Ludicolo – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: September 27, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Ludicolo (SW – Evolving Skies 034/203) is not a Rule Box Pokémon, nor does it have an altered, name, a Battle Style, etc. This is another Pokémon primarily about its Ability, so we’re addressing that first. “Enthusiastic Dance” may only be used during your turn, when you play this card from your hand to evolve one of your Pokémon that are already in play. If you use Enthusiastic Dance, attacks made by your Basic Pokémon against your opponent’s Active do an extra 100 damage before Weakness and Resistance are applied. As a reminder, you cannot add damage to an attack which does no damage in the first place, but even a dinky 10 damage jumps to 110 with Enthusiastic Dance behind it. This is a very good Ability. While it would obviously better if it could be used to increase any attacker’s damage output, Basics are usually necessary to all decks. Also, Basic attackers are likely the easiest to run, even if you want to diversify.
Ludicolo’s other effect is its lone attack. For [WC], “Wave Splash” does 120 damage. While a solid return for the Energy, and enough to 2HKO most Basic Pokémon V, you do have the somewhat awkward Energy cost. [WC] isn’t bad in isolation, but it isn’t like you can just drop a Twin Energy and use it. There are other forms of Energy acceleration that can make Wave Splash both fast and affordable but then we run into another problem; what else could we be fueling instead of Wave Splash? What if you’re using Ludicolo in a deck without a convenient source of [W] Energy? After all, Enthusiastic Dance only cares about Stage of Evolution. Speaking of that Ability, remember it will not benefit Ludicolo itself…
…because Ludicolo is a Stage 2. Assuming the Ability was rewritten so that it didn’t require evolving from something, Ludicolo would of course be better as a Basic. Out of the Stages of Evolution that currently exist in Standard, being a Stage 2 is the most demanding. Still, it is not impossible, merely something around which you’ll need to build your deck. Ludicolo evolves from Lombre, which in turn evolves from Lotad. None of the Lotad are exceptional, but I’ll shout out Lotad (SW – Evolving Skies 032/203) for having a half-decent “Call for Family” attack, priced at [C] and fetching two Basic Pokémon from your deck. In Expanded, there’s Lotad (SM – Celestial Storm 36/168) and its “Surprise” attack. Priced at [W], it does 10 damage and randomly shuffles a card from your opponent’s hand back into their deck… which might have potential as a control strategy, if backed by Enthusiastic Dance.
As for Lombre, you may as well run Lombre (SW – Rebel Clash 008/192). Do not count on pulling off its “Top Entry” Ability, but as a bonus it is nice. There is also Rare Candy that can be used to skip directly from Lotad to Ludicolo. Now, what about cards that can play Ludicolo directly to the field? Nope! They exist, but Enthusiastic Dance won’t trigger! There are quite a few Ludicolo with solid Abilities and/or attacks but none of them scream “Run me!” with today’s subject. I do not know if you can stack multiple instances of Enthusiastic Dance, but even if turns out you cannot, you still probably want to stick to just it since you’ll probably want to use Enthusiastic Dance more than once.
The last really relevant stat for Ludicolo is that it is a baseline Pokémon: no name alternations, no Rule Box, no Battle Style. While it might have been nice to tap into Rapid Strike or Single Strike support, the important thing is Ludicolo is only worth one Prize when KO’d and you can bounce it with Scoop Up Net. You can bounce a Ludicolo that is already in play and re-Evolve into it from a ready Lombre (or Lotad if you have a Rare Candy handy). The rest of the stats are not irrelevant, they just matter a lot less. Ludicolo is a [W] type, and while that makes powering it up easier, there are better attackers to use (especially while cashing in on Enthusiastic Dance). 140 HP is enough it isn’t an easy OHKO but not enough to be durable. [L] Weakness does make it an easy OHKO for Lightning types… but their serious attackers can do that before Weakness. No Resistance is the worst but is normal. A Retreat Cost of [CC] isn’t easy to manually retreat, but it also isn’t too difficult.
When I selected Ludicolo, I thought it was Johnny Bait. Boy, was I wrong! Ludicolo has helped prove how wrong I was about using Suicune V as an attacker, and it also has been helping out another Zacian V variant. That is enough for me to know I underestimated how valuable that +100 damage can be, even when you have to evolve into a Stage 2 Pokémon that turn for your Basic attacker to access it. Even with this proof, though, I’m only scoring Ludicolo a three-out-of-five: like I said, Enthusiastic Dance is great but it ain’t easy to run. I have no idea if anyone is using it in Expanded, but given time, I’d assume it could break something… which is good enough for a hopeful three-out-of-five.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
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