– Cosmic Eclipse
November 29, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Floette’s claim to fame is its ability called Flower Picking, which works only if you play this from your hand to evolve Flabebe. If it does, then you get to pick a random card from your opponent’s hand, your opponent reveals that card and puts them back into their deck. That’s perhaps part of the reason why Flabebe from XY Forbidden Light was banned as it has an ability that lets you evolve your Flabebe if you went second. Combine it with other forms of hand disruption (Jirachi-EX, Island Challenge Amulet, Reset Stamp, and Floette), and your opponent has very little to do on their next turn unless they can refresh their hand via abilities. Florges from that same set also has the same ability, but you can put TWO cards from your opponent’s hand into their deck. This may be regarded as being too slow to carry out such disruption unless something equivalent to Broken Time Space in Standard exists, and it doesn’t, so thank goodness for that.
Sadly, the powers-that-be don’t often give us a good reason to look at evolving Pokémon, which is probably one of the reasons balance between the Stages of Evolution is so lacking… but that is something to discuss elsewhere. Today we see one of the exceptions, Floette (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 151/236), and I’ll explain why Flabébé (SM – Forbidden Light 83/131) was rightly banned because of her.
Floette is all about her Ability, so we’re going to cover it right away. “Flower Picking” may only be used when you play this card from your hand to evolve one of your Pokémon, specifically during your own turn. If you do, you choose a card from your opponent’s hand, who then reveals the card to you before shuffling it into their deck. As you’re (usually) picking blindly, there’s a chance that you’re hurting, helping, or not really affecting your opponent with this play, but odds are it will be at least a little damaging as a useless card cluttering their hand may now waste a potential draw, as would anything useful.
Now for the rest of the card; Floette is an evolving Stage 1 Pokémon. Because of the Ability, Floette would be blatantly broken as a Basic. Does being able to evolve really add anything? Yes and now. Florges (SM – Forbidden Light 86/131), which Evolves from Floette, is seeing some competitive success in Doll Stall but was being run without any Floette, relying purely on Rare Candy. What if Floette was a Stage 2? Well, Florges (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 152/236) is a Stage 2 but with 120 HP, a version of Flower Picking that lets you shuffle away two of your opponent’s cards and a (possibly) better attack… and it also isn’t seeing play right now.
Floette is a [Y] Type, which might matter because of the Fairy Charm-series. 70 HP is as low as something can have while still being too big for Professor Elm’s Lecture. The HP almost makes the [M] Weakness and [D] Resistance meaningless, but there are a few edge cases where they’ll subtract or add a turn to how long it takes for Floette to be KO’d. The Retreat Cost of [C] should be easy to pay, though on something this fragile – even knowing about combos – I really wish it was a free Retreat Cost. Floette’s “Magical Shot” attack is filler, though far from the worst: 30 damage for [YC] is underpowered and/or overpriced, but at least it is simple and not ridiculously expensive.
The aforementioned Flabébé – which we reviewed here – has an Ability (“Evolutionary Advantage”) that lets you evolve it on your first turn if you were going second. Eliminating an opponent’s hand before they’ve even taken a turn is crippling, but Flabébé doesn’t allow that. However, wrecking an opponent’s hand on your first turn can also be devastating. Only certain decks can achieve a “full” setup on their first turn, and I’m not sure if any can achieve one that disruption can’t wreck. Especially as we have cards like Chip-Chip Ice Axe, to take a stab at the top card of an opponent’s deck. So if you go first, Bench some Pokémon, and attach an Energy… you may still be left with nothing able to attack and nothing to help you set up further on your next turn.
Why not just ban Floette? You can use Rare Candy with Evolutionary Advantage because of how both cards are worded; you’d make any hand elimination combos from Floette impossible, but your opponent can use Rare Candy with the Florges that has a stronger version of Flower Picking! It seems pretty clear; as long as Flabébé exists in the Expanded cardpool, they’ll have to pre-nerf all Floette and Florges cards. If we already have two potentially broken combos using Flabébé less than two years after its release, imagine four years, five years, and beyond.
Let’s keep talking about the future. I don’t recall if an official announcement has been made yet, but the player going first will soon no longer be able to attack or use a Supporter on their first turn. So, two of the three most likely ways to get a decent setup on your first turn, and they’re denied… which makes Flower Picking on T2 (Player 2’s first turn) almost as strong as it happening T1 (Player 1’s first turn) now, before the rule change. This makes me wonder if Flabébé should even remain Standard-legal. Flabébé and its Evolutionary Advantage turn what would have been a solid trick for Florges and/or other control decks into something broken.
I do not expect Standard or Expanded decks to TecH in a 1-1 line just to try and take a shot at the opponent’s hand T2 (or later). It still does enough that I believe it will see use in some actual hand control decks, especially after we lose our T1 Supporter. Scoring it the same in all three Formats probably seems odd, but Standard still has Flabébé, Expanded still has existing control decks that might be able to slip it in, and Limited has the odd blend of fewer valuable targets in the deck but fewer ways to get them back after being shuffled away.
Floette is good at what it does but, even with Flabébé, specialized for actual hand control decks. In hindsight, I probably should have had us cover Florges (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 152/236), given the extreme overlap. Floette didn’t may my list, but I understand its inclusion on one of the list of another reviewer. This set really is packed with potent and potentially potent cards… in fact, we’ll try to squeeze in a few more before our customary end-of-year countdown!
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