– Champion’s Path
October 11, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We have one more Pokémon-V card from Champion’s Path, and it’s Venusaur-V. With Gigantamax Venusaur already been revealed, part of me wonders if we’re gonna get a Venusaur V-Max card, but only time will tell. So, looks like we would have to contend with the base form for the time being.
Pollen Bomb costs GGC for 80 damage and it also inflicts the Poison and Sleep Special Conditions. Having guaranteed those special conditions are nice, and both Poison and Sleep are both good Special Conditions to inflict. Poison ensures that you’re putting 10 more damage in between turns, and with Sleep, your opponent may or may not be able to wake up their Defending Pokémon, giving you a free turn unless they use switching related cards to get rid of those Special Conditions. Solar Typhoon costs GGGC for 220 and you cannot use that attack unless you switch your Venusaur to reset the clause. At this point, you’re 2HKOing the game, even after the damage reduction from Grass Resistance found on Metal Pokemon. You’re mostly fall short on OHKOs against Metal types while also falling short against OHKOing TAG TEAMs. It’s attacks are expensive, though you’ve got Rillaboom with the Voltage Beat ability to help accelerate energies.
Based on it’s attacks, it might be feasible to build a deck revolving around the Poison special Condition. I don’t recall if there’s any card in SM Team Up-onwards that increases the damage counters placements in a similar manner to Expanded related cards like Virbank City Gym and Seviper from SM Burning Shadows. Overall, it’s not a bad Pokemon-V card, but it does leave us quite wanting. If a hypothetical Venusaur V-Max were to be a great card, then today’s card would be a stepping stone to evolve it. It would probably have to compete with Rillaboom V-Max to see which is the better Grass type V-Max Pokemon.
Limited: N/A (would be 4/5)
We open this week with Venusaur V (Champion’s Path 001/073). Why are we looking at it? This was the last Pokémon V from this set, so why not make it a Sunday review? As a Pokémon V, Venusaur V ends up being a Basic instead of the Stage 2 status typical of most Venusaur cards; this means it is far faster and less demanding to run, an obvious advantage. It means Venusaur V has substantially more HP than its single-Prize counterparts: 220. This is the slightly higher of the two typical Basic Pokémon V scores, and has a good chance of surviving an attack. The usual downsides of being a Pokémon V apply, though: giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, being excluded from certain beneficial card effects, and being subject to certain detrimental ones.
Venusaur V is a Grass-type, which is so-so when it comes to exploiting Weakness. Grass types have support, but it’s recent track record isn’t great. You may recall how I point out Resistance rarely matters. I suspect I overstate the point, but where it does matter is when you’re a Grass type crashing into recent Metal type Pokémon; it isn’t the -30 damage so much as the -30 stacked on top of the other damage reducing tricks Metal type decks are known to employ. Fire Weakness is a problem because Zacian V’s prominence is already rewarding Fire decks. Venusaur V’s own lack of Resistance is insignificant, but its Retreat Cost of [CCC] is a bit frustrating; so big it still needs as much help as a higher Retreat Cost, but without the bonus support from cards like Buff Padding.
Venusaur V knows two attacks, “Pollen Bomb” and “Solar Typhoon”. The former does 80 damage, plus Poison and Sleep; the latter does 220 damage, but says you cannot use the attack again on your next turn. Pollen Bomb is definitely underwhelming; even with the damage counter from Poison, you’re only faking 90 damage. Sleep may help you stall but has a 50% chance of going away before it even matters. There absolutely are combos you can use to enhance Special Conditions, but they’re not stuff already common to decks. Meaning, if you use Slumbering Forest to improve the odds of Sleep sticking around, then you’re giving up on Turffield Stadium to help with searching out evolved [G] types. Solar Typhoon hits a good number, though it needs to given the chunky four Energy cost. Solar Typhoon’s effect shouldn’t be too hard to shake, either; your basic switching effect plus free-retreater retreating does the job.
What concerns me about this card is that
If you lack Energy acceleration, then its three turns to get to the dubious Pollen Bomb, and four to reach Solar Typhoon. Rillaboom V has the same stats as Venusaur V, save for the difference in names. In terms of effects, it offers a so-so setup attack, but at least that attack only requires [G] to use, and forms a very simple combo with Turffield Stadium. For the same [GGGC] cost, Rillaboom V also does 220; its drawback is 30 damage to itself. This would leave them about equal in my book but Rillaboom V can evolve into Rillaboom VMAX, a decent attacker in its own right if you’ve got sufficient Energy acceleration… and I can’t see either Venusaur V or Rillaboom V being run without something like Rillaboom (Sword & Shield 014/202; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH006; SW – Darkness Ablaze 197/189).
In Expanded, Venusaur V actually has slightly better support, but also greater competition. At least it doesn’t have to really worry about counters as much; it doesn’t have an Ability. I keep scoring for the Limited Format, just in case you can get something informal thrown together (there are no Pre-Release kits as this isn’t a “core” set). Venusaur V is slow to get going, and shaking the effect from Solar Typhoon is more difficult, but Special Conditions are also more effective. This is a small set, so the smattering of Fire Pokémon are still a concern; can’t say I’d recommend this for a Mulligan deck, but if you can already run on mostly Grass Energy, yes Venusaur V will help.
I might be being too harsh on Venusaur V in Limited, but I think I’m being charitable with is Standard and Expanded Format prospects. The card isn’t awful, but it is definitely underwhelming, which is made worse by there already being a superior option for its lackluster niche.
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