– Cosmic Eclipse
April 1, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Vileplume-GX (or what would be considered Erika’s Vileplume based on the background) is another one of those cards which might not do well on it’s own, but also became the next subject of Pokémon-GX that Mew & Mewtwo-GX can copy. It’s Fragrant Flower Garden ability lets you heal 30 damage from each of your Pokémon. I guess this ability is used not only to change certain 2HKOs into 3HKOs, but also regain some amount of damage output back because Massive Bloom is a detrimental attack. 180 damage for a Grass and a Colorless energy is very good value, but if Vileplume (or Mew & Mewtwo-GX copying it) is heavily damaged, then it will eventually do nothing. That’s because Massive Bloom does 10 less damage for each damage counter on that Pokemon. So only use this attack if your Pokémon isn’t damaged. And if it is damaged, then you can scoop that Pokémon up and put it back into play, which Vileplume can’t do as it’s a Stage 2, but Mew & Mewtwo-GX is a Basic Pokémon, so it makes sense to do that. I’ll also have to point out that because it is a Stage 2 and not a Basic Pokemon, you don’t have to worry about being forced to put it into play during in-game setup.
I don’t recall if it’s GX attack of Allergic Explosion was being used or not by them, but this could be a good choice to buy you a turn (as Paralysis is perhaps the best Special Condition you could inflict, and guaranteed Paralysis is quite rare in the Pokémon TCG outside of Raichu & Raichu-GX) and also place extra damage counter between turns, turning what would be 50 damage into 80 damage when Burn and Poison are factored in. At the same time, with a assortment of other GX Pokémon on the Bench or the discard pile, it get competition from OTHER GX attacks from various Pokémon. Not saying Allergic Explosion is bad, but the opportunity cost is very high on such scenarios. You’ll have question like: why would you use Allergic Explosion if you can OHKO any Ultra Beast Pokémon with either Silver Knight or Sublimation? Or Tingly Return to Paralyze the defending Pokemon AND scoop your heavily damaged Mew & Mewtwo-GX? Or some big damage scaling attack that does at least 50x or more? Or Double Blaze to bypass effects and deal 300 damage? Or Prominence to heal your entire team, or even better, Solar Plant to not only heal your entire team but to deal 50 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokemon? Or Sol Burst to accelerate energies, setting up your other Mew & Mewtwo-GX? Or Item Maniac to fetch SIX item cards? Or Blastoise’s Giant Geyser (yes, that card’s being reviewed this week) (unusual since I didn’t see much water energies besides Unit Energy)? Or Arceus, & Dialga, & Palkia-GX vaunted permanent effects of Altered Creation?! Or Muk & Alolan Muk’s…oh wait, Vileplume outclasses it unless you put 4 energy on it. Yeah, that’s a lot to think about when being extremely flexible in terms of GX attacks.
I don’t know how easy in Standard you can copy Vileplume’s attacks, but I believe that Counter Gain does reduce the attack cost by a Colorless energy if you are behind on prizes (having more prizes than your opponent). Alternatively, you can use Bede which can attach another energy from your hand at the cost of your Supporter of your turn. In Expanded, there’s Dimension Valley to reduce the cost of attacks by a Colorless Energy, so both Massive Bloom and Allergic Explosion costs a single Grass Energy, enough for a copy of Rainbow or Aurora energy to cover the cost and deal heavy damage. Besides that, I can’t think of any other energy acceleration, not that you’ll need this much.
The scores is based on being worthy of having it’s attacks copied in a Mew & Mewtwo-GX deck. Otherwise, on its own, this card wouldn’t have made the cut. Vileplume is being used in few of those Mew & Mewtwo-GX decks, but as a single copy at best (it was being used at 0.29 of a card according to Limitless).
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first for Vileplume-GX (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 4/236, 211/236, 250/236): it is a Pokémon-GX. This means it should have better stats and effects than it would otherwise have but at the cost of giving up an extra Prize when KO’d. There are a few beneficial effects that reward a player for using a Pokémon-GX, but many more that penalize you.
Being a Stage 2 Pokémon means Vileplume-GX means manually evolving into it will require going through its Basic (Oddish) and Stage 1 (Gloom). As is usually the case, you can fudge this a bit with Rare Candy, and because Oddish is a [G] Type, you can also use the “Super Growth” attack on Rowlet & Exeggutor-GX to speed it to the field technically before the end of your first attacking turn. We’ll discuss the rest of the Evolution line later.
Vileplume-GX is a [G] Type; not especially useful when it comes to striking Weakness, and while Resistance is uncommon (for now), its also found on Zacian V. Anti-Grass effects exist, but outside of the “wrong” side of Parallel City or Fairy Charm [G], rarely used. There are some useful bits of [G] Type support, but nothing especially game-changing… at least, that apply directly to a Stage 2 like Vileplume-GX.
240 HP is solid; OHKO’s are possible for many, if not most decks, but they’ll need their proper setup, or to exploit Weakness. Speaking of which, [R] is not a good one to have right now; multiple decks run on Welder, and even the ones not focused on Fire Pokémon could still include one with ease. No Resistance is the worst, but also normal. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is high enough you won’t want to pay it all that often, but low enough you probably can… or just use Air Balloon, assuming you don’t need to use a different Tool.
Vileplume-GX has the Ability “Fragrant Flower Garden”, the attack “Massive Bloom”, and the GX-attack “Allergic Explosion-GX”. Each instance of Fragrant Flower Garden can be used once per turn, before you attack, to heal 30 damage from all of your Pokémon. Massive Bloom does 180 damage less 10 per damage counter on the Pokémon using it, for [GC]. Allergic Explosion-GX does 50 damage while afflicting your opponent’s Active with Burn, Paralysis, and Poison, for [G].
Healing tends to be very hit-or-miss in the PTCG. The main thing to remember is that, like damage bonuses or reductions, it is about hitting or avoiding key numbers; sometimes for effect purposes, but mostly when it comes to KO’s. 30 isn’t much, but it means Vileplume-GX’s 240 HP behaves more like 300 against 2HKO’s. The fact the healing works for all of your Pokémon is useful, but remember that outside of spread decks or self-inflicted damage, most of the time only your Active is going to be injured.
Massive Bloom delivers great damage for the Energy invested, but only if Vileplume-GX is at least mostly healthy. If your Pokémon has 18+ damage counters on it, it does zero damage… but given the low Energy requirements, its still a decent attack even when it only swings for 70 damage. At full health, and ignoring protective effects, you should reliably 2HKO TAG TEAM Pokémon, Pokémon V, and evolved Pokémon-EX/GX, and OHKO the rest.
Allergic Explosion-GX lets you do a small bit of damage without worrying about Vileplume-GX’s HP, while also inflicting the best combination of Special Conditions. Burn plus Poison means three total damage counters added to your opponent’s Active between turns; Paralysis means your opponent can’t attack or Retreat without dealing with it. There might be some killer combo it could perform, but the main thing is stalling for a turn while scoring a little damage… unless your opponent’s Active is protected from both damage and effects of GX-attacks.
There aren’t any standout Oddish or Bellossom (the other Gloom evolution), but there’s a Gloom worth discussing. While Gloom (SM – Unbroken Bonds 7/214) has poor stats and a filler attack, it also has the Ability “Irresistible Aroma”. Once during your turn, prior to attacking, this Ability lets you flip a coin; “tails” does nothing, while “heads” lets you see your opponent’s hand, pick a Basic Pokémon you find there (if any), and Bench it. This can backfire, but not too easily, and with some luck, you can force your opponent to “waste” something like a Dedenne-GX or Galarian Zigzagoon!
There are also many Vileplume offerings! Vileplume (Boundaries Crossed 3/149) has an Ability that causes Weakness for both player’s Pokémon to count as x4. Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) has an Ability that prevents either player from playing Item cards from hand. Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147) has an Ability that keeps your opponent’s Basics from being able to attack, but only while it (that Vileplume) is Active. Once per turn (per instance), before you attack, the Ability on Vileplume (SM – Unbroken Bonds 8/214) lets you flip a coin. “Heads” lets you pick a Special Condition excluding Paralysis and inflict it on your opponent’s Active, while “tails”… still does nothing.
So, are any winning decks using it? Yeah. In the Expanded Format, Rowlet & Exeggutor-GX decks are actually pretty good… or at least they were at the last major Expanded Format event. Out of the four baseline Vileplume I just mentioned, the build that took second-place at the Regional Championship held in Collinsville, IL ran two copies of each of Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) and Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147), the Item-denial and Basic-blocking ones, respectively. Yes, the Gloom I mentioned is also here.
You’ll find four other lists for the deck top 10% of finishers from this tournament. Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX, Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147), and/or Exeggutor (BW – Plasma Freeze 5/116), appear to be the decks’ main attackers; Vileplume-GX is here for its Ability… which makes sense as you’ve either got huge HP, decent HP with a protective effect, or some HP initiating a lock down strategy.
As for the Standard Format, remember that Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck that featured our previous two CotD subjects? Yes, it also uses Vileplume-GX. As it doesn’t have any way of fielding the Stage 2, that means it is here just for its attacks. While Allergic Explosion-GX could also be a factor, it is most likely for Massive Bloom. Though I don’t have an example of this deck seeing competitive success in Expanded, it might also be another way to use Vileplume-GX there. I mean, Dimension Valley would let Mewtwo & Mew-GX swing for 180 at a cost of just [G]. Acerola, AZ, and/or Max Potion would also allow insane healing shenanigans.
Given that it is no longer the new set, and how all official PTCG events have been canceled for a while, you’re probably not getting another chance to use Vileplume-GX in the Limited Format. Still, if you did, it’s a good pull but you’ll need the entire evolution line, and the Oddish and Gloom from SM – Cosmic Eclipse are filler even by Limited Format standards. Remember that a strong hit can leave Vileplume-GX unable to attack effectively until it is able to heal, and that – as is often the case – [R] Weakness is still a danger here, even sans Welder. You’re not running Vileplume-GX in a Mulligan build, and anywhere else attacking with it is optional; Fragrant Flower Garden is pretty fantastic here!
Vileplume-GX is a lot better than I expected it to be. It does two things, healing and hitting hard for two Energy, reasonably well. It isn’t great at either, at least, once you remember it is a Stage 2 Pokémon-GX, but it is good… and it released at a time when Mewtwo & Mew-GX can copy its attacks (giving a 270 HP Basic access to Massive Bloom), or when other Vileplume-based decks are doing well and can work a single copy in to exploit the healing. I’m just glad Forest of Giant Plants is banned. I can’t predict exactly how that would affect the rest of the metagame, but I do not want my opponent using the available Energy acceleration of Expanded to do 180, reliably, T2 and after!
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