– Sword & Shield
April 20, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today we look at the first Orbeetle (Sword & Shield 016/202) card to be released. It is a Stage 2, evolving from Dottler, which evolves from Blipbug. The only options for those currently are Blipbug (Sword & Shield 017/202) and Dottler (Sword & Shield 016/202). They’re only mostly filler, stepping stones to reach Orbeetle. I bring them up now because Blipbug is a [G] Type, like Orbeetle; the Typing doesn’t do much for the big bug, but Blipbug could tap Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX’s “Super Growth” to speed its evoltuoins into play.
Otherwise, being a Stage 2 makes this a slow card, and [G] Typing isn’t great for exploiting Weakness and now has to worry about crashing into Resistance (Zacian V). Orbeetle’s 130 HP is a concern. Overall, this is a little more likely to be OHKO’d than not… which means it is likely to be OHKO’d once your opponent has a solid setup, unless they’re not attacking for damage. On a Stage 2, this is especially concerning. The [R] Weakness makes it more fragile, as Welder-backed decks are still a reasonably common site. No Resistance doesn’t mean too much; it is the worst, but most cards lack it. At least the Retreat Cost is good; [C] isn’t perfect but it is low and easy to pay.
I’m going to come back to the Ability; Orbeetle’s “Brainwave” attack requires [GC] and lets it do 90 damage, plus 30 per [P] Energy attached to itself. That means, for the correct two Energy – [GP] – Brainwave delivers 120 damage, and that’s not a bad return. If you can dump even more [P] Energy onto it, you can keep increasing the damage; [GPP] for 150, [GPPP] for 180, etc. Being able increase your damage output is good, but to hit even 240 damage – enough to OHKO cards like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX – means paying [GPPPPP]. It is a nice option to have, but even on a big, Basic Pokémon it’d be a risky investment. On a Stage 2, it seems especially reckless.
Okay, so back to the Ability: “Bug’s Radar” may be used once during your turn, though you may use multiple instances of it in a single turn. It doesn’t make much sense to use more than once per turn most of the time, as the rest of the effect states you may look at the top three cards of your opponent’s deck, then put them back in the order of your choosing. On its own, this might be able to sabotage an opponent’s opening draw, giving them the least useful of the top three cards. If your opponent has any substantial draw power already in hand, or just three good cards in a row, they can punch through without much effort.
Yet I’m going to tell you that Bug’s Radar is very important, and could make Orbeetle into part of a strong, vicious control deck. I haven’t seen it yet, and being a Stage 2 really hurts its chances, but Bug’s Radar would be the final step is effectively hand-locking your opponent. You’ll also need to strip their hand of all cards – or at least all useful cards – and try to have something to discard from your opponent’s deck in case they do have three great cards.
Alternatively, you don’t go for the full hand destruction, but you do use Orbeetle alongside another lock. I’d say the mostly like would be slipping it into the Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) and Vileplume-GX decks doing well in Expanded. No guarantees and I have no idea what to cut to make room for Orbeetle, but it already runs Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX. In the Limited Format, the entire line is a bit better across the board. That being said, its HP is still very low, so be careful if you’re using it as an attacker. The good news is that you could just use it for its Ability in anything that isn’t a Mulligan build.
Orbeetle is fragile, and needs a lot of help to be a good attacker or be more than mild disruption. I’m not sure if it will every find a deck that has enough room for it to do just one of those things well enough to justify it in competitive play… but we’ve seen cards use these tricks to succeed, so don’t forget about it.
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