– Detective Pikachu
March 26, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Another week with a continuation of cards from Detective Pikachu, this time looking at Ludicolo (DET 2/18). It is a Stage 2 Grass Type with 140 HP, weak to Fire, and a retreat cost of three. It’s ability, Table Service, lets you heal 30 HP from one of your Pokemon. Punch and Run does 70 for GCC and lets you switch this Pokémon with one of your Benched Pokemon.
I could see this being used in a stall deck, but better options exists because being a Stage 2 is slow and takes additional deck space. However, Ludicolo’s healing doesn’t ask for more requirements, while Shaymin or Manaphy requires a specific type. Hit-and-Run attacks can be useful if you have another Pokémon that takes advantage of its abilities while it is active. Slaking or Glaceon-GX for ability lock, Kabutops for Supporter lock, and possibly much more.
Besides that two methods, I can’t see any other use.
How much is a Potion per turn worth? Rather, how much is the effect of a Potion per turn, because the actual card named “Potion” isn’t involved? We need to answer that question in order to review Ludicolo (Detective Pikachu 2/18). To be clear, it’s “Table Service” Ability lets you heal 30 damage from one of your Pokémon, once during your turn (before you attack); the effect of Potion without an actual card named “Potion” involved. This is enough to completely mitigate damage counters Charizard (SM – Team Up 14/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM158) or Incineroar-GX (SM – Team Up 97/181, 167/181, 188/181) place on themselves when using their Energy-accelerating Abilities on themselves. 30 damage isn’t a huge amount, and healing damage (as opposed to say reducing what was taken) won’t help against OHKO’s. There are times when a solo instance of it can ward off a 2HKO. Coupling it with other healing (including itself), with damage reducing effects, or disruption (to make it difficult for your opponent to hit typical damage output) could also make it worthwhile… if the price is right.
With that in mind, let’s run through the rest of the card. Ludicolo doesn’t have to compete directly with other Ludicolo cards for deck-space, but that means we aren’t just slipping it into a pre-existing Ludicolo deck, either. Ludicolo is a [G] Type, which is “okay”; some worthwhile Weakness to exploit, some useful bits of support, some counters (most being irrelevant), and no Resistance to encounter in either Standard or Expanded. What we will have to concern ourselves with is Ludicolo being a Stage 2; we’re talking a serious card and time investment. 140 HP is decent, neither fragile nor hardy. [R] Weakness provides an obvious exception; Ludicolo will be fragile there. No Resistance is the worst Resistance, but it is typical so I won’t dwell on it. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky and you’ll need to plan around aid to pay or bypass it OR deal with Ludicolo stuck in the Active Position. You probably don’t want this card up front, as its attack is iffy. [GCC] pays for “Punch and Run” to do 70 damage and switching Ludicolo with one of your Benched Pokémon; you do NOT get a choice. The damage is low enough that Ludicolo will still need a Choice Band to OHKO the [G] Weak Lycanroc, but for three Energy (two of which can be met by one Double Colorless Energy) that isn’t terrible. It doesn’t seem good enough to build a deck around Ludicolo, but if it requires little-to-no tweaking to allow Ludicolo to attack, but if it works out it could be useful from time to time.
I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of this Ludicolo BUT I said the same thing about Shaymin (SM – Lost Thunder 33/214). Its Ability heals 10 LESS than Ludicolo’s does and can only heal from your Active [G] Pokémon, but Shaymin is a Basic Pokémon and we’ve already seen it successfully backing Celebi & Venusaur-GX. A Bench full of Ludicolo would certainly make Celebi & Venusaur-GX even hardier… but like nearly all competitive decks, lists are very tight on space. Do you cut out some of the other healing? The control/disruption elements which make it more difficult to just power through the deck’s strategy? Maybe you do. Perhaps a 1-0-1 line of Ludicolo belongs in a deck featuring Meganium (SM – Lost Thunder 8/214); its “Quick-Ripening Herb” Ability means that you can drop and pop that Basic Lotad into a Stage 2 Ludicolo, though at least your first Meganium has to evolve normally (or at least, using only common tricks like Rare Candy). Ludicolo isn’t an easy OHKO, but most decks, once they’re in full swing, are going to manage it. This means Ludicolo has to operate in the strange area where either its useful enough to run but not so useful that your opponent will focus on it instead of something else… or that you’d prefer they used a Guzma and attack to OHKO Ludicolo instead of something else you have on the field. Expanded just adds a harsher pace and more Ability counters… but we do have some very vicious locks that might offer some protection to Ludicolo.
I’m not going to rule Ludicolo out completely, but I don’t expect much of it. If it wasn’t for Shaymin and its niche-healing finding a place in a competitive deck, this review would have been far more pessimistic. Still, I’ll be happy if something that barely occurred to me… like backing Ludicolo with a Lurantis (SM – Black Star Promos SM25) swarm and a Kabutops (SM – Team Up 78/181) actually worked out!
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