– Champion’s Path
October 8, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
After so many lead-in reviews and honorable mentions, we at last come to our 2nd-Place pick: Drednaw VMAX (Champion’s Path 015/073, 075/073)! Being a Pokémon VMAX means everything that all the effects which exclude or punish a player for using a Pokémon V apply, plus all the stuff specific to Pokémon VMAX. It means giving up three Prizes when KO’d, instead of the default one, or even the usual two of Basic Pokémon V. Being a Pokémon VMAX isn’t just a mechanic, but a Stage of evolution; they’re essentially Stage 1 Pokémon that do not count as Stage 1 Pokémon e.g. effects that specify a Stage 1 Pokémon won’t work on a Pokémon VMAX or vice versa. Drednaw V is a Giantamax Pokémon: currently this means nothing, but I expect a future effect will do something with it.
As a [W] Pokémon, Drednaw VMAX is in position to exploit the near universal Weakness of Fire types. It also means Frosmoth might have its back, but more on that later. One of the perks of being a Pokémon VMAX is seen in this card’s HP: 320 isn’t record setting, but it is only 20 below the printed maximum. Drednaw VMAX is going to be hard for most decks to OHKO, with an exception coming for [L] type attackers, due to Weakness. Still, even they need 160 before Weakness or other effects. The lack of Resistance is pretty normal, but it also is the worst a Pokémon can have. The Retreat Cost of four is the highest printed cost a Pokémon can have (without going to the Unlimited cardpool), but it probably is not the worst. Functionally, most ways of dealing with a Retreat Cost of [CCC] also deal with a Retreat Cost of [CCCC], but there are more pieces of support for Retreat Costs of [CCCC], like Buff Padding.
I mentioned “other effects” when discussing how much damage was needed to OHKO Drednaw VMAX, and the reason why is its Ability, “Solid Shell”. This is the same Ability as Drednaw V, doing the same thing: Drednaw VMAX takes 30 less damage attacks after Weakness and Resistance are applied (not that is has the latter). Non-Lightning types need 350 damage for a OHKO. Lightning types have a much lower threshold to clear, but it still goes from 160 to 180. If that looks odd, remember that Weakness is a multiplier but Pokémon does everything in increments of 10, so -30 damage before Weakness becomes -20 with Weakness. This Ability seems good, maybe even very good, for something with this much HP behind it.
Drednaw VMAX knows one attack, “G-Max Headbutt”. Priced at [WWC], it isn’t a fast attack unless you’re combining it with Energy acceleration like Frosmoth or Rose. It does 160 base damage, which is decent; even some single Prize Pokémon sans protective effects can survive it, but it provides a reliable 2HKO for most intents and purposes… and there’s more. “Heads” on a mandatory coin toss means the attack does another 80 damage, so 240. “Tails” has no drawback; you still do 160. Without additional combos, it means you have a chance of OHKOing any Pokémon V other than Zamazenta V (due to its Ability). If you can afford Glimwood Tangle as your Stadium, you can improve your odds of hitting 240, there’s always a chance of “tails”.
When you put it all together, in a metagame where [L] types are not prominent (at least, not currently), you’ve got quite the tank. Frosmoth means a small, vulnerable Bench-sitter but it also means faster setup and plausible Hyper Potion healing. Drednaw VMAX needs to be on the Bench to receive this Energy acceleration, but seems pretty reasonable you’ll already run a lot of switching cards, given that Retreat Cost of [CCCC]. Not that I’m complaining about it; Buff Padding seems like an obvious inclusion, good for +50 HP. 370 HP with -30 post-Weakness damage reduction means 400 damage for a OHKO, a total of 430 damage for a 2HKO, a total of 460 damage for a 3HKO, etc. Except for [L] types, which need 200 for that OHKO.
All of this is available in Expanded as well. The good news, there may even be better alternatives; certainly Acerola would be most welcome. The bad news is that there are more counters, as well as plenty of rivals and a fear of [L] types because Electropower is still legal. It may be optimism clouding my judgment, but I think this more or less evens out. There are no Pre-Release Kits for this set. There were no Pre-Release tournaments, and packs are only available in things like gift sets. If you manage to find and afford a Limited tournament running Champion’s Path, and you’re lucky enough to pull both Drednaw V and Drednaw VMAX, run them. There are no [L] type Pokémon in this set, and even Drednaw V alone is great.
Another three-out-of-five card? Yes. As impressed as I am by Drednaw VMAX, this is all speculation. Theorymon. I haven’t touched these cards, let alone built the deck and used it myself, and I certainly haven’t seen them in doing anything. Granted, I haven’t seen much of anything; with so few events, I’m groping around in the dark. There’s also tomorrow’s card; there a decent chance we’re in a situation where only one or the other can be “competitive”, assuming I’m not wrong about both. We’ll clear that up tomorrow.
The runner up card for Champion’s Path is Drednaw V-Max!
Looking at this card, Drednaw V-Max looks similar to Blastoise-GX, as it has the same Solid Shell ability which reduces the damage you take by 30 after applying Weakness & Resistance, though Drednaw has a much higher 320 HP than Blastoise’s 240 HP, and it acts like a Stage 1 card as opposed as a Stage 2 card, making room for other cards in your deck. Being worth three prizes hurts, but with the ability and HP (plus further boost like Buff Padding raising it’s HP from 320 to 370), it’s gonna take a lot more to land OHKOs, and PikaRom’s Tag Bolt barely lands the OHKO, even with damage reduction and Buff Padding! For 2HKOs, you would need at least two attack that deal at least 190 damage to secure the 2HKO.
While it sits there tanking damage, it also has the G-Max Headbutt Attack, which costs WWC for 160 damage, plus 80 more damage if you flipped heads, making it do 240 damage. This is pretty much 2HKO territory whatsoever and OHKOs nearly all Pokemon with Water weakness. If you don’t trust the coin flips, though, you can use Glimwood Tangle to re-flip coins or using Vitality Band to make its initial base damage becomes 170, reliably 2HKOing anything. As for the attack cost, it can be readied with ease by Frosmoth’s Ice Dance.
To get to Drednaw V-Max, it has to evolve from Drednaw-V. This one also has the Solid Shell ability, albeit with as 210 HP body. It’s attack has the same cost, but it does 130 damage while preventing the Defending Pokémon from retreating (although it can leave play or switch). This evolving Basic could hold on in its own with or without the V-Max.
Limited: N/A (would be 5/5. According to Otaku, this set contains no Lightning types, so this could be wonderful in this format)
Conclusion: Tanking and attacking can be a viable strategy if it had a good damage reducing effect and high HP….and Drednaw V-Max actually has both of them! I wonder if tomorrow’s card (which is the best card of the set) can do the same thing.
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