– Dragon Frontiers
November 12, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Holon Mentor is another Holon related card for this week’s Throwback Thursdays, and even if I’ve never used that card, I had a feeling that this is one of the best card not only for Delta Species cards, but for any deck in general. This card was legal in the 2006-2007 and the 2007-2008 Modified format; this card left rotation before DP Legends Awakened was released. It might not be a big deal to others but I’ll get to that later.
This is a Supporter card which has an activation cost: if you don’t discard a card from your hand, you can’t play this card. He lets you search your deck for up to 3 Basic Pokémon with 100 HP or less. During it’s time in Modified, 99.9% of Basic Pokémon at the time between the EX series and the DP Series had 100 HP or less, so fetching those Basic Pokémon was no problem. Since there are no special restrictions other than HP, that means you could potentially be grabbing even THREE Pokémon-ex that have 100 or less HP!
So why the big deal? Had Holon Mentor remained Modified legal in the 2008-2009 rotation, it would see a lot more play. Even though it isn’t providing draw power, it can fake providing one. One can fetch for 2 other Basic Pokémon and Uxie (DP Legends Awakened 43/146) so that the player can Bench Uxie and draw cards until they have 7 cards in their hand after they Bench two other Pokémon.
Overall, Holon Mentor is good at what he does in its time. But other than that (in Unlimited), it would be outclassed by Pokemon Collector almost entirely as it can fetch 3 Basic Pokémon regardless of HP.
This Throwback Thursday, we continue looking at parts of the “Holon Trainer Engine”. As it has been a bit since we began this journey, I’ll remind you all that
Holon Mentor (EX – Delta Species 93/113; EX – Dragon Frontiers 75/101) released during the 2006 Standard Format, perhaps better known as the 2005-2006 Modified Format or HL-On Format. It remained legal for the entirety of the 2007 Standard Format (the 2006-2007 Modified Format; DX-On), and 2008 Standard Format (the 2007-2008 Modified Format; HP-On). The Turn 1 (Player 1’s first turn) rules not only were different during this time, but Holon Mentor may even straddle two different past iterations. Unlike in the present, you could attack, but from 2004 to 2006 (exact dates unavailable) you were not allowed to draw or use a Supporter Turn 1; from 2007 until 2010, you couldn’t use any Trainer cards (what we now would call Items, Stadiums, or Supporters) Turn 1.
Holon Mentor is a Trainer-Supporter that requires you discard a card from your hand to use it. If Holon Mentor is your last card in hand, you cannot play it. This cost is common to all of the Supporters with Holon in their name. Holon Mentor lets you search your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon. Each of the Basic Pokémon you search out must have 100 HP or less. As usual, you must show your opponent (to prevent grabbing illegal targets) and then shuffle your deck afterward. Remember that last bullet point? While many of the specialty Pokémon were too large to qualify, or weren’t Basics, the ones that were could be snagged from your deck through Holon Mentor.
Holon Transceiver was the cornerstone of the Holon Engine, with the exact Supporters and their counters varying except they had to be Holon Supporters (duh), and the deck would contain Holon Mentor. There were probably exceptions, but even my hazy memories of this period recall Holon Mentor being non-negotiable. This was not a time period with “big Basics”… or rather, anything above 50 was at least “kind of” big. While the 120 HP cap had been broken for evolved Pokémon-ex, it was still in effect for non-Pokémon-ex and Basic Pokémon-ex, and Basic non-Pokémon-ex didn’t exceed 90. Yes, Chansey cards from the EX-series had less HP than Chansey (Base Set 3/102; Base Set 2 3/130)! Though Chansey-ex did have 120 HP, it was worth two Prizes when KO’d.
Not every deck from this period used the Holon Trainer Engine. In fact, Holon Mentor fell out of favor during the 2008 Standard Format, to the point I almost missed that it was still legal (due to its reprint in EX – Dragon Frontiers). As we’re discussing things from long, long before LimitlessTCG was tracking tournament results, all I can reference are the World Championship commemorative decks from the 2006, 2007, and 2008 World Championship. These decks are based on four high performing decks from that year’s World Championship: exactly which decks varied because sometimes the same deck won each age division, and they wanted these to be four different decks. Holon Mentor shows up in
It is the only Holon Supporter that, when it shows up, is either a double or a triple. The CotD crew first looked at it on November 9, 2005, and then re-reviewed it on July, 28, 2006. The good news/bad news is I did not review the card back then; good because I often cringe when reading reviews from this period, but bad because the dominant review style of this time was short and low context. Great when you were an experienced player needing a concise heads-up on what worked and what didn’t, but not so great when you’re reading them 14+ years later. Still, it informs us that the card wasn’t worthwhile for the Unlimited Format of the time, but was good or even great for the Standard (Modified) Format.
So, how about now?
Even with having not touched the Unlimited Format in over 10 years, and not seriously made any efforts in it in probably 15, I think we can logically deduce that Holon Mentor would have little to no use in the Unlimited Format. Simply put, you not only still have access to some of the best draw and search “normal” Trainer cards from the past, which count and function as Item cards, but you still have access to Pokémon Collector, a Trainer-Supporter which lets you grab three Basic Pokémon from your deck, as well as search and recycling options that mean Holon Transceiver compatibility probably doesn’t add enough value. If you can not only get a Limited Format event up and running, but use booster packs from so long ago, Holon Mentor is a must run unless you pull a Basic worth running completely solo (Mulligan build).
Moving forward to what a hypothetical re-release would mean for the Expanded and Standard Formats, Holon Mentor alone might actually still be good. How? While we have Supporters capable of gabbing three Basic Pokémon from your deck, they all have their own drawbacks. Professor Oak’s Setup grabs three Basics but they have to be different types. Poké Maniac can get three Pokémon (any Stage) except they have to have Retreat Costs of exactly [CCCC]. Professor Elm’s Lecture can also get three Pokémon of any Stage, but they have to have 60 HP or less. Brigette gives you a choice between three Basic non-Pokémon-EX or one Basic Pokémon-EX, however they are placed directly into play from your deck (no coming-into-play Abilities). While indeed small, there is a niche use here. Maybe mainstream, if Holon Trancseiver and enough of the other Holon Supporters received reprints and/or updates.
Holon Mentor was a great card in its time, and if it were legal, might be a good card now. Even after all I’ve written, it is hard to communicate how powerful such an interconnected network of cards can be.
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