November 10, 2021
Standard: See Below
Expanded: See Below
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today, we finish up Zacian V-Union with its final card, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH166. If you’re new to CotD’s, this one is usual, because the subject is unusual. You can read this article from Pokémon.com if you’re brand new to the concept of Pokémon V-Union. They’re the latest form of Pokémon V-Union, at least that has officially released (Pokémon V-Star are coming). For those who can’t or won’t, Pokémon V-Union are one Pokémon, using up one Bench (or Active) space while in play, but made up of four cards. If you remember Pokémon LEGEND cards from the HeartGold & SoulSilver series, it is like those, but using twice as many cards and with different rules for being put into play. Even though I hadn’t planned on it… yeah, I do (did?) end up explaining this throughout the review.
- SW – Black Star Promos SWSH163
- SW – Black Star Promos SWSH164
- SW – Black Star Promos SWSH165
- SW – Black Star Promos SWSH166
These are the four cards that make up Zacian V-Union. They all have the same name (Zacian V-Union), typing (Metal), Stage of Evolution (V-Union), and a Rule Box that explains how you put Zacian V-Union into play. These things are recognized by the game, even when Zacian V-Union is not in play. For example, even though they aren’t the same card, since they have the same name all pieces of Zacian V-Union count against each other for the 4 Copy Rule. So you’re either running one of each or you’re intentionally including dead cards in your deck.
Another example is how Jasmine can snag a piece of Zacian V-Union from your deck, as it still counts as a Metal Pokémon. However, you cannot snag a piece that lacks a printed HP score with Level Ball; lacking a printed HP score isn’t the same thing as having 90 or less HP. Even if a single piece has a stat that an effect does care about when that piece isn’t in play, the game won’t recognize it. No Pokémon V-Union has a Retreat Cost of [CCC], but if one did, it would not be a legal Heavy Ball target. If you don’t believe me, my source is the official article to which I linked earlier.
Speaking of Zacian V-Union being a Metal type, that’s a good thing! It means access to Metal Saucer in Standard and even more tricks in Expanded. Zacian V-Union’s Stage is… V-Union. There are at least a few notable [M] Weak Pokémon in the metagame, like Sylveon VMAX (in Standard). V-Unions are neither Basics, Evolutions, nor Evolved Pokémon. If an effect specifies a Stage other than V-Union, that effect won’t work with Pokémon V-Union. Pokémon V-Union count as both Rule Box Pokémon and Pokémon V; the former doesn’t really matter, but the last makes it vulnerable to anti-V effects. Pokémon V-Union are worth three Prizes when KO’d, so it is quite natural to compare and contrast them with Pokémon VMAX.
Putting a V-Union into play requires (as per the Rule Box) having all four of its pieces in your discard pile. Then, during your turn, you can assemble them in an empty Bench spot, once per game. The restriction is for that specific V-Union. Another example, in case I am not being clear: say you are running both Mewtwo V-Union and Zacian V-Union. Each can be put into play once per game via the instructions in their Rule Box. No, you cannot mix and match the pieces. Nor can you put anything less than the four, matching pieces into play. Even if you have an effect that normally lets you put a Pokémon directly into play while ignoring Evolution requirements, it won’t work with a piece of a V-Union because they’re just that: a piece of a Pokémon and not an entire Pokémon in the piece’s own right.
Zacian V-Union has 320 HP. This would be solid for a Pokémon VMAX, so it probably is for a Pokémon V-Union as well. My uncertainty isn’t because of the specifics of Zacian V-Union, but because Pokémon V-Union are going to be more fickle than a Pokémon VMAX, albeit potentially faster. There’s no waiting to Evolve, but you’ll need to get all four pieces into your discard pile. If even one is Prizes, or worse still, somehow ends up in the Lost Zone (an Expanded-only concern), the rest of its cards aren’t able to do anything. Plus, you only get one-shot, as per the Rule Box text. 320 should be difficult to OHKO for all but the hardest hitting decks, and some weaker (but potentially more technical) attackers may even have to work to score a 2HKO.
[R] Weakness creates a chink in Zacian V-Union’s armor. Just 160 damage will be doubled to become 320. Of course, even 160 isn’t easy for most decks to do, and Metal types do have access to Coating [M] Energy, which removes their Weakness while attached. So it is probably the safest of the V-Unions we’ve seen. Its [G] Resistance could come in handy as well; there are at least a few solid Grass-type attackers, and they’ll need to do 350 damage to one-shot Zacian V-union, or 380 over the course of two turns. Zacian V-Union’s Retreat Cost is [CC], neither low nor high. Yes, a bit anti-climactic given how long we had to wait to see it.
Zacian V-Union knows four attacks, one printed on each piece. SW – Black Star Promos SWSH163 has “Union Gain”. Priced at [C], this attack lets you attach up to two [M] Energy from your discard pile to Zacian V-Union. Only basic Metal Energy count as [M] in the discard pile, and while Zacian V-Union needs more Energy to use any other of its attacks, I don’t recommend using Union Gain too often. That 320 HP won’t last that long, and you’re giving your opponent essentially a free shot at Zacian V-Union when you don’t use a more aggressive attack. Still, in a pinch or when you just know it is safe, it can actually be useful. Fun fact: all four Pokémon V-Union know Union Gain, just attaching Energy of a type matching that particular V-Union.
SW – Black Star Promos SWSH164 grants Zacian V-Union the attack “Dance of the Crowned Sword”. Priced at [MMC], this does 150 damage to the Defending Pokémon plus leaves an effect on it, reducing the damage it can do during your opponent’s next turn by 150. 150 damage might be a tad low for three Energy, failing to 2HKO most Pokémon VMAX and whiffing on the OHKO against larger single-Prize targets, but I think the effect is adequate compensation. Now, shaking this effect is relatively easy for many decks; evolve, retreat, and or use a switching effect on your Active. As long as the Evolution is a good attacker, or you’ve got a spare attacker/switching effect, you’re good. These aren’t limitless resources for most decks, and sometimes you will catch an opponent that can’t shake it and so ends up with a very pitiful attack.
[MMC] is also the price of “Steel Cut”, the attack found on SW – Black Star Promos SWSH165. This does 200 damage; there are no added effects or costs. If Dance of the Crowned Sword cannot OHKO a target, odds are good that Steel Cut can be the follow up, leading to a 2HKO. Steel Cut hits hard enough that it can even OHKO smaller Basic Pokémon V, and the price is good. Union Gain can lead into either attack – not a recommendation, just an observation – but if you have enough for Dance of the Crowned Sword, odds are you can afford Zacian V-Union’s final attack, “Master Blade”. This is from today’s card, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH166. It costs [MMMC] to use, plus requires you discard three Energy from Zacian V-Union. Ouch!
The high printed cost and discard cost pay for a massive amount of damage, however: 340. This is enough to OHKO any Pokémon if we’re just going by printed HP scores. There are various defensive buffs that can keep you from scoring the OHKO, but there are counters to those counters so yes, this is still a good thing! Not a great thing, though; loading and reloading Zacian V-Union is costly. It is possible you could go second, put Zacian V-Union into play on your first turn (overall Turn 2), attach an Energy and promote it to your Active spot so it can attack with Union Gain, all while having two basic Metal Energy in your discard pile for Union Gain to attach. Then you’d just need to manually attach an Energy your next turn, and BOOM! The thing is, even if you pull this off, you’d better be one-shotting an opponent’s Pokémon VMAX so you can break even in the Prize trade.
Personally, I think you’re better off using Metal Saucer to help prep Dance of the Crowned Sword and/or Master Blade in a single turn. Then, as you’ll probably survive, try to force a fresh opposing Pokémon VMAX into your opponent’s Active position, attach a four Energy, and go for the OHKO. Even if Zacian V-Union doesn’t survive to attack a third time, you’ve had the chance to take up to five Prizes from Zacian V-Union alone. Of course, if you get lucky and can spam three copies of Metal Saucer after manually attaching and there’s a worthwhile target Active, go for broke and use Master Blade. With the right setup, Zacian V-Union may even be capable of attacking again on your next turn, with something other than Union Gain.
Expanded adds more support, but also more competition in the form of decks that could better use that support, or just seem like they’re as good or better in general. I think this piece of Zacian V-Union is another three-out-of-five card; not bad, but not overly good, in both Standard and Expanded. The overall package is good but not great, with some pieces being a bit underwhelming while the others are good but not great. In other words, yes, I’ll once again be awarding a three-out-of-five for the overall V-Union’s scores as well.
SW – Black Star Promos SWSH166
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
Zacian V-Union (Overall)
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
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