– Vivid Voltage
November 19, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our 9th-place pick is Zarude V (SW – Vivid Voltage 22/185, 167/185). As a Pokémon V, Zarude gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, is excluded from certain beneficial effects (like Twin Energy), and and is the target of certain detrimental ones, like the “Deep Forest Camo” Ability of Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035). This is intended to be balanced out by better HP scores and what are intended to be better effects than their costs would normally permit. Zarude is a Basic Pokémon, the overall best stage. No waiting to evolve and requiring no other cards to hit the field.
Zarude V is a Grass type; Pokémon like Coalossal VMAX are [G] Weak, but Pokémon such as Zacian V possess -30 [G] Resistance. Coalossal VMAX decks aren’t yet a proven quantity, while Zacian V decks are already a dominant factor in the metagame, and are capable of leveraging their Resistance. Grass support isn’t likely to do much for Zarude V, either. At least anti-Grass effects are ineffective and Expanded-only. Zarude V has 210 HP, on the low side of what is normal for a Basic Pokémon V; it has a decent chance of surviving a hit. Its [R] Weakness provides an obvious exception, and is dangerous because it is shared by most Metal Pokémon. Fire is already a strong type in part due to the Metal match-up. Zarude V’s lack of Resistance is typical. Its Retreat Cost of [C] is low and usually easy to pay.
Zarude V knows two attacks. The first is “Bind Down” for [CC]. This attack does 50 damage while placing an effect on the Defending Pokémon, preventing it from manually retreating during your opponent’s next turn. The second is “Jungle Rising” for [GG]. This attack does 100 damage, then gives you the option of attaching up to two [G] Energy from your hand to your Benched Pokémon. Jungle Rising also states that you heal all damage from any Pokémon to which the attack attaches Energy. Only basic Grass Energy counts as [G] when not attached to a Pokémon, and the attack lets you choose between attaching no Energy, attaching one Energy to one Benched Pokémon, one Energy apiece to two Benched Pokémon, or two Energy to one Benched Pokémon.
50 damage for two Energy isn’t good, though it does help that it includes a mildly disruptive effect and can make use of any type of Energy. The thing is, the only way in which it is less expensive than Jungle Rising is in the type of Energy required. It might be useful Zarude V can still attack without using any Grass Energy, but probably not. Unless you’re intentionally overpaying because you needed to use a Special Energy like Capture Energy or Weakness Guard Energy, if your end goal is Jungle Rising, the off-type Energy is a waste. While denying your opponent the capacity to easily retreat can be handy, it is also very easy for the average deck to shake; evolve the Defending Pokémon, bounce it, or shift it to the Bench with a card effect. Even if we ignore its effect, Jungle Rising doing 100 damage is usually going to be more valuable. What if we don’t ignore Jungle Rising’s effect?
Energy acceleration tends to be handy, though it can easily misfire when done through attacks. After all, if you attach [GG] to Zarude V, then only get off a single Jungle Rising, you’re not actually ahead any Energy. However, besides multiple attacks, there is also the issue of something other than what you’re powering up taking the hit, and if it is something slow to fully power up, still doing some damage at the same time. 100 damage in isolation, but when combined with two bonus effects (Energy acceleration and healing), its good. Fortunately, there’s a past card that is very similar to Zarude V: M Sceptile-EX. M Sceptile-EX was able to field its own, competitive deck back in the day. So Zarude V should be able to the same, right? It isn’t that simple.
This isn’t a matter of comparing the two cards in the present, but the present of Zarude V with the past of M Sceptile-EX. The metagame of the day, the [G] support back then, etc. mean that the M Sceptile-EX of today isn’t truly the same as its past self. Zarude V doesn’t enjoy the same kind of type-based support as M Sceptile-EX. being a Basic Pokémon, instead of a cumbersome Mega Evolution… but Turbo Patch isn’t as good as Mega Turbo, and M Sceptile-EX did have Forest of Giant Plants and Sceptile Spirit Link. M Sceptile-EX’s +10 HP was actually more durable, and its 100 damage effectively more damaging, because this was before the last five years worth of power creep.
I cannot tell which one is effectively better, but it does mean I have some reservations about Zarude V. It needs to not be OHKO’d to really be effective, but the Standard Format has a enough attackers capable of scoring the OHKO that I don’t think it is that sound of an approach. I think someone could build a Zarude V deck, maybe even win an event with it, but I don’t think it is going to define the metagame. Zacian V scores the OHKO. With enough of their setup, so does Eternatus VMAX and the currently competitive Fire decks. Coalossal VMAX has enough HP to avoid being OHKO’d, and with four Energy, can OHKO Zarude V. Even stuff like Mad Party can hit that OHKO range, and trade Prizes favorably with Zarude V.
Zarude V actually might have an easier time in Expanded. If you can get it going, while there are plenty of Pokémon with Abilities, as well as Item cards, you would want supporting Zarude V, it doesn’t have to completely rely on such things. Maybe you use it to lead a variety of attackers that can run off – or mostly off – of basic Grass Energy. Maybe Zarude V becomes a new face in Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) decks. Of course, it also faces more competition, so I’m not going to score it higher, either. How about Zarude V in the Limited Format? You can opt to run Zarude V in either a Mulligan build, or a deck that can run mostly or purely on basic Grass Energy. If being used solo, remember that Rising Jungle effectively becomes 100 for two. Fortunately, in the Limited Format that’s still somewhat good. Its 210 HP is in danger of being overwhelmed, but it is a risk I know I would be willing to take.
If it sounds like I’m trying to talk myself out of having Zarude V in this countdown, that is because I did talk myself out of including it in my own list. Given that the above scores are as good or better than what came before, you may wonder why. Scores are just an easy abstract; I expect more out from Aegislash V and Coating [M] Energy than I do Zarude V. The only Grass deck that has done well lately in Standard are the Decidueye based ones, specifically because of their built-in protection. A normal-sized Basic Pokémon V attacking to accelerate Energy from hand, with some healing added in, has some potential, but not as much as I’d like.
Zarude-V from SS Vivid Voltage did caught my eye as it was my 5th place pick due to an attack with a familiar effect. Not so much on Bind Down, which does 50 damage for 2 energy of any color and prevents your opponent’s Defending Pokémon from retreating. But if you have two grass energies attached to it, then there’s no reason not to use it’s second attack. Jagged Saber….I meant, Jungle Rising does 100 damage for 2 grass energies and you get to attach up to 2 grass energies from your hand to your Benched Pokemon in any way you like, and if you do that, you get to heal ALL damage from your Benched Pokemon that you attached those energies to!
That effect is what made Mega Sceptile-EX from XY Ancient Origins made it the 4th best card of the set but that’s because this card was released at the same time Forest of Giant Plants was released, so getting M Sceptile in play is far easier, as long as you have a Spirit Link attached to Sceptile, or your turn will end. Now? Zarude-V is a Basic Pokémon with similar HP scores (210 vs 220) and takes up less space from your deck, so already Zarude is efficient than M Sceptile-EX in the Expanded format. So much has changed after XY Ancient Origins, and Sceptile just can’t keep up, so it’s nice to have another Pokémon do the same thing, even if it lacks an Ancient Trait. Having Theta Stop would’ve been nice as it prevents all effects from your opponent’s Pokémon’s Abilities done to this Pokémon. Oh well, Zarude (and Sceptile) would have to deal with Grass resistance, and such resistance did exist before back in the 2003 ex-era.
Even though Zarude is not going to deal overwhelming damage, at least it helps set up another attacker that can actually put in the pressure to your opponent’s Pokemon.
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