Shiftry – Vivid Voltage
Date Reviewed: December 2, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Shiftry (SW – Vivid Voltage 012/185) is a baseline Pokémon, worth only a single Prize, with no specialty mechanics like being a Pokémon V, Prism Star, Ultra Beast, etc. It is a Grass type, which is decent for exploiting Weakness, but crashed into Resistance on nearly all SW-era Metal types. Normally, I point out that Resistance doesn’t matter… but when -30 from Resistance is stacked on top of the -30 from Metal Goggles and/or the -30 from Lucario & Melmetal-GX’s “Full Metal Wall-GX” attack. It does come with access to [G] support like Turffield Stadium, though it might be Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX that really matters… and it actually only cares about the typing of Seedot and Nuzleaf. Anti-Grass effects may matter, namely Flareon (SW – Vivid Voltage 026/185); its “Incandescent Awakening” lets it shut down the Abilities of all [G] types while it has a Memory Capsule attached.
Shiftry is a Stage 2 Pokémon, which hurts. As we’ll soon see, it is probably justified, but it means Shiftry is (comparatively) slow and resource intensive. Seedot (SW – Vivid Voltage 010/185) and Nuzleaf (SW – Vivid Voltage 011/185) are vanilla filler and the only Standard-legal options, but there’s nothing overly impressive in Expanded, either. Shiftry has 150, which is the low end of “normal” for a Stage 2 at the present, and is about as likely to be OHKO’d as not. Except that includes when you’re facing more technical attackers, as well as decks with a compromised setup, so you should expect most decks to score a OHKO once they’re in full swing. [R] Weakness is dangerous right now; we already have some great Fire type attackers, but the prominence of the Metal type has made exploiting Fire Weakness quite valuable. No Resistance is the worst, but also quite common, so not a problem. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is the worst; a negligibly less expensive than a Retreat Cost of [CCCC], but without access to cards like Buff Padding.
Shiftry has one Ability and one attack. The Ability is “Shiftry Substitution”, and it only works while Shiftry is your Active. Shiftry Substitution rewrites the effect of the Supporter cards in your opponent’s hand: now they all function as if they said “Draw 3 cards.”! Even if an effect references a Supporter in your opponent’s hand, its effect will function as if it read “Draw 3 cards.”, though its name and everything else about it remain the same. It also doesn’t change the effects of Supporters in other zones: if an effect copies the effect of a Supporter in (for example) the discard pile, Shiftry Substitution won’t apply. This is a powerful, powerful Ability. Yes, most decks are not 100% reliant on Supporters, but they’re usually the main driving force for both setting up and for powerful plays.
Shiftry has only one attack, and that is “Fan Tornado”. For [GC], this lets Shiftry attack for 110 damage, with the option of forcing your opponent to change out their Active. Your opponent chooses the new Active, not you, but it can still sometimes be handy to essentially force a Switch on your opponent, even in attack form. 110 damage isn’t great, but at least it only costs two Energy, and only one of them has to be on-type. As you’ll probably need Weakness Guard Energy for the Fire match-ups, that’s probably important. It isn’t a tour de force… but remember Shiftry Substitution. Your opponent doesn’t get to draw big with Professor’s Research, disrupt your hand with Marnie, cannot force something up from your Bench with Boss’s Orders, accelerate Energy while drawing with Welder, etc.
Shiftry is begging for some kind of control deck, but the powers-that-be were cautious, trying to avoid repeating the situation we saw with Trevenant (XY 55/146). Unless they foolishly remove Forest of Giant Plants or Wally from the Ban List, the earliest Shiftry hits the field is a player’s second turn, so both players will have at least one turn with Supporters. This seems to be the threshold for this kind of effect. Trevenant used to hit the field at the end of T1 of T1 via Wally. I have heard zero about such a deck in Standard or Expanded, but this is too good of an effect to not produce anything. Crazy though it may sound, I have to wonder about Expanded. Alolan Muk (Sun & Moon 58/149) or Silent Lab can lock down the Abilities on Basics, while Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) can prevent your opponent playing Item cards. That is a lot of Evolutions, but your opponent is then down to Special Energy cards, Tools in play, and the Abilities of their Evolutions.
In the Limited Format, your opponent probably won’t have a lot of Supporters, and having everything fake being Hop isn’t going to hurt as bad, because Hop is decent here. That doesn’t mean Shiftry is bad, though. It is still decent, because even a 150 HP Stage 2 with Fan Tornado is decent… and sometimes you will wreck an opponent’s plan by denying them something like the +30 damage from Leon. Be careful, though: if your opponent is running Allister just for the draw (not the discard effect), if they’re running Beauty, and if they are having second thoughts on Opal, you just helped them out.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Limited: 3/5
Shiftry’s Ability is amazing, though it may not seem that impressive at a glance. The rest of it is a bit wanting, but I understand the powers-that-be trying to avoid repeating past mistakes. I think they found a solid compromise, but time will tell if this is another dud, or worse still, that there’s a broken combo I completely missed (or which doesn’t yet exist). I mean, it happened with Shiftry (BW – Next Destinies 72/99). Shiftry was my 20th-Place pick, but it managed to climb a few spots to 18th-Place on our actual list.
Note: Vince had this as his 12th-Place pick in our Top 15 Vivid Voltage Countdown.
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