– Rebel Clash
May 3, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Lucky #13 on our countdown is Ninetales V (SSH – Rebel Clash 026/192, 177/192)! Pokémon V are worth an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of Scoop Up Net or Twin Energy, and have to deal with the “Fighting Fangs” attack of Boltund (Sword & Shield 075/202). At least, they’d have to deal with that last one if anyone was running it; Scoop Up Net and Twin Energy have a lot of folks excited (myself included), so missing out on them actually is a big deal. Being a Pokémon V means Ninetales should enjoy better stats and effects than it would normally have…
…like being a Basic Pokémon instead of a Stage 1. Being a Basic means half the deck space and no waiting until you can evolve to hit the field; in other words, being a Basic is the best! Being a Fire Type is also good; the best thing about them right now is actually the basic Fire Energy support, which is actually available to any Type, but naturally more useful to those with many [R] or [C] Energy requirements. Another great thing is striking cards like Zacian V for double damage due to Weakness and never having to worry about Resistance. There are some anti-[R] effects, but they’re usually not a concern.
Ninetales V has 200 HP, maybe a little small for a Pokémon V but decent; I’d be a bit more excited if 200 wasn’t such a common damage amount for big – but not huge – attacks. [W] Weakness could be an issue. Frosmoth decks never lived up to the hype, but just prior to this set, they were finally making some waves, and there are some who think this set will finally give them the last little bit they need. No Resistance is the worst, but its typical; a missed opportunity more than a flaw. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is fairly common, not easy to pay but not difficult, either. It is low enough Air Balloon can cancel it out.
Ninetales V has two attacks. The first is “Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter”, which costs [RCC]. You select an attack from your opponent’s Active, and Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter copies it. You don’t have to worry about the printed attack cost (see the FAQ for this set). [RCCC] pays for “Flamethrower”, which lets Ninetales V attack for 180 damage, though it also has to discard an Energy from itself. Though both attacks are on the pricey side, requiring Energy acceleration, it is good that only one Energy requirement is Type-specific, and its [R]. Welder means you can go from zero-to-attacking in a single turn!
Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter is fantastic, at least while we have access to compatible Energy acceleration such as Welder. Attach two basic Fire Energy via Welder, then manually attach any other Energy card, and then you can clobber your opponent with their best attack. Preferably, it will be an attack that is normally much more expensive than three mostly Colorless Energy requirements, and/or from an evolution. Even when Nine-Tailed Shapeshifting is not a bargain, being able to “overpay” for something can still sometimes be more valuable than not having access to it at all. A great example of that is Nine-Tailed Shapeshifting can copy a GX-attack, unless you’ve already used yours for the game.
You should also be wary of conditions or other aspects of the attack that would make copying it rather underwhelming. For example, attacks like Lost March or Night March that work based on cards in the attackers Lost Zone or Discard Pile (respectively) can be copied, but you’ll be referencing your Lost Zone or Discard pile. So if you have no non-Prism Star Pokémon in the Lost Zone or no Pokémon with Night March in your discard pile, you’ll attack for no damage. You may not have to worry about Energy costs, but detrimental effects of attacks are copied, like recoil (self-damage) or having to discard Energy.
Which isn’t too bad of a lead-in to Flamethrower. It isn’t a great attack, but it might be a good one; 180 damage for three Energy of any Type and one that counts as [R], even while having to discard an Energy at the end, is still enough to take out most Basic Pokémon-EX, most Basic Pokémon-GX (excluding TAG TEAMs), and most single Prize Pokémon, but only the smallest Pokémon V. It should 2HKO anything lacking protective effects or massive HP with an HP buff e.g. Snorlax VMAX with something like Buff Padding.
I don’t expect we’ll be building Ninetales V decks ever… but I think it will become at least a loose staple in any deck that can readily afford the cost of Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter. Given that Welder-based decks were still strong (though not dominant) last I checked, that’s pretty impressive. Thanks to cards like Aurora Energy, even non-Welder decks may make use of Ninetales V. Not just in Standard, but in Expanded as well. I think it will actually be even better there; while there are more attacks that are a waste to copy, there’s more support for this strategy there.
If you pull Ninetales V at a Limited Format event, you can add it to pretty much anything. Yes, even Mulligan decks; you’re allowed to make it a “+38” instead of a “+39” if you pulled two silly-strong Basic Pokémon V. Unless your opponent hits both hard and fast (maybe with [W] attackers), Ninetales V should be able to endure two hits from (likely) weak opening attacks, then start copying the “good stuff” from your opponent’s Active. Which can even include attacks that normally would not be good, since it is now coming from a 200 HP Basic and only costs [RCC]. Plus, just one more turn and you have the option of just using Flamethrower turn after turn, where it is highly likely it’ll score OHKO after OHKO.
As the surprise-factor wears off and players learn to anticipate Ninetales V, it won’t be as effective. By the next set, Ninetales V may even be functioning only as a three-out-of-five. For now, though, its a potent play in a strong, established deck (if not decks). Ninetales V was my 6th-place pick, so 13th feels low, but I’m also the only one who had it on their list at all, so perhaps 13th-place is actually too high?
In the midst of a time where there’s a wolf with a sword that dominates the metagame, one Pokemon stands to face off against it…well, okay, technically there are two, but only one of them made the list. Sorry Cinderace-V.
Ninetales-V is a Basic Fire-Type Pokemon-V, 200 HP, with a Water Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 2. It comes with the Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter attack, a 3-Energy move that lets you copy an attack on the opposing Active Pokemon and use it as this attack instead, alongside the ever-classic Flamethrower, this time a 4-for-180 which discards an Energy as always.
The biggest reason to look at Ninetales-V in consideration of today’s game, is that it is likely to be one of the biggest counters to Zacian-V. Zacian-V happens to have a Fire Weakness – thank you Metal-Type – and so it’ll take twice as much damage from Fire moves as anything else. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, cause I thought of it too: what about Reshiram & Charizard-GX, the standard for Fire-type decks over the course of the past year or so?
The thing is, R&C-GX has its own problem with Zacian-V, especially the ADP variant. After an Altered Creation-GX, its Brave Blade does 260 damage, which comes up just short of R&C-GX’s 270 HP. At first glance, that probably seems just fine, and heck it’s even beneficial! With Outrage, R&C-GX can easily decimate Zacian-V with well more than enough damage after taking that much damage to the face! Never mind that Flare Strike and Double Blaze-GX are also in the mix to help out, though they’re just overkill at that point. The problem though comes from the fact that most Zacian-ADP decks also run Shrine of Punishment, which puts 10 damage on Pokemon-EX AND GX between turns. That means that by the time it gets to be your turn, even though your R&C-GX might have survived the Altered Creation-powered Brave Blade, Shrine of Punishment still helps KO your Tag Team, and your opponent gets to claim 3 Prize cards (though not 4, since they didn’t technically KO it with the attack…unless you put out an already slightly-weakened R&C-GX in the Active slot).
So what does that all have to do with Ninetales-V? Well, if we’re going to look for counterplay to the Zacian-V deck, we need something that’ll hit for Weakness but not be hurt by Shrine of Punishment, and right now that falls on the Pokemon-V. Ninetales-V has the power – with a copy of Welder in hand – to immediately attack Zacian-V with Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter and giving it a double dose of its own medicine. It also only costs 2 Prizes, meaning it’s not as big a loss as R&C-GX is if it gets KO’d, and there’s even the possibility of duplicating attacks like Altered Creation-GX – since you don’t necessarily need a GX Attack of your own, copying off your opponent’s just improves your odds in the match-up! Course if you wanted to get REALLY spicy, you’d include something that works for Water Energy and can copy the full effect for damage and Prize-claiming, although I’m not sure how that would interact with Ninetales-V’s Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter cost…
Regardless, it’s likely that Ninetales-V will make up the backbone of a “duplicate” Zacian-V deck that’s tailored specifically to counter it, though it does hold potentially favorable match-ups with other decks too. I think the uncertainty of its success is what holds it back from landing higher on the list, and in that regard I personally feel that Cinderace-V/VMAX might hold an alternative to the Fire deck that counters Zacian-V, as a source of reliable damage but also with the addition of easy free Retreat and the potential to bulk up beyond the damage of an Altered Creation-powered Brave Blade.
We’ll just have to see where this all goes, but it’s a certainty that Ninetales-V has some good potential not just for the current format but even for the game beyond.
Standard: 3.5/5 (while it does present itself as a viable option, it’s uncertain whether it will become THE viable option)
Expanded: 4/5 (it definitely has a lot of good support in Standard and Expanded)
Limited: 4/5 (but whether or not it meets expectations or misses the mark is up to the meta)
Arora Notealus: Ninetales has a long history in the Pokemon TCG, and many of the cards make reference to the mystical nature of Ninetales and its inspiration, the kitsune, but it’s incredibly rare for it to have an attack or effect that mimics the kitsune’s own powers. In fact, the closest I could find digging through the various iterations of Ninetales throughout the years was – if you can believe it – Brock’s Ninetales! It has a Poke-Power called Shapeshift, where it “transform” into an Evolution Pokemon during your turn, and you can treat it as that Pokemon instead of as Brock’s Ninetales. After that, we’ve got the Ninetales from Mysterious Treasures with Color Shift, which is like the Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter attack but in the form of a Poke-Power that copies the Type instead. I think it’d be cool if they experimented more with this aspect of Ninetales!
Next Time: Ahhh, to be an assistant to the manager of the whole competitive scene is…rough.
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