– Sword & Shield
April 9, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Energy Search seems like an ancient relic due to debuting way back in Base Set, but the effect is the same as day one as it lets you search your deck for a Basic Energy card and put it onto your hand. And yet, this card has seen little to no play, as other alternatives seemed to outclass Energy Search completely. For Standard, Energy Spinner does the same thing Energy Search does, except with a little bonus that if you go second, you get to fetch 3 basic energies instead of one. For Expanded, there’s Professor’s Letter which lets you grab up to 2 basic energies, so if you only wanted to grab just one, then you do just that, though certain decks wants to get as much basic energies as they can so that they can employ multiple energy attachments or use them as fodder and getting it back somehow.
There’s no hope in Standard, Expanded, and Legacy for Energy Search to see competitive play. For Limited and Theme formats, however, with very few choices, Energy Search can be an alternative since there’s almost no competition there, and if your deck ran more than 2 different types of basic energies, then Energy Search can consistently get your desired energy as opposed to hoping you’ll draw one from the top card of your deck.
Energy Search is a card with an over 10 year history. Let’s run through the different releases, with links if there’s a review from that era:
That’s right, this is only the third review for a card with so much history in the game. Why?
Energy Search is a Trainer-Item that lets you search your deck for a basic Energy card, add it to your hand, then shuffle your deck. Energy Search is a card where it’s strengths are mirrored by its weaknesses. Using it shrinks your deck by a card, or you can intentionally whiff on the search if you just needed to drop your hand-size by one. Conversely, you’ve got to worry about anti-Trainer and anti-Item effects, and it can’t meet Energy costs itself, which can be a problem if your deck is out of the basic Energy you needed.
When first introduced, Energy Search was useful for decks running on multiple Types of basic Energy, especially if there were low counts of one or more Types involved. It wasn’t the only option, however; we had draw power such as Bill (back when it worked like an Item) and Professor Oak, plus Energy Retrieval to reclaim basic Energy from the discard pile. Six months after Energy Research released, we received Rainbow Energy, providing another strong bit of competition for it.
Energy Search bit like Potion; a long history where it was rarely competitive, but seen as a good card for beginners. “Rarely” is not the same as “never”: running through the World Championship decklists via Bulbapedia, you’ll find it in four of them, one from 2012 and three out of four of the 2013 lists! Besides most of the lists including at least one Type of basic Energy at a low count, some popular Trainer options also affected things; shrinking your hand for Bianca or Bicycle, or allowing Skyla to effectively snag more of your deck.
Energy Search usage drops off after this, and it isn’t much of a surprise because they stopped printing it. Instead, Professor’s Letter was introduced in XY, and reprinted throughout that series. It was a blatant example of power creep; a Trainer-Item that let you add up to two basic Energy cards from your deck to your hand with no added costs or conditions! This is still an option in Expanded, and why Energy Search has no business being played there. Yes, I’ll admit someone theoretically might need more than four Items dedicated to searching out Energy, but I really doubt they need more than eight…
…because we also have Energy Spinner, which is still Standard-legal. Energy Spinner has the same effect as Energy Search except on your first turn when you go second (or overall Turn 2). If you play it Turn 2, you get to add three basic Energy cards to your hand. I’d rather run Professor’s Letter in Expanded, but I’m usually not running super-intense combo decks where +1 for Turn 2 is worth -1 the rest of the game. Getting back to Energy Search, though, and it doesn’t serve a real purpose here… at least, not yet. Energy Spinner should rotate from Standard Format play in September of 2021 (it is a late SM-era card).
Maybe Energy Search will be worth it by then, maybe something better will release. It is a must-run in the Limited Format, for the reasons it was good at times in past Formats plus just to see the contents of your deck. In the Theme Format, it technically is a good card card but unless future Theme Decks contain it, all that is available on the PTCGO are older Theme Decks that are completely outclassed by anything from the past two (or more) years. Where Energy Search can still shine is in the Legacy Format… I think. Yeah, I still have neither a good source of data for it nor have I been able to make time to just try it myself, but I remember decks using it when I was a regular, and it should be similar to the period in the Standard Format where Energy search was good.
Energy Search is a simple Trainer-Item, doing a job that slightly older cards just do better. It might have a future once those older cards rotate from the Standard Format, but it’ll always be passed over in favor of them in Expanded. Enjoy it in the Limited Format, or if it starts showing up in newer Theme Decks, or if you play the right deck lists in the Legacy Format.
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