Volcanion V – Chilling Reign
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Volcanion V (SW – Chilling Reign 025/198, 162/198) ends the business week. As a Pokémon V, it counts as a Rule Box Pokémon, gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t take advantage of certain beneficial effects, is targeted by some deleterious, will have more HP than its baseline counterpart, and may have better effects (including damage yield). Volcanion V is a Fire type, which is reasonably good right now; we’ve got some established Fire decks already, with support for both the Pokémon type and the Energy (the latter being more important). It also can exploit the Fire Weakness found on most Metal types, including Zacian V.
Volcanion V is a Basic Pokémon, so it requires no additional cards to hit the field, nor do you have to wait to evolve into it. Its 220 HP is reasonably good for a Basic Pokémon V; there are some with much lower or higher scores, but this is a solid, middle-of-the-road value for what is typical of them. [W] Weakness is dangerous. A total lack of Resistance is the most common, but Resistance isn’t the equal opposite of Weakness; when present, it is a nice bonus. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is unfortunate. Volcanion V can’t tap the sometimes valuable, often not support for Pokémon with Retreat Costs of [CCCC]. Yes, it is one less than that, so technically easier to pay, but in reality, once you get past [CC] you’re almost always using effects that zero out Retreat Costs or let you change out your Active without actually retreating (like switching or bounce effects).
Volcanion V knows two attacks. For [RC], it’s “Heat Blast” lets it do 50. This is a very easy number to hit, at least in the present. Just use Welder. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to be worthwhile most of the time: 50 just isn’t enough damage from two Energy anymore. There’s also the second attack, “Dynamite Tackle”. It costs [RRC], so a Welder for two plus your manual Energy attachment can still ready it in a single turn. It does 100 damage, plus 150 more if Volcanion V has 10 or more damage counters on itself. The base 100 is poor, but probably a little more useful than Heat Blast, at least while Welder is still Standard-legal.
Needing to have at least 10 damage counters on it can be tricky; 220 falls into that limbo where an opponent might be able to “dodge” this amount by falling back to a weaker attacker (doing 10 to 90 damage) and then shifting to something else that does 130 to 210). Of course, opponent’s that can OHKO 220+ HP Pokémon ruin the strategy with ease! However, if your opponent cannot avoid it, you have an attacker that can do 100 one turn, then 250 the next. By raw, printed HP scores, that is enough to 2HKO anything. Yes, defensive buffs can mess that up, but there are combos that can help with getting Volcanion V to 10 damage counters. What combos?
Let us start with the long shots. If your opponent hits you for between 130 and 210 damage, you can use Agatha to move three damage counters from Volcanion V to your opponent’s Active. This almost seems too unlikely to bother… but a decent chunk of attacks have damage that falls into that range! An even less likely combo is using Galarian Slowking (SW – Chilling Reign 098/198). It has an Ability called “Mysterious Potion”. Each instance of this Ability may be used once during your turn. You select one of your Pokémon and flip a coin; if “heads” you heal 90, but if “tails” you have to place three damage counters on that Pokémon instead. It is a gamble, but if your opponent isn’t already scoring OHKO’s, “accidentally” healing 90 and only doing 100 damage turn after turn might still work out.
Giant Bomb may not seem like an obvious combo, but think of it as an insurance policy against being OHKO’d. It probably won’t stop your opponent from scoring a OHKO, but you’ll get Giant Bomb’s effect and place 10 damage counters on their Active. Even a 2HKO where one strike does 180 will trip it… and if they go for a 2HKO that doesn’t trigger Giant Bomb, there’s a good chance the first hit is large enough to feed Dynamite Tackle. Old Cemetery places two damage counters anytime either player attaches an Energy to a non-Psychic Pokémon. That includes any effects that attach Energy from the hand and not just your manual Energy attachment for the turn.
Welder plus a manual Energy attachment can only get Volcanion V to 60 damage, but there’s another aspect to this; unless your opponent is mostly dealing with Psychic Pokémon or attaching Energy from someplace other than their hand, they are also taking extra damage. Instead of or in addition to Old Cemetery, there is Spikemuth, which kicks in anytime either player’s Active Pokémon moves to their Bench during their turn. Again, not enough damage to reliably hit 10 damage counters, but it might help. The Expanded Format adds a few more options but… yeah, none of these combos are making me think it will be easy to utlize Dynamite Tackle. I think there might be a fun deck you could build with Volcanion V, but I don’t know if it will actually be functional.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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