– Sword & Shield
March 11, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Cramorant V (Sword & Shield 155/202, 198/202) is, as you can tell by the name alone, a Pokémon V. If you don’t already know or feel like more detailed reading, the highlights are that the game sees it as something different than Cramorant (Sword & Shield 062/202), it is worth an extra Prize when KO’d, has to deal with anti-Pokémon V effects, but is not the same thing as a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX. This means it cannot access their support, doesn’t have to worry about their counters, and may be able to exploit card effects not designed with Pokémon V in mind, but that did exclude Pokémon-EX/GX.
Cramorant V is a [C] Type Pokémon, so Weakness and Resistance aren’t an issue, and neither is Type-specific support or counters in Standard. In Expanded, there are a few older examples of each, slightly favoring the support. Not being able to exploit Weakness hurts; it might actually be the worst Typing. Being a Basic is the best Stage of Evolution, however; minimum deck space and effort to field, and a natural affinity for certain card effects or game mechanics.
Cramorant V has 200 HP, 90 more than the regular Cramorant. This is enough to often survive an attack, but far from always. The [L] Weakness may be the worst you can have right now; while Zacian V is a popular attacker, Pikarom decks still have a solid presence in the metagame. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX would whiff on a OHKO by 50 damage without Weakness… while attackers such as Tapu Koko V might manage a OHKO with its “Spike Draw” attack your opponent can play three copies of Electropower that turn.
Cramorant V’s [F] Resistance is appreciated, but there isn’t a strong [F] deck in either Expanded or Standard at the moment. [F] Types have support that rivals the [L] Type, so I expect them to make a comeback sooner or later… but that may also mean they can easily compensate for Resistant. A Retreat Cost of [C] is good; this low means it is often easy to pay, or can be fairly easily zeroed out with a Tool like Escape Board or U-Turn Board. Air Balloon is also an option, and you’ll have room to spare in case something attempts to increase Cramorant V’s Retreat Cost by one.
Cramorant V has two attacks. “Beak Catch” requires [C] and lets you add any two cards from your deck to your hand, while [CCC] pays for “Spit Shot”, which forces you to discard all Energy attached to Cramorant V, after which you select one of your opponent’s Pokémon (Benched or Active) and Spit Shot does 160 damage to it. Before we get into the actual usefulness of the attack effects, let’s remember that the pure [C] Type requirements actually make Cramorant V very flexible, since any Energy Type can cover them.
Beak Catch is a good opening play, but probably not a great one. Even if Cramorant V isn’t OHKO’d, it isn’t forcing your opponent to deal with damage and leaves Cramorant V completely open to taking some. Plus, hand disruption is common enough your opponent may be able to erase the effects of your attack through something like Reset Stamp or Marnie. Spit Shot is very good, but because of the specific metagame; there are multiple forms of compatible Energy acceleration and some really good targets on many a Bench.
You can use Cramorant V to hit your opponent’s Active instead of the Bench, but 160-for-three isn’t very impressive there, especially with that discard cost on top of it all. The Bench hits are the thing, with a prime target being Dedenne-GX, joined – in Expanded – by Shaymin-EX (XY – Roaring Skies 77/108, 77a/108, 106/108). One attack from something that isn’t easy to OHKO back for two Prizes. Even in Standard, something like a manual Energy attachment plus a Welder for [RR] can ready Spit Shot in a single turn!
So why isn’t every deck running Cramorant V? There are more targets than I can list; the above two were good examples. Sufficiently injured Pokémon V, Pokémon-EX, and Pokémon-GX, as well as most single-Prize Pokémon are all great targets as well, but most decks worried about it will just run something like Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds 76/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM215) for protection. In Expanded, Ability denial is a common enough counter, but we don’t have that in Standard.
Plus, even with a counter, we run into another problem: the reason the Bench-hit is so appealing is it means you don’t have to use an effect to force the targeted Pokémon into your opponent’s Active spot to hit it. Assuming there are no effects preventing it, in Expanded you’ve got cards like Guzma and Lysandre. In Standard, you have to make do with Custom Catcher, Great Catcher, Pokémon Catcher, or more specialized effects. If Cramorant V requires too much extra support, why not just run more of those so your other attackers can fake a Bench hit?
Three Blacephalon (SM – Unbroken Bonds 32/214) decks, finishing in 11th, 26th, and 45th-place, ran a clutch Cramorant V at the Oceania International Championship. I’ve only got the top three decklists for the much smaller SPE held in Puerto Rico, but the 2nd-place Blacephalon list there also ran it. 5th and 6th-place Blacephalon decks included a copy at Malmö, Sweden Regional Championship, and there may have been more (I’ve only seen 7 out of the top 8 decklists). Maybe non-Blacephalon lists are better off relying on something else, but at least we have something for Standard, and in some decent placements.
We also have something for Expanded, which was a bit of a surprise. Mew Box decks, built around the “Memories of Dawn” Ability found on Mew (XY – Fates Collide 29/124), can use Dimension Valley spam Spit Shot for just [CC], which Counter Energy and Double Colorless Energy easily cover. The deck runs other attackers as well, but it is nice to see Cramorant V has a use even in a Format that has two Supporters that can reliably force the opposing Benched Pokémon of your choice up front…
…because we know we’re getting a new Supporter with the same effect Lysandre in our next set (Japan already has it). Cramorant V should see less Standard Format use then, but it may not drop off completely as I was worried it would. For the Limited Format, Cramorant V is a great pull but not good enough for a Mulligan build; 160 every three turns may score a OHKO on the turns you can use it, but your opponent will have about 11 attacks to deplete your 200 HP. Maybe if you pull a lot of healing as well you it would work, but for sure just run Cramorant V is anything else.
Cramorant V is a trick, something you can use to try and sabotage an opponent’s setup or maybe even for a surprise finish to the game. I did expect it to see a lot more play than it actually did, which is why I had it as my 17th-place pick. Its effective place on the site list would be 29th-place, and that might be a bit low, or maybe just right. If you have Cramorant V, enjoy it sooner rather than later, in case SSH – Rebel Crash does spell the end of it.
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