#6 Alolan Dugtrio
– SM Ultra Prism
February 9, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Isn’t it weird that we’re getting a lot of good Stage 1 NON-GX? First it’s Garbodor in Guardians Rising, and now Alolan Dugtrio’s hit the Top 10 list for Ultra Prism. I know that’s not saying a whole lot, but there are a lot more noteworthy Stage 1s than there used to be.
Alolan Dugtrio is a Stage 1 Metal Pokemon, 60 HP, with a Weakness to Fire, Resistance to Psychic, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Hey, that makes him perfect for Escape Board! In fact, that may be the only card you actually put on Alolan Dugtrio. Neither he nor Alolan Diglett, his pre-evo, require any Energy on them for their attacks. That’s right, a Pokemon that requires NO Energy whatsoever. But then what does he do?
His one attack is Gold Rush, and the price of using it is to discard Metal Energy from your hand. For each one, you deal out 30 damage to the Defending Pokemon. Okay, so he’s not totally free, you just don’t have to put any of that Energy on him. It takes about 6 Energy in hand to actually OHKO the Basic EX/GX out there, which sounds like a LOT. Course that doesn’t factor in cards like Choice Band or more importantly draw cards.
Think of it this way – a dedicated Alolan Dugtrio deck would likely run a lot of draw cards, lots of Energy, and maybe some search cards for getting to those Energy or draw cards or anything else you could need. On top of that, we got a new Stadium in Mt. Coronet – the mountain in Sinnoh – which lets you put 2 Metal Energy back into your hand each turn from your discard pile. So you discard X Energy for the attack, then next turn get 2 of those Energy back to start out with a decent 60 damage right off the bat. In Expanded, you even get Professor’s Letter to get another 2 from your deck, giving you a total of 120 damage!
Alolan Dugtrio does have one crucial flaw though – it’s his HP. It’s very very low for a Stage 1, being on-par even with some other evolving Basics. So if you can get an attack that hits for 60 (and no, you can’t use Choice Band to help out – that only works on EX/GX), you’ll manage. I don’t think Alolan Dugtrio will be the headliner as a result of the deck he’s in, but as a cheap attacker for massive damage? He’s suitable for throwing down a lot of damage out of nowhere, and that can make him good enough for Metal decks as an alternative.
Not to mention he’s less risky than tossing out a big EX/GX. So there’s that.
Standard: 3.5/5 (his reliance on the hand is both a hindrance and a benefit for Gold Rush)
Expanded: 3.5/5 (but with the right support, he can be very effective!)
Limited: 4.5/5 (he’s almost dominant here, all things considered – lower HP scores overall AND a draw card in the set!)
Arora Notealus: I’ll admit, it’s fantastic to be saying that Alolan Dugtrio made it on the list – it’s one of my favorite Alolan Pokemon, and it’s officially my first shiny Pokemon, so it’s an extra special Pokemon for me in general. Heck I’d build an Alolan Dugtrio deck for kicks, why not?
Weekend Thought: Do you agree with our list? Think some cards are better than others? Think something missed the list that should have made it on? Are you a Dialga-GX fan or a Palkia-GX fan? What’s your take on the new <Prism> mechanic so far?
Next Time: Sometimes the best offense is a good defense!
Alolan Owen Wilson (UP 79) gets another version in the Ultra Prism expansion set. This 60 HP Metal Stage 1 Pokemon has one Colorless attack.
Ok it’s NOT Night March, it’s called Gold Rush, but it’s drawing comparisons to the now Expanded Phantom Forces 30 HP Lightning type Pokemon we all know and love (well, maybe love isn’t the right word) for its David and Goliath like ability to generate insane amounts of damage from one of the flimsiest Stage 1 Pokemon in the meta today (only Raticate from Evolutions, Duosion from Fates Collide, and Ribombee from CRI share the dubious distinction of being Stage 1 Pokemon with only 60 HP).
I’ve been able to routinely put 4, 5, or even 6 Metal energy cards in my hand in any given turn. I think the most I’ve gotten is 7, but I never have trouble getting 4 or 5. There are a number of different lists floating around, but here’s mine:
However, I’m only 3 W 4 L with this list. But this is a fun deck to play, and I really believe that it’s about one card away from being a Night March level deck. Maybe if we get a Shiinotic for Metal types or Superior Energy Retrieval or a Supporter card that will let you grab multiple non GX evolution Pokemon out of the deck, then this will become a top tier deck. Unfortunately, it’s going to land just a little short of that because of its inconsistency in getting started, its inability to maintain attacks over several turns, and its susceptibility to both ability lock and bench clearing mechanisms such as Cyrus and Parallel City. But when you get it rocking and rolling, I don’t know if there’s a non Fire type deck out there that can stand up against it. Plus, it’s fun because it is very intricate and involves a lot of thinking and precision of play.
Standard: 3.5 out of 5
I’ve said for several other decks that I know that someone will come up with the perfect decklist for the new Pokemon out of Ultra Prism. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that will be the case for Duggy. Like I said, he’s not far from being a fearsome force in the meta, but right now there are just too many holes in the deck to consider it top tier.
We finish the week with our sixth place pick and it is… Alolan Dugtrio (SM – Ultra Prism 79/156)! This is a [M] Type Stage 1 Pokémon with 60 HP, Fire Weakness, Psychic Resistance, Retreat Cost [C] and one attack: for  Energy, Alolan Dugtrio can use “Gold Rush” to discard as many [M] Energy cards from your hand as you wish to do 30 damage per to the opponent’s Active. Talk about a volcanic glass cannon, eh? Wow, not only was that a weak joke but now I want a shiny, black Alolan Dugtrio. Still, the point is that Gold Rush can be scaled to hit OHKO anything lacking defensive buffs. Though the upfront cost of the attack is as good as it gets, taking out your typical, Basic Pokémon-EX/GX gets pricey: 6 Metal Energy cards for the ones with 180 HP (or less), while those with 190 HP like Buzzwole-GX will require seven Metal Energy cards you can freely discard from your hand.
Wait, why does it need to be a OHKO? Strictly speaking, it doesn’t; Alolan Dugtrio is only worth a single Prize when KO’d, so barring effects that alter how many you take, you’re either breaking even or coming out ahead in the Prize trade. While Stage 1 Pokémon aren’t hard to set up, if you have to trade two Prizes for each KO, even running a full 4-4 line of Alolan Dugtrio will require you recycling and reusing each card in the line three times! That’s actually pretty rough. If you OHKO three Pokémon-EX/GX, you only have to recycle each card half a time, or rather, two Alolan Diglett and two Alolan Dugtrio recycled once ought to suffice. We’ve already accepted that Alolan Dugtrio is an all but guaranteed OHKO when your opponent attacks, and that is because it only has 60 HP; at this size, you worry about copies on your Bench being picked off by bonus Bench hits. Unfortunately, Weakness still matters because [R] Weakness allows something like Volcanion (XY – Black Star Promos XY145; XY – Steam Siege 25/114) to score a OHKO with its “Power Heater” attack so long as you can boost the damage by 10… which is quite likely with a Volcanion-EX on the Bench. [P] Resistance is unlikely to matter, as an effective 80 HP is still an easy OHKO. The Retreat Cost of [C] is good but almost feels like too much given how small Alolan Dugtrio actually is.
The good news for Alolan Dugtrio is that manipulating basic Energy (searching and recycling) it is pretty easy. The bad news for Alolan Dugtrio is that doing it over and over and over again, in a reliable manner, for six to eight Energy, is much tricker. Of course, if it were easy, this card wouldn’t just be overpowered, but broken. As is, you’ll need to focus on various card effects that can fill your hand with Energy. Raw draw power alone is not a good answer for this because it would force you to run a deck that is little more than draw, initial setup, and basic Energy. For the Standard Format, there are several Items to consider like Energy Recycler, Energy Retrieval, and Professor’s Letter, as well as Supporters like Brock’s Grit and Fisherman. The new Stadium card Mt. Coronet (SM – Ultra Prism 130/156) allows the turn player to add two [M] Energy from discard pile to hand. Some Pokémon may prove valuable Bench-sitters are Ribombee (SM – Burning Shadows 96/147) and/or Starmie (XY – Evolutions 31/108); the former has an Ability that acts like a once-per-turn Professor’s Letter, while has an Ability that acts like a once-per-turn Energy Retrieval; the former hasn’t seen much success, but the last has proven itself in multiple decks.
For Expanded Format play, Superior Energy Retrieval requires you discard two cards but you’ll reclaim four basic Energy cards from your discard pile. Used with Exeggcute (BW – Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW – Plasma Blast 102/101) it a proven trick for other Expanded decks that often need to fetch discarded basic Energy cards. Combined with the options from the Standard Format, being able to discard six to eight Energy most turns still looks tricky, but also like an actual, competitive deck. I’m not sure if it is worth using a card like Choice Band on something that is going to so easily be OHKO, which is actually nice as it frees up the Tool slot on Alolan Dugtrio for something like Bursting Balloon, Life Dew, Rescue Scarf, etc. I think its prospects are as good here as in the Standard Format, but for different reasons; as usual, the Expanded Format offers better support, but also better counters and a lot more competition! Alolan Dugtrio is nice for the Limited Format but don’t forget you’ll lack nearly all of the tricks you’d use with it in Constructed play, and it is still fragile even here. Unless you pull several of them, save it back for a big final push when possible.
Alolan Dugtrio snagged sixth place by earning 51 voting points from appearing on four out of five of our personal top pick lists. It was also my personal sixth place pick; this is actually the [M] Pokémon about which I’m most excited because I think the worst realistic scenario it is facing is that it will become one of the new go-to budget decks. The best case, of course, is that it becomes the new top deck, with players figuring out a reliable enough “Energy engine” to refill their hands and constantly take OHKO’s.
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