Time for our
seventh place finisher to be revealed, and it is
Special Charge (XY: Steam Siege 105/114).
This is an Item card, which means the only requirement
to play it are that you aren’t using it for no effect;
Item cards only have a cost when that specific card
includes one in its effect text. Special Charge
just states you shuffle two Special Energy cards from
your discard pile into your deck so no added cost there.
Special Energy cards are often invaluable to a deck;
decks in general are trying to get by with lower and
lower Energy counts as. This might seem odd as you
usually need Energy to attack, and in specific
strategies you may even need to run a bit heavy on
Energy, but without another card effect you can only
play one Energy card per turn. In a fast paced
format where thinning and refilling your hand is key to
a speedy setup, there is a huge incentive to keep Energy
counts down. Some decks make do with as few as
four Energy cards (all Double Colorless Energy),
with seven to nine being pretty typical; decks with
greater needs still usually don’t exceed the low teens.
There is more to
understanding this card than that though, like basic
Energy versus Special Energy. Special Energy cards
are intended to give you more bang for your buck
than basic Energy. This is why Special Energy
cards adhere to the 4-Copy Rule while basic Energy do
not, why there are more card effects that punish your
opponent for running Special Energy, and many beneficial
effects that only work on basic Energy cards.
Let us compare Special Charge directly to the
multiple options for getting basic Energy cards from the
is an Item that shuffles five basic Energy cards
from your discard pile into your deck, over twice as
much as Special Charge.
is an Item which adds two Basic Energy from your discard
pile to your hand; same amount as Special Charge
but to a more desirable location.
is a Supporter that adds four basic Energy cards from
your discard pile to your hand; a greater cost but to
reclaim twice as much Energy and directly to hand.
is an Item which allows you to shuffle three Pokémon,
three basic Energy cards, or a combination of the two
from your discard pile to your deck. Only one more
card, but not limited to only Energy.
Superior Energy Retrieval
is an Item that requires you discard two cards from hand
in order to use it, but then adds four basic Energy
cards from your discard pile to your hand. Again
twice as many Energy and added back to hand, even if the
cost is more significant.
There are also
various Pokémon effects as well as some other Trainers I
left out for various reasons, but this list is enough to
explain. This list makes Special Charge
look rather weak by comparison, but the thing is in
decks where Special Energy is important it seems
perfectly reasonable in such company. Affecting
Special Energy is worth affecting only 40% as much
Energy, it is worth shuffling to the deck instead of
adding to the hand, etc. Most decks using Special
Energy are going to consider their Special Energy
important, so the norm is that this is a very useful
So why is this
clocking in at sixth place? Are the top five cards
so staggeringly powerful and/or have an even wider use?
No; Puzzle of Time is why this card isn’t higher
on the countdown. Sure you have to play two
copies of Puzzle of Time in hand at once to
access its second effect of adding two cards from your
discard pile to your hand. This can make it clunky
and unreliable, and also means four cards will only
retrieve four Special Energy. Going directly to
the hand and working on anything (not just
Special Energy) make Puzzle of Time crazy strong
despite the difficulty of using it. We also
already have Puzzle of Time; we are already used
to using it so even if Special Charge was
undeniably superior (and it isn’t) in the short run we
might perform better with Puzzle of Time.
So for Standard and
Expanded play… start trying out Special Charge.
Obviously you already have a 60 card deck (unless you’re
using the 30-card rules) so you’ll have to cut something
else, but experiment. Getting Special Energy back
into your deck reliably is worth a lot. I
am toying with the idea of running two or three
Puzzle of Time (the third would just be a spare) and
using the saved space for Special Charge.
Once rotation hits, Puzzle of Time loses its
friend Battle Compressor, so you can’t have a
three-card combo (two Puzzle of Time plus
Battle Compressor) to get a double deck search.
Other tricks may not work as well either, so the simple
and reliable Special Charge may end up being
better by then. Expanded may make this card
better; more competition for deck space but more cards
to combo with, including more Special Energy.
For Limited play, skip it because there are no Special
Energy in the set; easy, huh?
Special Charge provides a reliable way to get
your Special Energy from your discard pile to your deck,
two at a time. For an Item, that is a great deal…
or would be except the pace of the game coupled with the
presence of Puzzle of Time makes me feel like it
is outclassed. Without Puzzle of Time,
unless you also got rid of most Special Energy cards,
Special Charge would be a near staple only left out
of decks with few or no Special Energy cards but with
several maxing Special Charge out. Worst
case scenario… Special Charge goes down as a card
that is technically great but sees no play because there
is something even better, and the best case is that it
starts to find its way into most decks.
managed 10 total voting points, tying it with tomorrow’s
CotD. Special Charge was a near miss for my own
list, but both myself and aroramage had tomorrow’s pick
so quantity broke the tie. While I don’t think it
is the best card this set, it might be in the long
run. So not only am I happy it still managed a
seventh place finish without me, but I am starting to
wonder if I ought not to have broken the tie with
quality instead (as this was aroramage’s number one
pick). If Puzzle of Time wasn’t in the
format, it would have been mine as well!