– Champion’s Path
October 5, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today we don’t have a runner-up or lead-in card, but our actual 4th-Place finisher, Galarian Obstagoon (Champion’s Path 037/073). Currently, the “Galarian” aspect of its name doesn’t really serve a purpose; there’s no “non-Galarian” Obstagoon, and no effects that reference cards with or without “Galarian” in their name, but they’re both at least possibilities. As a Darkness type, Galarian Obstagoon enjoys access to their type support, both new and old, though Piers and Hiding [D] Energy are not living up to my predictions from our SM – Darkness Ablaze countdown. It is handy for punishing many newer Psychic types and only older Fairy types are Resistant.
Galarian Obstagoon is a Stage 2 Pokémon, so it does take some doing to get it into play, and it is a bit slow. Even with a shortcut like Rare Candy, the earliest it can hit the field is Turn 3 (if going first) or Turn 4 (if going second). It does help that Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202) is a great card, so at least its Basic counterpart is carrying its own weight, but Galarian Linoone are filler. Galarian Obstagoon also enjoys a solid 170 HP, giving it a decent chance of surviving a hit, at least when not being attacked by its Grass Weakness. Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035) means that Weakness matters, but the lack of Resistance still doesn’t, even though it is technically the worst possible Resistance. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither good nor bad, but it is something you can zero out with Air Balloon.
Galarian Obstagoon posses one Ability and one attack. The Ability is “Wicked Ruler”, and may be used once during your turn. Your opponent is forced to discard cards until they have no more than four in hand; it does nothing if their hand has four or less cards in it, and your opponent chooses what cards they discard, not you. A four card hand is small, but only just; it is quite possible a competitive deck will never ends its turn with a four card hand. There are a few effects you can use to make them draw, but not a lot. In fact, a quick search for Trainers (you can’t use the Ability after attacking) that force your opponent to draw cards and is guaranteed to leave them with more than four in hand only turns of Reset Stamp in Standard… and that stops working once they no longer have five or more Prizes remaining.
Galarian Obstagoon’s attack is “Knuckle Impact”, which costs [CCC] to use. Knuckle Impact lets Galarian Ostagoon attack for 180 damage, but leaves an effect on itself that prevents it from attacking the next turn. 180-for-three is very good, though a bit below what would make it great, namely OHKOing your typical, Basic Pokémon V. The Energy cost is definitely worth noting; Twin Energy or Triple Acceleration Energy can be a big help here. You’re also not too short of taking out many Basic Pokémon V; one more damage counter for Crobat V, four more for those with 210 HP, etc. The drawback about being unable to attack is relatively easy to shake, so long as your deck is built to retreat-then-switch, or switch-then-retreat.
By now, you’re probably wondering how this could be our fourth-place pick. The answer is Galarian Obstagoon (Sword & Shield 119/202). It is already part of its own competitive deck with the aforementioned Decidueye, and that isn’t even the first archetype to feature it. The Ability gives you the threat of hand disruption, while it provides a hard-hitting attacker that works with most of what the deck already runs. You’ll need some compatible Energy acceleration, and you’re capping yourself at three copies of the good, older Galarian Obstagoon, but the Galarian Zigzagoon’s “Headbutt Tantrum” and the original Galarian Obstagoon’s “Untamed Shout” can bring Basic Pokémon V into OHKO range, but the larger ones are going to be difficult.
Galarian Obstagoon is also helpful for OHKOing attackers that aren’t Pokémon-GX or V, or aren’t Basics. Decidueye can wall against those two two groups, and the original Galarian Obstagoon can try to stall against Basic Pokémon of all stripes, via its “Obstruct” attack. Everything else just needs 160 to OHKO the original Galarian Obstagoon, and just 140 to one-shot Decidueye. Even with its [G] Weakness, you can trade today’s Galarian Obstagoon for an opponent’s Decidueye. Its niche, but one that today’s Galarian Obstagoon fills nicely.
The Expanded Format might have a place for this Galarian Obstagoon as well. Once again, probably because it works with its older sibling, giving a deck some simple hand disruption, Basic attack disruption, and damage counter placement. Pure speculation, but perhaps you can run enough additional control (or at least disruption) to make a worthwhile deck. Pre-Releases weren’t a thing for this set and neither were Pre-Release kits to my knowledge. Champion’s Path boosters are only available in things like gift sets (not in their own booster box), so getting enough for a Limited Format Event is tough but not impossible. If you can find such a tournament and pull this line, its pretty good. It is harder to manage your hand size here, so Wicked Ruler should be a bit better, and Knuckle Impact should score OHKO’s most of the time… but you’re probably stuck waiting for its effect to wear off, so save it for key KO’s or the finish.
I may have overrated Galarian Obstagoon, as you’ve gathered by now. Most of this top 10 seems interchangeable; a lot of good cards of a similar caliber, even though the reasons vary greatly between cards. When I first looked at it, I was more impressed by its prospects working with – say it with me now – the original Galarian Obstagoon.
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