October 26, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Coming as a surprise to no one paying attention, today we look at Crystal Wall (BW: Boundaries Crossed 139/149). It is a Trainer-Item, specifically an Ace Spec Pokémon Tool that overwrites the printed maximum HP on Black Kyurem-EX, making it 300 instead of whatever it was before. Crystal Wall is one of the cards we skipped when we looked at the more general usage Ace Spec cards a few weeks ago. Being an Ace Spec means you’re using it and not something like Computer Search or Dowsing Machine. It also means that the Ability on Spiritomb (BW: Legendary Treasures 87/113) can prevent it from hitting the field. Not a lot of effects apply to all Trainers; Skyla can search them out, and (whether helping or countering), you shouldn’t be seeing the rest except in extremely casual play.
As an Item card, Crystal Wall has to deal with a lot of counters, the exact make-up of which differs between Expanded and the Legacy Formats. Being an Item makes it a legal target for Junk Arm, so in the Legacy Format, you can pretty easily get more than one chance with it. As this is also a Tool card, you’ll get the rare nice bit of help from cards like Eco Arm, but mostly Crystal Wall users live in fear of cards like Field Blower, Startling Megaphone, Tool Scrapper, and a few more. There are two versions of Black Kyurem-EX, and I’ll discuss them in a bit, but for now, we’ll only concern ourselves with their HP score: 180. Gaining an extra 120 HP would make them very difficult to OHKO, outside of Weakness, but also means your opponent has a chance to discard Crystal Wall before you can really take advantage of it.
We have two candidates for Black Kyurem-EX. First is BW: Boundaries Crossed 101/149 (also available as BW: Boundaries Crossed 145/149, BW: Black Star Promos BW62, and BW: Legendary Treasures 100/113) and second is BW: Plasma Storm 95/135 (no additional printings). Both are Basic, Dragon-Type Pokémon-EX with 180 HP Dragon Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CCC], and two attacks featuring [W], [L], and/or [C] Energy requirements. Being a Basic Pokémon is good now and was even better when these cards were new. The Dragon-Type used to be good for countering other Dragons but now is good because Double Dragon Energy not only speeds up individual Dragon-Types but makes it easier for them to mix and match in a given deck. 180 HP was as good as it got back then and remains fairly good now; probably surviving an attack outside of Weakness. Lack of Resistance was and still is typical, so we’ll move onto the Retreat Cost of three. This is chunky enough you should avoid paying as much of it as you can, though it does make these cards legal Heavy Ball targets (which usually isn’t worth it, but still).
BW: Boundaries Crossed 101/149 knows “Dragon Fang” for [LCC], which does 60 damage and has you flip a coin to see if the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed, and “Freeze Shock” for [LLWC], which does 150 damage and places an effect on the Pokémon which used it, preventing that Pokémon from attacking the next turn. Both are overpriced but do just enough to not be abysmal. Dragon Fan is mostly for when you’re desperate; Freeze Shock was meant to OHKO something, except when it released you not only lacked Double Dragon Energy, and to score a OHKO against the 160 to 180 HP Basic Pokémon-EX, you needed to make use of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. I remember folks trying to make it work, but we just had better options. Even upping its HP to 300 wouldn’t help it much.
Eventually, one of those better options was BW: Plasma Storm 95/135; normally I’d present this in a more neutral fashion, but not only was this card fairly well known back in the day, you might still see it in “Archie’s Blastoise” decks. Back when Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135; BW: Plasma Blast 16/101) had to be Evolved the old-fashioned way, it was actually the top deck (for a while) and got even better after this Black Kyurem-EX released. Why? It wasn’t for “Slash”, which only does 60 for [CCC] and was underpowered even back them. It was “Black Ballista”; besides being a cool name, it did 200 damage in one shot, enough to OHKO anything in the card pool of the time (before defensive buffs, at least). Black Ballista requires a hefty [WWLC] to use plus a three Energy discard cost, but Deluge made that quite possible. Besides so many good Water-Type attackers, the reason it is only sometimes still seen in Archie’s Blastoise decks is that 200 is no longer enough to OHKO anything unprotected. Most things, but you’ll still need Choice Band and a Professor Kukui to take out the biggest Pokémon-EX/GX.
Notice how I still haven’t brought up Crystal Wall; even in the deck that made Black Kyurem-EX (BW: Plasma Storm 95/135) famous, Crystal Wall wasn’t worth it. The general success of some early Dragon-Types meant there were a couple matchups your opponent could OHKO Black Kyurem-EX even if it had 300 HP. Not that most decks would need to resort to that; they had Tool Scrapper back then and have some even better options now. Sure, you could take advantage of the increased HP to heal in between (assuming Crystal Wall stuck around), but this niche keeps narrowing. The final nail in the coffin is what you’d expect; the best of the other Ace Spec options were too important, and still in are Expanded and the Legacy Format. If you manage to find a Limited Format event using BW: Boundaries Crossed and then pull both a Black Kyurem-EX and a Crystal Wall… enjoy them unless you also pull Computer Search. Of course, by that point, you should be leaving the store to avoid being accused of cheating and to try your luck on something even more rewarding.
Limited: 2.75 (aggregate)
While an HP boost is nice on paper, even a massive one isn’t worth your Ace Spec, especially as a Tool. If Black Kyurem-EX could have directly capitalized upon its HP on its own turn, then just maybe Crystal Wall would have had a chance. As is, even Crystal Edge does a better job and it has worse partners.
After looking at White Kyurem EX’s gadget last week, we now look at Black Kyurem EX’s gadget called Crystal Wall! This passive Ace Spec Pokemon Tool card grants Black Kyurem EX 300 HP instead of the original 180 HP. That makes OHKOs almost impossible outside of opposing dragons that do 150 or more (because two versions of Black Kyurem EX is weak to Dragon, not fairy) or Charizard or Rayquaza cards that do 300 damage!
There are two versions of Black Kyurem EX. The Boundaries Crossed version had two attacks. Dragon Fang costs LCC for 60 damage with a coin flip that has the chance of paralyzing the Defending Pokemon if heads. Freeze Shock does 150 for WLLC and this Pokémon cannot attack next turn if it uses this attack. You can still employ switch tactics to get rid of this clause.
The Plasma Storm version also had two attacks. Slash costs CCC for 60 damage. Black Ballista does 200 for WWLC with the forced three energy discard. This card was the 10th best card of BW Plasma Storm and the 6th best card of 2013. Black Kyurem EX was used in Blastoise decks where the player attached as many water energies as they like. The lightning energy cost can be met with Prism, Blend, or just a basic energy card. With Superior Energy Retrieval to get back 4 basic energy cards, the player can constantly spam Black Ballista with ease. 200 damage was a OHKO back then since Basic EX at the time had 180 HP, not even Eviolite can save it! Nowadays, power creep got the best of Black Kyurem EX, as Pokemon have HP as high as 250, making Black Ballista no longer the OHKO machine.
So both Black Kyurem cards won’t see as much play, and Crystal Wall is probably going to hinder more than it helps. I am not fond on cards that give a HP boost because things can go terribly wrong that would take that boost away. It’s also why I don’t play Fighting Fury Belt at all! So, let’s assume your Black Kyurem EX has Crystal Wall attached to it. You’re now at 300 HP with the tool. The opponent can get rid of it using Field Blower, Tool Scrapper, or put Rattata on the bench, bringing HP back to the original amount. This tool lands in the discard pile, fueling up the damage output of Garbodor’s Trashalanche. Even worse is if the Active Black Kyurem EX with that tool has exactly 120 HP or less; removing the tool will Knock Out the Pokemon because the damage now exceeds the original Max HP. Also, you will have to replace the KOed Pokemon with another one from your bench, and that replacement would take heavy damage or being KOed as well, making the opponent achieve multiple knock outs in this case.
Those doomsday scenarios are why I never run a HP boosting card, regardless of item, ability, or stadium. I would have said the same on much older cards such as Giant Cape (BW Dragons Exalted), Shaymin Lv.X (Platinum, Thankfulness Poke-Body), Floette (XY Flashfire), Aspertia City Gym (BW Boundaries Crossed), and Bodybuilding Dumbbells (SM Burning Shadows). The HP boost is very good in theory, but the format is extremely hostile on certain cards, thus keeping it away from seeing play.
So while Crystal Edge can contribute to White Kyurem’s viability, Crystal Wall does nothing to help Black Kyurem EX. Probably the best place to use it is in Limited. Even then, trying to pull both the EX and the Ace Spec card from 4-6 packs of BW Boundaries Crossed is almost a lost cause. If you do pull both, then having a 300 HP that has an attack that does damage AND has a chance to buy you a turn is great! You won’t be able to attack for two turns due to the energy cost.
Limited: 3/5 (aggregate, like White Kyurem last week, if you do pull both, then it’s a 4.75/5, if not, then it’s a 1/5)