– Crimson Invasion
November 17, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
And now we get to touch on the Ultra Beast that started it all, Nihilego-GX! Still arguably the strangest of the bunch. I mean seriously, how is a jellyfish a Rock/Poison-type? Like I get the Poison, but where in the world is that Rock coming from? Still so perplexing, especially since every other Ultra Beast has Typing that at least makes SOME sort of sense.
In any case, Nihilego-GX comes in with a slightly different approach from its Ultra Beast brethren, bringing along an Ability with its attacks! Empty Light triggers when you play Nihilego-GX from your hand onto your Bench, instantly Confusing and Poisoning your opponent’s Active Pokemon. Confusion’s okay as far as Status goes, but Poisoning is extremely useful, letting you stack on an extra 10 damage between turns to potentially hit those numbers you need to hit! That alone will probably get Nihilego-GX into some decks!
But can it be a main attacker? Lock Up gives it a passable “maybe” as a 3-for-120 move that prevents the opponent from retreating. All 3 of those need to be Psychic Energy, which makes it a little difficult to power up Nihilego-GX since there’s not any dedicated Energy accelerators for the Psychic type. On a side note, Psychic actually would’ve made more sense to use with Nihilego as one of its Types, BUT I DIGRESS!! To me it seems that Lock Up was meant to combine with Empty Light such that you Confused and Poisoned your opponent, then you stopped them from simply retreating to keep them from getting rid of it all at once. There is one main weakness to that though, and it comes in two different forms: Guzma and Acerola. Both of these guys can get rid of the Statuses put down by Empty Light – Guzma by switching things around, and Acerola by returning the afflicted Pokemon to the hand, which can be done since it’ll have Poison damage at least – and they both see a fair bit of play in the game. That weakens Nihilego-GX’s potential strongly, but it doesn’t put it out.
There is one potential saving grace for it, and that’s in the form of its GX Attack. Symbiont GX costs 3 Psychic Energy and does no damage, instead opting to take the top 2 cards of your opponent’s deck and place them into their Prizes. At its worst, it’s stalling out for a turn or two on a potential defeat, and at its best, it’s inadvertently getting rid of your opponent’s next best cards. If you’re lucky, you could even hit something your opponent really needed, which means they’ll either have to run over your Pokemon to get to them or use Gladion to retrieve them! It’s certainly a lot harder to go through 8 Prizes than just 6, and 6 is hard enough as is!
Nihilego-GX has a bit of an uphill battle for it, but I don’t think it’ll see play as a solo deck the way that Buzzwole-GX or Guzzlord-GX could. Most of the time, I imagine it’ll be paired up in a deck as to make use of Empty Light and hit those magic numbers that you need it to, and considering it’s got 180 HP, it’s not exactly an easy KO for the opponent if they try to bring it out front. And even if they do, isn’t that what Acerola is for? Suddenly your opponent can’t hurt Nihilego-GX, AND you get to reuse Empty Light! Pretty neat stuff.
…but really though, why is it Rock/Poison?
Standard: 3.5/5 (Empty Light is arguably its strongest quality, though Symbiont GX, if you can use it, can make things difficult for your opponent)
Expanded: 3.5/5 (I also figure that Empty Light could combine well with Virbank City Gym, as an extra means of Poisoning)
Limited: 4.5/5 (and again, it’s harder to Switch when you’re Locked Up, and 6 Prizes against 4 is tough to work around…unless you’re facing Buzzwole-GX)
Arora Notealus:…okay, one thought did occur to me in regards to Nihilego’s strange Rock-typing. And you know what, maybe that’s something I could write an article on for the site, eh? Wouldn’t you like to know the origins of something like Nihilego?
Weekend Thought: So what do you think of this week’s batch of cards? Think there are some cards that could be on the list? Think something made the cut that shouldn’t have? What are your thoughts on the Ultra Beasts so far? Which one do you think has the most potential? And where do you think that last one is?
Next Time: A powerful Pokemon tasked with taking on the dangers of a new threat!
Nihilego GX (Crimson Invasion, 49/111) appears as yet another brand new card from the Crimson Invasion expansion. A 180 HP Psychic Pokemon, it has an ability and two attacks. The ability, Empty Light, allows you to leave both active Pokemon confused and poisoned. And what a coincidence, one of my favorite stadiums, Chaos Tower (Fates Collide, 94/124), has a side that prevents Pokemon from being confused or poisoned. Huh – what are the odds of that happening? (Pretty high actually that’s me being sarcastic.)
Nihilego’s main attack, Lock Up, does 120 damage and prevents your opponent’s active Pokemon from retreating during the next turn. Lock Up, just like its GX attack Symbiont-GX, costs three Psychic energy. Symbiont-GX made most of us jump out of our chairs when we first saw it. This GX attack takes the top two cards of your opponent’s deck and adds them to their prize cards.
WHAAAA? Are you bleeping kidding me? Forcing your opponent to take EIGHT prize cards? What were the designers thinking? Did they just run out of things for these Ultra Beasts to do, so they decided to have them all mess with the prize cards in different ways? Seems to me that this is falling under the “Just because you can clone dinosaurs doesn’t mean you should” argument. Still, having said that, I haven’t seen someone execute it on me yet, and I have not had the opportunity to use that attack on an opponent yet either. I have tried Nihilego GX a couple of times in a Psychic toolbox deck (1 W 1 L), and I have tried it a handful of times in a Darkrai GX (Burning Shadows, 88/147) Hydreigon (Crimson Invasion, 62/111) deck (2 W 3 L).
I tried to use it in the Darkrai GX deck to activate Dead End GX and then subsequently use Weed Out to throw it away so it wouldn’t be a two prize card sitting duck. I would also think that Nihilego could possibly become Alolan Muk GX’s (Burning Shadows, 84/147) new best friend. It also might complement Noivern GX (Burning Shadows, 99/147) – Novern has free retreat so if you drop down Nihilego it’s not a big deal … as long as you have something besides Nihilego to retreat into! I still think it’s probably best going to fit into some kind of Psychic toolbox decklist, though, maybe something that plays Wishful Baton, so you can transfer energy onto Nihilego GX in one fell swoop.
2.5 out of 5
Nihilego GX suffers from the same malady as Buzzwole GX (Crimson Invasion, 104/111) yesterday: psychicweaknessitis. Just like Buzz yesterday, five item cards are all Garbodor (Guardians Rising, 51/145) needs to OHKO it. Moreover, a three attachment attack that only does 120 damage is very “meh” in today’s meta. While its ability might help it complement a number of different other Pokemon, I really can’t see it functioning as more than a one of in any deck it gets teched into. Honestly, its GX attack is super enticing but then it makes me want to go find Ninja Boy (Steam Siege, 103/114) so I can get it out of the active as quickly as possible.
Our 6th place pick is Nihilego-GX. This Ultra Beast performs differently than the other two that we reviewed previously. This one has an ability and two attacks. Empty Light is a coming-into-play Ability that works when you put this Pokémon down from the hand to your Bench. When you do, it makes both Active Pokemon Confused and Poison. With those special conditions, your opponent not only takes damage in between turns, but should they decide not to retreat or switch, then they may have a 50% chance of attacking or else take even more damage hitting themselves as well as poison damage again.
With Lock Up (120 for PPP), you can see what they’re going for. Ability to Poison and Confuse as well as Lock Up to prevent retreating. You’re opponent’s Active will suffer from such maneuvers.
Then we get to Symbiont GX, which is another code name for ultra beasts. It also costs PPP and instead of doing damage, you put the top two cards from your opponent’s deck into their prizes. That’s milling, potentially losing key cards, and extending the game combined!!!
Unfortunately, such effects that Nihilego does gets played around. Status Conditions can eventually be removed/prevented by either switching or having an ability that prevent special conditions. Lock Up also gets played around by switching or Pokemon Ranger. Symbiont may add some prizes, but there are other methods of winning besides taking all prize cards, either by deck out or the player having no benched Pokemon to replace the active. It’s attack costs are not colorless friendly, making players investing Max Elixirs to have a chance of getting energies.
In the end, this Pokémon does it’s job and would combo nicely with other cards, like Virbank City Gym in Expanded to increase the damage of Poison between turns. In Limited, this is a good pull and functional in a +39 deck. It may take two turns of not attacking, but Lock Up is a solid 2HKO on the Crimson Invasion set. Symbiont makes the prize count increase from 4 to 6, making the opponent work harder to get those prizes.
And another Ultra Beast arrives! Good thing this one’s not as crap as Guzzlord. Well, Guzzlord is hopelessly crap in the first place. But what about Nihilego? Is it any better than Buzzwole yesterday?
This jellyfish is one unique individual, but not because of its stats. It being a Psychic type that’s weak to Psychic isn’t anything spectacular, and having 180 HP isn’t mind boggling in any way. A retreat cost of 2 isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. No, there is one other thing that made Nihilego an amazing team supporter.
Its ability, Empty Light, is what makes Nihilego. When you play this toxic jellyfish down, you poison and confuse all Active Pokémon (yours’ and your opponent’s.). This is yet another way of getting debuffs reliably to your opponent so that your damage output can smooth out nice and easy, and also it has a nice catch of causing them to possibly miss out damaging you and damaging them instead. Preferably you want to play down Nihilego when your Active Pokémon has free Retreat so the negative side of Empty Light doesn’t hinder you as much, and you can retreat them afterwards. There’s a lot of applications for Empty Light; from being able to one shot a Pokémon using Darkrai-GX’s Dead End GX, momentum swinging and also getting last clinch KOs. Not to mention you can use Super Scoop Up or Acerola (SM BUS) to reuse Empty Light later, making Nihilego much more potent as a disruptor.
Its attacks are expensive however, but one might be better than the other. Lock Up deals 120 for 3 Psychic energies and it blocks your opponent from retreating, which should help with Empty Light to rack up damage and forcing them to flip the confusion for a chance at an extra 30 damage (or 50 with two turns’ worth of poison). Symbiont GX however, is another story and is a great stall GX attack. It puts the top 2 cards of your opponent’s deck as their prize cards. Useful in any stage of the game, from forcing an 8 prize game to slow them down, to more extreme measures like decking out your opponent’s last two cards in a mill deck so they’ll be unable to draw in their next turn, winning you the game. This is a very powerful GX attack in every sense or the word and its actually worth investing 3 Psychic energies just for Symbiont.
Its weaknesses? Well its similar to most Psychic-weak Psychic types Pokémon-GXs; Espeon-GX and Garbodor are running the meta and can threaten Nihilego if you’re not careful. But then Nihilego is more of an in-out Pokémon in the course of a game, so this drawback isn’t that crippling. But, between Empty Light and Symbiont GX, Nihilego-GX is without peer in putting pressure at your opponent. I can see Nihilego being put in Psychic decks just for these amazing qualities.
Standard: 4/5 (Extremely useful as a deck supporter and disruptor; requires little maintenance and it has decent bulk too.)
Expanded: 3.8/5 (Faces competition from the well proven LaserBank combo, but you can even put Nihilego in that core too.)
Limited: 4.6/5 (Same reason as Standard, but the Limited meta will really worship any sort of chip damager that can do it reliably.)
We end our week with our sixth place pick, Nihilego-GX (SM: Crimson Invasion 49/111, 103/111, 114/111). This is the third Ultra Beast to make the countdown, but we still haven’t seen any card effects that refer to this trait yet, even among cards leaked for the next Japanese set. So far, all Pokémon-GX have three effects (one being a GX-attack) and better HP than their mundane counterparts. They even get their own support, but are excluded from other helpful effects or are the target of detrimental ones. Giving up an extra Prize when KO’d should be obvious, and yet, you can tell a lot of folks space it off when evaluating these cards. While Pokémon-GX have a long way to go until they are as plentiful as Pokémon-EX, we have enough now that we can tell that being a Pokémon-GX seems to help certain cards, but hurts others.
Being a Basic Pokémon is still the best, though; you’ll be able to drop Nihilego-GX to the Bench from hand with no problems. Yes, there is more to it than that, but I don’t think it will apply in this case… indeed, as long as you’ve read the rest of the card, you’ll know being able to open with it is actually a drawback. Similarly, being a [P] Type means less for this card than some others. Being unaffected by the “Bide Barricade” Ability on Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32) matters because Nihilego-GX has an Ability, and its attacks do run exclusively on [P] Energy so it might be better in decks that also run on [P] Energy, but it also doesn’t benefit from Dimension Valley for the same reason.
180 HP doesn’t last as long as it once did, but it still makes Nihilego-GX tricky to difficult for most decks to OHKO, especially rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly. The main exceptions to this will be the usual powerhouse attacking decks, plus those with Psychic attackers because Nihilego-GX is Psychic Weak. There are some decent [P] Type attackers one can splash into a deck, especially in Expanded, plus both Standard and Expanded have decks with notable [P] Type beatsticks or technical attackers; the former will score easier OHKO’s, while the latter will score easier 2HKO’s (maybe even OHKO’s) while still focusing more on attack effects. Not the worst Weakness, but up there, especially factoring in that the [P] Type seems to have longevity in this regard. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is high enough you won’t want to pay it but low enough you probably can. That means it is still enough you might want to spare an extra card slot in your deck to deal with it.
Nihilego-GX has an Ability, a regular attack, and a GX-attack. The Ability is “Empty Light”, and it triggers when you play Nihilego-GX from your hand to your Bench, and only during your turn. Empty Light then gives you the option of afflicting both Active Pokémon with Confusion and Poison; yes, it hits your own Active as well but no, you don’t have to use the effect even if you meet all the requirements. So much about this is double-edged. Special Conditions don’t stick around too long; often a player can shake them on his or her next turn, or they go away quickly because your opponent is aiming for a OHKO or 2HKO. Sometimes, even when Special Conditions stick around, they just don’t matter; your opponent can flip “heads” for Confusion or the damage counters from Poison won’t make a difference. The upside is that this applies to your own Active as well; it gets hit, but you have the rest of your turn to make it only matter for your opponent. Being an Ability is key here; this leaves your attack open for combos… and even turns you can’t attack open for combos.
Both “Lock Up” and “Symbiont-GX” require [PPP], which is not easy to afford. No Counter Energy here, as this is a Pokémon-GX, though something like Max Elixir is still an option, as Nihilego-GX is a Basic you want to Bench before promoting. At least the GX-attack is no pricier than the other attack. Lock Up prevents the Defending Pokémon from retreating during your opponent’s next turn while hitting it for 120 damage, and sets up a 2HKO against all but the biggest (or protected) Pokémon; we’ll need combos to keep it from mediocrity, but the potential is there. Symbiont-GX does no damage, but takes the top two cards of your opponent’s deck and makes them into two new Prize cards. Forcing your opponent to play an eight Prize game is nasty but you’re giving up a GX-attack to do so, and one that requires a significant Energy investment. In short, you’re adding two Prizes to the opponent’s side of the field under circumstances that should have netted you two Prizes of your own. If your opponent manages to OHKO Nihilego-GX, this becomes a fancy stall tactic that has a teeny, tiny chance of helping to deck out your opponent.
So the two attacks are definitely mediocre on their own, but the good news is that the Ability combos with both. Lock Up makes the Special Conditions a little more likely to stick; Confusion may contribute to the running damage total while protecting Nihilego-GX from being attacked back, while Poison just adds to the effective damage done. Together, the Special Conditions even bring a decent amount of targets into pseudo-OHKO range. As they are Ability inflicted, they also get around effects that protect against Lock Up. With Symbiont-GX, it is about doing something to the opponent’s Active, instead of nothing, while messing with the Prizes. Together, the Ability makes the mediocre attacks seem adequate, but I doubt this is why Nihilego-GX places this high. Instead, it is about the combos with other cards.
For those of you who don’t remember it, Hypnotoxic Laser was once a common play in both Standard and the Expanded Formats. It is an Item that Poisons the opponent’s Active, with a coin flip to afflict it with Sleep as well. The Sleep was usually a bonus; the extra damage counter from the Poison made it a quick, easy way to boost damage. A single damage counter wasn’t much, but not only was it sufficient some of the time, we had the Stadium Virbank City Gym to make it three damage counters, giving it a margin akin to Choice Band in a format with slightly lower HP and damage output. Nihilego-GX is not Hypnotoxic Laser. Nihilego-GX eats up a Bench space, might get stranded up front, or even KO’d for two prizes. It has to worry about counters for Abilities instead of counters for Item usage. It gets to make use of Pokémon support, though, which is where it clearly comes out ahead of Hypnotoxic Laser; it is easier to search out and reuse Item cards than Pokémon. There is no Virbank City Gym in Standard play, but there is Seviper (SM: Black Star Promos SM46; SM: Burning Shadows 50/147). While you’ll have to sacrifice more Bench space, it has an Ability that causes Poison to place an extra damage counter between turns, and it stacks.
I don’t see a lot of decks running Nihilego-GX as an attacker; maybe the Metagross-GX builds that include sufficient basic Psychic Energy cards, but I’d rather spend that space on something else. I just don’t see either attack being worth the effort; there are more cost-effective attacks (and attackers) for stranding something up front, and the GX-attack’s one-time-nature means it doesn’t do well as the focus of your deck. With regards to either attack, yes, even in decks where you’re already including it for the Ability. When using Nihilego-GX just for Empty Light, it is about finding the decks that either need a little extra damage, a little stall (even unreliable) or enable other effects. I’m not expecting this card to matter at all in Expanded, for the record; we’re focusing on Standard.
Speeding up KO’s can be metagame, even specific match-up sensitive. Look for decks that get more than just a quick damage boost. Something with a slower start can appreciate Confusion (potentially) delaying the opponent, in addition to Poison turning a near miss into a OHKO; getting around protective effects can also be a nice bonus. Empty Light doesn’t do these things well enough on their own for any one to justify it in your deck, but when you can use all three, it becomes a solid deal. Turbo Darkrai might like it to enable a OHKO via the “Dead End-GX” attack on Darkrai-GX. I am worried “the donk deck” might return to Standard play. Most of that lays at the feet of Pheremosa-GX, as its “Fast Raid” attack can do 30 damage for [G] and states it can be used even if it is the very first turn of the game. 30 isn’t much, but Empty Light and some Seviper on the Bench allow it to take out smaller openers (or Evolving Basics unlucky enough to be stuck Active). We’ve just recently gotten a peek at a new Shinx with an Ability that allows it to Evolve right away, a Luxio that can attack for [C] to do 30 damage, and a Luxray with 150 HP and Ability that reduces the damage it takes. We already have Nihilego-GX, Seviper, and Shining Celebi.
Since most decks would love a little extra damage and a little extra disruption, we should also look at what eliminates Nihilego-GX from being a good deck candidate. Is there enough room for Nihilego-GX, especially it needs a little extra support to be worthwhile? This applies to both deck and bench space. Does this beatdown deck prefer to shut off all Abilities, such as by using Garbodor (XY: BREAKpoint 52/122)? Interfere with Special Condition usage? Little things like this that may seem obvious now are, in my experience, easy to overlook when worrying about an entire deck’s mechanics at once. For the Limited Format, skip Nihilego-GX if you get something like Buzzwole-GX or Guzzlord-GX and are going the +39 route. Anything else? Even just for the Ability, it seems worth it. If you can run enough basic Psychic Energy as well, even better.
The reasons Nihilego-GX isn’t amazing are the availability of Bench/deck space and the number of attackers that can already score significant OHKO’s and/or 2HKO’s; putting the two together makes it a little more niche than I expected. Technically, it is a general card; any deck can use Empty Light, some can use it well, and a select few look very nasty indeed. This still translates to a good score, just not as high of one as I expected. Which is hardly a bad thing; I believe the game is better when most (maybe all) cards are great in combos but mediocre or adequate when on their own. Nihilego-GX stole into sixth place by earning 26 voting points across all six personal Top 10’s. Yes, it tied with Buzzwole-GX; making more lists allowed it to come out on top.