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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 Cards of 2012:

#5 Ultra Ball

- Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed:
December 27, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.13
Limited: 5.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National

#5 Ultra Ball (Dark Explorers) 

One of the strange things about the current format is that we have a relatively tiny number of Pokémon search options available. Gone are the cards like Pokémon Collector and Dual Ball which could grab multiple Basics. Gone too are the Supporters such as Bebe’s Search and Professor Elm’s Training Method which got you any Evolution card. Pokémon Communication is still legal, but you don’t see it much because it isn’t always easy to use in decks that only run 8-14 Pokémon (as most do these days). Apart from that, you have the restricted search of Level Ball and Heavy Ball, plus today’s card: the most powerful and flexible Pokémon search card in the format: Ultra Ball. 

Ultra Ball is great because it gets you any Pokémon you like with no restriction, from the lowliest evolving Basic to the mightiest Stage 2 or EX. The cost of discarding two cards from your hand to use it seems reasonable too: it’s affordable for most decks in most circumstances, and those decks which like to put cards in the Discard pile (those using Dark Patch or Eelektrik NVI at the moment), can treat it as positively beneficial. No wonder then that this card has become a staple. I don’t think I’ve seen one decklist in this format that doesn’t include it. 

Sometimes that discard cost does make the card a little difficult to use: if it’s one of only three you are holding, you would have to be pretty desperate to burn your entire hand in order to get a Pokémon, and if you have less than three . . . well you can’t play it at all, and this makes it a terrible topdeck with an empty hand, or draw when your opponent N’s you to one or two cards. But it’s still the only universal Pokémon search card we have, so it’s a case of trying to manage resources to accommodate it. 

Every format needs a card that does this job, and currently ours is Ultra Ball. It may not be exciting, it may not be ideal, but it is most definitely necessary. 


Modified: 4.25 (not much wow factor, but almost every deck relies on it) 

Jebulous Maryland Player

Ultra Ball
With the rotation that occurred, Pokemon Collector and Dual Ball were rotated out.  This left a hole to fill for cards that can get you a Pokemon from your deck.  Pokeball is not as good as Dual Ball, with your chances of getting a Pokemon being low (enough to see it not played).  Level and Heavy Ball get certain things, but you have to play those things.  Plus, they don't get the top cards that see play (can you imagine a Ball that let you grab Mewtwo or Darkrai with no cost?).  Pokemon Communication lets you get anything, but you need another Pokemon in your hand (so it's situational).
So we get to Ultra Ball.  This lets you get any Pokemon for the cost of discarding 2 cards.  So you can get the next Mewtwo in the war, the Hydreigon to go with your Rare Candy, or the Darkrai to give your Pokemon free retreat.  Of course the discard is bad if you get N'd down to 1 card and it's an Ultra Ball.
Early game it can be helpful to Eelektrik and Dark decks (and now Ho-oh).  It lets you get the energy into the discard so you can take advantage of the energy acceleration.  It can also be paired with Bianca to drop yuour hand size down.
Ultra Ball is pretty much a staple for all decks (unless you can get everything with just Level and Heavy Balls, and you don't have acceleration). 


Today we’ll cover what the review crew collectively considers the fifth best card of 2012, and that card is Ultra Ball (BW: Dark Explorers 102/108).  We ranked it as the best card of BW: Dark Explorers; you can read the reviews here but remember they were written for the previous format.


Ultra Ball was a very good card when it was first released, but has become better over time.  It was introduced into a format with some powerful alternatives; while those alternatives were usually restricted to searching out Basic Pokémon and/or were not Items, then like now the format was heavily focused on Basic Pokémon and some of those options searched them in multiples!  It also had to compete with discard resources against Junk Arm; running both could easily wipe out your hand.


That was then, however, and this is now.  Any deck can use Ultra Ball for an adequate return, with many using it to set-up combos and generating significant advantage; thus its impact is both wide and reasonably deep.  It is seldom critical to a deck, as it is a search card and not itself achieving a win condition. It does aid decks in running more smoothly and may open up some combos through its discard cost.


Several decks actually are stronger for the discard costs; able to utilize what is being tossed.  Some can mitigate the drawback through recycling tricks; not generating advantage but merely returning what was spent to the deck.  Still some decks can’t do either, and find the discard cost so burdensome that they must supplement Ultra Ball with a different search method or replace it entirely.


The cards that placed higher than Ultra Ball on our list simply outperform it, which is quite a feat!  I stand by previous statements about its usefulness in other formats; there are better options for Unlimited but like any general search it is a must for Limited play.




Unlimited: 1/5


Modified: 4/5


Limited: 5/5




Ultra Ball works in any deck, it works well in most decks, and simultaneously searches Pokémon while setting up for “from the discard” combos in a few prominent decks; any player not strapped for cards should have a play set even if you’re not going to run the full four in most decks.  You’ll find the odd deck that can make better use of something else, but it is just that, the exception and not the rule.


I had Ultra Ball as my sixth place pick.  From what I had outranking Ultra Ball, one already been reviewed: Tornadus EX (BW: Dark Explorers 90/108, 108/108) since the other reviewers weren’t quite as impressed by it as I was.  Another didn’t make the list at all (sadness), and we’ll come to the other three soon enough.

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