Billowing Smoke
Billowing Smoke

Billowing Smoke
– Darkness Ablaze

Date Reviewed:
September 19, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.25
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 3.25

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Ever had a moment where you’re about to claim something, only for something to take it away from you moments before you get to take it? Happens occasionally in life, and now the Pokémon TCG is trying to replicate that moment.

So, Billowing Smoke from SS Darkness Ablaze is a Pokemon Tool card which states that if the Pokémon with the tool attached to it is knocked out from an attack from your opponent’s Pokemon, your opponent discards any Prize Cards that they would take for that Knock Out instead of putting it into their hand. However, it doesn’t trigger if an effect from an ability or an attack places damage counters instead of outright damaging them. And obviously, your opponent can play around that discard effect by getting rid of that tool by using Tool Scrapper.

The discarding effect could be powerful depending on who you attach this tool to. If it was a single prize pokemon, then your opponent only discards 1 prize card. If it was EX/GX/V, then they’ll discard 2 prize cards from that knock out. And if they KO a Tag Team or a VMAX, then that’s three prizes that you have to discard! Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that the player is still a couple steps ahead and are about to win the match. There’s also situations where the player might not care what’s being discarded (or if it would benefit having some stuff to discard), making the effect somewhat useless. If there was some crucial cards that were a one-of in a deck that were prized, then the discard hurts if you don’t have anything to get it back.

Billowing Smoke has an unique effect that could either be potentially disrupting or played around. One thing’s for sure, your Prize Cards won’t be claimed with Billowing Smoke lurking around!


  • Standard: 2.5/5
  • Expanded: 2.5/5
  • Limited: 3.5/5
Otaku Avatar

Billowing Smoke (SW – Darkness Ablaze 158/189) is a new Pokémon Tool with an effect that only activates when the equipped Pokémon is KO’d by damage from the attack of an opponent’s Pokémon.  If these conditions are all met, any Prize cards your opponent would have added to their hand from the KO are instead sent to the discard pile.  It was already ruled that this will prevent cards like Jirachi {*} or Greedy Dice from activating.  Even without thwarting such specific effects, you’re denying your opponent at least one card of “advantage” from their Prizes, and potentially many more thanks to multi-Prize Pokémon, as well as effects which increase how many Prizes are taken for a KO.  Your opponent is still closer to winning, though: those Prizes are still considered “taken”, they just never hit your opponent’s hand, being sent to the discard pile instead.

Billowing Smoke works regardless of where the Pokémon is KO’d (Benched or Acive), or whose turn it is, but there are still a lot of things that can get around it.  Meaning, before we factor in effects that remove or negate Tools, gusting effects, Bench hits, get rid of a Pokémon without actually KOing it, etc. your opponent can:

  • Score the KO via the non-damage effect of an attack, including Special Conditions.
  • Score the KO via the non-attack effect of a Pokémon (usually an Ability).
  • Score the KO via the effect of a Trainer.
  • Score the KO via the effect of a Special Energy card.

At present, I am particularly concerned about your opponent finishing something off via Galarian Zigzagoon’s “Headbutt Tantrum”, given it is a reasonably common play right now.  Though, at least it would force your opponent to use Headbutt Tantrum on the turn after they attacked for the near-KO, so if they hold of playing it to claim their Prizes, you just bought the equipped Pokémon an extra turn of life.  Depending on the deck, however, all the others are a legit possibility.

Billowing Smoke does nothing for you until your opponent goes for the KO, with the aforementioned conditions all met.  That means those workarounds, including the more general Tool counters like Tool Scrapper?  Your opponent has until they’re actually going to score the KO to deal with Billowing Smoke, and you cannot easily cash in on a different Tool.  You have some flexibility, if you’re willing and/or able to discard or bounce your own equipped Tools, or if you’re using Tools which discard themselves.  All in all, Billowing Smoke looks like it could be a bit of a pain to use or rely on… but half-denying your opponent their Prizes really is potent.  They’re still progressing towards a win via Prizes, but especially when KOing a multi-Prize target, its a nice chunk out of your opponent’s hand most of the time.

I can definitely see some control decks getting some mileage from Billowing Smoke, in Standard or Expanded.  In the Limited Format, there’s Big Parasol, Cape of Toughness, and Struggle Gloves for other Tools in this set, and Cape of Toughness is probably going to be the best pull, but Billowing Smoke is a close second.  Unless you pull 6+ Tools, you’ll probably have room for all of them in your deck anyway, so Billowing Smoke is still a must run.  Its effect is more potent, in that your opponent probably has fewer remedies if you clean out their hand or discard something “good”, but less potent in that there are fewer chances for it to go off (four Prizes versus six) and decks are more likely to contain filler.


  • Standard: 2/5
  • Expanded: 2/5
  • Limited: 3/5

Billowing Smoke is a general card in that any deck can theoretically use it, but niche in that it is probably only effective with a very specific setup.  Still, it does something pretty potent – forcing taken Prize cards directly into the discard pile – so I’m giving it well above minimum marks.

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