– Vivid Voltage
November 20, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
8th-place in our countdown is Beedrill (SW – Vivid Voltage 003/185). This review is a bit awkward, because every aspect of the card really needs to be viewed through the lens of its Ability, but the full value of that Ability doesn’t make sense without knowing the rest of the card, so we’ll actually cover it last. Beedrill is a baseline Pokémon, worth only one Prize when KO’d. It doesn’t belong to any “groups” or have any shared specialty mechanics, like being a Prism Star Pokémon or Ultra Beast. It is a Stage 2, which normally means you have to suffer through at least one turn of keeping a Weedle alive, then using Rare Candy the next turn to evolve directly into Beedrill, or evolve the Weedle into a Kakuna and try to keep it alive another turn before you then manually evolve into Beedrill. Hint: Don’t worry about Weedle or Kakuna.
Beedrill is a Grass type, which might be useful for exploiting [G] Weakness if this set gives the Fighting type the shot in the arm it needs, but definitely still suffers from crashing into -30 [G] Resistance on SW-era Metal types (like Zacian V). There are no anti-Grass effects in Standard, and the ones we have in Expanded are quite unlikely to matter. What could be important is being a legal search target for Turffield Stadium. 130 HP is low for a Stage 2, though it is decent for something that is easier to put into play. It is also high enough its [R] Weakness will sometimes matter, making the difference between a OHKO or 2HKO. No Resistance is typical, but a free Retreat Cost is a rare treat!
For [GC], Beedrill can use the attack “Sharp Sting” to do 120 damage. Not bad for two Energy, but it isn’t likely to hit key numbers without some significant help or when exploiting Weakness. Even with the few other nicer stats, it wouldn’t be enough to make Beedrill worth it… so finally, the Ability. “Elusive Master” is one of those rare Abilities you use from your hand. Specifically, you may use it once during your turn, and this has to be the last card in your hand. You also need an open space on your Bench, because when you use Elusive Master, it Benches this Beedrill directly from your hand and you draw three cards! Beedrill still counts as an Evolution Pokémon, but not an evolved Pokémon. You have to be able to Bench Beedrill in order to then draw, if that wasn’t clear the first time I said it. If you can meet all the conditions (including having a copy of this Beedrill as your last card in hand) more than once during your turn, you can use Elusive Master again. Even if you use something like Scoop Up Net to bounce the same copy of Beedrill back into your hand, that still resets the Ability (as far as the game is concerned).
Elusive Master is not a new ability. It debuted on Greninja-GX (SM – Black Star Promos SM197). It is still Standard-legal, but it isn’t currently seeing competitive play to my knowledge. I recall it being used two Standard Formats ago… when we still had Ultra Ball. If your deck was good at thinning out your hand, you could get your hand down to Ultra Ball and two pieces of discard fodder, then use Ultra Ball to fetch Greninja-GX and use Elusive Master to Bench it and draw three cards. Not an all powerful play, but a nice option. We don’t have Ultra Ball, which does hurt a bit as Quick Ball can still be used to help thin your hand, but it can’t grab Beedril. So, why would decks use Beedrill if they aren’t already using Greninja-GX?
Greninja-GX has 100 more HP, and a better attack, but is worth an extra Prize when KO’d, cannot be targeted by Scoop Up Net, and has a Retreat Cost of [C]. Neither card is a great attacker, even factoring in Greninja-GX’s GX attack. If Beedrill’s “Sharp Sting” was priced at [CC], it’d make a big difference, but as is, you’ll probably be able to ignore attacking with Beedrill. Put it in an efficient deck that can pretty reliably thin its hand, with at least some form of search that can snag Beedrill from your deck. Beedrill is a normal Rare; it will likely be the budget version of Dedenne-GX and/or Crobat V. Also the single-Prize alternative. Considering that thinning your hand compliments those two, Beedrill might just turn their duet into a trio. As a bonus, you get a pivot Pokémon with 130 HP.
Beedrill might actually be better in Expanded. The obvious benefit is Ultra Ball; you’ll need discard fodder, but that also means it can thin your hand while also fetching Beedrill from your deck. Rescue Stretcher can act as a draw card if it is the last card in your hand, a Beedrill in your discard pile, and you’ve got an opening on your Bench. It is worth remembering that Ability denial is much stronger here, but Beedrill does enjoy an unexpected edge; cards like Silent Lab or Power Plant won’t affect it, unlike Basic Pokémon or Pokémon-EX/GX. In the Limited Format, you probably need to run the entire Beedrill line, because cleaning out your hand is often very difficult. You still can take the risk; sometimes your hand does bottom out even in Limited.
Beedrill just barely gets a four-out-of-five from me. I haven’t been able to test it myself, and while it isn’t as easy as I’d like to make it your final card in hand, I believe there’s enough of a need that many decks will adapt. They may all be of the budget and/or single-Prize variety, but that’s still enough to justify most of that score. I had Beedrill as my 5th-place pick. At first I was surprised to see it this far down, but I have to remember mine is an optimistic outlook.
I did not have this card on my personal Top X list…perhaps I should have.
Beedrill from SS Vivid Voltage is the 8th best card of the set because it brings something familiar into the table. Elusive Master isn’t a new ability as this ability debuted on Greninja-GX from Detective Pikachu, and both Otaku and my reception was favorable, but it’s going to be better for Beedrill. This ability lets you play this Pokémon from your hand into your Bench if this is the last card in your hand. And then you get to draw 3 cards! Like Greninja, Beedrill doesn’t need any of the lower stages, and that also means no untimely Weedle to be forced into the Active during in-game setup! Greninja-GX is still Standard legal, though it hasn’t seen as much play as of late, so how would Beedrill be any different? The current Standard rotation’s card pool. As long as you can thin your hand enough to make Beedrill the only card in your hand, then you can continue benefit from that effect. Quick Ball and Aurora Energy are ways to thin your hand, and Ultra Ball in Expanded joins in the ranks.
Since both Beedrill and Greninja-GX are Standard legal, the two cards would have to be compared. Greninja-GX is worth 2 prizes when it’s knocked out, but it has 230 HP, Mist Slash attack that does 130 damage for 2 energy, and a GX attack that sends one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon into their hand. Beedrill only has an attack that does 120 damage for two energies as well. Greninja has a retreat cost of C while Beedrill has free retreat. While Greninja can’t make use of Scoop Up Net, Beedrill can make use of it and can potentially repeatedly use Elusive Master as long as Beedrill is the only card in your hand. When you put it that way, Beedrill has significant advantages than Greninja does.
There was no countdown of Detective Pikachu because this set is extremely small and not meant to be used in serious tournament play, but looks like a couple cards from that mini-set did caught my eye and could be viable. I think we did Beedrill justice here as Elusive Master finally got recognition to be in the countdown.
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