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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Throwback Thursday -

- Neo Genesis

Date Reviewed:
June 8, 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


Yes, that's right, we're talking about a card from the Neo Genesis era of card games, Slowking! Back in the early days of Gold/Silver/Crystal, ahhh...so glad they'll be hitting the Virtual Console. 

Anyways, Slowking here is actually just a victim of misunderstanding. In the Japanese version of this card, he's virtually identical - Mind Blast still did 3-for-20 with a coin flip to potentially add another 10 damage and Confuse the opponent. Back then, Confusion was a lot harsher to Pokemon - if you failed the coin flip on attack, you took 30 damage instead of 20, and retreating meant you had to discard Energy THEN do a coin flip to see if you were successful. It wasn't a dominant Status Condition, as far as I know, but it was definitely more powerful than it is nowadays. 

The main problem with Slowking though came from his Poke-Power, Mind Games. Whenever your opponent used a Trainer card, Slowking gave you the chance to flip a coin, and if it landed Heads, the Trainer card did nothing and got placed back on top of the opponent's deck. That in and of itself is a pretty powerful effect to brandish - a 50/50 chance to not only foil the opponent's strategy but even limit their options for the next turn? Hopefully there was some way to draw around that! At the very least, shutting down the Power with a Status Condition could be done. 

But there was a huge difference between what the Japanese version was and the American version. See the Japanese print added the clause that Slowking had to be ACTIVE to actually use his Mind Games, but when the time came to bring him State-side, something got lost in translation, and he no longer was required to be Active. This meant that ultimately, players could have multiple Slowking out on their Bench, causing their opponent to wait a while for the owner to flip FOR EVERY MIND GAMES IN PLAY!! That makes the game frustrating, knowing there are only so many little successes for the player facing it, and ultimately this resulted in the card getting banned from organized play. 

The next time a card would get banned? Lysandre's Trump Card. Think about that. 


Standard: N/A (I mean, how crazy is it that a misprint basically caused this guy to be broken?) 

Expanded: N/A (At the very least, you KNOW Lysandre's Trump Card was meant to work like that) 

Limited: 5/5 (but Slowking wasn't even intended to be like that!) 

Arora Notealus: Take note, dear children - if you are ever in a position to be translating cards from English to Japanese, from Japanese to English, or maybe from a pair of different languages to each other, remember that PHRASING is EVERYTHING!! And that even one small misprint can change the way a card is played entirely. Such is the fate of the poor Slowking... 

Next Time: Let's take a rest at the local pond.


Hail to the king baby!  As you’ve long since figured out we are not looking at one of our runners-up today, because it’s Throwback Thursday.  We’ve had so many Trainer cards, I thought we could look at an old card so capable of shutting them down, that it was banned!  Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111) officially released in Japan back on December 10th, 1999 and in the U.S.A. on December 16th, 2000.  Early releases of the Pokémon TCG were spotty, so I have no clue when Neo Genesis reached other locations.  It was banned from Modified play (what we now call Standard) late in 2002 when the format has shifted to Neo Genesis and later releases.  Let’s find out why. 

Slowking is a Psychic Type, which at the time was “iffy”.  There wasn’t much in the way of Type counters or support, but they weren’t needed because of how Weakness and Resistance worked back then: -30 (instead of -20), Psychic Resistance was found on all Darkness-Types and Colorless-Types (but not Metal-Types), and damage output was far lower across the board back then, with Psychic-Types being known more for their attack effects than damage… with actual damage often struggling to break through that Resistance.  Being a Stage 1 was better back then, mostly because the game was slower and there was a serious effort to nerf non-Evolving Basics by the design team, but also because this was back when you could attack first turn and few things had reliable, damaging attacks you could use first turn.  Wait, how does that work out?  Your first few turns (at least in Standard play) were about using attacks that help you set up, and sometimes even re-set up mid-game.  Slowking has 80 HP, which was functionally higher back then; this was back when 60 damage was the cutoff between “possible OHKO” or “probably safe”.  Psychic Weakness hurts because it made 2HKO’s easy, which was good enough for the time.  A few can score a OHKO via Weakness, but only a few.  No Resistance was typical back then, just like now, but given that it would have been -30 if present, it probably would have made a big difference.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] was harder to deal with back then; this was a format with Double Gust, and your only answer was Warp Point (undoes your Double Gust if you’re not careful), Balloon Berry (basically a one-use Float Stone), and Switch didn’t rejoin Standard play until halfway through 2002 (missing the entire 2001-2002 Rocket-On! Format). 

We are going to start with the attack on Slowking because it doesn’t really matter.  For [PPP] it can use “Mind Blast” to do 20 damage and flip a coin.  If “tails”, the attack just does 20 damage, while “heads” means +10 damage (30 damage total) and the Defending Pokémon is Confused.  This was weak and pricey at the time, but not too far below typical; for the Energy required, it probably needed to do another 20 damage.  So with that out of the way, we come to the Pokémon Power.  First, we’ll go over what a Pokémon Power actually is.  Basically, it is an Ability, except it doesn’t count as an Ability.  You would go ahead and declare you using one (if it is one that isn’t always in effect), in almost the exact same manner as you would go about using an Ability but effects that target Abilities don’t apply to Pokémon Powers (and vice versa).  So Hex Maniac does nothing to Pokémon Powers while Goop Gas Attack! won’t do anything to Abilities.  Possibly with an exception or two, all Pokémon Powers stop working when the Pokémon in question is affected by a Special Condition.  Why doesn’t the text actually say that?  Instead, it just says that this Pokémon Power stops working if Slowking is Asleep, Confused, or Paralyzed.  Which is how it worked until the Legendary Collection expansion released, when Confusion, Paralysis, Poison, and Sleep were assigned the collective label of “Special Conditions”.  Burned would join them in the next full set released, Expedition, because that was the first set to feature Burned.  Both of these sets are from 2002, so for most of its legal time, Slowking only had to worry about Confusion, Paralysis, and Sleep. 

So with that out of the way, what is this Pokémon Power?  The aptly named “Mind Games” may be activated anytime your opponent plays a Trainer card.  Yes, it means all Trainers: Items, Supporters, and Stadium cards.  If you choose to flip a coin and get “tails”, your opponent is able to play the Trainer card normally.  However, if you get “heads”, the Trainer does nothing and your opponent places it on top of his or her deck.  At first, that might sound good: you’ll draw it again, so you may try again next turn.  It often was bad because you were essentially locking down your own draw; if all you needed was an Energy, you’d just get the draw Trainer you tried to use last time and had to hope you flipped better this turn.  Okay, so a 50% chance of each of your Trainers failing is rough, but it is better than guaranteed failure, right?  Well, that is true, but there’s more.  Mind Games stacks!  Each additional copy of Slowking was an additional chance to activate Mind Games, so with four Benched, you got four chances to stop your opponent’s Trainers cards!  Getting four Stage 1 cards into play wasn’t fast or easy, but each Mind Games in play made it harder for your opponent to make progress, ultimately helping you get the next Slowking to the field.  Now, some of you might be thinking “That can’t be right!  How can it work against Items, Supporters, and Stadium cards?  Why would they let it stack?”  In a sense, you’re right, because the card text is wrong. 

Officially, it was a mistranslation: the text on its Japanese counterpart states that Mind Games only works while Slowking is Active.  That is a huge difference!  Sure, half the time your Trainer cards still fail to work, but that is a lot better than having as little as a 1 in 16 chance!  So they banned it because the text was wrong?  Nope.  Slowking wasn’t banned until it nearly monopolized the metagame; for competitive play, you had to run a Slowking variant as 2002 drew to a close.  Honestly, I’m a bit surprised it didn’t happen sooner; I am uncertain if it was due to particular cards being lost to rotation or added by newer sets, or if players were just slow in obtaining/accepting they needed to work Slowking into all of their decks.  Slowking was released while Wizards of the Coast owned the Pokémon TCG license, and they did have a policy of “play as written” for all but the worst card errors, so errata were rare.  WotC may have preferred a ban instead.  There is a rumor, though that it was an intentional change to the card.  WotC did not like the direction the Pokémon TCG was taking; before implementing set rotation, they tried another alternate format called Prop 15/3 that restricted players to 15 Trainers, and no more than three copies of any card other than basic Energy.  It didn’t work.  Even with Slowking, most players were running decks with Trainer counts akin to the present day.  Do I believe this?  Yes, yes I do; honestly, it wasn’t that bad of an idea.  It didn’t work as intended, but I can see how someone may have thought it would.  While WotC had some great people on staff, as a company they misled players on a few other matters, like eliminating the 15+ age bracket and claiming it was on orders from TPC.  Yet when asked about it, TPC representatives were puzzled by the question, and of course, once WotC lost the Pokémon license and what would later become TPCi took over, we almost immediately got the 15+ age bracket back. 

So Slowking began its reign of terror.  Even in the Unlimited Format, it was quite strong, providing protection against some of the most potent Trainer cards ever released: Chaos Gym, Energy Removal, Double Gust, Gust of Wind, Imposter Oak’s Revenge, PlusPower, Rocket’s Sneak Attack, The Rocket’s Trap, and Super Energy Removal.  It also messed up potent cards that were not being used directly on your opponent, like Computer Search (which wasn’t an Ace Spec back then), Erika, Item Finder, and Professor Oak.  What is more, the player using Slowking could still access these cards: I remember many using Chaos Gym and accepting that while it messed with your own Trainer cards as well, it added one more coin flip for your opponent to overcome and you could try to play it first turn.  So what about present-day Unlimited play?  Thanks to several other potent cards released over the years, I don’t know if Slowking is still used.  You see, even with the current first turn rules, there are decks in the Unlimited Format that win on a player’s first turn!  Before these decks, Slowking was one of the strong plays; Broken Time-Space (like Forest of Giant Plants but works for all Types) meant a Slowking player could try and get multiple Slowking into play on his or her first turn!  This card is, of course, not legal in any current format but Unlimited, which I don’t trust myself to score, and Limited play, if you want a very expensive game (those older booster packs tend to be quite valuable).  I believe it is an “okay” pull for Limited; you’ll need a little luck to get it out before your opponent can use whatever Trainer cards he or she has pulled… and since there won’t be many, who knows how much it will matter? 


Standard: N/A 

Modified: N/A 

Limited: 3.25/5 


I still want Slowking to receive an erratum.  I know it seems weird, but it just irks me that this mistake was never corrected.  If we got a surprise re-release of this card, with the only change being Mind Games as an Ability and not a Pokémon Power, it would immediately take over the game.  Unless it was using the Japanese wording for Mind Games, in which case it is a hard call.  Remember, it affects all Trainers, so while the attack is horrible and the HP not much better, a good hit-and-run style attacker can do its thing and then your opponent will struggle to use any Trainer cards.

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