– Lost Thunder
November 30, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Many cards are designed to help you out in tough situations. Most of the time, this is when you have more Prize cards left than your opponent, since that means you’re technically further away from winning than they are. Some give you Energy, others give you draw power. Today’s card just makes things a little easier on the attacking side.
Counter Gain is a Tool that lets you decrease the cost of your Pokemon’s attacks by 1 Colorless Energy, so long as you have more Prizes remaining than your opponent. Any card that can make attacks cheaper is a pretty good card right off the bat, but the real question is, is it worth running alongside or over the biggest Tools currently in play right now?
Currently, we have about 22 Tools in the SM-on format, about half of which are either copies of each other, only work with very specific Pokemon or Types, and/or don’t see any play. The big names on the list from what I see are Choice Band (obvs), Escape Board, Hustle Belt, and Choice Helmet. Getting cheaper attacks is overall better than being immune to a couple of Status Conditions and having one less Retreat Cost, and while Choice Helmet is good against ATTACKING EX/GX, Choice Band will likely remain the greater of the two. Hustle Belt has niche usage, in which case it’ll trump Counter Gain, but for most decks, Counter Gain will likely be run more often.
So in general, it seems like at the very least Counter Gain should appear alongside Choice Band in a few decks. Having generally less costly moves is always a good thing to have in most cases, so it should come as no surprise that Counter Gain almost made the list – and it did see some play at Sao Paulo in a few decks! Keep this card in mind, as it’s likely one of the best Tools out there – although it won’t help you if you’re up or equal in Prizes.
Standard: 4/5 (pretty solid card overall)
Expanded: 3.5/5 (probably some better Tools here)
Limited: 3.5/5 (in general, fewer Prizes and fewer GX showing up means more than likely you’ll either be winning enough to not need this or losing too much to make use of it for long)
Arora Notealus: Counter Gain is one of the few “comeback” cards that I like. In general, I’m not too much of a fan of cards that require specific situations to be good in – I already mentioned that with Naganadel and Ultra Beasts. But comeback cards tend to be more lenient, since they’re really designed with the idea that you might have fallen behind in mind anyway. It’s not great, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible.
Weekend Thought: Think any of these cards ought to have made our Top 10 list? There were a few contenders here! Where would you put these on the list if they made it onto yours? Did the results of Sao Paulo influence what you think about these cards? Have your thoughts on other cards on the Top 10 list changed after a couple weeks out on the streets with the new set?
Looks like we got another card with the word “Counter” in the card’s name. We’ve already Counter Catcher which acts as Gust of Wind and Counter Energy that provides 2 energy of any type. Both have requirements that you have to be behind on prizes, and Counter Gain is no exception. It makes the attack cost cost C less. This could be a good card because it reminds me of Team Galactic’s Invention G-101 Energy Gain, which worked for SP Pokemon. Being specific, you would think that Counter Gain is better. Not quite, since if you get ahead than your opponent, the the effect goes offline, making you short of one energy. I guess that restriction is keeping Counter Gain from being too good.
Counter Gain (LOT 170) makes its debut in the Pokemon TCG in the Lost Thunder expansion set. This Tool card allows you to attack for one Colorless energy less if you are trailing in prize cards. So Fairy Ninetales GX LOT attacks for a single Fairy energy if it’s behind in prizes and Shuckle GX attacks for free, but this Tool is completely useless on Pokemon such as Blacephelon GX and Sceptile GX.
Counter Gain has seen some usage in the first two tournaments it’s been Standard legal in. It was a one of in the third and fourth place lists at Roanoke this past weekend, and at least fifteen of the top 64 lists from Brazil (not all 64 lists available) carried it as a one of (one of those fifteen ran two Counter Gain).
Field Blowers are still seeing little play, as only two of the top eight decklists in Roanoke carried just a single Leaf Blower although at least 29 of the top 64 in Brazil played a single copy (one deck had a pair of Field Blowers). And if you attach this on the turn you use it to attack, you’ll get at least a single turn’s benefit out of it.
There are quite a few stall decks as well that don’t have any interest in taking prizes, and spread decks will always have a place in a meta that contains Shrine of Punishment, so Counter Gain probably has a place as at least a one of in those types of archetypes. Some decks always fall behind as well, and the well timed Counter Gain could accelerate your comeback. Overall, however, most decks will benefit more from the many other Tools we have available right now.
Standard: 2 out of 5
If you like playing from behind, this card’s for you. Believe me, I’ve played more than my share of spread and come from behind decks (Greninja Break). I’m sure I’ll try it out at some point but right now I’m just not playing a whole lot of decks where this card would be consistently helpful.
Note: I am embarrassed to admit it, but I posted a review and not only was I still deciding on the scores, but I realized I just didn’t like how it read. Below is a rewritten version of it that went up about 35 minutes after the original.
Time to wrap up this week’s selection of new (and one older) cards which have started showing up in successful decks now that SM – Lost Thunder has been legal for two (going on three) weeks. Like the others (even our Throwback) it is also a runner-up to our recent countdown, showing up on individual lists but not high or often enough to make the actual Top 11, and that card is Counter Gain (SM – Lost Thunder 170/214, 230/214). It is a Trainer-Item, specifically a Pokémon Tool. If you have it attached to one of your Pokémon and have more Prizes remaining in play than your opponent, the attack costs of the equipped Pokémon are [C] less. As most of it will prove relevant, let’s go ahead and run through the finer points of the card’s stats. Not a lot of effects in the TCG apply to all Trainers but there are some biggies that apply to Items and even more that apply to Tools. Helping Items out are cards like Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 132/214, 205/214, 225/214), Order Pad, and Volkner. Punishing or preventing their usage are cards like Garbodor (SM – Guardians Rising 51/145, 51a/145), Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant (XY 55/146), though those last two are Expanded-only. Tools need to be crazy good, work immediately, or be comboed with protection because Field Blower is a thing. It may vary from lose staple to true staple, but it is a huge risk to assume either extreme. Fortunately for Counter Gain, it does work immediately, if conditions are met.
Counter Gain still needs a good effect, however, because the competition is fierce, from Choice Band, Choice Helmet, Escape Board, and more deck specific options in Standard to all of those plus greats like Fighting Fury Belt, Float Stone, and Muscle Band in Expanded! Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, it does have a pretty good effect. Energy cost “negation” is just another form of Energy acceleration. You’ll need to remember that you (usually) cannot combine this with a Choice Band, but if you can access a higher damaging attack, you may be hitting harder in the long run. Counter Gain only works when you have more Prizes remaining than your opponent, a “come from behind” effect. Except Prize cards are a horrible misleading metric for which player is winning; both player’s fields, hands, even discard piles and the Lost Zone can ensure the player with more Prizes left is actually winning! That is before we factor in “swings” caused by how not all Pokémon give up a single Prize when KO’d. Also, there are decks that aren’t trying to win by taking all six Prizes, so once you get ahead of them, Counter Gain simply works for them.
Counter Energy does face some competition as well… but sometimes they just play nice and show up in the same deck. I’m specifically thinking of cards like Counter Energy, but with [CC] attack costs even Double Colorless Energy might enjoy the help, and that’s what we’re seeing in recent finishers from the Sao Paulo International Championship and the Roanoke, VA Regional Championship. We’re not seeing anyone win the event, but we are seeing decks with a clutch Counter Gain finish as high as third place. Based on my PTCGO experiences, I was expecting Counter Gain to just join Counter Energy and Double Colorless Energy in contemporary spread decks, because the cards they favor do indeed rely on attacks with either [CC] or [XC] costs, but it looks like Counter Gain working on Pokémon-GX means even decks like Zoroark Control or the Alolan Ninetales (same version as above)/Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX decks are taking advantage of it as well!
So this card should be of use in Standard, and I’m thinking it also will be in Expanded. I don’t know if a lot of classic Pokémon-EX are going to use it the way Pokémon-GX have been in Standard, because they have Mega Turbo for Item-based Energy acceleration. I also already mentioned great Tools like Muscle Band… but I’m sure that somewhere in the card pool we can find something that just needs [C] shaved off its attack costs. In the case of [P] Types, you might even combine Dimension Valley with Counter Catcher to reduce costs by [CC]! Unless you’re taking the risk and running a +39 deck or you somehow have a deck with no (or almost no) [C] Energy attach requirements, you run Counter Gain in the Limited Format. There is one last thing I want to address though. My general concern with these kinds of effects are
Come-from-behind effects are great when you’re playing for fun, especially when you’ve got two players with very different levels of skill. When you’re evenly matched and the “fun” comes from competitive play, however, the fact that the really great players that can “fool the system” and haphazard players who regularly fall behind benefit so much from these mechanics, basically punishing everyone else for just trying to win the normal way… I don’t like that.
Counter Gain isn’t a must-run for all decks, but it already has its niche staked out, and a changing metagame could easily send it rocketing up the ranks. Get a few copies, and keep an eye out for attackers that get a far better reward from it than they would more typical inclusions like Choice Band… and keep an eye on Pokémon capable of equipping multiple Tools at once, as well.
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