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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
Next Time: OUT OF THE SHADOWS!!