Karen’s Conviction – Chilling Reign
Date Reviewed: July 31, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Karen’s Conviction (SW – Chilling Reign 144/198, 193/198, 216/198) is a Trainer-Supporter. She is both a Single Strike card and an example of the second wave of Single Strike support. As such, it isn’t a surprise that her effect only applies to Single Strike Pokémon, or rather, their attacks. When you use Karen’s Conviction, for the rest of that turn, attacks made by your Single Strike Pokémon do an extra 20 damage for each Prize card your opponent has taken. This damage bonus is applied before Weakness or Resistance, so against Weak targets you’re actually getting +40 per Prize your opponent has taken! I’m not sure how effects that increase Prize counts affect this, but under normal circumstances, that means anywhere from doing an extra 20 damage to an extra 100. I’m assuming if you would gain no damage bonus (your opponent has taken zero Prizes), you cannot play Karen’s Conviction.
Now, this damage boosting goodness is restricted to Single Strike Pokémon. Ignoring the ones that can’t do damage in the first place, as well as additional printings of the same card, I counted 46. Far more Single Strike Pokémon than I realized, but they’re still just a sliver of the available cardpool, even in Standard. Karen’s Conviction is hardly the first method of boosting damage done by your Single Strike Pokémon. Single Strike Energy is the obvious example, but let us not forget about Emboar (SW – Battle Styles 025/163). The former provides +20 damage per copy attached, while Emboar’s Ability provides +30 and that appears to be per instance of it you have in play. Even with the Ability found on Houndoom (SW – Battle Styles 096/163, 179/163, SW – Black Star Promos SWSH090) to attach Single Strike Energy from your deck, and/or Single Strike Style Mustard to directly Bench an Emboar from your deck… Karen’s Conviction is a lot easier to run.
While all three of these methods of boosting damage may compete with each other, they also can combo together, deck-space and circumstances allowing. Which means any Single Strike Pokémon capable of attacking for at least 10 damage could, through ridiculous combos, swing for +300 damage before Weakness or Resistance is applied. Emboar is going to be obvious to your opponent, unless you just Benched it that turn via Single Strike Style Mustard. Single Strike Energy has some element of surprise, but only for one copy. Maybe not even that much, if Houndoom is already in play. Karen’s Conviction, however, can come out of nowhere, but deliver up to an extra 100 points of damage. If you don’t mind telegraphing a little, Welcoming Lantern lets you reuse Karen’s Conviction.
However, for as hyped as I sound, I’m not. I’m hopeful Karen’s Conviction will prove worthwhile to Single Strike decks. How is it not a given? Two reasons. First up is the same reason damage boosting effects can always go to waste; you need to be hitting the right numbers often enough. Extra damage that doesn’t decrease the number of turns it takes for you to score a KO, or doesn’t trigger or avoid triggering certain effects, is not actually helping you. Second is that your Supporter is highly valuable most of the time. Maybe you need it for draw power. Maybe you need it for disruption. Either way, you’re not able to use it for that the turn you use Karen’s Conviction. The best example of this is another card, Iris (BW – Plasma Blast 81/101, 101/101).
I don’t normally bother citing the set name and card number for Trainers with unique names, but I wanted you to immediately have an idea of how old Iris is; she’s from the last of the sets named after Team Plasma, specifically her official release date (along with the rest of the set) was August 14, 2013. Nearly 8 years ago,we reviewed Iris here, as our 12th-Place pick from BW – Plasma Blast. Iris has almost the same effect as Karen’s Conviction; the differences are that Iris works for any Pokémon capable of dealing damage, and Iris only provides a +10 bonus per Prize your opponent has taken. HP scores were much lower when Iris was printed; the highest was 200 HP, found on Wailord (BW – Dragons Exalted 26/124). Yeah, all those Pokémon-EX worth two Prizes? At this time, none had more than 180 HP.
So at first, HP scores really were nearly half of what we have now; no three Prize Pokémon, but 180 HP two Prize Pokémon versus 340 HP three Prize Pokémon. Things changed in the XY series, however. Mega Evolutions were released, as were a few massive Basic Pokémon-EX. Now the max printed HP score to worry about was 250. We also had Muscle Band for an even easier to use means of boosting damage against anything. Though a few sets in we received the Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo, making TecH Supporters so much more reliable, and we had some solid sources of non-Supporter draw… Iris saw only a little competitive success. Which is why I worry I’m already being too generous with the scores I’m awarding these cards. In Expanded, Karen’s Conviction gains access to better tricks, but faces more counters and competition.
Two last things, one of which I couldn’t fit in earlier to the review. First, Karen’s Conviction is sort-of a come-from-behind card and sort-of single Prize support. If your opponent takes an early lead in prizes, you can punish them for it… but you can still use Karen’s Conviction even if you are winning, so long as your opponent has taken at least one Prize. Decks built around single Prize Pokémon should have more chances to use Karen’s Conviction, as well as the potential to use it at any of its possible damage bonuses. However, multi-Prize Pokémon being KO’d will feed the damage bonus faster. Second, my review and scores assume that Single Strike decks neither dominate the metagame, nor fall off completely from competitive play. Remember to adjust accordingly.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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