– Sword & Shield
February 24, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Details: Well, we start this week by reviewing one of fully evolved starter Pokémon in the Galar region that just missed being in the Top 11: Inteleon. As you’ve read what the card does as well as yesterday’s review, you’ll see that Inteleon also has the Shady Dealings ability, but this time, you get to fetch up to TWO trainer cards! You get to do a lot more with those two trainer cards, be it exactly two Custom Catchers to gust one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon to either finish them off or make them stranded in front without energies. It could be a Stadium and a Supporter card (as long as you didn’t play any prior to using the ability) that you might or might not use right away.
While Drizzile has an attack that doesn’t seem like it’s going to affect anything (Water Drip only does 30 damage for WC), Inteleon actually has a good attack. Aqua Bullet also costs WC but does 120 damage and 20 to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. Attacks like this are almost unheard of, having very good value. Even then, against two or three prize Pokémon, it can only hope to achieve 2HKOs or 3HKOs.
So you got an Ability that fetches 2 trainer cards and an good attack that hits hard in front and a little bit of snipe. What else could you use alongside Inteleon? Maybe you could pair it with Obstagoon so that it’s ability let’s you place even more damage on the board despite running two different Stage 2s. Or it could be ADP, whose Altered Creation GX attack could push Aqua Bullet to hit for 150 damage for 2 energy, and a possibility to grab extra prizes if you knock out a Pokémon (and water weak Pokémon is in OHKO range) (except for Cinderace V-Max; you also need a Vitality Band on top of Altered Creation to secure the OHKO).
But because Drizzile does the same thing albeit one less Trainer card, one wonders if Inteleon would be redundant, but it’s features give enough reason to use Inteleon. You’re mostly using Inteleon for the ability, but it can be a good attacker as well. Whether or not you want to use Rare Candy to skip Drizzile is up to the player. Inteleon is guaranteed to be pulled from one of the four groups from the Build and Battle box, so you should have no trouble acquiring those.
Inteleon (Sword & Shield 058/202) would have been our 12th-place finisher if our Top 11 countdown of Sword & Shield had been any bigger. There are two defining aspects of this card; its Ability and its Stage. Inteleon has the Ability “Shady Dealings”; during your turn, when you evolve one of your Pokémon by playing Inteleon from your hand, you can activate this Ability. If you use it, you get to search your deck for up to two Trainer cards, then add them to your hand. Trainer cards are a stupidly important part of the game, frequently making up one-to-two-thirds of a deck! Getting any two you want is pretty great… but I also just mentioned evolving. Inteleon is a Stage 2, so we’re talking additional resources and/or time for it to hit the field. Especially post-Sword & Shield this is not a deal breaker, but it will dictate how and where you run Inteleon.
[W] Typing is good, just not great at the moment. Some useful matchups that exploit the opponent’s Weakness, some nice bits of support, and – in the Expanded Format only – a tiny bit of Resistance and Type-specific counters. To put that into perspective, think of what the [P], [M], [R], and [L] Types have going for them! 160 HP gives Inteleon a decent chance of surviving an attack while Active, but far from guaranteed. This seems to be the low end of normal for a Stage 2 in the Sword & Shield era: the set has 12 Stage 2 Pokémon, with 7 possessing 170+ HP, while only two have under 160. [L] Weakness is not the worst, but still fairly dangerous. Lack of Resistance is typical, but the Retreat Cost of [C] is good.
I almost forgot: Inteleon has an attack! No, really, this paragraph isn’t part of the original review that was posted about an hour ago. Inteleon’s Ability is the reason you run Inteleon, if you are planning on running it at all. However, the attack has some merit. “Aqua Bullet” does 120 damage to your opponent’s Active, plus 20 to one of their Benched Pokémon of (you choose which), for the low price of [WC]. Good damage for the Energy, and while you do need a source of [W] Energy, the [C] can be covered by anything, or even reduced by Counter Gain. In Expanded, Aqua Patch makes Aqua Bullet quite affordable. Inteleon is a plausible [W] Type attacker to splash into a mostly non-[W] Energy deck. Which, given its Ability, actually does sometimes come in handy; [W] Weak Fire decks made a small-but-significant showing at the Oceania International Championship this weekend. The bonus Bench hit is more annoying than dangerous unless the rest of the deck can combo with it. Overall, Aqua Bullet is a decent attack where I expected filler.
While there aren’t any noteworthy Sobble, Drizzile (Sword & Shield 056/202) definitely is. In fact, it was yesterday’s Card of the Day. That may be the first Sunday review we’ve done, but it isn’t the last, as we’ve just begun to regularly do them on weekends. Getting back to Drizzile, while it has a filler attack and – where different from Inteleon – poor stats, it also has Shady Dealings as an Ability! Drizzile’s version only snags on Trainer, instead of two, but if you run it, you can then evolve into Inteleon the next turn to get two more Trainer cards. If you skip Drizzile, you’ll have to rely entirely on Rare Candy or another shortcut. I’m thinking you’re better off using both; sometimes you’ll need Inteleon to hit the field ASAP, but otherwise take your time and get an extra Trainer.
There’s also another Inteleon, and as much as I want to skip it and hurry onto the one successful Inteleon deck I’ve both heard about and can confirm, there’s Inteleon (Sword & Shield 059/202), the other Inteleon. Available in the Inteleon Theme Deck, it has the same stats as today’s Inteleon, but with two attacks. [C] pays for “Silent Shot” to do 40 damage to your opponent’s Active and discard a card from your opponent’s hand, while [WC] lets Inteleon use “Hydro Snipe” to both do 100 damage to and bounce an attached Energy from your opponent’s Active. The Energy bounce is optional. These two disruptive attacks are actually good for the Energy, maybe even enough to support its own control deck. Maybe not, but still something to remember if you’ve already got a heavy line of today’s Inteleon in your deck.
The one successful Inteleon deck I’ve heard about and can still find a video discussing was used at a smaller Japanese tournament, and it’s pretty crazy. The deck features Meganium (SM – Lost Thunder 8/214) and Incineroar (SM – Unbroken Bonds 29/214) alongside Inteleon, all backing up Zacian V! You can see a video on it by Ptcgradio here, on Youtube. I’ve heard of one or two other decks, but I can’t remember where I saw them and can no longer find them, so I may have been mistaken… and none of these were from major events in our own Format, but instead were from the Japanese version of Standard.
Abilities like Inteleon’s have been successful before, though the most recent example I can recall features some key differences: Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 132/214, 205/214, 225/214). It is close enough, though, that I think Inteleon is a good card for combo heavy decks in Standard and Expanded, even though the latter features some very effective anti-Ability decks. Inteleon is worth running in any Limited Format deck, except those built around a single, Basic Pokémon. At the same time, it isn’t strong enough or likely to see widespread use in a variety of decks. Inteleon didn’t make my own Top 20, but was appreciated more by the other reviewers.
We just started up doing weekend reviews, and already I missed out on one? Never fear though, as we have the chance to re-review it with today’s card! Because we’re really good at planning like that!
Inteleon is a Stage 2 Water Pokemon, 160 HP, with a Lightning Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Aqua Bullet is a pretty strong move, a 2-for-120 that also hits a Benched Pokemon with 20 damage, but he’s also got the Shady Dealings Ability that Drizzile had, which lets him add any Trainer card from your deck to your hand when you evolve into him. Actually, it’s even better since he adds 2 Trainer cards whereas Drizzile only adds 1! While I’m at it, Drizzile himself is pretty easy to review – a Stage 1 Water Pokemon, 90 HP, same Weakness/Resistance/Retreat Cost and Ability. Really the only difference is his Water Drip attack, which at 2-for-30 is about as useful as actually dripping water on your opponent.
Needless to say, adding any Trainer card you want is an incredible reason to play these guys, let alone getting 2 of them. Even decks that aren’t running Water Energy can use these guys as part of their set-up to add a bunch of Trainer cards to their hand and streamline their deck! Think of all the possibilities that come up from that! Of course it’s easier to run Drizzile for the 1 Trainer search than it is to run Inteleon run up to 3 (1 from Drizzile, 2 from Inteleon), but it’s something that any deck could crave for! Not to mention Aqua Bullet is effectively the successor to Night Spear if you remember that old attack.
So what gives? What’s holding these guys back? Well, the quick answer is deck space. Most decks these days are extremely tight on it, and it gets a little messy when you’re adding in any extra line-up to even get a single search off, let alone 2 or 3. At bare minimum, to get to Inteleon, you’re running a 1-1-1 line-up, which is already 3 cards in your 60-card deck. That may not sound like much, but then you think of the other big problem – inconsistency. Stage 2 line-ups are inconsistent by nature, since you need to have: 1) the Stage 2 Pokemon in hand, and either 2) the Stage 1 Pokemon it evolves from in play already or a Rare Candy in hand, which needs to be played on 3) the Basic Pokemon from which the line evolves from. If you only had 1 copy of each, you’d end up drawing the Basic Pokemon about as often as you would the Stage 1 or the Stage 2 (and in some cases you’d draw the Stage 1 and Stage 2 but not the Basic, while others still involve not drawing any of them to begin with and drawing them out of order).
In short, it’s a tangled mess.
That doesn’t mean Inteleon isn’t good, but right now, the other big factor is that there isn’t really a deck that wants to run a Stage 2 line-up for multiple Trainer cards. Professor’s Research also makes a lot of decks inherently more consistent, so searching out individual Trainers isn’t as necessary unless you’re setting up a specific combo. But don’t think that Inteleon might not ever see play – if they’re not careful, there could be a set of cards that breaks this guy wide open! As it is now though, we’ll wait and see.
Standard: 3/5 (a solid option, but requires a lot put in to get out)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (things are consistent enough without Inteleon here, but maybe there’s an Item-heavy deck that wants him…)
Limited: 4/5 (pretty strong here, especially with these strong options)
Arora Notealus: I actually initially ranked Inteleon higher up on my Top X list because I thought of the potential for him and Drizzile to show up in a wide variety of decks as tech options. The biggest problem though becomes evident when you take a closer look at what running these two means for any deck, and while “drawing” 1 card with Drizzile might be okay, it’s hard to justify only 2-3 cards with Inteleon. That said, he’s definitely a strong card in his own right, so I do think he’ll play an important role in a deck one of these days. Him and his whole line…
Next Time: A big hefty Pokemon thrusting its girth on the scene!
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