Vileplume. I love him to death, but how viable is the flower power in our current meta? I have tested roughly 75 games or so (those are just the ones I remembered to record) over the past few months with this dude. Let us take a look (this CotD breaks the card down into a different format than usual: Sustainability, Setup, Why Play, Decks)
Right off the bat, playing a Stage Two in the current format is becoming increasingly difficult. With our Basic, Oddish UD, only having 40 HP, we necessarily have to drop two by T1 or T2 for the deck to compete. Placing them both at the same time is essentially a must due to Pokémon Catcher, sniping, and spread damage (more on these later).
With our Stage One, Gloom UD, having a simple 80 HP and all three of the evolution line weak to Psychic, even if you do pull off the Gloom evolve on T2, a lone Mewtwo EX, DCE, and a Pokémon Catcher can be the end for this little guy.
No Rare Candy or Twins the next turn for your other Oddish? Good luck – you will now be playing catch-up the rest of the game and probably won’t pull through if your entire strategy is based on Plume (yes, I have made decks where Plume was optional; these were awesome decks that confused the opponent, but very delicate and very tricky to play – I cannot advise them).
Plume himself only has 120 HP – easily in the 1HKO range from most of the big names out there right now. Of course, with Trainers on lock down (and almost no decks I can think of running Pokémon with attacks that can pull up a Benched Pokémon unless perhaps it is a Trainer lock deck itself), you should be in the clear! Except, of course, for snipers and spread. Who are the threats here? Let’s look:
Kyurem NVI falls in here requiring four Glaciates to take out Plume (let’s face it, a T2 Plume will slow any opponent down drastically – pulling off four consecutive Glaciates is not too big of a threat if you are already set up and rolling but it will happen over the course of the game) while also falling 10 short of 1HKOing your precious Oddishes. Still, a threat nonetheless and certainly not the best matchup you can hope for (of course, debatable on what deck you are running with Plume in it).
Other names like Landorus NVI and Groudon EX are not as bad with 10 to the bench per attack as this rules out to 12 attacks (and with no threat from Trainers, nothing very scary). Still, these names are threats to any Plume player who lags behind or allows consistent spread to take place (not to mention Pichu and Cleffa being staples in most Plume decks – this is where spread players can take some seriously easy prizes, so don’t feel too safe with your bench just because the flower is up).
With Yanmega Prime shooed out of the meta, everything looked rather fine for Vileplume as no other popular Pokémon really offered much threat in the ways of spread or snipe (Zapdos NXD is meh and Chandelure NXD decks were usually Mew/Plume decks themselves). Life was good. I was enjoying my matchups, tweaking my decklists, really starting to fine-tune myself to the meta. And then, Dark Explorers happened.
BulbapediaFirst we have Kyogre EX. The silly giant fish EX that everyone laughs at is a nightmare for a deck that usually has between three to five Pokémon on its Bench, one usually being an unused Oddish and another perhaps a Cleffa or Pichu for setup and consistency.
Granted, Kyogre likely will not see much play due to a horrific Lightning weakness that yields to an easy 1HKO 2-Prize take, but in the offhand chance you start a tournament and see this guy in an early deck, life just became more troublesome (unless you run Lightning yourself, of course).
My only advice here is you must have a Plume out by T3 or have somehow swapped out their Active with something else. Since he can 3-shot your Plume or 1-shot both Oddishes (if you are way behind), I hope your deck has the means to 1-shot, 2-shot, or super stall him!
Next we have… Darkrai EX. With this already-popular card only becoming more and more hyped and played, we can expect to see this big momma in plenty of decks. First off, Darkrai’s Ability makes Plume’s lockdown on Switch less poignant since some status/disruption deck you may be playing now loses a little muster unless you hit Paralysis every turn.
Think you were clever using Carnivine to pull up a four-cost retreater and Poisoning it? Welp, doesn’t matter, there is a D Energy drop next turn.
Then we move to Night Spear. While 30 per attack to one bencher doesn’t seem so bad, we need to remember… this is also while your active is getting pummeled with anywhere from 90 to 140 depending on if they pulled off a Dark Claw or not and how many Special Energies they run. With 4-shotting Plume while also essentially one- or 2-shotting everything else, this is some serious flak to find hurled at you.
Not to mention the early Energy acceleration of Dark Patch could even mean threat to your early basics (Oddish, babies, other basics of evolution lines) within the second turn or so. Even more reason to streamline the earliest possible Vileplume drop to cut off that acceleration…
With the odd guy out of the way, we now move to the next threat: Empoleon DEX. While the penguin emperor does not offer spread or snipe, you involuntarily aid Attack Command with your big fat bench. Most Plume benches will look something like the following: one Plume, one unused Oddish (if still alive), one or two Energy accelerators or Ability/Power Pokémon (Eels/Reuniclus/Sunflora/Vanilluxe/Celebi etc etc – one of the reasons you have Item lock in other words), one or two back up attackers, and perhaps a baby (Cleffa, Pichu).
Obviously this is not always the case, and if you see Piplups spawning you can act accordingly, however, usually a three to four bench is needed at some point to fully utilize the deck to its max potential and be ahead on the game. Adding this much additional damage to an attack that requires one energy can be rather frustrating.
BulbapediaFinally we have the worst of them all, Raikou-EX. With an Energy accelerator (Eels) that is not even hurt very much by Plume (it does cut off Junk Arm at least), this sniper for 100 for three Energy is just a nightmare. Even the possible T2 Paralysis can mean a Catchered-Gloom-or-Oddish-no-retreat with an unavoidable T2 or T3 100 damage snipe anywhere on the board.
Against a possible T2 threat of 100 anywhere on the board for the rest of the game from a Basic with 170 HP and either one or zero Retreat (also hurting Plume decks a lot which tend to rely on opponents having to commit to their Pokémon due to retreat being the only option), this just spells ugly mess for Vileplume decks with their big beautiful Benches just asking to be Volt Bolted all day.
Plume solutions for all four of these? Hit their weaknesses – one- or 2-shot them before they do the same to you or your precious Benchies! For Lightning weaknesses we have: Thundurus, Zekrom, Zekrom-EX, Raikou-EX, even Zebstrika ND (for the T2 and forever-onward Trainer lock) all with Eels to accelerate their Energy. For Fighting weaknesses we have: Landorus, Donphan Prime, Terrakion NV, Groudon EX.
With no real Energy acceleration, this can be tricky on how to handle since Plume wipes out Exp. Share (don’t try the combo with Seekering Plume up then dropping him back like a Gothitelle or something – it doesn’t work). As we know with Truth, Donphan clicked with the lone energy drop.
But in today’s format, trying to streamline a Stage One while setting up a Stage Two just doesn’t cut it, especially if you are up against a non-Electric deck (the 120 for a single Energy and Lighting resistance is heavenly, however). Landorus’ built-in energy accelerator is quite handy – just be careful of the Bench damage (although this can be used to activate Twins if your opponent refuses to oblige you on a baby).
– Run at least three Oddish in the deck. No arguments. You need to drop two at the same time.
– Run at least four in combination of Collector and/or Pichu HS. You need to drop those two Oddishes by T1. Pokémon Communication, Level Ball or Ultra Ball can help search out Pichu (Ultra Ball being quite effective for the T2 Plume as well or Communication if you run a lot of Pokémon). Pokégear 3.0 or Random Receiver can help search out Collector.
Honestly I can’t suggest running Random Receiver in a Plume deck due to running so many different Supporters (running four Twins, for example, is essentially a must and that is one dead Supporter for a T1 pull). If worse comes to worse, I always ship in a Cleffa in the deck in case I am forced to hand refresh/draw Supporter and my first refresher/draw pulls a dead hand – pull in the Active baby for another stab. Although Sleep stall is less effective with Dark Explorers out, it still is effective.
– Run at least three Rare Candy with at least three Sage’s Training. Sages/Cheren allow you to draw cards while keeping that (hopefully) larger hand that should have either a Plume/Communication with another Pokémon/Ultra Ball for the T2 or T3 drop since Sages lets you hopefully pick out that Rare Candy (or Plume if you already have it in hand) in the one in five cards (since we have no way to search for Rare Candy except luckily drawing into it with a hand refresher/draw or Twins – hence running four Twins and running babies with 30 HP that can die T1 or T2 – or letting one of the lone Oddishes die since your opponent, although they know they may be releasing the floodgate that is the Twins engine by killing that Oddish, must do so in order to keep that Trainer lock out of their hair). Phew! That was a long sentence.
Practice and organize your decklist – knowing this priority you can actually get pretty used to getting this accomplished early and it quickly becomes a mechanical process. From there, the real game begins.
So if Vileplume is hard to setup and play in our current format and no one even really plays him, why should you play him? Well, Trainer lock is huge. I mean mega huge. In fact, the Energy acceleration of two major deck types (Darkrai and friends / Fighting and friends) are basically built around Trainer Energy acceleration/control (Dark Patch / Exp. Share).
With every Tier 1 deck out there (and soon-to-be Tier 1), Tier 1.5 and Tier 2 usually running full-blown ball engines, max/near-max Junk Arms, max/near-max Pokémon Catchers, Eviolites, and even Random Receivers/Smeargle allowing Supporter counts to lower a bit, decks are thoroughly maintained by Trainers with the minimum number of Supporters needed to maintain one per turn for consistency (the recent rise of Max Potion popularity adds to this argument as well). This disruption is huge.
While cards like Skyarrow Bridge, Darkrai EX, and other snipers/spreaders hurt Trainer lock, it certainly does not throw Plume out the window. Likely your opponent will not expect whatever deck you play against them with Trainer lock – likely your opponent will not play their deck perfectly because of this matchup.
The sheer factor of surprise alone is not that great, however, and with so many huge beefy Basics out there with rather simple, high-damage attacks and relatively low Energy costs, all of this strategy can only take you so far against these monsters.
But man, it can all be worth it when you see your opponent dividing “useless Trainers” on one side of their hand versus “usable cards” on the other and the ratio is something like four to one.
Well, what are some Vileplume decks to play? With such a hodgepodge of good Pokémon out that can be easily mixed together (Prism/Rainbow), this is a good question. While I will not post any decklists, I will post names and the basic strategy and problems of the decks that I have seen/played/played against/heard of (both old and new):
Accelgor DEX: With the help of Sunflora HS to retrieve the fleeing Pokémon, this deck utilizes Trainer lock with a constant barrage of 50 damage, Poison, and most importantly, Paralysis, starting with T2 to lock your opponent up. Problems: low damage output, difficulty in constant streaming of Accelgor, and multiple Stage One and -Two setup.
Mew Prime Variants: Of old and current there is the Plume/Mew/Vanilluxe NVI/Unfezant BLW/Fliptini deck which essentially works like Accelgor in that you maintain a constant lockdown of Paralysis with Double Freeze with Fliptini to help, then Fly for the KO and protect Mew from attack (Accelgor, lacking this, needs to either tank with an additional attacker after the KO, often using something like Darkrai EX or Skyarrow to pull the tank back for the next Accelgor to start, or snipe).
Mew also saw play with Chandelure NXD for the easy T1 See Off and T2 Flame Burst for a lone Rainbow or Prism Energy with some very nice spread damage and the Inferno option for KO. Problems: the lack of a preventer like Paralysis or Fly, however, makes Mew such a fragile little guy as a main attacker, but at least one that can be swooped right in after the last one dies. Fun concepts with relatively easy setup, but in a thirty-minute limit can be hard to consecutively pull off wins against such high HP basics.
Vanilluxe Variants: First we had the VVV which utilized Vanilluxe NV as the main attacker for lock and damage and Fliptini to insure that. Next we had Vanilluxe ND variants which utilized Slippery Soles to swap out heavy retreaters to maintain damage and apply switch disruption to the opponent.
Problems: multiple Stage Two setup and the ever so undesirable “oh, well I KO’d the active after all that lock and setup, but now they come in and 1HKO my active and I need to quickly recover with a Stage Two or an unready Basic…”
Chandelure NVI: Of old there was also the Plume/Chandy/Dodrio which streamlined Chandy for multiple Cursed Shadow drops per turn and Tropical Beach for draw. Problems: multiple Stage One and -Two setup and considerably low damage output.
Lilligant EPO: Also utilizes a constant stream of Paralysis and Poison lockdown with the help of Plume and Fliptini for a lone G Energy. Of all the lockers, I have found this deck the easiest to maintain. Problems: Low HP and after-KO recovery.
Truth Variants: Ah, the quintessential Plume deck. With the help of Reuniclus, tankers like Regigigas-EX or other beefy Basics can tank and manipulate damage counters to your heart’s content. Problems: in our current format where Pokémon can deliver 100 damage by T2 and 150 by T3, damage manipulation does not mean a whole terrible lot, especially in such a x2 weakness, rock-paper-scissors style of play (Terrakion 1HKOing Regi for two Energy, for example).
Energy Acceleration Variants: Pretty obvious what I mean here: utilize common Energy accelerators (Celebi Prime / Eels) except with Trainer lock for disruption and surprise factor. Some examples:
Plume/Celebi and friends (Mewtwo EX): Skyarrow negates retreat for the usual CMT-style play of Celebi while the likes of Virizion NV can help draw cards in for slower decks in the first stages of set up if you do not need to Playground or Eeeeeeek out a new hand. Skyarrow also permits Smeargle abuse which can help a slow deck out a whole lot as well.
Plume/Eels and friends: Great for utilizing Raikou-EX/Tornadus EX to help counter the terrible matchup of other snipers/spreaders/weakness that can haunt you. I have tested decks utilizing Eels and a mix of Electric/Fighting types as well to some surprising success against the current electric and dark meta we have rolling right now with that Weakness just begging for you to run some Fighting somewhere in your deck.
When you try these decks it is always surprising how much you can get away without relying on Trainers and how frustrated your opponent can get with dead-draws once you hit mid to late game and swoop in for the win. However, you also realize how much it can hurt you to not be able to drop an Eviolite when you need to, play a PlusPower when you are 10 away from the KO, or Catcher up something that you desperately need to kill (or the lame draw into a Communication/Rare Candy/Ultra Ball turn).
This is why out of all of these possible Plume decks listed, generally spread/snipe decks are more favorable with the likes of Kyurem NVI, Raikou-EX, Darkrai EX or straight meta-counter decks with some spread like Landorus/Groudon EX backed up by Terrakion NVI or variations of the sort.
With Plume to be picked out with our next rotation, I thought the flower deserved a long look at where and how he currently stands in our game before he wilts always permanently and just becomes a loving memory in our hearts. Thanks for reading!