Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Pokemon TCG Overview. We’re doing a genuine favourite of mine today, Swellow. Don’t get me wrong I love both Golem and Feraligatr but a pokemon like this has even more sentimental value to me. Despite experiencing Pokemon Silver and Crystal beforehand, to me Hoenn is even more nostalgic than Johto, and obviously a pokemon like this one is one its representatives. It was quite possibly the 3rd ever pokemon I levelled up to 100 if I remember right and everything about these two birds is right to me. Cute and cool bird, neat design and always love using it in game when I do. No doubt one of my favourite normal-flying birds.
But, we’re here to see it in the tcg and we’ll find out how it fares there. Things are much simpler for me this time since as far as I’m concerned there are no promo or special Taillows at least from my research besides the alternate art of the one in Roaring Skies, Japan only. Obviously it first got represented in ex Ruby and Sapphire having 6 prints throughout the ex series. They don’t have anything astounding about them but I want to mention Taillow from ex Emerald. Nice art as usual but for some reason you have to flip a coin for a one energy attack that does 10 damage! Why did they decide to do something like this? Anyway the most unique one would obviously be the Delta Species variant it gets being fire type way towards the end of the era. Every Taillow card with no exception has always been weak to Lightning, resisting fighting and always had one retreat.
As for the actual competing bird I’m really sad to say that even the few cards with potential have never been that good. They have their uses but fall short on many things.
The first Swellow from ex Ruby and Sapphire is decent. Although 70HP wasn’t as bad as in other formats after 2003 it’s still on the low side. 80 HP would have made the card a lot more solid, and I know you might say “it’s just 10 HP” but it makes a big difference. Free retreat and a resistance is sweet and its poke power Drive Off is basically a Warp Point or Escape Rope for your opponent that you can use if Swellow is active. Again, a useful effect to have but would have scored more points if it worked from the bench too.
It could have been used as a support pokemon then but since it has to be active it means unless you lost a pokemon the previous turn and promoted Swellow you’re not getting the effect unless you want to attack with Swellow. And that’s another issue. You don’t want to attack with it cuz 2 for 30 is a simple attack that’s not threatening. If at least one of these two things were fixed it would have made a big difference. At least the art is nice I guess.
ex Dragon has the same stats but tries to be a little more threatening yet it’s not enough. Clutch prevents the defending pokemon from retreating; an effect that can be handy but 10 damage is too low. Quick Dive is a coin flip for a 50 damage snipe for 2 colorless energy. Obviously if you can pull this off early and consistently it isn’t only good but great but that’s why the coin flip is in there so it becomes unreliable.
Swellow from POP 1 is actually one of those Swellows that have 1 retreat cost which should have never happened in my opinion already giving it a disadvantage. Focus Energy is one of those attacks that 9 times out of 10 isn’t good enough to use and this is one of those times. It also conflicts with Agility’s effect kind of, of trying to be invincible which is another luck based effect on a weak attack.
ex Deoxys Swellow I probably dig more than the last 2 because you have a chance to do 40 for 2 with no drawback and Mid-air Crush could actually be more useful compared to other crap attacks Swellow gets but this still isn’t a very competitive card. In order for Emerald Swellow’s Skill Dive to have had at least some, some edge it should have been a snipe for 50 damage. But a snipe for 40 costing 3 energy is again very mediocre.
Now Delta Species Swellow is actually an improvement from its siblings with Steep Dive even though it’s still luck based, but while slightly better still not competitive. The best Swellow from this era that may possibly be of some use is the last one printed in Dragon Frontiers, the Delta Species one. Extra Wing gives free retreat to stage 2 pokemon ex; while you can argue that it’s not worth running just for this it’s as good as it can get in this era. The attack doesn’t even matter being some more of the same freaking Agility. Ash’s Swellow, a Japanese Movie Commemoration promo is also from this era, the only Swellow promo and it’s also ass. Clearly the era Swellow debuted in wasn’t kind and it doesn’t get much better to be honest.
Legend’s Awakened Swellow annoys me because it has great art and it’s like they tried to make it good by adding weird contradictory stuff to it. For starters, it has a 1 retreat cost with a poke body that gives it the potential to have free retreat which is a waste and pathetic. 80HP was low but honestly it’s not one of those pokemon they can give more, it’s the other stuff that needed to be good. And get this; its attack does 60 if it was on the bench this turn. I’ll let you figure out how unpractical this pokemon is trying to be good.
XY Swellow is modelled after the original Swellow from ex Ruby and Sapphire which is a good version to improve upon but the slight improvements combined with the brutality of those formats made sure this card saw no play. AND they gave it a freaking 1 retreat cost again. Roaring Skies gave us two Swellows another afterthought one and one that could get 2 prizes if it killed something thanks to the Delta Plus ancient trait. But because both attacks were crap it was also irrelevant once again even though it probably had no chance even if it did had better attacks in the formats it’s been in and now too. This card is 100% legal right now.
The best Swellow, the one that didn’t pull any stops is the latest one we got from Guardians Rising our newest set. It has that ridiculous 1 retreat and follows the style of other Swellows but more in a good way. It functions on 1 energy which is good and if you pull off the Agility-Swallow Dive combo you’re doing 70 damage on average per turn with the chance of being invincible and still doing damage. It probably won’t do anything while it’s in the format either but it’s your best bet if you want to try Swellow out.
To conclude, all of Swellows cards have suffered entirely from being too mediocre and needing luck on coin flips to even have a chance. Even the ones that could have been decent as support pokemon have low HP and their effects aren’t significant enough to make it worthwhile to run and evolve Taillow. Besides the Delta Species line it also never got any special ex, Lv. X or other type of special card so that doesn’t help either. In spite of all this it had plenty of prints it’s just sad the creators want to remake the same bad choices on it over and over. But anyways, even though this line in the TCG is weak I hope you enjoyed learning about it, you can comment a pokemon you’d like me to do and maybe if it’s a hot chick asking I’ll listen… After I get the number (even then don’t get your hopes up 😉 Okay guys, that’s what’s up for today.
Originally written in 2017