– Celestial Storm
October 9, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Salamence (CES 106/168) makes another appearance as a regular stage 2 Dragon type with 150 HP, weak to Fairy, retreat cost of three, and Dragon Claw which does 100 damage for RWCC. Nothing out of the ordinary except for its ability, which functions like Gust of Wind once per turn, and when this Pokémon is on the Active. For a ability that works constantly instead of a one-and-done deal, you would think that this card would see any play.
Except that there are things going against Salamence. You have to use the entire evolutionary line and to quickly get them into play like rare candy. Ability lock hurts as Garbodor’s Garbotoxin will shut it down even before it comes into play. Standard has Pokémon that can shut down Abilities from GX and Basic Pokémon, so Salamence is safe there. Even then, having to be in the Active spot hurts, since Salamence cannot do much besides it’s vanilla Dragon Claw attack, which is expensive and not even 2HKO the game. You could improve it by adding couple Altaria whose Fight Song can increase damage output. Even if you add those, then 4 Altaria with Choice Band can do 210 damage at best. It might hit some numbers m, but the resources that you invest is asking for too much.
Not to mention trainer cards giving Salamence competition in regards to its ability. Sure, there isn’t a trainer card that remains constant, but they’re economical in terms of deck space. 4 Guzma/Lysandre is better than say 3-2-2 line. Overall, the card’s redeeming factor is its ability, but everything else is underwhelming.
Standard: 2.5/5 (It’s alright…)
Expanded: 2/5 (…though it could’ve done it a bit more like a better attack.)
Limited: 2.5/5 (Stage 2 makes it hard to see play)
Salamence (CES 106) swoops into the Pokemon Trading Card Game from the Celestial Storm expansion set. This 150 HP Stage 2 Dragon type Pokemon has an attack and an ability. For four attachments – a Water, a Fire, and two Colorless energy, Dragon Claw does 100 damage.
Yes, that’s right. You have to get four energy cards on it – at least one of which has to be different than the others – and it only does 100 damage with no special conditions or favorable effects. I don’t know what to tell you guys. Yuck.
Its ability, Dragon Wind, allows you to gust one of your opponent’s benched Pokemon up into the active… if Salamence is in the active position itself. And in case you’re wondering, Salamence has a heavy three energy retreat cost, so unless you have Switch or Tate & Liza or Warp Energy or something similar, you’ll probably be doing 100 damage to the newly promoted Pokemon… again if you have four energy attached to Salamence.
Therefore, Salamence falls into the category of pretty much unplayable Stage 2 Pokemon. There are plenty of other Stage 2 Pokemon I’m much more interested in trying to make work than this poor underpowered Dragon.
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
Blaziken, Swampert, Ludicolo, Exploud, Tyranitar – those are all of the Stage 2 Pokemon from CES I’ve actually built a deck around, and that doesn’t even include Metagross, Sceptile, and Donphan. Sorry, Salamence, you got the short end of the stick this time.
Salamence (SM – Celestial Storm 106/168) is our second subject this week. Once again, it is a Stage 2 and that is going to make it more difficult to play; slower and more expensive. Yes, even with [N] support; Lance [Prism Star] can play any two [N] Pokémon directly from your deck while Dragonite-GX’s “Dragonporter-GX” attack can Bench any three directly from your discard pile, but unless your opponent takes an extremely unlike FTKO against you, Salamence doesn’t hit the field faster than if you managed to Bench it on your first turn then use Rare Candy to skip Shelgon and Evolve directly into Salamence the next turn. Still, one does appreciate the options available to [N] Pokémon, even if none have currently proven worth it in competitive play; too bad nothing is [N] Weak and Weakness is still a major factor of what is and is not competitive. At least the 150 HP is still fairly beefy for a single-Prize Pokémon and [Y] Weakness isn’t really a concern, though the latter could easily change after SM – Lost Thunder releases, as among the many things that set contains is more [Y] support. No Resistance is the worst and may have even mattered due to that 150 HP, while its Retreat Cost of [CCC] is even worse than normal; it is hard to Retreat this Pokémon manually, and we’ve got a great reason to want to frequently promote then Retreat this Pokémon.
Salamence has the Ability “Dragon Wind”, which may only be used while Salamence is your Active Pokémon. It is also a once-per-turn (per copy) Ability, but one where that scarcely matters because there are only a few times you’d want to use Dragon Wind multiple times in a single turn (barring player error). With the conditions met, Dragon Wind lets you switch one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon with their current Active, making it their new Active. The wording might create an extra sticking point; we’ll need actual rulings to know but if there’s something immune to effects either on the Bench or in the Active Position, it might nullify the entire effect. I suspect, however, you only have to worry about the Bench being protected, and that if you force something Active the game mechanics still take over and can force a protected Pokémon to your Bench. This is a once-per-turn Lysandre, and it is potent. The same cannot be said of this card’s attack. “Dragon Claw” requires [RWCC] to do 100 damage, which is enough to easily justify 120 or 130 damage, maybe even a little more.
None of the legal Bagon or Shelgon are worth highlighting; some are better than others, but nothing is going to substantially increase your chances of getting Salamence into play, or prove so useful you won’t mind having to wait on Salamence. Salamence-GX may actually matter, however; though you can run up to four Salamence and Salamence-GX in the same deck, they’ll have to share the resources used to put them into play… yeah, even if you use one of those [N]-exclusive shortcuts. Your reward is a combo we’ve been spoonfed. Salamence-GX is a Stage 2 [N] Pokémon with 250 HP, [Y] Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], one Ability, one regular attack, and one GX-attack. Its Ability is “Dragon Lift”, which zeroes out the Retreat Cost of your Pokémon, excluding Pokémon-EX/GX. So it cannot help itself, but it can help the regular Salamence. As such, anytime one of your Pokémon is KO’d, you can promote Salamence for a Lysandre at the cost of your Retreat for the turn. Even if nothing of yours was KO’d that turn, it means any switching effect can fake being a Guzma, thanks to the combo.
Salamence-GX also has beefier attacks, being one of two ways to make up for Salamence being an underachiever in that department. For the same [RWCC] as Dragon Claw, Salamence-GX can use “Bright Flame” to do 200 damage. Bright Flame also has an effect that forces you to discard two Energy from Salamence-GX, so it isn’t truly the exact same cost, but it is well worth that discard to do twice the damage (or 70 to 80 above what I expect out of [RWCC]). You can discard any two Energy, so Zinnia and Double Colorless Energy can both help you power up initially while Double Colorless Energy attachments can cover the discard costs. Zinnia could help reload as well if your opponent manages to KO something other than Salamence-GX. Salamence-GX can also use “Flame Jet-GX” for a quick 120 to one of your opponent’s Pokémon for [RCC], which can be handy if you really need a medium-sized hit to your opponent’s Bench or just can’t afford to use Bright Flame that turn. You could also use Altaria (Dragon Majesty 40/70) and its “Fight Song” Ability to up the damage for Dragon Claw or Dragon Claw and Bright Flame… and for that matter, if you could try to include alternate attackers, ones that aren’t even [N] Types.
Salamence itself doesn’t care about Types, though the support I would be likely to run with it does. Still, from now on it will always be something to consider, as Lance [Prism Star] only cares about the Type of the Pokémon it searches out, so you could run it and even just Salamence in an otherwise non-[N] deck. It might actually be better in Expanded; you can’t pull the Battle Compressor => VS Seeker trick on Lance [Prism Star], but you can use all the other tricks for reliably pulling off a tricky Supporter combo. Float Stone is also legal here, making it much easier to get Salamence out of the Active slot via retreating for free. Then again, it faces a lot more competition and counters. All that said, the place Salamence is the best is probably the Limited Format; though having to also pull its lower Stages is an issue, and you have less reliable draw and search to get it into play, once a Salamence hits the field here, your opponent has to have their own heavy attacker or massive luck to avoid losing. Here, 100 damage from a four Energy attack is still good, and the Ability is even better! Odds are, though, most of us won’t experience this as the main example of Limited Format play in this TCG come in the form of Pre-Releases.
I’m still long-winded, so this is section is back as long as I think the card warrants it. Salamence is great if you can get it into and out of your Active spot easily, or beef up its own attacks. We have about half of what we need for that to be a thing in Standard, and we probably have better options for the effort in Expanded.
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