Copycat – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: September 16, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This week, we’re giving Copycat another re-review. Why? Because it was just reprinted again. Copycat is a Trainer-Supporter that has you shuffle your hand into your deck, then draw a card for each card in your opponent’s hand. Here are the English printings of Copycat, showing set, card number, and release date, with links if there’s a Pojo review from around that time:
- Expedition 138/165 (September 15, 2002)
- EX – Team Rocket Returns 83/109 (November 8, 2004)
- EX – Dragon Frontiers 73/101 (November 8, 2006)
- HeartGold & SoulSilver 90/123 (February 10, 2010)
- HS Trainer Kit – Raichu Half Deck 21/30 (May 12, 2010)
- Call of Legends 77/95 (February 9, 2011)
- SM – Celestial Storm 127/168, 163/168 (August 3, 2018)
- SW – Evolving Skies 143/203, 200/203, 222/203 (August 27, 2021)
Yes, this is the 8th review we’ve done for this card. Besides reviews, we can reference World Championship Decks to get an idea of how often is was played. Remember, these four decks don’t represent the entire metagame, but are selected from among the top performing decks in each age group in that year’s World Championship.
- 2004: Three out of four decks ran Copycat, with two decks running two and one running a full four count.
- 2005: Again, three out of four World Championship decks included Copycat, with two running two and one running four.
- 2006: Two decks ran Copycat, one running two and the other running just one.
- 2007: Another repeat with one deck running two copies of Copycat, and another running just one.
- 2008: For the third year in a row, one deck ran two Copycat and another ran it as a single, for two total World Championship decks.
- 2009: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2010: No World Championship Decks ran Copycat.
- 2011: Two decks ran Copycat, with one running two and the other running just one.
- 2012: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2013: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2014: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2015: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2016: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2017: Copycat wasn’t legal.
- 2018: No World Championship Decks ran Copycat.
- 2019: No World Championship Decks ran Copycat.
There were no World Championship decks for 2020 or 2021, but Copycat wouldn’t have been legal for the 2021 World Championship anyway (it would have most likely occurred in August).
With all that out of the way, finally I’ll address Copycat’s usefulness. If you read through those older reviews, you may be surprised that at least some reviewers were gushing over how good it was. I wasn’t reviewing at that time, and I don’t remember how I felt back then. What I can tell you from looking back is that this might have been the perfect time for Copycat. Copycat was one of the first Supporter cards released. This would have been during the 2003 Standard Format (which ran from 2002 to 2003), the final Standard Format under Wizards of the Coast. Not only were players unfamiliar with how to optimize their Supporter usage, but there were two cards that made it quite likely players would have larger hand sizes as their turn ended: Cleffa (Neo Genesis 20/111) and Professor Elm.
Cleffa had a shuffle-and-draw attack, priced at just [C], that left a player with a brand new seven card hand as their turn ended. Professor Elm was a “normal” Trainer, which means it functioned like (and in modern Unlimited counts as) an Item card. It’s also a shuffle-and-draw effect; you shuffle your hand into your deck then draw a new hand of seven cards. The catch is you’re not allowed to play any Trainer cards after using Professor Elm. Which would be awful if it was a Supporter, but like I said, it could be played after you used a Supporter that same turn. Between Cleffa and Elm, sometimes you’d get to use Copycat to shuffle your hand into your deck and draw seven cards, and probably could get at least a shuffle-and-draw for four or five cards.
So… yeah, that situation changed. Wizards of the Coast failed in their bid to renew the license, and then the predecessors to TPCi took over and actually did a great job with the game. Oh, and they had a set rotation for Standard, giving us the 2004 Standard Format… which removed the sets containing Cleffa and Professor Elm. Fortunately for Copycat, players still tended to end their turns with good-sized hands, so Copycat remained a good card. Copycat would be reprinted a few times, keeping Copycat legal for subsequent Standard Formats, but then we got a sizable break from the card. When Copycat returned, I assumed it would be as useful as before but I was wrong!
Part of it was players ending with smaller hand sizes. Part of it was competition from moder modern draw cards: Professor Oak’s New Theory (shuffle-and-draw for six, like Cynthia in Expanded), N, and Professor Juniper. We’ve had a similar quality of draw power since, and often decks that reward you for efficient decks, meaning you get cards in hand, you use most of them, and next turn you have something to reload your hand. Copycat doesn’t like this. Copycat still serves a purpose, though: decks that make your opponent draw, and decks that need to have the same hand size as your opponent.
Expanded is about the same; Copycat faces a lot more competition, but is easier to use well thanks to Supporter search and recycling. Still probably only worth using in decks that want to sync hand sizes and/or make your opponent draw. Copycat is legal for the Legacy Format; I remember it being functional but still usually outclassed there. Even in the Theme Format, Copycat is hard to predict; your opponent may have a massive hand, might be top-decking, or anything in between.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 2/5
- Legacy: 2/5
- Theme: 3/5
Our Throwback for this week is Copycat, which has been reprinted once again!
This card debuted on Expedition, and received several reprints along the way via EX Team Rocket Returns, EX Dragon Frontiers, HGSS series, SM Celestial Storm, and this time, Evolving Skies. This is a Supporter card that makes you shuffle your hand and draw cards equal to the amount of cards your opponent has in their hand. Needless to say, if your opponent has very few cards in their hand, then Copycat won’t do you any favors. If your opponent has way too many cards in their hand that they can’t play right away, the draw yield could even surpass Professor’s Research!
There might be certain situations where you might be able to grab an opportunity to use Copycat right after your opponent had just used certain card effects that ended their turn. An example that I can think of is Snorlax’s Gourmandize ability, which lets them draw cards until they have seven cards in their hand and ends their turn. With that, you could use Copycat and get seven cards in your hand because of Snorlax. There are also few Pokémon whose attacks/abilities that rely on having the same amount of cards as your opponent; Yanmega and Noivern cards come into mind. Those scenarios may or may not amount to much, but that gives some incentive to use Copycat in the present day.
Still, this is a card that depends on a lot of variables, hence why Copycat isn’t a reliable card when it comes to draw power. And with Professor’s Research and Marnie still in the Standard format, there’s even less incentive to use Copycat, let alone Expanded. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use Copycat, though the amount of copies that players would use is a single copy. Perhaps they wanted to cash in on the opportunity if it’s possible; your opponent won’t know that you have Copycat in your deck until they see it either in action or if it is public knowledge.
Times are drastically changing, whilst much older formats had players cultivating their hands to be a big as possible, now it’s players trying to thin their hand as much as possible. As such, Copycat won’t be giving you many cards than before.
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