Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX
– Hidden Fates
September 13, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Wow, we kinda destroyed Life Herb’s playability yesterday, did we? Well hopefully another Grass thematic card will be better today (cause Life Herb is a medicine that’s wrapped in leaves).
Anyhow, Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX comes in with three attacks. Let me get the other two attacks out of the way. Calming Hurricane costs GGC for 150 damage and heals 30 damage from those Pokémon. Tropical Hour also costs GGC for 200 damage, but if it has three extra energy attached to it, then your opponent shuffles all energy from all of their Pokémon into their deck, leaving them energyless. These attacks can barely 2HKO the game and the energy setback is only useful if your opponent doesn’t quickly find a way to reattach them, and considering that some type specific decks can do that, the GX’s one time deal is futile.
Super Growth is the most interesting attack out of the three as it costs no energy to attack. It lets you evolve a Grass Pokemon to either its Stage 1, Stage 2, Break Evolution, or Mega Evolution (if dealing with Grass Pokémon-EX). Also, if that Pokémon that just evolved is now a Stage 1, then you search your deck for that Stage 2 and evolve it again! Based on the wording, this is one of the few cards which lets you break one of the rules of the Pokémon TCG. While you normally can’t evolve your Pokémon on the first turn or the turn that was played, Super Growth can be used even if that Pokémon was put into play. Since Forest of Giant Plants was banned after the 2016-2017 rotation from Expanded, Grass decks are in a struggle. Super Growth might not be as powerful as Forest of Giant Plants – Evolving one Pokemon at a time as opposed to multiple and giving up your attack – but that’s the closest thing we have in terms of speeding up evolutions.
Now, I can’t think of a good Stage 2 Grass types in the Standard format, but I know a couple good ones in Expanded! Decidueye-GX’s Feather Arrow Ability puts 2 damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon. Vileplume’s Allergic Pollen prevents both players from playing item cards. Serperior’s Royal Heal heals 10 damage from all of your Pokemon between turns. I just remembered that some grass Pokémon evolves into a different type. While the first step needs a Grass Pokemon to evolve, the jump from Stage 1 to Stage 2 doesn’t require any type. So you can jump from Grubbin to Vikavolt, or even Seedot to Dark Type Shiftry!
That’s assuming everything is in order, though. Because Super Growth grabs Evolved Pokemon from the deck, said Pokémon can’t be in your hand, discard pile, or your prize cards. Running a 1-1-1 line for the sole purpose of saving deck space is risky due to one of the pieces be prized. That’s pretty much it about the hiccups. I can already think of an idea of what to be used on, and that’s going to be in existing Deciplume. Those 4 banned Forest of Giant Plants can be easily replaced with 4 Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX, improving the chances of starting with one. With a free attack, Max Potion has no drawback unless you’ve already played Vileplume. Unfortunately, item lock isn’t the end for some decks if their abilities, Stadium, and Supporters still help function the deck well.
It may be a Grass Type Basic 270 HP who’s weak to fire and worth three prizes, but Super Growth is their redeeming factor to speeding up Evolutions for Grass Pokemon and is a nice inclusion to them.
Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX (SM – Unified Minds 1/236, 214/236, 215/236, 237/236) closes out or week. This is our second TAG TEAM and third Pokémon-GX this week, so this should sound familiar; Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX gives up three Prizes when KO’d, has to deal with anti-TAG TEAM effects in addition to anti-GX effects, but gains access to GX- and TAG TEAM-support. It also means Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX is a Basic Pokémon with a hefty HP score. Basics are still the best Stage, the easiest to run; 270 HP means Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX is difficult to OHKO, outside of its Weakness. [R] Weakness is awful to have right now, but at least with 270 HP, the attacker has to swing for 140 before Weakness. Lack of Resistance is the worst, but typical. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is painful to pay but also just a bit low to access tricks like Buff Padding.
Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX has three attacks. Up first and costing no Energy is “Super Growth”. The first step for this attack is searching your deck for a card that Evolves from one of your Benched [G] Pokémon. Note that no Stage or Type is specified here; technically, it doesn’t even have to be a Pokémon! I don’t know of anything like a Trainer that Evolves from a Pokémon, but there are [G] Pokémon that Evolve into other Types and you can Evolve into the next Stage of Evolution, regardless of what that Stage is: Stage 1, Stage 2, BREAK Evolution, or Mega Evolution. You cannot skip a Stage, though; I mentioned a Stage 2 just now in case your Benched [G] Pokémon was already a Stage 1. Hold up, though; there is another part to this attack. If the Pokémon you just Evolved is now a Stage 1, you can search your deck for a Stage 2 and Evolve it into the Stage 2 right away! You cannot use the attack to go (for example) Basic => Stage 1 => BREAK Evolution, but you can go Basic => Stage 1 => Stage 2.
The second attack is “Calming Influence” for [GGC], which does 150 damage while healing 30 from Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX. The damage is very good for the Energy, as similarly priced attacks can hit harder but also come with additional costs, drawbacks, and/or restrictions. It is enough for 2HKO’s, even if there is no margin for error, but that should often be good enough. Healing 30 is a nice little bonus; not game-breaking, but with 270 HP it has a solid chance of delaying Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX being KO by a turn. The GX-attack is “Tropical Hour-GX” and costs [GGG], doing 200 damage. Again, decent damage for the Energy, with other attacks doing more but coming with drawbacks instead of a bonus effect. In this case, you need to overpay by three Energy to trigger the optional secondary effect, which lets you shuffle all Energy from your opponent’s Pokémon (all of their Pokémon) into their deck. Sometimes, this would be brutal, other times, meaningless, all depending on the exact field.
Putting all of this together, Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX is a pretty impressive opener that might also make for a good tank in a stall/control deck. While it hasn’t shown up much in recent events, at least in the higher placing decks, at least one time it has happened. Sander Wojcik managed a 60th place finish at the World Championships! I’ve bumped into this deck (or something like it) a few times on the PTCGO… which would be more impressive if I hadn’t been grinding out Daily Challenges with dubious decks at the time. How about Expanded? Maybe; you have to attack to enjoy that Evolution acceleration, and I’m not sure if Expanded will give you enough time. After all, your opponent still has cards like Guzma to mess with whatever you just Evolved. On the other hand, you’ll have more options and you’ll also have Acerola, AZ, Max Potion, etc. to work with Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX.
For the Limited Format, Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX is almost guaranteed to be a must-run. Maybe you pull a different massive Basic Pokémon worth running solo, but otherwise, you have the option to pull that trick with Rowlet & Exeggutor-GX itself. With no other Basics, you won’t be able to take advantage of the first attack, but unless your opponent can set up a real heavy hitter, get a really fast start, or is running a [Y] Type attacker they’ll struggle to overcome your damage output, HP, and self-healing. If you have enough worthwhile Evolutions that Evolve from [G] Types, then you could run Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX in a fleshed-out deck and take advantage of Super Growth but if you have worthwhile other Pokémon that are not Grass-Types, as long as you can afford to run a decent amount of Grass Energy you’ll still have a valuable attacker for your deck.
Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX is a card to watch. That it had any success at Worlds when Fire Decks were so big, is impressive. Attacking to Evolve keeps it from obviously breaking the game… but I still wonder what might happen in the future. It just takes the powers-that-be coming up with an effect that is balanced because it can’t hit the field before Turn X, and Super Growth letting that effect hit the field a turn or two sooner.
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