– Darkness Ablaze
October 21, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
At first, I visually thought I was looking at Mega Scizor, but apparently not.
Scizor V-MAX from Sword & Shield Darkness Ablaze seems to be a decent Metal Pokemon in a crowded field of many other great Metal Pokemon, and I don’t know if decks will have room of running Scizor V-MAX without giving up the others. It benefits from many things regarding the Metal Type such as the permanent damage reduction effect of Full Metal Wall (reducing damage taken by 30), Metal Goggles (reducing damage taken by 30 and Abilities can’t place damage counters on it), and the unreleased Coating Metal Energy (which is a Special Energy card for Metal types to have no weakness). Taking 30 less damage from Grass types helps, but the Fire weakness does it no favors (even with 320 HP) as it is still a well represented type in the current Standard format where Welder accelerates energies with ease.
With those support, Scizor will stick around, and while it can soften some damage, it has two attacks to fight back. Hard Scissors costs MC for 90 damage and it also takes 30 less damage from your opponent’s attacks. Again, with other pieces of support, you could be taking 90 less damage (or 120 less damage against Grass types), which can drastically alter the thresholds of various 2HKOs and 3HKOs. Max Steelspike costs MMC for 190 damage without additional effect, which is alright; this is a clean 2HKO against anything in the game sans Zamazenta-V. But why stop at those damage outputs? Galarian Perrserker’s ability, Steely Spirit, lets your Metal Pokemon deal 20 extra damage; have four of them in play, and that’s 80 more damage. Both of Scizor’s attacks will deal 170 and 270 respectively. Still not enough to OHKO Tag Teams and other VMAX cards, but at least Hard Scissors can now 2HKO anything while still having the damage reduction effect.
To get to Scizor VMAX, it has to evolve from Scizor-V. It is a Metal type with 210 HP, Fire weakness, Grass Resistance, and retreat cost of CC. Hack Off costs M for 30 damage and also discards both a Pokémon Tool card and a Special Energy card from your opponent’s Active Pokemon. Against decks that somewhat relies on Special Energies and Pokemon Tools, Hack Off can be extremely useful to get rid of them. However, it doesn’t help that if the Pokémon Tool in question is one of those tools where they can benefit on their turn or if Special Energies’ effect are a one-and-done deal like Speed L Energy. Plus, if a deck doesn’t use Tools or Special Energies, the Hack Off is no better than a cheap but underpowered vanilla attack. Slashing Claw does 140 damage for MMC. Not too special either, though it could still reach 2HKOs if there’s enough damage boosting cards.
It is possible that a Scizor VMAX deck can be made, and even with Fire weakness, there a Special Energy card for Metal types that removes weakness. It won’t see play right away, but maybe after the upcoming set of Vivid Voltage, the Metal type – in terms of support – will have enough relevant cards for the Standard format.
Scizor is a decent attacker that can also tank certain attacks and actually fight back. I think it’s one card away from being truly resilient, and when that time comes, Scizor will be extremely hard to be OHKOed with all the Metal support still available in the Standard format.
No surprise, today’s subject is Scizor VMAX (SW – Darkness Ablaze 119/189, 193/189). Well, it surprised me simply because I had my days mixed up, thinking yesterday was Wednesday, and convinced myself that Scizor V and Scizor VMAX reviews were straddling Throwback Thursday. Even though I’m the one who made the schedule for this week. Maybe that justifies why we’re going to begin this review by rehashing what it means to be a Pokémon VMAX. First, the almost pointless; Scizor VMAX is a Dynamax Pokémon. The card is labeled as such, others are labeled as Gigantamax or Eternamax, but no rules are card effects make use of this distinction at the moment.
Pokémon VMAX are both a Stage of evolution and a specialty mechanic. In terms of evolving, they’re the equivalent of a Stage 1 exclusive to Basic Pokémon V. Effect specific to Stage 1 Pokémon won’t apply to Pokémon VMAX, or the other way around, because they are distinct from each other. The similarity does mean that Pokémon VMAX are quite reasonable to run in terms of pacing and card counts. Pokémon VMAX are a subcategory of Pokémon V; if an effect refers to Pokémon V it applies to Pokémon VMAX, however the reverse is not true as effects that specify Pokémon VMAX do not apply to Basic Pokémon V. Pokémon VMAX are worth two additional Prizes when KO’d, cannot make use of certain beneficial effects, and are the targets of some detrimental effects. This comes with powerful benefits, usually massive HP scores and stronger effects.
Scizor VMAX is a Metal type: good in terms of type support, not so much in terms of exploiting Weakness. It also means Scizor VMAX has to compliment or compete with Zacian V. The first concrete benefit of being a Pokémon VMAX is Scizor VMAX’s HP score of 320; solid for a Pokémon VMAX and hard to OHKO outside of ots [R] Weakness. It’s a dangerous Weakness to have right now, as Fire decks are still fairly hot, though they’re not blazing like they were last Standard Format. [G] Resistance is somewhat useful, thanks to Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/192; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035). Scizor VMAX’s Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can probably afford it but high enough you’ll feel the Energy loss sooner rather than later.
Scizor VMAX knows two attacks. Up first is “Hard Scissors” for [MC], which lets Scizor VMAX do 90 damage, while placing an effect on itself that reduces the damage it takes from attacks by 30 during your opponent’s next turn, though that is after Weakness and Resistance. Its decent damage for the Energy, with a decent effect, definitely aided by Scizor VMAX’s already impressive HP. Scizor VMAX’s second attack is “Max Steelspike”, allowing Scizor VMAX to do 190 damage for [MMC]. This should 2HKO anything lacking defensive buffs, though for three Energy on a Pokémon VMAX that is merely “decent”. It is nice that, while it lacks any beneficial effects, it also isn’t hindered by any drawbacks or additional costs.
As I mentioned with Scizor V, Scizor VMAX is greater than the sum of its parts. Plug it into the two major Metal type builds, those leading off with the GX-attack of either Lucario & Melmetal-GX or Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. The former’s “Full Metal Wall-GX” grants a -30 to the damage your Metal Pokémon take for the rest of the game, while the latter’s “Altered Creation-GX” means your Pokémon’s (plural) attacks do an extra 30. If you met the optional costs, Full Metal Wall-GX strips all Energy from your opponent’s Active (sometimes good, sometimes not worth it), while Altered Creation-GX means you take an extra Prize when you KO an opponent’s Pokémon through attack damage (almost always worth it).
Either bonus is helpful to Scizor VMAX’s attacks; Hard Scissors now effectively reduces damage by 60 or still only by 30 but now does 120 damage per shot (maybe while taking an extra Prize each KO!). It means Max Steelspike either doesn’t cost you all your damage reduction when used, or it hits hard enough to OHKO most Basic Pokémon V (before defensive buffs)… and again, taking that extra Prize when it happens. Then there’s the rest of the support; Metal Goggles for a further -30 to damage taken and protection from damage counters placed through opposing attacks or Abilities, Metal Saucer for Energy acceleration, and then the unproven stuff.
Mostly, my eye is on Galarian Perrserker (Sword & Shield 128/202, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH008; SW – Rebel Clash 205/192). Its “Steely Spirit” Ability grants +20 to the damage done by attacks from your Metal types. The downside is that Galarian Perrserker is a Stage 1 with 120 HP; if you’re walling with Scizor VMAX, a gusting effect or sniping attack can enable an easy OHKO. Still, two of these on your Bench should help both of Scizor VMAX’s attacks hit key numbers, whether you’re leading off with Full Metal Wall-GX or Altered Creation-GX. If you do go with the former, Galarian Perrserker will benefit from the protection, and in either deck, you might be able to spare some some copies of Metal Goggles for your Benched Galarian Perrserker as well. Together, a pseudo-180 HP is a lot sturdier than 120, but even the effective 150 is better than that base 120. If you don’t worry about defense and are leading off with Altered Creation-GX, it may not matter if your opponent keeps OHKOing your Galarian Perrserker. If you can keep setting up replacements, Max Steelspike is OHKOing Basic Pokémon V, often while taking three Prizes instead of just two!
Pure theorymon on my part, though. Maybe not even that; this is an untested hypothesis without even a decklist. The fact that Zacian V decks are not trying to squeeze it in, and straight Scizor VMAX decks aren’t showing up in the few tournament results available. Plus, this isn’t the first Metal Pokémon VMAX to tempt us with such options. Remember Copperaja VMAX? Yeah, that never panned out. Scizor VMAX’s prospects seem similar in Expanded, with added Metal support (hello Metal Frying Pan!) balanced out by more counters (like Field Blower). If you manage to pull both Scizor V and Scizor VMAX, though, you should be a happy camper in the Limited Format; maybe you use them in a Mulligan build, maybe you just build a non-mulligan deck around it, but unless you’re staring down a lot of Fire, Scizor VMAX should win you the game.
I think if Zacian V didn’t exist, Scizor VMAX probably would be the start of its own Metal deck. Zacian V does exist, and is a well-known quantity, so I’m actually being a bit charitable scoring Scizor VMAX this high. Still, keep it in mind if you just feel like trying a different Metal deck, or if we get some oddball addition to the cardpool that makes the differences between these Pokémon relevant (and in Scizor VMAX’s favor).
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