Decidueye – Sword & Shield
Date Reviewed: January 3, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
When it comes to self-protection, the Pokémon in question could or could not be a game breaking card depending on what it protects itself from. It would be utterly broken – even on a Stage 2 – if it were to take no damage from any Pokémon whatsoever, but thankfully that’s not the case. Decidueye from SM Darkness Ablaze has an ability called Deep Forest Camo which protects itself from damage by Pokémon-GX and Pokémon-V. In the format Decidueye was entering, the new and existing mechanics did consist of Pokemon-GX and Pokémon-V, so Decidueye could become an auto-win against some of the decks that rely on using mostly GXs or Vs as their attacker. However, that’s not to say that regular single-prize Pokémon didn’t see any competitive play; There are some good attackers like Blacephalon from Unbroken Bonds or Mad Party that can bypass through Decidueye’s protection. For the most part, Decidueye might force some decks with Pokémon-V/GX to include some single-prize Pokémon to get around this ability.
If that’s all Decidueye has, then it would a sitting bird without anything else to offer (though it might still be an auto-win if the opponent eventually decks out, albeit time consuming), but it’s Splitting Arrow is actually a decent attack for the cost, as it does 90 damage for 2 energy (1 Grass and 1 Colorless) and also does 20 damage to 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon, setting up for some future KOs. For Standard, this particular Decidueye line is one of your options (other than Altaria), but Expanded does have other related cards (the most notable being Decidueye-GX whose Feather Arrow ability places 2 damage counters on 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon), though today’s card doesn’t protect itself from Pokemon-EX, a similar bygone era in lieu of Pokémon-GX or Pokemon-V. And some of the older Pokémon-EX attackers can still OHKO today’s Decidueye, so I think Decidueye’s viability in Expanded suffers. It’s protection would be improved if it were to protect itself from damage from Pokemon with the Rule Box. That way, it will be able to withstood the test of time. After all, the upcoming Empoleon-V from SS Battle Styles has the “Rule Box” terminology printed on that card, and what this means is that the rule box has appeared on ALL of the Pokémon-EX, Pokemon-GX, Prism Star, Break Evolution, and Pokémon-V cards. Example of that rule box contains: “When a Pokémon-EX has been knocked out, your opponent takes 2 prize cards.” “When a Pokémon VMAX has been knocked out, your opponent takes 3 prize cards.” That Empoleon card actually has the English print, so eventually it might be subject to review.
Decidueye is one of the four pre-release promos in Darkness Ablaze, so if you were to pull the right Promo card, then you could build a deck around it. Decidueye will counter ALL of the Pokémon-V and VMAX cards in that set, so it only needs to worry about single prize attackers, which there are a good amount of.
- Standard: 3
- Expanded: 2
- Limited: 3
Yeah, had a sudden change of thought from when we last reviewed this card. Decidueye is still a good card, just plagued with already established counters (like ability denial or good single prize attackers) specifically trying to bypass that protection. But like other cards that specifies certain stuff, several years later along the line, Decidueye will risk being an outdated card as it won’t be protected by future cards of similar caliber as Pokémon V/GX.
We kick of the first full week of January with some of the Runners-Up from our countdown of the top 10 cards of 2020. That means this is a re-review (original review here), but I mention Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035) so often, I think it is worth the re-review. Decidueye is a baseline Pokémon, only worth one Prize when KO’d and lacking any specialty mechanics or classifications. It is a [G] type, and that isn’t all that great right now. They have support, but a lot of it didn’t live up to the hype. Counters are a mild concern as well; I don’t think anyone is bothering with Flareon (SW – Vivid Voltage 026/185), but it does exist. Additionally, there aren’t a lot of [G] Weak targets worth thumping, while [G] Resistance manages to show up on one of the few types where Resistance is likely to matter: Metal.
Being a Stage 2 is an even bigger issue. While they aren’t automatically terrible, you’ll need to invest three cards and one or two turns of waiting to evolve before Decidueye can hit the field. It gets a bit complicated with some crazier tricks for Benching a Stage 2, but those don’t seem to be used with Decidueye, so we’re I’ll just acknowledge their existence and move on. 140 HP is decent; around the time when something goes from being more likely to be OHKO’d to less likely to be OHKO’d. Barring protective effects, heavy hitters are still going to have no problem with Decidueye. Thanks to [R] Weakness, Fire types don’t even have to strain; 70 damage (before Weakness) does the job. Any Resistance is better than none, but it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. The Retreat Cost is decent, neither easy nor difficult to pay.
Perhaps I ought to have begun with “Deep Forest Camo”, as this Ability is why Decidueye sees play. It prevents all damage done by the attacks of your opponent’s Pokémon-GX and Pokémon V done to this Pokémon. It doesn’t speed Decidueye up, but under somewhat common circumstances, it becomes a super durable wall. Not invincible, though; attack effects aren’t stopped at all. Your opponent can use Boss’s Orders to get around Decidueye, Bench-hitters to attack something different, as well as attack effects other than damage to KO Decidueye itself. It is still great, but Deep Forest Camo has its limits. “Splitting Arrow” is not a filler attack! For [GC], it lets Decidueye do 90 damage to your opponent’s Active, while doing 20 damage to two of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. It isn’t raw damage output, but it is very good for two Energy, and on a Pokémon that can wall against many of the strongest attackers.
So… how has this card been used well in 2020? I only have one example, but its reasonably good: Decidueye/Galarian Obstagoon decks. Galarian Obstagoon (Sword & Shield 119/202; SW – Vivid Voltage 198/185; SW – Black Star Promos SW059) already knew success before Decidueye released. A fellow Stage 2, it enjoys a slightly beefier 160 HP, a less dangerous [G] Weakness, an Ability that places three damage counters on one opposing Pokémon (you choose which one) when you Evolve one of your Pokémon into it during your turn, and an attack for [DC] that does 90 while blocking all damage from the attacks of your opponent’s Basic Pokémon. Especially when we had fewer, worthwhile Pokémon VMAX, this was enough on its own…
…but then we got more Pokémon VMAX worth using as main attackers, and that meant more Pokémon that could one-shot Galarian Obstagoon through its protection and HP. Decidueye being able to wall its own way, against an overlapping but different demographics, as well as also specializing in Bench hits, created a dynamic duo. Which is unusual, giving that we are talking about running two Stage 2 Pokémon together. There weren’t a lot of major tournaments this year, and so not a lot of major tournament results, so I only have one confirmed quality Decidueye/Galarian Obstagoon finish: 9th-place in the Players Cup Finals. Still good enough that, even now, I expect to see this deck on occasion.
Not everywhere, though. Besides the inherent reliability issues associated with Stage 2 Pokémon, by now most decks have their answers to this combo. Decidueye can’t wall against single-Prize Pokémon, Galarian Obstagoon can’t wall against evolutions, so in general it is about having one of those in your deck. However, there are also Pokémon such as Aeglislash V, which can cut right through the protection afforded either card. Aegislash V is something you only expect to see in Metal decks, but Zacian V is still a major part of the metagame, usually with both offensive and defensive buffs so that it can OHKO either of those two, but they cannot OHKO or 2HKO it back. Even 3HKO’s can be tough.
Deep Forest Camo provides no protection against Pokémon-EX, and anti-Abiltity effects are far more effective in Expanded. I don’t think Decidueye is going to matter here, but since Grass has more effective tricks in its toolbox and strong members skilled at disruption or locks, I’m not giving up all hope, saving Decidueye from a minimum score. In the Limited Format, even as a Stage 2 without worrying about the Ability, Decidueye is a good card. Which is important, because most opponent’s won’t have any Pokémon V, and Pokémon-GX only show up if a Limited Event pulls from at least two different sets (SW – Darkness Ablaze and an SM-era set).
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
- Limited: 4/5
Decidueye isn’t as impressive as it was when we named it the 8th-best card of its set, but it has shown some merit in 2020, enough that I named it my 14th-Place pick of 2020. Combined with Vince’s picks, Decidueye was actually 11th-Place. That seems too high, but I also wonder if I should have left it off and included some commonly used supporting cards (supporting, not neccessarily Supporter) instead. I still would have had us review it; like Frosmoth, even a small bit of success this year was a big deal. There’s a real chance hypothetical future releases could wreck Decidueye entirely, or reinvigorate it.
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