– Champion’s Path
September 30, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
After yesterday’s break for an Honorable Mention, today we’re back to the countdown proper, with 6th-Place, Duraludon V (Champion’s Path 047/073). The Metal type is on or near the top right now, with some great support available to it, but more importantly, because Zacian V is just great in and of itself. Another strong Pokémon for the deck would be great… but it also means Duraludon V needs to be better than running without it. Fairy Pokémon are no longer their own distinct type in Sword & Shield, but Fairy-inspired Psychic types have picked up their Metal Weakness.
Duraludon V is a Basic Pokémon, making it efficient in terms of both deck space and hitting the field, and which has been the best Stage for most of the TCG’s existence. If you’ve reading these reviews in order, you don’t need to be reminded that (Basic) Pokémon V give up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t take advantage of support like Scoop Up net, and have to deal with counters like Decidueye (SW – Darkness Blaze 013/192; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035). The compensation for this is that they might have stronger effects (relative to costs) and that they (so far) have enjoyed a significant HP increase when compared with their single-Prize counterparts.
In the case of Duraludon V, it has 220 HP, 90 more than the baseline Duraludon cards, and fairly typical of Basic Pokémon V. This is enough to often survive an attack. Besides decks built around OHKOing most (or all) things, the exception to its durability will come from miscellaneous [R] attackers; 110 to 210 damage from a Fire type scores a OHKO, when it would have only managed a 2HKO without exploiting Weakness. This range is wide enough and positioned well enough to be pretty significant, though some Fire attackers won’t have any choice but to resort to overkill. Duraludon V enjoys -30 Grass Resistance; it won’t come in handy based on the metagame, but it is still nice to have. That Retreat Cost of [CCC] is not nice, however; too high for Air Balloon, too low for Buff Padding, and as hard to pay as a Retreat Cost of [CCCC] most of the time.
Duraludon V has one Ability, and one attack. “Hard Coat” soaks 30 damage from attacks. This is after applying Weakness and Resistance, not before, but 30 is enough of a margin to matter when it is universal… unlike Resistance, which is type-specific. Fire types now need to do 130 damage to score the OHKO, with 250+ rendering Weakness irrelevant. Grass types will need 280 for a OHKO! Everything else still requires 250 damage for a OHKO, and if the attacker can’t manage that a 2HKO will need to average 140 per turn. I try to remind you, dear readers, that adding and subtracting damage only matters if it affects whether or not certain effects are triggered, or alters how many turns it takes to score a KO, this amount of damage reduction with this amount of HP stands a very good chance of that.
Duraludon V’s attack is “Gatling Slug”, priced at [CCC] and doing 10 damage, base. This would be horrible, but you can see there’s effect text on the card. For each [M] Energy attached to Duraludon V (or anything copying this attack), Gatling Slug does an extra 40 damage. If you use a pure [MMM] to cover the attack’s cost, for example, it would do 10 + (40 * 3) = 130 damage. That’s actually low for three non-Colorless Energy requirements on a Basic Pokémon V, but at least you’re 2HKOing most Basic Pokémon V and smaller targets. Its advantage is that you can load a lot more Metal Energy onto Duraludon V; you’ll always be “overpaying” for the damage done, but the variable nature means you can try to just dump Energy onto Duraludon V and go for a OHKO against even massive targets.
One of the obvious considerations for Duraludon V is using Metal Goggles; this Tool not only prevents your opponent’s attacks and Abilities from placing damage counters onto the equipped Pokémon, but it soaks 30 damage, like Hard Coat. The two effects can stack, soaking 60 damage! Fire attackers will need 140 damage before Weakness, Grass attackers will need 310, and everything else will still need 280 damage. If you’re running a defensive build, you will probably also include Lucario & Melmetal-GX. With its “Full Metal Wall-GX” being easily used early game, Fire attackers need to do 160 for a OHKO, Grass types 340, and everything else 310.
You could also take a different approach. Loading up on Metal Energy isn’t easy in Standard. Metal Saucer is a big help, but that caps out at four uses in most decks. If you add Duraludon V to a Zacian ADP deck, Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX can use its “Altered Creation-GX” attack to let Duraludon V do an extra 30, so that [MMM] pays for 160 damage, [MMMM] 190, etc. plus KOing your opponent’s Pokémon through damage from your attacks mean you take an extra Prize. Duraludon V is still inferior to Zacian V in damage output; Zacian V can still use “Brave Blade” to do 230 damage (260 after the boost). Zacian V can’t attack the next turn, but that’s easily shaken with Switch and a free retreating Pokémon…
…but if you need to soak damage while attacking, Duraludon V will still enjoy that 30 point edge. While incredibly difficult, if you can slowly, safely build a Duraludon V on your Bench, 6+ Metal Energy attached, you’ll finally start swinging for more damage than Zacian V, and without needing to shake any detrimental effects from your own attack. Nine Energy will handle anything without HP buffs, Resistance (still a thing in Expanded), or other protective effects. In Standard, I don’t think such loadouts are remotely realistic; just getting [MMM] will be challenging enough! Duraludon V is about attacking decently with an even tankier Pokémon, possibly not even attacking at all.
In Expanded, however, you have options. Bronzong (XY – Phantom Forces 61/119; XY – Black Star Promos XY21) has an Ability that lets you attach one [M] Energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon, once per turn per instance of that Ability. Magnezone (SM – Ultra Prism 83/156; Shiny Vault SVSV29/SV94) has an Ability that lets you attach a Metal Energy from your hand to one of your Pokémon as often as you want during your turn. One or the other might be exactly what Duraludon V needs. Bronzong decks used to be quite good, with a variety of great attackers available. Magnezone never saw any real success, but part of that was never having an attacker such as Duralon V available. There are also cards like Acerola and AZ, so perhaps Duraludon V is again best suited as a meat-shield, not attacking.
Though we had no Pre-Releases and there are no Pre-Release kits available for the Limited Format style of play most of us have experienced, you can still use variations that don’t count on things such as “Evolution” boosters, and – as there are no booster boxes to buy – collectively spend a small fortune on products so you and your friends can have your own Limited Format tournament. So I’m still offering a score for Duraludon V here, and it is good. You’ll need to worry about an opponent with a lucky [R] type pull, but nothing less than a Holo Rare is a real threat thanks to their damage output versus Hard Coat. A Mulligan build will see you attaching and passing for two turns (only wasting one attack if you go first), but the HP plus the Ability should let you take that much time, while Gatling Slug will start out strong and just keep getting stronger.
The trend continues. Duraludon V is not a great card, but it has potential. If you had the Energy acceleration and enough Energy in the deck, you could OHKO anything. Without that, it might just be better to ignore Gatling Slug and use Duraludon V to absorb hits early game, or maybe all game in the right kind of stall/control deck.
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