Oranguru– Vivid Voltage
Date Reviewed: December 27, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Oranguru (Sword & Shield 148/202; SW – Vivid Voltage 199/185) is another of the best cards of 2020, but it didn’t rank high enough to make the actual top 10. Oranguru is a baseline Pokémon; no specialty mechanics, only worth a single Prize when KO’d, etc. You almost need to sweat the card’s name; Oranguru (Sun & Moon 113/149; SM – Black Star Promos SM13; Shiny Vault SV44/SV94) and Oranguru (SM – Ultra Prism 114/156) are great cards in their own right, but even when all three were legal, there weren’t really lists that called for all three in the same deck. With Oranguru (SM – Ultra Prism 114/156) having been banned, and Oranguru (Sun & Moon 113/149; SM – Black Star Promos SM13; Shiny Vault SV44/SV94) filling a similar role, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Similar role? As with the original Oranguru card, today’s is defined mostly by its Ability. “Primate Wisdom” lets you switch a card from your hand with one from the top of your deck. Each instance of this Ability you have in play can be used once during your turn. There are no other costs, conditions, or restrictions; you’re out of luck if your hand is empty, or you have zero cards with which you can afford to part. You also may find that the card on top of your deck is no better or even worse than the one with which you replaced it… but most of the time, it is a solid form of draw power. Barring milling or shuffling effects, the next card you draw after using Primate Wisdom will be the one you top-decked.
Primate Wisdom is a bit like getting an advance on something you’re owed; you’re not ahead in card count, but you are accessing something faster than you normally could. This is before potential combos, however. There are effects like that of Magcargo (SM – Celestial Storm 24/168); use its “Smooth Over” Ability to get the exact card you want on top, then use Primate Wisdom to get that same card into your hand. Of course, you can do that with any draw that doesn’t mess with your deck order or the top cards of your deck. The “cost” of Primate Wisdom is also worth considering, because it can actually be a selling point. Maybe you’re about to use Professor’s Research or Marnie, but have a card in hand you don’t want to discard or bottom deck but want to save. There are also effects that utilize the top card or cards of your deck, such Zacian V’s “Intrepid Sword”.
How about the rest of the card? The next most important thing about Oranguru is that it is a Basic Pokémon. One slot in your deck for one copy of Oranguru, with no waiting to evolve or other cards required for it to hit the field. There are other Basic Pokémon that can draw the top card of your deck, and Evolutions which can do that much (or more!), but they come with additional costs or conditions, or just need more deck space. 120 HP is the high end of low HP scores; still more likely to be OHKO’d than not, but the margin for survival isn’t massive. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is the last really relevant stat. This is low enough Air Balloon can zero it out, and if you have to pay it manually, it still isn’t too bad.
As for the rest, we may as well cover it just to be thorough. [F] Weakness should have mattered, but even with other Fighting Weak cards like Eternatus VMAX and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX being so good, Fighting decks just aren’t making up that much of the metagame. A lack of Resistance is the worst, but also so common that it too doesn’t really matter. You really should not be attacking with this card, but if you must, 70-for-three is low but not abysmal. It is a filler attack, but at least it works with any Energy. With damage like this, it is hit or miss whether exploiting Weakness or crashing into Resistance will matter… but this is a Colorless type so that isn’t a factor in the first place. The typing means you could slap Powerful [C] Energy onto Oranguru for a bonus, but it isn’t worth it. The additional Colorless support and counters in Expanded also unlikely to matter.
Oranguru is not a staple. Nor is it a loose staple. It is a card that could be run in almost anything, were it needed, and actually is used in a few decks that need a little extra draw-ish power, to manipulate their top card, or both. I’m not sure how good it is in Expanded; lots of competition, lots of counters, but also lots of combo partners. Why use a Smooth Over just to top deck an Energy for (as an example) Coalossal VMAX, when you can use Magcargo’s Smooth Over to get whatever card you need on top of your deck, then Oranguru swaps a spare Energy card from your hand with the card you searched out? In the Limited Format, Oranguru is great! Draw power is at a premium, and your hand size should rarely be low. Only skip it if you’re running a Mulligan deck.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Limited: 5/5
When we first looked at this Oranguru, I had high expectations. Did it live up to those expectations? No, but it didn’t completely disappoint, either. Oranguru is not the new one-per-deck Bench-sitter I expected, but it shows up in enough decks that it is still a good card, and one I’m happy is in the metagame. I had this as my 10th-Place pick, and it still managed 13th-Place overall. While that seems like a big difference, this low on the list, since I was able to sneak it in today, it actually isn’t. This low on our list, and a lot of the cards are, if not interchangeable in order, are at least really close to each other in overall gameplay value.
Vince did not have Oranguru in his Top 15 cards of 2020
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