November 28, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our second subject this week is Pheromosa-GX (SM: Black Star Promos SM66). This is an Ultra Beast, though that currently doesn’t mean anything in the TCG; the trait is listed in a text box on the card, suggesting that something in the future will care about it. As a Pokémon-GX, Pheromosa-GX is worth an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of stuff like Counter Energy, and has to deal with things like Choice Band providing a damage boost against them. On the bright side, it can make use of cards like Olivia, should have an HP boost over what she’d have had otherwise, three attack effects (one being a GX-attack) instead of the usual one or two, and possibly higher quality effects as well. As a Basic Pokémon, Pheromosa-GX can function as your opening Active, requires minimal resources (including time) to hit the field, has improved synergy with certain card effects (like bounce), and can tap Basic Stage support; the only real drawback stems from Stage-specific counters for Basic Pokémon.
Pheromosa-GX is a Grass Type; in terms of Weakness and Resistance, she’ll enjoy double damage against many Water Types and some Fighting Types without ever having to worry about running into naturally occurring Resistance in Expanded or Standard Format play. There are some counters specific to [G] Pokémon or Energy, but I’ve only seen it prove competitive in situations like that of Parallel City (which is used for its other effect). Pheromosa-GX has 170 HP, the low end of the typical scores found on Basic Pokémon-EX/GX; this is still enough to be more likely to survive a hit than not, but not by a great margin. Fire Weakness is not the worst to have, but it will be an issue for competitive play, if only because Volcanion-EX decks are still competitive in both Expanded and Standard. No Resistance is typical, but also still technically the worst a Pokémon may have. The Retreat Cost of [C] is good; relatively easy to afford in both the short and long term.
Pheromosa-GX has three attacks. The first is “Fast Raid” for [G], which does 30 damage and has an effect that allows it to be used by the player going first on his or her first turn (when no attack is normally allowed). This isn’t the first such attack – indeed, this isn’t even the first card to possess Fast Raid – but this brings the attack back to the Standard Format. 30 damage isn’t much, but it does mean a few small Basic Pokémon must worry about being KO’d on that first turn, which can lead to the infamous “donk” (one player winning by OHKOing the other player’s only Pokémon in play on the very first turn of the game). Of course, if you go second, the effect is meaningless. [GG] pays for “Cruel Spike”, which does 60 damage while leaving your opponent’s Active Confused. For the Energy, its a good (but not great) amount of damage and effect. [GG] also pays for the card’s GX-attack, “Beauty-GX”, which does 50 damage for each Prize card your opponent has taken. Ignoring effects that alter Prize counts, Beauty-GX can swing for 0, 50, 100, 150, 200, or 250 damage (before other effects). While useless early game – or at all, against some rare decks – as soon as your opponent takes his or her second Prize, it outperforms the damage of Cruel Spike.
Putting it all together, you have a solid opener for various decks utilizing [G] Energy, at least assuming one such Energy can be spared for Pheromosa-GX. While not brilliant for the rest of the game, Cruel Spike doesn’t have a bad damage output (at least for the Energy) and might be able to stall with Confusion, while Beauty-GX gives this early game slugger a strong late game performance; if you can force your opponent to take five Prizes without winning, two Energy can OHKO even max HP Pokémon-EX/GX! If you don’t do much else to support Fast Raid, though, it is mostly a neat trick; get damage on the board a little sooner while really threatening something that runs small, Grass Weak Basic Pokémon. So, what can you do to increase the threat range? The obvious is a Tool; Fighting Fury Belt only adds 10 damage, but if you don’t manage a donk, you might appreciate that extra 40 HP (plus it is still Standard legal). Muscle Band can add 20 damage against anything, but that still isn’t likely enough. Choice Band adds 30 damage, but outside of the Grass Weak, 120 HP Manaphy-EX, that won’t lead to a lot of OHKO’s. Professor Kukui can tack on another 20, provided you can spare your opening Supporter.
I can’t think of anything else to directly add damage but I can think of two other approaches, and while they are not mutually exclusive, running both to their fullest would make for a clunky, unreliable deck. Poison can effectively extend the OHKO range: Nihilego-GX allows you to inflict it via Ability, saving your attack for Fast Raid. You’ll have to deal with it Confusing and Poisoning your own Active, however. Seviper (SM: Black Star Promos SM46; SM: Burning Shadows 50/147) has a stackable Ability that increases the damage Poison places between turns by one. It is even easier in Expanded, where you can use the iconic Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo for a (relatively) easy extra three damage counters. You may also focus on exploiting Weakness. While Grass Weakness isn’t everywhere, Fighting Weakness and Psychic Weakness are fairly common, and striking all three should give you at least a few favorable matchups. The only other Pokémon with Fast Raid, however, is Latios-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 58/108, 101/108; SM: Black Star Promos XY72). It is a Dragon Type, and only BW-era Dragons are Dragon Weak.
This is why we will use Marshadow-GX and Mew (XY: Fates Collide 29/124). Both have Abilities that allow them to copy attacks from your other Basic Pokémon; for the former, from those in your discard pile, while the latter copies from those in play. Fighting Weakness and Psychic Weakness, while hardly universal, definitely improve your odds. While not recommended, Mew-EX would also be an option as well. If you want to pursue this even further, and for something that is not just a donk deck, perhaps this is what the deck that never really was, the Vileplume (BW: Boundaries Crossed 3/149) has been waiting for; it can’t hit the field until your second turn at the earliest, but its Ability causes each Pokémon in play to have x4 Weakness (sadly, this applies to your own as well). once Fast Raid can do 120 for [G], its okay that its “usable first turn” effect no longer matters. You could still use at least some of the Poison tricks as well.
So, is this a new deck (or decks) that will set either Standard or Expanded ablaze? Nope. While donk decks are scary, they (thankfully) aren’t especially competitive right now. Fast Raid is only going to work its magic when you go first… or at least have a chance at a true donk. Even when you do go first, you’ll need to get the right attacker up front, powered up, and swinging. Without Weakness, you won’t have much range, either. The decks expected to materialize around Latios-EX and its Fast Raid also never had much in the way of competitive success, but I do think Pheromosa-GX has a better chance. Why? It just has better mid-to-late game options. Cruel Spike needs help to reach reliable 2HKO range against opposing Pokémon-EX/GX, but all the stuff we’d include to improve first turn damage? It provides just that. Beauty-GX is quite the beast late game, and again, those offensive buffs still help as they enable Beauty-GX OHKO’s (or pseudo-OHKO’s) when the opponent hasn’t taken all that many Prizes. Pheromosa-GX isn’t legal for Limited Format play, but if she were, she’d be one of the better, if not the best, pulls. Beauty-GX would be worthless for a +39 deck, but Fast Raid and Cruel Spike would do just fine.
Pheromosa-GX is thankfully not the new must-run deck for the competitive scene. It might be a nice opener for certain decks, it might even spawn a semi-competitive donk deck. That last bit is more important than it sounds. I’ve already encountered such a deck on the PTCGO, and it could be handy for grinding wins at a Pokémon League as well. Even though it isn’t reliable enough to be a truly competitive deck, players skilled enough to handle it but not skilled enough to handle something better have the option of taking their chances. With some luck, strategic donks and Type matching could take you pretty far. With a lot of luck, it might even take you right to the top.
Pheromosa, as a Ultra Beast Pokémon, bears a striking resemblance to Lusamine. But that’s probably just my imagination. As a card, however, Pheromosa may have a few things going for it.
Fast Raid costs G for 30 damage, but you can use this attack if you go first. Being able to attack in your first turn is great (past ruling before November 2013 may make this text useless). Fast Raid won’t win any games anytime soon; you have to look elsewhere. Cruel Spike costs GG for 60 and confuses your opponent’s Active Pokémon. Those two attacks shouldn’t be worthy of being an GX, but maybe the GX attack says otherwise.
Beauty GX costs GG like Cruel Spike and it does 50 damage times the number of prizes your opponent has taken. This used to be a easier indicator because players start the game with six prizes. But recently, other Ultra Beasts can alter the amount of prize cards such as Nihilego GX adding two cards from the top of your opponent’s deck to their prizes, making it eight prize cards. Thus, it’s important to keep track of how many prizes has taken. In this case, it takes your opponent to take 5 prizes in order to OHKO anything in the game.
Standard: 2.5/5 (it’s an alright Pokémon, being able to attack first turn and having a good revenge/comeback GX attack)
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