Bellelba & Brycen-Man
– Cosmic Eclipse
November 27, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
If you haven’t seen Bellelba and Brycen-Man, you probably didn’t play or watched playthroughs of Pokémon Black 2 & White 2. They are part of Pokestar Studios which you can film movies and there’s also Pokémon battles involved, except that you have to follow the rules step by step to achieve the maximum output of the film. If you’re tired of actual Pokémon battles, you can partake in Pokestar Studio or Pokemon Musicals.
Anyways, in the TCG, both actors paired up together to create effects that disrupt both players. The primary effect is to discard the top three cards from both players’ decks and the secondary effect is that if you discard three other cards from your hand, both players discard Benched Pokemon until they have three Benched Pokemon remaining, and your opponent has to discard first before you do. Most of the time, players don’t know what their top three cards are, so that creates uncertainty as to whether those cards are crucial or worthless. You can, however, manipulate some of the top cards in your deck so that you minimize the pain. Something like using Magcargo’s Smooth Over ability to put an unneeded card from your deck to the top of your deck, ready to be discarded by those actors. Your opponent has no control over this because all of that was done in your turn.
The Bench discard is quite iffy too. There are some Pokémon players wish to keep in play and others not. They may or may not be hurt by that secondary effect. If players have a full bench of 5 Pokémon, then they can sometimes simply discard a Dedenne-GX, Tapu Lele-GX, Jirachi, and others because they just served their purpose and keeps others from trying to KO those Pokémon as they just left play after being critically damaged. This also affects you too; if your Pokemon in play are too valuable to discard, then you better not pay to use the second effect.
This is something you have to play carefully because some things can go wrong if the RNG isn’t in your favor. This is still a good card for control variants, though.
Bellelba & Brycen-Man (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 186/236) is a Trainer-Supporter, specifically one of the new TAG TEAM Supporters. Its primary effect forces both players to mill the top three cards of their deck, while the second effect forces both players to discard Pokémon from the Bench until neither player has more than three (per Bench, not total). TAG TEAM Supporters are the newest gimmick and any effect which says it works on TAG TEAM cards but doesn’t specify TAG TEAM Pokémon apply to it… which is an advantage because it lets you fetch Bellelba & Brycen-Man from your deck via Tag Call. Effects that apply to any Trainer or any Supporter will also apply to this card, which is a net positive overall.
Discarding three cards from the top of your deck is usually intimidating, and could be devastating, inconsequential, or even helpful! You can try and combo with a deck-stacking effect, but I don’t know of anything that lets you pick the exact three cards that go on top of one player’s deck, alone both. With the primary effect, you can set a player up to deck out on their next turn. The secondary effect is more costly since you have to discard three cards from your hand to use it, but much safer as players get to pick what Pokémon hit the discard pile. This also means your opponent enjoys similar benefits, but you’ll usually know ahead of time if your opponent will be helped or hurt by discarding Pokémon from their Bench.
Bellelba & Brycen-Man should probably be a loose staple in Standard. If we had the deck space, I’d say they would flat out be a staple. I don’t think we have the deck-space, so it becomes that “61st” card you only wish you could run in many decks. Many, but not all; at the Sau Paulo International Championship, control decks were running one or two copies of this card, including one that took 5th-place. I know I’ll constantly be trying to make room for this in other decks unless there are too many cards in my deck I cannot risk self-milling (Special Energy, Prism Stars, etc.) and/or I know I’ll have a full Bench I won’t want to shrink. If I have cards I want in the discard, this isn’t precise enough to be a must-run, but it might make it an easier inclusion. Of course, if you’re trying to build a mill deck, you have a strong incentive to run Bellelba & Brycen-Man.
I don’t have data for Bellelba & Brycen-Man usage in Expanded. VS Seeker can make either a TecH or maxed out Bellelba & Brycen-Man count that much more potent, and there are some older mill decks that worth revisiting. There are also more and better forms of card recovery, so milling may not be as effective, and at least one Supporter alternative to Bellelba & Brycen-Man: Team Rocket’s Handiwork. As for the Limited Format, definitely run Bellelba & Brycen-Man here, but recognize that swings of luck can be even more extreme because players are running decks built out of whatever they pulled and likely have no means of recovering discarded cards. It is worth remembering that the Limited Format has run 40 card decks while setting aside four Prize cards, but still beginning with an opening hand of seven cards. This means that the three-card discard is taking a proportionately bigger “bite” out of either player’s deck.
Bellelba & Brycen-Man’s name is a pain for me to type, as I’m not used to either name. I love the card’s effect, as I have a soft-spot for mill. I think this is a very good card that people would run more often if they only had room, and that control and/or mill decks should be making room for this TAG TEAM. Which is why I made them my 11th-place pick. I still stand by that, if only because not knowing this card is in the metagame can leave you wide-open to its effects. If we’d done a Top 20 countdown, Bellelba & Brycen-Man would have been our 19th-place finisher.
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