– Vivid Voltage
November 26, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our 2nd-Place finisher is Leon (SW – Vivid Voltage 154/185, 182/185, 195/185)! This Trainer-Supporter has a simple effect: during the turn you play it, the attacks of your Pokémon do an extra 30 damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon, before Weakness and Resistance. You cannot add damage to attacks which don’t already do damage, but otherwise you’re good. Add 30 damage to punch through Resistance, or damage reducing effects. Add 30 to score a KO you’d have missed by 10 to 30 damage… or add 60 if you’re attacking into Weakness.
Is adding damage always a good thing? Nope. I only point this out because I still hear people making that mistake. While adding damage is only bad attacking into certain effects, wasting resources is wasting resources, and extra damage does you zero good when it isn’t needed. Leon is amazing because there are so many numbers it can help your attacker hit right now. Something currently doing 200, now has one Supporter that lets it OHKO the three most common HP scores for Basic Pokémon V. Can’t you handle it another way? Sure, but how many Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202) can you spam in a turn? Even in Expanded, this seems like a useful card. You can easily reuse a copy with VS Seeker, and you can search it from your deck with Tapu Lele-GX. Maybe you’d prefer doing 10 less damage but drawing two cards, and so go with Professor Kukui instead.
Is it worth your Supporter for the turn, though? Often enough, I think the answer is “yes”. You won’t be able to reliably force your opponent’s Benched Pokémon into the Active spot with Boss’s Orders, draw a lot of cards, etc. but you can either use non-Supporter alternatives to those things, or just do without them that turn. It wasn’t an accident that we received Leon and not – for example – a new release of PlusPower. I don’t think we’ll all be running four copies of Leon in our decks anytime soon, but a single copy? Maybe two?
Besides the decks that don’t need Leon at all, there is a big exception: Charizard (SW – Vivid Voltage 025/185; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH066). While Charizard cards have a poor track record, I believe this will be one of the exceptions. Fire-typing is good right now. It has 170 HP. Its Ability lets you look at the top three cards from your deck, add one to your hand, then discard the other two cards. Its attack only costs [RR] and does 100 damage plus 50 more for each copy of Leon in your discard pile. Yes, if you use Leon you cannot have used Welder that turn… but that shouldn’t be a huge hurdle, as you do not need to have used Leon that turn, you just score an extra 50 damage per copy in your discard, letting you swing for up to 300 damage for just two Energy! If you did use a Leon that turn, you can reach 330, and if you can get really crazy and pull of a Lt. Surge’s Strategy into a double Leon, swing for 360! Probably not something that will tear up the top cut at major tournaments, as Charizard is still a Stage 2, but I think it sounds like a nice little budget deck, at the very least…
…because two copies of the aforementioned Charizard, as well as two copies of Leon himself, are in the new Charizard Theme Deck that released alongside SW – Vivid Voltage. Regrettably, I haven’t gotten around to testing this new Theme Deck in the PTCGO’s Theme Format (or anywhere else). Just looking at it, the list seems to be at least “good”, with a lucky start (both Leon hitting the discard pile early) letting Charizard quickly rack up OHKOs. Even one played that turn – since you’ll get the +30 damage bonus and the 50 for it then being in your discard pile – should OHKO the vast majority of targets you’ll face in the Theme Format. So, Leon is probably pretty important to the deck. In the Limited Format, Leon is a must-run… yeah, that simple.
I was so impressed I had Leon as my number one pick, but I can accept it coming in second. There absolutely is a real chance I underestimated something else, or just overestimated Leon. Even though Blastoise is my favorite Gen I starter, I still love trying to make Charizard cards work, so I’m pretty excited about Leon’s more niche use as well. Which may be skewing things in his favor.
We’re into the second best card of Vivid Voltage, and before I get to that card, I just wanted to point out that this could also be the best card of this set because both the runner-up and the top pick have the same amount of voting points (41), except that tie-breakers has been handled in some way. We already have six tiebreakers (including this one) and tie-breaking those cards isn’t as simple as we thought. So once again, it is my job to explain why I had Leon as my second place pick (while the other review crew member has his as his top pick).
Leon is a Supporter card with a simple effect; your Pokemon gets to deal an extra 30 damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon. Such a simple effect can have a huge impact on the game, whether you need that 30 extra damage (or 60 extra damage if weakness is applied) to secure the OHKO and/or to muscle past some of their Pokémon’s -30 resistance. Also, Leon is a one-and-done deal; you can only use him so much even with other cards retrieving your Supporter cards from your discard pile onto your hand. Additionally, Leon can even supplement with Galarian Zizzagoon’s Headbutt Tantrum to place even more damage counters. With a perfect hand of 4 Galarian Zizzagoon, Leon, a Pokémon (preferably one that deals a good amount of damage for a single energy), and an energy card, and we could be experiencing some sort of deja vu of our lone Pokémon at risk of being donked.
If the potential to pull off a win on your second turn can be made, why did I have Leon as my #2? Extreme competition. You’ll have to know when it is the right time to use him because he is a Supporter card. Using him means that you’re giving up other opportunities of your turn to either use Boss’s Orders, Professor Research, Marnie, or even Piers had Leon not secure specific OHKOs. While having a 30 damage boost is great, depending on what decks you’re facing, even Leon might not even be enough. Pokémon’s own -30 Resistance, permanent effect of Full Metal Wall, some abilities that reduce damage taken, these undermine Leon’s damage boost. Overall, I can see Leon being a loose staple because of facing competition from several other Supporters who effects are just as good as Leon. However, if you have other draw based effects that are not Supporter cards such as Dedenne-GX or even Crobat-V, then Leon might be used a bit more freely, thinning your hand just by using him and have a bigger draw yield.
There might be a deck where Leon could be run at a full four, and that’s his trusty partner Charizard that’s also from the same set (and also appears in a Theme Deck). This is a Stage 2 Fire type with 170 HP, Water weakness, and a retreat cost of CCC. It’s ability, Battle Sense, takes me way back in the Diamond & Pearl days, specifically Infernape Lv.X’s Poke-Power. It lets you look at the top 3 cards from your deck, choose 1 to be in your hand, and discard the other two cards. If you have multiple Charizards in play with that same ability, you can use them up to that many times! Thinning your deck by 3 cards help you get a better chance to draw whatever you need, some decks benefit from the discard pile, and you get one card in your hand. A very good ability! Royal Blaze initially does 100 damage for 2 Fire energies (which can be rapidly fueled by Welder), but it also does 50 more damage for each Leon card in your discard pile. That’s gonna be 300 damage if all 4 of them are in the discard pile. And if you played Leon during your turn, make that 330 damage! Charizard might be one of the few Stage 2s that can OHKO anything while giving up a single prize and could made a deck of its own.
You won’t be able to fully capitalize Charizard’s power in its own Theme Deck since it only contains only two copies of Leon, but even with 2 copies of Leon in the discard pile, Royal Blaze does enough to OHKO any Pokémon in the Theme format. And if Charizard isn’t present to battle, at least Leon can help other Pokémon deal more damage from their own attacks. And Charizard’s ability is just as good as Swampert CES’s Power Draw ability, so he can be used a bit more freely (if you can get Charizard in play in the first place).
Leon is a solid card (with or without Charizard) that is worthy of being the best card of the set alongside tomorrow’s card, but tie-breakers and maybe some of my reasoning has made me rank Leon lower.
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