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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



Bursting Balloon

- XY BREAKpoint

Date Reviewed:
Jan. 5, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.00
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 3.75

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Bursting Balloon was originally reviewed here by both myself and aroramage.  When your opponent’s Active Pokémon attacks and does damage to your Active Pokémon, this Pokémon Tool will place six damage counters on said opposing Active Pokémon.  Bursting Balloon also discards itself at the end of your opponent’s next turn.  So this is yet another card where I didn’t see its potential at first, though if you went back to read my initial review I sang its praises because players far better than myself had already proven Bursting Balloon in competitive play.  Previous releases like Rocky Helmet and Rock Guard, which operate in a similar manner, had relatively little success.  I have a dim recollection of some deck for a time making use of Rocky Helmet, but I could be mistaken in that regard and maybe it never worked out.  Rock Guard on the other hand surprised me by proving vicious in Seismitoad-EX decks; prior to that it was another budget Ace Spec, the kind you ran because you couldn’t afford something better.  With Seismitoad-EX decks focused on sufficient control/disruption to prevent OHKOs and then spamming Super Scoop Up to bounce an injured Seismitoad-EX (and its Rock Guard) back into hand, the only way it wasn’t effective is if your opponent ran (and could spare) Xerosic to discard it or was already in such a state that they couldn’t attack Seismitoad-EX anyway. 

So what about Bursting Balloon?  Why is it doing so much better than Rock Guard and Rocky Helmet?  None of these three have additional attachment restrictions, but as you should have already guessed Rocky Helmet doesn’t do enough to really prove worthwhile, even before it had to compete with Muscle Band.  Even more obvious is that Rock Guard suffered for being an Ace Spec; besides giving up a slot that could have gone to greats such as Computer Search, Dowsing Machine, Life Dew, Scoop Up Cyclone, and Scramble Switch, being a single copy there was a risk of it being Prized or discarded and proving too costly (or impossible) to reclaim and reuse.  Bursting Balloon can be run as a full four count like Rocky Helmet but packs the punch of Rock Guard, placing enough damage counters to score a KO against the smallest attackers (like those used by Night March decks) and shave a turn off of the survival time for most everything else when combined with a sufficient attacker.  With full on combos, you might even speed an opponent’s Active to the discard pile two or three turns more quickly!  Now what tripped me up wasn’t the fact that there were three conditions for Bursting Balloon to Active (being attached to your Active, opponent’s Active attacking, that attack doing damage), but because Bursting Balloon would discard itself at the end of your opponent’s turn.  Turns out that wasn’t a flaw but a feature.  This allowed you to slap it onto a Pokémon for a turn of either protection or damage counter placement, and then replace it with a different Pokémon Tool the next turn.  Eco Arm meant if you wanted to spam Bursting Balloon over and over again, you could try that approach as well. 

Bursting Balloon is not the best Tool for any and all decks, but it’s functional in all of them, and more than just minimally.  Your opponent has to find a way to attack around it, or burn a Tool discarding effect on a card that goes away at the end of his or her current turn.  This makes Bursting Balloon a kind of pressure card; pressure cards are designed to distract the opponent and force a penalty on them; either suffering ill effects stated on the card or having to use up a resource in dealing with it.  That still doesn’t put it up over mainstay Tools like Fighting Fury Belt, Float Stone, or Muscle Band in most decks.  There are also deck specific Tools like Spirit Link cards that you’ll need to run before Bursting Balloon.  Good thing it can play nice with all these other Tools; if you’re not up and attacking, retreating, Mega Evolving, etc. that turn, you can just slap a Bursting Balloon down for a turn of pressure on your opponent.  Now in addition to this solid foundation of general usage, Bursting Balloon has a more niche usage as well.  Mostly in Standard play, where your opponent can’t try to eliminate it alongside other Tools with mass or multi-Tool removal like Startling Megaphone and Tool Scrapper (respectively), and where Muscle Band is no longer an option for upping the offense of Evolutions.  Greninja BREAK decks probably provide the best contemporary example, and wouldn’t you know that was our number two pick for our Top 10 Cards of 2016 list.  I am less familiar with its usage in Expanded play, but it still seems like a solid option there, and it’s fabulous in Limited play where your opponent will likely have no way around it, nor are you likely to have an alternate Tool to equip either. 


Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 3.75/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Bursting Balloon is nearly as good as Fighting Fury Belt in the Standard and Limited Formats, but the competition and fact that your opponent has more and more easily implemented methods of dealing with it in Expanded hurts it more here.  In both cases, the constructed formats are not universal scores; general usage would be about a point to a point-and-a-half lower, but Bursting Balloon is much more effective and useful in certain decks; in a select few it is simply the best!  The game is just so fast paced right now that your opponent will rarely have a better choice than crashing into it (severely injuring his or her Pokémon) or expending significant resources going around it. 

Bursting Balloon is the third card to receive only a single voting point, like 19th place Ninja Boy and 18th place M Gardevoir-EX (XY: Steam Siege 79/114, 112/114).  Ninja Boy hasn’t shown up much in top decks, so it lost out to the other two; M Gardevoir-EX appears to have come into its own, but besides being last minute (for 2016) it also is a specific deck and not one that is dominating all events.  Bursting Balloon isn’t a dominant force in all events, but it isn’t a deck focus; I value general usage over deck specific usage because normally that means the former affects more of the metagame than the latter.  As for my personal Top 10, Bursting Balloon got its single point from me as it was my 10th place pick.  I erroneously reported that Ninja Boy was my 10th place pick at the end of that review because I simply misread my own spreadsheet; the person next to me had Ninja Boy as his 10th place pick.  Ninja Boy had been on the bottom of my list in an earlier draft, so it wasn’t a total airhead moment.  Just really, really close.  Like these three were to tomorrow’s 16th place finisher, which had just three voting points.

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