Hawlucha – Scarlet & Violet 118/198
Date Reviewed: May 9, 2023
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Hawlucha (Scarlet & Violet 118/198, SV Promo 007) is another one of those Prerelease Promos that was inside the Build & Battle Box. This is a Basic Fighting type with 70 HP, Psychic Weakness, and a retreat cost of 1. Its ability, Flying Entry, states that when you play this Pokemon from your hand onto your Bench during your turn, you may choose 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon and put 1 damage counter on each of them. It’s only attack, Wing Attack, does 70 damage for FCC. Not that you would want to use Hawlucha as an attacker, as you shall see.
Extra damage placement via ability is a nice trait to have. We’ve seen similar effects before in the past, such as Crobat G SP (Platinum 47/127) and most recently Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202). Because you won’t be able to put damage counters on your opponent’s Active Pokemon, Flying Entry won’t do any good if that’s all your opponent has. Even if you managed to put damage counters on your opponent’s Bench, if you really wanted the damage counters to be on your opponent’s Active Pokemon, then you must find ways to move damage counters around. Restriction aside, it does more than previous examples; Hawlucha even does twice as much damage counter placements than Galarian Zigzagoon. One measly damage counter on the Bench might not seem much, but when you play multiple instances of Hawlucha onto your Bench, then it starts to add up, with Penny (Scarlet & Violet 183/198) helping you further put some damage down due to letting you put a Basic Pokemon and all cards attached to it onto your hand. There are some strategies that require certain damage counters that are already placed to unleash their potential. Currently, some of the examples I can think of is Hisuian Typhlosion VSTAR, whose Shimmering Star attack lets you instantly Knock Out the Defending Pokemon if that Pokemon has exactly 4 damage counters on it. Despite using up your VSTAR Power once per game, it could get rid of something problematic while taking prizes for it. Jolteon VMAX is another candidate as its Max Thunder Rumble attack deals 100 damage on the opponent’s Active Pokemon and also 100 damage to your opponent’s Benched Pokemonas long as there’s some damage counters on it, which can be easily fulfilled by Hawlucha! Even if there isn’t a strategy involving putting a specific amount of damage counters, just having one damage counter on the board can prove to be a nuisance. I haven’t thought of an example in Standard, but in Expanded, there’s Mimikyu (SM Cosmic Eclipse 97/236) whose ability states that Pokemon-GX with damage counters have no abilities, which will most likely mess up your opponent’s strategies that rely on using abilities from Pokemon-GX, though it won’t do much good on coming-into-play abilities such as Dedenne-GX and Tapu Lele-GX. They would already serve its purpose upon being played on the Bench, but putting damage counters on it would mean you have an easier time to Knock Out that Bench sitter.
Overall, Hawlucha has some utility that could be helpful in some decks, though not every deck would need Hawlucha. Those who already have the ability to OHKO with attacks that deal huge amounts of damage, or those that don’t intend to damage your opponent’s Pokemon (like control variants) … they won’t need it, but it could be there to round off your deck. For Expanded, Silent Lab can prove to be a hassle as it makes abilities of Basic Pokemon offline, regardless of whether or not they have a rule box. But because Scoop Up Net is there, with AZ (XY Phantom Forces 91/119) and Penny to rinse and repeat, you could be putting at least eight damage counters on two of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. It would chiefly take out small targets like the Night March crew and some Bench Barrier variants like Mr. Mime, Mew, and Manaphy. Not that I can see that happening, but the possibility is there. In Limited, since Hawlucha is in the Build & Battle box, I don’t see why you won’t use it. The Hawlucha group contains 1 Hawlucha and the 3-2-1 Vivillon line. Scatterbug and Spewpa both have the Adaptive Evolution, which lets you evolve on the same turn it was put into play or the turn you evolved it. Assuming you have one of each (Scatterbug, Spewpa, and Vivillon), you could…get Vivillon in play for just 1 turn! From there, you could use either Miracle Powder that deals 50 damage for 1 energy and a chance to inflict a Special Condition of your choice (ideally Paralysis to stun the Defending Pokemon if they still survive or Burn to put 2 damage counters in between turns to finish off the Defending Pokemon) or to do Bug Buzz for 110 damage for two energies. Hawlucha will mostly just be played on the Bench for extra damage counter placement.
I once thought that this kind of ability is pretty insane, and it still is, but because it won’t affect the Active Pokemon, any hopes to create a donk is out of the window. Still, Hawlucha does the job well. Given that Galarian Zigzagoon has just left rotation a while ago, the format needed another Pokemon like this, and Hawlucha fits the bill nicely.
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