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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Steam Siege Top 10

#1 - Volcanion EX
- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 19, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.25
Expanded: 4.25
Limited: 4.88

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Whoa whoa whoa, wait, wait, hold on, gotta talk with somebody here, we let in one of those fake Pokemon cards on here. Dangit, I thought we were better than this, alright? Let's get this out of here, bring in the real #1 card. 

...wait, this is real? You're serious? What kind of shenanigans is THIS?! 

Yep, your vision's not deceiving you - this is Volcanion-EX, a HYBRID Fire/Water Pokemon card. Now this isn't the first time we've seen these dual-typed hybrids - Delta Species, Holon Phantoms, and Crystal Guardians had their own versions of the dual-type cards! Steam Siege is bringing them back, but these guys don't work quite the same way. Of the few hybrids we've got, they are all appropriately typed (sorry, no Fighting/Steel Blastoises coming back from the look of it), and the first type dominates the Energy costs of all the attacks that Pokemon has. 

Take Volcanion-EX's Volcanic Heat attack, for instance. If he was a Delta Species era Hybrid, he'd end up having Fire and Water Energy in his attack, but here he's only needing 2 Fire Energies and an Energy of any other type. So for 3 Energy, he deals 130 damage and can't attack during your next turn. That does make things very difficult if we made Volcanion-EX the main attacker, but luckily for us, that's not the only reason to end up bumping into him. 

Steam Up is a powerful Ability that, at the cost of a Fire Energy from your hand, increases the damage of your Basic Fire Pokemon's attacks by 30 points. And yes, that's before Weakness and Resistance. Notable to this is that this effect can stack - you're not limited to one Volcanion-EX "Steam Up" per turn. Combine that with our #3 Volcanion's Energy acceleration, add in a little #2 Ninja Boy swaparoo, and this deck is extremely viable as its own archetype! 

Now here's the real kicker though - being both Fire and Water has its own advantages! Volcanion-EX can use any remaining Flashfire support until it rotates out before relying on anything else, but most notably he's got a good bit of Water support to work with. Aside from stuff like Palkia-EX, who'd just be overpowering him anyway, or Manaphy-EX, who actually would be EXTREMELY useful in combination with some Water Energy, there's also Archie's Infamous Ace-in-the-Hole to just get him out and Dive Ball to search for him whenever you need him! Wow!! 

So will he be more successful in a hybrid Fire/Water build, or is pure Fire just the nature of his game? Whatever way works best, Volcanion-EX will definitely be seeing some big plays! 

Rating 

Standard: 4.5/5 (pretty good overall, just needs that extra bit of support to work) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (after all, he's not gonna be your main offense with Volcanic Heat, but as support, well, he's like an extra Muscle Band and Fighting Fury Belt in terms of damage for just 1 Energy) 

Limited: 5/5 (don't know about you, but that's a LOT) 

Arora Notealus: Volcanion is making a huge presence here in his debut, and I gotta say that's really nice to have! it shows he's not gonna be some pushover and will even have a starring line-up in decks to come! In the end, he may become one of the better decks post-rotation, so keep an eye out for him. 

Weekend Thought: What did you think of our Top 10 list? Think some cards should be higher? Some lower? Or maybe there's a card in the set you think ought to have made the list? As always, feel free to discuss!


Otaku

Without further ado, our top pick from XY: Steam Siege is Volcation-EX, which is XY: Fates Collide 26/114… and 107/114... 115/114.  S’like its the face of the set or something. 

So Volcanion-EX is a Fire Type… and a Water Type.  This is the first of the new Dual Type Pokémon we’ve looked at, and as a formatting note I’ll capitalize the “Dual” in Dual Type from now on to make it more clear I’m discussing a Pokémon.  The card  makes it pretty obvious with two Energy symbols in the Type area, and on the regular and Full Art versions, the background is split between the appropriate Colors.  So when it comes to exploiting opposing Weakness, the Fire side allows Volcanion-EX to hit nearly all Grass and Metal Type Pokémon, while the Water side hits nearly all Fire and a chunk of the Fighting Type.  For Resistance, it only has to deal with BW-era Grass Types (and then not even all of them).  There aren’t a lot of good anti-Water or anti-Fire effects, in fact the main example is the same for both: Parallel City.  It can reduce the damage of either by -20 (as well as for Grass Types), but it sees play for the effect on the other side of the Stadium: shrinking the opponent’s Bench down to three spaces.  For the record, based on this ruling Parallel City ought to only reduce the damage by 20 (not 40), but I could be mistaken as I am extrapolating from another card.  I don’t recall anything having double Weakness or Resistance; it has been a while since it has been relevant, but if the old rules are not revised then you apply all Weaknesses first, then all forms of Resistance. 

So what does being both a Fire Type and a Water Type do in terms of support?  Just to get what worried me out of the way, Type specific support (yeah, even those temperamental Burning Energy and Splash Energy) only care that the correct Type is present, but it doesn’t need the Type to be exclusive.  So Dual Types will indeed enjoy the best of both worlds.  This means you’ve got Blacksmith to attach two basic Fire Energy from the discard pile and… um… well unless this finds its way into a mostly Water Type deck, I’m not sure if the support for Water Type Pokémon will actually matter: this card can use Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Dive Ball but it doesn’t need them, and Rough Seas only makes sense if most of the deck is Water or Lightning Typed.  I mentioned both Burning Energy and Splash Energy earlier as working with this card, but I just meant they would not automatically discard themselves; as we’ll see Burning Energy doesn’t help it at all and Splash Energy is probably unneeded.  Peeking ahead, we see this card mostly needs [R] Energy, and in fact it wants it in hand at times as well so basic Fire Energy cards and perhaps their support will be of use.  The Water side is weak in this area, and as I have not worked them all out (since most do not yet exist) this could be a poor Dual Type combination but compared to most of the mono Typed cards, it is good. 

Being a Pokémon-EX means Volcanion-EX gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, has to deal with certain anti-Pokémon-EX effects, and cannot make use of some (very few) supporting effects.  It also explains the 180 HP, as the max printed without a special mechanic like this is 140; regular Volcanion only has 130, so a +50 bonus is pretty good, giving Volcanion-EX a good chance of avoiding a OHKO (at least until most decks implement the bulk of their strategy).  The Water Weakness is dangerous with “Bluebox” decks (what normal people call “Water Box”) running around, plus I’m not counting Greninja BREAK based decks out yet.  Mostly because when I do that in an actual game they come from being down by four or five Prizes to take the win if they don’t have an obvious advantage and pull ahead after only two or three.  There is also an increased risk from often splashed Water Pokémon like Seismitoad-EX and Keldeo-EX; frequently used off Type, their damage output won’t be OHKO range but it is on top of their real purpose in the deck.  If it is a deck that can meet two [W] Energy requirements, then both can get to OHKO range.  Lack of Resistance is typical; it is still technically the worse but Resistance isn’t potent enough for that to be a huge drawback.  On the other hand, the Retreat Cost of [CCC] is a huge drawback as will be clear once we get a little further in the card; just know that even before card specific consideration, it’s too much to pay and not be hurting from the Energy loss in the long term, or usually the short term if you can afford it up front at all.  Include some outs to manually retreating at full price, preferably several or at least one you can reuse. 

Volcanion-EX has an Ability and an attack; both are important but I’m telling you now, the Ability is key.  That Ability is “Steam Up” and considering how long Japanese scans (with translations) and English scans have been available, you probably already know exactly what it does… but I’m going to tell you again anyway for the sake of being thorough.  Once per turn you can use Steam Up to discard a [R] Energy from hand, which then increases the damage done by attacks from your Basic Fire Type Pokémon by 30 until the end of the turn.  It doesn’t target a Pokémon but places an effect on your side of the field.  At least that is how I would explain it before Pokémon Ranger; I am thinking it would count as an effect on you or all your Pokémon.  This is significant not only for Pokémon Ranger, but for Fire Types that hit the field after it has been used.  Pretty significant as this can affect how it interacts with Ninja Boy as well as Basic Fire Types simply played normally after it has been used.  With what we do know, I can tell you it stacks and that is is pretty impressive.  Just one of these can add some pop to a weak, supporting move like say “Power Heater”, the attack from Wednesday’s Volcanion that hits for 20 damage while attaching an [R] Energy to up to two of your Benched Pokémon.  Two of these puts most opposing Active Pokémon into 2HKO range, some of those into OHKO range even.  If you have four Volcanion-EX in play and the Fire Energy in hand to pay to use each Steam Up Ability once that turn, the total damage bonus is +120, which means Power Heater swings for a mighty 140… or in Expanded with Silver Bangle you can hit that magic 170 to OHKO several Basic Pokémon-EX! 

So what about the attack on Volcanion-EX?  It is named “Volcanic Heat” and for [RRC] it delivers a good 130 damage.  Unlike say Deoxys-EX or Regirock-EX, the Ability on Volcanion-EX can boost its own damage, so with a Muscle Band and one Steam Up, its Volcanic Heat can OHKO most things other than Wailord-EX, Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124), Mega Evolutions, and Pokémon with defensive buffs.  A swarm of these can get Volcanic Heat to the level that only things with full on protection like Safeguard or already large HP buffed (such as Wailord-EX with Fighting Fury Belt) can hope to survive.  I have however saved the worst for last; Volcanic Ash has a big drawback in that it places a condition on Volcanion-EX that prevents it from attacking again the next turn.  There are of course ways around this, but they eat up deck space, especially the reusable options.  The alternative though is letting it sit there and do nothing, or discard three Energy to retreat.  With a the right support, this is totally worth it, as are the right circumstances; if you win or know this Volcanion-EX is going down after attacking, that clause means nothing. 

So… this and Volcanion may be the new Fire deck.  A few other familiar faces may grace it as well, but this allows low Energy attackers to potentially hit big numbers, and if you can still afford the big Energy attacks then they can hit even bigger numbers.  Volcanion will probably be at least a loose staple in future Fire decks post rotation, maybe even now; a big Basic which is not a Pokémon-EX and accelerates Energy while attacking has been useful for multiple Types, so it shouldn’t be a surprise it is good for the Fire Type as well.  Volcanion-EX may be more hit or miss; if you’re not focused on a Basic, Fire Type attacker then Steam Up means nothing.  At the same time though the damage buff is less common than the Energy acceleration for the Fire Type (we still have Blacksmith).  In Expanded there are more Energy attachment options.  I just realized that perhaps Entei-EX could make a comeback; its “Grand Flame” attack defies expectations as it does 90 for [RRC] and attaches an [R] Energy from the discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  Three Volcanion-EX, a deck built to keep enough Fire Energy in hand, and a Fighting Fury Belt could hit big damage while being able to survive a big hit and prepping the next attacker.  A fourth Volcanion-EX (and Steam Up) leaves very few targets that could survive a single hit. 

Fire Type Evolutions though gain no bonus, and therein lies the rub, but not for the reasons you might expect.  Few Fire Type Evolutions are worth running, but what I am really worried about is Weakness; the only Fire Types I can find which are not Water Weak are Talonflame and Fletchinder cards.  Mono Weakness can be a terrible thing.  Still, Volcanion-EX has a lot to offer Standard and Expanded play.  It also should be great for Limited as well; don’t try running it on its own though as even with the powerful hits and 180 HP, needing three turns to build to begin attacking, plus being unable to attack every other turn, gives your opponent too long to try and score the KO.  With all the Fire Types this set, odds are you can fit this in somewhere, and even if it is the only Fire Basic, you can still use it for a big hit or two or three, even with the turns of “lag”.  I just don’t think it has quite enough HP to survive to take Prize number four. 

Ratings 

Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Summary: Yes, I am scoring this card lower than I did Ninja Boy from yesterday: being a big deal in Basic Fire Pokémon decks just doesn’t rate as highly for me.  In fact these are the same scores I gave Volcanion (except for Limited) on Wednesday, and on Tuesday I gave Yveltal BREAK the same Standard score, a higher Expanded score, and (again) slightly lower Limited score.  What is up with that? 

Volcanion-EX earned 18 voting points, just edging out Ninja Boy by one point.  Volcanion was my number two, and I think that is what happened: together the two can give Ninja Boy a run for his money as most influential card.  Plus the Fire Type has been largely absent again, so at least in the short run this probably will have a bigger impact.  I also already stated that Ninja Boy may have deserved first, but despite my waffling I am convinced that Volcanion-EX and Volcanion are going to be quite significant for at least a little while.


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