Wailord – Vivid Voltage
Date Reviewed: February 3, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I like big ‘mons and I cannot lie!
Well, not when they’re either filler or unhealthy for game balance, but that’s a general talking point. Let’s actually look at Wailord (SW – Vivid Voltage 032/185). It is a baseline Pokémon, not a Pokémon V or any of the older or upcoming specialty mechanics. Wailord’s typing grants access to a small pool of Standard support, with more in Expanded. While not as great as what some other types support, it is still (overall) good. Anti-Water effects currently aren’t good, but they do exist and at least a few have potential. Water Weakness is the norm for Fire types, and that is a good deal for Wailord in the Standard Format (not sure about Expanded). Water Resistance doesn’t naturally exist in Standard, but is found on most Black & White era Grass types. All in all, being a Water type is good even though they don’t have a massive metagame presence at the moment.
Wailord is a Stage 1 Pokémon; while not as fast, reliable, or low effort as being a Basic, Stage 1 Pokémon are not slow or clunky, either. In other words, this isn’t a bonus to Wailord, but unless it is already borderline, it won’t stand in the card’s way, either. Wailord has 200 HP, which is as good as it gets for baseline Stage 1 Pokémon in Standard, and only beaten by Wailord (SM – Celestial Storm 40/168) in Expanded, which clocks in at 220 HP. Wailord is almost as big as typical Basic Pokémon V, but on a Stage 1 worth just one Prize. Its [L] Weakness is horrible right now; Pikarom decks are among the strongest in the metagame, if we go by the Players Cup II Global Finals. No Resistance is the worst, but typical; if it had been here, it may have provided a small bonus. The Retreat Cost of [CCCC] means manually retreating will almost never be worth it, but does let Wailord take advantage of cards such as Buff Padding.
Wailord has one Ability and one attack, both of which are recycled from past cards. “Water Veil” activates whenever you attach an Energy card to this Wailord; you remove all Special Conditions currently afflicting it. Last I checked, Special Conditions were not a major part of the metagame, and conditional curing – even when those conditions aren’t demanding – is not as good as immunity. Why bring up immunity to Special Conditions? Copperajah (SW – Darkness Ablaze 132/189) is immune to Special Conditions due to its “Antibacterial Skin” Ability, while Galarian Rapidash “Pastel Veil” removes all existing Special Conditions from all your Pokémon and then protects them all from any future Special Conditions. These are both recent Stage 1 cards. Now, Water Veil is not the focus of Wailord, just a small bonus, so it is still appreciated.
The first Pokémon with “Hydro Pump” was Blastoise (Base Set 2/102; Base Set 2 2/130), so as old of a history as it gets for the TCG. It also shows up on multiple recent cards, so it isn’t some forgotten relic. Wailord’s version of it costs [CCCC], and does only 10 base damage, but each [W] Energy attached to the attacking Wailord means Hydro Pump does another 40 damage. Four Energy is still a massive investment, and while being all Colorless is technically better, with the attack’s effect you’re going to want as much of it as possible to be [W] Energy. So, paying for Hydro Pump’s printed cost with [WWWW] yields 170 damage. That is good enough to 2HKO anything in the game, at least, if we just go by printed HP scores. While plenty of cards have effects and decks have combos to mitigate this, it is still a nice thing. If you can spare more Energy, you can hit even harder.
As a Stage 1 Pokémon, Wailord needs help hitting the field. You could use Archie’s Ace in the Hole in Expanded, but that is better used on something else if you’re running it at all. There are even more exotic alternatives in Expanded, but you’re best off doing what you have to do in Standard; start with Wailmer. There aren’t any stellar Wailmer, for for an evolving Basic, at least they have decent HP scores. When it comes to Frosmoth decks, there is actually a decent option: Wailmer (SW – Vivid Voltage 031/185). You get a 100 HP Basic [W] Pokémon that knows Hydro Pump. Wailmer’s version costs [CCC] and does 10 plus 20 per attached [W] Energy. Without Wailord, you’d be better off with Cramorant (SW – Rebel Clash 051/192) as it has 110 HP and its Hydro Pump does 50 plus 20 for the same cost as Wailmer’s version of the attack. With Wailord, though, it is nice to have even a weak Emergency attacker.
With all the Energy Wailord needs, the only real Standard Format option is Frosmoth. You’ll need to prep Wailord on the Bench, five [W] means Hydro Pump does 210 damage, enough to OHKO something like Vikavolt V, as opposed to the smaller multi-Prize Pokémon like Dedenne-GX or Crobat V. Six [W] means 250 damage: prior to protective effects, that means all single Prize Pokémon, Pokémon-EX, and non-TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX. Under similar circumstances, almost all Basic Pokémon V and the smallest TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX are also in OHKO range. Even with Frosmoth, though, more than six Energy at once is difficult; for that matter, even getting the minimum four isn’t overly easy. In Expanded, you have the option of using Archie’s Ace in the Hole to field Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; BW – Plasma Blast 16/101). Remember you’ll face more anti-Ability effects in Expanded.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
If you can spare your Tool on something such as Buff Padding or Big Charm, you can run a single-Prize Stage 1 that has both the offensive and defensive might of a Basic Pokémon V. You can build Wailord up to the point its Hydro Pump can OHKO anything based on printed HP scores, but even with great Energy acceleration, even five or six Energy on a Wailord ain’t easy. I nearly gave Wailord a three-out-of-five, but its Weakness (even with Weakness counters) is a serious concern. Still, this is definitely another option for a budget deck, and might be able to achieve the coveted status of “rogue” deck.
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