Flareon VMAX – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Another Friday, another Eeveelution VMAX. This time, we’re looking at Flareon VMAX (SW – Evolving Skies 018/203). In terms of broader to narrower categories, this is a Pokémon with a Rule Box, a Pokémon V, and a Pokémon VMAX. The currently cards that affect Rule Boxes aren’t too likely to matter for Flareon VMAX, but the other two definitely matter. As a Pokémon VMAX, Flareon VMAX gives up two additional Prizes when KO’d (so usually three), gains access to VMAX support, but also has to deal with anti-VMAX effects. Flareon VMAX also has to deal with anti-Pokémon V effects, both those that target Pokémon V with detrimental effects but also those that exclude it from beneficial effects.
Being a Pokémon VMAX is more than just an added gimmick to something: it also doubles as the card’s Stage of Evolution. As they evolve more or less normally from Basic Pokémon V, this means they are more or less on par with Stage 1 Pokémon, not being as easy to use as Basics but also not being as demanding as Stage 2s. Flareon VMAX is a Dynamax Pokémon and… that still has no mechanical relevance in the TCG, even after all these sets. Flareon V is a Fire-type, which is “okay”. This is handy for exploiting the most common Weakness found on Metal types, and less important but still relevant, Grass types.
Another benefit of VMAX-status I neglected to mention earlier is receiving a massive HP buff. Flareon VMAX has 320 HP, a not insignificant amount. The heaviest hitters can still OHKO it, as well as hard-hitting [W] type attackers, due to Flareon VMAX’s Water Weakness. Plenty of decks, though, will need to settle on a 2HKO approach. Speaking of Weakness, Water is neither a good nor a bad one to have right now. Flareon VMAX has no Resistance, like most Pokémon in the TCG. With its HP, -30 damage taken in a single match-up could have been a nice bonus, but getting around Resistance is as simple as using an off-type attacker, and -30 doesn’t swing things as drastically as Weakness (which doubles damage taken). Flareon VMAX’s Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither low enough to be a bonus nor high enough to be a real burden.
Flareon VMAX knows one attack, “Max Detonate”. Priced at [RCC], this attack also requires you discard the top five cards of your deck to use it. Ouch! Five cards may not sound like much, but that’s a twelfth of your full 60 card deck. You can never have a full 60 cards in your remaining deck once the game begins, though; you lose at least seven cards for your opening hand, six cards for Prizes, and one card for your opening draw. So it is really more like a ninth of your deck. Which still doesn’t sound too bad, until you remember how much draw and search is required for your average deck to set up its side of the field. There’s a real chance you can deck yourself out with multiple uses of Max Detonate!
Even when you’re able to pace Flareon VMAX’s attacking, each one carries the chance of discarding up to five key cards from your deck. So, what is the payout for all of this? For each Energy card you discard through attacking with Max Detonate, Flareon VMAX does 100 damage to your opponent’s Active. Obviously, whiffing is bad, but so is discarding just one or two Energy. 100 or even 200 for three Energy sounds good but remember the less damage you do, the more non-Energy cards you’re discarding. It gets worse: even if you do hit all Energy, you’re almost guaranteed to be in overkill territory. How is that bad? Your deck contains a finite amount of Energy. It is obviously bad luck when you’re attacking a 200 HP target but only reveal a single Energy card, but it is also bad if you reveal five Energy cards, but that is five fewer Energy you’ll have left in your deck for your next attack!
Now, all of this is ignoring another concern: three Energy ain’t easy to meet for Fire types anymore. At least, not in Standard. You’ll need Energy acceleration, because three turns to build to this attack is just not worth it. Except more Energy acceleration means more non-Energy cards in your deck, that you might discard while doing less damage. You still need it, but you want it to be as self-contained as possible. There’s Flareon V (SW – Black Star Promos SWSH149; SW – Evolving Skies 169/203) which can use its first attack, “Flaming Breath” to do 20 damage to your opponent’s Active while searching your deck for and then attaching a Fire Energy to itself. Turn 2, if your opponent’s setup seems lacking, this might be a decent option.
Fortunately, there’s Elemental Badge: with it attached to a Flareon V/VMAX (or Jolteon V/MAX or Vaporeon V/MAX), that Pokémon pays [C] less to attack. Still, that means two turns to build, and Tool Jammer or Tool Scrapper are easy enough counters… so maybe consider Bede, Rose, or Turbo Patch. They’re not great, but at least they’re something. Why go to all this trouble? Once you’re deck is mostly thinned out, you have a probable OHKO machine. Shuffling basic Energy cards back into your deck is actually pretty easy, even in Standard. Energy Recycler is an Item that shuffles five basic Energy cards from your deck into your deck. We also finally have a possible dance partner for Flareon VMAX: Volcarona V! For [R] its “Surging Flames” attack does 20 damage plus 20 more per basic Energy card in your discard pile, then shuffles all those basic Energy cards from your discard pile back into your deck.
Is Flareon VMAX any better in Expanded? Unfortunately, that’s another maybe. Flareon VMAX definitely gains access to much needed Energy acceleration; Welder with VS Seeker should be sufficient, and if it isn’t, there’s also Blacksmith. The thing is, all the same stuff that can help Flareon VMAX seem like a real deck can be used for other attackers. Pure Theorymon on my part, though. If you have the cards, why not give it a try?
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 3/5
We’re looking at another Eeveelution card from Roaring Skies: Flareon VMAX!
Looking at what it does, Flareon VMAX needs a lot of investment, mostly regarding deck construction and certain actions the player would take. Max Detonate costs RCC (or RC if Flareon has the Elemental Badge Pokémon Tool attached to it) and makes you discard the top 5 cards in your deck. This attack does 100 damage for each energy card you’ve discarded. You could either deal no damage and lose several crucial cards such as Pokémon and Trainer cards that could’ve been used later throughout the game, or you could deal 500 damage that’s more than enough to OHKO anything in the game and lose just energy cards, although Special Energy cards could be difficult to retrieve. As a Single Strike card, it does benefit from Single Strike Energy, which lets you deal 20 extra damage for each Single Strike energy attached to it. If it has two Single Strike energies attached to it, then – out of the five cards that you are forced to discard – you only need at least three energy cards to OHKO the maximum printed HP score, which is still currently 340 HP.
Flareon VMAX evolves from Flareon-V, and I think Flareon-V is a good stepping stone to evolve into, even though it is the only option. Flareon’s first attack sees value because Flaming Breath lets you search your deck for a Fire energy and attach it to this Pokemon. This makes Flareon-V get two energies attached to it, a manual attachment (ideally Single Strike Energy) and the effect of an attack. Elemental Badge actually makes Flaming Breath cost no energy to use. Scorching Column costs RRC for 120 damage and also inflict the Burned Special Condition to the opponent’s Active Pokemon, which will then put 2 damage counters in between turns, totaling 140 damage. While Scorching Column would be a reliable/repeatable attack to use, it doesn’t do enough damage to even 3HKO anything. It might have an easier time against other Pokemon with Fire weakness found on mostly Grass and Metal types, and can even bypass some of the built-in protection against specifically Pokemon VMAX (Flareon-V can damage Zamazenta-V or even Glaceon VMAX).
Naturally, the Max Detonate attack demands that your deck needs to contain significantly high counts of energy cards so that you can reduce the risk of losing important cards. Though, that isn’t enough to discourage players from using Gyarados from SM Team Up. The Gyarados deck, based on certain proven deck lists, typically ran around 30 to 35 energy cards. Flareon VMAX might need a similar amount of energy cards….well maybe not that much, perhaps 20 to 25 energies. Losing certain cards can still be painful at the worst time, but if you were able to make use of the cards that you currently have and not care about the rest, then that discard cost isn’t as painful. In fact, the more you excavate your deck, the better it is. You could use Energy Recycler to shuffle 5 Fire Energies from the discard pile onto your deck, and it’s more likely that you’re discarding Fire Energies more often than other types of cards since they’re already in the discard pile. If Energy Recycler isn’t available, then alternately you can use Volcarona-V as its Surging Flames deals 20 damage for each basic Energy card in your discard pile, while also shuffling all of those Basic Energies from the discard pile onto your deck (it could even achieve OHKOs if at least 17 Fire Energies are in the discard pile). This will make Max Detonate achieve maximum damage capacity.
There are Flareon VMAX decks out there in Limitless.com to provide as examples even though those competitors didn’t place highly. The fact that there are deck lists of Flareon VMAX shows that it is a functional deck that could have a decent chance of being placed in tournaments, just not high enough to be considered “meta”. I’m not sure if it would do well in Expanded; While there are several cards that provide support for Fire types (Welder, Fire Crystal, Heat Factory Prism Star, etc.), the trade-off is that there are extremely few anti-Fire counters that could stop Flareon cold (Araqunaid from Sun & Moon and its Grass-type counterpart in SM Ultra Prism) as well as good Water type attackers exploiting weakness (any attack needs 160 damage for the OHKO). Still, with the right deck build, Flareon can steamroll anything that gives up multiple prizes, though it will struggle against baseline Pokemon due to the effort it takes to knock out each of them.
This is another Eeveelution card that I almost dismissed as being heavily demanding and the payoff not being worth it, yet those players were able to make them work. I don’t think you need to worry about Flareon VMAX due to it inherent drawbacks due to the nature of Max Detonate, but it can still OHKO almost anything in the game, even future cards like V-UNION and V-STAR! When the ability to possibly OHKO anything exists, players will try to optimize their decks the best they can. Flareon VMAX isn’t something that everyone would turn to, but it is tempting to try.
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