Pokemon Card of the Day #986: Altaria (Great Encounters)
Altaria was not one of those Pokemon with a ton of great cards. None of the Altaria cards in the ADV era did anything worthwhile, so the fact that there was an Altaria in Great Encounters that was actually worth covering made it the best of its species to that point. It was no Dragons Exalted Altaria, and it had many really poor match-ups, but it at least had a trick that let it do something against one type. That was pretty good for this Pokemon’s standards.
Altaria’s 80 HP was pretty low for a Stage 1 that really wanted to be a tank. It definitely could have used a bit more. The +20 Colorless Weakness was weird to be sure. Garchomp C in DP-On was pretty common and gave Altaria some issues. Blissey was the problem in HP-On, but in those post-rotation times before Garchomp C’s release it wasn’t bad at all. The -20 Fighting Resistance was part of what made Altaria functional, as that combined with an attack to make it take very little damage from that type. The Retreat Cost was just 1, which let Altaria get out of there when another type of Pokemon became Active.
Dragonbreath did 40 damage for an Energy, which was great, especially with a heads flip for Paralysis. Or it would be great, but it did nothing if you flipped Tails. Suddenly it was a bit too risky to be worthwhile.
Cotton Cloud was a really nice attack. 60 damage for 3 Colorless Energy was pretty average, becoming a bit below average in later formats. It did lower the damage done by the opponent’s Evolved Pokemon by 30 for a turn, which was made this attack good. the HP-On format was especially packed with Evolved Pokemon, and it was one of the few things that just did not worry about Gallade at all. The many Basic Pokemon made it much harder to use in DP-On, but it had fantastic match-ups against Machamp and Donphan Prime which made it an interesting Pokemon with its Colorless typing.
Altaria was a very niche Pokemon. It could tank a few scary things but struggled to beat so much else that it rarely got used. It could be helpful in a few decks, at least, especially ones that had trouble with Fighting-types. If your deck had a real problem with those but was otherwise quite solid, Altaria was probably going to be a good pick.