Altaria – Evolving Skies
September 6, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
5th-Place in our countdown goes to Altaria (SW – Evolving Skies 106/203)! This one might take some explaining…
Altaria is a baseline Pokémon: no Rule Box, no Battle Style, only worth a single Prize when KO’d, etc. This means it does not need to do as much as a multi-Prize Pokémon V, as you’re not as invested but we should expect more than something with a Battle Style, given there currently aren’t any drawbacks to having a Battle Style (only potential bonuses). Peaking ahead, Altaria isn’t meant to be an attacker, so the fact that almost nothing is Dragon Weak and nothing is naturally Dragon Resistant doesn’t matter. Dragon support isn’t likely to matter for Altaria in Standard, either. What will matter is Altaria being a Stage 1; we’ll have to invest a turn in waiting to evolve into it, as well as running something from which it can evolve. Not a deal breaker, but it will definitely make Altaria weaker overall.
Altaria has 90 HP; this is bad in that it is very easy to OHKO it, but good in that you can fetch it with Level Ball. Since Altaria is not a Basic, Quick Ball cannot fetch it, so being Level Ball legal might be a big deal. Even if it isn’t, while Stage 1 Pokémon aren’t as good as Basics, they’re not awful, either. Altaria has no Weakness (the best), no Resistance (the worst), and a free Retreat Cost (again, the best). This means Altaria can act as a pivot Pokémon without investing in Air Balloon or similar support, and your opponent will have to legitimately do 90 damage to score the OHKO (barring effects). As for no Resistance being the worst, it is also the most common so it isn’t really a problem.
Altaria has one Ability and one attack. I already said it wasn’t meant as an attacker, so let us just get the attack out of the way: [WM] pays for “Glide” to do 60 damage. 60 for [CC] isn’t usually worth it anymore, so for two different Energy types it definitely isn’t worth it. Still, better to be able to do something rather than nothing. As for the Ability, “Tempting Tune” may be used once during your turn. You can look through your deck for a Supporter (any Supporter), reveal it to the other player, shuffle the rest of your deck, then place that Supporter on top. How does having a particular Supporter on top of your deck do you any good? Besides those odd times you need to have (or avoid having) a specific something on top of your deck, you can either prepare for next turn, or add something to access that top card from your deck.
The former isn’t all that appealing; your opponent might hit you with Marnie, with some form of mill, or just change the situation enough that whatever Supporter you prepped the turn before isn’t worth using now. The latter means adding to the combo, but the end result is having the exact Supporter you wanted that turn, possibly turn after turn. While Crobat V is a commonly run, non-Supporter form of draw power, it is a one-time deal so I wouldn’t run Altaria just to use with Crobat V. Here is a list of the highlights for Standard, some which are deck specific and some which are general use:
- Cinccino (Sword & Shield 147/202; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH009; Shining Fates SV94/SV122) – Has an Ability that lets you discard a card from your hand to draw two cards.
- Galarian Articuno V – Has an Ability that requires you discard two cards from your hand to draw a card.
- Kricketune V – Has an Ability that lets you draw until you have three cards in hand, or four if this card is your Active. Its Ability is a true once-per-turn effect.
- Rayquaza VMAX – Has an Ability that lets you discard your hand, then draw three cards.
- Polteageist (SW – Darkness Ablaze 083/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH081; Shining Fates SV053/SV122) has an Ability that lets you discard a Pokémon with the “Mad Party” attack from your hand in order to draw two cards.
- Oranguru (Sword & Shield 148/202; SW – Vivid Voltage 199/185; Shining Vault SV098/SV122) has an Ability that lets you swap a card from your hand for the top card of your deck, once per turn.
- Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX – Has an Ability that lets you attach a [P] Energy from hand to one of your Benched [P] Pokémon, then draw two cards.
- Suicune V – Has an Ability that lets you draw a card if it is your Active Pokémon.
- Rose Tower – Stadium that lets the turn player draw until they have three cards in hand.
- Tower of Darkness – Stadium that lets the turn player discard a Single Strike card to draw two cards.
The big drawbacks are the amount of Bench space, deck space, and time some of these require. Though not far behind are the risk something doesn’t show up or is negated at the time you need it, or that a card-specific cost or condition cannot be met. After all is said and done, though, having the exact Supporter you need ASAP is amazing! Turn after turn, if you can pull off these usually simple combos, you’ll have that Boss’s Order or Marnie or whatever else you need that turn. I don’t think every deck will run Altaria, but I think those with complicated setups or trying to avoid running multi-Prize Pokémon will, space permitting.
At least, that is in Standard; in Expanded, there’s more competition and counters to it. However, I still think a few decks will give it a go; seriously, the exact Supporter you need is pretty tempting. Expanded has Tapu Lele-GX, but if you’re running an otherwise single-Prize deck? That’s a juicy target. In both Formats, as long as you have what you need for your chosen draw method, you can easily bounce back from your opponent obliterating (or all-but-obliterating) your hand on the previous turn. Unless what you need is in your Prizes or discard pile; unfortunately, Tempting Tune doesn’t let you snag a VS Seeker. If this still doesn’t seem good enough for 5th-Place, keep in mind what all it was competing with; “okay” general cards or good-but-deck-specific ones. Which is how Altaria rose to 4th-Place on my own Top 15 list.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 3/5
Editor’s Note: This was Vince’s 7th-Place pick.
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