Umbreon VMAX – Evolving Skies
September 4, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Looking at one of the three Eeveelutions that made it on the countdown is Umbreon VMAX, our 7th best card of Evolving Skies.
Umbreon has an ability called Dark Signal, and it states that if you played this Pokémon to evolve 1 of your Pokémon (which can only evolve from Umbreon-V), you get to choose one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon and switch it with their Active Pokemon. Sound familiar? That’s is the ability equivalent of either Boss’s Orders, or even Gust of Wind from Base Set! Ability wise, you could see this effect going back to Lycanroc-GX from Guardians Rising, or even Luxray GL LV.X in Rising Rivals!
This kind of effect is very powerful that it could turn the game around. Whether it is to move a problematic Active Pokemon out of the way, to deactivate Abilities that only works while on the Active Spot, or to pick off a heavily damaged Pokémon, Umbreon VMAX got you covered! Meanwhile, Max Darkness costs DCC for 160 damage, and due to being a Single Strike card, can benefit from Houndoom’s Single Strike Roar to accelerate Single Strike Energy, which can then increase the damage output by 20 for each Single Strike energy attached to it, enough to 2HKO anything in the game.
Umbreon VMAX has some appeal that might give some incentive to use it. I’m just not sure if it’s worth giving up three prizes for the one-and-done deal only to be gusted into the Active Spot and get KOed (some cards can hit for over 310 damage), though Moon & Sun Badge (a Pokémon Tool that supports Pokémon-V with Espeon or Umbreon in its name) does protect Umbreon from the effects of a Supporter card your opponent is trying to play. Still, one might say that it’s easier to use Boss’s Orders than to play a 1-1 line as it saves deck space and that you don’t have to wait for a turn to evolve. The only payoff from Umbreon VMAX is that it lets you play a different Supporter card that doesn’t have the Gust of Wind effect.
Umbreon VMAX could theoretically fit into any deck due to the ability, but the only decks that I could see Umbreon being used to the fullest extent is in Single Strike decks and Eternatus VMAX decks (where being a dark type helps facilitate Eternatus’s Ability and damage output). That’s not to say that it won’t see play anywhere else, but given the card pool of both the Standard and the Expanded format, there’s massive competition from various types of cards. Even Lycanroc-GX from Guardians Rising had a rocky start. It came out when Lysandre was still standard legal in 2017, and at the same time Lysandre rotated, Guzma had entered the format, doing the same thing Lysandre did plus extra!
7th-Place in our countdown goes to Umbreon VMAX (SW – Evolving Skies 095/203, 214/203, 215/203) is almost entirely about its Ability. “Dark Signal” may only be used when you play Umbreon VMAX from your hand to evolve one of Pokémon, during your turn. If you choose to use it, Dark Signal then lets you choose one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and move it into the Active position (which forces the current Active to the Bench). Yup, this is Boss’s Orders as an Ability, which means you can use your Supporter for the turn on something else. This has proven to be a strong, sometimes Format-defining effect when it has shown up in the past as a non-attack, Pokémon-based effect. How about here?
Okay, now let us consider the rest of the card. Umbreon VMAX has a Rule Box, so Path to the Peak shuts it down, Umbreon VMAX will be in play before its Ability resolves. It is specifically a Pokémon VMAX, which means it also counts as a Pokémon V in general. Pokémon VMAX have some support specifically for them, some counters that apply only to them, and some beneficial card effects that specifically. From the Pokémon V side of things, there are a few beneficial card effects that include them, but mostly ones that exclude them, as well as flat out counters to Pokémon V. Of course, the most important thing is that Umbreon VMAX gives up three Prizes when KO’d, but will have at least 300 HP. It is also likely Umbreon VMAX only has Dark Signal specifically because it is a VMAX.
Umbreon VMAX is a [D] type, which is not a bad thing to be. This means it can fit into Eternatus VMAX decks, and hit some decent targets for double damage (via Weakness). Getting back to that elevated HP, Umbreon VMAX has 310; hard to OHKO but only 10 above the minimum we’ve seen for Pokémon VMAX. [G] Weakness isn’t the worst to have, but no Resistance is. Fortunately for Umbreon VMAX, no Resistance is the norm and the Resistance mechanic is far less helpful than the Weakness mechanic is harmful. Umbreon VMAX’s Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither low nor high. Its “Max Darkness” attack costs [DCC] and does 160 damage… which is also neither low nor high. It is a decent amount for the Energy, but is 10 to 20 shy of some key OHKOs, as well as being a solid 2HKO attacker.
Once again, fortune favors Umbreon VMAX as there’s a bit more to it. Not so much Umbreon V, from which it evolves. We might review that card on a later date, but for now let’s just say it is neither particularly good nor bad. No, the last thing to point out is that Umbreon VMAX? It is a Single Strike Pokémon. No, you won’t be putting it directly into play through the effect of Single Strike Style Mustard, because that means you won’t get its Ability. What it does mean is it is a better attacker than it appears to be. Houndoom (SW – Battle Styles 096/163, 179/163, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH090) can accelerate Single Strike Energy to Umbreon VMAX via the former’s Ability. While Umbreon VMAX will have two damage counters placed on it each time this happens, this means Max Darkness can be accessed quickly and will hit harder.
If you want Max Darkness to hit key numbers, the deck will need to be a dedicated Single Strike build, I think. Even two Single Strike Energy means Umbreon VMAX whiffs on OHKOs against the majority of Basic Pokémon V. With some of the other tricks available to Single Strike Pokémon, though, it can happen. Of course, you may not need to do that, if your opponent has enough Pokémon like Crobat V on their Bench. Just one Single Strike Energy (plus enough other Energy to pay for the attack) allows Max Darkness to OHKO Crobat V. If your opponent is too reliant upon such Pokémon, Umbreon VMAX can force them Active then finish them off itself. Or you can just partner it with another attacker, like Eternatus VMAX which we know loves Bench-filling fodder.
In the Expanded Format, there are more anti-Ability effects, but I think there’s also more of a reward for freeing up your Supporter for the turn. For now, I’m tentatively going to award the same score to Umbreon VMAX in both Formats. That being a three-out-of-five. I love that Ability, but I don’t love the idea of having to run a VMAX line just to access it. At least, when I’m not sure that VMAX is worth using as a deck’s main attacker. I may be looking a gift horse… er… Pokémon? In the mouth in doing so. Umbreon VMAX was my 10th-Place pick, due to my concerns over using it as an attacker and/or having to dedicate both deck and Bench-space to a (relatively) small Pokémon VMAX if I’m just using it for its Ability. Yes, I’m being a bit harsh here; your opponent will usually need a big combo or multiple turns to KO Umbreon VMAX.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
20210907 Addendum: I neglected to discuss Moon & Sun Badge in my review. This is a Pokémon Tool that may be used by anything, but its effects only apply to Pokémon V with either “Umbreon” or “Espeon” in their names. So Espeon V, Espeon VMAX, Umbreon V, and Umbreon VMAX may currently make use of Moon & Sun Badge’s effect… and that effect states the equipped Pokémon ignores the effects done to it by your opponent’s Supporters. I don’t want to detail things too much, as I plan on us reviewing this Tool later, but the short version is that this does help Umbreon VMAX remain a Bench-sitter, as your opponent will not be able to force it forward with Boss’s Orders. The thing is, now you’re not just talking about running a Pokémon VMAX Evolution line, but one to four Tools just for it. Hence this not changing Umbreon VMAX’s score. If your deck is built around heavy counts of Espeon V/MAX and/or Umbreon V/MAX, though, Moon & Sun Badge might be worth it.
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