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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Steam Siege Top 10

#3 - Volcanion
- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 17, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4
Expanded: 4.25
Limited: 4.75

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Our third place finisher is Volcanion (XY: Steam Siege 25/114; XY: Black Star Promos XY145).  It is a Fire Type, which is… complicated.  Nearly all Grass and Metal Type Pokémon are Fire Weak, while nothing is Fire Resistant.  Some of the Fire Type counters fake it, reducing the damage they do by 20, but that isn’t a strong counter; the only one you should regularly expect to encounter is Parallel City and not only does it provide the same damage reduction against two other Types, but it is one of those Stadiums with a different effect depending on its facing and people run it for its other effect (shrinking the Bench down to three Pokémon).  Fire Type support (both Pokémon and Energy) has some great cards; Blacksmith provides a double attachment of [R] Energy from the discard pile at the cost of your Supporter, and is a natural combo with VS Seeker and Blacksmith; Scorched Earth works for [R] or [F] Energy in hand, and lets you discard one of either to draw two more cards which provides alternate draw power and attachment fodder for Blacksmith; the new Volcanion-EX (XY: Steam Siege 26/114, 107/114, 115/114) allows you to discard [R] Energy from hand once per turn to provide a 20 point bump to attacks from your Fire Types during that turn.  There are also some great Fire Type attackers, and unlike other Types most of these do not work well off Type: Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY121), Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 14/98), Entei (XY: Ancient Origins (15/98), Flareon (BW: Plasma Freeze 12/116), and… actually that is about it for ones with current or even semi-recent success.  Might be why their presence has been lacking. 

Volcanion is a Basic Pokémon; this is the best Stage because the designers haven’t figured out how to balance it properly against Evolutions.  We’ve tried making Evolutions more powerful than Basics and that only works when we also include super short cuts that eliminate the wait to Evolve (and even that isn’t guaranteed to work).  Right now Basic Pokémon require the least deck space, effort, and time to hit the field.  Being a single card Stage of Evolution provides natural synergy with many card effects, and barring a few exceptions, you need a Basic Pokémon to have a legal deck and to avoid mulligans, so the game rules favor them as well.  If that wasn’t enough, while there are Basic counters there is Basic Stage support as well.  The net result keeps them squarely on top.  Volcanion has 130 HP, the second highest printed on a Basic Pokémon that is not a Pokémon-EX, and just on the happy side of the point where a Pokémon is more likely than not to survive an attack.  Water Weakness is almost universal on Fire Types (another issue that plagues them); it is very dangerous due to decks like Bluebox (...okay, okay, everyone else calls is Water Box) decks, as well as the decks built around Greninja BREAK.  There are worse Weaknesses to have either.  Lack of Resistance is typical; it might have been at least a little nice, but -20 damage only makes so much of a difference so it doesn’t majorly hurt the card.  Retreat Cost [CC] is low enough you can probably pay it if you must but high enough that it will usually bite you in the long run, if not right away. 

Volcanion has two attacks, “Power Heater” and “Steam Artillery”.  The former requires [R] to use and does 20 damage while allowing you to select two of your Benched Pokémon and attach an [R] Energy from the discard pile to them.  The latter requires [RRR] to do a vanilla 100 damage; no effect text, good or bad.  This is where you get an idea of why this card has serious potential.  Harken back to yesterday’s review on Yveltal BREAK; we looked at Yveltal (XY 78/146, XY: Black Star Promos XY06, Generations RC16/RC32, and XY: Steam Siege 65/114).  Yveltal was good when it released and became great in Standard when Dark Patch, the from-the-discard Item based Darkness Type Pokémon/Energy acceleration, became Expanded only.  Barring surprise reprints, Blacksmith will be leaving Standard play September 1st, 2016.  Even before that, it provides a harder-to-sabotage form of Energy acceleration, a good opener, and a good non-Pokémon-EX attacker for the Fire Type.  A good single Energy opening attacker, unlike the many other good ones that can hit much harder but require complicated setups.  Oh and if you do want a complicated setup, instead of “Must Blacksmith and attach a Double Colorless Energy” with Volcanion it is “Bench multiple Volcanion-EX spam its Ability”.  Not enough to make Volcanion that important, but it seems pretty clear that a Fire Deck utilizing Volcanion and Volcanion-EX was planned by the developers.  The 2016 World Championships will be the first tournament where XY: Steam Siege is legal (yes, we’ve been scoring it as if it already was).  Using a deck everyone expects is a bad thing, but using a deck most players have maybe a month of serious playtesting against (and only if they or an acquaintance deduced a good list) provides a sizable net advantage.  When two high level players square off in Pokémon, victory is often (usually?) a matter of your opponent making the first mistake. 

So this should be a hot commodity for Standard and Expanded, but at first that might just be new set hype/gambling on that bump from a deck your opponent’s aren’t sure how to handle.  Post rotation, in Standard it becomes the go-to-opener for Fire decks, and while it isn’t the super-safe deck that isn’t overly reliant on Abilities, Basics Pokémon, Items, etc. it remains a solid deck unless all of those things are shut down at once.  That looks like it might be real important post rotation.  For Limited, this is a great pull; take it, make your deck’s Energy count at least a third Fire Energy, and enjoy the acceleration and a potent big, Basic Pokémon.  We have one additional format to cover this time; this is in the “Gears of Fire” Theme Deck.  Besides making it easy to pick up two copies, it means it can be your MVP in the Theme Deck format of the PTCGO.  Unfortunately like too many Theme Decks, it is too unfocused (which makes less sense for a beginner’s deck) for the card to really shine, but unless you’re staring down Water it is usually a welcome sight when it shows up. 


Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 4.5/5 

Theme: 4.35/5 

Summary: Volcanion is going to be a staple for Fire Type decks, and I expect Fire Type decks (or partially Fire Type decks) to become a big deal.  I freely confess that I am looking towards the future with this card; it won’t be bad but neither will it be as impressive until after the rotation. 

Volcanion received 12 voting points and nine of them were because of me making it my #2 pick.  This tied yesterday’s Yveltal BREAK and while I stand by my decision to order things in favor of Volcanion, I understand if people question that choice.  I mean if we look at scores, Yveltal BREAK did slightly better!  This is a top 10 countdown, and it is a predictive one, not a reflective one like our year end list.  At least that is my reasoning.


Volcanion here is reminiscent of other Pokemon before him, and that's usually a really good sign when it comes to hitting the #3 spot on our list! 

Let's just get the boring part out of the way for right now. Steam Artillery is his second attack, and it's a 3-for-100 vanilla shot. The only real issue that this attack has is that those 3 Energy all need to be Fire Energy, which under most circumstances is a bit mediocre given that Fire hasn't gotten a whole lot of Energy acceleration outside of Emboar (BLW), who isn't in the current Standard format right now. This effectively makes the only form of Fire acceleration that which comes from Blacksmith, who is himself just about to be rotated out in the next round. 

Fortunately, that's where Volcanion steps things up a notch, cause it's his first attack that will draw the most attention. Power Heater is a middling 1-for-20 shot that allows anyone running Fire Energy to attach them straight from the discard onto 2 of their Benched Pokemon. It's effectively another version of Landorus (FFI)'s Shout of Power, only with being a slight bit weaker and limiting itself to Fire Energy but allowing you to power up multiple Benched Pokemon.

At the end of the day, that makes Volcanion extremely playable in Fire decks, and with Expanded about to take away a lot of the other Fire support, he's going to see a lot of play in Standard accordingly. Energy acceleration is one of the most powerful abilities to have in the game, outside of crazy damage boosting, and Volcanion fits the bill better than many other Pokemon would. 


Standard: 4/5 (he's a strong and powerful addition to the Fire deck line-up!) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (and figuring rotation, they're gonna need it) 

Limited: 5/5 (super good times) 

Arora Notealus: It's interesting cause I don't think I've seen Volcanion show up quite just yet, but then again they've only recent begun sending him out and about in Japan. Soon, America, soon... 


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