A First Look at Vivid Voltage Pt. 1
Hey Flipside readers! Andrew here from the proverbial grave to bring you a new article discussing the newest installment in the Pokemon TCG, Vivid Voltage. Before we do though, I have some life updates that I wanted to share since, as you might have noticed, there was a bit of a gap between this article and the previous one. I just had surgery done to remove my tonsils a few weeks ago and have been steadily recovering since. No better time to get surgery than in the pandemic right? Without getting into the whole deal, my tonsils were so enlarged that they were blocking air flow when I was sleeping that it basically felt like I had sleep apnea. It also made me a very loud and aggressive snorer, to which people who have roomed with me for regionals can attest. Eventually I decided to pull the trigger to get the surgery done. I will say that getting your tonsils out as an adult lives up to the hype of being awful. My surgeon told me that he recommends getting the surgery done when you’re young since recovery is faster and less painful. The irony of this being explained to me by the same surgeon who told my parents not to do this when I was a child was not lost on me. Regardless, after 2 grueling weeks of recovery, I'm back on my feet and ready to get back to writing. I will say that the surgery was 100% worth it and that my breathing has improved dramatically. I also have gotten confirmation from my roommate that my snoring has also improved which is quite honestly a win for everyone. To wrap up this impromptu life update, I wanted to say thanks to the people at Flipside for being supportive and patient with me through my recovery. Anyway, I think I’ve used up all my non-Pokemon time so let’s talk about Vivid Voltage!
About Vivid Voltage
Vivid Voltage is our fourth set in the Sword and Shield series and will round out our first block of sets in this era. I do find the name interesting albeit somewhat counterintuitive. Vivid is almost certainly a nod to the “Amazing Rares”, which we will go over in the next section, but Voltage would imply that lighting decks would be a priority in this set when actually this set did more for fighting type decks in terms of support which I find amusing. In reality, Pikachu VMAX is just who they put as the poster ‘mon for this set. They do get bonus points for the alliteration in the set name though.
As for Pokemon in the set, we are getting to see more and more VMAX cards enter the card pool as this set introduces 6 new ones. I think the more interesting statistic is how many of those will go on to see play, but nevertheless we will need to wait and see how the meta shifts to figure that out. We are getting a handful of regular V’s as well, but outside of a small minority, most are not very promising. However, after seeing Pokemon like Cramorant V get VMAXs announced asynchronously (Feb. set), this could give life to some of these cards later on (looking at you Steelix V). This set does feature a lot of potentially strong single prize Pokemon. While I do not think we’ll see a rise in single prize attacking decks while ADP is around, I do feel like there has been a gradual buff to those types each set. This set also introduces more supporting Pokemon, which I define as Pokemon included into a deck for purpose utility (I.e Drawing cards, developing board states, etc.). Pokemon is also experimenting with letting certain attacks happen on the first turn of the game. Talonflame V is one of the few Pokemon we’ve seen in recent years that can attack while going first. Granted it’s attack does not do any damage, but it does allow the player to see more cards by discarding their hand to draw 6 which can have great utility. Overall, I don’t see this set having the same degree of influence as our previous set, with Eternatus VMAX and Centiskorch VMAX still being highly played decks, but I could see decks like Coalossal VMAX causing a shift due to typing. There are quite a few specific cards I am excited about and we’ll go over them in the later sections.
I was a bit disappointed with the quality of trainers in this set. Leon is of course the exception, but many of the cards are either extremely niche or not very useful (at least at the moment). Pokemon is starting to experiment with supporters that you can play going first, and I am interested to see if that kind of idea is expanded on in other sets. I think Beauty, which is a supporter you can play going first but all it says is draw two cards, is a card that seems more intended to safely introduce this concept without creating upset in the game mechanics. I am reluctant to call this card “bad by design” in case this was not the intent, but I am hopeful that we will see more supporters that you can play on the first turn in future sets. As for the other trainers, we did not gain much in terms of consistency. Granted the format wasn’t exactly hurting for more. We did see quite a few tool cards that I think could have their niche use. Overall not much to look out for, but there are several trainers we’ll dive into later.
To summarize, Vivid Voltage is more or less similar to the other sets we have gotten out of Sword and Shield. I will say that despite my criticisms, this set has a lot going for it. While I do wish some parts of the set were better, there’s enough here to keep me interested. From a broad sense, the set is not the best we’ve seen but definitely a good installment for the game.
Before we talk about some of the amazing rare cards, I wanted to at least provide some context. Amazing is a new form of rarity starting with this set and they were definitely made to stand out. If you look at the corner you’ll see a small A notating the rarity, but the card’s are pretty easy to distinguish with their bright color and unique background art outlining a rainbow. Besides a really cool design, how viable will these cards be? In all honesty I can’t see more than a handful actually seeing play. Their main gimmick is having these strong attacks that require three different energies to use. That can be a challenge, but I’m sure many players will be up to the task. I’ve outlined three of the ones I feel that have the most potential.
Pokemon has conditioned me to believe over time that any Jirachi with an ability has to be good. This card seems like an easy inclusion in most decks, especially if your deck already plays Air Balloon. Reason being is that it turns any promotion into +1 card in your hand, not to mention getting to see an extra card and having the knowledge of what is on top of your deck. It also converts any switch you play into one of the two cards on top of your deck as well giving you a free pivot option (assuming you have a tool attached let Jirachi retreat for free). I would look into picking up a playset of this card if you can, although I could see 1 or 2 even being enough for most decks.
If someone ever figures out a way to make these egregious energy costs work, this card seems like it could have potential. Not having a damage cap is a really good thing, especially with increments of 80, when most of the format consists of large, three prize Pokemon. This card also weirdly lends itself to some of the format’s most niche energy acceleration such as Tapu Koko Prism Star and Karate Belt. I think this card is worth keeping an eye on. With the new bans, I’m more motivated to try this card in Expanded with Ho-Oh EX since a Battle Compressor + Ninja Boy can do the hard work for you. Time will tell, either way I would keep an eye on this card.
I mention this card because I think it has the most potential in standard in terms of attacking. Because of its typing, it's able to deal with both Pika-Rom and Eternatus in one hit. It can also wall off other VMAXs like Centiskorch VMAX (although Volcanion or Cram can still get through) as well as other VMAXs which I think gives this card leverage for setting up that expensive attack. I would argue that the effect of Amazing Shield is what makes this card worth looking at. Taking a step back, if your goal was to utilize a fighting card to win those previously mentioned match-ups because of typing, there are definitely more efficient fighting types out there. This card however, might find some niche play in the future if VMAXs get more popular.
I am interested to see if the success this card found overseas in Japan can translate over here in the US, especially since Japan did not have rotation when this card saw play. That aside, the first attack is efficient at not only getting energy in play but also allowing you to take prizes while you set up, which I think is huge. The real question is going to be if SSH Oranguru’s “Primate Wisdom” could be sufficient enough to help you always have energy on top. Although Orangugu plus Viridian seems like it would get the job done. I am interested to see if players mess with this card and if they do, what they come up with. I would consider picking up a playset of this card, as well as the basic V, if you can.
Aegislash V & Aegislash VMAX
This is going to be one of the rare times, at least right now, where the evolving V has more utility than the evolution. The reason I wanted to turn your attention to Aegislash V is because of its second attack “sonic edge”. The attack goes through all effects on the opponent’s active, which means cards like Alteria and Decidueye can no longer depend on their abilities to keep them alive against ADP. In my opinion, this card does not have a ton of value outside of that one match up. I would let the other ADP players tech this card to scare off the wall decks and then play more consistently for the mirror, but it is a good meta counter card to have in case wall decks ever get popular again.
I bring up this card because Aegislash VMAX is probably one of the better VMAXs we’ve seen in terms of hitting specific numbers. Unfortunately it is so grossly out classed by Zacian V right now that I doubt this card will see much play because of it. 160, 220, 280, and 320 are all in this card’s range and you could even go to 350 using Leon. It also can use the new Coating Energy to get rid of its weakness which can provide solid coverage against any fire deck. High HP and great math give this card potential, but with all the support Zacian V is getting each set, it will be hard to justify playing this card until ADP rotates.
I will be forward, spread is not in a great spot at the moment. With the game lasting less than 4 turns, it can be really challenging to pull off a slower strategy like this. That said, I am a huge fan of this ability. It’s very efficient and it stacks with multiple Orbeetle VMAX. The only thing that worries me is the liability of a three prize Pokemon when you need lots of turns to win the game. I think the most important thing for this card is finding the right partner that can benefit from the additional spread.
That’s it for part one! I am very grateful to be writing again and I appreciate your support in reading my articles. If you enjoyed this one, stay tuned for part two where we’ll talk about the new one prize attackers and support Pokemon we’re getting, as well as going over some early meta predictions. If you want to catch up with me on Twitter, you can follow me at @theskypillar. If you want to support Flipside, I recommend checking out their store page for all your Vivid Voltage singles and product needs! There’s plenty more to dive into with this set so don't miss out on part 2! Until then, safe safe and I’ll catch you next time!
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