– Burning Shadows
March 11, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Looks like we are looking at an older card.
Vileplume from Sun & Moon Burning Shadows makes another appearance in the TCG, and once again, it retains its reputation of being one of the most annoying Pokémon in the TCG to deal with because it has some sort of lockdown that’s one sided or affecting both players. In today’s case, it’s Disgusting Pollen Ability states that if this is your Active, then your opponent’s Basic Pokémon cannot attack. Sure, using Guzma to force switches or evolving a Pokémon can get away with this restriction, but it is still a painful obstacle for most decks that use mostly Basic Pokémon. Unfortunately, Vileplume doesn’t have what it takes to be an attacker, since Downer Shock costs GGC for 60 damage with a coin flip. Flip heads, and the Defending Pokémon is Asleep; flip tails, and the Defending Pokémon is Confused. Both Special Conditions can help buy you a turn or two as long as they stay that way, but it’s not something to rely on.
Looks like Otaku has explained how Vileplume would be used, so I’ll just jump to the ending. Vileplume has been featured in one deck that seems to be a control variant, so that’s good enough in my book. The ability to do something crippling is worth a look, and when it becomes the main headliner of a deck, the player will do the best they can to pilot it.
Time for a long overdue review. Not because Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147) officially released back in August of 2017, but because it finally made a name for itself in Standard over the last few weeks. As a Stage 2, compared to most other Stages, Vileplume will be slow and demanding… but since it has already done well, we know this can be overcome. The typing isn’t completely irrelevant, but most lists I’m seeing can’t attack with Vileplume, so you won’t be exploiting the lack of [G] Resistance decent amount of [G] Weakness in the metagame. You can still cash in on some bits of [G] Type support and the only anti-[G] Type effect I recall seeing used kind of isn’t: the side of Parallel City opposite the Bench-shrinking side drops the damage of [R], [G], and [W] Types by 20. 140 HP falls is outside of the range where it is rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly OHKO’d by most decks, but few should fail to manage at least one. I’d expect most to manage two, and a few to even manage all three… especially if they’ve got [R] Type attackers because this card is [R] Weak. That isn’t the worst, but a complete lack of Resistance is. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] may be the worst right now; it is high enough you’ll need to do something about it, and you don’t get to enjoy that Buff Padding goodness a Retreat Cost of [CCCC] allows. Nor are the few bits that [CCC] enjoys but [CC] does not enough to make me think the former is better than the latter.
The Ability is why the preceding stats just should not be any better. “Disgusting Pollen” only works while Vileplume is your Active but it states your opponent’s Basic Pokémon cannot attack. While there are plenty of decks with Evolutions capable of attacking or even being their deck’s main attacker, most decks at least have some Basic they want to attack with early-game, like Alolan Vulpix (SM – Guardians Rising 21/145, 21a/145). Indeed, Alolan Vulpix is actually famous for helping Evolution-focused deck get up and running. Other decks rely on nothing but Basic attackers, and many fall somewhere in between with a main or supporting attacker being a Basic. So, depending on the deck, that specific decklist, the player, and luck of the draw, Disgusting Pollen can be a mild irritant to disgustingly crippling! Vileplume is made vulnerable by being your Active, and this forces the deck to either go for a hit-and-run approach, a control/stall approach or actually rely on Vileplume’s attack. “Downer Shock” requires [GGC] to do 60 damage and have you flip a coin; “heads” means your opponent’s Active is Asleep while “tails” means it is Confused. Both Special Conditions give you a chance at stalling even if your opponent’s Active is an Evolution or if Abilities go offline. 60-for-three is still poor, even with a guarantee of one Special Condition or the other. Special Conditions usually aren’t too hard to shake, and both of these have a chance of doing little to nothing even if your opponent doesn’t do anything to make them go away. However, given the Ability, I’m okay with Downer Shock being pricey and none-too-strong.
Vileplume Evolves from Gloom, and Gloom Evolves from Oddish. Gloom may also Evolve into Bellossom. I’m going to cut to the quick; I don’t believe it makes a huge difference which Oddish or Gloom you run. You should use the Rare Candy and maybe Gloom. If you are planning to abuse Acerola, AZ, etc. then any Gloom should really do. Though Bellossom (XY – Ancient Origins 4/98) actually has a hit-and-run style attack, it isn’t a good example of such attacks, which is probably why no one seems to be running it. Riley Hubert added today’s Vileplume into a more or less typical Standard-Format stall/control deck and piloted it well. Perhaps there is more; I’d certain fear Vileplume as an option for Greninja-GX decks, though I don’t know if the combo would really work. Today’s Vileplume seems like an obvious one-of to combo with the older Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98). For the Limited Format, Vileplume is a terror IF you can get it to the field relatively quickly. Give even a 1-1-1 without Energy a try unless you’re running a +39 deck built around a big, Basic Pokémon-GX.
I am torn; I have a certain fondness for Vileplume cards and their penchant for control elements, so I’m thrilled we’ve got another one proven competitive. On the other hand, I don’t like it when something turns the game into solitaire, where you can either do nothing or do nothing that will really matter. Still, that doesn’t change that this Vileplume is a good card, even though plenty of contemporary decks already run Evolved attackers.
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