Gardevoir – Chilling Reigns
Date Reviewed: July 7, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Gardevoir (SW – Chilling Reign 061/198) is the final Runner-Up from our countdown, as it would have taken 20th-Place had we done a Top 20 (or higher) list for SW – Chilling Reign. Let us get the obvious out of the way; this is a Stage 2, and that is a hurdle to clear. Besides Rare Candy, Gardevoir has another, less direct option: Kirlia (SW – Chilling Reign 062/198). While just an 80 HP Stage 1, it knows the attack “Mirage Step”. Priced at [P], this attack lets you search your deck for up to three Kirlia and Bench them. You still have to suffer through a single Ralts, so you aren’t getting your initial Gardevoir into play faster, and even though you only need one Ralts you’ll still want to run more than that. Still, it helps, and this method of indirect Evolution acceleration means you can work in other Pokémon that evolve from Kirlia.
Gardevoir is a [P] type, and that is… decent. For reasons we’ll get into, the best new piece of Psychic support – Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX – is probably out of place in a Gardevoir deck, so we’re talking about the rest of their Standard Format tricks, like Old Cemetery and Fog Crystal. Gardevoir has 140 HP, a bit low for a Sword & Shield Stage 2, but not awful. [M] Weakness is a concern; something like Zacian V one-shots Gardevoir regardless of Weakness, but some supporting attackers may benefit. No Resistance is the worst but is typical, and a Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither low enough to be a benefit for high enough to be a real problem.
“Shining Arcana” is Gardevoir’s Ability, and it is a nice one. During your turn, you may Active this Ability once per instance of it you have in play. You then look at the top two cards of your deck. Any basic Energy in those cards can be attached to your Pokémon how you wish; any cards other than basic Energy are simply added to your hand. So if you whiff on the Energy acceleration, Shining Arcana essentially draws two cards. If you hit double basic Energy acceleration, it draws none, and if you hit one basic Energy, you also increased your hand’s size by one. You are stuck only working with basic Energy cards but they can be of any type, so even though Gardevoir is a [P] Pokémon, it could actually work off-type.
Gardevoir’s only attack is “Brainwave”, priced at [CCC]. This let’s Gardevoir do 60 damage plus another 30 per [P] Energy attached to itself. 60 for [CCC] is bad, but 150 for [PPP] is decent, maybe even good once we factor in the rest of the card. Still not great, though. The Energy acceleration should help quite a bit, but Gardevoir seems a bit fragile to be up front. Fortunately, you can always use it to prep other attackers. Getting back to what I mentioned earlier, seems like running this alongside Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX would not only be overkill, but actively clash. Gardevoir’s Ability needs basic Energy cards in your deck, while Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX’s Ability requires basic Psychic Energy cards in your hand.
I don’t expect this Gardevoir to become a huge deck, but it seems like it has potential to be the single-Prize version of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. That’s a reasonably solid start to me. Another sort-of benefit Gardevoir enjoys that Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX doesn’t is its branching evolution line. Even in Standard, you can include Gallade (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 82/236, 244/236) and/or Gallade (SM – Chilling Reign 081/198). While neither are huge, both have more HP than Gardevoir and seem built as attackers. The former has an Ability that lets it count as both a [P] and [F] type while in play, and can do 120 damage for [CC] while moving an Energy off of itself and onto something on your Bench. The latter is a [F] type with an attack for [CC] that does 60 damage per Pokémon V your opponent has in play.
In Expanded, you also have Gallade (XY – BREAKthrough 84/162). This card was once heavily played, back when Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick was still legal. While it only has 10 more HP than today’s Gardevoir, again you have a [F] type attacker that can attack for [CC]. Its attack isn’t as good now as it was back in the day, but its Ability lets you look at and reorder the top five cards of your deck, so it definitely compliments Shining Arcana. An even older option is Gardevoir (BW – Next Destinies 57/99; BW – Dark Explorers 109/108: its Ability causes each basic Psychic Energy card attached to your Pokémon to provide [PP] instead of [P]. The Ability doesn’t stack, but one of these doubles the potential output of each Shining Arcana… at least, in a deck running on mostly or only basic Psychic Energy cards.
There are actually more cards one could consider, other Gardevoir and Gallade that didn’t merit singling out, as well as Gardevoir-GX, but I don’t think they were a good enough fit for today’s Gardevoir. Now, it is difficult running multiple Stage 2 Pokémon in a single deck. Barring some of the crazier shortcuts, either you’re working with a split Evolution line (with only so many lower Stages to go around), or you’re trying to cram in two separate Evolution lines. Thanks to Kirlia, though, we can have more than the usual cap of four total Gallade plus Gardevoir. It still eats up more deck space, but Kirlia (ideally) attacks on your second turn, Benching three of itself, then your remaining three Ralts are Benched and use Rare Candy to Evolve.
As you can tell, this Gardevoir at least offers enough to get the wheels turning in my head. It may be a long shot, but I decided to go out on a limb and make it my 15th-Place pick. Being reminded of some of the other cards I overlooked, I realize I went a bit further out on the branch than I thought, but I still like this card. Its Expanded Format score is even more of a guesstimate than in Standard. I just don’t have much data on Expanded right now… but I know that there are some strong combos facing equally or more strong counters, so at least Gardevoir avoids a minimal score.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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