– Ultra Prism
August 6, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Cynthia from SM Ultra Prism is the runner up by being the 2nd best card lost to rotation. You can read two previous reviews of that card: both being the Best Card of the Set and the best card of 2018. It should be noted that we were extremely excited for such an effect that was reintroduced, hence the near perfect scores, but after a long period of time passes, I felt like I was missing the point. That’s not to say this card was bad, it’s just that I was thinking too highly of it. Shuffling your hand into your deck and drawing six cards is never a bad effect, but it pales in comparison to some of the draw based supporters that sometimes seemed to weave in and out in Standard play.
Cynthia didn’t have an easy start. She debuted when Professor Sycamore and N was still Standard legal on the 2017-2018 season, and that causes conflicts between the three Supporters. While some decks appreciate her ability to conserve cards and draws a guaranteed amount, others wanted to dump their hand and draw seven cards or to play a card that involves variables. Players may risk getting some the same cards that they’ve just shuffled into their deck, hence that drawback that I didn’t mention more than 2 years ago. As more and more expansions were released after Ultra Prism, you’ve got cards like Tate & Liza, Sightseer, Erika’s Hospitality, Ingo & Emmet, and Dedenne-GX that could rival draw power or provide other utility alongside it. Cynthia was never the most dominant card that I’ve envisioned due to massive competition from other Supporter cards of both Standard and Expanded. And she’ll never be after Professor’s Research and Marnie was released, as they both did something identical (the former) and similar (the ladder). They’ll, once again, clash with Cynthia in decks that are already tight on space. Not to mention that using Cynthia is severely detrimental on Granbull’s All Out attack needing an empty hand or decks trying to win with 35 cards on their hand via Unown Hand Ability.
Cynthia didn’t really compliment her Ace Pokemon either on both Garchomp: the dragon type version in Ultra Prism and the Fighting type version in Forbidden Light. It’s Royal Blade attack references Cynthia; it costs FCC for 100 damage plus 100 more damage if you’ve played Cynthia during your turn. Doing 200 damage for 3 energy is good, but having to play a specific card every turn is not, and you’ll miss other opportunities to use a different Supporter on that specific turn. Even the Mach Strike Theme Deck didn’t live up to my expectations even though Garchomp could land OHKOs with Royal Blades if the condition is fulfilled. 2 copies of Cynthia and a Pal Pad tries to facilitate that combo, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Despite that, Cynthia is still a awesome general usage card for the Limited and various other Theme Decks that she appeared in.
Standard: 3.5/5 (Soon to be N/A)
Cynthia is still a good card, but thanks to massive competition I don’t know if she’ll remain to be a great card, just a good card in an already crowded field. I also worry that I low-balled it; she still gives you a good, fixed amount of cards; I just don’t know if Expanded decks would have room for her or that players can take the risk of using other prominent Supporter cards. If there weren’t that many good draw based Supporters, she would have topped my list. Instead, I had her as my 4th place pick because other Supporter cards in Standard took her place.
Cynthia (SM – Ultra Prism 119/156, 119a/156, 148/156; Shiny Vault SV82/SV94) secures 2nd-Place in our countdown, and for veteran enough players, this is a familiar pain. Cynthia is a Trainer-Supporter whose effect has you shuffle your hand into your deck, then draw six cards. Cynthia was our number one pick for SM – Ultra Prism, and also the number one card of 2018. She’s not the first example of this; Professor Oak’s New Theory (HeartGold & SoulSilver 101/123; Call of Legends 83/95) released as a Supporter-Supporter with the same effect… and no, Supporter-Supporter isn’t a typo. The short version is that, for a time, Supporters were “spun off” into their own card Type, but once this decision was reversed, the “Supporter-Supporters” were treated as Trainer-Supporters. Which means that the only game-relevant things separating Cynthia and Professor Oak’s New Theory are their names. Professor Oak’s New Theory received a regular review here, and was a Throwback Thursday pick here.
Professor Oak’s New Theory was released about a year before Professor Juniper, the first Trainer-Supporter that had you discard your hand to draw seven cards. What is more, N released about half of a year after that; Professor Oak’s New Theory would rotate, but not until we’d enjoyed the Supporter trinity of N, Professor Juniper, and Professor Oak’s New Theory for most of the 2012 Standard Format. If it seems redundant, to an extent it was… but once we lost Professor Oak’s New Theory due to rotation, we realized how important it was to have a strong draw option that did not force you to discard your entire hand or was highly variable and also affected your opponent!
Which is where we find ourselves again. Professor’s Research, like Professor Sycamore before it, is just Professor Juniper by a new name, though N has been succeeded by Marnie. Except it isn’t quite the same, because non-Supporter draw effects were less ubiquitous back then; they still were a “thing”, but you didn’t have the equivalent of Dedenne-GX knocking around that Standard Format. Cynthia is not a deck staple, at least, not anymore. Exactly how much she is used depends on the deck: you might find zero copies included, you may find the full four, or you may find a number in between. Because of what happened when we lost Professor Oak’s New Theory, I think we will feel the loss of Cynthia, sooner if not later.
At least we will still be able to enjoy her presences in Expanded. Due to cards like Tapu Lele-GX and VS Seeker, decks can take a seemingly erratic approach to Supporters, running low counts (even just singles) of seemingly important staples. Only certain builds, usually those where hitting a particular Supporter repeatedly, need to run more than one or two of that card. The data is still multiple months out of date, but it appears Cynthia will sometimes show up as a single, sometimes as a multiple, but usually not at all. That may sound awful, but this is Expanded: there are so many Supporters here that it doesn’t mean Cynthia is bad, it just means she’s not among the best of the best…
…and a metagame shift could easily bring her back to her former status. Cynthia is a must-run in the Limited Format, and great in the Theme Format. She is not perfect, however; you’re less likely to reliably draw into Supporters, or have non-Supporter options to keep your deck running smoothly. This means shuffling away good cards actually feels like a cost. She shows up in the Mach Strike, Twilight Rogue, Relentless Flame, Torrential Cannon, Lightning Loop, Battle Mind, Soaring Storm, Laser Focus, Towering Heights, and Unseen Depths Theme Decks.
As it is an example of “same card, different name”, and you can’t alter Theme Decks in the Theme Format, it is worth noting that Professor Oak’s New Theory can be found in the Growth Clash, Ember Spark, Mind Flood, Verdant Frost, Royal Guard, and Retort Theme decks. Similarly, since this would have been a Throwback Thursday if it wasn’t part of the countdown, and Cynthia would be the exact same if it was her instead of Professor Oak’s New Theory in the card pool, Professor Oak’s New Theory is – or at least was – pretty much a staple in the Legacy Format.
Cynthia is a very good card in the Standard Format, a solid card in the Expanded Format, a must-run in the Limited and Theme Formats, and her predecessor Professor Oak’s New Theory is pretty much a staple in the Legacy Format. The only places where Cynthia isn’t benefit from me rounding up my scores are the Expanded and Theme Formats. Yes, I’m high-balling her Standard Format score, because Cynthia isn’t the powerhouse she once was… but she’s also the reliable draw Supporter that rarely backfires. The worst she’ll do is whiff on drawing you something good, maybe because you got some (or all) of the cards you shuffled back into your deck. She was my number one pick for this countdown, even though most decks won’t miss her in the short term. I could be persuaded that we lost something more important… however, you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see if such a card is our top choice for this countdown.
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