– Darkness Ablaze
November 10, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Rhyperior V (SW – Darkness Ablaze 095/189, 181/189) has been getting a little buzz lately… at least, on the one or two PokéTuber channels I regularly watch. Let’s see if we can work out why. Its status as a Pokémon V means it gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of support like Scoop Up Net, and has to deal with counters like the “Deep Forest Camo” Ability of Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Darkness Ablaze SWSH035). Rhyperior V benefits from this mechanic by being a Basic (instead of a Stage 2), having more HP than its baseline counterpart, and might have better attacks than it otherwise would have, relative to their costs.
Rhyperior V is a Fighting type, letting it smack many Colorless types, many Darkness types, and most Lightning types for double damage, due to their [F] Weakness. Of particular note right now would be Eternatus V and Eternatus VMAX. SW – Vivid Voltage is so close I’ll mention that the new [F] support might help Rhyperior V, though it is also possible it’ll elevate something else, which might crowd out this particular Pokémon. The [F] support we have in Standard right now is mostly built around [F] Energy, thought it is appreciated. Anti-Fighting effects aren’t very good, but may catch you off guard, as can Fighting Resistance, which is one of the more common forms of Resistance.
I touched upon the HP earlier; 230 is the second highest for Basic Pokémon V, only possessed only by a few others, and surpassed only by Wailord V. It still might be a bit disappointing compared to baseline versions of Rhyperior; the most recent Rhyperior (Sword & Shield 099/202) is a single Prize Stage 2 with 190 HP, so the Pokémon V treatment only gives it an extra 40 while still being worth a full extra Prize. Fortunately, 230 HP is still decent. Remember that Decidueye I mentioned earlier? That’s why [G] Weakness is dangerous right now, or at least the main reason. At least it doesn’t enable a OHKO in this scenario, barring a lot of outside help. A total lack of Resistance is the worst, but also typical. You might think a Retreat Cost of [CCCC] is the worst, but it lets Rhyperior take advantage of cards like Buff Padding, and past a Retreat Cost of [CC], you’re better of using switching cards anyway.
Rhyperior V knows two attacks. Up first is “Drill Horn”, which requires [FCC] to do 80 damage, while also discarding an Energy from your opponent’s Active. For [FCCC], Rhyperior V’s second attack is “Heavy Rock Artillery”. This let’s Rhyperior V swing for 210 damage, with the drawback of placing an effect on itself that prevents it from using Heavy Rock Artillery the next turn. Drill Horn’s damage is a bit low for the Energy, and I’m not sure Heavy Rock Artillery hits hard enough to even need any drawback, but both are mostly [C] for their Energy requirements. This makes them a little easier to run, even though Rhyperior V cannot make use of something like Twin Energy. Drill Horn’s discarding of Energy is pretty valuable given that it is reliable and works on either basic or Special Energy, and shaking the effect of Heavy Rock Artillery is as simple as using two switching effects.
The good parts of Rhyperior V aren’t that impressive on their own, but that’s when we need to consider the entire package. Rhyperior V isn’t large enough to survive a hit from something like Zacian V’s “Brave Blade”, but Rhyperior V plus Cape of Toughness or Buff Padding can survive Brave Blade even after Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX have buffed it with “Altered Creation-GX”. Still not great, but I’d say that is at least decent at the moment. Tactical Energy denial is usually at least irritating, and sometimes crippling depending on the exact deck you’re facing. The big appeal is exploiting Weakness, however; Drill Run is still a little disruptive while scoring 2HKO’s, and Heavy Rock Artillery can then OHKO anything unless it has a massive HP buff or protective effect.
The big issue with Rhyperior V is that it is slow; not from needing to evolve but from requiring so much Energy. It needs Energy acceleration, or perhaps a strong control strategy to back it up. Probably both. That isn’t as crazy as it sounds; before SW – Vivid Voltage drops, you still have cards like Welder or Frosmoth that, while they are not accelerating [F] Energy, can cover the [C] Energy costs while letting a manual Energy attachment cover the rest. If a utilizing a control strategy, you might even make do with just Turbo Patch, assuming you disrupt your opponent enough that one Rhyperior V lasts two or three turns (allowing time to manually build the next). I’m going to hazard a guess that it would be decent in Expanded; while you’re still probably mixing different forms of Energy acceleration, there’s more Fighting support here.
I’d probably risk running it in a Mulligan deck in Limited. Emphasis on “risk”: there are some strong Grass types that are basically autolosses for it, and some decent ones that are just Uncommons. With your slow start up, even non-Grass attackers can be a problem if they hit hard enough, fast enough. An opponent who doesn’t outpace you is almost guaranteed to be destroyed by alternating Drill Run and Heavy Rock Artillery. Remember, you may only have 230 HP, but both players only start with four Prize cards. If you do not want to run a Mulligan deck… absolutely make room for Rhyperior V and a few Fighting Energy. Safely build it on your Bench (assuming it shows up in time), and then unleash it!
I haven’t seen enough to verify or disprove the scuttlebutt I’ve heard about Rhyperior V, so the above is definitely a Theorymon score. For something I’d originally dismissed as filler, these are actually good scores, and I wonder if I’m being a bit harsh with it for Limited. I don’t know how it will handle SW – Vivid Voltage, but you have a day or two to try it before you have to start worry about that.
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