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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Professor Oak
- Base Set

Date Reviewed:
June 22, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

See Below

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Man, this guy is one of the big O.G. Trainer cards for drawing all your other cards. By default, back in the day? You always ran 4 of Professor Oak. 

Part of it is because this was in a time long before Supporters could limit you to a once-per-turn clause, and part of it is because the game was much different. Energy acceleration wasn't really a thing, Big Basics were dominant, and there weren't even Tools or Stadiums to change the playing field. Cheap powerful attacks were still highly sought after, and the goal of the game was to get to those Pokemon as fast as you could. 

And no card was better at drawing cards than Professor Oak. Sure there weren't as many Energy accelerators like there are these days, but drawing 7 cards straight from your deck was never looked at as a disadvantage, even if you had to discard an extra couple of cards. If getting to those cards you need faster was a necessity, Professor Oak got you there FAST!! 

Moral of the story: thank goodness we transitioned to Supporters so we don't have to deal with this sort of thing. 


Standard: N/A (seriously) 

Expanded: N/A (like how broke was this game back in the day?) 

Limited: 5/5 (the answer is very, very very broke) 

Arora Notealus: Professor Oak still reminds us of a different time, a simpler and yet strangely more dangerous time. Yet his legacy lives on in cards like Juniper and Sycamore, which both inherited his effects and updated him to the modern Supporter standard. Just think, if Sycaper is THIS powerful and THIS necessity as a card you can only play once a turn, imagine what Oak was like. 

Next Time: And now to rotate things around and about!


On this Throwback Thursday, we’re covering the original “big draw” card: Professor Oak (Base Set 88/102; Base Set 2 116/130).  Even if you’re only familiar with the contemporary Standard Format, the effect of Professor Oak should be familiar as it reads “Discard your hand, then draw 7 cards.”  The exact wording is different, but this is the effect you know from Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore, the staple Supporter cards of the modern Pokémon TCG (whether the Standard or Expanded Format).  That discard cost can backfire horribly, actually costing you the game, but not only can it be a total non-issue but sometimes it enables the combos that win you the game.  So potent is drawing a new hand equal to your opening draw in size, it has defined how we play.  There would almost always be a benefit to having a deck capable of making use of almost every card within it ASAP, even before considering draw power it is a useful thing, but it goes from “nice perk” that is only sometimes used (for being reckless and wasteful) to being standard operating procedure for Pokémon thanks to large draw cards like this.  It inadvertently punishes more complicated strategies as cards that only work in tandem with other cards have to deal with discarding bits of the combo from hand to try and draw the rest.  The pacing of the modern game would be vastly different without Professor Sycamore or Professor Juniper.  Professor Oak schools these two, making them look slow. 

Wait, I just said they had the same effect, so what gives?  Professor Oak was only printed twice before, the first going all the way back to the Base Set (January of 1999), the dawn of the Pokémon TCG, while the second is from Base Set 2 (February of 2000), long before the Supporter card subclass of Trainers was created.  So this was and still is played like an Item card version of Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore.  Let that sink in; you can play as many instances of Professor Oak from your hand as you want from your hand, barring outside interference or your deck running out of cards.  What’s more is that Base Set also contained Computer Search (non-Ace Spec version) and Item Finder (Dowsing Machine if it wasn’t an Ace Spec).  Some decks focused on winning via “donk” (a First Turn Knock Out when the opponent has an empty Bench), while most would take one if it presented itself; burning through your entire deck in a turn was sometimes a tournament winning strategy, and remained as such until the adoption of a rotating format.  Both before and after it was cut in the first rotation, Professor Oak set a precedent for both players and designers, as most Professor-themed cards would feature drawing as at least part of the effect with players expecting to run one as their main draw card for most formats.  Over the years, we’ve seen other Professor Oak-themed cards: Professor Oak’s Research, Professor Oak’s Visit, Professor Oak’s New Theory, and Professor Oak’s Hint. 

If Professor Oak were to be reprinted, allowing it to be used in Standard and/or Expanded play, there is no doubt that it would be as a Supporter and the rule about not mixing Professor Juniper with Professor Sycamore would be updated to include Professor Oak.  Barring some other development, it would become a deck staple post-rotation, and just an alternative to Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore (aesthetically, as it would play the same)   The arguments against are that (for now) it looks like we don’t have this kind of raw draw power post-rotation, and that there is a much better approach to this kind of thing.  I’ve said it before; as long as they want this kind of effect in modern play, why not shake up Unlimited, streamline modern play, and enable some awesome promos/reprints by releasing a card just named “Professor” (no specific professor being specified) as a Supporter with this effect.  Then, instead of adding it to the “can’t use with Professor Juniper/Professor Sycamore rule, issue an errata changing the names of those two cards plus the original Professor Oak to just “Professor”, and do away with that silly rule.  With them all being the same name, you’d be restricted to four total per deck, and with little to no added “bookkeeping” compared to what the current arrangement requires.  This also has a big benefit that I’ll get next paragraph. 

Before that benefit, let us address the Limited Format.  Due to the age of the sets, you’re not seeing it at an official event or side event (barring that hypothetical reprint).  If you and some friends want to spend a lot of money, or use some of the unofficial ways of replicating a sealed product event with open product (less expensive, but still kind of pricey with such old card stock).  Professor Oak is magnificent here, but remember your deck is only 40 cards so decking out becomes a real risk.  That means there is also the risk of it showing up too late to bother using.  While Professor Oak did show up in some Theme Decks, the PTCGO Theme Deck format doesn’t go back anywhere near far enough for it to be an option (the card isn’t even in the PTCGO at all).  The power creep or nearly 20 years makes it really hard to guess how well the decks that feature it would do against modern Theme decks, so I’m not giving it a numerical score.  Instead, we’ll have one additional format to score because I don’t see how Professor Oak could not still be a staple in the Unlimited Format.  This is still a gutsy (or just foolish) thing for me to guess at because we don’t have competitive, tournament data for this format and I haven’t personally played it in 10-12 years.  So… why am I so sure this is still important?  The last time I read anything about the Unlimited Format, even if you were running a First Turn Win (FTW) or First Turn Lock (FTL) deck, Professor Oak in multiples was a must-run.  Even with other, additional draw/search combos, even with Erika, you still needed this raw amount of draw power.  The only significant change, as such, is that if you have to rip through your entire deck, you now have insurance: Lysandre’s Trump Card is not banned for Unlimited Format play!  I’d love to see how a Supporter reprint, which would effectively errata the original, would shake things up… 


Standard: N/A (See above) 

Expanded: N/A (See above) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (See above) 

Theme: See Above 

Unlimited: 4.75/5 


Professor Oak, the original big draw card is still the greatest the Pokémon TCG has ever seen, though if it were to be reprinted it would be nerfed and turned into a Supporter… which would still leave it as tied for the greatest draw power in Standard and Expanded play, because we already have two such cards: Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore.  I do not expect such a thing to happen because the powers-that-be already passed on that when we got the infuriatingly bad Professor Oak’s Hint in XY: Evolutions.  This was extra egregious as they could have just reprinted Professor Oak’s Research or Professor Oak’s Visit to give us an irrelevant Professor Oak-themed card, or Professor Oak’s New Theory for one that might be a little too good and yet possibly improve the metagame. 

Whenever said powers-that-be release another big draw card remotely close to Professor Juniper/Professor Sycamore, I’ll once again wish they would consider reprinting Professor Oak as a Supporter, just for the effect it would have on Unlimited play, where it remains a staple to this day (but a reprint would change it from play-as-an-Item to an actual Supporter).

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