– Sword & Shield
April 6, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
So far, we already looked at the other two starters of Sword & Shield that has abilities. Inteleon’s Shady Dealings – that fetches up to two trainer cards – almost made it to the top 11 of this expansion. Rillaboom’s Voltage Beat is pretty helpful for setting up grass energies. You would think that Cinderace would have something to support a specific type or become a search-based ability.
Cinderace, however, does nothing to support other Pokémon other than itself.
You see, Libero works when this Pokémon moved from the Bench to the Active. And when it does, then you put 2 Fire energies from your discard pile onto itself. This seems good as it recovers some amount of energies and also fuels up certain attacks. Except that Cinderace only has one attack. For the price of RRC, Flare Striker does 190 damage and also discards 2 Energy from itself. 190 damage is pretty good for the cost, as it takes care of ALL non-GX Stage 2s in one attack since the highest HP of a Stage 2 is 190. But against other Pokémon that gives up multiple prizes, then it might fall short of OHKOs.
See the pattern there? The idea is to use Flare Striker, which discards the two energy. Then on the next turn, assuming Cinderace hasn’t been knocked out, you manually retreat while giving up a Energy attached to it, or with Escape Board to retreat for free, bring in another Cinderace, use Libero to recover 2 energies, manually attach another energy, and use Flare Striker. However, if you’re active Pokémon is Knocked Out, and you bring in Cinderace to replace the fallen, then Libero actually does not work since it doesn’t happen on your turn.
There is a deck out there that uses Cinderace, but most likely it will be the focus on it’s own deck, with Jirachi’s Stellar Wish giving you a chance to grab Trainer cards, and it’s single energy retreat cost makes it easy for Escape Board to reduce the cost and retreat even if it’s Paralyzed or Asleep. And you still got several Fire based support such as Welder, Heat Factory, Giant Hearth, Fiery Flint that could get your deck running smoothly.
Something I forgot to mention in yesterday’s review is that my Saturday review did go up, though it was four hours late. If you didn’t see it, feel free to go back and read. As for today, we’re looking at Cinderace (Sword & Shield 034/202), one of three Cinderace cards in the main set! Why are we looking at this version? We’ve already looked at two of the (fully evolved) three Gen VIII starters, specifically the versions with Abilities, and this Cinderace is the final part of that trio.
Cinderace is a [R] Type, handy for smacking the default Weakness of [G] and [M] Types, and backed by some tremendous support right now, whether it is for [R] Energy or actual [R] Pokémon. There are also just some solid [R] Types available at the moment, which cuts both ways; allies to back Cinderace up or rivals to crowd it out. Cinderace is a Stage 2, so you’re going to have to invest a decent chunk of resource to get it up and running, even with shortcuts. Not just speed but reliability and repeatability become issues.
Cinderace has 170 HP; great for a Basic or Stage 1, but still good for a Stage 2. Overall, it is a bit more likely to survive a hit than not. [W] Weakness is to be expected, and not too bad right now, at least based on our last few tournament results. Those Frosmoths decks I anticipated are either showing up late or not at all. A total lack of Resistance is normal, even if it is technically the worst. A Retreat Cost of [C] is good; even if you have to manually retreat it, Cinderace should rarely have a problem.
“Libero” is Cinderace’s Ability, and it is the kind that is triggered by you taking certain actions during your turn. Libero is worded so that it only works during your turn, and each instance of it can only be used once. So, what does it do? When Cinderace (literally “this Pokémon”) moves from your Bench to the Active position, you may attach up to two [R] Energy from your discard pile to it. That’s a “free” Blacksmith per turn when you use a card like Switch or even just manually retreat your previous Active.
Cinderace’s attack is “Flare Striker”, and is priced at [RRC]. This lets Cinderace attack for 190 damage, then discard two Energy from itself. This is fairly good, even factoring in the discard cost. It will OHKO most single-Prize Pokémon, Basic Pokémon-EX, Basic Pokémon-GX excluding TAG TEAM Pokémon, and smaller Basic Pokémon V. The rest will need two hits, or three in the case of the most extreme current cases (Snorlax VMAX with Buff Padding). Unlike other Fire decks, Welder isn’t required, at least as long as you can retreat into a Cinderace, thanks to Libero.
How about the rest of the evolution line, including those other Cinderace? Not worth detailing, I’m afraid. The other two Cinderace from Sword & Shield don’t have bad attacks, but they aren’t as good as the Libero/Flare Striker combination. The Scorbunny and Raboot are filler, so still not terrible but the best way I’ve seen to balance out the extra time and card required to evolve seems to be making worthwhile lower Stages. That didn’t happen here, so plan on using Rare Candy when you can, or maybe something more extreme such as the “Spirit Burner” attack from Chandelure (SM – Unified Minds 30/236).
Going by the results available over at LimitlessTCG, Cinderace hasn’t been doing so hot. In fact, it hasn’t been doing much of anything. Possibly, it is kicking some ra-booty at smaller venues, but it may just be too soon for it. Cinderace has a brilliant built-in combo going from Libero into Flare Striker, but it comes up just a bit short in too many areas. It does not reliably OHKO most Basic Pokémon V. It doesn’t have quite enough HP or else it doesn’t have quite enough speed and reliability in hitting the field.
In the Standard Format, it could gain some of these things… and lose a lot of competition if Welder rotates and nothing even close replaces it. That is a ways away, plenty of time or another single-Prize [R] Type to outdo it. Even just a successor to Silver Bangle and Choice Band would mean a lot. Which is why I’m wondering if Cinderace has the chops for Expanded. Galarian Zigzagoon, Muscle Band, Professor Kukui; separately they bring edge cases into range, while together only the 250+ HP crowd survives a Flare Striker.
The future also offers some hope. Scoop Up Net – or whatever its English name winds up being – means a Cinderace that survives can bounce to your hand. If you have another Cinderace ready to go, its Libero will kick in so you’re a manual attachment away from Flare Striker. With a good field, everything you bounce can be played down immediately. Otherwise, the place to kick it with Cinderace is in the Limited Format. The rest of the line (and other Cinderace) range from “okay” to “good” here, and Cinderace should be amazing… once it hits the field.
Cinderace seems so close to being worth the effort. If it was a little easier to reliably stream, a little more durable, a little harder hitting, etc. it’d be great for smashing up our Zacian V filled metagame. Libero is one of the best kinds of Energy acceleration, attaching from the discard pile. It could be a bit easier to use, but it isn’t exactly hard so long as you have a good free-retreater to promote after your opponent KO’s a Cinderace. Its biggest issue may well just be that there are so many other great [R] Types you can rock while using the same support.
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