– Darkness Ablaze
October 27, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Grimmsnarl V (SW – Darkness Ablaze 114/189) seems like a natural fit for a Halloween week, so let’s go! As a Pokémon V, it should have more HP than its baseline counterpart, with a decent chance of having better effects, even if only relative to their costs. It also ends up as either Basic Pokémon instead of its usual Stage 2 status, a definite benefit! Speaking of costs, the trade-off for this is that Grimmsnarl V gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of helpful cards like Scoop Up Net, and have to deal with anti-V effects like the “Deep Forest Camo” Ability found on Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035).
Grimmsnarl V is a Darkness type, somewhat useful for attacking into Weakness on many Psychic types, and only having to worry about Resistance if you crash into an XY or SM-era Fairy type. The type has some decent support, but nothing deck defining; on the bright side, anti-Darkness effects aren’t available in Standard, and the ones in Expanded aren’t good. As a Basic, Grimmsnal V requires minimum deck space and time to hit the field. Its 220 HP is the slighter higher of the two typical scores, with a good chance of surviving a hit, though far from guaranteed. Its [G] Weakness is a concern due to Decidueye, though you’re well outside of its natural OHKO range. No Resistance is the worst, but also so common it doesn’t really matter. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither hard nor easy to pay… and a little easier due to Hiding [D] Energy and/or Darkness City.
Grimmsnarl V knows two attacks. For [D] it can use “Bite” to do 40 damage. For [DDD] it can use “Spiky Knuckle” to do 200 damage, though you’ll have to bounce two Darkness Energy from itself as well. These are fairly straightforward attacks, even factoring in the drawback of Spiky Knuckle. The damage output is decent. Bite does just enough for an opening/fallback attack, and Spiky Knuckle can OHKO most targets smaller than your typical Basic Pokémon V. How is this decent? Besides these attacks being on a 220 HP Basic, even with its drawbacks, there isn’t a lot of competition right now… at least, not in Standard.
Even in Expanded, hitting a flat 200 with a relatively simple requirement doesn’t show up in multi-Prize attackers of the Basic Pokémon variety. Both Formats do have attacks of that kind that hit harder, but with things like five-Energy attack costs, conditional attacks, or scalable attacks that would need an even more massive investment than the first option I listed. While three Energy is pricey, especially without Energy acceleration, its still easier than these alternatives.
Even with Energy acceleration, which makes the other options plausible, there may be some perks. For example, if you have Hydreigon (SW – Darkness Ablaze 110/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH037). Its “Dark Squall” would let you power Grimmsnarl V in a single turn, and Spiky Knuckle bouncing Energy back can even be beneficial. Not so much if your opponent hits you with hand disruption, or can OHKO your Hydreigon, but other than that the Energy is safely in hand, where it can be re-attached through Dark Squall to another attacker if Grimmsnarl V is KO’d, or just not worth attacking with again.
Expanded adds a few more options, but not really any better, reusable ones. If we want to be thorough, Expanded does feature enough Special Energy cards that can provide [D] Energy and be attached through the “Crazy Code” (SM – Unbroken Bonds 157/214). What matters more is you can use cards like Fighting Fury Belt, Muscle Band, maybe even the odd Professor Kukui to up the damage output of your attacks. Fighting Fury Belt only adds 10 damage on its own, but it spikes Grimmsnarl V’s HP from 220 to 270, easily in TAG TEAM range. Is that enough to make Grimmsnarl V good in Expanded? Probably not.
We’re not done with Standard and Expanded talk for Grimmsnarl V, however, because it is an evolving Pokémon V. We’re doing our usual trick, covering the evolving Basic Pokémon V before the Pokémon VMAX. So, without going into detail, Grimmsnarl VMAX is a beefy boi in its own right, and an Energy hog. It can hit harder than Grimmsnarl V, but needs more Energy in order to do so. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, as we’ve established Grimmsnarl V really needs Energy reusable Energy acceleration already. Grimmsnarl V isn’t the most impressive evolving Basic Pokémon V, but it seems decent, and with a decent Pokémon VMAX as well.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the place where Grimmsnarl V is best is the Limited Format. It isn’t all good news, as this set has a large swath of Grass attackers waiting to take advantage of Grimmsnarl V’s Weakness. There’s also the issue that Spiky Knuckle bouncing two Energy back into your hand is a problem still. Even with the (likely) lower HP scores and damage output of Limited, even with 220 HP, you’ll often be cutting it close with a Mulligan build. Of course, if you can build a non-Mulligan deck around Grimmsnarl V, especially if you’re able to build Grimmsnarl V on your Bench, it should be a great cleaner. Maybe even still a strong opener.
Grimmsnarl V is another evolving Basic Pokémon V that seems adequate. In fact, its biggest problem isn’t its own: this seems very much like something meant to be the main attacker in a Hyrdeigon deck that didn’t want to mess with TAG TEAM Pokémon, but there aren’t competitive Hydreigon decks that I’ve seen.
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