– Celestial Storm
November 2, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Sorry I didn’t upload yesterday. I guess I just got too lazy.
Slaking is a Stage 2 Colorless Pokemon, 160 HP, with a Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. Its main Ability, Lazy, completely shuts down all other Abilities that your opponent has outside of Lazy, so long as Slaking is your Active Pokemon. While he’s Active, he can use Critical Strike, a 3-for-160 that discards an Energy from him and prevents him from attacking the next turn.
Like all great Slaking cards, he has a power as true to the in-game version as ever. Lazy is the main draw here, and it’s something that begs the question on whether or not it’s worth running a Stage 2 Pokemon that needs to be Active just to shut down the Abilities of your opponent’s. It’s like how Vileplume could shut down Items, except he could be on the Bench. So it’s more like Wobbuffet, except he’s a Stage 2. So it’s more like…uhhh…Slaking. From EX Ruby & Sap-WAIT A MINUTE
Yeah, as it turns out, this Slaking is based on an earlier version of Slaking – the very first version, in fact – which did virtually the same thing, except that it shut down Poke-Powers and not Poke-Bodies, and Critical Move was a whole Energy more. At this point, we have to wonder, did Slaking ever see any play? Was he strong enough and powerful enough back then that a buffed version of him nowadays would see play?
The short answer…is no. The long answer is, “No, but that doesn’t immediately mean he’s bad.” Shutting down Abilities is powerful, if Garbodor is anything to go by, and while putting Slaking in the Active slot is a risky necessity to making it work, it balances out with shutting down only your opponent’s Abilities. The big question at that point is, can Slaking be played in any decks in the format currently? And I think the answer to that right now is no. Running an additional Stage 2 line-up that only works in the Active slot usually means you need something to switch it around and about, otherwise he just sits there being…well, lazy. You’ll never want to attack with him, and you’ll always want to switch around to another attacker, so if you can combine him with something that likes to switch or is easy to switch with, then you might have a deck on your hands.
Otherwise, it’s better to slack off on this one.
Standard: 2.5/5 (yeah I know you get it)
Expanded: 1.5/5 (pssh, there are wayyyyyyy better options for shutting Abilities down here)
Limited: 2.5/5 (it’s…decent, but not amazing)
Arora Notealus: Slaking remains the king of laziness. And speaking of laziness, let’s talk Dragonite-GX real fast: he’s got a 1-for-70 move which is awesome, a 4-for-200 move that’s less awesome, and then his GX Attack summons Dragons from the discard pile to the Bench. With the right tools, that last effect can be really powerful, but you need to ramp into a Stage 2 to do it, not to mention those tools aren’t as readily available in Standard as they are in Expanded, which is faster anyway. Still, I’d say give him and Slaking a whirl at some point! But not in the same deck. Let’s be reasonable.
Weekend Thought: Are you excited for the Lost Thunder set coming out today? Do any of these cards inspire you to get something out of that set? Do you think there are strategies that can be combined with these cards from the new set? What strategies can you think of?
Slaking (CES 115) sloughs its way into the meta from the Celestial Storm expansion set. This Stage 2 Colorless Pokemon has the ability Lazy, which turns off all of your opponent’s abilities … if Slaking is your active Pokemon.
And that’s where Slaking’s potential stops. Garbotoxin Garbodor might have left us, but Slaking isn’t its replacement. Forcing Slaking to stand in the active position made this Pokemon completely unplayable. About the only pairing I could think of was with Greninja GX or Donphan. After going a combined 2 W 8 L with those two combos, I feel that it’s pretty safe to say that ability lock is definitely gone from the current meta. Granted, we might see a little bit more Alolan Muk (SUM 58) with Ditto Prism (that comes out today!), and Glaceon GX always shows up from time to time, but I just can’t really see a universe in which Slaking dominates the format from its perch up top in the active position.
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
Let’s start with this review of Slaking (SM – Celestial Storm 115/168) by just making it clear; this is an “update” of Slaking (EX – Ruby & Sapphire 12/109; EX – Power Keepers 13/108), the original Slaking card in the TCG. While I normally like to dig into history like that, for the sake of time we’re moving on, while I switch to my lesser-used review approach; focusing on the most important part of the card first. This time, it’s the card’s Ability “Lazy”, which reads “As long as this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, your opponent’s Pokémon in play have no Abilities, except for Lazy.” One-sided Ability-lock is potent, much like one-sided Item-lock. Indeed, many of the clutch Item-based plays that make Item-lock a thing to be feared in the modern game involve searching out a Pokémon with its own search or draw effect, to get and keep your deck running smoothly. The particulars of this lock involve Slaking being Active, so either it has to be your main attacker or trying to be a wall in either a stall or porter-style deck. Unlike the other Ability denial currently available in Standard, this one cares nothing about the Pokémon whose Abilities it negates, save they need to be your opponent’s and not in play. Unless I’m misunderstanding things, that means Abilities which function in the hand or the discard pile – like that of Exeggcute (BW – Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW – Plasma Blast 102/101). I believe it would stop coming-into-play Abilities, however.
So, Lazy is actually pretty great, but what about the rest of the card? At a glance, you can tell this is a [C] Type Pokémon, so you won’t be able to exploit Weakness, won’t have to worry about Resistance (because we aren’t worried about the Unlimited Format), and won’t get much in the way of Type support. Being a Stage 2 makes it slow relative to the competitive metagame; at best it can hit the field on your second turn, by using Rare Candy to Evolve into Slaking directly from Slakoth, and subsequent copies also take two turns to hit the field using Rare Candy. There are some more elaborate methods that eventually speed things up more… but they are either old and never proved worth it or are so new they aren’t yet legal and I still doubt they’ll be worth it. Speaking of what Slaking can Evolve from, you don’t have any options in Standard, as only Slakoth (SM – Celestial Storm 113/168) and Vigoroth (SM – Celestial Storm 114/168) are legal. Expanded has more choices, but the new ones are actually the best available – barely – JUST IN CASE you include a trick to use the attacks of Slaking’s lower Stages. Slakoth’s “Slack Off” and Vigoroth’s “Rage” aren’t good, but they might have niche applications.
Slaking has 160 HP, and since it is NOT a Pokémon-GX, that is a decent amount; plenty of attackers can still OHKO it, but they are usually a deck’s focus AND require a more or less full setup. A setup that cannot be counting on Choice Band or Shrine of Punishments to hit 160, and which cannot be overly reliant on Abilities because of Lazy. That [F] Weakness is still incredibly dangerous because of all the decks that can slip in a Buzzwole or Lyncanroc-GX (SM – Guardians Rising 74/145, 138/145, 156/145) or some other [F] Type… assuming they aren’t already a major part of the deck! Lack of Resistance is the worst but is also the norm, so moving onto the Retreat Cost of [CCC], it hurts. That might seem odd, given we want this card stuck in the Active position, but without Float Stone in Standard, it could hurt potential Porter Decks and it also interferes with the attack. Speaking of which, Slaking has a single attack, “Critical Move”, which costs [CCC] to use and does 160 damage… which would be amazing except the effect text states you have to discard an Energy from Slaking (or whatever used the attack, in case of copying effects) and it cannot attack next turn. 160 OHKO’s most non-Pokémon-EX/GX Pokémon, while a Choice Band brings most Basic Pokémon-EX/GX into range. It still isn’t a bad attack, but you’ll need help to make it work.
I know of no documented success with a Slaking deck in high-level play, but I’ve heard talk of a decent Slaking Deck that did “okay” at a some League Championships. I haven’t been able to verify those claims, but it is a start. The deck in question is Slaking backed by Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117). Include support like Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX with Altar of the Moone so that you can do-si-do your Slakings, shaking the “cannot attack” effect from Critical Move. Slaking with Choice Band goes for OHKO’s of your opponent’s Basic Pokémon-GX so that you don’t have to try to keep Slaking up and running all that long. Your opponent can force one of your supporting Pokémon into the Active position to regain Abilities, but that isn’t as easy or profitable as it sounds. Obviously, your opponent cannot use an Ability to do this, and if you have a second Slaking on the Bench, effects like Escape Rope may backfire if they send up a “naked” Slaking for you to KO instead of the one that still has (for example) two Energy and a Choice Band attached. Replacing Malamar (a Stage 1) is easier than Slaking (a Stage 2 Evolved via Rare Candy). The deck includes supporting Basic Pokémon-GX, so there are some good targets but spent Tapu Lele-GX or even a Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX are less important in the short run than that powered-up Slaking.
Even if the above deck isn’t competitive, just maybe it gives you an idea of what to try in the future. It could be done in Expanded except we still have access to several proven forms of Ability-denial; we may have lost Hex Maniac, but we still have Garbodor (XY – BREAKpoint 57/122), Greninja (XY – BREAKpoint 40/122), Wobbuffet (XY – Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32). All have their own tradeoffs, so maybe there is still room for this great ape, but I’m not holding my breath. If you pull at least a 1-1-1 line for Slaking, you’re probably running it. A +39 deck should skip it, for obvious reasons, but everywhere else it provides a solid enough attacker that shuts down Abilities. Try not to throw it into the Active position recklessly, as you won’t be able to reset the effect of Critical Move; you’ll do 160 in a single hit, but you’ll be attacking every other turn. Lazy may or may not come in handy given your opponents will be running the best of whatever they pulled. With its own 160 HP, just being a splashable attacker with a decent (for Limited) Evolution line is good.
Slaking’s effectiveness is hampered by many things, however, most are necessary for game balance. Don’t forget about this card; one-sided Ability-lock can be worth clearing a lot of hurdles. I had a hard time believing that Greninja BREAK decks could work but they certainly did and maybe still do in Expanded.
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