Venusaur VMAX and Blastoise VMAX are finally coming to Pokemon TCG Online!
Neither Vivid Voltage nor Shiny Star V – a subset of Shining Legends – have anything to add variety to the meta in terms of Types, but these two look like they might just create some great Grass and Water decks.
Here are six key cards from the starter sets that are releasing early in Japan:
Blastoise V and Blastoise VMAX
Blastoise V looks pretty basic, and won’t be hard to evolve. This looks like the typical Water deck that would run Capacious Bucket to fetch Energy from the deck, and Frosmoth to then attach it to your Blastoise.
The starting turns would often have you pick between Blastoise V’s Torrent Cannon (200) and an evolution leading to a Grand Fall (120). G-Max Bombard looks great too, and you can augment it using Telescopic Sight (+30 damage to Benched V and GX Pokemon).
And when your opponent already is low on HP, Grand Fall can finish them and set up your Bench. The fact that it searches your deck for three Energy cards makes this card so much better.
Compared to Galarian Darmanitan VMAX – the last Water-type VMAX we got – Blastoise gets 10 extra HP, does 30 damage to only two of the Benched Pokemon, but does 220 base damage. I expect Blastoise to be played a lot more, having the ability to one-shot a Zacian V and being a classic Gen-1 Pokemon.
I’m not fully convinced about the usefulness of this card in a Blastoise VMAX deck. The ability is good, but just like Jirachi from Vivid Voltage, it needs to be in the Active spot.
The problem with such cards is that you need to use other resources like Switch and Air Balloon to make them work. Instead of giving multiple spots in your deck and one spot on your Bench just to draw one extra card each turn, isn’t it better to just have more cards like Marnie, Professor’s Research, and Crobat/Dedenne?
It’s much better to save your Switch for when you use Mallow & Lana and have a deck that just draws more cards in general. For specific Pokemon, you already have Pokemon Communication, Quick Ball, and Evolution Incense.
Venusaur V and Venusaur VMAX
I’m not sure why this Venusaur V is different from the one we just got from Champion’s Path. It looks pretty average on its own, and will just be used as a pathway to Venusaur VMAX. You won’t be using Leaf Drain in most cases and if you do use Double-Edge, you can heal 30 damage easily with the VMAX’s G-Max Bloom.
It’s great to see these VMAX cards having a useful first attack as well! Unlike Blastoise, Venusaur has Colorless Energy spots too. Attacks like Forrest Storm do very well in Expanded with Max Elixir, something I’ve experienced with Boltund V. Note that Venusaur VMAX has a retreat cost of 4 Energy, making it eligible for +50 HP from Buff Padding, unlike Blastoise VMAX.
This card would pair well with Rillaboom – for fetching and attaching two Energies from your deck – and even Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX, for faster evolution. I would’ve liked G-Max Bloom doing 230 damage without the healing effect, because 210 falls just a bit short and will need you to run Vitality Band.
There are plenty of Pokemon in the Pokemon TCG Online meta sitting at 220 or 230 HP, and I’d rather one-shot them than have the ability to heal 30 damage from my Pokemon. Just because of this reason, I think Blastoise VMAX will have a stronger foot in the meta.
Celebi is just like Manaphy, except it fetches one Energy card from your deck each turn. Again, since it requires the Active spot for its Ability to be useful, it’s not the best option when you can be using something like Viridian Forest.
Why are Venusaur and Blastoise VMAX so important for the meta?
Fire, Water, and Grass are a classic rock-paper-scissors combo when it comes to Type advantages. It’s a bit complicated in the game right now because Centiskorch VMAX (Fire) beats Venusaur VMAX (Grass) which beats Coalossal VMAX (Rock) which beats Pikarom (Electric) which beats Blastoise VMAX (Water) which finally comes back to defeat Fire (Centiskorch).
Naturally, the balance in the meta breaks down when only some of the Types from this cycle have viable cards. Currently, those types are Fire, Rock, and Electric. In such cases, when something like Coalossal VMAX enters the meta, it has the potential to make Pikarom completely irrelevant if it is made strong enough. Blastoise VMAX can make Centiskorch irrelevant if it is made strong enough and there isn’t a good Grass type in the meta.
Luckily, both of the new VMAX cards look great and will complete the cycle. They also look a lot more viable than Charizard VMAX, which is a tricky one to use. The respective illustrators have done a fantastic job with the art as well, and I hope these cards will see a lot of play in the 2021 Standard format in Pokemon TCG Online.