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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Oranguru
- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
March 10, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.4
Expanded: 3.4
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


aroramage

And now for something completely different. 

Oranguru. 

So yeah, he comes ready with that classy Psychic move - 3-for-60 and does 20 more damage for every Energy, yadda yadda yadda, seen that all before - but he also comes with a unique Ability in Instruct! In the game, though, it's an actual move Oranguru uses, so let's see how they retool it into an Ability. 

You get to draw until you've got 3 cards in hand once per turn. 

...well then, that's pretty good! Not too bad, not ridiculously powerful, but a good start. It's like a weaker version of Shaymin-EX's Ability that can be used every turn rather than just on coming into play. Just having the ability to reproduce what is now Hau's effect every turn without using a Supporter is great to have! So what's the catch? 

Well he will cost you a Bench slot, and 120 HP is a prime number in this day and age to hit for an easy Prize. But the added boost in draw power ought to be worth it, don't you think? 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (he may not fit into every deck) 

Expanded: 3/5 (but for those that he can be thrown into, he'll prove to be a great addition) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (and draw power is ALWAYS good) 

Arora Notealus: Seriously, a sagacious orangutan. I tell you, they come up with some of the craziest ideas around here. 

Weekend Thought: What were your favorite cards from this week? Think there are some real solid ones here, or are they just not that good? Are you going to try your hand at looping Tsareena's Ability? Because yes, apparently you can do that. That'd be a crazy thing to work on, eh?


Otaku

We close the week with Oranguru (SM: Black Star Promos SM13; Sun & Moon 113/149).  As you may recall, this time we didn’t cover the runners-up for our Top 10 list after the actual list, or before it to make a Top 15, Top 20, etc. list; instead, we have been covering them once per week since except for the time when I spaced off that I scheduled two instead of one.  Oops.  I also forgot to even mention it in two of the three reviews, let alone state how many VP (Voting Points) it earned, or how close it was to moving up a placement.  Let us rectify that with a quick rundown, after which I have a pretty obvious revelation about Oranguru.  In order of reviews:


  • 16th place: Skarmory (Sun & Moon 88/149), which earned 3 VP.  It tied with 17th place and was only 1 VP removed from making it a 15th place/16th place tie or a 17th place/18th place tie.

  • 11th place: Team Skull Grunt is the only runner-up so far where I remembered to mention that it was a runner-up.  To recap, this card received 8 VP.  Plus 1 VP would have made 8th through 11th place into a four-way tie, while 1 VP less would have made 11th through 13th place into a tie.

  • 12th place: Alolan Muk earned 7 VP, and the only one who didn’t have it on his top 10 list was me.  It died with 13th place.  With 1 VP more it would have tied with Team Skull Grunt for 11th/12th place, while with 1 VP less it would have ended up as 13th place (finally, something that wouldn’t have been another tie!).


So as you’ve realized since before I began, Oranguru is also a runner-up; 13th place with 7 VP, the card that tied with Alolan Muk.  It made my personal top 10 as my 4th place pick but only made one other list as an honorable mention… which only breaks a tie if both cards appeared on the same amount of lists, and was worth no voting points.  Time to see if I was far too hyped over this card or if the others should have given it more credit.  I suppose neither could be true as well.


Oranguru is a Colorless Pokémon: we won’t be worrying about the Unlimited Format, and it’s too new to be in the Legacy Format, so Oranguru won’t enjoy double damage from exploiting Weakness or have to overcome the minor hurdle of -20 damage from Resistance.  Anti-Colorless Type effects haven’t proven worthwhile yet, even though they’ve been around long enough to have seen Colorless Type attackers be one of the best in the game; in short, you probably don’t need to worry about them.  There are some cards that specifically reward you for playing Colorless Pokémon, but it has been while since any were really worth the effort; out of what we have, Winona has a chance but many decks do better with other search effects.  Like most Types, Colorless Pokémon have improved synergy with each other due to (almost always) having similar Energy requirements and being able to exploit shared Type support, but this relationship is weaker here; there is no basic [C] Type Energy, nor should there be as every Energy can already meet the requirement.  Unless a deck relies heavily on the various Special Energy cards that require [C], there won’t be additional advantage generated from this, and even where a deck does rely heavily upon cards such as Double Colorless Energy, many non-Colorless Pokémon do as well.  Yet I must be careful in making this sound all bad; what little this costs the Colorless Type is more than offset by allowing it to work so well with almost any other Type.


Being a Basic Pokémon is the best; one card in your deck means one copy at your disposal, there is no time lost waiting to Evolve, it may function as your opening Active, there are some great bits of Basic Stage support, and many effects naturally work better with Basics due to the preceding.  The only true drawback would be the various anti-Basic effects, and as we’ll see, those hit
Oranguru a bit harder than the average Basic.  Oranguru sports 120 HP, 20 below the maximum printed on a Basic Pokémon that lacks an additional mechanic like being a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX.  This isn’t quite enough to reliably survive an attack, but it is close enough that Oranguru will require most decks hit with a good setup to do the job; anything less and Oranguru probably will survive after all.  Fighting Weakness is mostly about low cost (including single Energy) attacks scoring a reliable OHKO.  Lack of Resistance is somewhat understandable; the video game Typing for Oranguru is Normal/Psychic, and the short version is that the designers intentionally messed with some of the relationships involving the Psychic Type when the game first began and haven’t fixed it since.  So there isn’t a good option for Oranguru, and as the Resistance mechanic appears to be balanced (at least compared to Weakness) and is left off of many Pokémon, it takes someone obsessive like me to even fixate on it.  Oranguru has a Retreat Cost of [CC], which isn’t too high for most decks to cover but isn’t low enough to be appealing.  You still may want to make a little room to get this card back to the Bench, unless you want it Active.


Oranguru has one Ability and one attack.  The former is “Instruct”, named after its signature video game attack; the effects, however, are totally unrelated.  This Ability follows the typical restrictions of only being usable once-per-turn (per copy, if multiple instances of Instruct are in play), and prior to attacking.  Instruct has you draw until you have three cards in hand; based on past rulings for similar Pokémon-based effects, you cannot use Instruct if you have more than two cards in hand.  So when it can work, the range for Instruct is 1 to 3 cards.  As a one-time thing, this is pretty poor, but if you can make use of Instruct over and over again, turn after turn, it can generate an amazing return.  So is it a poor effect or an amazing one?  I believe the net result is a good effect, though not one meant for all decks; possibly most competitive decks, but not all competitive decks, let alone all decks in general.  Now for the latter of the two effects, the attack “Psychic”.  This attack has a long history with the game, and this version costs [CCC] to do 60 damage plus another 20 per Energy attached to the opponent’s Active.  I need to be careful to avoid contradicting myself; in total isolation, this attack is subpar; too many chances that it will do just 60 or 80 damage, at a time when 2HKO’s often require 110 to 130 per turn.  The fact that this attack is on a Colorless attack means no big hits from Weakness, either, but we have a Basic with solid attributes and a useful effect which makes it a probable Bench-sitter.  Combining this with most forms of Energy acceleration, and you get a nice fallback option; a little too Energy-hungry to efficiently deliver a finishing blow across the board, but something to punish the multiple Energy intensive attackers in the current competitive sphere, one something worth a single Prize.


There are no other Oranguru cards for this version to compete with, at least not yet.  It does face some rivals for deck space, however: Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108), Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162), and Unown (XY: Ancient Origins 30/98).  “Set Up”, the Ability on Shaymin-EX, allows a player to draw until he or she has six cards in hand, but it only triggers when a player Benches Shaymin-EX from hand outside of - almost ironically - the opening setup for the game (what takes place before the first turn of the game). Octillery has “Abyssal Hand”, an Ability allowing that player to draw until he or she has five cards in hand, following the same generic restrictions as instruct: once-per-turn (per copy), and before that player attacks.  Unown has the Ability “Farewell Letter”, allowing you to discard it (and all cards attached to it) from your Bench to draw one card.  Each of these cards has a particular advantage over Oranguru and Instruct, but Oranguru has traits that make it more desirable than them, at least under certain circumstances.  Shaymin-EX has the best potential draw yield, but may only be used once, and is a Pokémon-EX with just 110 HP; its attack does a little damage and bounces it (allowing Set Up to be reused), but that can get expensive in terms of game tempo.  Abyssal Hand is easily better than Instruct, but Octillery isn’t a Basic Pokémon.  Unown only draws a single card, and can’t work while in the Active position, but it doesn’t care how many cards you already have in hand, and aids certain popular combos.


Shaymin-EX has not lost its throne to Oranguru; in fact, all of these three are going to see about as much use as before.  It is just in a few areas, Oranguru is going to be better, and there it will replace some of what was already in use.  Expect things like people using one fewer copies of Shaymin-EX so they may include a clutch Oranguru.  The reason, besides converting a short-term windfall into a sustainable source of extra cards, is to combat N and Delinquent.  N is still a staple card for Standard and Expanded play, while Delinquent is a relevant part of the metagame even if she isn’t in every deck.  Couple this with how all decks occasionally get a hand they could play out for a solid return, and Instruct becomes quite the enabler.  Decks which specialize in burning through their hands definitely want to consider Oranguru for the Bench, unless Octillery can fit into the deck just as well.  Besides a Water Type deck, the big reason for Octillery over any of the others I mentioned is that the designers of the Pokémon TCG like counteracting the Abilities on Basic Pokémon.  We’ve had Silent Lab for some time, and now we have Alolan Muk.  Decks that include something like Garbodor (XY: BREAKpoint 57/122) are also unlikely to want Oranguru, even if they are good at playing out their hands.  Shaymin-EX can work with such decks because you just use it before shutting down Abilities; it is a one-and-done thing (without some effort), so you’ve reaped your reward in full by the time you lockdown Abilities.


For Standard play, Oranguru is already showing up on quite a few Benches, including somewhere it might not belong.  I haven’t been paying much attention to Expanded, but it seems to be performing in a similar manner there.  This card is a welcome Bench presence in Limited, but remember that lowering your hand size is more difficult here; it is just that even single card draws are amazing, and you have more leeway for a card that isn’t awesome all the time here than in Standard or Expanded play.  Oranguru is also in the “Roaring Heat” Theme Deck, which includes two Nest Ball and one Ultra Ball; it still won’t reliably be drawing you three cards, but a few turns with one or two extra cards is most welcome.  For both Limited and Theme Deck matches, Psychic works better as well; it is slower to prep, but many opposing attackers will need a lot of Energy and be just as slow.


Ratings


Standard: 3.8/5


Expanded: 3.8/5


Limited: 4/5


Theme: 4/5


Summary


Oranguru is a new form of Ability-based draw that most decks should experiment with, and many will actually want to work in as a single.  Some decks may want multiples, and not just in case one is Prized.  With the right (wrong?) shift in the metagame, this card could go from “good” to “abusively good”.  Even if we have effective counters for it, it just takes the proper combination of fast-to-the-field attackers (probably Basics), and general use Items that can be used (even in a suboptimal manner) for a solid return.  For now, though, that isn’t a problem.


Oranguru received a straight “A” grade from me both times I looked at it, but that would have meant a 4.25/5; instead its scores mark it as a “B” (nearly a “B+”) with how I use letter grades.  Both using it and facing off against it, I’ve seen it take surprising KO’s but also unsurprisingly have little hope of attacking, and I’ve seen it grant a deck improved speed and reliability, but also sit there doing nothing due to anti-Ability effects or a cluttered hand.  I still think it ought to have made our overall Top 10, but not in 4th place like I had it on my personal list; at least 8th place, maybe as high as 5th place.


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