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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Vanilluxe #33

Next Destinies

Date Reviewed: March 7, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.50
Limited: 3.25

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Vanilluxe

Yay, another outing for the James Turner designed Ice Cream Pokémon! Vanilluxe NV was a good card that created a playable archetype, so let’s see what this one has to offer.

Well, it has the same 130 HP (pretty much the expected standard for a Stage 2). It has great Typing that allows it to hit Reshiram and friends for Weakness, while its own Weakness is only really exploited by the rare-ish Cobalion NV. It also has a Retreat cost of two, which would normally be an annoyance but, as we shall see, this Vanilluxe really doesn’t care about such things.

The reason ? That would be Vanilluxe’s Slippery Soles Ability. It’s really a Warp Point (I miss that card sooooooo much) in the form of an Ability: once per turn you can switch your Active Pokémon with something on your Bench, and if you do, your opponent has to do the same.

Besides being great for general disruption purposes, and a neat way of avoiding ever having to pay Retreat costs, this Ability has some nice synergy with the previous Vanilluxe from Noble Victories. One of the major weaknesses of that card was that, after KOing your opponent’s Pokémon, Vanilluxe was vulnerable to a OHKO from whatever they had been building up on their Bench while you were busy Paralysing. With Slippery Soles and a couple of Vanilluxe NV (or one plus a free Retreater like Cleffa), you can keep forcing them to switch out damaged Pokémon until everything on their Bench is close to KO and then clean up with a Kyurem NV Glaciate or two. Another possible way of using the Ability is to include it in a Kyurem-EX deck so that you switch out that Pokémon after a Hail Blizzard (which can’t be used on successive turns), promote a free Retreater, then bring Kyurem back out with its attack re-set. Chandelure NV decks might be able to use it too as they can swap between Chandelures without using up their Retreat for the turn, making it possible to use Cursed Shadow three times.

So, there are a few decks that can abuse Vanilluxe’s Ability, meaning that it does have potential as a Bench-sitting tech card. That is pretty much what it is good for as the attack is fairly sub-standard. Crushing Ice does 60 damage for [W][C][C], plus 10 more for each [C] in the Defending Pokémon’s Retreat cost. Most of the time, you’ll be hitting for a mediocre 70-80 damage for three Energy, except you won’t because you will definitely have something better to attack with.

Putting a Stage 2 into a deck simply because of its Ability/PokéPower isn’t a particularly attractive option these days unless it’s something game-breaking like Vileplume UD. It takes up a lot of deck space and resources, and it’s hard to make it stick without some kind of Trainer Lock. It’s an easy enough inclusion in a Vanilluxe deck, but tough to really justify elsewhere, especially as most decks that can use it already run multiple Stage 2s. Nevertheless, the Ability is a very good one, and combos will exist now and in the future that can make use of it.

Rating

Modified: 2.75 (On the plus side it is a nice tech. On the minus side, it’s a nice Stage 2 tech)

Limited: 2.5 (Considering how hard it is to get Stage 2s out in Limited, I’d want more than just a disruption tech - I’d want a game-winner)

virusyosh

Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Our reviews for this week continue by reviewing the Next Destinies version of one of my favorite Unova Pokemon. Today's Card of the Day is Vanilluxe.

Vanilluxe is a Stage 2 Water Pokemon. Water-types are very rare except for Kyurem and Kyurem-EX, and even then, they don't see a whole lot of play due to most of them having an unfortunate Lightning Weakness. 130 HP is fairly standard for a Stage 2, and it is a fairly good number to have, as the myriad of 120-damage attacks in the format will require a PlusPower to get the OHKO. Metal Weakness is great to have, with only Cobalion being a realistic threat in Modified; no Resistance is disappointing; and a Retreat Cost of two is payable if you absolutely must.

Vanilluxe has an Ability and a single attack. Slippery Soles acts similarly to Warp Point, forcing both Pokemon to switch with you switching first. This Ability is quite interesting in Modified, but it's important to note that Pokemon Catcher will almost always do a better job if Items can be played. One particular niche for Slippery Soles is as a tech in a Vanilluxe/Vileplume/Victini deck, as this Vanilluxe can lead to some disruption while under the Item lock. Unfortunately, Vanilluxe NDE's attack doesn't have great synergy with Vanilluxe NVI's lock, so this iteration of the Snowstorm Pokemon would be a bench sitter at best. In Limited, Slippery Soles is great for all kinds of switching shenanigans, and can win you games on its own if you play the cards right.

Crushing Ice, Vanilluxe's form of offense, starts off at 60 damage for a Water and two Colorless Energy, dealing 10 more damage for each Colorless Energy in the Defending Pokemon's Retreat Cost. This attack isn't strong enough to justify its Energy cost, and would be much better if the addition was 20 damage for each Energy instead of 10. That being said, you'll average 70-80 points of damage for three Energy most of the time, which just doesn't cut it in Modified. However, it is worth noting that Crushing Ice is fairly good in Limited, especially if your opponent doesn't have any Stage 2s, fast Pokemon, or Metal-types.

Modified: 2.25/5 Vanilluxe isn't bad, it just doesn't have a place. Slippery Soles is really interesting in decks with Vileplume, but is rarely worth the trouble outside of that. Additionally, Crushing Ice has a somewhat weaker damage output, so be sure to take that into account when planning to attack with the ice cream cone.

Limited: 4/5 Vanilluxe is an excellent weapon in Limited. Crushing Ice deals consistent if not unspectacular damage, and Slippery Soles can easily get you out of bad situations or move you into even better ones. Overall, Vanilluxe is a great choice for Next Destinies Limited, even if you aren't running Water as a primary type.

 

How do you handle midweek stress? Perhaps it is the double scoop that is the “Snowstorm Pokémon”, Vanilluxe? Let’s dig in!

I think my attempt at a witty opening feels more like an ice cream headache.

Stats

Vanilluxe is a Stage 2 Pokémon, so it has to bring a lot to the table if it wants to see play. Basic Pokémon dominate this format, which means even with Rare Candy Vanilluxe is a turn slower and requires two extra cards to see play. With many Basic Pokémon rivaling the attacks and stats of Stage 1 and Stage 2 Pokémon, it will probably require a killer Ability, and the question becomes if the Ability delivers, will the Stats spoil or support it?

Being a Water Type should be pretty good right now: several major decks have been Water Weak and even when those lose popularity, another seems to replace it (be it new or revived). Water has some support as well, but it never seems to come together, so the best part of being Water is Vanilluxe might become a surprise fallback or even main attacker. 130 HP makes me think it would be fallback or not at all; all but one Pokémon EX fails to OHKO it and the harder hitting Basic Pokémon need just a small boost to do likewise; 130 HP does appear to be the “low-but-but-crippling” score for Stage 2 Pokémon. In the video games, Ice-Type Pokémon (Vanilluxe only Type) are weak to Fighting, Rock, Steel, and Fire. Converting those to TCG types, they would be Fighting (made of Fighting, Rock, and Ground), Metal, and Fire; Metal is certainly appropriate and definitely less of a concern than a Fire-Type Weakness, though I can’t say for certain if Fighting would have been better or worse. Cobalion can show up in several decks (some easier than others), so don’t think I am saying it doesn’t matter.

No Resistance is a bit disappointing but unfortunately expected, so let us move onto the Retreat Cost of two. Functionally this is average; two Energy is low enough you usually have the Energy to pay for it, and not so high that you can’t deal with the ramifications of setting yourself back two Energy. In many decks you make the call of whether or not to burn a Double Colorless Energy. Stage 2 Pokémon often get the chunkier Retreat Costs so it is a bit better than it seems.

Effects

The Ability of Vanilluxe is “Slippery Soles”, a “once-per-turn” Ability that does stack and allows you to select one of your Benched Pokémon and switch it with your Active and then forces your opponent to do the same. In essence, this is a “free” Warp Point per turn (“free” if you ignore the cost of running a Stage 2 Pokémon). Warp Point has historically been a useful card, and many wish it had been reprinted instead of getting the Gust of Wind update, Pokémon Catcher. Generally speaking, you end your turn with the Pokémon you desire in the Active Position… so when you run Vanilluxe and your opponent ends his or her turn, if you have something with a free or low Retreat Cost on your Bench you can really mess your opponent up. You’ll also more easily exploit Abilities/Poké-Powers that require a Pokémon be Active, since you can get it out of the way more easily, and cope better with attacks that need to be reset by Benching the attacker between uses.

The attack is Crushing Ice for (WCC), which isn’t cheap but isn’t hard to work onto off Type decks. The damage output is pretty low, though: base damage of 60 with an extra 10 on top of that for each Energy in the Defending Pokémon’s Retreat Cost. As such I expect about 80 points of damage a pop, about “average” range for an attack, and an average attack with a good (or perhaps better) Ability is a good deal; with an Ability taking focus it really is important for an attack to be at least accessible, if not easy to use in an off-Type deck. (CCC) would have made Crushing Ice great, but just having to work in some Rainbow Energy or Water Energy is well within reason.

Usage

Let us first address Usage by examining what Vanilluxe Evolves from, and the other available Vanilluxe. There are two Vanillite: BW: Noble Victories 27/101 and BW: Next Destinies 31/99. Both are Basic Water-Type Pokémon with Metal-Weakness, no Resistance, and a single Energy Retreat Cost. Neither has good effects, especially the important “help me Evolve or keep me alive long enough to Evolve” variety, so I’d go with the BW: Next Destinies version just because it has 10 more HP (a token amount, but better than nothing).

The Stage 1 form of the line is Vanillish; there are two Vanillish and each one is a Water-Type with 80 HP, Metal-Weakness, no Resistance, and two Energy required to retreat. First let me say that 80 HP is lousy for a Stage 1. Both have solid attacks, including inflicting Special Conditions that just barely improve their odds of survival. In this case I still go for the newer version (BW: Next Destinies 32/99) because I favor the attacks just a bit more. Of course you can choose to run neither version and rely solely on Rare Candy, but with Trainer/Item denial decks running around, that seems foolhardy.

There is one other Vanilluxe (BW: Noble Victories 29/101) and I forgot it even existed, even though it has an archetype: just a reminder that I don’t play enough and my advice is from the sidelines. It has the same stats as today’s version, but two attacks instead of an Ability with an attack. Had I faced a Vanilluxe deck in actual play, I’d like to think I’d have remembered something with an attack like Double Freeze: for (WC) you flip two coins and score 40 points of damage per heads plus if you get at least one “heads” you inflict Paralysis. Frost Breath for (WW) provides reliable damage without any extra Energy attachments, making it good via synergy. Speaking of synergy, this provides the first and perhaps most basic use for Vanilluxe of BW: Next Destinies, backing up the BW: Noble Victories version. The deck needs to run Vileplume (HS: Undaunted 24/90) for the Item denial needed to make Paralysis effective, which cuts off its own access to useful cards like Switch and Pokémon Catcher: enter Slippery Soles.

So what else can use this Vanilluxe? As useful as a sort-of-free Warp Point is per turn, this is a format with Pokémon Catcher; you aren’t running this card just for that. So you’re focusing on what it does directly for your deck if you’re running it; Slippery Soles can really impact some specific decks. Chandelure decks spring readily to mind: the version with Cursed Shadow (BW: Noble Victories 60/101, BW: Next Destinies 101/99) is much more effective when it can pop up front, spread three damage counters, and then get out of the way for an attacker or another copy of itself. Smeargle (HS: Undaunted 8/90, Call of Legends 21/95) of course is better as an opening play, but if you have one hanging around your Bench, there is no harm sending it up after your Defending Pokémon was KOed to use Portrait before yanking it out of the way of your next attacker. Kyurem EX has that irritating clause preventing it from using its big attack (Hail Blizzard) each turn, but now you can easily rotate between two (or something with a free Retreat Cost; Benching terminates the memory of the attack). I’d say this holds a lot of potential, with only the difficulty of running a Stage 2 (most likely alongside another Stage 2) holding it back. Without Vileplume, you have to have a strategy so spread out it doesn’t matter that your opponent is likely OHKOing a piece of it each turn.

For Unlimited play, I don’t think there is a lot of potential. There are certainly some interesting and even powerful combos available, but unless it is a first turn win it isn’t going to matter against the top tier of decks, and even the next level are pretty brutal; setting up the best attackers and Trainer-denial backing on their first turn. If you’re not bound by an opponent’s (or your own) Trainer denial, it is likely easier to spam Switch than to run a Stage 2: you shouldn’t get to use Slippery Soles that many times before one player or the other wins (assuming competitive builds for both). Before I write this off completely, when you’re past the ultra competitive decks (e.g. first turn win, donk, or lock decks), and the super competitive decks (everything that used to be ultra competitive before the rules switched back to allowing first turn Trainers), you might find your current Modified Vanilluxe/Vileplume deck (using both Vanilluxe, of course) has the potential to be quite vexing. With the non-Trainer near staples of Unlimited backing it up against decks that run few Supporters, both Vanilluxe can be excellent attackers; the lower HP and higher Retreat Costs make for some OHKOs for Crushing Ice, let alone BW: Noble Victories Vanilluxe’s attacks.

For Limited play I’d call it a must run. If you can run a few Water Energy in the deck that is great, but the attacks are the icing on the cake… er… sprinkles on the ice cream? Trainers are power here, and Warp Point (historically a good or great Trainer unless overshadowed by something legendary). In Limited, Trainers are amazing. So a Stage 2 Pokémon you can run without any support but the lower Stages is well worth that “free” Warp Point per turn, even as a 1-1-1 line. It takes quite a lot of luck to amass enough higher utility or potency cards to oust it.

Ratings

Unlimited: 2.5/5

Modified: 2.5/5

Limited: 4.5/5

Summary

Vanilluxe is that odd combination of useful and cumbersome; without combos its Ability does not compensate for the trouble of running it, but once you start seeing the combos, Vanilluxe both enhances and is enhanced by the results. Perhaps it is because I haven’t been able to test it, but I would think from now on a single copy of this Vanilluxe a staple for the actual Vanilluxe/Vileplume decks: when no one can use Pokémon Catcher, Slippery Soles goes from useful to amazing, and several other decks show the promise that another Stage 2 is actually worth the effort. This leads to an odd score: generally where it works it works better than the numbers tell, but everywhere else it may actually be a little worse. For perspective, outside of this and the last format (or two), this would probably have been a major force in Modified due to the Ability (appropriately scaling down the Stats and attack wouldn’t diminish it there).

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