– Champion’s Path
October 7, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
For those not reading these reviews in order, we’re counting down the 10 best cards from Champion’s path, interspersed with some non-ranked reviews. We have some lead-in reviews, so we can look at the Basic Pokémon V from which the Pokémon VMAX who made our countdown evolve, instead of glossing over them, rushing out two reviews in one day, or just one badly bloated review that half-reviews that extra card. We also have some honorable mentions, but that was mostly to adjust the schedule and keep you guessing. I you really enjoy or dislike this, drop us a line.
Today is a lead-in review as we look at Drednaw V (Champion’s Path 014/073, 069/073). Fire decks seem to be making a comeback, at least in Japan if not abroad, which creates an opportunity for Water… but even without that, Water does have Frosmoth. As a Pokémon V, Drednaw gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of support like Scoop Up Net, and can be walled against by cards such as Altaria (Champion’s Path 049/073)… but that comes with some powerful benefits. To begin with, Drednaw V is a Basic Pokémon and not a Stage 1 like the baseline version of Drednaw. Being a Basic is the best Stage, and has been for most of the TCG’s lifespan.
Drednaw V has 210 HP; while nothing special for a Basic Pokémon V, it is means it is more likely than not to survive an attack, and this is 80 more than that Stage 1, non-Pokémon V version of Drednaw. It has the typical [L] Weakness of Sword & Shield-era Water types, which isn’t a problem right now. The total lack of Resistance is also typical of most Pokémon, though technically it is the worst. A Retreat Cost of four should be the worst, as it is the highest currently printed score in Expanded or Standard. There are all of four cards in the history of the TCG with a printed Retreat Cost of five, but Retreat Costs of four are common enough they actually have their own support – like Buff Padding – arguably making it better than having a Retreat Cost of [CCC] (its just as cumbersome, but with less support).
Drednaw V has an Ability and an attack. The former is “Solid Shell”, which reduces the damage this Pokémon takes from attacks by 30. This reduction happens after Weakness and Resistance are applied, but it does work whether Drednaw V is on your Bench or Active, and will protect against damage from attacks by either player’s Pokémon. The latter is “Powerful Bite”, which costs [WWC] and does 130 damage, while also preventing the Defending Pokémon from manually retreating (switching effects will still work). The Ability is – pardon the expression – solid; while not incredibly good, a universal -30 to the damage you take means it takes 240 damage (120 for [L] types) to OHKO Drednaw V. The attack is less impressive, but not bad; decent damage and a sometimes useful effect for three Energy.
The rest of Drednaw V helps its effects. Note that the following is conjecture; I have never seen such a deck being run, let alone used it myself. Frosmoth could ready Powerful Bite with ease. Even if your opponent manages to force Frosmoth into the Active position repeatedly for a far easier KO, or can snipe it on the Bench, Frosmoth is a single-Prize Pokémon, while Drednaw V should keep pace 2HKOing most Basic Pokémon V (and smaller) Pokémon. The Energy acceleration also makes Hyper Potion a plausible healing card. As Frosmoth can only accelerate Water Enregy from hand to Benched Water Pokémon, you have an extra reason to run Lana & Mallow for additional healing and switching. Buff Padding was mentioned earlier, and that means an extra 50 HP; your opponent would then need 290 damage to OHKO this Basic Pokémon V…
…and we haven’t even gotten to Drednaw VMAX (Champion’s Path 015/073, 075/073). We’ll be looking at it soon, so I’m not going to review it here, apart from saying that it does fit into the strategy I just described. The Expanded Format adds more potential combo partners, but also more competition and counters; Drednaw V still has some chops here, they’re just less impressive. It should be difficult to acquire the packs for a Limited Format event, due to the nature of Champion’s Path, and you won’t have an official Pre-Release kit so no Pre-Release promo or Evolution booster. If you manage it and pull Drednaw V, run it. It is slow to build but your opponent’s attackers are also going to need time to punch through Solid Shell. There are no Lightning-types this set, so you have a very good chance of tanking hits until Powerful Bite can score four Prizes.
Drednaw V is a good card, though not a great one… but it is also an evolving Basic Pokémon V. That means it is still impressive, enough I almost included it as a numbered entry for my own list. Of course, if this was a larger set, and one not focused on reprinting cards that are already Standard-legal, it is doubtful Drednaw V would have a chance of making the countdown… but with a dearth of competition, it shines.
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