– Sword & Shield
March 4, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Ever wanted a reminiscence of getting trainer cards back and having an attack that intensifies based on certain conditions? Well look no further than Sableye-V! A Basic Darkness type with 170 HP, weak to grass, and a retreat cost of two, it has two attacks. Lode Search gets you a Trainer card from the discard pile onto your hand while Crazy Claws cost DD and does ten damage plus sixty more damage for each damage counters on the Defending Pokemon. It may not be Mega Tyranitar’s level of strength, but the 60x multiplier is still very good and there’s ways to put extra damage counters efficiently! Galarian Zizzagoon and Obstagoon are perfect examples, and it was actually used by several decks, and it places well in recent tournaments. If you can get 5 damage counters on the Defending Pokémon, then Crazy Claws will actually OHKO anything, even Snorlax V-Max! For Expanded, you could do a lot more with Darkness support, be it a Darkrai-EX for free retreat, Dark Patch for energy acceleration, or Reverse Valley for bonus damage.
Another day, another Pokémon V! Specifically, today’s subject is Sableye V (Sword & Shield 120/202, 194/202). Keep in mind, as we look at the rest of the card, its worth two Prizes when KO’d, will have to deal with Pokémon V counters, and will be excluded from certain (future) beneficial card effects. Also, older effects that just mention Pokémon-EX and/or Pokémon-GX won’t apply; sometimes to its detriment, sometimes to its advantage! You can read a slightly more detailed write-up of what it means to be a Pokémon V here.
Sableye V is a [D] Type. They have some great support, but the proven examples of it are Expanded-only. There are some anti-[D] effects as well, but they’re even less relevant. The changes to Types and Weakness put into effect with Sword & Shield are good for the [D] Type. Before, only certain [P] Types were [D] Weak, and all [Y] Types were [D] Resistant. Older card will still be that way, but there appear to be no new Pokémon with default [D] Resistance, and more [P] Types (probably the majority) are [D] Weak!
Sableye V has 170 HP. Low for a Pokémon V, Sableye V has a decent chance of surviving a hit, but as a Pokémon V it is also worth extra effort. [G] Weakness is currently tolerable; no major [G] Type attackers in Standard, and the current, strong Expanded example – Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX – just saves itself the need for Muscle Band. No Resistance is the worst, but makes sense; [P] Types are now [D] Weak, so the traditional [P] Resistance would be overkill for the match-up. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither particularly high or low; if it suits the deck, Air Balloon can zero it out completely.
Sableye V has two attacks, “Lode Search” for [D] and “Crazy Claws” for [DD]. The former lets you add a Trainer from your discard pile to your hand while the latter does 10 damage plus 60 per damage counter on your opponent’s Active. Lode Search can snag any Trainer, it definitely has potential in Standard, but Expanded has Sableye (BW – Dark Explorers 62/108). For the same cost, it can use its “Junk Hunt” attack to reclaim two Item cards from your discard pile. The simple combo with VS Seeker means only Stadiums require further help to recycle.
Crazy Claw is a great finishing move if you can easily supply [DD]. Its awful if something is undamaged, doing a pathetic 10 damage. One damage counter means swinging for 70, so targets with 80 or less HP are gone. Two damage counters are where we see a solid return; 130 damage, so anything with 150 or less HP is gone. Three damage counters is where Crazy Claw lives up to its name; 190 damage to something that already has three damage counters means 220 HP single Prize, Pokémon-EX, Pokémon-GX, and Pokémon V are going down!
Not that bigger hits aren’t possible; four damage counters means Sableye V can Crazy Claw for 250 damage. Since the Active already has four damage counters on it, that means 290 HP or less Pokémon are KO’d. Five damage counters means 310 damage; ignoring protective effects, you your opponent needs to be something like a Snorlax VMAX with Buff Padding to survive! Six damage counters is hard to achieve without attacking, but I don’t think any serious, competitive deck can field something with the 430 HP needed to survive that!
So, where would Sableye V be useful? Control decks may enjoy both attacks; recycling key Trainers with the option to finish something at a critical moment… but remember Sableye V is something of a glass canon. If you can place damage counters, though, then Crazy Claw can fake OHKO’s. You could use spread attacks, so you are attacking once and then going for the KO’s; the first is obviously a 2HKO, but each subsequent is a KO with only one additional attack. Given how our week started, you probably know where this is going…
…as Sunday’s Galarian Zigzagoon and Monday’s Galarian Obstagoon both have Abilities that let you place one or three damage counters (respectively) on one of your opponent’s Pokémon. Galarian Obstagoon has an attack that lets it wall against most Basic Pokémon, but it could use some helps against Evolutions, especially beefy ones. Enter Sableye V; if you can evolve into two of your Galarian Obstagoon, even that extra-chunky Snorlax VMAX I mentioned is down in one hit. Your opponent will see it coming, unless you use something like Dark Patch (Expanded) or Bede (Standard) for Energy acceleration.
That’s how Tim Bartels ran the deck at the Oceania International Championship, including the trick with Bede. This event was held on February 21st, with 405 Masters competing. However, Anthony Alvarez just used Galarian Obstagoon to win an SPE held in Puerto Rico and did not run even one copy of Sableye V. The event took place on February 29th. I’m not trying to downplay the accomplishment, but we cannot be certain which build is better; the SPE only had 76 Masters in attendance, and some high level players may have opted to participate in the Collinsville, Indiana Regional Championship held on the same day (and 640 Masters in attendance).
Which means we have a card I think looks pretty good, but can understand someone skipping because its an attacker worth 2-Prizes but possessing only 170 HP. Its attacks are still good, but you’re probably giving up two Prizes to use Sableye V in the Standard Format. The Expanded Format may suit it better, even though Lode Search may be worse here, because Dark Patch makes it much easier to exploit Crazy Claw. There are also more ways to get damage counters in play, even on the same turn!
Sableye V is not a Pokémon to run solo in a Limited Format deck. Lode Search is awesome if you’ve used some good Trainers beforehand, or it could whiff because you’ve played no good Trainers, maybe even no Trainers at all! Crazy Claw is why you want Sableye V working with something else; in a +39 build, you’d have to do 10 one turn, then 70 the next, maybe even a third strike after that! That 170 HP seems like it just won’t last long enough. If your deck can run on mostly or only basic Darkness Energy, then use Sableye V to back up everything else!
The future is unclear. We’re getting a card that is Lysandre by a new name, a serious issue for the Galarian Obstagoon deck. We’re also receiving a card current translations have named Scoop Up Net, but that’s a big benefit to Galarian Obstagoon. These are at least two months away; the earliest we’d receive them is in our May expansion. Rumors about the next Japanese set, meaning they’re at least five months away for us, say that the set will be Darkness Themed, including more support for the Type.
Sableye V almost made my Top 20, but I was focused on Load Search for control deck shenanigans. It did make one of the others’ lists, but only just: with one voting point, Sableye V would have been our 31st-place pick for Sword & Shield if we’d had a massive enough countdown. Which means I’d originally planned on us reviewing it near the end of this month; recent tournament results got it moved to the front of the queue!
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