Chip-Chip Ice Axe
– Unbroken Bonds
October 1, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Chip-Chip Ice Axe (SM – Unbroken Bonds 165/214) is a Trainer-Item, with a multi-part effect. First, you look at the top three cards of your opponent’s deck. Next, choose one of those three cards; shuffle the ones you did not pick back into your opponent’s deck. Finally, take the one you did select and place it on top of your opponent’s deck. When I first saw this card, I figured it might be worth it for control decks, but most decks won’t benefit enough from such a minor effect, even at the cost of just running and playing this Item card. I was right. What I did not realize was we have the cardpool to not only make Chip-Chip Ice Axe good in the right deck but broken. So broken that it is being banned from the Extra Format (the Japanese version of Expanded).
What? Yes, Chip-Chip Ice Axe gives you a chance at forcing your opponent into a bad draw, but you still have your hand and whatever you have in play. It hurts to be hit by it when you’re in topdeck mode and you don’t have anything worthwhile in play, but how often will you get that chance? Plus, what if your opponent has three good (for the situation) cards on top of their deck when you use Chip-Chip Ice Axe? Indeed, you may accidentally help them out if they have three redundant but otherwise worthwhile cards on top of their deck. How could this be causing trouble in Japan? Cards we don’t yet have? Cards we have banned but they still have?
Yes, but just barely. Island Challenge Amulet (translated name; actual card may have something different) is a Tool that reduces the HP of an equipped Pokémon-EX/GX by 100 and causes it to give up one less Prize when KO’d by damage from an opponent’s attack. Unlike the Expanded Format we use, the Japanese Extra Format still allows Puzzle of Time. Here is a link to the “Amulet Hand Lock” decklist the winner of a recent Japanese tournament used. This person was not alone, as several placed well using the deck. I don’t want to explain every single card; besides article length, I’d be guessing about too many. In brief, by intentionally sacrificing your Jirachi-EX via Island Challenge Amulet and Mismagius (SM – Unbroken Bonds 78/214) via its “Mysterious Message” Ability, you intentionally bring yourself down to one Prize. At some point after falling behind in Prizes, you use Lt. Surge’s Strategy, then N, and finish with Mars.
Except you’re not done. You’ve obliterated your opponent’s hand, so you use Chip-Chip Ice Axe to control what is on top of their deck for the next turn. Ideally, you do this T1, the overall first turn of the game. Your opponent won’t technically have lost at this point, which is where Garchomp & Giratina-GX comes into play. Possibly literally. You’re behind in Prizes, so the combination of Double Dragon Energy and Karate Belt let it use its “Calamitous Slash” or “GG End-GX” attack. If your opponent only started with one Active, that is probably game right there. We could still do something similar in the Expanded Format, but with what we’re missing the consistency probably wouldn’t be good enough. Still, it gives you a great idea of how potent Chip-Chip Ice Axe can be. Oh, and also in the Limited Format, because decks typically have fewer draw/search options so even without other support, you have a better chance of getting lucky and forcing your opponent into a bad draw at a relevant moment.
Most people would probably think, “Why in the world would anyone be carrying an ice pick around with them all the time?” And I should think that they don’t consider the every day uses for such an ice pick, like chipping away at all the ice in your freezer when it gets stuck together in such a way that you can’t break off the little pieces and have to chisel away at the block of ice cause you didn’t set the freezer temperature right for the icebox.
Unrelated to home improvement tips, Chip-Chip Ice Axe has nothing to do with chipping away at your opponent’s ice block of a deck, cause all it does is allow you to pick one of the top 3 cards of their deck to put on top of it, after you’ve shuffled the rest back into their deck. It doesn’t seem like it does a whole lot, but there are a lot of reasons you’d want to do this. For starters, you’re stacking the top of your opponent’s deck, meaning that you could end up giving them a bad draw or a dead card, like an Energy when they’re low on cards or a Pokemon that they can’t evolve into or place on their filled-up Bench. There are few reasons to give them a Supporter or Stadium, but an unnecessary Item can be just as good too.
There are also those attacks that like to discard cards off the top of your opponent’s deck and then do damage accordingly based on what those cards are, or even just as cards with the side effect of milling your opponent’s stuff. Durant’s probably the most iconic Pokemon for milling decks out, and if you manage to put a particularly useful card on top of their deck before a Mountain Munch, you could rob your opponent of a valuable resource.
So Chip-Chip Ice Axe has its uses, but ultimately they’re all pretty niche. You’d be hard-pressed to find a deck that might run this, but for those that it can really work with – whether stacking cards or milling them out or even just making sure your opponent has a specific kind of card in hand – it does work pretty well.
Standard: 2.5/5 (I still think it’s got a lot of potential, but it’s also tough to fight for space in most decks)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (more cards for Durant mill strategy might be the key to this card’s success)
Limited: 3/5 (and even just stacking the card up in this format isn’t so bad)
Arora Notealus: There hasn’t really been an ice axe in the main games, mainly cause why would you really need one? You’ve got Pokemon to help you climb mountains or get rid of ice or help traverse the icy plains! There’s no real need for any of these kinds of tools, although maybe the Hikers skulking around justify it. Maybe that’s more on the commentary of Pokemon and humans co-existing in this world – just cause you can get a Pokemon partner to help with these things, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how to do them yourself!
Next Time: Let’s mix it up!
Well, I can see why Chip-Chip Ice Axe is ban worthy for Japan, and pretty much Otaku has explained the entire strategy. But that item card isn’t the only one getting banned in Japan; at least seven other cards are getting banned as well including Marshadow from Shining Legends, Flabebe from Forbidden Light, Mismagius from Unbroken Bonds, Red Card from XY, Ghetsis from Plasma Freeze (already banned from Expanded), Island Challenge Amulet from a future expansion, and Lt. Surge’s Strategy from Unbroken Bonds. There are certain combos which caused the opponent to have nothing in their hand (using Lt. Surge’s Strategy followed by N and Mars – only if your opponent is down to their last prize left), and Chip-Chip Ice Axe is there to add insult to injury simply by controlling what their potential top three cards would be. And you try to pick the useless one out of the three.
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