– Rebel Clash
May 15, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
At last, we come to our number one pick from this set, and it probably comes as no surprise that it is Boss’s Orders (SSH – Rebel Clash 154/192, 189/192, 200/192). This is a Trainer Supporter with an
Pacing. Based on the cards they’ve designed over the years, I believe the Pokémon TCG runs faster than intended, which also means attackers hitting harder than expected relative to the turn count and/or resources that have been invested. If OHKO’s were extremely rare and even 2HKO’s were still fast, the fact we’ve always had Switch (or something similar) in the cardpool would make gusting effects less impressive. If you force up a Bench-sitter, fail to KO it, and I can retreat or Switch it back to the Bench, you probably just wasted an attack, plus whatever the gusting effect costed you!
The reality is Pokémon is fast-paced; if not when compared to another TCG, then with respect to some of its own core mechanics. Once you’ve got even a half-decent setup, smaller Bench-sitters, already injured Pokémon, and those that need time to build (including those waiting to evolve) become juicy targets. Even when you can OHKO whatever is Active, sometimes they’re worth more Prizes than whatever is already up front, or carry more strategic worth. Sometimes previous injury, Weakness or other miscellaneous factors make it easier to OHKO that particular Pokémon.
Boss’s Order restores reliable, generic gusting to all decks, at a cost they can afford. While things have changed in the years since Lysandre left the Standard Format, and in the nine months after Guzma rotated last year, the value of this option still holds true. Even for non-aggressive decks; stall, control, and mill love forcing something up front that can’t attack well (or at all) and is hard to retreat. Yes, we already have Custom Catcher, Great Catcher, and Pokémon Catcher for generic gusting options, but they all have costs and/or conditions that ultimately make them unreliable. To the point that yes, we’ll use our Supporter for the turn on it!
It does help that most decks will have a non-Supporter draw option they at least might be able to use that same turn, so the deck’s setup (or maintenance) won’t take a big hit from using your Supporter on this effect. There’s still enough there that decks which can easily make use of Custom Catcher or Great Catcher will still probably include them, but in addition to the Boss’s Way. The same for decks which incorporate a less generic gusting effect, such as Ninetales (SM – Team Up 116/181). That is how useful having a reliable gusting effect you can fetch with Pokégear 3.0 or reuse via the Ability on Eldegoss V actually is.
Boss’s Orders is less thrilling in Expanded. Still a great card, but just an alternate to Lysandre. As with the trio of Professor Juniper, Professor’s Research, and Professor Sycamore, there is now a special rule that states you cannot run Boss’s Orders and Lysandre in the same deck. At least someone pointed out to me that my errata idea does have a legitimate drawback… for those doing deck checks. With Expanded having four VS Seeker and so many alternatives that are often as good (arguably better), I’m starting to think it wouldn’t matter if these added restrictions are even necessary.
In the Limited Format, Boss’s Order is just as good as in the Standard Format… most of the time. Sometimes your opponent won’t have something they’re hiding on their Bench, including the Mulligan decks I oh-so-often reference, but most games there will be a target for gusting. You won’t have the power plays to follow up with, but you also probably have a Supporter usage you don’t need for anything else, and room in your deck as well.
Boss’s Orders doesn’t mean much to Expanded, though it is still super-effective there (as contradictory as that may sound). In Standard, we’ve had this effect but not in this way; we know it will be good, we know it will change the metagame, but it won’t be as dramatic a shift as it would have been if gusting effects had truly been absent. As I’ve all-but-said, Boss’s Orders was my my number one pick as well… and I’ve remembered why.
At last, we get to the best card of SS Rebel Clash, the OG Team Rocket boss that is Giovanni! Though even though he appears in this card’s artwork, this card is actually called Boss’s Orders, which is quite fitting. It’s effect is also one of the best effects to have on a Supporter, hence why this card took first place.
If you haven’t heard of the terminology of the word “gusting”, I assume players haven’t been in the TCG long enough to recognize this terminology (or should I call it a meme if it wasn’t a terminology?). The term “gusting” originated way back in the Base Set days, you know, the first expansion that was released in the very beginning of the Pokémon TCG back in 1998. That set that contained 102 different cards, and Gust of Wind is one of them (and it got another print on Base Set 2)! It was labeled as just a Trainer card, which at the time you can play as many Trainer cards as you like, though something like that would be categorized as an item card. I believe that couple sets later after Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil that trainer cards were separated into three categories: Trainer, Supporter, and Stadium cards.
But why did I specifically bring up Gust of Wind in this review? That’s because it does the exact same thing Boss Orders does: Choose one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon and switch it with their Active Pokemon. This is a very powerful effect which helps you do one thing: it wins games!!! Jokes aside, this can be used a number of ways, like bringing a heavily damaged Pokémon up front to finish it off, eliminate a Pokémon with a bench sitting ability so that it stops supporting their Pokémon or player, bring in something with a huge retreat cost to make them stranded, to move a certain Active Pokemon whose ability only works when it’s on the Active, and much much more!
It wasn’t long until the first rotation happened, and it was Team Rocket-on. Both prints of Gust of Wind (Base Set and Base Set 2) were the first victims of being rotated out, and never to return. Several cards does its best to copy that effect, though with certain costs or drawbacks (like using up a Pokémon Power or resorting to coin flips), so they were never better than the originals. And they continued to make inferior gusting cards for 13+ years. Not all are unplayable, however. Despite some cards having some sort of cost, they still see play due to being on a certain format where no other reliable alternatives or competition were available.
Perhaps some of the item cards with that effect that I recognize the most is Pokémon Reversal, which was released on HGSS, which is the year I started playing the Pokémon TCG when it was Diamond & Pearl onwards. The effect works if you flipped heads, and then it’ll perform the gusting effect. Other similar gusting effects at the time was Poké Blower+, which also retains Gust of Wind’s effect, but only if you played two of them from your hand at the same time. Pokémon Reversal’s short time of fame was between the emergency rotation happened on July 2011 to the day pre-errata Pokemon Catcher was released (August 31, 2011), where it was one of the most played card at the time due to lacking other alternatives despite being unreliable. Then Pokémon Catcher took over and made Pokémon Reversal obsolete. It then saw a lot of play until the XY era, where it was errata to require a coin flip, making it just as unreliable as Pokémon Reversal. Shortly after XY, XY Flashfire offers Lysandre, which is the same as today’s Boss Orders, and it was the best card of the set, as well as two other top X lists after that.
Shortly after, Guzma replaces Lysandre, who also has the gusting effect, but also forces you to switch your Active Pokemon with 1 of your Benched Pokemon, and that also saw a lot of play. One year later, Custom Catcher fulfills a similar role Poké Blower+ had. And pretty soon, Custom Catcher is about to rotate out this year, so now Boss’s Orders is taking over. In terms of how many it was used, Lysandre was used at one copy at best due to VS Seeker chiefly bringing Supporters back, so it made sense to run fewer copies, leaving room for other Supporters. Now? Without something like VS Seeker? Giovanni would be run at two or three copies just to improve your chances of getting one and not risk getting one of them in the prize zone. As for Expanded, I’m gonna rate just as low as Guzma due to competition. Some decks might like both effects of Guzma while other like just one of the effects.
I mean, was there really any doubt?
Boss’s Orders is a Supporter that basically does the Lysandre effect that we’ve become so familiar with – switch your opponent’s Active Pokemon with one of their Benched Pokemon. In a sense, this is just doing what Professor’s Research did with the older Juniper and Sycamore cards – standardized the effect under a common name, while still flavoring the card to different characters. In this case, that’s none other than the Rocket Boss Giovanni.
Basically, the title is just future-proofing itself so people won’t run Lysandre, Guzma, and Giovanni all at once, all the while we get to enjoy the same effect that’s been super popular for so long. Let’s not even kid ourselves – you know by now why switching Pokemon can be good. You know you can use it to grab Pokemon from the Bench and KO them for lots of Prizes. You know you can get the weak one with only a few HP remaining, or the one with the strong Ability that makes things tough, or the one with no Energy so your opponent won’t be able to manually retreat it so you can beat it up over a couple of turns.
Why bother explaining how good a good card is?
Standard: 5/5 (the Boss wants you to play this card)
Expanded: 4/5 (he put the instructions in an envelope and sent it your way)
Limited: 5/5 (the instructions say, “Do it”)
Arora Notealus: It’s really not that surprising to see these kinds of effects hit the Standard scene again, but it’s also really nice that there are changes like Boss’s Orders and Professor’s Research coming into the game. Can you imagine if they had to keep updating the rules to be like, “Okay you can’t play Juniper, Sycamore, and Magnolia together, also you can’t play Lysandre with Guzma and Giovanni?” That would just get bloated AND ridiculous!
Next Time: Now that the best cards are reviewed and over with, let’s talk about some other gold in this set!
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