Leafeon VMAX – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: October 8, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today, we’re finally looking at Leafeon VMAX (SW – Evolving Skies 008/203, 204/203, 205/203)! As a reminder, Leafeon V was our 6th-Place finisher in the countdown for this expansion. Its Ability lets it attach a Grass Energy from your deck to any one of your Pokémon, but then your turn ends. So any turn you can’t attack (like Turn 1), there’s no drawback, and any turn you cannot attack well, the drawback is reduced. We looked at Snowy Leaf Badge a little over three weeks ago, and and I thought it was “okay”. Its dual effects of zeroing out the Retreat Cost and negating of the Weakness for equipped Pokémon V with Leafeon or Glaceon sounds great, but Leafeon V seems like a Bench-sitter, so it should rarely need either effect, and I wasn’t sure if it would matter often enough for Leafeon VMAX, either. It is still quite advantageous for Leafeon VMAX that both exist.
Let’s get some obvious stuff out of the way right now. Leafeon VMAX has a Rule Box, because it is a Pokémon V, specifically a Pokémon VMAX. Leafeon VMAX is worth three Prizes when KO’d, and has to deal with VMAX-specific counters. It also has to deal with being included from some beneficial effects because it is a Pokémon V, as well as facing Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX/Pokémon V specific counters. As it lacks an Ability, the only currently applicable Rule Box drawback is being excluded as a recipient of [G] Energy attachments via the Ability of Cherrim (SW – Battle Styles 008/163; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH088). The benefits of being a Pokémon VMAX include better HP than a Leafeon card would otherwise enjoy, and possibly better effects. “VMAX” are more or less equal to Stage 1 Pokémon in terms of effort to run. They are not Stage 1 Pokémon, however: “VMAX” is their Stage, as well as their “gimmick”. There are some VMAX-specific bits of support as well.
Leafeon VMAX is a [G] type, which might come in handy, but seems like a net negative right now. Some Darkness types are now Grass Weak, but almost all Metal types are [G] Resistant… at least, when we’re talking about Standard. Expanded has more types that are [G] Weak and no additional Resistant types… but that isn’t my main concern. It is that Grass-specific support? It just isn’t that great. Turffield Stadium can help you by fetching Leafeon VMAX from your deck, but most of the rest is pretty circumstantial. While unlikely to prove successful, there are also anti-Grass effects, even in Standard. The 310 HP is low for a VMAX, but still reasonably beefy. OHKO’s aren’t easy: even those exploiting Weakness need to do 160 damage before to have it doubled to 320 for the OHKO.
Speaking of Weakness, Fire Weakness is neither a good nor a bad thing right now. Fire decks took a massive hit when they lost Welder, let alone the other, slightly older support that just rotated. They aren’t everywhere, but with Zacian V decks still prominent in the metagame, they’re not scarce, either. The lack of Resistance is normal; most Pokémon lack it. The mechanic isn’t such that its vital to have some either, but with 310 HP, even -30 in an uncommon match-up would be better than nothing. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither low enough to be good nor high enough to be bad. As mentioned earlier, if either the Weakness or Retreat Cost do prove a problem, then Snow Leaf Badge can handle it.
Leafeon VMAX knows two attacks. For [GC], it can use “Grass Knot” to do 60 damage for each [C] in your opponent’s Retreat Cost. Cards with a free Retreat or an effect that zeroes out Retreat Costs take zero damage. Something with one takes six, two takes 120, three takes 180, and four takes 240. So… a Basic Pokémon V needs to have the maximum printed Retreat Cost to be OHKO’d (before Weakness/Resistance). You can combo in effects that increase Retreat Costs, but your opponent may very well have something that reduces Retreat Costs. In Expanded, there’s Float Stone, which can zero out the Retreat Cost of anything. Well, unless that “thing” has an effect that negates the effects of Tools. As you can tell, I’m not exactly thrilled with Grass Knot. It isn’t awful, just not strong enough for me to want to build a deck around it.
“Max Leaf” is Leafeon VMAX’s second attack. [GGC] pays for 170 damage to your opponent’s Active, and the healing of 30 damage from Leafeon VMAX itself. This is decent; not great, maybe not even all that good. Yes, 170 is exactly enough to 2HKO anything going by printed HP scores. Resistance and defensive effects can rob you of those 2HKOs, though. 170 is enough to OHKO most single Prize Pokémon, again before Resistance or defensive buffs. With 310 HP, the self-healing might matter as well. Once again, though, it isn’t an attack I’d want to build a deck around. In the case of both attacks, a Leafeon V using its Ability on itself the turn before is quite desirable, seeing as that means you only need to attach another [C] or [GC], respectively.
Now, that’s my Theorymon, how about reality? Fortunately, we can go to LimitlessTCG and check out recent tournament results. “Regular” Leafon VMAX decks are ranked as 7th or 48th, the former when all Leafeon VMAX variants are combined into one, the latter covering “plain” Leafeon VMAX decks on their own. Galar Mine is their Stadium of choice, feeding into Grass Knot. You can see a list of them here, and you’ll notice their records aren’t the best. While we can see a record of 8-3-0 and another that is 6-2-1, the rest are substantially worse.
What about Leafeon VMAX variants? Leafeon Inteleon is ranked as the fourth most winning deck in the results, when viewed on its own! Records like 13-2-1 and 9-0-0 can be found, and the worst performances seem to still be winning about two-thirds of the time! Apparently, adding one copy of Inteleon (Sword & Shield 058/202; Shining Fates SV027/122) and two or three of Inteleon (SW – Chilling Reign 043/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH113; SW – Evolving Skies 227/203), plus the rest of their line, does wonders! While some of that is due to how good the Inteleons are in their own right, Leafeon VMAX still deserves a good chunk of the credit, seeing as people have been running those Inteleons with a variety of partners, but Leafeon VMAX ranks so highly among them.
There aren’t as many results for Expanded, and that is quite important. At a glance, I thought the rankings for Leafeon deck usage meant they must be good but, they’re not actually winning that much. Some of it might be because it looks like the Leafeon VMAX/Inteleon decks were actually Standard decks, with little to no Expanded-exclusive cards included. It is almost surprising they “only” lost about twice as often as they won. The other decks, which are split as separate entries but honestly should probably be all together, partnered Leafeon VMAX with Pokémon that could raise Retreat Costs. Some used Jellicent (BW – Boundaries Crossed 45/149), while others used Team Aqua’s Muk (Double Crisis 8/34), and/or Absol (SM – Team Up 88/181). Together, these decks just barely lost more than they one, so almost a even split in the results.
For now, I’m going to score Leafeon VMAX with a three-out-of-five for Standard, and only a two-out-of-five for Expanded. Perhaps more details about the decks will prove that I’m wrong, but for now, I’m thinking Leafeon VMAX is a better attacker than I thought but in Standard, its best results require combining it with something else that has already proven to be a winner (Inteleon).
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
Our next VMAX of the Eeveelutions is Leafeon VMAX! A VMAX Grass type with 310 HP, Fire weakness, and a retreat cost of CC, it has two attacks. Grass Knot costs GC and does sixty damage for each (C) energy in the retreat cost of your opponent’s Active Pokemon while Max Leaf costs GGC for 170 damage while healing 30 damage from this pokemon.
These attacks aren’t exciting, but it seems to be useful under the right circumstances. Grass Knot is not reliable when it comes to damage output because:
-It may suffer if your opponent has a Pokémon that already inherited a low or free retreat cost, in addition to having cards that either reduce or zero out the retreat cost of a certain Pokémon. Air Balloon deducts Grass Knot’s damage output by 120 while other abilities that zero out retreat costs makes Grass Knot do zero.
-It may be adequate if your opponent has a Pokémon that naturally has a high retreat cost and you also have methods of increasing the retreat cost.
And that’s before factoring Sword & Shield-era metal types having -30 resistance against Grass. Max Leaf, on the other hand, is a reliable attack that can barely 2HKO anything in the game while the healing occasionally alters certain 2HKOs into 3HKOs.
Leafeon VMAX evolves from Leafeon-V, and it was reviewed once as the sixth bear card of Evolving Skies. Not only Leafeon-V is a stepping stone to evolve into Leafeon VMAX, it has a useful ability. Greening Cells lets you attack a Grass energy from your deck to 1 of your Pokémon and instantly ending your turn. While this drawback seems terrible, it is ideal to use during the first turn of the game or if your Pokémon aren’t able to attack anyways.
Looking at Limitless again, Leafeon VMAX has a strong showing just like Sylveon VMAX last week. You can look at the decks here. Not much to differentiate, but besides Leafeon, other Pokémon seen on most decks contained a single copy of Crobat-V, and the entire stage 2 line of Inteleon, both the Sword & Shield version and the Chilling Reign version. While Inteleon SSH helps you get 2 trainer cards, Inteleon CHR helps place extra damage counters to specifically pick off weakened targets that Leafeon otherwise won’t. Leafeon VMAX, currently, is the 5th best deck, ranking Sylveon VMAX down to 6th (Dragapult VMAX currently being the best deck in terms of shares, but that’s another story for another time).
So, I guess Leafeon VMAX does have merit, as I have almost tried to dismiss this card as being just decent to build a deck around. Goes to show that by looking up decklists, I would have an idea how those decks were used. The only concern for Leafeon VMAX is in Expanded, where there’s a plethora of Fire based support that can not only accelerate energy but also maintain a steady hand size so that the player can perform more actions. Luckily Snow-Leaf Badge does help to some extent, removing the Weakness and the Retreat cost of Pokemon-V with Leafeon and Glaceon in its name.
Leafeon VMAX somewhat impressed me, because what I thought was mediocre actually placed well in tournaments, with some of the players that placed 1st in various tournaments using that deck. This is both a fun and somewhat competitive deck to use!
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