TL;DR: Should You Pull?
What Does It Do?
The protagonist of the very first games and probably the most memorable final boss of any game of the main series, Red had a lot to live up to. Not only is the character hyped up naturally due to his status in the series and even being the default icon for the game, but he also already got two Top Tier Sync Pairs before - with the first one being probably the biggest power-creep the game had ever faced (and probably will). As the cherry on top, he also came with the franchise’s mascot and his ace on the main games, Pikachu, just a few days after Ash Ketchum had dropped with the same species of Pokémon, and they both are the Kanto Masters, the only region that didn’t have one before. So, let’s find out how Sygna Suit Red (Thunderbolt) tried to live up to those expectations as the Kanto Flag Bearer!
Starting with the stats, Red opens pretty solidly defensively with 694 HP and 190 on both defenses - those are the exact same defenses as SS Lyra & Celebi with even more HP at his disposal. They also have great Speed at 402, but surprisingly, the offenses aren’t very high: 336 on both attacks is pretty mediocre. As for the moves, we start with Thunder Shock, a 1-bar move mainly made to be spammable regardless of gauge that has 10% of leaving the opponent paralyzed. Electric Terrain changes the field effect into the one with the same name, a huge utility aspect to have on any Sync Pair. The Trainer Move is called Spark of Victory!, pretty direct to the point giving +6 Attack to the user and regen to the entire team. Finally, SST Red is one of the first three units to introduce Buddy Moves, which are unlocked under certain conditions. Red’s Pikachu choice is B Volt Tackle, and despite its name, it has nothing to do with Pikachu’s signature move outside of animation. Its unlock condition is simply Electric Terrain being available on the field, being deactivated once the Terrain runs out - do note that this is valid for when you click the move, if the Terrain runs out after you queued it, it’ll play out normally. It’s a 2 gauge physical move with 150 BP, extremely high for its cost, and its added effects: it’s an AoE move that doesn’t get damage reduction (similar to Extend Range), ignores Endurance and passives that would reduce the damage of the move or prevent critical hits (similar to Piercing Blows), and drops both defenses of the opponents if the target is paralyzed. This is a very stacked move (it includes pretty much all of Anniversary N & Reshiram’s passives as innate effects!), and with such an easy condition to fulfill, it’ll be SST Red’s go-to move - also different from the other Buddy Moves that released alongside him, Red doesn’t have to deal with MP, as his uses are unlimited. Pikachu also has access to its Gigantamax, gaining access to two types of G-Max Volt Crash, one physical and one special, that can paralyze all opponents. Since Red maxes his own Attack, almost every time the physical version will be chosen, although the special one can be situationally useful against stages with Sentry Entry x2 or x3. Electric Terrain transforms into Max Guard, which is a on-demand Damage Guard Next effect to any ally. His Sync Move is Lightning-Fast Volt Tackle, which increases in damage when Electric Terrain, a perfect multiplier for the kit - as a trivia, SST Red is also the first (and for now, only) character that can use Dynamax and still has a unique Sync Move animation.
Next, we have the passives, and there’s no sign of slowing down: SST Red starts with a signature passive, Red’s Fighting Spirit, which extends the time Electric Terrain stays active, recovers Pikachu’s HP when it uses a move on Electric Terrain (equivalent to Shock Recovery 1), and quickly charges the move gauge when Electric Terrain is up (equivalent to Turbo Charge 3). The second passive is Clutch Critical, which makes all of Pikachu’s moves a sure crit even without any crit buffs, including its Sync Move and Max Move. The third passive is MAX Countdown 3, reducing the Sync countdown by 3 when a Max Move is used. Although Max Moves not having an innate countdown would normally mean SST Red can’t do a solo acceleration, they can be quad-queued - when employing the technique, SST Red can get an early sync without the help of another unit or Head Start 1. Finally, SST Red is a Master Fair, so he got Kanto Flag Bearer - Kanto is a pretty strong region and SST Red doesn’t need any particular support, so this can easily be boosted, and also makes SST Red a lot bulkier and more threatening than his stats imply.
As it should be obvious, SST Red’s kit is as stacked as it can get. While his DPS is not the highest on a single target, it still gets the AoE bonus without the damage reduction, while he can get two types of nukes with Dynamax and Sync. His gauge is also superb, an on-demand Terrain with time extension solidifies his utility, and an innate Piercing Blows effect on his main move means this kit is almost impossible to nullify, and easily creates one of the most powerful characters in the game.
Champion Stadium: Master Mode
Fast setup, a Terrain, strong DPS on sides, and access to different types of nukes means that SST Red should be able to off-type any stage with 2k points without much effort while also helping a different Striker if it’s needed.
Legendary Arena & Gauntlet
B Volt Tackle’s passive ignoring effect, his multiple nukes, debuffs, and flinch makes SST Red arguably the most powerful Legendary Gauntlet unit to date, even having recorded solo runs of 9 out of the 11 Legendary Arenas currently released, the most out of any Sync Pair.
On-region, SST Red should never have any problems beating Extreme Battles, especially as he also boosts any Kanto Sync Pair. Off-region, SST Red has plenty of utility with Electric Terrain, AoE regen, flinch and paralysis, a Master Passive to protect and boost the damage of everyone on the team, and even Max Guard in case you need an emergency Damage Guard - even his Sync Nuke is actually powerful to be able to contribute offensively regardless of being boosted or not.
MAX Conductivity giving a MP-free Terrain for two syncs, Sync Acceleration, one of the strongest AoE moves available, extremely fast gauge, and sure crit on every move turns any Battle Villa run into easy mode.
How To Use It?
These are generally the most important tiles to pick up:
- Haymaker (⅗) is very easy to max out and greatly increases the output of SST Red’s Sync Nuke.
- Attack to the MAX 3 (⅗) is also very easy to activate and decently boost the power of his Max Move.
- MAX Conductivity (⅗) is a tad expensive, so it may not always be available, but makes his rotations a lot smoother when activated and also extends his Terrain duration for two more Sync cycles, as SST Red doesn’t have MPR.
Next are the tiles that are nice to have, but are either niche or not generally worth going out of the way for:
- Thunder Shock: Staggering 4 (⅗) can be a very powerful tool for some stages with its 50% chance of flinching, but B Volt Tackle will be the go to option for the vast majority of the time.
- Paralysis Synergy 1 (⅖) can give a small boost to DPS that’s not that irrelevant due to Red’s small amount of multipliers and its easy condition, but it’s not a big change either.
- Shock Recovery 1 (⅗) will make SST Red recover incredible amounts of HP when combined with his other sources of healing and is very easy to get.
- Static Shock 3 (⅖) is another very easy to activate Sync multiplier that can be used when you have the spare energy.
- Cakewalk and Shocking Slowdown 9 (⅗) should be employed together and can be used not only as a debuff tool, but also to let SST Red get one of the strongest Sync Moves in the entire game once fully set up.
Finally, these are the tiles that are probably best to ignore unless they somehow play into a bigger strategy in some way:
- Spark of Victory!: Ramp Up 2 (⅕) can be used to give some boost to a special G-Max Volt Tackle, but there’s very few situations where that is worth it over other grid tiles and simply using the physical version.
- Grounding Wire and Charged Immunity (⅖) can be used to protect SST Red from some secondary effects on gimmick stages when he’s the tank of the team.
- Thunder Shock: Hostile Enviroment 4 (⅖) has some use on stages where you need to activate paralysis multiple times, but other than that, the status can already be applied with Gigantamax.
- Piercing Gaze (⅗) and Eletric Terrain: Precision Pals 1 (⅖) can be used when the enemy boosts their evasion or the team needs accuracy support, but other than that, all of SST Red’s moves can’t miss under normal conditions.
Sync Grid Levels & EX Viability
A lot of what makes the kit strong is at its base, so ⅕ is more than enough. While ⅖ can add some decent utility, if going for copies, ⅗ is the way to go, with lots of multipliers for SST Red’s nukes and utility like flinch and setting Terrain off the Max Move.
As a Sync Nuker, EX is recommend to fully grasp its power - the Sync Move is already pretty decent even at ⅕, but obviously will only get to truly shine like it should if you fully invested for the ⅗ Sync level.
Critical Strike 2 doesn’t have much competition here, as SST Red already can get an early Sync by himself without the use of Head Start 1, while other Lucky Skills won’t provide much.
Ash & Pikachu are the most obvious partners: they’re both incredibly self sufficient, have amazing Theme Skills synergy that greatly boosts SST Red’s damage, boost each other’s Master Passive, and SST Red gives Ash the Terrain that he wants. This duo is so powerful that the third unit can be pretty much anyone, as both Pikachu users are even capable of working as tanks - as such, good options can be Kanto units, like Blue & Mega Aerodactyl for a triple offense team, or Sygna Suit Blue & Mega Blastoise for an even sturdier tank that can give Support EX, or some Sync Acceleration Sync Pairs, like Sygna Suit Elesa & Rotom, who provides both acceleration and Support EX, or Steven & Deoxys (Speed Forme), who exchanges the Support EX capability for a less RNG based acceleration.
Beyond that, you can still pair SST Red with other Electric Strikers, like Volkner & Electivire or N & Zekrom, or even Elesa & Emolga who can help SST Red with a smoother rotation by providing the AoE paralysis and Terrain without the need of him using the Max Move and accelerating the use of the Cakewalk multiplier. All in all, pretty much every Kanto or Electric Sync Pair appreciates having SST Red as a partner.
Is It Worth Pulling?
If you haven’t been convinced by that, I don’t know what will. SST Red once again sets a new level for Top units to reach like his original Sygna Suit did and is even called as the best unit in the game by some. He can show his value on every single game mode in the game due to his great offensive presence and both diverse and potent utility, where there’s simply a lack of weakness on the kit. While the moment of his debut is flooded with other Master Fair banners, SST Red still manages to come out on top, and unless you have a personal preference for a different character, you won’t regret pulling this Sync Pair.