– Unbroken Bonds
July 11, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Like the ninja Koga, I appear!
…yes, that is going to be my clever intro.
Koga’s Trap is a Supporter that leaves your opponent’s Active Pokemon Confused and Poisoned. It’s a devastating card…in theory. Most of the time when you play a Supporter, you want some kind of advantage generator – drawing cards, adding cards to your hand, evolving into Pokemon that can further your field presence, even Energy acceleration on a mass scale would be great. Koga’s Trap doesn’t do any of those things, even though it does add on a little damage from Poison, so why play it?
Well there are a couple of reasons to run Koga’s Trap. You may have Pokemon like Alolan Muk-GX for instance that care about Status Conditions for their moves, which will let them do more damage! In this set, Venomoth will hit one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon for 90 damage as long as your opponent’s Active Pokemon has a Status on it, and Victreebel can deal 60 more damage per Status with Chemical Breath. You can also stack the damage alongside Pokemon like Weezing, or you can boost Venomoth-GX’s Shinobi Mastery to 200 in the turn you play Koga’s Trap!
I can’t say this will be a competitive strategy, and I doubt Koga’s Trap will see a lot of use outside of these niche rogue decks, but it’s probably better to have in the event that you’d like one of these decks over not. In Expanded, it can be combined with Virbank City Gym, but I think it’ll get passed up for better Supporters and Hypnotoxic Laser most of the time. Maybe one day people will fall into Koga’s Trap, but for now, he may have to go back to training on this one.
Standard: 2.5/5 (a bit more specialized, and it helps for those decks, but outside of that it won’t see much use)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (has some steep competition from other cards that work out better most of the time)
Limited: 4/5 (I wouldn’t underestimate Confusion and Poison in a format without a lot of switching options outside of manual retreat – it can effectively give you an edge)
Arora Notealus: Koga ends up with a card that’s not as great as his daughter Janine’s card. The Venomoth-GX deck looks interesting, and it can switch between the Supporters for an offensive or defensive effect depending on the situation. I can admire that, even if it’s not a flawless experience. I wouldn’t mind the Pokemon Company employing some more of this offense/defense switching with other cards – Aegislash comes to mind, but maybe even pairings like Plusle/Minun, Combee/Vespiquen, the Wormadam line-up and maybe Mothim, Ninjask/Shedinja could work for sure…
Next Time: I may have returned, but there are other cards that won’t be so lucky…
As we looked at Janine yesterday, the only reason Koga’s Trap (SM – Unbroken Bonds 177/214, 211/214) should come as a surprise to you is because this is Thursday, so we’d normally do a Throwback. For scheduling reasons, I needed us to skip that this week. If it helps, Koga’s Trap does have ties to older cards, that before I can explain that, we need to run through Koga’s Trap… which sounds painful if you have an active imagination.
Koga’s Trap is a Trainer-Supporter that both Poisons and Confuses your opponent’s Active Pokémon. In many cases, Poison should at least act as a small damage buff, that – for both better and worse – won’t worry about Weakness, Resistance, or other things that actually alter damage. If your opponent has to attack through Confusion, there’s a 50% chance it not only helps you stall, but even get a few more damage counters on that attacker. However, there is just as good of a chance that Confusion won’t do anything at all, though at least – unlike Sleep – neither player will know until the moment of the attack. I’ve nowhere better to mention it, but even though Special Conditions on the whole are easy to deal with, multiple Special Conditions at once are a slight improvement, due to cards that only remove a single Special Condition instead of all of them at one. For example, Big Malasada versus Full Heal.
Are Confusion and Poison the best two Special Conditions to inflict? I’d rather have Burn and Paralysis, given the current nature of the game; better a guaranteed two damage counters and an opponent’s Active that cannot attack or retreat without outside assistance, even though Burn can and Paralysis will go away on their own. Hm… Burning and Paralysis sound like a decent effect for something electricity based… or maybe even a laser. Instead, the classic Hypnotoxic Laser inflicted Poison, then required a flip to see if the opponent’s Active was also Asleep. Weird. Hypnotoxic Laser was great back in its day, but isn’t as good now. Plus, as an Item, it was usually easier to use than a Supporter, as you usually needed the latter for draw power, search, or major field changing effects.
We could even go back a step further, to the original Koga (Gym Challenge 19/132, 106/132). This card was released before the Supporter mechanic was introduced, as a “normal Trainer”; as it was never re-released as anything else, that means it is now treated as an Item. Koga’s effect stated that, when a Pokémon with Koga in its name damaged your opponent’s Defending Pokémon via an attack, that Defending Pokémon was Poisoned. Hypnotoxic Laser is definitely an improvement over that, and Koga’s Trap might be, but points for actually working with Koga’s Pokémon. Note: Koga’s Pokémon are an example of Pokémon with an “owner” in the name, a mechanic that has been abandoned, altered, and/or reused more than once over the life of the game.
Koga’s Trap, like Janine, is referenced by the effect of another card, but only one such card: Venomoth-GX, which we reviewed here. Simply put, Venomoth’s regular attack (as opposed to its GX-attack) states it does an extra 90 damage if you use Koga’s Trap that turn. This is nice, but so far hasn’t led to a competitive deck. What are Koga’s prospects outside of such a thing? Somewhat good, post rotation. Why? We’re losing Professor Kukui and Choice Band; while the latter is a Tool, Professor Kukui is also a Trainer-Supporter. It hurts that Koga’s Trap doesn’t draw any cards, but without a better option it might have a chance. That is also before we consider the various ways of enhancing Confusion or Poison, as well as effects that trigger based on your opponent’s Active being afflicted with a Special Condition (or multiple Special Conditions).
Koga’s Trap isn’t great, but so-so generic use plus multiple niche uses actually makes for a decent card… eventually. Koga’s Trap is still a little underwhelming for now, and plain underwhelming in Expanded. If you pull Koga’s Trap at a Limited Format event, it is a must run; not only are you likely to have a Supporter use and open deck-slot to spare, but your opponent is less likely to have an affordable answer to Special Conditions!
Editor’s Note: Vince already reviewed Koga’s Trap as part of his review of Venomoth-GX. You can read that review here. Below are the scores he gave Koga’s Trap in that review.
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