– Darkness Ablaze
August 29, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
With our countdown finished, it is time to go through some runners-up. The card that would have been 16th-place is Kabu (SW – Darkness Ablaze 163/189, 186/189). This is another new Trainer-Supporter; its effect has you shuffle your hand into your deck. If all you have is an Active Pokémon in play, you then draw eight cards. If you have anything more than just your Active, even just a single Benched Pokémon, you only draw four. It is kind of like you’re wagering two of the six cards worth of shuffle-and-draw you’d get from Cynthia on whether or not you have a Bench!
When you have no Bench, you’re in danger of being “Benched Out”; if your only Pokémon is KO’d or otherwise removed from the field, you lose. There are some Pokémon which reward you for only having a single Pokémon in play, and some subsets of hit-and-run style deck involve using an attacker which bounces itself into your hand or shuffles itself back into your deck… which can give you a better chance of having just one Pokémon in play at the beginning of your next turn. Of course, if it is something that bounced into your hand, you’d have to shuffle it away with Kabu as playing it back down would then mean you have a Bench. Some stall/control decks can also get away with just one big Pokémon in play at a time, and they may need a massive hand full of options… but they also prefer to prepare those options ahead of time. That’s harder to do with shuffle-and-draw.
One use I heard suggested for Kabu was using it as your opening Supporter when going second. The idea was you’d probably only have your Active, so why not shuffle and draw eight? Besides how opening Supporter-plays aren’t what they used to be, now that you cannot use a Supporter T1 (Player 1’s first turn), this also ignores that you generally want to use as much of your opening hand as you can before you shuffle it away, discard it, etc. Which usually involves Benching some Pokémon, and using search Items to get Pokémon to then Bench. Kabu won’t permit this.
I also want to point out, when you don’t get the bonus draw? You’re potentially shrinking your hand to four cards; it is like you’re using your Supporter for the turn to hit yourself with a Red Card. Of course, a lot of what makes Red Card good is that you are in control of when it happens, not your opponent, and you can use it to shrink a player’s hand before hitting them with other hand disruption to leave them with a zero card hand, maybe even manipulate the top of their deck so leave them all but helpless. So, doing it to yourself against a deck that isn’t going to mess with your hand probably isn’t a big problem, but it still isn’t something I’d like to do… and if you’re up against a Vikavolt V or other control/disruption deck, seems like a big “no”.
I don’t see much use for Kabu in Standard or Expanded but VS Seeker does make Kabu better in Expanded. You could include a single copy for when you have a “weird” open, or discard it and VS Seeker for it later, when you’re in a bad spot and it’s going to get that magical shuffle-and-draw for eight… or for four if you need to shrink your hand. In the Limited Format, even shuffling and drawing four cards can be handy, so give it a go there. If you’re running a Mulligan deck, there’s no reason not to run Kabu!
I’m being generous with that Expanded score, and probably a tiny bit harsh with the Standard score, but I don’t see the appeal of Kabu. Needless to say, it didn’t make my list… but it only received one fewer Voting Points than our both our 14th and 15th-place finishers (who tied with each other). I’ll still be keeping an eye on Kabu, in case it’s a good or even great card I’ve horribly misunderstood.
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