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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Victreebel

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Sep. 22, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.87
Expanded: 1.87
Limited: 3.38

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


aroramage

Ahhh, the smell of another new card to review, the fragrance of victory wafting across the field, that air of...just...I dunno, but welcome back guys! Today's card of the day is Victreebel, a Stage 2 Grass-type with an interesting bit of text! Could this be the start of a new archetype in Grass?

As always, Victreebel has an attack that's...mediocre. Spiral Drain is another one of those "drain" attacks that does damage and gives back health, something that in the current format is going to mean, "you hit it once, and now it is KO'd." Victreebel wasn't made for attacking, at least not directly. That's where his Ability kicks in!

Victreebel's Wafting Scent allows the player to discard a Grass Energy attached to him in order to make the opponent's Active Pokemon Confused and Poisoned. Confusion's a chancy coin-flip on whether or not they'll attack, but at least Poison can do some damage in combination with Virbank (you know, the Stadium we've been seeing for months now doing this thing?).

There's just one little problem with this: Victreebel's Ability requires you to have Grass Energy on Victreebel, so if he didn't have any before, you're going to have to attach some to him to even get his effect. You could probably get away with this if you hit your opponent's Active Pokemon with the Ability or really any other Status Condition like Sleep or Paralysis, but usually opponents will Switch out or could use Keldeo-EX to Rush In, removing the condition and freshening up their attacker right away! You probably won't have to use Victreebel's Wafting Scent every turn, but if the opponent has the right hand, that's a bit of a killer to Victreebel's power. Never mind if you end up facing Virizion-EX or run into someone playing Sparkling Robe or Pokemon Center Lady.

Victreebel's Ability is pretty nice, but honestly Hypnotoxic Laser already does its job better; both of them will Poison, but HTL gets Sleep instead of Confusion (probably a better Status to hit a Pokemon with anyway), and it requires less resources in general (Victreebel requires at least Rare Candy and Bellsprout in the deck, not to mention a Grass Energy for its Ability). If HTL wasn't in the format, then Victreebel might have a chance, but for now, he consumes too much for what he does.

At least the field smells nicer when he uses it!

Rating

Standard: 2/5 (a decent Ability that's already being done better)

Expanded: 2/5 (HTL will leave Standard, but it'll be around forever in Expanded)

Limited: 3/5 (the Statuses work well here, and provided that your opponent isn't terribly lucky, Confusion could keep them at bay while you Poison and Drain them)

Arora Notealus: I wonder how people know these guys live in large colonies in the jungle if no one ever returns from there to begin with. Maybe aerial views? Dig a tunnel? It is a mystery...

Next Time: FLAME CANNONS GO


Otaku

Welcome readers, as we begin another week of reviews.  No official theme, but I know some of these cards made my own “long list” for our Top 10 countdown.  Since I am both indecisive and nitpicky enough to worry about tie breakers, I sometimes (but not always) submit a list in excess of a “Top 10”.  Victreebel (XY: Furious Fists 3/111) did not make even my Top 20, but at least it was one of the dozens of cards that did manage to catch my eye in the first place.  Let us examine it to try and determine if it is a victim of circumstance, crowded out of our Top 10 list by there simply being sufficient (actual or perceived) “better” cards, if its merely another hopeful that is actually hopeless, or somewhere in between. 

Victreebel is a Grass-Type; while they actually have some Type support, like the Fairy-Type Floette (XY: Flashfire 64/106) and its Ability that boosts the maximum HP of Grass-Type Pokémon by +20 (and it even stacks), that doesn’t see much play.  There is the new Herbal Energy, but I honestly am not completely sold on that (the healing is nice, but is it worth being incompatible with Basic Energy support?).  What is well established is the Grass-Type Energy support in the form of Virizion-EX, providing a source of Grass Energy acceleration as well as allowing Pokémon with a source of [G] Energy attached to ignore Special Conditions.  The other benefit is hitting Weakness on targets like Keldeo-EX, Seismitoad-EX and Terrakion (latest printing BW: Legendary Treasures 94/113).  In the video games, Victreebel are Grass/Poison dual-type Pokémon; I would have enjoyed getting a Psychic-Type Victreebel for the TCG.  As of yet, I don’t believe this has ever happened; all past Victreebel have been Grass-Types. 

Being a Stage 2 is still one of the worst legal options for Stage (Megas and possible Restored Pokémon have it worse).  Compared to the dominant Stage - Basic Pokémon - they are slow and eat up space.  They also can be slowed down significantly by Seismitoad-EX and its Item blocking Quaking Punch attack or by certain Abilities, because the most efficient way to get them into play is Rare Candy plus search cards (because drawing into both Rare Candy and Stage 2 at the same time can be difficult with the current main draw cards of N and Professor Juniper/Professor Sycamore).  Unless you’re playing in Expanded, it also isn’t as easy to get those Evolving Basic Pokémon into play now that Standard lacks Level Ball.  All in all, this does not bode well for the card; only exceptional Stage 2 Pokémon (even if only exceptional as part of a combo or entire deck) see competitive play. 

130 HP is the low end of “average” for a Stage 2; note that I do not mean the mathematical mean but just what appears to be most common.  It is just big enough to not be a probable OHKO, but most decks only need to push a little above their normal output to seal the deal.  Fire Weakness is not good; XY: Flashfire is no longer the new set, but there are still players experimenting with those cards, in addition to what emerged from the sets as competent or even strong plays.  The lack of Resistance is a bit disappointing, but likely negligible as reducing damage taken by 20 only matters on occasion.  Based on its video game Typing, only Fairy or Lightning Resistance would avoid conflicts with the TCG Type differences.  In the past we have seen Water Resistance (in the video games the Grass-Type takes half damage from Water-Type attacks), but that has been less common lately, perhaps because the video game Ice-Type does double damage to the video game Grass-Type (creating an example of Type conflicts). 

Victreebel has a Retreat Cost of [CC]; this isn’t bad but neither is it good.  It will be enough that you won’t want to have to pay it and even when you can, it will often set you back far enough you may not wish to anyway.  The “good” news is that this format demands you be skilled at getting the correct Pokémon into the Active slot, so most decks have reason to run Retreat Cost lowering cards, or cards that bypass manually retreating at all even with better Retreat Cost scores. 

Victreebel has an Ability and an attack.  The Ability is what really catches the eye; Wafting Scent allows you to discard a [G] Energy attached to Victreebel, and if you do the opponent’s Active Pokémon is both Poisoned and Confused.  Building up a decent amount of [G] providing Energy can be tricky, and due to all the attacks that hit hard (in general) or hit harder based on the Energy you have in play or attached to a particular Pokémon, stockpiling some on Victreebel ends up feeling quite risky, but scoring the two Special Conditions automatically is indeed useful.  Spiral Drain requires [GCC] to use and scores 60 points of damage while healing 30 points of damage from Victreebel.  Although it is nice that it is Double Colorless Energy compliant, and that Victreebel is just big enough it might actually survive a hit so that it can then heal by attacking the next turn, the damage output isn’t worth it and against most decks you won’t heal enough damage to matter.  The attack is underpowered for the investment, at least if you want a competitive attacker, and as you must discard a [G] Energy for the Ability, that doesn’t save the low damage output (it would make Spiral Drain effectively a four Energy attack after all). 

Victreebel Evolves from Weepinbell which in turn Evolves from Bellsprout, unless you use the correct cards to bypass Evolving normally.  The only currently Standard (and Expanded) legal option for Bellsprout is XY: Furious Fists 1/111, a Basic Grass-Type with 50 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance and a single Energy Retreat Cost.  Its first attack does 10 for [G] while its second discards a random card from the opponent’s hand for [GC]: both overpriced and unlikely to buy time to Evolve or get it back to the Bench and out of the Active slot (where it is most vulnerable).  The only Standard/Expanded legal Weepinbell is XY: Furious Fists 2/111, a Stage 1 Grass-Type Pokémon with 80 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of [CC].  For [GC] it hits for 20 and for [GCC] it can do 40 and automatically Poison.  Both are again overpriced or under-powered.  Use Rare Candy when you can get away with it. 

Victreebel finally provides a means of scoring two Special Conditions at once on the opponent’s Active Pokémon via a re-usable Ability instead of a one and done Item.  Unfortunately Confusion is no where near as good as it used to be: originally there was a coin flip to Retreat out of it, plus you paid the Energy required before flipping and if you failed, you couldn’t try to Retreat again that turn (which sounds obvious now, but this was also when you could retreat as many times as you could afford to pay per turn).  It isn’t hopeless, but building up the Energy on Victreebel to enjoy those Special Conditions will be a challenge; plus unless you are making a big combo out of it, you are most often better off with running four Hypnotoxic Laser.  Pokémon that do more damage based on the more Special Conditions the Defending Pokémon is afflicted will might be the main draw for this card; even tricks like using Gourgeist and its Spirit Scream on something Poisoned for an automatic OHKO are better off working with Hypnotoxic Laser as the point of such decks are to use that trick on Pokémon-EX or high resource targets (and pack something else entirely for decks that contain neither). 

Virizion-EX can help by accelerating Energy to whatever attackers you are using or to Victreebel to begin “stockpiling”, though again I wouldn’t risk putting too much on any one Victreebel (and as multiple copies of Victreebel are redundant).  Especially with a Virbank City Gym in play, the additional three damage counters from Poison and the potential three from Confusion can really boost damage output.  Of course an opponent running Virizion-EX can be immune to Special Conditions, plus Sparkling Robe blocks them as well.  As such, I can’t really recommend this card; it is just the wrong format for it.  It doesn’t help that the two Special Conditions that Victreebel can supply overlap with Hypnotoxic Laser (Confusion isn’t Sleep, but each replaces the other so they can’t coexist); that means no layering the two for insane OHKO combos with Ninetales (BW: Dragons Exalted 19/124; BW Promo BW66).  Throw in the fact that Abilities themselves are easily shut down by Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113).  Expanded makes it a bit easier to get into play, but not really any stronger and it likely will face steeper competition.  Victreebel really only has a serious chance to shine in Limited, where to be fair any relatively easy to splash Stage 2 line you pull a complete copy of is tempting… just remember to still include a decent amount of Grass Energy or Herbal Energy unless you’re focusing on the attack (which is much better here). 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.75/5 - Hypnotoxic Laser just does the job of “Special Conditions without attacking” so much better.  No, I don’t think Hypnotoxic Laser is a “balanced” cards (its overpowered), but I am scoring for competitive play, and unless I missed something Victreebel just isn’t competitive. 

Expanded: 1.75/5 - I may even be too generous here, assuming the added support of cards like Level Ball offset the possibility of facing whatever decks can claw their way to the top of the entire BW-era blocks plus the latest XY sets. 

Limited: 3.75/5 - A good pull if you can run it, but remember that you will need to gear your deck for it more than is normal.  The reward is pretty high, but getting a Stage 2 into play is still hard work in this format. 

Summary: Victreebel is either waiting for cards not-yet-released, severely underpowered or else I have completely missed a combo or deck that would make this functional.  I was really excited upon seeing it, likely because of fond memories of “Liability” decks, built around Weezing (EX: Deoxys 51/107) and (among other partners) Victreebel (EX: Fire Red/Leaf Green 17/112).  It was my favorite deck that was legal for multiple formats, was established and known but never quite seen as “mainstream” and… ended up naturally working as a bit of a James (even though it didn’t use Dark or Rocket cards) “themed” deck.


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