(Sun & Moon, 126/149) allows you to switch one of
your opponent's benched Pokemon with their active
Pokemon – if you flip heads.
Most players tend to shun this card in favor of
the more dependable
Origins, 78/98) primarily because of that coin flip.
Players in the current meta have widely embraced
the strategy of forcing a Pokemon your opponent wants to
leave on the bench into the active position.
Every turn you have to consider what you will do
if your opponent
Lysandres one of your Pokemon into the active
Moreover, with the impending arrival of the card
(Guardians Rising), we can no longer live in our
safe and happy little bubble where every tool card we
attach to a Pokemon will stay there forever.
I would imagine that every deck will run
as at least a two of (especially since it can discard
stadiums as well), and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it
become a four of.
(Breakthrough, 137/162) will still be favorable
to other single use switch cards, we can no longer count
on a Float Stone
remaining on the Pokemon it is attached to indefinitely.
Lysandre stall strategy will gain popularity and
success because of
and we will have to come up with ways to counter it
other than just running four
in a deck.
For better or worse, however,
rotate out in September.
Catcher could step in as the main replacement to
continue the active Pokemon switching strategy, but I
mentioned in our review yesterday a more than possible
Alolan Persian (Sun & Moon, 79/149).
You can read through yesterday’s review for the
details on Alolan
Persian, but it basically has a zero energy attack
that allows you to switch your opponent’s active Pokemon
with one from the bench.
Granted, it’s a Stage 1 Pokemon and it needs to
use an attack to switch the Pokemon, but it’s at least
worth trying, and you almost certainly will get more
uses out of it than you would from four
Moreover, it doesn’t depend on a coin flip, which
is the major drawback to
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
This is just one of those cards that if it weren’t a
coin flip, it’d undoubtedly be a four of in every deck.
We’d be rotating each other’s active Pokemon left
and right and it’d be the dominant strategy in the meta.
This card would be one of the most impactful
cards in the game.
Because they put a coin flip on it, however,
sees almost no use in the meta today.
This might change in September after the next
rotation, but I think the coin flip still makes it
Persian might present itself as an alternative,
another card might be introduced that will function
Lysandre, or people might simply drop the active
Pokemon switching strategy in favor of other tactics,
but I don’t think we’ll see much use out of
in the future.
Thursday pick is Pokémon Catcher (BW: Emerging
Powers 95/98; BW: Dark Explorers 111/108;
BW: Plasma Blast 83/101; XY: Kalos Starter Set
36/39; XY: BREAKpoint 105/122; Sun & Moon
126/149). This card is nearly six years old, and
for about the first three it was a deck staple… because
for about the first two-and-a-half, it had a different
effect. The current version is an Item that
has you flip a coin; if “tails” the card does nothing,
but if “heads” you select one of your opponent’s Benched
Pokémon and make it his or her new Active (forcing the
former Active to the Bench). The original had the same
effect without requiring a coin flip. For
those fringe cases where it matters, you’re targeting a
Benched Pokémon, not the Active. We’ve reviewed it
and I was surprised both of those are before the errata.
For those wanting to use the spiffy Secret Rare “Gold”
Pokémon Catcher, since an errata overrides the
original, written text, it should still be legal
for competitive play even though the old wording
is now quite wrong. So, how did this card perform
in the past, how does it perform now in the present, and
how might it perform in the future?
With “tails fails”
effects, there are three things to consider:
What does it do?
What is it on?
How many uses do you get?
opponent’s Active can be very, very potent, but it can
also be worthless. For starters, if your opponent
lacks anything on his or her Bench, or everything he or
she has in play are actual or functional equals,
changing them out won’t matter. In fact, if your
opponent has no Bench, you cannot even play Pokémon
Catcher (important, given various draw effects).
As long as your opponent’s side of the field has some
variety, you may attempt to force him or her to use up
additional resources reversing your decision… which may
not be many, as a simple retreat or Item card like
Switch can reverse this situation. Your
opponent may be able to fully ready the new Active for
attacking, which can also make changing things out
pretty pointless. Other times, though, you can
strand something up front that your opponent will
struggle to get out of the way, which can buy you time
or even lead to a win in some rare situations. The
big trick is forcing up something you can OHKO
(or more easily OHKO), especially if it is
important to the opponent’s setup. Pokémon Catcher
pre-errata made it very hard to run a Stage 2
Evolution line, as you basically had to drop two copies
of your Evolving Basic first turn in the hope that one
would survive to Evolve the next turn. Even now,
it can try to pull that trick off with a “heads”.
The second and
third aspects are closely related, but cards like
Hooligans Jim & Cas persuaded me to separate the
two. Being an Item means you’ll have to deal with
Item lock, but apart from that it also means
being inexpensive, lacking not only a card specific
cost, but not requiring you use any once-per-turn
resources like Energy attachments, Evolving, playing of
Stadium cards from hand, or playing of Supporter cards
from hand. If you have multiple copies of
Pokémon Catcher in hand, you may use them all;
pretty important if that first one fails. There
are some bits of Item support that are very useful as
well, like Trainers’ Mail. Getting to the
third and final consideration for “tails fails” cards,
each copy may be used only once, though as I just
stated, if you do have multiple copies you are free to
use as many as you wish during your turn. We’ve
seen similar effects (again, post-errata) on Pokémon
before, where you could use them turn after turn, and
that makes them even better… but even on an Item, this
is pretty good. A decent amount of the time,
you’re flipping a coin to turn a little advantage into a
lot of advantage, including helping an attack to
win the game.
Which brings me to
this card’s past. It is a bit longer than I
indicated before because of the tendency for Pokémon
card design to recycle; thanks to the errata, there
aren’t one but two past cards that are Pokémon
Catcher by another name… or rather it became these
cards by another name: Gust of Wind (Base Set
93/102; Base Set 2 120/130). The CotD crew
of the time reviewed it
but that probably isn’t as useful as it sounds because
“the time” was 2007, years after we saw a lot of
serious Unlimited Format play. Until the
establishment of “Modified” (what we now call
“Standard”), it was a deck staple and often referred to
as “Gust of Win” because of how often it would precede
the winning KO (or keep an opponent from ever really
setting up), in conjunction with the offense and/or
disruption you ran alongside it. Since it dates
back to not only the Base Set but was contained
in the original 2-Player Starter Set which contained
Base Set cards and (I thought) was the first actual
TCG product to hit shelves, the first few years of the
game were shaped by Gust of Wind. It made
the pre-errata version of Pokémon Catcher quite a
surprise and hotly debated. We all knew it was a
powerful card, and I recall single copies going
for $15 USD with many decks preferring a full playset;
the debate was whether or not it was good for the game.
That might sound
kind of silly; I’ve already touched upon how difficult
it made it to play Evolving Pokémon, and while there
were successful Evolution based decks during the
pre-errata time period of Pokémon Catcher, they
were few and far between and insanely powerful.
You need to know what came immediately before we
received Pokémon Catcher; the era of Pokémon
Reversal (Expedition 146/165; EX: Ruby &
Sapphire 87/109; EX: FireRed/LeafGreen
97/112; EX: Unseen Forces 88/115; HeartGold &
SoulSilver 99/123). Apparently, we’ve only
reviewed it once before,
its effect is that of the post-errata Pokémon Catcher.
The short reviews the staff did of Pokémon Reversal
paint a fairly accurate picture of the card’s usefulness
until late in its lifespan. It was shortly
after the final printing when Pokémon Reversal
went from a solid play to a must run, owing to the
combination of Junk Arm being released and the
other Gust-effect cards rotating out of Standard
play. It became a format where if you wanted to
top cut, you needed to flip “heads” at the right time or
times. It wasn’t that you could never flip
“tails”, but if you were winning the event, you needed
the coins to go your way a little more than typical for
the Pokémon TCG. Pokémon Catcher totally
eclipsed Pokémon Reversal, and while it made it
even more difficult for many decks to compete, it also
meant that wins were far less dependent upon coin
flips. If you play the PTCGO using the Legacy
Format rules, you’ll see a good deal of Pokémon
Catcher being run, but using its post-errata text;
there are enough alternate strategies/options that it
doesn’t seem quite as bad as in those final days of
Pokémon Reversal (which you may run instead, if you
prefer - they function the same), but it can be close.
So that covers the
past, what about the present? Lysandre is the
go-to card for controlling what your opponent has
Active, and some would prefer to reliably force the
opponent’s Active out with Escape Rope than a
50/50 chance of getting an Item-based Lysandre or
nothing from the deal. I have seen more decks,
though, working in Pokémon Catcher. This
was before the latest increase in Item lock, so the
trend may have already reversed, but your Supporter use
is becoming so important, that Pokémon Catcher
is starting to become a worthwhile play once again.
As for the future, unless we see a reprint then
Standard play will almost certainly bid him adieu
alongside XY: Ancient Origins (only one time have
we had a Standard rotation that would have spared the
second oldest expansion from the prior format).
Barring a future card that does a better job, Pokémon
Catcher is slated to become at least a loose deck
staple at that point. None of this will matter for
Expanded play, where it functions about as well as it
does in Standard at present. For Limited play,
this is a wonderful card to have; you may not be able to
capitalize on it as well as in Constructed play, but
your opponent will also likely have a harder time
dealing with it. It strikes me as a glimpse at why
Gust of Wind and the pre-errata version of
Pokémon Catcher would have been thought balanced; if
your opponent cannot so easily score a OHKO,
manually retreating, playing a Switch, etc. can
turn this devastating power play to your favor… as you
made your opponent essentially waste an attack.
was an incredibly important and potent card before its
text was changed via errata (and later printings).
Even now, with the coin flip, it is a potent play in the
Legacy Format and Limited Formats, and a good play in
Standard and Expanded. Just not good enough for
most decks, because of competition from Lysandre,
how crowded decks are in general and the threat of Item
lock. Without Lysandre, I’d be scoring
Pokémon Catcher about as highly in these formats as
I did for the Legacy Format. Finally, the future
may see Pokémon Catcher rise to prominence again
in Standard, as Lysandre is quite, quite likely
to be leaving Standard play with the next rotation
(probably around September 1st, but nothing official
has said anything about it yet).