– Champion’s Path
September 26, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
If you skipped yesterday, we’re counting down the top 10 cards of Champion’s Path. However, it is a little different this time. Simply put, interspersed with the countdown will be supplemental reviews: cards directly related to the next card in the actual countdown, plus some honorable mentions so that we end the countdown on a Friday. For example, we reviewed Alcremie V yesterday because Alcremie VMAX (Champion’s Path 023/073) is our 10th-Place pick!
As a Pokémon VMAX, Alcremie VMAX is worth three Prizes when KO’d. She’s also going to have to deal with being excluded from beneficial effects, and specifically targeted by detrimental ones because of this status. Don’t forget that Pokémon VMAX are still Pokémon V; any effect that works on Pokémon V will work on Alcremie VMAX plus those that specifically work against Pokémon VMAX. Much as with being a Pokémon V, being a Pokémon VMAX comes with benefits. Their HP scores are substantially higher than the Basic Pokémon V from which they evolve, and their effects are likely to stronger as well. Pokémon VMAX are also a Stage of evolution; like a Stage 1, but not counting as such for any card effects. Alcremie VMAX is also a Gigantamax Pokémon; currently, this doesn’t matter in the TCG, but you never know if or when a future card effect will care about it.
As a pure Fairy type in the video games, Alcremie VMAX is a Psychic type in the TCG. They lost one of their best pieces of support – Mysterious Treasure – but they have gained a few new tricks in recent sets. What hurts is that TCG Psychics based on VG Psychics used to be [P] Weak, at least most of them. There are still a few cards like that kicking around from the later SM-era releases, such as Mewtwo & Mew-GX. There’s some benefit, as Psychic Resistance is also much less common, but Resistance isn’t as common as Weakness, nor is its -20 or -30 as game-changing as doubling damage.
Alcremie VMAX has 310 HP, low for a Pokémon VMAX. This still makes it fairly sturdy, except for attackers that can exploit her Weakness. Unfortunately for Alcremie VMAX, that Weakness is to Metal Pokémon, and Zacian V has made them strong since its release, dominating the Players Cup Finals. Half of the Top 16 were Zacian V decks, backing it with either Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX or Lucario & Melmetal-GX, the latter taking the top two. Alcremie VMAX is big enough only Zacian V can score the OHKO, at least with the builds we saw at that tournament. No Resistance is the worst, but it probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference if present. Alcremie VMAX’s Retreat Cost of [CCC] does hurt; too big for Air Balloon, not large enough for Buff Padding, but still a pain to pay at full price.
Alcremie VMAX knows two attacks. For [C], she can use “Adornment”, which lets you search your deck for a [P] Energy to attach to each of your Benched Pokémon. Remember, the only Energy that count as [P] Energy in the deck are basic Psychic Energy. If this was a bulkier Pokémon VMAX, or [M] type attackers weren’t so common, this would be a decent, maybe even a good move. In the now, it is still okay, but be very cautious about the decks that can push themselves and OHKO even an Alcremie VMAX with full HP. The second attack is “G-Max Whisk”, priced at [PP]; this attack lets you discard as much Energy as you want from your Pokémon (any of them), then does 60 damage per Energy card discarded. Not per Energy, but per Energy card; Triple Acceleration Energy is not going to get you anymore damage than a basic Psychic Energy. It is nice that the attack doesn’t care about the type of the Energy being discarded, and the damage yield is decent.
Only “decent”? Since you’re discarding Energy, attacking multiple times means replacing it. The good news is that your damage is sufficient that Alcremie VMAX might be able toget by with a few massive swings, but unless you’re facing at true Weenie Rush of 60 HP attackers that can only 3HKO Alcremie VMAX at best, you’re not going to be able to just casually attach and discard to do 60. Even before protective effects, HP buffs, etc. the biggest Pokémon VMAX will require six Energy cards discarded for G-Max Whisk to secure a OHKO. Can’t you just settle for a 2HKO? Yes, but Alcremie VMAX’s advantage lies in going for the OHKO; you can use something with more HP and/or worth fewer Prizes if you’re settling for a 2HKO or 3HKO. Even taking out Basic Pokémon V will usually require discarding four Energy cards with G-Max Whisk. Even if you have a good form of Energy acceleration, the nature of G-Max Whisk means you’ll either need Energy search, Energy recycling, or both even if you’re just going for two big hits.
I can see a few possibilities for Standard, however. Once again, we have a bit of a dilemma; the longer I look, the more options I find… but none are especially great. Let’s start with just trying to rely on Energy attaching Trainers, maybe with an Adornment or alternate attacker that attaches Energy early game. If you’re able to pull off big enough OHKO’s, you can afford to go down a few Prizes. Bede, Rose, and Welder eat up your Supporter but can indeed help you out. Turbo Patch is flippy but just an Item. Welder may sound odd, but Volcanion (SM – Unbroken Bonds 25/214; SM – Black Star Promos 179) is also a decent lead-in, especially when you go second. The mixed blessing of mixing Energy is that Alcremie VMAX can be backed up by attackers of other types, potentially mitigating her Metal Weakness and improving the deck’s chances of exploiting Weakness itself.
Frosmoth’s “Ice Dance” Ability cannot help the [PP] Energy requirement of G-Max Whisk, but it can flood your Bench with basic Water Energy cards to cover the discard cost. This also means access to Capcious Bucket or Misty & Lorelei for [W] Energy search. Eventually, it also means you’ll have Nessa to add up to four basic Water Energy cards, Water Pokémon or a combination of both to your hand from your discard pile. You’ll have to settle for manually attaching your source of [P] Energy, or maybe include one of the other options like Turbo Patch or Rose plus some basic Psychic Energy. The option I’ve actually heard floating around – but not seen, let alone played – for Alcremie VMAX is Porygon-Z (SM – Unbroken Bonds 157/214) with Aurora Energy and Recycle Energy. Porygon-Z’s “Crazy Code” Ability lets you attach as many Special Energy cards as you want in a turn to your Pokémon, so you can not only drop two Aurora Energy onto Alcremie VMAX, but up to four Recycle Energy turn after turn onto anything else. It also makes it easier to use off-Type attackers, Weakness Guard Energy, or both to deal with Alcremie VMAX’s Metal Weakness.
Expanded has many forms of Energy acceleration, but I’m just going to focus on
Even if Organized Play wasn’t cancelled for the rest of 2020, Champion’s Path wouldn’t have received a Pre-Release as it is a “bonus set”, only available in certain product and not as individual booster packs or booster boxes. You cannot even purchase a Pre-Release style kit like you could with SW- Darkness Ablaze. If you’re determined and have the disposable income, however, you could still get the boosters and some friends or family together for an unofficial Limited Format “event” among yourselves. If you do, and you pull Alcremie V and Alcremie VMAX… that’s good. Not great, because Alcremie VMAX requires a lot of setup; a Mulligan build cannot take advantage of Adornment, you could try relying on Alcremie V until you’d manually attached a lot of Energy, then evolve into Alcremie VMAX and sweep. With a Bench full of even filler Pokémon, an Adornment or two can prep for all the G-Max Whisk attacks you’ll likely need to win the game, and Alcremie VMAX has just enough HP to risk it.
Alcremie VMAX isn’t mind-blowing, at least, not right now. It feels like she’s either a bit late or early to the party, having missed out on (arguably) ideal partners from the previous Standard Format, or being ahead of whatever could really help her out in the coming months and years. It is possible she has what she needs to be a competitive deck now, and that’s good enough for good (but not great) scores across the board.
Two turn strategies and/or external support has their own problems such as (a) being interrupted before you pull off your second turn and (b) having one of your Support cards off the board. Let’s see what we can work with for Alcremie V-MAX.
So, Alcremie has two attacks that’s designed to be effective, except that strategies like these aren’t competitive enough these days. You shouldn’t have to take two turns to deal a certain damage that you would have done in one turn. Adornment is Alcremie’s first attack that somehow setups your Pokemon, perhaps more effective if you have a full Bench. You probably can get up to 5 Psychic Energies on the board with this attack, or eight with Sky Field in Expanded. Then, it’s G-Max Whisk does 60 damage times the amount of energy – you’ve decided – attached to your Pokemon. It takes six energy discards to OHKO any Pokémon in the TCG (except Zamazenta-V).
I haven’t been keeping track of the card pool from the Sword & Shield series, so I’m not sure if there’s sufficient Psychic based support in Standard, but for Expanded, there’s Malamar from SM Forbidden Light whose Psychic Recharge ability let’s you put a Psychic energy from the discard pile onto one of your Benched Pokemon. That way, with 4 Malamar in play, you’re guaranteed to potentially keep dealing 240 damage by discarding the four Psychic energies that was retrieved by Malamar. And if you decide to discard energies attached to Alcremie itself, then you could score a OHKO, but then you find yourself difficult to meet the PP cost of G-Max Whisk unless you used Rose to recover them.
Ultimately, it may have limitless damage potential, but you would most likely need external type based support to consistently deal that much damage. For Expanded, having both Malamar and Rose makes OHKOs a bit realistic.
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