– Vivid Voltage
November 22, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Welcome to another bonus review, so that I can cover a card relevant to today’s 6th-place finisher, Donphan (SW – Vivid Voltage 87/185; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH067): Phanpy (SW – Vivid Voltage 86/185)! This is a baseline Pokémon: worth only one Prize when KO’d and lacking any specialty mechanics. Fighting types is reasonably useful for exploiting Weakness and accessing type-based support. [F] Resistance is one of the more common types, and anti-Fighting effects do exist in Expanded, but neither of these things are especially bad. As a Basic, Phanpy is easy to run. Phanpy has 70 HP, a quite probable OHKO. Grass types will have an even easier time, should it matter. While any Resistance would help a little, with 70 HP it wouldn’t matter much. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither good nor bad.
Phanpy knows two attacks. The first is “Stampede”, priced at [F], which does 10 damage. The second is “Strikes Back” for [FC], lets Phanpy do 30 damage times the number of damage counters on itself. So Phanpy can whiff entirely, or hit for 180 damage if it is down to its last 10 HP. As it is so likely to be OHKO’d, the attack may not seem impressive at a glance… but what if you can get damage counters on it yourself? This is where you may want to pop on over to our review of Donphan, if you haven’t already. For [F], the new Donphan can attack for 120 damage, with the drawback of hitting all of your own Benched Pokémon for 20 damage. That’s already decent damage for the Energy, and Donphan has 150 HP, so you can send it up and probably get an easy two to four damage counters on all your Phanpy before that Donpan goes down, maybe even the full six.
If that doesn’t sound impressive… well, it isn’t. It is just decent, but this is the “barely trying” combo. Take Donphan itself, which has 150 HP. If your opponent fails to OHKO it but does do more than 40 damage to it, you can attach another Energy and Memory Capsule so that Donphan can also use Strike Back! 8 damage counters on Donphan would mean 240 damage, enough to take out Basic Pokémon V (before Resistance or defensive buffs). If your opponent makes the mistake of leaving Donphan with just 10 HP, that means 420 damage! Not that you even have to run Donphan to make use of Phanpy. Jynx (SM – Unified Minds 76/236) has an Ability that lets you move a damage counter from one of your Pokémon to another of your Pokémon. Combo with cards like Spiritomb (SM – Unbroken Bonds 112/214) and Spikemuth and you have at least a chance of going from zero to six damage counters in one turn.
Nothing says you cannot mix and match the strategies. After all, if you aren’t using Spikemuth – at all, or just that turn – then you can include Martial Arts Dojo for an extra 10 damage, or 40 if you’re behind in Prizes. Of course, this also requires you have a basic Fighting Energy attached to Phanpy. The new Stone [F] Energy reduces the damage taken from attack by your opponent’s Pokémon. Specifically, by 20, and it stacks with yourself. Probably not a good enough deal for Phanpy alone, using the Donphan/Memory Capsule combo? It can improve your odds of just barely surviving hits. Getting back to Phanpy itself, you could also use a Tool like Cape of Toughness to bump Phanpy’s HP to 120, which in turn ups it maximum potential damage. Yes, your opponent can discard Cape of Toughness… but imagine attaching it then adding more damage counters (with the above combos) immediately before attacking! Expanded adds even more options, though Abilities, Items, and Special Energy – which are the form this support takes – are easier to counter here. Still, a Focus Sash on a Donphan or Marshadow-GX becomes a natural lead-in to a Strikes Back!
In the Limited Format, Phanpy is mediocre. While the 70 HP is better here, it still isn’t “good”, and Stampede is still bad. So if Phanpy doesn’t show up after your opponent is hitting for more than 10 damage but before they’re swinging for 70+, Phanpy isn’t going to do you much good. You’ll also need to run at least some basic Fighting Energy to cover those attacks; a problem if nothing else in your deck can use it well.
Phanpy is a decent little card for an evolving Basic, to the point I was tempted to include it in the actual countdown. It could be used on its own, but whether or not it should be, I don’t know. I suspect it should always be used with something else, like Donphan or – in Expanded – Marshadow-GX.
20201122 Edit: Polished the article in general, noticed I fell back into a bad habit. It is somewhat bizarre, but I always expected a Rock-based Energy to act like Heat [R] Energy, increasing HP… instead of being a better Shield Energy! No, that isn’t an excuse; just explaining my malfunction. Fortunately, it doesn’t impact the overall scores or significantly alter the strategy.
Today, we’re looking at Phanpy in preparation for looking at the 6th best card of Vivid Voltage. It may be an evolving Basic, but I think Phanpy can hold on its own based on the attacks I just saw.
Perhaps the one that caught my eye is not the Stampede attack, which only does 10 damage for 1 energy, but rather, the Strike Back attack, which costs FC and does 30 damage times the number of damage counters on this Pokémon. Since this Phanpy has only 70 HP, then it can hold up to six damage counters, dealing 180 damage. If there are cards which can raise the maximum HP and/or damage boosting cards, then Strike Back will get to deal even more damage. So far, in Standard, there’s Martial Arts Dojo for increasing damage dealt and Big Charm, which can let Phanpy hold up to 9 damage counters, dealing 270 damage! Phanpy, at this range, can OHKO nearly all TAG TEAMs but falls short of OHKOing most V-MAX Pokémon. Most of the time, Phanpy will be KOed back on your opponent’s turn, but the prize trade is already in your favor!
Expanded has even more ways to enhance Strike Back. Fighting Fury Belt, Diancie (*), Strong Energy, and even Muscle Band can help reach OHKOs on even VMAX Pokemon. But the thing to take away is that Phanpy has to survive an attack that will bring it down to 10 HP so that Strike Back will deal the maximum damage possible, otherwise it is far less impressive than I made it to be. I’m sure players can make that work, after all, Spiritomb from Unbroken Bonds has a similar attack that makes it deal tons of damage when it’s HP is down to a critical state, and it’s ability helps damage itself. Phanpy doesn’t have that feature to capitalize it upon, so I find it hard to process how it can inflict self damage or to rely on your opponent to fall short of OHKOs in the Standard Format. It might actually can in the Expanded format as Focus Sash from XY Furious Fists can make Fighting types survive any attack as long as its HP is full, leaving it with 10 HP left, discarding the tool. Then you can attach Karate Belt for the reduction of attack costs! But if Phanpy had the Poison or Burn special condition, it is still done for, especially if your opponent can see this coming and use Hypnotoxic Laser to damage Phanpy between turns.
Phanpy can ALMOST handle anything on its own without its Evolution, but those kinds of attacks are pretty risky, albeit the payoff can be huge if it somehow survives an attack. Still, it’s nice to see how an evolving Basic can potentially achieve OHKOs against some of the popular decks in this period of time. I am aware that Donphan can access attacks from its previous evolution with Memory Capsule or Time Recall Celebi to access Strike Back, but this review assumes the Phanpy user doesn’t use Donphan.
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