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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Snorlax
- XY: Black Star Promos XY179

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 14, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 1.50
Expanded: 1.43
Limited: Promo

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

It seems a tad peculiar to leave this card set out from Evolutions when the rest of the set was so devoted to these kinds of reprints, but whatever. Here is Snorlax! 

Unfortunately, he didn't really get much from his previous counterpart. His HP got boosted to 130 from 90, and his Body Slam does more damage, albeit at the same cost with the same effect. The only thing to really draw one's attention is Immunity, which prevents Status Conditions from affecting Snorlax entirely. Outside of cards that would shut down his Ability - Garbodor, Silent Lab, and Wobbuffet being the ones in question - it does make him a little bit harder to take down. 

...but at only 130 HP, it's not THAT much harder. 

Coupled with an overly expensive attack, and Snorlax is barely a wall much less an offensive force to be reckoned with. 

Rating 

Standard: 1.5/5 (Immunity's a great Ability to have in Status focused formats)

Expanded: 1.5/5 (but given the game has accelerated into heavy damage output, it's not that amazing) 

Limited: N/A (and this is a promo, mind you) 

Arora Notealus: Snorlax could be a pretty potent force in the right hands and against the right deck, but since most decks I look at aren't Status-reliant, he's only tech-able in certain ways at certain times. And even then, 4-for-50 is a horrible trade-off, I don't care how much better it is than what it was before.

Next Time:...wait, we just reviewed yo-WAIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING


Otaku

Today the Snorlax GX Box officially goes on sale today, though I think I’ve seen it on shelves locally already (no spare money, so I was trying to avoid looking).  If my calculations are correct, that means the new cards released in it will be tournament legal December 30th… when we already have other cards scheduled for review.  So let’s take a look at them now, starting with Snorlax (XY: Black Star Promos XY179).  This is a Colorless Pokémon so nothing will be Weak or Resistant, but there are some bits of Type specific support and counters.  The former includes some decent tricks like Winona while the latter includes some cards not worth name dropping because they’ve never been particularly effective (even when Colorless attackers were on top of the metagame).  There are some solid Colorless Type Pokémon, most of whom have attacks with only [C] Energy requirements, allowing them to easily work off Type and meaning the only added benefit to using them in a Colorless focused deck comes from that explicit Colorless Type support.  No great tricks for [C] Energy cards either, which makes sense since they exist only as Special Energy, and include the very potent Double Colorless Energy. 

Snorlax is a Basic Pokémon, so it takes the minimal amount of deck space to run, time to hit the field, can be your opening Active, has access to Basic Stage support, and enjoys a natural synergy with many card effects when compared to other Stages of Evolution.  The only drawbacks to being a Basic stem from anti-Basic effects.  Snorlax sports 130 HP, around the point where I believe it becomes just a bit more likely that a Pokémon can survive a typical attack than be OHKO’d.  It is just 10 below the max for Basic Pokémon sans a special mechanic (like being a Pokémon-EX).  Fighting Weakness shifts the card back into OHKO territory as Weakness tends to do, however I find it a bit worse with Fighting Types as many have strong single Energy attacks… and stack a lot of damage buffs on top of them.  Snorlax is big enough to require multiple of these buffs, but not enough to avoid the OHKO when a couple are present.  No Resistance is the worst, but it is also typical so it is more of a missed opportunity than a real detriment; with 130 HP, that -20 damage has a better chance of mattering, though still not great since it would just be against one of 11 Types.  The Retreat Cost of [CCCC] is bad but totally expected since this is a Snorlax; make sure you’ve got multiple options for getting out of the Active slot and/or tanking.  That means not only more than one option, but more than one copy of at least some of those options. 

Snorlax has the Ability “Immunity”, providing it full protection from Special Conditions.   Immunity doesn’t just prevent Special Conditions, but should one get through anyway while - for example - Silent Lab is in play, once Immunity kicks back in it will cure Snorlax of any and all existing Special Conditions.  This is not the greatest Ability, but it’s a decent one and it could become more relevant as the Sun & Moon based cards (plus rule revisions) suggest Special Conditions may be getting a bit more of a focus again.  Snorlax has one attack as well, with a hefty cost of [CCCC]; your reward for meeting that cost is 50 damage and a coin flip to afflict the opponent’s Active with Paralysis.  When I see a four Energy attack cost, even when it’s all Colorless Requirements, I expect at least 100 damage.  Paralysis is a useful Special Condition, probably the best unless Poison or Burn leads to a KO, but it is not worth 50 damage.  If this Snorlax is worth using, it will require some combos. 

Before that though, let us consider the other options for Snorlax: BW: Boundaries Crossed 109/149, BW: Plasma Storm 101/135, XY: Kalos Starter Set 26/39, XY: Flashfire 80/106 (reprinted as Generations 58/83), XY: BREAKthrough 118/162, and XY: Fates Collide 77/124.  All are Basic, Colorless Type Pokémon with at least 100 HP, Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost four, no Ancient Trait, and Colorless Energy requirements for one or two attacks.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 109/149, BW: Plasma Storm 101/135, XY: Kalos Starter Set 26/39 are Expanded only.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 109/149 has 100 HP, making it the smallest of the bunch, and two attacks.  The first is “Double Lariat” for [CCC], which has you flip two coins and does 40 damage per “heads”.  The second is “Rollout” for [CCCC] and it does a flat 60 damage.  You can see why we skipped reviewing it; even adjusting for lower damage outputs of the time, these attacks are badly overpriced and the HP was (for a Snorlax) still low.  BW: Plasma Storm 101/135 is a Team Plasma Pokémon, so we’ll refer to it as Snorlax [Plasma].  It has 130 HP, which was the maximum when it was printed, the Ability “Block”, and the attack “Teampact”.  Block prevents the opponent’s Active from retreating so long as Snorlax [Plasma] is Active.  Teampact has a massive Energy cost of [CCCCC], and does 30 damage times the number of Team Plasma Pokémon you have in play.  All together this is a good card; we first reviewed it here.  This is a combo centric card, and it saw play for a time in a stall/control style deck, then later (once more Team Plasma support released) there because Teampact could reach big numbers. 

XY: Kalos Starter Set 26/39 has 120 HP, the attack “Rock Smash” for [CCC] and the attack “Strength” for [CCCC].  Rock Smash does 10 damage and has you flip a coin; “heads” means +30 damage while “tails” means just the original 10.  Strength does a flat 70 damage.  Rock Smash is horribly overpriced while Strength is overpriced.  Flashfire 80/106 has 130 HP, again when this was the maximum HP we’d seen on a card like this.  It has the Ability “Stir and Snooze”, but that isn’t a good thing as it makes you flip two coins instead of one between turns for Sleep Checks; if either is “tails” this Pokémon is still Asleep.  “Sleepy Press” is another pricey one, requiring [CCCC], and it leaves Snorlax Asleep after using it, but it does do 120 damage and heals 20 damage from Snorlax first.  This isn’t the greatest, but its overall decent.  XY: BREAKthrough 118/162 has 120 HP with an Ability and attack.  The former is “Plump Body”, which reduces the damage it takes by 30 after Weakness/Resistance.  For [CCCC] it can use “Knock Away” to do 50 damage and flip a coin; “tails” means just that base 50 while “heads” means +30 damage (so 80 total).  We covered this one here and I think we got it pretty close to right; the Ability is great, but the attack isn’t even mediocre, it’s flat out underpowered or overpriced.  XY: Fates Collide 77/124 sets the record for regular Basic Pokémon with its 140 HP.  Its first attack is “Toss and Turn” for [CCC], doing just 30 damage unless Snorlax is Asleep, in which case it can still be used and does 30+90.  For [CCCC] it can use “Swallow” to do 50 damage, and heal itself by the same amount as the damage done (usually 50).  This one we reviewed here; I had some hopes for it due to combo potential, and it kind of lived up to it. 

The other Snorlax most likely to prove relevant are BW: Plasma Storm 101/135 and XY: Fates Collide 77/124.  Snorlax [Plasma] is more for Team Plasma decks… but I have an idea for a deck built around XY: Black Star Promos XY179, and both Snorlax [Plasma] and XY: Fates Collide 77/124 also fit.  In fact it starts out similar to a deck built around XY: Fates Collide 77/124: use Hypno (XY: BREAKpoint 51/122) to put both Active Pokémon to Sleep, then attack using Toss and Turn.  You score a decent 120 for three Energy on a 140 HP Basic, and your opponent’s Active has a 50% chance of being Asleep by the beginning of his or her next turn.  To make the deck more suited for XY: Black Star Promos XY179, we could add Ariados (XY: Ancient Origins 6/98), which Poisons both Actives.  How does that work for Snorlax [Plasma]?  While you might need to include something to help it shake Poison, it can block the opponent from retreating manually.  This is not a brilliant combo; Abilities and Trainers can still offer easy outs, and we don’t have a good, reliable, repeatable way to power up any of these guys to attack… especially because I am thinking we need to squeeze in Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98) to lock down Items and make it even more difficult for the opponent to deal with Special Conditions. 

If this sounds vaguely familiar at all, bombarding your opponent with Special Conditions from the Bench while a Snorlax is Active, then you may be remembering one of my favorite decks: Turbo Snorlax.  It was built around Snorlax (Jungle 11/64, 27/64; Base Set 2 30/130; Legendary Collection 64/110).  This is the ancestor of today’s card… and depending upon how they interpret the changes made, today’s Snorlax might even be classified as a reprint of it, albeit with the kind of significantly different text changes that force you to run the latest printing instead of the older ones.  Probably not due how much changed, though; the original Snorlax was a Colorless Basic Pokémon with 90 HP, Fighting Weakness x2, Psychic Resistance -30, Retreat Cost [CCCC], the Pokémon Power “Thick Skinned” (which protected it from being Asleep, Confused, Paralyzed, or Poisoned), and the attack Body Slam for [CCCC] (but only doing 30 damage with the coin flip for Paralysis).  90 HP was 75% of the maximum HP for any Pokémon at the time; scaling this up gets a bit tricky as we didn’t have BREAK Evolutions or Pokémon-EX.  Even including those, XY: Black Star Promos XY179 only falls short when the Pokémon have 180+ HP (and by less than 2% for those at exactly 180 HP). 

All Colorless Pokémon based on the video game’s Normal Type Pokémon of the time had Psychic Resistance -30 back then; we didn’t have Darkness or Metal Types so that was how the designers tried to balance things out.  It was quite handy though.  Pokémon Powers are the original non-attack effect: they were eventually divided into Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies, with older effects that worked on Pokémon Powers applying to both subdivisions, and newer effects that that worked on both subdivisions applying to older cards with Pokémon Powers.  The division was made so that some effects could apply to only Poké-Bodies or Poké-Powers.  Abilities then came along and replaced it all; cards that affect Pokémon Powers or its subdivisions don’t work on Abilities and vice versa.  Thick Skinned is otherwise an inferior version of Immunity; even if the last printing of this card hadn’t updated the text to read “Special Conditions” so that Burn would also be blocked, general rulings for Pokémon Powers already had.  Unlike Immunity, if Snorlax is afflicted while something is disabling it, then Thick Skinned won’t cure Snorlax should it kick back on.  There is an intermediary step between Thick Skinned and Immunity called “Thick Skin”, which was a Poké-Body that operated like Immunity, but it never appeared on a Snorlax card (to my surprise).  Body Slam actually does come close to scaling properly, unless we limit it to fellow Basic Pokémon sans mechanics like being a Pokémon-EX, in which case like the HP it is an improvement.  It was reviewed by the CotD staff, before my time, here.  I would have agreed with them until I started working with Turbo Snorlax decks. 

The deck backed Snorlax (Jungle 11/64, 27/64; Base Set 2 30/130; Legendary Collection 64/110) with Dark Gloom (Team Rocket 36/82) and Drowzee (Team Rocket 54/83; Legendary Collection 73/110).  Both had Pokémon Powers that afflicted an Active Pokémon with a Special Condition; “heads” it was the opponent’s and “tails” it was yours.  Drowzee was overkill; the real partner needed was Dark Vileplume (Team Rocket 13/82, 30/82); once you locked down all Trainers (and you think losing just Items is bad!), the barrage of Special Conditions allowed Body Slam to be a decent attack.  I don’t know if this was a good deck “for real”, but at local Leagues I did quite well with it.  Getting back to the present, the best I can come up with for XY: Black Star Promos XY179 is to ape this deck as described above, but it seems pretty likely that won’t be good enough for Standard or Expanded play.  After all even with Ariados Poisoning your own Active to nail the opponent’s, it would probably be easier to include a way to deal with Poison and still use XY: Fates Collide 77/124.  This Snorlax is not legal for Limited play, but should it be reprinted in a future expansion, it would be okay to include as a wall; probably never powering it up to attack, but sticking it out front to soak damage. 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.5/5 

Expanded: 1.35/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: It hurts to score Snorlax so low, but it suffers the usual curse of Snorlax these last two generations; either it gets a good attack or a good Ability, but not both.  Snorlax [Plasma] was the exception to that rule, and even then had to deal with the more general curse of all cards: heavy competition in its niche!  In this case, 130 HP and Immunity are nice but Body Slam should not cost four Energy. 

Still my favorite Pokémon, just not my favorite Pokémon card.


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