Frosmoth– Rebel Clash
Date Reviewed: January 2, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Frosmoth from Sword & Shield is another card in the Honorable Mentions group. There isn’t much for me to go over on this card except for its Ice Dance ability, which lets you attach a water energy card to one of your Benched Water Pokemon as often as you like. Unlimited energy acceleration is one of the best tricks that you can build a deck around, and such a trick has been seen in the beginning of the Pokémon TCG with Base Set, where it contained a Blastoise with its Rain Dance Pokémon Power, which lets you attach as many water energies as you like to any of your Pokémon. Whether such abilities are competitive play remains to be seen, but lately there hasn’t been many deck that uses a Pokémon that provides unlimited energy acceleration lately.
And it kinda makes sense. Those abilities are usually reserved for mostly Stage 2s, and they take up lots of deck space due to having the stage 2 line and a couple of Rare Candies just to skip the Stage 1. Frosmoth seemed to be the first stage 1 Pokemon that does that (unless I’m missing something), and while it does save up deck space somewhat, one can’t ignore the fact that you have to wait for a turn to evolve, and Snom is extremely vulnerable to switching cards like Boss’s Orders or even being hit on the Bench. Even Frosmoth’s 90 HP isn’t safe on the Bench either when they have cards like Cramorant-V whose Spit Shot can hit for 160 damage (which is what most Stage 2s with such abilities have).
The restriction hurts as well, since you can’t attach it to anybody except for Water types. This would hurt if you’re trying to attach energies to Colorless Pokemon with Colorless energy attack costs. If there were good partners that are Water types, then the restriction might not matter as much. Lapras VMAX is one of the best candidate for Frosmoth to support, as G-Max Pump does 90 damage plus 30 more damage for each Water energy attached to that Pokemon. Even though it might take 8 Water energies on Lapras, Frosmoth can accelerate Lapras with ease if you have that many Water energies. Keldeo-V’s Secret Sword can also achieve OHKOs, but it needs 10 Water energies attached to it!
Ultimately, I think the reason that Frosmoth hasn’t seen as much play is because of type matchups. Some of the current popular decks can deal double damage to Water Pokemon due to their weakness. For Lapras VMAX, Inteleon VMAX, and the like, it gets OHKOed by PikaRom (and yes, this deck still sees play despite losing lots of Lightning support). If you’re using Water types that are weak to Metal, then Zacian-V comes in to OHKO them. It’s not that this deck can’t compete due to type matchups, but if Frosmoth decks aren’t giving you a decent win percentage, then it makes sense to put that deck style aside for something else.
As Frosmoth is a Water type, it benefits from cards from Expanded such as Archie’s Ace in the Hole, which – as long as this is the only card in your hand – lets you put a Water Pokemon from the discard pile onto your bench. But Blastoise from Boundaries Crossed does a better job than Frosmoth (higher HP and can attach water energies to any Pokémon) and can also be brought out by Archie as well. Looks like Frosmoth would have little use there. It is also one of the Pre-release promos that you can pull from the Sword & Shield Build & Battle Kit (the other three being Rillaboom, Galarian Perserrker, and Cinccino). So if you pulled the Frosmoth group, it also contains the Inteleon line with the Shady Dealings ability.
- Standard: 3
- Expanded: 1
- Limited: 3
Frosmoth has a neat trick, but Water based decks have yet to appear. That leaves Frosmoth to be a card that players shouldn’t forget about.
With our countdown of the top 10 cards of 2020 complete, I thought we’d look at an “Honorable Mention” today. Frosmoth (Sword & Shield 064/202; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH007; SW – Rebel Clash 204/192) did not actually make our list, not even as a runner-up, but I still think it is well worth a re-review, for reasons that will become clear. Here’s a link to our first CotD on Frosmoth, where we called it the 8th-best card of Sworth & Shield! Frosmoth is most defined by its Ability, so we will begin with that. “Ice Dance” lets you attach a [W] Energy from your hand to one of your Benched [W] Pokémon, as often as you like during your turn, prior to attacking or doing anything else that ends your turn upon resolution. Only basic Water Energy cards count as [W] while in hand, but this kind of restriction is expected; attaching any Energy as many times as you wanted during a turn would be insane!
What does matter is the restrictions on what Pokémon may receive this boost; only Water types, and only while they’re on your Bench. One or the other is pretty reasonable, but the two together can be cumbersome. To be fair, though, that assumes we don’t have an effective combo to spam to Bench, fuel (or refuel), and promote (or re-promote) a Pokémon to the Active position. The Expanded Format has Keldeo-EX with Float Stone (as one example), but Standard currently has nothing, though pre-rotation it had Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, and Air Balloon could have been used as a substitute for Float Stone, though the combo would have still been vulnerable to Retreat Cost increasing effects. The fact that I am speaking in a hypothetical, past tense tells you I never saw that combo, though perhaps some did try it. This might be due to the second restriction; only Water types can receive the Energy. Good for game balance, but bad for Frosmoth’s viability; you either had to include something to move the Energy, or avoid non-Water types.
We’ll come back to why that last thing is an issue, but it requires understanding more of the card, so let’s run through the rest of it and then resume. Frosmoth is a baseline Pokémon, not an Ultra Beast, Prism Star Pokémon, or Pokémon V, worth only a single Prize when KO’d. As a Stage 1, Frosmoth is relatively easy to play, nor does it demand a lot of deck space or time to prep. As it is relevant to evaluating Frosmoth’s typing, let’s cover its “Aurora Beam” attack next. [WC] for 30 damage is overpriced and underpowered. Frosmoth could have a badly overpriced attack, but have it still prove useful, thanks to Ice Dance… but underpowered cannot be fixed. Its Water typing is neither good nor bad. You’re not attacking with Frosmoth, so Weakness and Resistance don’t matter. There isn’t a lot of [W] support in Standard, outside of Frosmoth itself, and what we have is from sets that came out after Frosmoth.
Still, Nessa is a recent addition that is appreciated. I am also concerned about a recent [W] counter; I don’t know if Jolteon (SW – Vivid Voltage 047/185) is really worth it, but if Frosmoth was strong, a 1-1 line (plus Memory Capsule) might be worth the three slots it would take in many decks… and Jolteon’s “Thunderous Awakening” could then shut down Ice Dance. 90 HP is poor, though if Level Ball were to be reprinted and we got some tiny titans worth fueling with Ice Dance, it could actually be a surprise benefit. As is, it is an easy OHKO while Active, and merely “not fragile” as a Bench-sitter. The low HP means the [M] Weakness and lack of Resistance will almost never matter, a dubious “benefit”. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither high nor low; Air Balloon, or having a Water Energy or two attached ahead of the need to retreat, makes it quite manageable. Though lower would still be better.
So that is Frosmoth; a Stage 1 with a potent, but sometimes tricky to optimize, Ability. That’s only half the story, though. This kind of Ability is nothing new to the Pokémon TCG. The original example, Blastoise (Base Set 2/102; Base Set 2 2/130) had “Rain Dance”. It is a Pokémon Power, which are basically Abilities with a different name, and mechanically distinct as far as card references are concerned. It also can attach to Active or Benched Water Pokémon, but is otherwise the same as Ice Dance. Rain Dance decks were one of the few, competitive Evolution decks in the early years of the game. More recently, we had Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; BW – Plasma Blast 16/101). Its “Deluge Ability” is Ice Dance if it could attach to either Benched or Active Pokémon, and able to attach to Pokémon of any type. It too spawned a competitive deck at a time when big Basics were dominant, and sometimes the archetype revives in Expanded.
This led to high hopes for Frosmoth, but there are other Pokémon with similar Abilities, Pokémon released between Frosmoth’s debut and Deluge Blastoise’s heyday in either Standard or Expanded. These Pokémon never achieved major success, with the cause being either anti-Ability effects, lack of certain combos or attackers. Another aspect missing from our two past examples of decks that made good use of this style of Energy acceleration are mass-healing combos. With no Acerola, AZ, or Max Potion, you can’t easily wipe away all damage. There’s Scoop Up Net, but it doesn’t work with Pokémon-GX or Pokémon V, and Super Scoop Up (when it was still Standard-legal) required a coin toss. As for attackers, if something isn’t significantly enhanced by Frosmoth, what’s the point? The same problem arises if it is too vulnerable. Most new Water attackers are [L] Weak, which was a big problem given Pikachu & Zekrom were good both early and late in 2020.
Even with Fire types vulnerable to Water type attackers, the net result is that we’ve only seen one or two Frosmoth decks do well. That is far better than whiffing entirely for 2020, but we had it as our 8th-Place pick from its set; Frosmoth definitely fell short of that. The rest of 2020 has helped it, giving it better partners like Inteleon VMAX, but we’ll have to see if the resurgence of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks means Frosmoth will flutter away again. I personally expected Frosmoth to become a strong Expanded Format deck, but all the same problems it faced in Standard were joined by much better anti-Ability effects. The attachment restrictions built into Ice Dance seem to mean we’re better off fielding Blastoise (Deluge version) with Archie’s Ace in the Hole, not that I have proof of recent success for Archie’s Blastoise decks in Expanded.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
- Limited: 4/5
I expected Frosmoth to be one of the new, major, competitive archetypes in 2020, but instead we’re happy it had at least a few events where it finished in the top 10%. Which is why I thought our CotD’s needed an update for Frosmoth. It may not mean much if you’re a current, active player, but if you’re new or if you’re someone researching the 2020 metagame five years from now, it comes in handy.
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