– Cosmic Eclipse
January 21, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Whenever there’s a card with the word “Choice” in its name, it almost always have something to with Pokemon that gives away multiple prizes like Pokémon EX or Pokémon-GX, at least that’s what it looks like. Choice Band is an offensive tool while today’s card is the opposite. Choice Helmet from SM Lost Thunder is a Pokemon Tool card which lets you take 30 less damage from your opponent’s Pokemon-EX and/or Pokémon-GX after applying Weakness & Resistance.
I don’t recall Choice Helmet seeing a lot of play. While defense is the best offense, even offense is the best defense. Choice Helmet is extremely passive, you are relying on your opponent to do the job and it may or may not alter the turns needed to avoid KOs. Even worse is that your opponent might use Field Blower to remove that Pokémon Tool as if nothing happened. Choice Band and Field Blower have left rotation but there’s still the threat of Pokémon Tools being removed, and in Standard, Faba does his job even though he isn’t seen frequently. Pokemon-V and Pokemon V-Max doesn’t care about Choice Helmet and can still deal regular damage, which ruins its future potential.
Choice Helmet (SM – Lost Thunder 169/214; 229/214) is a Pokémon Tool that reduces the damage taken from attacks made by your opponent’s Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX. Specifically, it reduces the damage taken by 30, after Weakness and Resistance have already been applied. If it had applied before Weakness, its effect would have been stronger but also clashed with general card design, but the real question is “How much does this matter?”
To answer that, we’ll look at whether reducing 30 damage is enough to matter. The answer is simple but unsatisfying: “It depends.” Whether the reduction is enough to buy at least one extra turn for a Pokémon depends on the exact decks, deck builds, cards that will be available that during those turns, and even the actual decisions your opponent makes. What I can tell you is that we have – and have had – a metagame where Pokémon-GX are either the dominant force. No, they aren’t always the main attacker (or even included) in the dominant deck of a given period, but even when a deck lacking them is on top, how it handles them (and before them, how it handled Pokémon-EX) was a significant part of what made it that good.
Choice Helmet can be attached to any Pokémon, and the only condition on its effect activating is that your opponent attacks for damage with a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX. Even when that happens, your opponent may not be hitting the numbers where reducing that damage by 30 changes anything, but likely, it will. Most decks aren’t doing 40 or more damage than they need for the KO’s they can score. You do also have to worry about anti-Tool (and sometimes anti-Trainer or anti-Item) effects as well; Tools can be negated by Lysandre Labs, discarded by Faba or Field Blower, etc. The biggest obstacle to Choice Helmet’s success in Expanded, though, are all the better Tool options: Choice Band, Float Stone, Muscle Band, and more. Even when it comes to soaking damage, it faces competition: Hard Charm reduces the damage something takes by 20, no matter what is doing the attacking.
In the Standard Format, however, the current options are less robust. Maybe Escape Board or U-Turn Board or Spell Tag are better, but it will be on a case-by-case basis. Which is why it has started showing up in successful tournament deck lists. Not all of them; just certain builds of certain decks, including one or two copies, because that particular deck expects to face some match-ups where -30 makes the difference. In the Limited Format, Choice Band probably won’t make much difference because your opponent isn’t too likely to have a Pokémon-GX but you may as well run it in case you do run into one and it could make a difference.
Choice Band is a good card, but not a great card… except there is one last thing I need to mention: it is about to get worse. The only reason Choice Helmet works against both Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX is because its text specifically mentions both. Which means the new 2-Prize mechanic, Pokémon V, won’t be affected by Choice Helmet. Pokémon V are all but guaranteed to eat up more and more of the competitive real estate occupied by Pokémon-GX, the same way Pokémon-GX crowded out more and more Pokémon-EX.
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