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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 New Pokemon Cards of 2016

#5 - Volcanion EX
- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 26, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.0
Expanded: 4.5
Limited: 5.0

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Volcanion-EX started out a major contender since his debut appearance in Steam Siege. Not only did he have a powerful Ability and a decent attack in Volcanic Heat, but he was brandished two Types at the same time: Fire and Water, giving him versatility in what he could hit for Weakness. 

That being said, he was far better suited to hang around a Fire deck more than a Water deck, despite all the recent Water support in BREAKpoint, and indeed he and his non-EX form became their own archetype of deck! Using EX's Steam Up Ability to power up regular Volcanion's attacks - including Power Heater, which can use the discarded Fire Energy to power up Benched Pokemon, and Steam Artillery, which does 3-for-100 but can hit for 130 using Steam Up - really helps bolster the deck as a whole, and in turn makes for a powerful engine in its own right. 

Of course while his non-EX form is a great partner, it's not the only one. Volcanion-EX can power up other Fire Pokemon as well to inflict more damage...provided they're Basics. Charizard-EX, Ninetales-EX, Entei (AOR), Camerupt-EX, these are just a few noteworthy options in terms of what can be used alongside Volcanion-EX. And it's probably going to be the case that we see more Fire Basics worthy of his attention. 

Ideally, Volcanion-EX will pop up from time to time in decks with a need for a big Fire Basic as their attacker, but outside of that, he'll probably be okay. Volcanic Heat isn't too great an attack, although he can hit 160 with a Steam Up on that, so that's pretty handy. He can hit hard when he wants to, and with his buddy he can 2HKO everything in the game, so maybe it's best to keep an eye on him for a while. 


Standard: 4/5 (still a powerful entity in his own right) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (and he's got access to powerful Fire support in Standard) 

Limited: 5/5 (I wonder if he'll play a major role in upcoming decks?) 

Arora Notealus: Volcanion-EX has a lot of potential for sure, and hopefully he'll continue to play a big role in Fire decks to come. After all, it'd be a shame for him not to see play when it's so obvious what good he can do, ya know? Let's see some good Fire Basics! 

Next Time: A stinking pile of garbage? In my Top 10?


We begin the week with our fifth place pick for the top 10 cards of 2016, Volcanion-EX (XY: Steam Siege 26/114, 107/114, 115/114; XY: Black Star Promos XY173).  This card was our number one pick in our XY: Steam Siege top 10, so it makes sense it would place high for the year, right?  Maybe; after all one of our other number ones this year ended up being a dud.  Let’s unpack this and see what Volcanion-EX can do, has done, and is likely to do in the future.

Being a Pokémon-EX agrees with Volcanion-EX; giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, being vulnerable to anti-Pokémon-EX effects, and being excluded from certain beneficial effects hurts (well, not so much that last one), but this card gets a lot for the trade off.  It is one of the new dual Type Pokémon, being both a Fire and a Water Type; while this mechanic is not restricted to Pokémon-EX, Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114) and Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY164) are straight Fire Types, making me think that Volcanion-EX only got the privilege due to it being a Pokémon-EX.  Volcanion-EX can exploit the Fire Weakness found on most Grass and Metal Type Pokémon, as well as the Water Weakness found on most Fire Type and some Fighting Type Pokémon.  Fire Resistance doesn’t exist naturally in Expanded or Standard play, while Water Resistance is confined to BW-era Grass Types (and then not all of them, just many).  There are anti-Fire and anti-Water Type effects, but most haven’t proven that good and the one that has - Parallel City - requires you shrink your own Bench size down to three in order to use it that way.  Both Types offer some worthwhile Pokémon Type-specific support, Energy Type specific support, shared Type-specific support, and a stable of useful other Pokémon belonging to one of the two Types. 

Being a Basic Pokémon is the best, both now, then, and for the foreseeable future due to minimal resource (including time) requirements to hit the field combined with how certain mechanics favor the Stage.  Not a Pokémon-EX derived bonus, though, as of course all Volcanion are Basics.  Both regular Volcanion only have 130 HP, so the 180 found on Volcanion-EX is a definite benefit of being a Pokémon-EX.  Again no bonus for the bottom stats.  Water Weakness is shared by the regular Volcanion; it isn’t good but it isn’t (and wasn’t) the worst a Pokémon could have… though at times it comes close.  Lack of Resistance is the worst Resistance, but it is also what most Pokémon sport, plus getting around Resistance isn’t too terribly hard for most decks to deal with between multi-Type decks and/or just overwhelming the -20 it provides to damage. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky and will require you dedicate some deck space to deal with it.  Reversing my usual review order, let us look at the card’s lone attack because - like the bottom stats, again being a Pokémon-EX doesn’t seem to be much help.  “Volcanic Heat” costs [RRC] and does 130 damage, but it also places an effect on Volcanion-EX itself preventing it from attacking on your next turn.  The usual tricks can get around this restriction, but it means Volcanion-EX is at best breaking even for its efforts. 

At last we come to what makes this card, the Ability “Steam Up”; it is a once-per-turn-per-copy Ability, so if you have multiple Volcanion-EX in play each can use its Steam Up Ability on your turn.  At least provided you meet the cost; each usage of Steam Up requires you discard a [R] Energy from hand, and nothing counts as [R] in your hand other than basic Fire Energy cards.  The payout is excellent though; this places an effect on your side of the field that grants a 30 damage boost to the attacks of your Fire Type Basic Pokémon.  Let me stress, you do not have to pick a particular Pokémon to buff; you don’t have to commit to a particular plan of attack when using Steam Up.  You don’t attack with a Fire Type Basic Pokémon you won’t get the damage bonus, but any Basic Fire Type enjoys the damage bonus from Steam Up, even if it wasn’t in play when Steam Up was used.  Spamming Basic Pokémon to your Bench isn’t too terribly had, so this isn’t just a simple +30 damage bonus we are talking about; two can mean +60, three +90, and a full four count means +120 damage!  Attacks minor, moderate, and major can reach the next level, though obviously the largest wouldn’t need a boost in the first place. 

Volcanion-EX sees play in two successful, competitive decks at the moment.  One is partnered with Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114), where (thanks to Steam Up) its “Power Heater” attack hits surprisingly hard and can prep up to two additional attackers on your Bench.  Sometimes it includes one of the other worthwhile Basic Pokémon attackers, but at least in my experience it’s just the Volcanion-EX and support Pokémon.  The other place where Volcanion-EX shows up, it… just sits on the Bench.  What?  Well since it is both a Fire and a Water Type at the same time, it adds 60 damage to “Rainbow Force”, the attack that makes Xerneas (XY: BREAKthrough 107/162) the star of its own deck.  So why isn’t Volcanion-EX higher on the list?  Well considering I just took the deck for a spin (using someone else’s proven list because mine ended up being terrible), it is probably because more than one current, popular deck has an answer for it.  Decks that punish Basic Pokémon reliance, heavy Pokémon-EX reliance, Ability reliance, Item reliance, and/or Water Weakness are likely to douse its flame. 

Still if you already have or can obtain the needed cards for a decent price, this is a nice deck to have in your stable for Standard play.  I’m not seeing it pop up as much for Expanded though, possibly because there are still nasties like Seismitoad-EX hopping around, whether starring in its own deck or as a guest opener in something totally off Type otherwise.  This Volcanion-EX can be a mighty pull in Limited, but not in a +39 deck.  Though you could use this as your only Basic in your 40 card Limited Format deck, not only is it slow to start but Volcanion-EX can only attack every other turn.. So yeah, that 180 HP won’t last that long.  Go ahead and back up other Fire Type attackers with it, though… not that you’re likely to have a chance as most Limited Events are Pre-Releases, and the ones for XY: Steam Siege are long gone. 


Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Volcanion-EX is breathed new life into waning Fire Type decks, or at least ones focused on Basic Fire Type Pokémon.  Its Steam Up Ability is crazy good, giving it a great deck for Standard play.  Unfortunately even regaining lost Fire Type support like Blacksmith doesn’t seem to elevate it above the crowd in Expanded, though you probably can still get a solid, functional deck out of it. 

Volcanion-EX secured fifth place with 14 voting points.  This means it beat out sixth place M Audino-EX by a healthy six point margin, and only missed tying our fourth place finisher by by two points.  Some of that did come from me, but I only had Volcanion-EX as my seventh place pick; it is a great card but for a specific deck.

Zach Carmichael
Had this at #8 on his Top 10 List

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