– Vivid Voltage
November 25, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
While Otaku’s favorite Pokémon makes another appearance and earned a spot in the countdown, I, on the other hand, am still waiting for a Psychic-type Sylveon card.
Snorlax is trying to squeeze in the group of Pokémon that are ideal to have in their starting hand. That includes, but not limited to, yesterday’s card, this Friday’s COTD, and other cards in Expanded. It’s ability, Gormandize, states that if this Pokémon is in the Active Spot, you may draw cards until you have 7 cards in your hand. Your turn ends afterward. Sounds familiar? That’s because Tropical Beach and Professor Oak’s Hint from XY Evolutions does the same exact thing, except that Tropical Beach is a Worlds promotional card whose demand still outstrip supply; and Professor Oak’s Hint is a Supporter card that can’t be used in the first turn of them game (and even if you can use Supporters, there are better options out there). So, it seems like Snorlax is your best alternative for such effects while being better accessibility than the other two. That’s if you got Snorlax in your opening hand, or else the effectiveness will diminish later on the match.
I had Snorlax as my 4th place pick.
I’ve said it so often even Vince leads off with it:
Snorlax is my favorite Pokémon!
Why does that matter? It means I’m biased in favor of Snorlax cards, and Snorlax (SW – Vivid Voltage 131/185; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH068) takes 3rd-Place in our countdown! This is a regular Snorlax card; it isn’t a Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX or Prism Star or Ultra Beast or anything like that. While some of these specialty mechanics come with their own support, they all come with their own drawbacks and counters, but Snorlax doesn’t have to worry about anything like that. It also doesn’t have to worry about Weakness or Resistance, because nothing is naturally Weak or Resistant to Colorless Pokémon in Standard or Expanded. This does provide access to some type support, like Powerful [C] Energy, though there are some anti-Colorless effects in Expanded.
Snorlax is a Basic Pokémon, as usual. This means you don’t need any other cards to put it into play, you don’t have to wait to evolve, and you can even open with it. Snorlax has 130 HP, enough to survive most weaker attacks. This is decent; it’d be an issue if it was more demanding to play, but again, this is a Basic. For a Snorlax, however, this feels small. Snorlax has the 10th highest base HP stat in the video games, and it hasn’t had 130 HP since the XY-era. [F] Weakness is mixed because the best Fighting type attackers either already score the OHKO or weren’t far off at 130 HP. No Resistance is so common we won’t hold it against the card. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is currently the worst; [CCCC] is higher, but past [CC] you’re really need to use switching or bounce effects. [CCC] does not come with access to cards like Buff Padding or Poké Maniac, however.
Snorlax has one Ability and attack. “Gormandize” is a once-per-turn effect, because using it ends your turn. Not only that, but Snorlax has to be Active! What could it offer that would be worth that? Gormandize has you draw until you have seven cards in your hand. Which means Snorlax is the Pokémon equivalent of Tropical Beach. Tropical Beach lets you have something else as your Active Pokémon, and isn’t at risk of costing you a Prize, but Snorlax lets you have a different Stadium card in play and can be sacrificed to soak some damage. Drawing until you have seven cards in hand means Gormandize may be unable to draw any cards, and probably will only draw two or three, but it also means you can build combos in hand.
Snorlax knows the attack “Body Slam”; for [CCCC] it lets Snorlax do 100 damage and flip a coin; tails means just the damage, heads means you also Paralyze the opponent’s Active. This is definitely underwhelming. To give you an idea, Snorlax (Sword & Shield 140/202; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH032) can do 130 for the same Energy cost using its “Heavy Impact”. Is a 50% chance of Paralysis worth doing 30 less damage? Its a trick question: the Snorlax with Heavy Impact saw no competitive success, suggesting it is underpowered as well. If you have enough Energy – and Energy acceleration – that the Energy cost is manageable, Body Slam isn’t bad, it just isn’t good, either. Fortunately, you’ll almost always be using Gormandize instead of attacking. Also, on a historical note: the original Snorlax card, Snorlax (Jungle 11/64, 27/64; Base Set 2 30/130; Legendary Collection 64/110), also has the Body Slam attack, priced the same… but doing only 30 damage!
Snorlax is not likely to become the opening Pokémon for most decks. Now, for slower decks, especially ones that need to build a combo in hand? Especially if they already run Tools like Cape of Toughness or Big Charm, or more technical options like Billowing Smoke, Cursed Shovel, or Rocky Helmet, Snorlax can do its thing while soaking more damage or messing with your opponent. Bounce, healing, and/or switching effects are also helpful; the best of those is probably bounce. Use Gormandize, and if your opponent fails to KO Snorlax, bounce it to your hand to deny your opponent a Prize, vacate your Active position, and avoid having Snorlax clutter your Bench. Faster decks can – and probably should – still consider Snorlax, because you’re not able to attack Turn 1 anyway, but odds are good it isn’t worth the hassle.
In Expanded, Tropical Beach is flat out better if you want something such as Wobbuffet (XY – Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32) Active. Consider that would still let you draw until you have seven cards in hand, but also lock your opponent’s out of Abilities (unless they’re on [P] Pokémon), Snorlax is more the bargain option. Though Snorlax is going to be much easier to search out for the average deck as well. In Standard, there’s yesterday’s 4th-place finisher, Talonflame V. I think Snorlax will see more play than Talonflame V, so that isn’t the real competition. Instead, it is Jirachi that cuts into Snorlax’s share of the metagame. Take the same bounce or switching effect, and you can use the “Stellar Wish” Ability of Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161) to snag a Trainer from the top five cards of your deck, then get your now Sleeping Jirachi out of the way and still attack that turn. Unless it is Turn 1, of course, but then you can still leave Jirachi up front if you don’t mind it being KO’d. There’s also the new Jirachi (SW – Vivid Voltage 119/185), if it catches on instead of the one with which we’re all familiar.
What if you’re using SW – Vivid Voltage for Limited Format events? Snorlax is one of the four promos, and you might also pull it naturally: don’t run it in a mulligan deck, but run it in anything else. Your draw yield probably won’t be huge, as Limited Format decks don’t flow as well as those in the Constructed Formats, leading to larger but harder to use hands. Draw and search power, however, is usually less abundant: even small draw is far better than no draw, and it isn’t uncommon to have to sacrifice something up front to soak hits, while you build on the Bench. Body Slam is also a slightly better attack here; the cost is painful, but the damage and Paralysis is worth it, at least some of the time.
Snorlax is one of the best cards from this set, though it will face serious competition from Jirachi (probably the Stellar Wish version, but maybe the new one as well). You’ll recall this countdown has had a lot of three-out-of-five cards in it, even when they were cards that appeared on my own list. This set has been an odd one; a lot of cards that look good, and which will likely shape the metagame, but not necessarily possessing raw power in and of themselves.
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