– Vivid Voltage
November 14, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Zacian (SW – Vivid Voltage 082/185) is our 14th-place pick. While it isn’t something I normally worry about, it is worth noting that Zacian is one of the new “Amazing Rare” cards. This doesn’t affect the card’s name: counts against the same four copies of a card named “Zacian” as Zacian (SW – Rebel Clash 139/192) and Zacian (SW – Black Star Promos SWSH033). Besides the rarity symbol, though, there does seem to be one thing Amazing Rare Pokémon have in common: multi-type Energy costs. We’ll discuss that more when we actually get to the attacks, but I wanted to mention it now. Other than its rarity, Zacian features no specialty mechanics and is a baseline, single Prize Pokémon. Even the unusual Energy requirements are just that: unusual but not entirely unprecedented on “regular” Pokémon.
Zacian is a Basic; minimum deck space requirements, minimum time to hit the field. In the video games, this Pokémon has two forms, the Fairy type “Hero of Many Battles” Form, and the Fairy/Steel type “Crowned Sword” Form. The artwork on the card corresponds to the latter, so theoretically this card could have been a [M] type. I’m not sure if that actually was on the table, but if it was, this would have been superior to the card’s [P] typing. As is, Zacian still enjoys some type support, and might enjoy attacking into Weakness in certain match-ups, but it pales compared to what the Metal type enjoys, and comes with SM-era Darkness and Metal types often being -20 Psychic Resistant.
Zacian has 110 HP, meaning its more likely to get OHKO’d than not, but at least your opponent has to use a mostly serious attack, as opposed to something used for its non-damage effect, inexpensive cost, etc. The obvious exception stems from Zacian’s Metal Weakness; just 60 damage gets doubled into 120 for a OHKO. No Resistance is the worst Resistance, but Resistance isn’t as beneficial as Weakness is detrimental, and most cards have no Resistance. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is pretty typical; not low enough to be good, but high enough you don’t want to pay it if you can avoid it.
Zacian knows two attacks. The first one does not have a crazy Energy cost: [C] pays for “Metal Armament”, which lets Zacian do 30 damage while attaching a basic Energy card from your discard pile to itself. 30 damage for one Energy is decent when accompanied by a useful effect, and if you think you can keep Zacian alive for a turn (possible, just not easy) then Metal Armament can prep it for its second attack. Metal Armament would be far better if it could attach Special Energy cards and/or attach to your Benched Pokémon, however. Attaching from the discard also isn’t optional, but that should rarely, rarely be an issue.
Zacian’s second attack, “Amazing Sword”, is where you finally see the proof of Zacian being an Amazing Rare. The printed Energy cost is [GPM]; that’s right, three different non-[C] Energy types. Three Energy is already a threshold to clear, elevated by the card not being Twin Energy compliant, but now you’re either running three kinds of basic Energy, relying on Special Energy such as Aurora Energy, or both to meet this attack cost. It means that, even if you have a source of Energy acceleration compatible with a single type, it can’t help with the others. What is your reward for meeting this amazingly painful cost? 150 base damage, with a bonus 150 if your opponent has any Pokémon VMAX in play.
150 damage for three Energy, on a single Prize Pokémon, and with no drawback effects is not bad. In fact, it is actually good. Notice I said “effects” though; requiring [GPM] is definitely a substantial drawback. If a deck not built around Zacian exists, which can cover that cost without too much effort, in at least a semi-reliable manner, Zacian becomes an obvious addition. I just don’t know of any such decks, so we’re talking about building something new, tweaking something that is already out, or being able to commit resources that are normally needed by something else. 150 for a messy three is not usually worth that effort… but then there’s the effect.
Not every deck runs Pokémon VMAX. Not every deck running Pokémon VMAX must rush to field them, though I doubt most can hold off without reducing their efficacy. 300 damage (150 +150) is only enough to OHKO the smallest Pokémon VMAX. Good thing the damage bonus only cares if a Pokémon VMAX is in play. Nothing except Pokémon VMAX have over 300 HP; unless it is [P] Resistant or using some sort of defensive buff, if your opponent has a Pokémon VMAX on the Bench then Amazing Sword can OHKO anything that is not a Pokémon VMAX. Overkill a strategic, single Prize Pokémon, or slam an opponent’s supporting Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX. Including TAG TEAM Pokémon worth the same three Prize cards as a Pokémon VMAX! If your opponent doesn’t buff it, but you have stuff like Leon and Vitality Band, Zacian V can OHKO any Pokémon VMAX as well.
In the Expanded Format, there are more options for Energy acceleration, as well as more Special Energy cards capable of supplying multiple types of Energy. There are also more crazy effects, better Energy removal, etc. I don’t think Zacian has it significantly better in Expanded, but I don’t think it has it significantly worse, either. Moving on to the Limited Format, you need enough Pokémon capable of using basic Grass Energy, Psychic Energy, and Metal Energy cards effectively. That doesn’t necessarily mean running Pokémon of all three types; it probably means running several with mostly [C] Energy requirements. Metal Armament becomes a solid lead-in attack here, further helping with juggling three types of basic Energy cards, and even if your opponent never drops a Pokémon VMAX, 150 OHKO’s a lot of what you’re facing.
Zacian has stiff Energy requirements, to the point I’m not sure when or even if a deck will emerge that can use it well. I can think of strategies to get the Energy onto Zacian, even in single-Prize decks, even in a single turn… but they all work for other cards just as well, often better. If your opponent has even one Pokémon VMAX in play, and if you can afford the Energy cost, then Amazing Sword does live up to its name. All the same, this was enough to keep Zacian from making my personal list for this set.
Our 14th best card of Vivid Voltage is Zacian! I believe this is the first Psychic typed Zacian card since the previous ones were Metal types, which might be interesting as far as type matchups goes. It is also a card that doesn’t have any special mechanics, so this card is considered to be a regular Zacian card. Amazing Rare is just a higher rarity that could surpass Ultra Rares; they’re probably even harder to pull. Would it be just a collectible card, or would it see competitive play? Let’s find out!
Metal Armament costs a single energy for 30 damage and lets you attach a basic energy card from your discard pile onto this Pokémon. A good starting attack that can lead in to its next attack. Amazing Sword does 150 damage, plus 150 more damage if your opponent has any Pokémon VMAX in play. 300 damage is enough to OHKO all TAG TEAMs and the lower end of Pokemon VMAX, but if you use Leon and a couple of Galarian Zizzagoon for extra damage, then it might OHKO anything in the game! And Zacian itself is a single prize Pokemon, so the prize trade is in your favor! What’s not so amazing is that this attack costs three DIFFERENT Basic Energy types, which is…
Grass, Psychic, and Metal energy!
Normally, this atrocious attack cost is more than enough to dismiss this card completely like any other card, but there might be enough support to work with. Aurora Energy acts like Rainbow Energy in a sense, as it covers one unit of energy of any type. Turbo Patch is another decent option in standard, but you have to have at least three basic energies in the discard pile and hope that the coin flips co-operated. For Expanded, Milotic from XY FlashFire would’ve been a good partner to accelerate energies, but it is recently banned from Expanded, so we have to look elsewhere. Ho-Oh EX from BW Dragons Exalted has the Rebirth ability that – if you flipped heads – lets it play this Pokémon from the discard pile onto your Bench AND attaches three different basic energy types. Golduck BREAK’s Hyper Transfer will move all of those basic energies into Zacian. Max Elixir would’ve been a good option, but you’ll run the risk of getting the wrong basic energy card.
Zacian is not easy to deck build since it needs three different basic energy types, but this is one of the few cards that can potentially OHKO anything in the format. As long as your opponent starts putting VMAX Pokémon in play, that’s where Zacian becomes amazing, otherwise the damage output is less impressive.
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive. We have reviewed more than 4200 Pokemon cards over the last 20 years!