– Darkness Ablaze
August 22, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Bird Keeper (SSH – Darkness Ablaze 159/189) is a Trainer-Supporter that has you switch your Active with one of your Benched Pokémon, then draw three cards. If you don’t switch, you don’t get to draw. There’s one thing I don’t like about this card… or rather two, but it is an either/or scenario. I really think that switching ought to have been optional, or that it Bird Keeper ought to have drawn four cards. Of course, it can’t really do the former, because that would be blatantly better than Hop. I don’t think Hop is as good as it ought to be, either, and that the reason why it and the other “Draw 3 cards.” Supporters have seen next-to-no competitive success is that the effects been underpowered since Cheren.
I learned my lesson with Olympia; sometimes, you need an effect you’d normally prefer on an Item to come from a Supporter. It could be because of anti-Item effects, or it could be because of Supporter support. The Supporter needs to do at least a little more than the Item; often it will act like two Items together. Olympia is like Bird Keeper in that first it acted as a Switch, and once that was done its second effect (in this case, healing 30 on the Pokémon it moved to the Bench) would occur. I didn’t expect Olympia to prove handy, but sure enough in the face of Item lock, she was!
Bird Keeper is mentioned in the Ability of three Pokémon:
all three have the Ability “Sky Circus”, which lets them ignore the Energy costs in their attacks if Bird Keeper was used that turn. Is it worth using all three of these together? I’m doubtful, but for all I know we’ll get some more Sky Circus cards later. Even if we don’t, Swanna has some potential.
Thanks to the rotation, we’ve lost – technically about to lose – Tate & Liza in Standard, and that was our combination draw/switching card. It wasn’t something every deck needed, but it was nice, and I think Bird Keeper is going to inherit that role, just in time for Item-lock to return in a big way to Standard. In Expanded, we’ve still got Tate & Liza, as well as Olympia… but I think there’s room for one more. VS Seeker and all. In the Limited Formats, Bird Keeper is a must-run, but if you lack a pivot Pokémon, you may be forced to make a hard choice between Benching something you really wanted to keep Active, and drawing three cards.
In the Theme Format of the PTCGO, you can get two copies of Bird Keeper in both the new Galarian Darmanitan and Galarian Sirfetch’d Theme Decks. It is worth noting that, for some reason (an error?) the Galarian Darmanitan deck has its copies of Sonia and Capacious Bucket replaced by Lucky Egg and Air Balloon… which made Bird Keeper a lot easier to use in that deck. Fortunately, even the correct lists include two copies of Switch so you might have an option beyond manually retreating if you need to use Bird Keeper to draw and not to permanently change out your Active. All in all, I’d say it is a great card here.
Bird Keeper strikes me as a new “loose staple”, a high utility card that makes it more valuable than it might look at first glance. I had it slightly lower in 8th-place on my list, but 7th-place still seems reasonable.
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