Lugia – Vivid Voltage
Date Reviewed: December 15, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Lugia (SW – Vivid Voltage 132/185; SWP – Black Star Promos SWSH069) is a baseline Pokémon: no special mechanics, rules, etc. and only worth one Prize when KO’d. Lugia is a Colorless Pokémon, so it isn’t able to exploit Weakness or Resistance, because we’re not worried about the Unlimited Format. It does grant it access to Powerful [C] Energy; there are no other pieces of Colorless support in Standard, and no counters, either. Expanded offers more of each, but nothing dramatic. What does help Lugia, and is almost as simple, is being a Basic Pokémon. No waiting to evolve and no running multiple cards to field a single Pokémon.
Lugia has 130 HP, which is confusingly on the high end of low HP scores; not fragile, but usually still going down with one attack. [L] Weakness isn’t good; Pikachu & Zekrom-GX would OHKO it anyway, but their supporting Pokémon may enjoy the boost. [F] Resistance would be handy, if Fighting decks weren’t somewhat fringe; at least, so far there is no evidence that Coalossal VMAX is living up to my expectations. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither good nor bad. Lower makes manually retreating practical, higher means it is seldom affordable; here it can go either way. If you don’t need a different Tool equipped, it opens up Air Balloon to grant Lugia a free Retreat.
Lugia knows two attacks, “Gust” and “Wind Pressure”. The former does 40 for [CC], the later 250 for [CCCC] but only if your opponent has six or more cards in their hand. 40 for two is underwhelming, but not truly bad; after all, this is in range of a single Twin Energy to fuel. 250 for four would be pretty great except your opponent needs a large hand. Sometimes, they’ll do that for you. Once they see Lugia, however, they’ll barely have to try to keep their hand at five or fewer cards to nullify the threat. There are ways to increase your opponent’s hand size, but the vast majority are optional (Erika). Even where it isn’t, more cards in your opponent’s hand leaves them with more options.
You’re probably best off when you can use an effect to bounce an opponent’s Pokémon or Energy from the field to the hand, but even that can backfire. If you use Team Yell Grunt to bounce a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active to raise their hand size to 6+ cards, already something of a lucky prospect, then score a sweet OHKO with Wind Pressure, that Special Energy that would have gone to the discard pile is now where your opponent can use it to fuel something else. I haven’t even touched upon how four Energy is still a lot for the average deck. Shortcuts like Twin Energy and Wielder can help, but when you get to examples such as the latter, there is a good chance that something on-type can hit about as hard as Lugia.
All hope is not lost for Lugia. Besides hypothetical future releases perhaps making it easier to increase your opponent’s hand-size, there might be a small, small niche for it. You need a deck which can quickly pay for Wind Pressure and has a legitimate need for an off-type attacker, even if it can only be used against an opponent with a bulky hand. If your opponent doesn’t see Lugia coming, big hands do happen from time to time. I’m not thrilled for Lugia in Standard or Expanded, but in Limited? This is probably a keeper. If its HP was higher, I’d be tempted to run it in a Mulligan build, and as is, it is pretty much a must-run. Limited Theme decks, by virtue of them being built from the cards available, aren’t going to be as streamlined. It is easy for spare Basics, Evolutions waiting for their lower Stages, excess Energy, etc. to build up in hand… and that player is much less likely to have a discard-and-draw or shuffle-and-draw effect to reset their own hand’s size.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
- Limited: 4/5
I remember a lot of Lugia hype when it was first shown, and I remember being in on that hype… but I don’t remember why. I think I misread the restriction on the attack back then, but I am not sure and that doesn’t apply to others who were hyping it. The thing is, I read it correctly when making my Top Picks list for SW – Vivid Voltage, yet I still included Lugia as my 16th-Place, resulting in a 28th-place finisher overall. I believe I was just being stubborn, not wanting to admit that – for example – pulling off a Welder for two Fire Energy plus manually attached Twin Energy Turn 2, while also using Reset Stamp to ensure your opponent has six cards in hand is not easy and doesn’t explain how you’ll handle the rest of the game. Even now, I’m scoring it high in Standard and Expanded because I keep thinking I’m missing something.
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