(Roaring Skies, 92/108) debuted in the Roaring
Skies expansion set and has woven itself into the
current meta as an essential part of the “speed up the
game” strategy that many players (yours truly included)
have willingly adopted over the past couple of years.
Mail allows you to look at the top four cards in
your deck and grab any Trainer card
and put it in your hand.
I didn’t like this card much until I started playing
Origins, 3/98) a lot.
As I mentioned the other day, like many others, I
hopped on the
Lurantis GX (Sun & Moon, 15/149) lock train
early on, and I quickly realized the necessity of
to achieve that Item lock strategy.
involves a sacrifice – obviously, for every
you put in your deck, that’s one less slot available for
That means if you run
you have to take out a switching card or a hammer or a
tool card or something else that could greatly benefit
you in the right situation.
It means you’re putting all your chips in and
going all out for a single strategy (in this case Item
lock, but it could facilitate other strategies as well –
Trainers’ Mail was common in
Origins, 10/98) decks as well to help get Pokemon in
the discard more quickly).
You’re sacrificing something that could
potentially help you win later in the game for something
to help you achieve a strategy more quickly earlier in
the game. I
normally don’t favor that kind of trade off, but that
speaks to the dominance of Item lock when a player
managed to get it established early in the game.
I had Trainers’
Mail as 16th place on my list.
The only reason I didn’t put it in the top ten:
Everyone has reduced the number of Items they
carry in their decks, and
has suffered more than any card because of this.
Top 8 decks since GUR that run
Indy – 2nd (3), 4th (4)
Madison – 5th (3)
Birmingham – 1st (3)
Seattle – None
Four decks out of 32.
In the tournament immediately before
Garb came out
(Toronto, Expanded), three decks out of the top eight
last Standard tournament pre-GUR (Virginia):
seven out of eight decks ran
It’s not that
Trainers’ Mail just became a bad card overnight.
It just basically became
didn’t change – the meta we live in changed and made it
very difficult to play it.
Standard: 2 out of 5
If you don’t care about whether or not
shots you, then by all means keep playing
and as many other items as you want.
And I don’t mean that as a bad thing – there are
plenty of decks with low HP feature Pokemon or Pokemon
that are Psychic weak that just don’t give a rip about
and still run tons of items.
However, most decks have had to cut down on the
number of Items, and
was the first to get dropped.
The bottom of the top half of our countdown is…
Trainers’ Mail (XY: Roaring Skies 92/108;
XY: Ancient Origins 100/98)! This Trainer-Item
allows you to look at the top four cards of your deck,
then add any one Trainer card you find there to your
hand other than another copy of Trainers’ Mail.
Oh, you’ve got to reveal that Trainer to your
opponent and the other cards you see are shuffled back
into your deck, naturally. Searching out Trainers
isn’t unique to Trainers’ Mail, but the other
options are usually costly, such as requiring you run a
particular Pokémon and attack with it or using up your
Supporter for the turn and/or are restricted to a
particular class or subclass of Trainer like only Item
cards, only Supporters, etc. While you cannot
get another copy of Trainers’ Mail, every
other Trainer is fair game, and without using up
your Stadium or Supporter play for the turn.
Speaking of Supporters, there are not a lot of
search options that hit them, and those that do usually
snag anything, or any Trainer.
There are probably several cards even I’ve
forgotten about to which Trainers’ Mail is
comparable but the two sticking in my head are
Random Receiver and Skyla. Both are
Trainer cards as well, with Random Receiver also
being an Item while Skyla is a Supporter, but of
course, it is the effects that concern us, and
the roles they’ve played because of them. Random
Receiver reveals cards from the top of your deck (to
both players) until you reveal a Supporter, at
which point it is added to your hand and the other
revealed cards are shuffled back into your deck. Skyla
simple allows you to add any one Trainer card from your
deck to your hand. Both of these enjoyed a time
as, if not actual staples, then approaching loose or
near staple status. While there will be times when
you shouldn’t bother using your allowed Supporter for
the turn, even (though quite rare) when you don’t want
one in hand, you almost always want an out to get
one. VS Seeker often supplies this now, but
Random Receiver once filled this role (just not
nearly as well). Skyla, on the other hand, was
only used to fetch a Supporter as a desperation play,
but she could grab any Trainer, and thus
streamlined general setup, deck/discard/field
maintenance, and TecH usage.
Which brings us back to Trainers’ Mail.
This should not be your primary search card; its
range is too small and it can only target one of the
three core classes of cards in the TCG. Like the
above two, however, it serves as a fantastic supplement
to the usual powerhouses like N, Professor
Sycamore, and Ultra Ball. Typical decks
are running about half Trainer, so early game,
you might not get what you want, but odds are good
you’ll get at least something. Late game, your
deck may be quite low on Trainers; besides having used
up many Trainers, most effects that return cards from
the discard pile to your deck are focused on Pokémon
and/or Energy. However, Trainers’ Mail
may become useful for another reason; the major draw
cards are usually a bad idea at this point in the game!
N may only draw one or two cards and/or possibly
while giving your struggling opponent a much-needed hand
refresh at the same time. Professor Sycamore
might force you to win that turn or risk decking out, or
at least put you on the road to decking out. Shaymin-EX
(XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) is almost
always an easy target for a Lysandre to OHKO
combo, but by this point, your opponent may only need
one or two Prizes. Etc. Mid-game,
Trainers’ Mail is still useful, splitting the
difference between the pros and cons of early and late
game usage. Trainers’ Mail wasn’t always maxed
out in most decks, but many enjoyed having at least a
few to help their decks flow.
the past tense; after the Sun & Moon expansion
was fully incorporated into competitive play,
Decidueye-GX/Vileplume (XY: Ancient
Origins 3/98) decks took over, and we were reminded
why some of us were skittish of running Trainers’
Mail back when it first released and different
Item-locking decks were big: like all other Item cards,
Trainers’ Mail becomes dead weight at that point.
At a glance, this seems like a non-issue; as I just
said, all Item cards suffer from this same issue,
so why would it be worse for Trainers’ Mail?
I believe this is because Trainers’ Mail was
often filling slots that would have gone to a
draw/search Supporter. Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
is no longer the deck to beat, but things
still aren’t looking as good for Trainers’ Mail
as they once were. Besides the fact that
Decidueye-GX/Vileplume actually enjoys using
Trainers’ Mail itself to improve the odds of a
T1/T2 setup (before locking down Items), the
decks that helped dethrone it often ran Garbodor
(SM: Guardians Rising 51/145). Its “Trashalanche”
attack does 20 damage times the number of Item cards in
the opponent’s discard pile for just [P], and if you
didn’t need me to remind you of that, then you also
probably don’t need me to remind you that makes
supplemental Items like Trainers’ Mail more help
for your opponent than yourself. Tapu Lele-GX
also made a difference, as it was a decent backup
attacker that easily splashed into decks and, oh yeah,
its Ability allows you to search your deck for a
Supporter and add it to your hand when you Bench it.
That is only one of the three things Trainers’ Mail
might snag, but it is the one that drives most
decks and Tapu Lele-GX all but guarantees
the exact Supporter you want.
So, as of right now, only a few competitive decks still
run Trainers’ Mail; some people think none do,
but you have those decks that simply need it to
work, and do enough other stuff that they remain
competitive or they just don’t need to sweet
Garbodor because they are so big or small that a few
more Items don’t change the turn count for KO’s.
Once rotation happens, if Trainers’ Mail
were reprinted, it would still have to deal with
Trashalanche but it no longer has to worry about
T1 Item lock from anything. T2 is a possibility,
but the exact efficacy of Noivern-GX is something
about which I can only speculate. So, just maybe,
it would regain a little of its lost popularity because
it wouldn’t be quite so risky. As always, it is
highly unlikely you’re able to enjoy a Limited Format
event featuring packs from XY: Roaring Skies
and/or XY: Ancient Origins, but if that
should happen, this is a primo pull you’ll want to run.
Oh, and I know it shows up in at least one Theme Deck
(“Storm Rider”), so it gets a score for the Theme Format
3.35/5 (Soon to be N/A)
is a potent card, but it is another one that is past its
prime. Its decline is not because something better
has replaced it, but because enough anti-Item effects
have turned it into a liability in those matchups.
Were a surprise reprint to restore its legality
post-September 1st, it might bounce back a bit,
as one form of Item-lock (Vileplume) gives is
replaced by another (Noivern-GX) that doesn’t
look quite as potent, but Garbodor and its
Trashalanche will still be here. Decks focused on
fast setups that either provide a measure of protection
or produce expendable attackers should still see
if Trainers’ Mail provides greater reliability,
or merely uses up deck space better occupied by
took fifth place with 20 voting points, appearing on
three out of five of our individual top 10s. It
scored four more voting points than
Friday’s sixth place
Lysandre, while it finished six voting points
behind tomorrow’s fourth place finisher. I had
this as my third place pick, but I’ve since
changed my mind. This time, the reversal is due to
seeing how few competitive decks are still running
Trainers’ Mail at all, let alone with heavy counts.
While its past success still matters, that means it
probably should have clocked in a bit lower on my list.
Fifth place seems pretty good to me, in the end.