– Team Up
March 6, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Just like Bodybuilding Dumbbells, another workout related item that could help your knee called Buff Padding (formally called Muscle Pad) is a Pokemon Tool which can be attached to any Pokemon, but only works if the Pokémon has a retreat cost of 4 or more. It grants the holder 50+ HP. As with all HP boosting strategies, the effect doesn’t last forever. Tools can be removed and abilities can be turned off, negating the HP boost, with the possibility of Knocking Out the Pokemon whose tool is removed because the amount of damage it took now exceeds the max HP. However, the thought of having your tools removed or your abilities turned off strongly implies that your opponent had just wasted resources – in some way – to keep this effect from constantly happening.
The HP Boost is sizeable, but it can be only as useful for the Pokémon wearing it, and it’s mostly about what their initial Max HP is before the buff and whether it can change OHKOs and 2HKOs into 2HKOs and 3HKOs. So far, some Tag Team Pokemon greatly benefit with this tool. Celebi & Venusaur-GX, Eevee & Snorlax-GX, and Magikarp & Wailord-GX possesses retreat costs of CCCC and can reach HP counts as high as 320 to 350 with this tool. In most cases, they are extremely difficult to OHKO outside of weakness; even Charizard-GX’s Crimson Storm falls short of OHKOing Magikarp & Wailord-GX unless backed with Choice Band and Professor Kukui.
Despite Buff Padding’s niche, it pales in comparison with other tools that’s frequently used. Choice Band is still a good tool to deal extra damage to EX/GX Pokemon. Wishful Baton is for conserving Energy. And much much more. Ultimately though, it’s the players decision to determine which tools are worthwhile to use in their decks. Like Bodybuilding Dumbbells (which I lowballed how useful it is), Muscle Pad actually sees use in a few decks that capitalized on stall (like the list of Tag Teams that I’ve mentioned earlier), and seems like it would be an integral part to the strategy.
Standard: 2.75/5 (A decent tool with some applications to use. Plenty of CCCC retreaters out there.)
Expanded: 2.75/5 (There’s way more tools to compete with, but Wailord-EX would enjoy using it over Fighting Fury Belt)
Limited: 3.5/5 (There are few tools that might compete with Buff Padding such as Metal Goggles or Fairy Charms depending on what you pull)
Buff Padding (SM – Team Up 136/181) is a new Pokémon Tool that, while attached to a Pokémon with a retreat cost of exactly [CCCC], grants that Pokémon +50 HP. This should NOT be confused with healing; the card’s current and maximum HP scores are increasing, but the damage counters already present remain the same. Likewise, if Buff Padding is discarded or something changes the Retreat Cost of the Pokémon to which it is attached, the damage counters present will not change as the maximum HP score reverts to its former state… but that can still result in a KO if the Pokémon in question already had more damage on it than its printed HP score! Buff Padding doesn’t actually care about a card’s printed Retreat Cost, either; it cares what the cost is while that Pokémon is in play. Be careful not to foolishly lower your own Pokémon’s Retreat Cost scores and – in doing so – disable your own Buff Padding! A more pressing concern is that your opponent might run something like Absol (SM – team Up 88/181); assuming Abilities are working, that would mean any Basic Pokémon you have with a Retreat Cost of four won’t gain the +50 HP from Buff Padding while Active. It still has it while on the Bench, and Evolutions would be unaffected. While not many cards punish Trainer usage (a few even reward it), pro- and anti-Item effects as well as pro- and anti-Tool effects are most definitely a factor in both the Standard and Expanded Formats; these aren’t as common as they once were in competitive play, but they’re far from totally absent.
Maybe the most important thing to remember is that increasing HP only matters when it delays being KO’d, can trigger another effect, or it costs your opponent something extra to avoid the previous two. Sometimes, this is nice and obvious; your opponent’s Active can swing for 300 damage, but with Buff Padding attached, your uninjured Active has 320 HP. Other times, you can have a false sense of security; the same situation as above but your Active is Weak to your opponent’s Active, so Buff Padding or no, an effective 600 damage is scoring the OHKO. Multi-turn KO’s, especially against Control, Stall, or Stall/Control decks are where Buff Padding can truly shine but also where it is vital you can process all the variables (and hopefully act upon them as well). Buff Padding has already proven itself at least semi-useful in competitive play due to Celebi & Venusaur-GX decks. Those decks aren’t tearing up the metagame, but they’re doing well enough they can’t be ignored, and they are built around a 270 HP Basic backed by control and healing elements. Instead of OHKO’s, you’re now having to worry about 3HKO’s; that 50 HP may be superfluous because your opponent never comes close to a OHKO… or because however many turns a KO takes, the 50 HP didn’t matter at that point because of how the numbers added up or because your opponent could spare a Field Blower to discard Buff Padding.
Buff Padding is now a factor in the Standard and Expanded cardpools, and we’ve got some big, beefy Pokémon more than happy to wear them. Just not enough to make it an overly common sight. In the Limited Format, all that matters is whether or not you’ve got a Pokémon with a Retreat Cost of [CCCC] worth running; if so, also run Buff Padding, and if not, skip it.
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