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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Primal Clash Cards

#10 - Swampert #36

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 9, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.00
Expanded: 3.17
Limited: 4.28

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#10 Swampert #36 

It’s top 10 countdown time again, and we kick off with a card that gives me very mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s great to see Swampert in the TCG again after a long absence (since Supreme Victors!) – for a Generation starter, he’s been painfully neglected. On the other, despite this card having so much going for it, I suspect it isn’t really going to have a lot of success. 

But let’s look at all that good stuff first. Cool three-quarter art is nice and 140 HP is solid, but that’s just the start. Swampert has one of the new ‘Ancient Traits’, in this case α Growth, which allows you an extra Energy attachment per turn. That’s just brilliant: built-in, unblockable acceleration, and it has great synergy with Swampert’s Hydro Pump attack too. With a base damage of 40 plus 30 more for each Water Energy on Swampert, it only takes a couple of turns of attachments to bring him to the point of being able to OHKO EX Pokémon, and that’s pretty mighty. 

It doesn’t stop there either. Swampert’s Diving Search Ability is basically a rehash of Magcargo DX’s Smooth Over, which allows you to search for any card you like and put it on top of your deck. Combine that with anything that draws (Acro Bike, Bicycle, Juniper, Slurpuff PHF etc), and you have the kind of targeted consistency engine that the game has been crying out for. 

Honestly, they couldn’t do much more to make a Stage 2 playable by itself: acceleration, consistency and a powerful attack. However, it speaks volumes for the state of the present day game that it most likely isn’t going to be enough. With Seismitoad EX crippling Stage 2 set up, and a whole plethora of Pokémon that can hit just as hard without having to evolve, Swampert will almost certainly find itself passed over in favour of the usual EX suspects (Seismitoad, Yveltal, Genesect), plus a couple of new additions which find themselves a lot higher up our top 10 list. 

At this point, I’m wondering just what would the designers have to do to make Stage 2 attackers truly competitive once more. 

Rating 

Modified: 3 (an awesome card that would have wrecked older formats, but will struggle now)

Expanded: 3 (at least there is Tropical Beach)

Limited: 3.5 (get him out, and he’s great)


aroramage

Welcome back dear readers to another installment of Top 10 Lists! Today we bring you the beginning of our Top 10 List for the latest set Primal Clash. And we probably touched every card at least once with our hands in order to see what would end up in the cumulative list, so starting off we've got Swampert! 

Now there are two Swamperts in this set, so you wanna keep an eye out for this one. The easiest way to tell is the artwork is WAY cooler on this one, and instead of two attacks it's got one attack and one Ability. But WAIT!! There's more! This Swampert is among some of the Pokemon in the set with the special Ancient Trait characteristic, which can give Pokemon an extra Ability of sorts. The big four at the moment are Omega Attack (allows for two attacks per turn), Omega Barrier (shields the Pokemon from Trainer effects), Alpha Recovery (recovers more health with health recovery effects), and this one, Alpha Growth (can attach 2 Energies to this Pokemon from your hand). 

Swampert having access to Alpha Growth makes his Hydro Pump attack pretty good - at 3-for-40 base, it's pretty terrible otherwise. Then again, it's tacking on 30 damage for EVERY Water Energy attached to him, which is absolutely phenomenal! Considering the 3 Water Energies you could use to pay for the cost, that's already 130 damage total you're dealing! Any combination of Water Energy, Muscle Band, and HTLBank later, and Swampert's kicking a lot of butt!

But this is a Stage 2 Pokemon, and as we all know, Stage 2s have an uphill battle to cover for. I considered Swampert for my own Top 10 list, but I ended up picking otherwise because of this Stage 2 factor. On the other hand, Swampert's got an amazing Ability in Diving Search; once per turn, you can search for a card and place it on top of the deck. And this is ANY card once EVERY turn, so Swampert can essentially make one's deck far more consistent! You can add a Sycaper on top when you're almost out of cards or any Item you need after you've used Skyla. Really there's a lot of ways to make this work, and the only real counter I can think of is N simply because he shuffles the deck. 

Swampert is an exceptional Stage 2 featuring the new Ancient Trait mechanic and a fantastic Ability, so hopefully he won't be held back simply because of his speed. If anything, I'd rather he be one of the Pokemon to bring Evolutions back and make them cool again......he probably won't, but one can dream. 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (a handy search Ability and a hefty attack) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (earlier Water decks could really benefit from this, though Blastoise decks will have a problem with the multitude of Stage 2s) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (double Energy each turn, the Ability to get any card you need, and an attack that only gets stronger with more Energy? Oh yeah, you RUN this guy) 

Arora Notealus: Swampert's always been my Hoenn starter (Water every gen except for Sinnoh), and being Water/Ground was really cool. Also his Mega Evo is REALLY awesome, I hope the designers will at least give them a shot in the next set to come out! 

Next Time: No matter whose side you're on, it's gonna be the same thing!


Otaku

At last it is time; here is our Top 10 list for XY: Primal Clash!  I’m not sure how to specifically describe the Top 10 list; as usual a card can’t be a reprint to be eligible for the list, but each reviewer has a lot of leeway other than that.  While obviously a popular, powerful card good for every deck should be the pinnacle of picks… but few cards are released like that.  So I looked at how strong a card was in general, how strong it was in a particular deck and how popular I expected it to be regardless; especially before the first major event where XY: Primal Clash is legal confirms or disproves the predictions.  Even if its only for a short time, some cards are going to be major and ignoring them can be even worse than burning deck space on an unneeded counter.  Plus I ran out of time so I kind of had to eyeball my own list in the end. 

Just making the list is Swampert (XY: Primal Clash 36/160).  This is a Stage 2 making a Top 10 list; that alone is impressive.  Being a Stage 2 right now is almost an instant deal breaker.  Do people still run Stage 2 decks, even when trying to win tournaments?  Yes they do.  Do they succeed?  Rarely; given that Stage 2 Pokémon require more deck space, more time to set-up and are more vulnerable to all forms of disruption (especially Items) they’ve got to offer something pretty amazing to balance the investment of cards and effort.  Still a few Stage 2 offerings seem to have managed it. 

Being a Water-Type has gotten much better. This set introduces some more Water-Type support (though no Special Energy for them… maybe next set?).  Archie’s Ace in the Hole is a crazy new Supporter that can only be used when its the only card in your hand but allows you to Bench a Water-Type from your discard pile (including Evolutions which gets into somewhat complicated rulings) plus draw five cards.  Dive Ball is an Item that allows you to search your deck for a Water-Type; that’s pretty good if your deck is mostly or mono-Water-Type… possibly even just for getting out Seismitoad-EX in a non-Water deck.  The one that surprised me was Rough Seas; I dismissed it at first but a mass healing of 30 points of damage for Water- and Lightning-Types is great against spread and can be handy when you’ve got something big.  Already I’ve had some easy 2HKOs become tricky because of it, so with high HP Mega Evolutions or Wailord-EX, it might be quite frightening.  There are a few Pokémon (mostly Fighting-Types) that are popular and potent like Landorus-EX that have Water Weakness waiting for you to exploit (huh, it won’t like Rough Seas either) while Resistance is only found on some BW-era Grass-Types.  Still not on par with Fighting-Types but still enough to get pumped (pun intended)! 

In terms of HP, Swampert sports 140, enough to have decent odds of surviving a hit, though I think that XY: Primal Clash being added to the metagame will narrow the difference between surviving and being OHKed even more.  Grass Weakness is already risky; while outside of VirGen there aren’t a lot of Grass-decks to worry about and there isn’t a Grass-Type equivalent of Mewtwo-EX or Yveltal-EX that is easy/relatively easy to work into a lot of decks, there is added incentive as this set introduces a few other standouts that are Grass Weak.  The lack of Resistance is common and just robs Swampert or a slight bonus; nothing really worth docking its score over.  The Retreat Cost of three is handy… in Expanded, where you can consider using Heavy Ball.  That is even less relevant than it used to be now that we have Dive Ball; make sure to pack something to aid in getting Swampert out of the Active slot without sacrificing so much Energy, or build your deck so that it can try to tank (the latter doesn’t seem too likely). 

Swampert sports an Ancient Trait, an Ability and an attack.  α Growth provides Energy acceleration, but only to Swampert itself; specifically when you attach an Energy card to it from your hand as part of your manual Energy attachment for the turn (other things like attacks, Abilities, etc. won’t trigger it) then you have the option to attach two Energy cards instead.  This is good but not great; as stated it only applies to Swampert so unless you’ve got a convenient way to move that Energy to another Pokémon, it is only going to fuel Swampert or effects that can make use of Energy on Swampert.  It is good that it doesn’t care about Energy Type and even works with Special Energy cards and unlike plain ol’ Abilities, so far nothing can interfere with Ancient Traits.  Speaking of Abilities, Swampert also has Diving Search.  This is a bit of a throwback, as it is near identical to the Poké-Power “Smooth Over”, found on Magcargo (EX: Deoxys 20/107).  I’m not sure if it will be as good as that Magcargo was; the older card existed in a slower format.  Still whether it is for setting up a draw for next turn (assuming your opponent doesn’t play N or something else to force you to shuffle your deck) or right before you use some other form of draw power to get the exact card you want into your hand, it can be anything from “useful” to “mind-numbingly awesome”.  The attack Hydro Pump; another familiar sight as it has shown up on several cards (even when just looking at Standard) this attack costs [CCC] and does 40 damage plus 30 per [W] Energy used to fuel the attack.  This is the largest “per Energy” damage bonus we’ve seen on Hydro Pump, and it means the attack can flatten anything so long as you can commit the Energy to it. 

Swampert Evolves from Marshtomp Evolves from Mudkip.  Right now the only options for those two are set-mates Mudkip (XY: Primal Clash 33/160) and Marshtomp (XY: Primal Clash 34/160).  Both are Water-Type Pokémon with Grass Weakness, no Resistance, two attacks but lacking either an Ancient Trait or Ability.  Mudkip is of course a Basic Pokémon, and it has 60 HP; better than less but not by much.  The single Energy Retreat Cost is at least easy to pay.  For [W] it can use Tackle for 10 damage and for [WC] it can use Mud-Slap to hit for 20.  Marshtomp sadly is a pretty typical Stage 1: 90 HP with the slightly chunky Retreat Cost of three.  For [WC] its Mud-Slap does 30 points of damage, or it can attack with Endeavor, needing [WCC] and scoring 40 damage plus two coin flips good for 20 points of additional damage per “heads”.  Unless you’re feeling daring, you’ll need these two to get to Swampert, though there indeed ways to avoid using both of them.  I don’t expect Item blocking effects (like Seismitoad-EX attacking with Quaking Punch) to lose popularity, so I don’t advise trying to skip Marshtomp completely in favor of Rare Candy: it seems best to run both.  There is also one more Swampert to consider: XY: Primal Clash 35/160.  The differences between today’s version and it are that it has +10 HP, no Ancient Trait or Ability and two attacks: for [CWW] its Water Arrow attack allows you to pick one of your opponent’s Pokémon in play and hit it for 60 (ignoring Weakness and Resistance for targets on the Bench) while its Waterfall attack needs [WWCC] and does a flat 120.  I don’t think the differences are worth splitting the line; while these differences are nice, they are also very mild.  Throw in that it will be slower to power-up and that if three out of four Energy attached are [WWW] than Hydro Pump hits harder than Waterfall, and its clear one should just use today’s subject instead. 

So how does one go about making good use of this Swampert?  I’m honestly not 100% sure.  α Growth needs help to take a Swampert from “zero” to “attacking” in a single turn.  Double Colorless Energy can be one of the Energy involved, but with [WCC] Hydro Pump does an underwhelming 70.  I thought about running it with Aromatisse (after all, α Growth works with any Type of Energy) but for that much effort, why not just run a Stage 2 that allows unlimited Energy attachments per turn.  I am thinking Swampert at most needs to be central to any deck it is, though it probably should also have an alternate opener.  Then again with Diving Search, you might finally be able to make Ether work.  Ether is an Item I thought was going to shape the format but its release outside of Japan ended up being the equivalent of a set late, and before we had time to get used to it we had Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym; for the decks that had shown promise with Ether, most were better off spending that space on Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym.  Diving Search guarantees Ether will work, allowing you to reveal a basic Energy as the top card of your deck and then attach it to one of your Pokémon.  This combo would allow [WWW] (and thus 130 damage before Tools) in a single turn.  Another card to consider is Acro Bike; this new Item allows you to look at the top two cards of your deck with you choosing one to add to hand while the other is discarded; an Ability/Item combo to get the exact card from your deck into hand at the cost of one card of self mill. 

Some might prefer an Ability/Ability combo; not too long ago we looked at Slurpuff (XY: Phantom Forces 69/119), which has seen some successful play already backing up Seismitoad-EX through its Tasting Ability; Tasting allows you to draw one extra card during your turn (two if Slurpuff is Active when you use Tasting).  Diving Draw plus Tasting is like the previous combo I suggested but instead of having to deal with self mill and Item denial, you have the difficulty of working in a Stage 1 line alongside an Evolution, as well as the whole thing (instead of just half) being lost if Abilities are blocked.  There is one more advantage to it, though; it is reusable.  This is important both for speeding up set-up and because Diving Draw stacks (you can use Diving Draw once per turn per card with the Diving Draw effect) but if you can’t draw the card you just top-decked, subsequent uses of Diving Draw happen one at a time so you still only can determine the top card of the deck.  Three Diving Draw and three Tasting mean three cards of your choice added to hand each turn!  This brings us to what to have open for Swampert as an attacker.  Seismitoad-EX seems the obvious choice; the deck will lose room for most of its tricks by adding in a Stage 2 line, but what remains will become precise.  Plus you get a decent big hitter to clean up.  Alternatives are Qwilfish (XY: Flashfire 21/106), Robo Substitute (XY: Phantom Forces 102/119) and Huntail (XY: Primal Clash 50/160).  Qwilfish can just sit there inflicting damage counters while it takes hits (well, probably just one hit).  Robo Substitute is almost always going to only survive one hit, but since it isn’t worth a Prize when it is KOed, that’s fine.  Huntail is another Stage 1 so it probably won’t fit easily into a deck with Swampert and much of anything else, but for [W] it can use Powerful Storm, an attack that does 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to all of your Pokémon; if you’ve got multiple Swampert on the Bench that can add up fast. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3/5 - This doesn’t seem like much but I haven’t seen enough this set to convince me that being a Stage 2 isn’t still a huge burden.  So this is about as good as it gets for a Stage 2 right now. 

Expanded: 3/5 - I don’t see the increased card pool adding a lot of support or direct competition, either so it gets the same score. 

Limited: 4.8/5 - Almost a must run; you skip it if you pulled a big Basic burly enough to build a +39 deck around it or if you honestly can’t work enough [W] Energy in to make Hydro Pump pay off.  Odds that you can’t do the latter are quite low, but not improbable. 

Summary: Since this is a Water-Type in the TCG and a Water/Ground-Type in the video games, is it okay if I’m wishy-washy and a bit of a squish on this subject?  Swampert sets the tone for this Top 10, whether you consider it positive or negative: this set has a lot of cards with potential but very few that are clear standouts.  In some ways this is good; if all cards are well balanced with each other, standing out should boil down to popularity or the obviousness of a card’s use and not its actual potential… but it can also mean that the set ultimately isn’t going to accomplish a lot because at least for now, cards that aren’t great don’t see a lot of play.  Swampert is one of the best Stage 2 Pokémon we’ve seen in a while and it still seems like its only going to work by shoving it into an established deck that is pretty unpleasant to face.  I honestly didn’t even think about trying it with Seismitoad-EX and Slurpuff until I was nearly done writing this CotD, never mind when I was working on my own list so Swampert didn’t even make my Top 15 (I like to cover a few extra cards in case of tie breakers).  It should have made the Top 15, but even now I’m not sure if this is really good enough for the Top 10; its best bet is adding it to something established, and I don’t know if it will be worth making something already good less focused and harder to get the initial set-up accomplished.  

 


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