Wailord – Primal Clash
Date Reviewed: February 4, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Wailord-EX (XY – Primal Clash 38/160, 147/160) officially released six years ago today, alongside the rest of XY – Primal Clash. As a Pokémon-EX, it is worth an additional Prize when KO’d, excluded from certain beneficial effects, but included in certain detrimental ones. It isn’t all bad being a Pokémon-EX, though; regardless of a Pokémon’s usual Stage of Evolution, its Pokémon-EX counterpart is a Basic. Wailord cards are normally Stage 1 Pokémon, so this makes Wailord-EX faster and easier to run than most other versions of itself. It also means Wailord-EX can function as your opening Active, make use of support like Fighting Fury Belt, and work better with certain effects, such as bounce. Wailord-EX will have to deal with anti-Basic effects, though.
Another benefit to being a Pokémon-EX is that Wailord has 250 HP. Until TAG TEAM Pokémon and – later – Pokémon V came along, this was as good as it got for printed HP scores on Basic Pokémon. In fact, it wasn’t until TAG TEAMs were released that anything had more than 250 HP printed on it, regardless of Stage or specialty mechanic. In more recent times, the Basic Pokémon Steelix V have matched and exceeded Wailord-EX’s HP record, the latter having 280! Pokémon VMAX all have at least 50 HP more than Wailord-EX, with the largest having 90 more, but they’re worth three Prizes, and aren’t Basics. Sometimes, Stage or specialty mechanic don’t matter, and when it comes to just surviving attacks, 250 is still very, very good. OHKO’s can happen, but it will usually cost the attacker.
Wailord-EX is a Water-type; it is merely “okay” right now, but was very good when Wailord-EX released. Wailord-EX decks didn’t usually attack, so it wasn’t exploiting Weakness or evading Resistance that helped, but the available [W] support. Cards like Brooklet Hill, Dive Ball, and Rough Seas proved handy for Water types, if not Wailord-EX itself. Anti-[W] effects aren’t usually an issue for Wailord-EX, as (spoiler) its Ability and attack aren’t why it is run. More on that later, however; Wailord-EX’s [G] Weakness was a problem for it back when it was Standard-legal, but I’m uncertain if it remains so. The lack of Resistance didn’t truly hurt the card, but it might have proven helpful, if only in select match-ups. The Retreat Cost of four hurt the card back in the day, but was manageable; this is mostly true now, but possibly support like Buff Padding provides a silver-lining.
While they’re not overly relevant, let’s look at Wailord-EX’s Ability and attack. “Water Veil” debuted here, though similar effects long predate it. Anytime you attach an Energy from your hand to this Pokémon, you remove all Special Conditions from it. At the time this card released, Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym were still Standard-legal, making Water Veil somewhat relevant. “High Breaching” requires [WWWWW] to do 120 damage and it leaves Wailord-EX Asleep, making Water Veil slightly more relevant. The damage was low given the Energy requirement and drawback… but Wailord-EX has Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149, BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; BW – Plasma Blast 16/101) and (by this time), and Blastoise had Archie’s Ace in the Hole plus other support. Wailord-EX was not its star attacker, but sometimes showed up as a one-of in competitive Archie’s Blastoise builds. Including HonorStoise, which won the 2015 World Championship in the Masters Division!
What burned Wailord-EX into my brain, however, was the deck in which it starred. Wailord-EX decks were built around it, usually with at least one other “wall” style Pokémon. Wailord-EX was purely a meatshield, but with 250 HP on a Basic, it was incredibly good at that job. Soak a few hits, then get healed by Max Potion, bounced by AZ, etc. The deck ran little to no Energy, leaving room for a lot disruption. So the hard-to-OHKO 250 HP not only became even harder to OHKO, but to 2HKO or even 3HKO. Unfortunately, since it did not become a World Championship deck in this form, I don’t have an easy record of how well Wailord-EX did at first. I can tell you that I recall it varying in its efficacy, with it sometimes being scary good, other times being an annoyance.
Then again, I also favored Vespiquen (XY – Ancient Origins 10/98), one of the natural counters to Wailord-EX; a Stage 1 Grass Pokémon that does 20 plus 10 per Pokémon in your discard pile for just [CC]. Thanks to Weakness and Muscle Band, an easy (for that deck) nine Pokémon in the discard pile, and even Wailord-EX could be OHKO’d! What I can tell you is that Wailord-EX was still good and competitive even near the end of its Standard Format tenure, because I looked it up over at LimitlessTCG! You can see for yourself, Wailord-EX decks still making the top 10% (sometimes as high as 2nd-Place) until 2019! Though the very first deck that search shows up features Magikarp & Wailord-GX without Wailord-EX, the other lists do contain Wailord (or both Wailord and Magikarp & Wailord-GX). So, is Wailord-EX any good now?
I think so. I don’t think it is anywhere near as good at it once was. For starters, it is Expanded-only, and the Expanded Format can get pretty nuts. Not that I have any current information on it, due to the lack of tournaments and lack of play testing on my part. Maybe the [G] Weakness is an issue, maybe it isn’t, but what makes me think Wailord-EX still has some chops. Not included in the above search results, because the deck didn’t have “Wailord” in the name, are Wall Stall decks… one of which managed to finish in 47th-Place (out of 756 players!) on January 18, 2020 at the Regional Championship held in Dallas, TX. That was shortly before Sword & Shield, and the modern power creep but it was also before Scoop Up Net. That’s right, Wailord-EX decks can drop a 250 HP Basic and use an Item to reliably bounce it.
- Standard: N/A
- Expanded: 3/5
A bit late, but you can read our original Wailord-EX review here; if you can’t tell, it was from before anyone had really proven Wailord-EX. Or at least, before such proof had reached my eyes. You’ll see I still gave Wailord-EX a good score, but perhaps a bit low for what it would go on to accomplish over the years. Wailord-EX isn’t the peak it once was, but it still has good HP for even a two-Prize Basic, and benefits from modern support cards no longer caring one way or the other about Pokémon-EX.
Our Throwback for this week is Wailord-EX from XY Primal Clash! When I first saw that card, the amount of HP surprised me; it has the highest printed HP of a Pokémon-EX! However, even though 250 HP isn’t safe from OHKOs, Grass weakness seemed to be the safer weakness to have, even now. A retreat cost of 4 means Buff Padding can make its HP go up by 50 more, turning a 250 HP into a 300 HP behemoth, while still being worth two prizes. I don’t think Wailord is used to attack at all, considering how neither its ability or its attack is going to incentivize Wailord to double up as a wall and an attacker, so it just sits in the front taking hits while flushing away all damage via Max Potion or Scoop Up Net (yes, this doesn’t exclude EX Pokemon). So even with an underwhelming ability and a bad attack, it’s HP alone was enough to see competitive play and a deck has been made revolving itself (like 2-3 Pokémon, 1 energy, and around 50-55 trainers).
Wailord-V is another bulky Pokémon alongside Wailord-EX that is also worth 2 prizes, but unlike the older version, it has 280 HP with Lightning weakness, which isn’t a good weakness to have, when you consider that Electropower can amplify the damage output for Lightning Pokemon, and you take +60 more damage every time your opponent plays that card. It might be plausible to use both Wailord cards in the same deck depending on what the player is up against. Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX each had their own share of benefits and exclusions, so one can’t neither be better nor inferior over the other.
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