– Sword & Shield
March 6, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Oranguru (Sword & Shield 148/202) would have been our 16th-place finisher is because I had it as my fifth best card of Sword & Shield. LimitlessTCG has 45 of top 48 decklists from the Oceania International Championship (Standard Format): 16 decks ran one or two copies, with the highest finishing of those being a 5th-place Zacian V/Acreus & Dialga & Palkia-GX decks. They also have the top 70 decklists from the Colinsville, Indiana Regional Championship (Expanded Format), where only four decks ran similar amounts, the best finish being 13th-place.
I wanted to lead with that information, to make sure I didn’t bury it, while also making my own bias clear. Oranguru hasn’t lived up to my expectations yet, but it is already seeing some success, or else it too would have been postponed like other runners-up from our countdown who haven’t shown up (or shown in enough) successful decklists. If you’re wondering about some in our first week of runners-up, they were scheduled before we had any tournament results.
With that, let us examine Oranguru itself. Its [C] Typing doesn’t mean too much; unless there’s a surprise waiting in future Sword & Shield releases, nothing is naturally [C] Weak or Resistant. Expanded has one or two pieces of Type support that could matter, but I don’t think any of the anti-[C] effects will. Being a Basic is still the best, making Oranguru relatively easy to fit into decks (even at a full four count), and letting you field it immediately. For better or worse, it could even be your opening Active.
Oranguru is a bog-standard single-Prize Pokémon; no worrying about specialty mechanics. The 120 HP is decent, more likely to be OHKO’d than not but the odds are only a little against you. On the Bench, a serious sniper can OHKO it. [F] Weakness is one of the less dangerous ones right now, at least in Standard. Lack of Resistance is the worst but also the most common. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can pay but high enough you’ll prefer not to; consider Air Balloon.
Oranguru knows the Ability “Primate Wisdom” and the attack “Whap Down”. Primate Wisdom can be used once during your turn, before you do anything that ends your turn after (like attacking). This Ability lets you swap a card from your hand with one from the top of your deck. Each instance of Primate Wisdom you have in play can be used once per turn but the nature of the Ability can make it tricky to stack. Whap Down does 70 damage at the cost of [CCC].
The attack is the kind of filler that costs too much for what it does, even considering its all Colorless, but it could plausibly come in handy from time to time. Primate Wisdom is why we’re here: stacking the top of your deck with a card from your hand can be good or even great for a select few. Torkoal V can use it to so that its first attack can reliably do 180 for [RRC]. The Abilities on Magcargo-GX and Zacian V, or the effects of Ether and Max Elixir can guarantee attachment of the correct basic Energy if preceded by Primate Wisdom.
This is a good generic piece of support as well. Unless you cannot spare a single card from hand, Primate Wisdom fakes being a “Draw 1 card.” effect. Marnie and Reset Stamp are in many decks, if not most, and Chip-Chip Ice Axe is still legal in Standard; Primate Wisdom improves your odds of recovering from the disruption these card’s inflict. You can use it to try to avoid having to discard an important card when using Professor’s Research, or when your opponent uses a milling effect to discard from your the top of your deck.
The biggest drawback to this card may be its name. While only in some decks, Oranguru (SM – Ultra Prism 114/156) is still a good, tactical play… or even vital to the deck’s main strategy. In the Expanded Format, there is also the original Oranguru (Sun & Moon 113/149; SM – Black Star Promos SM13; Shiny Vault SV44/SVV94). It is possibly you’d wish to run today’s Oranguru but be pressed for “Oranguru slots” due to the older Oranguru cards.
In the Standard Format, if you want to topdeck a specific card, you’ve still got Magcargo (SM – Celestial Storm 24/168) and its “Smooth Over” Ability. It is a Stage 1 and not a Basic, but it moves a card from elsewhere into your deck to the top; pretty potent. Of course, Primate Wisdom can let you then add that card to your hand without using a Trainer or attack… and if you just want to topdeck a basic Energy, Smooth Over almost feels like overkill. As is the Supporter Mallow in Expanded.
If you’re just using it as added draw power, however, it faces a lot of competition. I’ve already mentioned the original Oranguru. There’s Cincinno (Sword & Shield 147/202; SS – Black Star Promos SWSH009); a Stage 1 I badly underestimated when we reviewed it. In Expanded, there’s Zoroark-GX if you’d prefer the same draw power seen in Cincinno but with more HP and a better attack, but work two Prizes. There are one-and-done examples as well, such as Dedenne-GX. Oranguru doesn’t draw as many as these cards, but it is also a single-Prize, Basic Pokémon you can field T1.
I don’t have actual Limited Format tournament results, but I’m assuming Oranguru was a pretty great play for any Limited Format decks which are not built around running a single, all-important Basic Pokémon completely on its own. You know the trick; decent Basic Pokémon V plus 39 other non-Basic Pokémon cards. So, for anything other than that, Oranguru is a must-run for the Ability, and would actually be decent filler for its stats and attack in this Format.
Oranguru’s future seems promising. Cincinno is from the same set, so Oranguru will always have to compete with it, but some of the other options I didn’t name will rotate out of Standard, sooner or later. In Japan’s next set we’re also seeing some Pokémon and even a Trainer with effects that you may use when you draw them as your opening draw for the turn. The catch is that, so far, these effects only work when they’re your draw for the turn, and the Trainer (an Item) can’t be used in any other way. If these prove worthwhile, then Oranguru can set them up for your next turn, assuming your opponent doesn’t then hit you with something like Reset Stamp.
Oranguru isn’t for every deck, but I think it is for more decks than are currently using it. Enough that I’m giving it a four-out-of-five for both Standard and Expanded. That extra help on your first turn (especially T1) on top of being good general support and pretty great in decks that need to control their top card are just enough for it to clear that threshold. Yeah, even in Expanded, where it is a lot easier to disable Primate Wisdom. Unless it suddenly becomes a 1+ per deck staple, though, 5th-place on my Top 20 was a bit high.
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