– Base Set
January 16, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Energy Retrieval is this week’s Throwback Thursday. You can read previous reviews: one from July 7, 2011 and one from March 13, 2015. This is a card that was released way back in Base Set, and it’s original effect was to discard one card from your hand so that you get to put two basic energies from the discard pile onto your hand. Much later, it’s Black & White print removed the discard cost; you simply put two basic energy cards from your discard pile onto your hand. Now, Energy Retrieval has another errata on Sword & Shield; you get to put UP TO two basic energy cards from your discard pile onto your hand.
The wording might not matter as much, but it does make Energy Retrieval more flexible. Certain decks will continue to benefit reaping the maximum amount so that you can use those basic energy cards as a manual attachment, discard fodder, or even attaching multiple energies at once. However, with the “up to” text, there are other decks that would only need to recover a single basic energy card instead of two. You could grab just a single basic energy for a manual attachment, and draw based cards like Cynthia or Lillie will have a higher draw yield for you than if you had retrieved two energies. Granbull’s All Out attack requires you to have no cards in your hand to deal 160 damage (30 otherwise), and Energy Retrieval’s “up to” wording helps you not make your hand size big enough to have cards that you couldn’t play at the moment. Other than those examples, they don’t amount to much.
There are various energy recursion cards that may compete against Energy Retrieval, but the ones that do more than Energy Retrieval tends to be specialized (like Fire Crystal recovering three Fire energies, though you could use Energy Retrieval alongside it), have some sort of cost (such as Superior Energy Retrieval recovering 4 basic energy cards after you discard two cards from your hand; Fisherman fetches 4 basic energies but uses up your Supporter of the turn), and put stuff back into your deck instead of your hand (like Energy Recycler). Energy Retrieval has no drawbacks (other than being an item card), no cost, and can fetch for any energy type. And that’s why Energy Retrieval will have a place in my deck!
Energy Retrieval has been released many times: Base Set 81/102, Base Set 2 110/130, Legendary Collection 107/110, Black & White 92/114, BW- Plasma Blast 80/101, XY – Primal Clash 126/160, XY – Ancient Origins 99/98, XY – Evolutions 77/108, Sun & Moon 116/149, and Shining Legends 59/73. There’s a nine year gap between the Legendary Collection release (2002) and the Black & White printing (2011)! Until six months ago, Energy Retrieval was still Standard-legal, and it likely soon will be again. While not 100% confirmed, there were recently several additions announced to the Pokémon TCG Errata list, with Energy Retrieval being among them… so we’re probably getting yet another printing of it in Sword & Shield.
Originally, Energy Retrieval was a Trainer card that let you trade one of your cards in hand for up to two basic Energy cards. While it would have been played exactly the same way modern Item cards are, there were no subcategories of Trainers when this card originally released. Based on conflicting hazy memories and only a few trustworthy deck lists from the time period when Energy Retrieval was new, it was a good but not great card. Between the discard costs of your own cards and the discarding effects of your opponent’s, being able to recycle basic Energy via Trainer was useful and this was the best option to do that until Nightly Garbage Run released in the Team Rocket expansion.
Originally, Energy Retrieval was one of the cards “cut” by the very first set rotation, though it snuck back into the 2001-2002 Standard Format when it received its second reprint in the Legendary Collection. It was legal for the entirety of the 2002-2003 Standard Format, before rotation axed it once again. I don’t recall how useful it was during this time, and lack tournament results or trustworthy accounts from competitive players to reference. This was the tail end of the WotC period of the Pokémon TCG, and we wouldn’t have a robust tournament structure within Organized Play until Nintendo/PUI (later TCPi) took over.
We then jump to Energy Retrieval being re-released in Black & White, which is around the time we first reviewed the card. Yes, for whatever reason, we never looked at Energy Retrieval during its original run. The Black & White printing was the first to lack a discard cost, and officially declare Energy Retrieval to be an Item card. It was a solid addition to the card pool, useful in decks that needed to get basic Energy back into the hand from the discard pile but couldn’t spare their Supporter, or using a more roundabout method like shuffling the Energy into the deck and then having to draw or search for it. My old review is pretty painful to read, especially as that is the “corrected” one (despite the many typos).
Energy Retrieval was released a few more times, and one of those lead to a re-review, where I’d warmed up to the card a little more. Ignoring the typos in the review, I still stand by what I said; we have other forms of Energy recycling, but Energy Retrieval is still a good option. In all Formats where it is legal, it makes it easier to run multiple basic Energy Types and deal with Energy being discarded. Sometimes it will handle the job alone, sometimes with other cards, and sometimes it gets left out in favor of those other cards.
Energy Retrieval will probably be useful in Standard once it re-releases, for the same reason. In Expanded, what hurts it more than the direct competition is the indirect; namely, the many decks that work well running on mostly or only Special Energy. For the Limited Format, using any set that contains Energy Retrieval, it is probably a must-run. The main exception is if you’re running a +39 build and have no reason to discard (and thus, no need to reclaim) basic Energy cards. The Legacy Format is much like Expanded, but with less competition. Not enough to alter the score, but worth mentioning. The Theme Format is like a more structured version of the Limited Format; most decks that contain Energy Retrieval have either the discard costs, multiple basic Energy Types, or both to make it a worthy addition.
Oh yeah, the reason for the re-review. It is a small change, but the wording reverted for part of Energy Retrieval’s effect; you may now add “…up to…” two basic Energy cards from your discard pile to your hand. The vast majority of the time, this shouldn’t make a difference: if you had only one basic Energy card in your discard pile, the “Do as much as you can.” principle meant you could still use Energy Retrieval to reclaim it. Though quite rare, there are times when this will matter. Maybe you need to thin your hand, or you’re dealing with an effect that wants more Energy in your discard pile but you still need to recycle one Energy so you can attack.
Wow, and to think I almost made today a double review alongside another Item that recently received an erratum. I should have realized with the multiple wordings and age of Energy Retrieval, there was a lot to say! I do wonder if I jumped the gun, since that (probable) Sword & Shield reprint is so close. At least I’m fairly certain we won’t run into the issue of the reprint being so potent we want to sneak it into our next countdown; Sword & Shield looks to be another set full of many Format-shaping cards!
It’s not every day you get to look at a card that was printed all the way back in Base Set. But when you do, it’s usually because something big has come up, and in the case of Energy Retrieval…well, it’s not that big, but there is an important change to the card.
Energy Retrieval initially started out as a Trainer card back in Base Set where its effect was to add up to 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile to your hand in exchange for discarding a card. It actually had received 1 major errata when it was re-released back in the BW Base Set, where the cost of discarding a card no longer applied, and you could now add back 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile. Now with SWSH around the corner, another change has been made, where the card now reads:
“Put up to 2 basic Energy cards from your discard pile into your hand.”
This isn’t a particularly major change in the grand scheme of things. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say it’s an update to the text to help clarify how the card works. For a while, Pokemon cards basically had these hard numbers – you had to get 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile and add them to your hand – but the rules of the game were loose enough that if you had less than 2 Basic Energy to grab, you could just complete the card to the best of your ability and add back the 1 Energy to your hand. The semantics of the card basically contradicted the way the card actually worked in practice – and trust me, as a Yugioh! player, I know what it’s like to have confusing wordplay.
So the card still works the same as it did in BW Base Set, just now it’s been made clear that you can choose to put either 1 or 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile into your hand. As for the application of the card, it’s really only go to see play in decks that want to cycle their Energy through their hand. Previous decks that used it included Volcanion, Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, and most recently Blacephalon with Fireball Circus!
It may not always be used in every deck, but Energy Retrieval still has its uses.
Standard: 3/5 (in the right decks, this card is pretty good support)
Expanded: 3/5 (and usually it’ll play a big role in the decks it ends up in)
Limited: 4/5 (having that Energy can also be really useful to have in-game)
Arora Notealus: Energy Retrieval is probably one of the most iconic cards in the game, right up there with stuff like Potion and Poke Ball as essential basics for a lot of newcomers to the game. Usually it’s the card that ends up in starter decks to help players who want to try out the game learn some of the basics at a fundamental level, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad card by any means. Far from it! It just needs to find the right deck in order to make the most of it, since not every deck aims to put Energy back into their hand – whether because they just want it on their Pokemon or because they want to put something else like an Item or Supporter back instead.
Next Time: All draw power is good, but sometimes power is draw!
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive. We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!