– Crimson Invasion
November 24, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
It’s Harvey’s last day as as Card of the Writer. He’s moving on to bigger things. Thanks for all the great reviews Harvey! Good Luck out there! – Pojo
Counter Energy (Crimson Invasion, 100/111) tops our list of the ten best cards coming out of the Crimson Invasion expansion set. This Special Energy card provides one, Colorless energy… unless:
In which case, this counts as TWO energy of EVERY type.
So I’ve been saying for a while that the gap between one and two prize Pokemon has grown so wide that it’s extremely difficult for single prize Pokemon to actually compete at the highest levels with two prize Pokemon. At London Intercontinentals, only two decks featuring single prize Pokemon cracked the top 32 (Greninja (Breakpoint, 40/122) and the Heatmor (Burning Shadows, 24/147) Raichu (Burning Shadows, 41/147) rogue deck. Counter Energy appears to be Pokemon’s attempt to reduce the size of that gap. It definitely helps out so many of these Stage 2 Pokemon that we see that have three or four energy attachment costs for what would be a decent attack if it weren’t for being on a Stage 2 Pokemon and requiring so much energy.
Unfortunately, Counter Energy’s inherent limitation of only being able to be used if you’re behind in the game pretty much means that if you do manage to get into a position where you might be able to win, then you’re going to be limited again to such an extent that your opponent will probably be able to come in and snatch the game away from you at the last moment because what had been two energy of every color suddenly became one energy with no color.
I’ve used it a little bit in my spread decks and with Yveltal Break (Steam Siege, 66/114), but I haven’t been able to have any success with it. Honestly, I’d rather just run Energy Loto (Guardians Rising, 122/145) in most cases. But there might be some Pokemon (maybe Aegislash (Breakpoint, 62/122)?) out there that might really benefit from Counter Energy, I just haven’t found a deck out there for it (in fairness, I haven’t really tried that hard).
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
Maybe if it functioned differently, say, caused itself to be discarded upon usage in an attack, maybe then Counter Energy might be more functional, but right now, I am just not a big fan of it.
At last, we come to our first place pick, Counter Energy (SM: Crimson Invasion 100/111, 122/111). This new Special Energy releases at a time when punishing Special Energy usage is fairly simple so long as you have room for a Basic Pokémon (Kartana-GX) or an Item (Enhanced Hammer). If you only have room for a Supporter, you’ve got Plumeria or Team Flare Grunt (which don’t actually care if the Energy is basic or Special), or Xerosic (in Expanded). We do actually have some useful, easy to run Special Energy support in the form of Special Charge; this isn’t unprecedented in the history of Pokémon, but we’ve never had an Item this effective at recovering Special Energy. Put the two together, and you can see why the best Special Energy cards see heavy play, the worst are mostly forgotten, and those in between are just happy they get used in whatever niche they occupy.
So, what does Counter Energy actually do? If attached to a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX, it provides [C] Energy. That is also all it does when attached to anything and you have the same or fewer Prizes left in play than your opponent. If you have more Prizes left than your opponent e.g. you’re losing and the Pokémon in question isn’t a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX, Counter Energy provides two units of Energy that simultaneously count as all Energy Types at once. This creates a tremendous speed boost for what were otherwise slower attacks, while still taking care of what would normally be speedier ones as well: where “X” is a non-Colorless Energy requirement, Counter Energy can fuel any attack that costs [C], [X], [CC], [XC], or [XX]. At least, on something that isn’t a Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX.
Much like yesterday’s Counter Catcher, Counter Energy seems to have an ancestor from the Gen III inspired days of the Pokémon TCG: Scramble Energy, a card we re-reviewed back in September for one of our Throwback Thursday reviews. There are definite differences between Counter Energy and Scramble Energy beyond their names. Scramble Energy could not be attached to Basic Pokémon or Pokémon-ex (the Gen III equivalent of Pokémon-GX), and if you still manage to get it onto a Basic, a Pokémon-ex, or a Basic Pokémon-ex, the text also states you must immediately discard Scramble Energy. While attached to a legal target, when the rest of its effect wasn’t working, it also provided one unit of [C] Energy. When you had more Prizes left in play than your opponent, it would provide three units of Energy that simultaneously counted as all Energy Types. I seem to recall it taking a bit for most folks to properly utilize Scramble Energy, but it eventually became a potent play in many decks. Counter Energy provides a smaller boost, but it can still be used to meet [C] costs when one (or none) of the conditions are being met, and working on Basic Pokémon (other than Pokémon-EX/GX) is a big, big deal. Another major difference, though, was the cardpool; the short version is that nearly every deck had a search effect that allowed a clutch Scramble Energy to show up when needed, even if being run in a low count.
Clearly, decks that plan on falling behind in Prizes and either already run, or could stand to include, some compatible Basic Pokémon should be giving this a look. I am stressing Basic Pokémon because they are the easiest to add; if you have room for an Evolution line, contain an Evolution line that could easily attack thanks to Counter Energy (where it couldn’t before). You also may be able to work in an alternate final Stage for an Evolution line, such as the regular version alongside a Pokémon-GX (that couldn’t itself use Counter Energy). This approach allows any slower deck – or even a faster deck that knows it will eventually fall behind – to prep for bad match ups. Gardevoir-GX has been enjoying much success since its release; a deck with the space for a few Counter Energy and a few Cobalion (XY: Steam Siege 74/114) become a plausible counter, instead of an outlandish one. I’ve yet to see any results from it, but I know some trying to pair Counter Energy with Electrode (XY: Evolutions 40/108); use its Ability to KO itself and become a Special Energy that provides [LL] for a Lightning-Type Pokémon, then drop a Counter Energy to pay most four Energy costs.
We have not really seen this yet, however. I still only have decklists for five of the top eight finishers from the Masters Division of the European International Championships, but unless Counter Energy is all over the lower divisions or the three missing lists, it looks like its being ignored. That is a good word for it: ignored. With Counter Catcher, I could accept that it wasn’t performing anywhere near as well as I had expected, but here, I’m still convinced that Counter Energy has a high probability of becoming a significant part of the metagame. It will just take the many existing decks, most of which are not current heavyweights, some time to gel. I’m not sure if it will be better in Standard or Expanded, but I do recommend it for the Limited Format. At least, if your deck isn’t built around running a lone, Basic Pokémon-GX. In most other cases, it provides valuable insurance; if you can’t make use of its effect, then you’re likely already winning and can afford having a Special Energy that provides only [C].
Counter Energy took first place by appearing on five of our six individual Top 10 lists, earning 42 voting points. On my own list, it was my first place pick. I’m a little more confident with this one that people will find a use for it, but I have tempered my expectations. I do not like so much of my argument resting on “Well, we just have to find the cards that work with it!”. At the same time, this seems like history is going to repeat itself, so I’ll take the chance that I’m completely wrong, nothing will ever make good enough use of this card to justify my faith in it, and… well, it won’t be the first time.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know how closely packed the top four finishers were in this list, with the grouping even tighter for the top three. I didn’t put Counter Energy as my number one because it was heads and tails above the rest, I put it there because I wasn’t expecting as much from some of the other cards that (thankfully) made the list as well. I can’t say Counter Energy is still my number one pick, but I’m hard-pressed to name which card really ought to be in that place.
Finally the best card of the set: Counter Energy! This special energy card has two built in restrictions: First you have to have more prizes than your opponent, and second, it has no effect on Pokemon-EX or GX other than providing C energy. Once you get past these hurdles, then it provides 2 units of energy of any type (or should I say all types?).
I mentioned a tiny bit on Scramble Energy Throwback Thursdays review. It may not provide three units of energy like Scramble Energy did, but I think providing 2 units is still a good thing. You can easily fuel any attacks that cost two energy with ease, as well as retreating with CC or below and effects that say discard 2 Energy or below.
Of course, if you have a huge lead, such as when you are about to win, then Counter Energy’s effect diminishes in that situation. But as far as the card pool goes, Counter Energy is the best there is for providing 2 units of energy next to Double Colorless Energy. And it can be recovered via Special Charge!
Conclusion: When doing the top 10 cards for Crimson Invasion, I almost couldn’t find 10 cards because the set was quite underwhelming in terms of what these cards do and in regards to its playability. Nine of the ten cards that I had on my personal list actually made the Pojo’s collective list (Gengar wasn’t one of them) (almost nailed it minus the Peeking Red Card). So, I hoped you readers enjoyed the top 10 of the Crimson Invasion set as well as a great Thanksgiving.
And oof, its what might be the best Special Energy from the new Sun and Moon block. Counter Energy! The best energy to use on a full 1 prizer Pokemon deck that does need a bit longer to setup, that needs ridiculous energy costs to power up when you want them to be ready in a single turn, and the ones where just setting up quicker is.. better.
Standard: 4.4 / 5
And there you have it; our Top 10 card list for the new SM Crimson Invasion set. Personally, I found the set a bit underwhelming, with just 4 cards from my original lists making the cut. But what about you?