– Sword & Shield
February 7, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Well, here’s an attempted haiku…
This cute fluffy one.
Picking up where they left off.
Make Do equals Trade.
I guess that works (5 syllables first line, 7 on second line, and 5 on third line.)
Cinccino, the 11th best card of Sword & Shield, has me excited for quite a while because it has an familiar effect that has seen a lot of play. Cinccino’s Make Do Ability is exactly what Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability does, you must discard a card from your hand in order to draw 2 cards. Having an identical effect on a single prize Pokémon is far more efficient than being worth 2 prizes, and it doesn’t get affected by anti-GX effects like Power Plant that would’ve shut down Zoroark-GX cold.
Unlike Zoroark-GX, however, it doesn’t have a hard hitting attack, but it does have good value. Energy Assist does 40 damage for 1 Energy and also lets you attach a Basic energy card from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokemon, prepping that Pokémon to attack eventually. You would almost never have to attack with Cinccino, but Energy Assist could be useful for emergencies. As it has 90 HP, it is a good Level Ball target to search for in Expanded. Another potential good part about this attack is that if you just discarded a basic energy due to it’s Make Do Ability, you actually get that energy back, so it synergies well!
Cinccino is also one of the four prerelease promos you could pull. That Cinccino group contains a 1-1 line which is still enough to keep your deck going. It also contains a 3-2-2 line of Galarian Obstagoon, which is extremely useful as their abilities place extra damage counters in a similar way the Crobat line from XY Phantom Forces previously did.
Welcome to our countdown of the Top 11 cards of Sword & Shield! If you’re new to the process, you can find a detailed explanation here. If you don’t want to click away but still need an explanation, the short version is each reviewer creates their own list of top picks, we assign points based on card placements, then add it all together to create the site list. Reprints are normally ineligible, but we make some allowances if the card hasn’t been legal for a little bit. Our 11th-place finisher is Cinccino (Shield & Sword 147/202; SS – Black Star Promos SWSH009)!
Cinccino is a [C] Type Pokémon, so no exploiting Weakness or Type support, or crashing into Resistance or Type-based counters in Standard. As a Stage 1 Pokémon, Cinccino is not as fast or reliable as a Basic, but much easier to run than a Stage 2. Cinccino has 90 HP, so it is only surviving if it can safely hide on the Bench or your opponent’s offense is significantly lacking. [F] Weakness and lack of Resistance just make OHKO’s a little more likely, given the HP. The Retreat Cost of [C] is very good, though; Escape Board or U-Turn Board can zero it out entirely!
Cinccino has one Ability and one attack. The former is “Make Do”, which lets you discard a card from your hand in order to draw two cards. The latter is “Energy Assist”, priced at [C] and doing 40 damage to your opponent’s Active while attaching a basic Energy card from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon. Discarding a card from the hand is a minor cost, sometimes even beneficial, while drawing two is good as an Ability. This is true whether you’re using it to compensate for whiffing on a Supporter, so you can use your Supporter on something other than draw, or just for added draw on top of your Supporter for the turn. Energy Assist is underwhelming. The damage isn’t too bad for the Energy, but one use just let’s you break even in terms of Energy attachments. Plus, Cinccino is a pretty poor meat shield.
For the Standard Format, I think Cinccino eventually finds its place in various decks. Some might be control builds, others may just be budget and/or single-Prize decks. However, that role is already being by one proven card, and by another newcomer from this set. Pidgeotto (SM – Team Up 123/181) already backs a few decks, with the most notable being its own control-based deck. Pidgeotto has fewer Hit Points, but this makes it a legal Professor Elm’s Lecture target. Its Ability adds only one card to your hand, not two, but you don’t have to discard anything. That can be important for complex combos, or if your opponent just wrecked your hand and your draw-for-the-turn needs to go elsewhere.
There’s also Oranguru (Shield & Sword 148/202). Its Ability requires you swap a card from your hand with the top card of your deck, so it still requires you have something you can spare for at least the turn… but it is a 120 HP Basic Pokémon. It also could be used with effects that work with the top card of your deck, both to improve what it draws but also to control what is on top of your deck for certain Abilities, attacks, or Trainer cards. The single Japanese tournament for which I’ve seen decklists show Oranguru, but not Cinccino, in addition to Pidgeotto.
The Expanded Format actually adds a few [C] Type counters and pieces of support. It brings in Ability counters, great combo opportunities, and competition. Here is where I’ll mention Zoroark-GX. Zoroark-GX is going to miss T1 Brigette in Expaned, but it still has its solid attacks and 210 HP, even though it is worth two Prizes when KO’d. Zoroark-GX was often dominant in both Expanded and the Standard Format when it was newer… but if it was somehow re-released, I think power creep and the new T1 rule would see it still perform well, but not as well as it once did. Where you almost always should use Cinccino is in the Limited Format; it may even be worth attacking with here! Skip it if you are better off running a Basic Pokémon V on its own, though.
Cinccino is not a bad card, but I didn’t think it was worthy of being our 11th-place pick. I actually had it as my 20th-place pick, and went back and forth over whether to place it higher or leave it off my list entirely. It isn’t Zoroark-GX 2.0; it is about half of it, and even an actual Zoroark-GX reprint wouldn’t be Zoroark-GX 2.0 because of how the game has changed since it was last Standard-legal.
Just like with every new set, we’re back to the wonders of the latest set to release, and this time it’s a new generation as well! Sword & Shield finally makes its way to the English game, and it’s undoubtedly going to make a splash in some regard. That’s not a…Water pun, mind you, but it is an accurate feeling towards what may come up as we take a look at the Top 11 Cards of the set!
Starting with Cinccino, a Stage 1 Colorless Pokemon, 90 HP, with a Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Make Do is an Ability that’s familiar, though it is phrased differently – basically you discard a card from your hand to activate the Ability, which then lets you draw 2 cards. Meanwhile, Energy Assist is a 1-for-40 that attaches a basic Energy card from your discard pile to one of your Pokemon.
Pokemon-based draw power in the form of Abilities is pretty universally good, so it might surprise people that it’s so…well, relatively low on the list. The easiest comparison is with Zoroark-GX, which was also a Stage 1 Pokemon, but it had two distinct advantages over Cinccino, one of which is the GX bump in HP. The other part is the Ability is phrased a little differently, with the intention that Zoroark-GX could activate its Ability, discard a card, and if you did that you could draw 2 cards. Meanwhile Cinccino’s Ability requires you to discard a card, activate the Ability, and then you draw 2 cards. The order is slightly different when you get down to the nitty-gritty, but unless there’s some kind of Ability or effect that prevents you from discarding cards for some reason, it’s unlikely to come up. The biggest part though would be that giant HP score, though Cinccino doesn’t cost you an extra Prize if it gets KO’d.
Energy Assist is also pretty good, especially given one of the “new” cards of the set bringing back a competitive favorite effect, so Cinccino looks to be pretty strong coming out of the gate. Still, I feel a little reserved in seeing it on the list, if only because I’m not sure what deck it would fit into as of today. But no doubt there’s going to be a deck that slips Cinccino in and makes it worth my while, so try out the new mini-Zoroark in Cinccino and see how you like it!
Standard: 4/5 (certainly will find a place in some deck or another)
Expanded: 3/5 (here, it’s generally outclassed by Zoroark-GX, but maybe it’ll be seen in lines looking for a less bulky but also less generous Prize-giver)
Limited: 5/5 (absolutely no contest, the results here will be great)
Arora Notealus: Cinccino didn’t make it onto my list, just because I felt there were some other Pokemon that could do really well. Hilariously, one such Pokemon that I rated highly because of this was Inteleon with Shady Dealings, an Ability that could add any Trainer card to your hand once you evolved into it! Perhaps it’s the value over time that Cinccino generates with its Ability that the others saw more potential in than I did, but considering that these are near the bottom of the list, that can only mean the list grows stronger.
Next Time: Perhaps more shocking than what’s extraordinary is what’s just…plain ordinary?
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