– Sword & Shield
March 18, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Details: With ALL Pokemon events being cancelled due to real world concerns, there will surely be a lack of tournament results regarding cards that we will eventually review, so it’s pretty much Theorymon at this point. We would have to figure out how cards are being used and whether or not familiar effects will continue to see play.
So we have Zamazenta-V, the Shield counterpart of Zacian, though Zacian has garnered far more attention to the Sword than the Shield. Not to say that Zamazenta is underwhelming, but it does have some interesting features. Sporting the highest HP of Pokémon-V at 230 HP, plus all the metal support like Full Metal Wall and Metal Frying Pan, and it’s natural grass resistance, you can expect Zamazenta to stick around for quite a while. Assault Tackle is a useful attack that does 130 damage for MMC (which can be boosted by Perrserker’s ability that we looked at yesterday) as well as a Special Energy discard from the Defending Pokémon.
The most important of all is that it has a built in protection against certain Pokémon. It’s trademark signature ability of Dauntless Shield states that it takes no damage from Pokémon V-Max. Pokemon V-Max represents a VERY small fraction of the format card pool, and it can still get damaged by Pokémon-V, Pokemon-GX, and even Pokemon-EX! And there’s a good amount of them that can outright OHKO Zamazenta, so it’s not a real wall for your opponent.
But here’s a list of V-Max Pokémon so far:
-Meowth (SM Promo) 300 HP
Sword & Shield:
-Morpeko 300 HP
-Lapras 320 HP
-Stonjourner 330 HP
-Snorlax 340 HP
Upcoming V-Max Pokemon:
-Rillaboom 330 HP
-Cinderace 320 HP
-Inteleon 320 HP
-Malamar 310 HP
-Toxtricity 320 HP
-Dragapult 320 HP
-Copperajah 340 HP
Based on Japanese scans of those upcoming cards seemed like they may or may not have potential, but you have to ask yourself this. How often are you going to encounter such Pokémon? If it happens often enough that overwhelms you, then Zamazenta could be the best “Wall” to annoy your opponent with, and so far, Lapras V-Max seems to be the most played out of all the VMAX cards. If not, then Zamazenta could be skipped.
It has a niche, and could be a one-of in decks that struggle against V-Max Pokémon, but even then, ability denial invalidates Zamazenta’s entire appeal. The more VMAX cards come out, the better it’s future potential is.
We already looked at Zacian V in our countdown of the top 11 cards from this set. Now we look at its Legendary counterpart, Zamazenta V (Sword & Shield 139/202, 196/202, 212/202). We’re still dealing with a Pokémon V, so don’t forget that everything Zamazenta V enjoys comes with the cost of it giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, and dealing with a few other headaches… though also maybe a few perks because of older cards not designed with this new mechanic in mind.
[M] Weakness and Resistance both show up among some competitive decks, and more or less cancel each other out in terms of advantage for the Typing. The potent Metal support easily overpowers the token amount of anti-Metal effects, so [M] Typing is still very much an advantage right now. It should come as no surprise the same still holds true for being a Basic Pokémon. While Basic Pokémon counters like Galarian Obstagoon are strong, it doesn’t outweigh Basic support like Quick Ball or the inherent strength of Basics: minimal deck space, minimum time to field, etc.
230 HP is very good. Often you can tank a hit with this much HP, and other aspects of this card can extend its durability even further. This is currently the highest printed HP score for a Basic Pokémon V, though there are many examples of the next highest score (220), which is only 10 less. [R] Weakness is terrible right now. Both actual Fire decks and those merely running on basic Fire Energy are taking advantage of basic Fire Energy support like Welder. [G] Resistance isn’t too handy right now, but is still appreciated. A Retreat Cost of [CC] isn’t a pro or a con, but middle of the road.
Zamazenta V has the Ability “Dauntless Shield” and the attack “Assault Tackle”. The former prevents all damage done to it by attacks from your opponent’s Pokémon VMAX, while the latter requires [MMC] to let it do 130 damage and discard a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active. Full protection against everything would be completely broken and no one expects that but we need to start with that ideal to put what Dauntless Shield actually does into perspective. Pokémon VMAX are the new gimmick, and likely to be a big part of the future metagame…
…but they’re not a big part of it right now. Any single Prize Pokémon don’t care about Dauntless Shield. Old-school Pokémon-EX are unimpeded; only some of them are still worthwhile attackers in Expanded. Single-Prize attackers play a significant role in both Standard and Expanded, but they also aren’t likely to hit as hard as multi-Prize Pokémon. Pokémon-GX – including TAG TEAM Pokémon – are still a massive part of the metagame, creating more than a simple chink in Zamazenta V’s armor. Basic Pokémon V aren’t blocked, which is a huge problem; guess from what Pokémon VMAX evolve?
Assault Tackle doesn’t do anything well, but it doesn’t do anything too poorly, either… at least, once we consider the card as a whole, with available support. Metal Saucer or other acceleration is vital; as a specialized wall, you won’t have time to manually power-up this card’s attack. With it, though, Zamazenta V graduates to “tank” status. Anything counting on its Special Energy for more than turn should have difficulties. The damage is decent for the Energy, though it will need help for key OHKO’s and 2HKO’s.
Even though we have TAG TEAM Pokémon like Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX or Lucario-GX & Melmetal-GX to lead into it, and Type support like Metal Saucer and Metal Frying Pan, no one seems to be running Zamazenta V and winning. I checked through the available results on LimitlessTCG; no Zamazenta V, even in decks that could easily include it. When Pokémon VMAX become more ingrained to the metagame, especially as older multi-Prize Pokémon rotate from Standard, Zamazenta V should get better… though it’ll lose some of its support by then.
In Expanded, Zamazenta V really struggles. Even in a situation where it could strut its stuff, there’s Silent Lab and a few other proven Ability counters. There’s probably a niche role for Zamazenta V, but not enough to justify me giving it a full point over the minimum. As for the Limited Format, Zamazenta V is a must run. Its speed and damage output are a little low for a Mulligan build, but doable. Mostly, just add it to anything in case your opponent has a Pokémon VMAX and you could use a wall. If your deck has [M] Energy, even better!
For now, Zamazenta V is an overly specific counter; Pokémon VMAX are just getting started. It didn’t make my top 20 but it would have been our 22nd-place pick for our countdown. I don’t agree, but that isn’t the same as not understanding why. Even if/when Pokémon VMAX begin to dominate the metagame, it’ll only be a little better (3/5) because many (most?) decks could just not Evolve their Pokémon V to get around Dauntless Shield even if they lack attackers of any other Stage. Expanded is just too diverse for what Zamazenta V can do.
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