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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Level Ball & Heavy Ball

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 20, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: See Below
Expanded: See Below
Limited: See Below

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National

#3 Level Ball & Heavy Ball 

Yep, for the third place on our countdown, we’ve decided once again to combine some cards and give them a joint review. It seems a fairly natural pairing, as these cards are two sides of a coin: one grabbing your weaker, low HP Pokémon, and the other fetching the big beasts with the high retreat costs. 

In all honesty, I doubt Heavy Ball would have made the cut if it was taken on its own. It was great in decks based around Klinklang (where it could get you every Stage of that Pokemon), and did see some play in Blastoise decks (searching for Black Kyurem EX and Blastoise) and occasionally in things running Garbodor DRX, but wasn’t really a staple even there. Level Ball, on the other hand, was pretty much compulsory in Stage 2 decks, as it provided the best way to get out copies of vulnerable evolving Basics like Squirtle or Tepig. Later on, Level Ball’s ability to fetch you a Jirachi EX further extended its usefulness. 

On the whole, I’m sorry to see these cards go. Unless we want Pokémon to devolve completely into a game of top-decking and lucky draws, search cards are necessary. Losing two quite useful ones isn’t ideal, and although we still have Ultra Ball and the new Pokémon Fan Club, we will still feel the loss of Level and Heavy Ball, particularly in decks that run weak evolving Basics. I’m sure they will stick around in Extended: not least because Level Ball can search out both Tynamo and Eelektrik . . .  


Overall impact: 3.5

Extended: 3.5


Hello once again, and welcome to the third place slot in our countdown of the Top 10(ish) Cards Lost to Rotation! And yes, we're looking at two cards again today, but similarly to yesterday's slot, that's because these are two cards that work similarly to each other. Today, it's Level Ball and Heavy Ball!
Now between the two, I think Level Ball has seen more play overall than Heavy Ball, but they are both great searchers in their own right. Each brings out a Pokemon from your deck to your hand, and that's a useful effect for any card! Heavy Ball's restriction is that the Pokemon needs at least three Energy in its Retreat Cost - usually in the TCG tied together with the weight of a Pokemon in a more representative fashion. This is good for decks like the Blastoise/Black-Kyurem-EX deck to grab that Blastoise you need for the Rare Candy evolution onto Squirtle!
Now you may debate on Heavy Ball's inclusion on this list, but that's because you may be thinking about decks running Pokemon that mostly have two or less Retreat Costs. Plasma Decks, Virizion-Genesect decks, Pyroar decks - these decks usually don't have something like a Blastoise or a Garbodor lying around, and even in decks that do, there's not a huge inclusion of Heavy Ball except for one or maybe two. I'd blame Juniper on this one, since nabbing 7 cards is a lot faster than nabbing just one, but you do take a chance on Juniper while Heavy Ball will just grab it straight from the deck - and you'll still be able to Skyla a Rare Candy if you really need it! Food for thought.
Level Ball is the more widespread one between the two, and that's because its restriction is to Pokemon with 90 HP or less. Now that may not sound useful at first - after all, you're not grabbing a Pokemon-EX with it unless it's Jirachi-EX - but then you get to thinking on all the Pokemon with 90 HP or less to begin with, and most of them tend to be evolving basics like Trubbish and Squirtle! Then you've got stuff like Sableye and Mr. Mime to grab onto for support and protection, just to top it off!
Level Ball and Heavy Ball are both important in their own right, and any time you can search a card at little to no cost (as opposed to having to discard 2 cards in your hand or using up that one ACE SPEC in your deck for instance), you ought to take it. Of course, they won't fit into every deck like they were made for it (Blastoise/Kyurem and Garbodor being a couple that come to mind that could use both), but if you had the room - or now in Expanded have the room - to throw them in, one or two will never hurt.
Modified: N/A
Expanded: 4/5 (searcher cards with even more options to choose from? Yes please!)
Limited: 3/5 (really depends on what else you get from the Next Destinies set, but if you don't get Mewtwo-EX, they can always help out whatever other deck you've got)
Arora Notealus: There are a lot of different types of Pokeballs in the main games, and I'll admit I'd be interested to see how they could work something like the Repeat Ball or the Net Ball into the TCG...
Next Time: What's the one band-aid you don't want to put on a Psychic-type?


Welcome to another “doubleheader”: our third place pick out of the top 10 key cards lost due to the pending rotation is a tie between Heavy Ball and Level Ball.  Once again, the review crew agreed that if we reviewed one we might as well cover the other; Heavy Ball and Level Ball have so much overlap that even though their actual effectiveness has been significantly different (Level Ball has seen much more success than Heavy Ball), the review for one would read like the review for the other with the names, effects and a few key bits changed.  If both made the list it would seem redundant and if only one did, it would seem wasteful not to just mention the other. 

In my case, Level Ball was a lock for the list while Heavy Ball was iffy.  Before delving further into that, let’s review.  You can read the original Heavy Ball reviews here and the original Level Ball reviews here.  Heavy Ball is an Item that allows you to search your deck for a Pokémon with a Retreat Cost of three or more and add it to your hand, while Level Ball does the same except for Pokémon with 90 HP or less.  Both cards made the Top 10 list for BW: Next Destinies with Heavy Ball taking the fifth place slot and Level Ball the sixth place; while its no guarantee our collective list was correct, it does help to remember that said reviews date back to HS-On, when players still had access to Pokémon Collector (a Supporter searched your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon to add to your hand) and Dual Ball (an Item that had you flip two coins and then search your deck for a Basic to add to hand per “heads”).  That means snagging smaller Basics was already pretty well covered. 

Thanks to more and more “glass cannon” and “switch-hitter” style attackers popping up, as well as Pokémon Catcher receiving an erratum so that small Bench-sitters (or switch-hitters that return to the Bench) weren’t a bit less vulnerable, Level Ball managed to easily surpass Heavy Ball.  You’ve got tiny titans like Accelgor (BW: Dark Explorers 11/108), Bench-sitters like Aromatisse (currently there is only one), and useful “tricks” like Exeggcute and Jirachi-EX.  Heavy Ball has proven useful as well, just with less universal and or useful targets, in part because of how Evolution lines work: if an Evolution has 90 or less HP, the Basic form will rarely have more HP, but it is quite common for lower Stages to also have a lower Retreat Cost.  Still Heavy Ball has proven useful snagging Dusknoir (BW: Boundaries Crossed 63/149; BW: Plasma Blast 104/101) in recent times. 

Both cards do have competition; Ultra Ball is pretty much a staple unless a deck can exclusively get by with Heavy Ball, Level Ball or a combination of both.  The two card discard required to use Ultra Ball is steep enough that it is common practice to augment/substitute Ultra Ball which whichever of Heavy Ball and Level Ball can snag a decent amount of a deck’s Pokémon, and some decks even run all three.  While the format might seem like it would discourage Pokémon compliant with either Heavy Ball or Level Ball due to the dangers of getting stranded and easy of OHKOing 90 HP (let alone smaller) Pokémon.  This actually is a concern, but most decks have other reasons (like ditching Special Conditions and/or attack effects) that cause them to include tricks to lower Retreat Costs or even bypass manually retreating altogether, and damage output is so fast and so high that pretty much nothing is truly safe from being OHKOed, with 100 HP not significantly safer than 90 (without Level Ball, 70 to 110 don’t often distinguish themselves from each other). 

If they had remained, Heavy Ball and Level Ball would have definitely been welcome in BCR-On and should see play similar to what they do now in Expanded, unless that metagame is significantly different from what is expected (again, it isn’t something with which I’ve got even secondhand experience).  If you pull them in Limited, Level Ball is almost guaranteed a spot in your deck while Heavy Ball is probably making it in: search is great here, Items are great here, so Item-based Search is great! 

Ratings (joint) 

Modified (NXD-On): 4/5 - Heavy Ball is probably up to half a point lower, while Level Ball alone matches the score.  They aren’t for every deck and the scores assume that; Item based search that has no additional cost is amazing and without their targeting restrictions (besides being functionally the same card) they’d have perfect scores! 

Modified (BCR-On): N/A - If they were legal, I expect them to score as above. 

Expanded (BW-On): 4/5 - As for NXD-On, except Heavy Ball is at most a quarter point lower, and scoring them even is even more accurate and less a review contrivance: while I could easily be wrong, some of the high Retreat Cost cards we lost due to the previous rotation will be present, creating more decks that can really make use of Heavy Ball.  Still not specific Heavy Ball compliant tricks equivalent to Jirachi-EX or Exeggcute. 

Limited: 4.95/5 - No use in a deck built around a single, big Basic Pokémon but everywhere else, it is unlikely you won’t have something to target.  Yes, for both cards: I had to review the set and I realized there are a lot of Stage 1 Pokémon that have a Retreat Cost of three that have a Basic Pokémon with the same Retreat Cost. 

Summary: Both of these cards will be missed, and I believe this approach is overall beneficial to the game: support that turns a negative into a positive under controlled circumstances.  I also like that they appeared in the same set instead of being spread out; the slow release of Type based support has been one source of imbalance in the game. 

Chicago, IL

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