Card – Chilling Reign
Date Reviewed: August 2, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This time, on Porygon-Z…
Is it a bad sign or a good sign when I begin the review with a goofy reference? Porygon-Z (SW – Chilling Reign 118/198) has something huge going against it: it is a Stage 2 Pokémon in a metagame where they’re often too slow and/or resource-intensive to rapidly and reliably bust out. This is a baseline Pokémon: no Rule Box mechanics, no other non-Standard mechanics (like a Battle Style), and only worth a single Prize when KO’d unless another card’s effect changes that. Porygon-Z is a Colorless Pokémon, so you could boost its damage with Powerful [C] Energy, but you can’t exploit Weakness. You also don’t have to worry about Resistance, either… but Weakness is far more potent a game mechanic.
Porygon-Z’s 140 HP is on the low-average to average side of things for a Stage 2, and overall that is just enough to be a little more likely to survive a hit than not. That doesn’t apply when we focus on most competitive decks that have already setup. [F] Weakness is a problem; that narrow margin of survivable doesn’t just evaporate, it inverts. Even a mere 70 damage hit doubles to 140. No Resistance is the worst, but is also the most common, so it isn’t actually a problem. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is also typical, and neither low enough to be an advantage nor high enough to be a disadvantage.
Porygon-Z features an Ability and an attack. The Ability, “Bug Transmission”, can be activated anytime you attach an Energy card from your hand to this Pokémon. When that happens, you have the option of Confusing your opponent’s Active. Confusion is a curious Special Condition. It is both defensive, in that it may prevent your opponent’s Active from successfully attacking, and offensive in that a “failed” attack means they actually still attack but its effect is placing three damage counters on itself. Your opponent can be rid of it in the usual ways, but it doesn’t go away on its own like Sleep or Paralysis. Being optional prevents the unlikely situation of Confusing your opponent’s Active when they want that to happen.
All in all, not a bad Ability, but not a great one, either; Special Conditions aren’t that hard to shake, and you need to attach an Energy card to this Pokémon to Activate it… meaning that Energy cannot go someplace else without Energy moving effects. The attack is far simpler to explain: “Superbeam” costs [CCC] and allows Porygon-Z to attack for 170 damage, but also discards two Energy from itself. This isn’t enough to justify running a Stage 2 with 140 HP as your main attacker, but it is decent damage for three of any Energy type. Triple Acceleration Energy is also a natural combo; cover the entire attacks printed and effect cost… and you’re not behind any Energy because Triple Acceleration Energy would have discarded itself at the end of your turn.
While not bad, Porygon-Z is not good, either. “Underwhelming” is probably a good way to describe it. Fortunately, Porygon-Z (SM – Unbroken Bonds 157/214) exists and has known some success. Though it has 10 less HP than today’s Porygon-Z, it has the Ability “Crazy Code”, which lets you attach as a Special Energy card from your hand to one of your Pokémon as often as you, during your turn. Bug Transmission Porygon-Z ain’t great on its own, but it seems at least plausible as TecH in a Crazy Code Porygon-Z deck. Multiple instances of Crazy Code Porygon-Z are only needed as spares, in case one is KO’d or otherwise leaves the field. So running two and one or three and one, where the “one” is today’s Porygon-Z, can be done. You likely have extra Energy in the deck, since you enjoy extra Energy attachments, so you can harass your opponent with Confusion, potentially exhausting their means of easily dealing with it.
This also provides an alternate attacker for the deck. Not the best option for that job just going by attacks, but again, you’re already running the rest of the line and will have an easy time fueling Superbeam. Not a lot of protective effects specifically work against baseline Pokémon, so this gives you 170 damage that can, for example, OHKO Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035; Shining Fates 007/072, SV003/SV122) without worrying about Decidueye’s “Deep Forest Camo” Ability. Not a reason to build a deck around this Porygon-Z, but just maybe a reason to work it into a deck featuring a better Porygon-Z, like the Crazy Code version.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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