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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Volcarona #21

Noble Victories

Date Reviewed: Dec. 20, 2011

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.87
Limited: 3.88

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Volcarona

I love Volcarona as a Pokémon. I absolutely hated trying to evolve it from Larvesta in the video game. Level 59? Are you joking me? Even Dragonite doesn’t take that long to evolve a single stage.

But back to the TCG . . . and what we have here is a Stage 1 with 110 HP . . . which means it gets OHKO’d by the ubiquitous Unova Dragons, so it better have something special to offer if it wants to see play. Water Weakness doesn’t hurt much at the moment unless you run into Kyurem, and the single Retreat cost is relatively good.

So is Volcarona’s first attack, Fiery Dance. For a single Fire Energy it does 30 damage (not a bad return), but better than that it allows you to attach a Fire Energy from your discard pile to any of your Pokémon. Getting the Energy in the discard certainly isn’t a problem with the cards we have available: Junk Arm, Engineer’s Adjustments, or Ninetales HGSS will all reward you well for doing it. Under normal circumstances, using an attack for Energy acceleration isn’t generally worthwhile, but the 30 damage and low cost at least make it a pretty good move while you power Volcarona up for what will undoubtedly be a Reshiram-rivalling huge second attack . . .

I’m joking, of course. Volcarona’s Heatwave attack costs [R][C][C] (so at least you can use Double Colourless), but the damage output is poor: just 60 and Burn. In this format a three Energy investment means you should be scoring OHKO’s on your opponent’s big threats, not just be limited to knocking out Basics, or maybe an evolving Stage 1 if you get lucky with the Burn flip.

Fiery Dance would have been a great bonus to have on an otherwise good card. As it is, Volcarona’s second attack really lets it down, meaning that it simply is not worth setting up a Stage 1 just to use Fiery Dance. In a format where Fire has so many better Pokémon to choose from, why would anyone play this?

Rating

Modified: 1.75 (Reshiram is the standard by which all Fire Pokémon are to be judged . . . and Volcarona is found wanting)

Limited: 3 (the low damage output isn’t such a handicap and Fiery Dance is useful)


Otaku

Today we look at Volcarona, and since I had some plans get changed and I need to conserve time, I tried to be more concise. I failed.

Stats

Volcarona is a Fire-Type, which is really a mixed blessing: we have some amazing Fire-Type Pokémon in the format right now... so amazing that they are crowding out almost everything else. As a Stage 1, the card will struggle in the Basic favoring format, but at least it is faster than a Stage 2, or just as fast with fewer resources in the case of Rare Candy use.

110 HP was great, but now is at best average for a Stage 1. Odds are it will take something like Reshiram or Zekrom to OHKO it outside of Weakness and unaided, but many decks can and will have small tricks like PlusPower to bring it into OHKO range. Still, it isn’t a guaranteed OHKO for the majority of decks so it isn’t bad, just not good. Just another annoying example of power creep, I am afraid. Water Weakness will allow most Water Pokémon with even half-serious attacks to score a OHKO against Volcarona, so mind them. No Resistance is the worst Resistance simple as that, so we will move on. A single Energy Retreat Cost is good; easy to pay and recover from.

Effects

Volcarona has two attacks, the first being Fiery Dance. For (R) it hits for 30 while allowing you to attach a Basic Energy from your discard pile to one of your Pokémon in play. Just like the cards stats, this is a middle-of-the-road attack: extra Energy attachments are useful, and the Energy Type (color) is not restricted. You are still burning an attack and the most useful kind of Energy to recycle (Special Energy cards) is not a legal target.

The second attack is Heatwave for (RCC) and doing 60 points of damage with Burn (no flips, discards, or the like required). With rising HP and damage outputs, this is a bit weak but not bad. The two attacks have some synergy with each other, since you can either use Fiery Dance to help a Volcarona build itself faster, or attack while building something on the Bench and then sacrifice a Double Colorless Energy if it is worth it for a final, bigger attack right before Volcarona is KOed. With the speed of the current format and other Energy acceleration options, that doesn’t seem worthwhile: this card really needed a big, big final attack.

Usage

Before moving onto the attacks, let me touch upon Larvesta. If you are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep… wait, sorry that is something else. Larvesta is a reasonably big Basic Pokémon. We have two options right now, both from Noble Victories: 19/101 and 20/101. The former has 70 HP, while the latter has 80. Both are Water Weak, lack Resistance, and bogged down by two Energy Retreat Costs (high for a Basic Pokémon). The fastest, hardest hitting decks will OHKO either of these, some even first turn, but you might get two turns out of them, especially against a deck not known for rapid set-ups. 19/101 can do 20 for (R), though you must flip a coin when you do and discard an Energy attached to said Larvesta if the result is “tails”. 20/101 does 30 for (CC) with 10 points of damage to itself. I say go with the 80 HP version and consider not attacking: Larvesta is just there to Evolve. If you actually think hitting Fire Weakness opens the door for OHKOs, 20/101 still wins out even with the self damage.

If I felt I must use it in a deck, I might see if opening with this card could let me skip other forms of Energy acceleration. After all, the attack can attach any Type of basic Energy from the discard pile, so while you’ll want some Fire Energy (or maybe Rainbow Energy), you can add in another Type or two fairly easily.

Sticking with just Fire Energy (and cards that make good use of it), you might just barely be able to make a go by focusing on Basics and Stage 1 Pokémon that only need the slightest bit of acceleration. Volcarona is meant to be your opener (well, second turn and later) and to go down pecking at the opponent while setting up something else. Possibly even two or even three Volcarona, with the deck focusing on abusing Twins, N, and maybe even Black Belt later on, punishing an unwary opponent for taking a big lead. Off the top of my head, while I’d still be using Reshiram this could then include Ninetales with Roast Reveal and maybe Victini with V-Create (or any hard hitting Basic that can get away with Fire Energy) and just strive for a surprise rush. I can’t say this seems stable or preferable to existing Fire decks, however.

So I really believe that if there is a use for this card, it is Energy acceleration for something that can abuse discarding basic Energy to re-attach and doesn’t have any other better options. I mean, Electrode with Energymite can be quite risky since it doesn’t guarantee any cards and costs you both a Prize and shrinks your deck by seven cards (Durant decks love that last part, and seem to be reasonably popular right now). Still I can’t think of any truly good combos to turn into a deck, since with the ridiculous damage yields and speed we are looking at Volcarona probably is doing good to attach two basic Energy before it is KOed… unless your opponent just decides to use Pokémon Catcher to force up whatever you are trying to power up.

What I have said for Modified applies even more to Unlimited, where besides decks that can win (or all but win) first turn, you have even more Energy acceleration options as well as some amazingly Energy efficient attackers. That just leaves no niche for Volcarona in the format. In the end there is one play to play this card, and that is Limited, where it should be amazing. Yes you’ll need to run some Fire Energy in your deck, but the Larvesta are big Basic Pokémon and you’ll have Energy acceleration for everything else in the deck… at least if you can discard that Energy first, on top of a 110 HP Stage 1 that can hit for 60 while inflicting Burn, all of which is much better here due to the difficulty of getting Evolutions into play to begin with. Having two options for the Basic Stage also helps, making it both a more versatile line and easier to pull a fuller line.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.25/5

Modified: 2/5

Limited: 4.75/5

Summary

Another Pokémon to enjoy in Limited, unless some hard counters are released for the current top cards, making attack based Energy acceleration worthwhile. That actually isn’t unprecedented, so keep an eye on this card in case we are just waiting for the last piece of a combo.

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