– Darkness Ablaze
November 9, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Vanilluxe (SW – Darkness Ablaze 047/189) is a baseline Pokémon, only worth a single Prize when KO’d. It is a Water type, which isn’t really good or bad right now. What is somewhat bad is that it is a Stage 2 Pokémon; Vanilluxe is going to be slow and resource intensive, at least relative to Basics, Stage 1 Pokémon, and Pokémon VMAX. It means its 150 HP is so-so; it isn’t fragile, but it definitely isn’t durable, either, given how much effort you’re singing into each Vanilluxe. [M] Weakness is awful right now, as Zacian V decks are still going strong. The silver-lining is Zacian V hits hard enough to OHKO Vanilluxe even before applying Weakness. No Resistance is typical, but technically the worst. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is decent, and becomes important because of the Ability.
Vanilluxe has the Ability “Bitter Cold”. It is a once-per-turn Ability, but not an absolute once-per-turn; multiple instances of Bitter Cold may be used in the same turn, you just can’t use the same instance over and over again in the same turn. Bitter Cold also states the Vanilluxe using it must be Active in order to do so; no spamming it from the Bench. Bitter Cold has you flip a coin, and if you get “tails”… that’s it. It doesn’t do anything other than having eaten up that “usage” of Bitter Cold. If “heads”, your opponent’s Active is now Paralyzed. Paralysis only lasts a turn, but if your opponent cannot remove it, the afflicted Active is stuck up front and cannot attack. Vanilluxe also knows “Frost Smash”, and can use it for [WC] to do 90 damage. Decent damage for the Enregy, but even with Bitter Cold, not enough for a Stage 2. If you KO a Paralyzed Pokémon with Frost Smash, the Paralysis didn’t matter, but it certainly helps with setting up for a multi-turn KO.
Air Balloon would let you easily retreat Vanilluxe, which is pretty good as it will let you use Bitter Cold, then switch to a non-Vanilluxe attacker or bring up a second one to try to use its Bitter Cold. Will lets you guarantee the coin flip for Bitter Cold, or you can just include many switching cards and go for a soft-lock. If this was a Basic or a Stage 1, I think Vanilluxe would be everywhere. Your opponent only has so many ways, at least in most decks, to shake Paralysis. A Vanilluxe with Air Balloon could just bounce up front to Paralyze any chance it had; it wouldn’t even need to be your deck’s focus. When you have to manually evolve from Vanillite, then to Vanillish, and only after that into Vanilluxe, it isn’t worth it. Even with Rare Candy, still too much time and too many cards.
In Expanded, we have Archie’s Ace in the Hole. The SW-era T1 rules hurts this Supporter, as you can no longer use it Turn 1, but you can still go for a Turn 2 Vanilluxe while skipping its lower Stages. Is Vanilluxe good enough for that? Only if you already have a reason to run Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Float Stone. I don’t think we’ve got enough “powerful but optional” Water types to slot in Archie’s Ace in the Hole and those two or three Pokémon into otherwise unrelated beatdown or control decks, the way Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick used to be run, but it is worth remembering. In the Limited Format, as long as you get the rest of the line and do not get something worth building a Mulligan deck around, work Vanilluxe (and some Water Energy) into your deck!
I almost dismissed Vanilluxe as Johnny Bait, because getting a Stage 2 into, then back out of, your Active Spot is pretty demanding. It still isn’t a super strong card, but there’s enough here I won’t be surprised if a deck pops up for it before it leaves Standard, or if it one day finds a place in Expanded.
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