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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 Cards of 2014

#7 - Head Ringer

- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 18, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.75
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 3.67

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

#7 Head Ringer 

Though I love the card and think it’s criminally underrated, I’m a little surprised to see it feature this high on our top 10 list. 

Head Ringer hasn’t really had much time to make an impact since its release last month, but it should be clear how disruptive the card is. Thanks to its unique mechanic which allows it to be attached to opponent’s Pokémon, it does all kinds of good things, such as setting your opponent back an Energy attachment and blocking their use of Tools like Muscle Band an Spirit Link. It’s very difficult for an opponent to deal with it, and it combos nicely with Enhanced and Crushing Hammers in denying your opponent the Energy the need to attack.

When I first saw Head Ringer, I thought it was ridiculously good. I still think that, but I can see why it isn’t getting widespread play. Disruptive effects, nice as they are, tend to take a back seat in a fast, hard-hitting format as players look to increase speed and consistency before turning to this kind of technical trickery. Nevertheless, Head Ringer still finds its way into Seismitoad EX decks, where they can really turn the screw on the lockdown, and in some very fast decks to create an even bigger speed gap between them and an opponent’s deck. 

It’s a card that is likely to go in and out of fashion during its time in rotation, according to the nature of the format. I just hope it gets a chance to reach its full potential. 


Modified: 4 (massive potential, great design)

Expanded: 3.5 (Tool Scrapper exists here) 


Strange how when you first look at a card to try and determine its potential, it ends up falling short, and then later on down the line some sort of combination comes up that you didn't expect to see, making that card look much better than it did originally! Such is how card games go, and such is the path of Head Ringer, who didn't make the Top 10 list for Phantom Forces yet has risen above its brother Jamming Net into the Top 10 for 2014!
So the biggest question naturally is, "What changed between its release a month ago and now?" And the answer is surprisingly more simple: Seismitoad-EX. See, rumor has it there's a big deck circulating that runs Seismitoad-EX alongside Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic to cripple any offensive force outside of regular Energies as well as Garbodor to cancel those pesky abilities. On top of that, they run Head Ringer against other EX!
So why Head Ringer over Jamming Net? As you may recall, Jamming Net reduces damage from the equipped Pokemon's attacks by 20 while Head Ringer increases their cost by an extra Energy. See what's happening? It's not necessary to run Jamming Net in these "Garbotoad" decks because Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic are keeping Special Energies at bay, Seismitoad-EX is locking down Items, and Garbodor is doing his usual thing. So what makes things harder? Giving every attack an extra Colorless Energy to the cost, and that's why Head Ringer's become such a big threat these days.
Head Ringer is invaluable in Garbotoad, and it can be very useful in other decks as well. I imagine the general consent is to run Jamming Net for the damage reduction, but now the question's become less about how much damage a Pokemon can do and more of how much are they willing to spend to get that Energy? And combined with all of this crippling madness, it's no wonder Head Ringer's jumped to #7 on our list!
Standard: 4/5 (even with acceleration, Head Ringer has made a very big splash)
Expanded: 4/5 (even with Eelektrik's inclusion, Head Ringer's proven to be much more competent than first given credit)
Limited: 4/5 (alright, we lose its biggest partner but also cut off the majority of acceleration cards, so Head Ringer does well here)
Arora Notealus: Coincidentally, the last time we reviewed this was on a Thursday. It's like we've been...plotting this the whole time. Hehe, hehehe, HAHAHAHAHAHA!!...okay, no, we haven't.
Next Time: Alright, enough of these noisy shenanigans, time to punch things!


Welcome as we wind down the first week of the Top 10 Cards Of 2014 Countdown!  The lists were collected and averaged out from the CotD to create the master list for reviewing.  As with our Top 10 lists for individual sets, reprints are excluded: without this rule cards like Double Colorless Energy place (possibly take it) most years.  For my own list, my main guideline was card impact.  I evaluated the card according to breadth of impact (how widespread its usage/response to its usage was), depth of impact (how deeply it affected the decks that used it/needed to counter it) and time of impact (how long did it affect how we played). 

Our fourth review this week and our 7th place finisher is… Head Ringer (XY: Phantom Forces 97/119), originally reviewed here five weeks ago.  Exactly.  For those that don’t want to click, I’ll run through the card quickly; its a Pokémon Tool F, which means its a subgroup of Pokémon Tools which are a subgroup of Items which are a subgroup of Trainers.  If an effect specifies works on Trainers, Items, Pokémon Tools or Pokémon Tool F cards, it works on Head Ringer (for the record, nothing yet released references Pokémon Tool F cards).  Pokémon Tool F cards are to my knowledge the only cards you actually attach to your opponent’s Pokémon: the designers were big on avoiding that and the potential confusion that can bring to clean up, especially for younger players.  There is only one other Pokémon Tool F, Jamming Net, a card that revealed how many players (myself included) hadn’t been paying enough attention to how terms were being redefined and clarified in the latest revision of the rules book.

Oh, and the actual effect of Head Ringer is that it can only be equipped to an opponent’s Pokémon-EX.  The Pokémon-EX to which it is attached pays [C] more for its attacks: so Mewtwo-EX would need [CCC] to X-Ball.  Since it still fills the one Pokémon Tool “slot” all Pokémon technically have (yes, there is at least one exception but isn’t a Pokémon-EX), you can use this to also block an opponent attaching their own Pokémon Tool.  So to continue the earlier example, not only will Mewtwo-EX need [CCC] to X-Ball, but it can’t slap a Muscle Band on to further boost the damage.  As such, this effect can cause huge swings in advantage or… be absolutely meaningless, changing nothing and even being a dead card in hand.  Both helping and hurting their usage, Pokémon Tool F state that if any effect would remove Pokémon Tool F then it sends itself to the owner’s discard pile instead.  No using Tool Retriever to add your opponent’s card to your own hand.  Also both a blessing and a bane, Startling Megaphone can only hit your own Pokémon Tool F cards since it discards all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent’s Pokémon; it can’t save you from one on your side of the field or spare your own while taking out an opponent’s Muscle Band, which is another reason why Tool Scrapper is still used at least some of the time in Expanded… even by decks using Pokémon Tool F (leave your Head Ringer in play, discard their Float Stone and Muscle Band so you can slap down some more Pokémon Tool F). 

Breadth: Pokémon-EX are widely played.  Pokémon Tools are widely played.  Seems like this would affect everyone, right?  Nope.  The only major event we’ve had since the release of XY: Phantom Forces are City Championships.  I’ve been referencing a list of compiled results from The Charizard Lounge.  You’ll notice that with all the decks that scored a Top 4 finish, while most still feature or even focus upon Pokémon-EX, quite a few don’t… including what has (at least the way the list is divided) taken the most Top 4 and first place finishes, Donphan (BW: Plasma Storm 72/135) decks.  I am not an expert on that deck; I’ve seen it used but lack the cards for it myself.  Maybe I just am ignorant of the most widely accepted build but from what I can tell, they try to run light on (or skip entirely) Pokémon-EX.  Sure the next two most prominent finishers (Yveltal-EX decks and VirGen decks) clearly are focused on Pokémon-EX attackers, you’ve got to get Head Ringer onto a Genesect-EX before it attaches a G Booster (or in some builds, even just a Muscle Band) while Yveltal-EX is known for loading up on Energy, meaning you might block a Muscle Band or you might slow it down a turn or you might do neither.


Depth: Even though Tool Retriever can help one better manage his or her own Pokémon Tools while combatting Pokémon Tool F cards, even while Xerosic is a Supporter that a Battle Compressor plus VS Seeker allows one to treat as reusable TecH to discard any Pokémon Tool (including Pokémon Tool F) or Special Energy in play… they aren’t widely played.  Why?  Well, its nice because Pokémon Tool F haven’t made a huge impact, at least not yet.  Again they can be devastating or they can be a waste.  I’ve heard of two decks that really use them well; Manectric-EX decks (specifically those focused on attacking with Assault Laser) or control decks which according to the other reviewers are seeing results by stacking it with Seismitoad-EX and Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113).  Those two are already an established deck, but apparently there is a more control focused variant now that Enhanced Hammer has returned.  This messes with a lot of decks, but some actually aren’t too badly affected.  The three elements that are being disrupted (Abilities, Pokémon-EX attackers, Special Energy cards) are common and widespread, but not universal to all decks.  In fact conditions were already such that decks that can avoid relying on at least one of those three were already incentivized. 

Time: This is a card we just looked at five weeks ago because XY: Phantom Forces is still pretty new, especially for use in competitive Organized Play.  Even if it was a card every deck needed to run four of, it would take a hit here because we are reflecting upon all of 2014, not just how it finished.  Even if some of the rumored potency of this card is out there, even if I’m just ignorant of what the metagame is like for the serious competitive scene (it isn’t like I can participate in tournaments right now)... its still only the last two months of the year.  That is great, but compared to some of the cards that have helped to define 2014 within the first few months of the year, it isn’t as large an impact. 


Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 3.25/5 

Summary: As is hard to ignore in my review, I’m not overly impressed by this card.  The gimmick is novel but that will eventually wear away as either we get more cards like this or the mechanic is abandoned.  It might become huge next year… but that’s next year.  From what I can tell, how I scored it in the original review seems to correct, save that I actually messed up my own explanation for why Standard and Expanded score the same; the Expanded card pool makes a difference, but Tool Scrapper both helps and hurts the usage of Pokémon Tool F cards (as opposed to making no difference).

Most decks can make use of these cards in general and a few can make very good use of it, so they don’t score low, but it is a strategy reliant upon what your opponent is playing and using them well does require certain other cards that may not already be in your deck.  Head Ringer didn’t make my list at all.  It might have deserved to simply for the sake of novelty, but its way to high on the combined list for that, and even if it is an important up-and-comer now, that isn’t the same as some of the cards that shaped longer stretches of this year, as much or even more.

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