battle Compressor to discard the energy, but the biggest question I keep asking myself is, why not just run Manetric-EX instead?
Because the bonuses you get for running Ampharos over Manectric are slight. 10hp more and 10 base damage more once you get the Mega out, with Manectric being far cheaper and more efficient to run. Not only that, but while you’re hitting your opponent with TURBO BOLTS, you can simultaneously charge up a second Manectric, so that if the first one dies, come into next turn, BAM! MORE TURBO BOLTS!
Sure, you could easily TURBO BOLT a benched Ampharos, but why would you want to? And that’s essentially what my argument boils down too for the meta at the moment, Ampharos is decent and could do things, if Manectric weren’t already a thing. Because Manectric is just straight up better at doing the things Ampharos WANTS to do.
Which is a shame, because as silly as Mega-Ampharos’ mane of luxurious white locks are, it still looks infinitely better than whatever the hell is happening on Mega-Manectric. But, that’s just personal aesthetics coming into play, and in no way has bearing on the playability of either.
New Format Starting With XY8
So while we’ve already got our starting point for the format going into 2016, in the next few months the 8th Expansion in the XY series is set to release and, with it comes a basic disregard of all of the issues in relation to Manectric. ‘Oh why is that Mothball?’ I hear the cute girls shouting across the internet. ‘Well I’m glad you asked, discerning Pokemon Card Aficionado. Let me explain ecxactlty why for you!’
This special little card on your right is Magnezone. Maggs here, is to Lightning Energy, what Blastoise was to Water, letting you drop as many Lightning Energy from your hand as you care to drop, meaning you don’t have to worry about trying to luck into Lightning Rod Turn 1 or going through all the effort of bringing Togekiss out only to whiff the Serene Grace.
No Magnezone is guaranteed and continued energy acceleration, allowing you to continuously power up powerful Ampharos-EX’s.
On the back of Magnezone alone, come XY Set 8, I feel that Ampharos can claw its way up to, at the very least, Tier-3. Depending on the rest of the set, which seems to be focussed quite heavily on Lightning support, we could even push that to a Tier-2.
I would say Tier-1, possibly, but as long as Altaria continues to be a thing, Rayquazza is going to make that annoyingly hard to accomplish.