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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 Primal Clash Cards

#9 - Archie's Ace in the Hole / Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick

- Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 10, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.33
Expanded: 3.33
Limited: 4.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page

Baby Mario
2010 UK National

#9 Archie’s Ace in the Hole/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick 

Seeing as these cards are largely identical, we are combining them when it comes to our top 10 countdown. The only difference is that Archie works with Water Pokémon and Maxie with Fighting . . as you would expect.

These Supporters do not one, but two things that are pretty great. Firstly, they allow you to take a Pokémon from your discard pile and put it directly on to the Bench. Note that there are zero restrictions on that Pokémon, aside from the Type: doesn’t matter if it is an EX or not, or even what Stage it is. So yes, you could use Maxie to get a Machamp FFI or an M Lucario EX into play, while Archie could put Blastoise BCR directly on to your Bench without the need for any pre-Evolutions. The second thing that Archie/Maxie does is draw you five cards . . . that’s huge and would make this card an instant staple by itself, if it wasn’t for the massive restriction on playing it. 

Of course, some kind of drawback was only to be expected, considering the immense power of Archie/Maxie. It takes the form of allowing you to play the card only if it is the last card in your hand. We do have ways of emptying the hand (Ultra Ball, Computer Search), and I suppose you can always try and play out things like Startling Megaphone and Professor’s Letter . It’s not always going to be possible, however, and it may be unwise too. The upshot is that Archie/Maxie is incredibly hard to use as the draw/search engine and evolution enabler it promised to be at first glance. I can see maybe some decks running a copy to discard and then use at the right time with VS Seeker, but beyond that it runs too high a risk of being an unusable card at times when you really need a Supporter. 

Left unrestricted, Archie/Maxie would have been far too good, so I suppose we should just be thankful for the nerf. 


Modified: 3 (all talk and not much action)

Expanded: 3 (a few more Evolutions to work with here

Limited: 3 (you might as well play it, but hands tend to clog up, rather than empty, in this format)


Wait, what? TWO cards in the same slot?! What is this I don't even
Take your time to have your shenanigans, but once you're done, come on back and take a look at our #9 pick for the Top 10 List! And yes, we do have two cards in the same slot, but that's cause they have very similar effects. If anything, the main difference is what deck you'll end up playing them in.
Let's start with the similarities! Both of these cards can only be played when they're the last (read: only) card in your hand. This is actually much more likely to happen than one would initially think - not exactly an early-game scenario, but sometime mid-game or late-game, these cards can come into play. Unless you're about throwing your hand down on the field and then using them, but that's a bit of a waste considering what they do.
Once you've made sure they are the only card in your hand - whether by purposefully playing down your hand or else getting N'd right as you're about to win - you can play them to bring back a specific Type of Pokemon from your discard pile - Water with Archie, Fighting with Maxie - onto your Bench and then draw 5 cards. Not too shabby, huh? You can get a lost ace that was discarded or beaten by your opponent earlier onto your Bench and then grab the arsenal you need to power it up!
...well, potentially. Regardless of the random aspect of the 5 cards you draw, these are both pretty useful in their own right. Fighting decks now have even more support than before, and Water decks are getting some new support to make them a bit more relevant. I can see Blastoise decks using Archie to refresh their Energy-filled hands after expending them all, and let's not even start with how powerful Fighting decks will be with Maxie around.
I don't expect you'll see more than 2 tops in a deck, if only because of cards like Sycaper being the primary draw basis - but then again, VS Seeker can make it so they only need to run the one copy to make it work. And when these cards work, they REALLY work! Whether it's catch-up to an opponent or dominating for the victory, Hidden Ball Trick and Ace in the Hole will be very very useful!
Standard: 4/5 (really powerful cards when used in the right manner, providing support for a deck that needs it to comeback and an already ridiculously powerful deck)
Expanded: 4/5 (they'll see just as much play here as they would in Standard I'm sure)
Limited: 5/5 (running Water or Fighting? or both? PLAY THESE CARDS)
Arora Notealus: It's nice to see the leaders from Hoenn get some good cards to go with their new looks. Archie's new design is 1000 times better, and Maxie's...well, it's at least more intelligent. Get it? Cause he's got...never mind.
Next Time: You get to choose which one you get, but this one's always more fun!


Welcome to our Top 10 list for XY: Primal Clash!  I’m not sure how to specifically describe this Top 10 list; as usual cards can’t be a reprint but other than reviewer has a lot of leeway over what criteria to consider.  A popular, powerful card worth running in every deck should be the pinnacle of picks… but thankfully few cards like that are released and thus it becomes our job to weigh the different aspects of the card, even when it can feel like comparing apples to oranges.  I looked at how strong a card was in general, how strong it was in a particular deck and how popular I expected it to be regardless; that last bit is important because sometimes a card sees disproportionate play relative to how “good” it actually is simply because its easier to obtain than better cards (re: the budget deck) or because people don’t care how good it is, they just love that Pokémon and insist on running it.  Then I ran out of time so I kind of had to eyeball my own list in the end anyway, so unsurprisingly my picks didn’t match-up very well to those of my fellow reviewers. 

Today we are covering not one but two cards: Archie’s Ace in the Hole (XY: Primal Clash 124/160, 157/160) and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick (XY: Primal Clash 133/160, 158/160).  Why?  Though they have different names, their effect text has one single but important difference: an Energy symbol.  Before that there is something I want to clear up quick about the names themselves; I’ve heard some people complaining about how bizarre these names.  While a bit eccentric, they didn’t seem that odd to me.  “Ace in the hole” originated as a poker expression: apparently cards that are dealt face down in poker are referred to as being “in the hole”.  It now also serves as an English idiom used to denote an advantage or a resource kept back until the proper opportunity presents itself.  “Hidden ball trick” did confuse me but a quick search informed me it is from baseball; it denotes the team on defense trying to mislead the runners on base about who has the ball so it is easier to tag said runners out.  I am not familiar with this being used as a general expression, but given the whole “Pokéball” angle, even if it isn’t used outside of baseball, it works for me. 

With that cleared up, let’s get back to the actual review: each card states that it must be the only card in your hand.  If you meet such a difficult and risky requirement not only do you get to select a Pokémon from your discard pile (a Water-Type for Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Fighting-Type for Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick) and put it on your Bench, you also draw five cards.  The Pokémon that you select and put on the Bench can be any Stage of Evolution; it will be its printed Stage even if it is normally a Stage that must be played on something else, but it will be an “unevolved Pokémon”… at least that is the ruling from Ask The Masters over on Pokégym.  I’d provide clarifying examples but I’m not completely sure I understand the ruling myself .  I also do not yet know if Benching a Pokémon from the discard and then drawing five cards are worded so that you must do the former to do the latter or if it would fall under “Do as much as you can.”  If you don’t need a target in the discard pile at all and/or don’t need an open Bench space (with that part of the effect just “fizzling”) but you can still draw five, it makes both of these cards into great top decks.  If you do need that space, it isn’t crippling but you’ll want to try and keep an open slot on your Bench for it while it is in your deck, just in case you’re forced into top decking. 

Putting a Basic Pokémon from the discard pile onto the Bench isn’t a big deal; notice how Max Revive doesn’t see a lot of play.  Putting a non-Basic Pokémon on the Bench varies from simply useful to potentially broken; not only do you reduce the direct resource cost for a Stage 2 Pokémon to one card instead of two but if you use it on a Mega Evolution, your turn won’t end because you aren’t Evolving one of your Pokémon in play (by the same note, “coming into play” Abilities wouldn’t trigger for anything either).  The five card draw seems like a good way to manage the consequences of the “You can play this card only when it is the last card in your hand.” clause.  It will likely be very hard to set-up and use either of these cards reliably.  Multiple copies of either card in hand renders the others useless so not only is it foolhardy to try and run them together but even running too many copies of just one, in a deck focused on the effect, is cumbersome.  So how should one use this card?  I don’t think it is something to rely heavily upon; I know some are hoping to use Archie’s Ace in the Hole with cards like Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135; BW: Plasma Blast 16/101) or Empoleon (BW: Dark Explorers 29/108; BW: Plasma Freeze 117/116) or yesterday’s Swampert (XY: Primal Clash 36/160) but I just don’t think it wise to rely solely on one of these Supporters as the primary method of  getting anything key to a deck’s set-up into play. 

Instead I think its a nifty trick or optional approach.  Basic or Stage 1 Pokémon can use this as targeted revival and a source of emergency draw power but if they do, its with a lone copy of Archie’s Ace in the Hole (or Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick).  As the relevant Supporter is only useful when you’re topdecking or can eliminate the rest of your hand and (again presumably) have a legal target you can revive, there are a lot of times when it will be a dead draw and that can get pretty dangerous; there are plenty of times when I need a draw Supporter but instead I get my Lysandre or Lysandre’s Trump Card.  The latter is something that some people (like myself) favor running in most decks but I get the impression that many more competitive players don’t, but we needed to discuss it anyway; Lysandre’s Trump Card naturally removes any targets you set-up for Archie’s Ace in the Hole/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and if you are someone that favors running Lysandre’s Trump Card then you hit the second problem; fitting in one non-draw/search Supporter is pretty much a given now.  Fitting in two isn’t too bad.  Fitting in more involves a significant difficulty spike.  Even if you’re just running Lysandre (and not a lesser used alternative Supporter), just running one of it and one of today’s subjects brings you to that threshold.  So now you know why I only recommend this if you’re trying to get a Stage 2 or Mega Evolution into play without Evolving. 

So using this card well likely depends upon Stage 2 Pokémon and Mega Evolutions that are useful without being the focus of the deck or that are the focus of the deck but this isn’t the only way to get them into play.  This means you can run just one or two copies of the relevant Supporter and then run some Battle Compressor and VS Seeker (in the case of the latter “some more”).  Relying on Items means that this approach still fears Item lock, but I can’t find a happier medium; less dead Supporter draws and only partial crippling in the face of Item lock.  With this approach, though, I’m thinking you can do some amazing things.  Yesterday’s Swampert seems a lot more reasonable when you can augment it with Archie’s Ace in the Hole.  How do two “iffy” cards make a solid play?  I’m specifically thinking of the proposed deck using Seismitoad-EX and Slurpuff (BW: Phantom Forces 69/119); without Swampert its already a real deck that has had some success.  Diving Search combos well with Tasting, and strange though it may sound Tasting should make it easier to manage your hand size; you can take risks you normally wouldn’t because you can use Tasting to get your hand size back up.  If you do want to revive a Stage 2 focused deck, you still can; I just think you’ll want to run at least a 1-1-1 line in case you can’t get the combo off quickly enough, reliably enough and still run no more than three copies of Archie’s Ace in the Hole (probably just two and that is in case one is Prized).  I wouldn’t get too excessive on the target either unless its got an effect that calls for multiple copies; Empoleon wants a full Bench for its attack and its Diving Draw stacks but the only reason for a second Blastoise is to have a spare in case the first one gets KOed. 

For Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, there aren’t as many compelling examples; we don’t have a lot of formerly competitive Stage 2 Pokémon that recently took a dive; instead we have a lot that simply never did make it.  The unusual aid here I think is Korrina; its great search for Fighting (or mostly Fighting) decks but without due care it can be easy to find your hand dwindling away.  Korrina can work well with Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, so that you now have to fear a formerly “meh” Mega Evolution or Stage 2 or even an established Basic or Stage 1 attacker getting played from the discard file with a good five card draw.  A card like Machamp (XY: Furious Fists 46/111) becomes tempting for any Fighting-Type deck that already has most of the other pieces in place because another +20 damage for attacks by your Fighting-Types is another +20 damage for attacks by your Fighting-Types.  The other bit of synergy is what has been hurting Evolutions; those potent big, Basic Fighting-Type Pokémon.  If you whiff on getting your Stage 2 or Mega Evolution out quickly with Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick powerhouses like Landorus-EX and even less impressive but still potent attackers like Landorus (XY: Furious Fists 58/111) can carry on until you do get something larger out. 


Standard: 3/5 - Yes, for both cards.  While I will not be surprised if one proves better than the other, I really think that the strengths of the Water-Type versus the Fighting-Type leaves them on even footing.  This is an overall rating though; these card’s aren’t generalists that belong in just any deck. 

Expanded: 3/5 - I’m not seeing any other hard-to-play Pokémon that strike me as making Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Maxie’s Hidden Ball trick worth scoring higher, though I am seeing a few like Archeops (BW: Noble Victories 67/101; BW: Dark Explorers 110/108) that will themselves be just a little bit better.  Yes, that is quite a fine distinction to draw; the cards that get better aren’t significant enough that you’ll be seeing a lot more of (or more successful of) use for either Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. 

Limited: 4/5 - Probably a must run but you might fail to draw a Pokémon of the needed Type you can get into the discard pile to revive, and of course if you’re risking a +39 deck there’s no point to it.  It is also going to be a lot harder to get your hand down to just this card in most cases, as you’ll likely have extra Energy cards or Pokémon you just can’t play down fast enough.  I’d still try to make room for it when you do have a few worthwhile targets in your deck; drawing five (let alone whatever you revive) is a massive feat here and your deck probably has the space. 

Summary: Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick are daring cards that can fail you horribly because of the amount of setup they require, plus the fact that the rest of the format is still more or less the “same old same old”.  Drop a Stage 2 into play with an Ability?  Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113) still shuts down Abilities.  Plus if someone figures out how to pull either of these off reliably and with little difficulty, suddenly you’ve handed any already well performing Pokémon of the correct Type a solid new Supporter.  In fact, even with how I’ve explained the card, I do consider it a solid new Supporter; part of its score in constructed formats comes from how much competition there is in the “specialty” Supporter slot.  It helps to remember that not every Supporter (or any card) needs to be so good that you max it out. 

Neither Archie’s Ace in the Hole nor Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick made my Top 10 (or even Top 15) list; I think they have potential but between the difficulty in making them work, the fact that they are Type specific support and my perception that most players that could make these cards work are going to be averse to using them due to the risk over more reliable, established tricks kept it off the list.  Well, that and the rushing. ;)

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