– Cosmic Eclipse
November 22, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Whenever I see Volcarona-GX, it makes me think of a few things:
I’M LAUNCHING MY FIRE SHURIKENS AND/OR FIRE ARROWS!!!
If you don’t get that, don’t worry. It’s just when I read about the effect from its ability, the shuriken reference makes me think of Greninja because it does a similar thing from the XY Base Set version as well as the Break Evolution. The arrows reference is based on Decidueye-GX. You get to discard a Fire energy from your hand and put 2 damage counters on 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon. Although this seems like you’re losing more resources rather than doing something simple, there are ways to get Fire energies back. Fire Crystal is one of them, bringing back 3 Fire energies from the discard pile. Non-specific cards from Expanded include Energy Retrieval and Energy Recycler. All in all, this is a good ability to help achieve KOs faster. Decidueye-GX may compete against Volcarona-GX in Expanded, and while Feather Arrow places the same damage as Burning Shot without the energy discard, it is a Stage 2 while Volcarona is a Stage 1, so it’s a little slow to bring out and is Expanded only option.
But at this point, Volcarona isn’t trying any harder to be better due to it’s attacks. Backfire costs RRC for 160 damage and you return two Fire energies attached to this Pokémon into your hand, so that you get more opportunities to use Flaming Shot in theory. And since the Ability stacks depending on how many Volcarona-GX you have in play, you’ll definitely need all the Fire energies you can get on your hand so that you can get to use that ability multiple times. Massive Heat Wave is a one time GX move that discards an energy from each of your opponent’s Pokemon. This is underwhelming because most decks you’ll see today have Pokémon that puts all eggs in one basket, meaning they’ll focus on putting energies on one Pokémon because that’s what they’ll use to attack with. It may be plausible to undo some of your opponent’s setup such as reducing the damage output of Blacephalon-GX’s Mind Blown, but even then, Naganadel’s Charging Up Ability would simply get those energies back. Removing Special Energies, however, can set your opponent back since there’s no recovery options for special energies in Standard.
So Burning Shot alone gives you a reason to use Volcarona-GX, but what partners can benefit from this ability? Perhaps more than I can count, I’m afraid, but I’ll give you a few examples. The new Decidueye from Cosmic Eclipse has an attack called Tracking Shot – which costs CC and can be compatible with Welder – that does 80 damage to the Active Pokemon and another 80 to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon that has any damage counters on it. With Burning Shot, that becomes a total of 80 to the front and 100 to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. This can really build up the pressure, as it can 2HKO multiple single prized Pokémon, and maybe 3-4 turns on EX/GX Pokemon. Add in Wide Lens from XY Roaring Skies in Expanded to exploit weakness on Benched Pokemon, and any Grass weak Pokémon can be taken out far sooner! Another partner to benefit from is Victini Prism Star, whose Infinity attack does 20 damage times the amount of Basic energies in your discard pile. And because it puts those energies back into your deck, you might need some search related cards to grab Fire energies. Giant Hearth and Fiery Flint are great candidates for fetching those.
We’ve been fond on extra damage placement while still being able to attack. It helps set up for future KOs or even immediate KOs for when their own attacks fall short of. This could fill in the missing piece since Choice Band is long gone from the Standard format and Altered Creation uses up your GX attack for the game, creating some thinking of opportunity costs.
Volcarona-GX isn’t essential to any existing decks, but it can be a nice option if you can afford the deck space and/or it can also be something to build a deck around based on certain examples mentioned earlier. This was the 15th best card of Cosmic Eclipse with 3 voting points assuming that if we were to expand the countdown.
Volcarona-GX (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 35/236, 213/236, 252/236) is one of the new non-TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX from the latest expansion. Giving up two-Prizes when KO’d and dealing with cards that penalize you or reward your opponent for you running a Pokémon-GX are balanced out by higher HP scores, GX-support, and improved effects (including access to a GX-attack). Of course, that doesn’t mean it always comes together to make a successful card; gimmicks like this often become the face of the game, but people who decry such mechanics as inherently unbalanced usually miss how many such cards are not competitively viable.
Volcarona-GX is a Stage 1, meaning you’ll need an extra turn and an extra card for it to hit the field, but still leaving it faster and/or less resource requiring than a Stage 2. The [R] Typing can help it take advantage of their Type support… except the best of it actually only cares about Energy (not Pokémon) Typing, as demonstrated by Welder. 210 HP is adequate for a Pokémon-GX of this Stage. [W] Weakness and lack of Resistance aren’t good, but the former isn’t as bad as it could be and the latter is the norm for most Pokémon. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is as high as it can be without granting access to cards like Poké Maniac or Buff Padding; paying it will often be a pain.
Volcarona-GX has the Ability “Flaming Shot”, which can only be used once per turn per instance of it you have in play, and before you attack (or do anything else that would end your turn). You have to discard a [R] Energy to pay for it, and the actual effect is you place two damage counters on the opponent’s Pokémon of your choice. This is a weaker version of the “Feather Arrow” Ability made famous by Decidueye-GX, which works exactly the same except with no discard requirement. Fortunately, basic Fire Energy cards are the easiest to search from the deck and to recycle from the discard pile, owing to Fiery Flint and Fire Crystal, respectively. Actually placing the damage counters is a bit like damage buffs/defensive buffs; when it shifts how many turns you need for a KO it is amazing but if it doesn’t you have to ask if it is actually helping you.
The card’s regular attack is “Backfire”, priced as [RRC] and doing 160 damage while returning to your hand two [R] Energy attached to Volcarona-GX (or whatever is using this attack). While not brilliant, it is good; the damage is a little above what you need for 2HKO’s and returning [R] Energy from your attacker to your hand is as much as bonus as a penalty. There is a risk you’ll fall behind what you need to keep attacking, but between Welder and manual Energy attachments it shouldn’t be too bad… and the Energy going to your hand can be used by many other [R] Energy-fueled cards! Combined with Flaming Shot and you can pseudo-OHKO some key HP scores. A Volcarona-GX backed by three others can effectively OHKO a 240 HP target for three Energy attached to itself and four discarded from hand.
“Massive Heat Wave-GX” is the GX-attack, and it only costs [R]. It discards an Energy from each of your opponent’s Pokémon. There’s nothing you can do when facing decks that don’t care about their Energy being discarded, or barely care about the Energy you’ll discarded, save using a different GX-attack from another card. With many match-ups, it will be about timing and execution; even Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117; Shiny Vault SV18/SV94) decks can be tripped up by Massive Heat Wave-GX if you can time it right. Yes, they’ll be able to reattach some or all of the Energy you discarded, but they won’t always be able to immediately reattach it to the same targets, or else may have needed those formerly extra Energy attachments for something else.
The main use I see for Volcarona-GX, however, is as a single in a Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck. No guarantees, but its attacks may be worth copying under the right circumstances. It is facing a lot of competition, though. Why not use it in its own deck? Eventually, there’s a good chance it will be! Right now, though, we have better “raw power” [R] attackers and typical HP scores (both max and after soaking an attack) are such that Flaming Shot may not pay off in the risk-versus-rewards department. After all, if you use it just as a Bench-sitter, its something that is at least somewhat easy to strand in the Active position.
For the Expanded Format, things get… different. I was going to say worse, as there’s Ability lock, Item-lock, sometimes even Supporter-lock to worry about. All of these can be a factor in Standard as well, but they show up in competitive decks here. There is more [R] support but not only is it available to other [R] Types, but some like the “Steam Up” Ability found on Volcanion-EX can’t be used by Volcarona-GX. On the other hand, the damage counter placement might have better partners to work with, be they stronger control elements, damage counter manipulators, or both.
That leaves the Limited Format, where Volcarona-GX is pretty sweet. It is far from perfect; there’s a strong [W] presence in SM – Cosmic Eclipse and it is not just concentrated in the unlikely-to-be-pulled card rarities. You’ll need to actually evolve Larvesta into Volcarona-GX as well. Between the Ability’s discard cost and the attack costs, you’ll need a deck that runs mostly or entirely on basic Fire Energy. You won’t have Welder to speed up Backfire, either. What you might have are other solid [R] Types – they also have a strong presence in this set – and if you’re lucky some of the strong new Supporters, like Red & Blue.
I want to be clear; Volcarona-GX has a lot of potential, but I think it is just that: latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness. In the present, it faces too much competition in a metagame where what could be fantastic effects and solid stats are instead underwhelming. Volcarona-GX didn’t make my own Top 11, but I did consider it. For the site list, Volcarona-GX would have been our 15th-place pick, and that seems a bit high.
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