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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Sceptile #8

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
March 2, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.75
Expanded: 2.75
Limited: 4.25

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Otaku

Welcome readers to XY: Primal Clash Grass Week!  There are 19 different Grass-Type Pokémon in this set, and we are trying to separate the wheat from the chaff: every card this week was selected because it looked like it had potential, or was at least “interesting”.  Of course if this week ends up being lame, its on me because I was allowed to select the cards.  In general, Grass-Types have a growing level of direct and indirect support that has some great entries (like Virizion-EX) but that so far have resulted in only one strong Grass-Type deck: VirGen (Virizion-EX plus Genesect-EX).  Grass-Weakness returned to prominence thanks to Seismitoad-EX, and XY: Primal Clash has added some more enticing targets (some Fighting-Types, some Water-Types). 

Our second candidate is Sceptile (XY: Primal Clash 8/106).  It is a Stage 2, and as I laid it out yesterday this is unfortunately a big hurdle for a card to overcome; you have to invest twice as many cards to get a Stage 2 into play than a Basic as well as wait an extra turn.  Historically a couple methods have been tried to balance this out, but the one with the most promise (better Evolving Pokémon so you get a return before you reach the final Stage of Evolution) doesn’t get used too often.  Even ignoring this, having a larger investment of cards tends to go hand in hand with being more reliant upon Items; even skipping Rare Candy still tends to leave a Stage 2 badly hampered by the likes of Seismitoad-EX and its Quaking Punch. 

Sceptile sports 130 HP - this is enough to be a little more likely than not to survive a hit, but especially with recent releases and developments many decks either just hit really hard or use a variety of direct and indirect “buffs” to increase actual (or effective) damage.  Fire Types will enjoy their lesser attacks sufficing for the OHKO and/or needing less resources for their “big” attacks (so not needing a Muscle Band, not needing an optional Energy discard, etc.), as most of their heavy hitters are already at least coming close to 130 damage.  The lack of Resistance isn’t really a drawback because Resistance isn’t all that common in the overall game.  The two Energy Retreat Cost isn’t good but neither is it bad; its pretty much the middle ground as it is low enough you’ll be able to pay it and more or less recover from the loss but high enough that you really won’t want to if you can avoid it.  The metagame is such that most decks need something to aid in getting something to the Bench, either lowering Retreat Costs or bypassing manually retreating in the first place, with both being preferred if a deck has the space; this means good or bad, the Retreat Cost is either a small positive, negative or neutral trait. 

Sceptile has one Ability (Nurture and Heal) and one attack (Jungle Edge).  Nurture and Heal allows you once per turn (before you attack) to attach a [G] Energy card from your hand to one of your Pokémon in play plus if you do this heals 30 damage from that Pokémon.  The Ability is worded so that if you have multiple copies in play, you can use each once per turn.  Before anyone gets excited, while it doesn’t specify “basic” Energy, Herbal Energy doesn’t count as a [G] Energy until it is attached to something in play (same for Rainbow Energy and all of which I can recall).  Jungle Edge does a simple 70 for [GCC]; this isn’t a good attack in and of itself, but even without the Ability it isn’t too bad to power-up and it hits just hard enough that if you slapped a Muscle Band on it, you could 2HKO many commonly played Pokémon-EX.  Should you be attacking with it?  Only if you have no other choice; Nurture and Heal is why you should even consider running this, and it looks like a useful support Ability as it provides healing (normally not too effective) with Energy acceleration (usually quite useful it not format defining). 

Before we get into combos and usage, let us cover our bases by seeing the rest of the Evolutionary line.  There are just three different Treecko cards available and the two most recent are alternate versions of each other: BW: Plasma Freeze 6/116, XY Black Star Promo XY36 and XY: Primal Clash 6/160.  Both are Basic Grass-Type Pokémon with 60 HP, Fire Weakness, Retreat Cost [C], no Abilities and no Ancient Trait.  BW: Plasma Freeze 6/116 enjoys Water Resistance (dropped from Grass-Types for the XY-era) with two attacks: Pound for [C] which does 10 damage and Reckless Charge for [GC] which does 30 and 10 to itself.  XY Black Star Promo XY36 and XY: Primal Clash 6/160 have no Resistance and just one attack: Quick Attack for [G], good for 10 damage plus another 10 on a successful coin toss.  Grovyle just has two options: BW: Plasma Freeze 7/116 and XY: Primal Clash 7/160, both of which are Stage 1 Grass-Type Pokémon with 80 HP, Fire Weakness, Retreat Cost [C], no Abilities, no Ancient Traits and two attacks.  The older version, BW: Plasma Freeze 7/116, again enjoys Water Resistance and its first attack is Pound for [C], though it hits for 20 this time.  For [GC] it can use Cut for 30.  XY: Primal Clash 7/160 has no Resistance but it too has Pound as its first attack!  This version requires [G] but still only hits for 20, though its second attack is Agility for [GCC] and good for 40 damage, plus the usual protection from the effects and damage of your opponent’s attacks during your opponent’s next turn. 

Lastly there are two other Sceptile - BW: Plasma Freeze 8/116 and XY: Primal Clash 9/160 -  both of which are Grass-Types with Fire Weakness, Retreat Cost [CC], no Abilities and two attacks.  BW: Plasma Freeze 7/116 has 130 HP (like today’s version) and Water Resistance.  For attacks, it can use X-Scissor at a cost of [GC] for 30 damage plus another 40 if you get heads on the coin toss.  For [GGC] its Energy Bloom attack hits for 80 while healing 20 everything else you have in play with an Energy attached.  X-Scissor isn’t bad but isn’t worth the hassle of running a Stage 2, while Energy Bloom is a good example of not thinking things through (or just wanting an attack to look like it might have had potential while actually being poor).  The format isn’t one of mostly spread, this card is from the set that contained an answer to most spread anyway, Mr. Mime (BW: Plasma Freeze 47/116) and its pretty fantastic to have spare Energy attached to things just so you can heal.  As for XY: Primal Clash 9/160, we won’t be going into much detail because surprise!  This is tomorrow’s subject.  Without spoiling too much, in a deck focused on today’s it might be a nice TecH attacker, and we’ll discuss if it can be the focus with today’s version backing it up in tomorrow’s review (and why for both matters).  So using today’s Sceptile, I’d favor the older, Water Resistance lower Stages because you aren’t going to be attacking with them unless you must and no version has very good attacks. 

So… is today’s card worthy of running in a deck?  Yes, but I’m not sure what kind: serious or casual or something in between?  Just a single copy adds a small speed boost (plus healing when applicable), but this isn’t Deluge or Inferno Fandango; you’ll prefer to get multiples on the Bench since they stack and you can’t count on these to just rain down Energy anytime you need to, so it isn’t a surprise that I haven’t heard of anyone even trying this on the competitive scene.  Maybe some have tried it and haven’t gotten it to work so far, maybe no one has even bothered.  Even that single Energy attachment gives some nice options.  So what am I thinking of?  It might be useful as a new take on Genesect-EX; space would have to be amazingly tight but if you get a good set-up, it might actually be faster than the VirGen decks.  The new Trevenant-EX (XY: Primal Clash 19/160, 145/160) might actually live long enough to build to OHKO status with this behind it.  Mewtwo-EX can still do its thing, even if it can’t ramp up to OHKO levels immediately.  If you want to get really daring, there is M Heracross-EX: its Big Bang Horn may fall short against some of the other Mega Evolutions that see play, but its still a good deal against all other Pokémon-EX (and even some of those Mega Evolutions).  Remember, we are hitting for Weakness on things like Wailord-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, Primal Groudon-EX and probably some others that currently escape me. 

Another interesting combo is that while you probably won’t want to discard all Energy for Max Potion (which also makes the healing effect of Nurture and Heal go to waste), Super Potion is an interesting partner: you break even in attached Energy but heal 90 this way, which is enough to zero out the damage from some attacks and blunt most others.  You would also still have your manual Energy attachment for the turn available to build up your next attacker… though obviously you’ll also need a means of reclaiming spent Energies, and the game provides several: Energy Retrieval and Superior Energy Retrieval have you covered for the short term.  Right now, all of this sounds fun but not exactly competition worthy.  Of course, it might be because I’m being too hidebound with my choices; Landorus-EX and Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) didn’t exactly seem like natural partners and neither did Seismitoad-EX and Slurpuff (XY: Phantom Forces 69/119). 

Ratings 

Standard: 3/5 - Perhaps I am being optimistic; this wouldn’t be the first Stage 2 Energy acceleration that failed to deliver.  Remember Chandelure (XY: Plasma Freeze 16/116)?  I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t as what I don’t remember is it ever doing well.  At the same time, Sceptile might have more going for it in terms of what the rest of the game is doing (and not potentially being shown up by Colress Machine and Plasma Energy, later by Blacksmith). 

Expanded: 3/5 - Perhaps a bit foolhardy, but I think the diversity of this format could help rather than hurt… or more accurately, that again I suspect things will mostly even out. 

Limited: 4.5/5 - Probably a must run unless you get a big, Basic worth building a +39 deck around or you have bad luck and can’t get enough Grass Energy compatible Pokémon for it to anchor a deck.  The latter can be really hard to justify if you’ve just got a 1-1-1 line, after all. 

Summary: I am not sure why, but I think I like this card.  As I like submitting a Top 15 or Top 20 list to Pojo in case we need some tiebreakers or honorable mentions, this did make my own Top 15 list but since that is all the higher I placed it, I understood why it didn’t make the lists of baby_mario or aroramage since they - ya know - actually followed instructions and submitted just Top 10s.  I think there is some hope for this card in competitive play, but just “some”.  Try to get a playset so you can experiment, but only if its a good deal.


aroramage

Sceptile is the final Stage 2 evolution of the ever-popular Treecko! Huh? Huh? No? Where's the love for this guy? What, Ash uses him for an anime, and he's now no longer cool without that stick in his mouth?...fair enough.
 
The Treecko line have always enjoyed a certain amount of popularity, whether from the anime or from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2: Explorers of Time/Darkness. It's just that in the competitive side of things, Sceptile has...well, the short end of the stick. Blaziken bruises at high speeds with his Speed Boost, and Swampert has exceptional typing while Sceptile is denied his Dragon-type till he Mega Evolves - which makes him REALLY good!...in Underused.
 
Whatever, maybe his cards have proven better! This is one of two Sceptile cards in the set (the other of which we'll look at tomorrow), and he's...well, okay. His only attack is the 3-for-70 Jungle Edge, which as cool of a name as that sounds leaves a lot to be desired from a Stage 2. As with most Stage 2s though, you play them for their Abilities, and this Sceptile has Nurture and Heal, which lets you shrug off 30 Energy by playing a Grass Energy from your hand via this Ability.
 
...wait. You mean this turns all of my Grass Energy into Herbal Energy? Basically, yeah, but those crafty designers made sure to limit it to only the Energy played by the Ability. Still, this can give you 2 Energy to put down each turn, which might come in handy! But healing 30 damage...well, that could be the difference between a OHKO and a 2HKO on your next turn, but other than that, it's only okay.
 
So he's...not that great, but he could be a potential energy accelerator! Sorta...kinda...not as good as Blastoise or Emboar, but maybe better than Landorus. Oh, but definitely no Bronzong or Eelektrik, that's too much praise!
 
Rating
 
Standard: 2.5/5 (he's...okay, good for acceleration and some healing, but not much else)
 
Expanded: 2.5/5 (decent still)
 
Limited: 4/5 (hey now, here he can shine! It'll take some time, but here he can really lay down the law! Or something...)
 
Arora Notealus: He leaps around the jungle slashing at things with his leaves. Dude's got leaf blades on his arms. HOW COOL IS THAT?! I mean come on, he's like the jungle version of Batman! Only with more leaf blades and less Batmobiles.
 
Next Time: Part 2 of the Sceptile Saga!!


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