Latias & Latios – Fusion Strike
November 30, 2021
Standard: See Below
Expanded: See Below
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today we’re covering two cards at once… though we’ll also be scoring them each separately. The reason is because both cards reference each other in their effects, so reviewing one means half-reviewing the other anyway. So we might as well review Latias (SW – Fusion Strike 193/264; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH171) and Latios (SW – Fusion Strike 194/264). We’ll start with what they have in common. Neither have a Rule Box, so no worrying about Path to the Peak or giving extra Prizes when KO’d. Both of these are Dragon types which is better than I thought. One of the big things that defines how useful a type is its capacity for exploiting Weakness. Nothing is [N] Weak in Standard, and only BW-era Dragon types are [N] Weak in Expanded. Nothing is naturally [N] Resistance, either, but Resistance just isn’t the game changer that Weakness is the vast majority of the time.
The good news is that the other big thing about types is their support. While the best Dragon tricks are Expanded only (see Double Dragon Energy), Standard still offers us Crystal Cave and Stormy Mountains. Both Latias and Latios are Basic Pokémon, so Stormy Mountain lets you snag one from your deck, once per turn. Basics are the Stage that has it best in the Pokémon TCG, and this has been true for the vast majority of Formats. They require minimal time and resources to put into play, and while they sometimes face significant, Stage-based counters, they also often enjoy support like Quick Ball.
Both Pokémon are Fusion Strike Pokémon, granting access to things like Power Tablet and Fusion Strike Energy. There’s a chance Power Tablet won’t be huge but… +30 damage from an Item worked wonders for [L] types with Electropower, so I expect something similar here. There aren’t any anti-Fusion Strike effects, at least at the time of writing this review. Neither Latias nor Latios have any Weakness or Resistance. The former is the best, the latter is the worst. As already stated, the two mechanics aren’t equal, so not having any Weakness is a big advantage, while lacking a Resistance is typical. Both Pokémon have one Ability and one attack, but after that, they finally start to differentiate from each other.
Latias has 120 HP, so I suspect that Oricario (SW – Fusion Strike 042/264; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH168) will prove important so it can survive a hit from Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX’s “G-Max Rapid Flow” attack. Otherwise, it is a decent HP score for a Basic. The Retreat Cost of [C] is good; low and relatively easy to pay. Latias’ Ability is “Red Assist”: once per turn, you can use this Ability to attach a [P] Energy from your hand to one of your Latios. The wording is such that
- multiple instances of this Ability can each be used once, during your turn.
- it works with any card named “Latios”, not just the version from Fusion Strike. It won’t work if the card’s name has anything else in it. For example, it won’t work on Latios-GX.
The strangest part of this card is that is that it does not have what I consider to be a “filler” attack. Priced at [RPC], “Dyna Barrier” does 70 damage while placing an effect on whatever used this attack, preventing it from taking any damage from attacks made by your opponent’s Pokémon VMAX during their next turn. Yes, there are ways to cut through this effect (Phoebe), ways to remove the effect (force Latias to your opponent’s Bench), or you can just attack with anything that is not a Pokémon VMAX. Many decks rely on Pokémon VMAX as main attackers, and even if attack effects are relevant, damage is usually the main reason.
Latios has 130 HP, crossing that important 120 threshold, but not by much. Still, for a Basic Pokémon worth only one Prize, that’s good. Latios has a Retreat Cost of [CC]; this is neither good nor bad, and it is low enough that Air Balloon can zero it out (assuming you can spare Latios’ Tool slot). Latios’s “Blue Assist” is the same as Latias’ Red Assist except it attaches the [P] Energy from hand to cards named “Latias”, instead of “Latios”. It is still a good Ability, amazingly, it also has an attack that is more than just filler. “Luster Purge” is priced at [WWPC], and has an effect that forces whatever Pokémon is using this attack to discard two Energy from itself, Luster Purge’s saving grace is that it does 210 damage. This is enough to OHKO a decent amount of Basic Pokémon V, and not just the abnormally small ones, either.
So, the obvious use for Latias and Latios would be a deck built around both of them and utilizing some Dragon-support plus Fusion Strike support. If you have two Latios (and thus Blue Assists), then you can ready Latias’ Dynabarrier attack the first turn she hits the field. Even Turn 2 (Player 2’s first turn). You’ll need to manually attach a source of [R] Energy, but you have your manual Energy attachment for that. Latios will need two Latias (or rather, Red Assists), your manual Energy attachment for a source of [W] Energy and then one other form of Energy acceleration for a second source of [W] Energy to be ready Turn 2, but this can happen if you can spare your Supporter on Elesa’s Sparkle.
Now, how are they actually seeing success? Trick question: I don’t know of any decks using Latios. What I could find are Mew VMAX/Genesect V decks running Latias, which means they’re running her for Dyna Barrier. Which is why my attack descriptions above are so awkwardly written; we’re really considering Dyna Barrier and Luster Purge in light of Mew VMAX’s “Cross Fusion Strike”. Dyna Barrier is still a handy thing; while 70 damage is small, it is still adequate if you’re walling against an opposing Pokémon VMAX. While Cross Fusion Strike means you can use either attack for [CC], Luster Purge’s Energy discard still happens. Might not the 210 damage be worth it? Mew VMAX is already being backed by Genesect V, and can copy its “Techno Blast” to do 210 damage. Yeah, Techno Blast has the “During your next turn, this Pokémon can’t attack.” drawback but that’s actually easier to deal with than discarding two Energy.
I’m not writing off Latios completely, though. Both cards actually have future potential, simply because Red Assist and Blue Assist can work with any card named “Latios” or “Latias” (respectively). I have no clue how they’re performing in Expanded, but we have additional, compatible attack copiers so there’s a chance that Dyna Barrier could find another home there. Or maybe Mew VMAX/Genesct V decks have what it takes to succeed even in Expanded. I had Latias and Latios sharing my 14th-Place slot. Which means, on the overall Top 15, they clocked in at 18th-Place. Latias seems to actually have earned it.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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