– Sword & Shield
March 24, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Torkoal V (Sword & Shield 024/202, 188/202) is a Pokémon V, worth an extra Prize when KO’d, but unlike Pokémon-EX/GX, there is no Pokémon V support and only one Pokémon V (and Pokémon VMAX) counter. Torkoal V’s [R] Typing is great; [R] Weakness is prominent on high profile cards like Zacian V, though that also tends to have a Metal Frying Pan equipped for that very reason. [R] Type support is also good, though in Standard it’s built around basic Fire Energy cards and not actual [R] Type Pokémon. Mind the odd [R] Type counter like Araquanid (SM – Ultra Prism 17/156).
Torkoal V is a Basic Pokémon, so no waiting to evolve or making room for previous Stages and added benefits as things like general search, bounce, etc. just work better with them. Torkoal V has 210 HP, a little lower than the most common Pokémon V HP score, but still with a good chance of surviving an attack. [W] Weakness and lack of Resistance are typical, but neither is really a concern at the moment. The Retreat Cost of [CCCC] is too high to pay so pack alternatives, but it also means you might be able to make use of cards like Buff Padding.
Torkoal V knows two attacks, “Combustion Pillar” and “Steam Crush”. The former costs [RRC] and the latter [RRRC], which is pretty demanding; Welder is not optional, unless you’ve got some other compatible Energy acceleration to replace it. Combustion Pillar does 90 damage, and requires you discard the top card from your deck. If it was a [R] Energy, the attack does another 90. Steam Crush does 120 plus discards two Energy from your opponent’s Active. Unless you can use multiple forms of Energy acceleration, Steam Crush is going to need at least two turns to ready.
These attacks aren’t bad… and with the right combos, they seem pretty good. Magcargo (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 24/168) or Oranguru (Sword & Shield 148/202) let Combustion Pillar do a reliable 180. This is adequate; you’re OHKOing almost anything [R] Weak or worth a single Prize, as well as Basic Pokémon-EX/GX, excluding those with defensive buffs or non-Weak TAG TEAM Pokémon. If I sound demanding, remember we’re already talking about a combo at this point; think of what these cards can do for other attackers.
Steam Crush goes against the usual [R] Type strategy, with its heavier Energy cost purchasing not damage, but a tactical advantage. At least, that is the positive way of looking at it; if you can’t score a OHKO, settle for a 2HKO or even a 3HKO while keeping your opponent from hitting back. Except there are too many decks that can adapt, using single-attachment attackers or utilizing Energy acceleration to bounce back after the discard. Even when you’re stripping two Aurora Energy from a Mewtwo & Mew-GX, again you have to ask what another, similar attacker could have done for that much Energy…
…probably score a KO. Which is probably why Torkoal V isn’t showing up, either in its own deck or as the new early-game offensive lead for [R] decks. In the Limited Format, you could run it completely on its own, giving you a high probability of naturally top-decking a basic Fire Energy – the only one that counts as [R] while in your deck – for use with Combustion Pillar, and Steam Crush will often score a OHKO as well. Your opponent does have a decent chance of overwhelming Torkoal V’s HP, so you could just build a deck with multiple Pokémon, though it’ll need to run on mostly or only basic Fire Energy.
Torkoal V is best summed up as “Not quite.” As in, not quite enough to be a particularly good or great card, even though it saw some early success in Japan. It is still possible it could prove me wrong again and become part of a good, competitive deck. Wait, “again”? Yeah, Torkoal V is a Runner-Up from our countdown of the top 11 cards from Sword & Shield. It would have been our 26th-place pick because it was my 14th-place pick. It also lost a three-way tiebreaker, and since it hasn’t delivered yet, I’m actually relieved by that.
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive. We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!