– Forbidden Light
June 6, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The Ultra Beasts have invited a lot of interesting changes to the Pokemon TCG card design in terms of attacks. Centering it around a certain number of Prize cards is something that at first seems to be manageable but can lead to a lot of different interactions throughout the course of the game. Do you end up letting your opponent take care of your Pokemon in order to get the most out of an attack, or do you try and tear through them to benefit other attacks? Such is the Ultra Beast Archetype.
Buzzwole is one of the new non-GX Ultra Beasts, Fighting-Type, 130 HP, with a Psychic Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 2. Sledgehammer is the interesting move, a 1-for-30 that does an extra 90 when your opponent has exactly 4 Prizes left, while Swing Around is a 3-for-80 with a chance of adding upwards of 40 extra damage if you flip Heads on two coin tosses.
The thing about the Ultra Beasts is that a lot of their playstyle is centered around the management of these Prize cards. Most of the Ultra Beast-GX have a means of manipulating either your Prizes or your opponent’s Prizes, but the catch to that is that they’ll take up your GX move for the game, meaning if you were to add cards to your opponent’s Prizes through Nihilego-GX or Xurkitree-GX, you couldn’t then mess with your Prizes like with Kartana-GX or benefit off of the final count through cards like Pheromosa-GX or Buzzwole-GX. And since Prize manipulation is itself very powerful, you can’t just have every Ultra Beast interact with the Prize cards in the same way that the Ultra Beast-GX could.
Which is how we’ve gotten into design with cards like Buzzwole, who benefits the most at one particular point in time (i.e., when your opponent has 4 Prizes exactly) and is otherwise fairly mediocre. Granted, it’s not hard to hit 4 Prizes if your opponent KOs a couple of small fry or takes out a big GX, but it’s not something you’d go out of your way for to ensure Buzzwole can hit that 1-for-120 Sledgehammer. Moves that can do a lot of damage for a very low amount of Energy always attract the eyes of the competitive player base, but it’s not something that should actively affect your deckbuilding – Buzzwole is situationally useful, not universally useful.
A lot of the non-GX Ultra Beasts seem to follow in similar threads of varying usefulness, and out of the lot, Buzzwole is likely to see the most play. It’s not to say the others won’t show up, but in terms of what ends up seeing competitive success, Buzzwole seems like it would do the best, especially against Fighting-Weak Pokemon like Zoroark-GX, which Buzzwole can OHKO if your opponent has 4 Prizes remaining. The good news is that, unlike a lot of the other UBs, Buzzwole doesn’t lose his effectiveness whenever you take Prize cards, and that’s likely the difference that will allow him to see some niche play.
Standard: 2.5/5 (overall mediocre, but he is a bit more relevant in today’s game)
Expanded: 3/5 (and he can benefit from support pretty easily)
Limited: 3/5 (here, he’s useful in the early stages, but if you don’t draw him or have something get KO’d, he drops pretty harshly in viability)
Arora Notealus: The non-GX Ultra Beasts have some synergies with the Ultra Beast-GX, but outside of being potentially less costly fodder for Naganadel-GX’s Beast Raid attack, they’re not all that useful. A lot of the times, they’re situational simply because of their focus on the Prize cards, which can be their greatest asset at times and their biggest weakness at others.
Side Review: Alolan Exeggutor – on his initial release, Alolan Exeggutor didn’t seem to be that great. Sure, Draco Meteor Barrage had the potential power output to OHKO a lot of things, but it relies on coin flips, and Exeggutor’s Paradise didn’t have that many great targets for Benched Exeggcute to evolve into. I’m sure casual builds centered around Alolan Exeggutor-GX surfaced around this card, but now with another Alolan Exeggutor to pick from, this one becomes a bit more valuable. Now it’s just a matter of determining the right ratios – likely this will come in as a 1-of and match up with 2-3 of the other and possibly an Alolan Exeggutor-GX to round it off.
Next Time: A look back at everyone’s favorite gatr, who might be getting an update…
Buzzwole makes another appearance in its non-GX card that has the potential to be very good only if the exact opportunity arises. That is because of its attack called Sledgehammer, which costs F for 30 damage, plus 90 more if your opponent has exactly 4 prizes remaining. It’s other attack won’t matter as much, let alone attaching three energy on this Pokémon to do between 80-120 damage, depending on how lucky coin flips go.
Let’s assume that the opponent has exactly four prizes left. 120 damage for one Energy is insanely generous; it has the capability to almost 2HKO the game and even does 240 damage against Pokemon weak to Fighting, which as of right now, OHKOes Zoroark-GX. And we haven’t got to damage boosting cards yet! It can tap into support regarding the Fighting Type and Ultra Beast.
-Strong Energy lets Fighting Pokemon deal 20 more damage.
-Beast Energy lets any Ultra Beast deal 30 more damage.
-Choice Band lets you deal 30 damage against EX/GX Pokemon
-Diancie Prism Star lets Fighting Pokemon do 20 more damage.
-Regirock EX lets Fighting Pokemon deal 10 more damage. (Can have up to four in play, so 40 more damage).
Of course, each set of options can be countered by various means; removing Special Energies or shutting down abilities, but if you wanted to hit key numbers without relying on weakness, you will need to invest on those cards to do the work for you because Buzzwole won’t be hitting hard alone. Your opponent may play around against the 4 prize requirement; they can make their prize count down from 5 to 3 if they KO a EX/GX, and Stinger GX from Naganadel will bring both player’s prize count down to three, making it impossible to find a opportunity.
Overall, that’s assuming that you got the 90 damage boost because if it weren’t for the boost, then it’s your typical Fighting Type beatstick that does good damage for one Energy, which you can still 2HKO if you have other supporting damage boosting cards. In Limited, this is actually broken material! Both players start the game with 4 prizes and……….you’re already hitting for 120 on your second turn! As long as they don’t knock you out, you can deal 120 every turn. Diancie Prism Star and Beast Energy are on this set as well, and if you have those, then your opponent will possibly concede since very few can take 170 damage!
Baby Buzzwole (FLI 77) zips into the format from the Forbidden Light expansion set. This 130 HP Basic Fighting Pokemon has grabbed the hearts of many players already. Its Sledgehammer attack serves as the most likely reason why Baby Buzz has seen so much popularity. For just a single energy attachment, it can do up to 190 damage:
Even if your opponent doesn’t have four prizes remaining, you still will do 100 damage for only a single attachment (if you meet all of the other conditions).
I’ve seen players time it out as well. They count on you to KO one of their GX Pokemon to start the game and then swoop in with Baby Buzz to put a hurting on the Pokemon that just knocked out your GX starter. It’s a good strategy. And if you’re in an all Buzzwole deck, it helps give you a single prize attacker that might just turn the game into a 7 prize match.
Standard: 2.5 out of 5
It’s situational and only a one of even in Fighting decks, so I’m probably stretching a little bit to give it a 2.5, but it’s potentially one of the best single attachment attackers in the game, and it definitely helps make Fighting decks more potent than they already are… but it’s not the best single prize attacker coming out of FLI. It’s not even the best Fighting type single prize attacker coming out of FLI. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see what that is.
I’m running behind but noticed I’m the main dissenting opinion. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if we glance at the results from last Saturday’s Regional Championship in Madison, WI we see Buzzwole-GX dominating the metagame. This was an event attended by 732 players in the Masters Division, and six of the top eight decks are Buzzwole-GX, with the exceptions being the 3rd and 7th place finishers. Relevant to this review is that the top six Buzzwole-GX decks are running this new baby Buzzwole. Some as a single, some at higher counts than Buzzwole-GX itself! If this isn’t a fluke, this card ought to have made our top 10 for sure!
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