– Next Destinies
September 19, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Level Ball is an item card first released in Black & White Next Destines and got another print in XY Ancient Origins. This item card lets you search a Pokémon with 90 HP or less and put it onto your hand. This is quite restrictive but doesn’t have any drawbacks besides that. You don’t need to discard 2 cards from your hand unlike Ultra Ball. There weren’t many Ball related items in the BW era; there was Poke Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, Level Ball, Heavy Ball, Team Plasma Ball, and Master Ball. XY era Ball related cards included Repeat Ball, Dive Ball, and Team Magma/Aqua Great Ball. It also benefits from being searched via Apricorn Maker.
Most single-prize evolving basics have 90 HP or less; some Stage 1 has 90 or less HP, and even a select few Stage 2s like Reuniclus and Jumpluff has 90 HP. Depending on the deck you’re using, Level Ball could be run at a full four IF you’re using Pokémon with 90 or less HP. Night March, Durant’s Devour Deck mill, and even Lost March could benefit with Level Ball. Most examples that I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph are extremely specific, meaning that Ultra Ball and Master Ball would rival Level Ball. I don’t think Level Ball would help complete 99.9% of Evolution based decks considering you would need Ultra Ball or other Ball related cards to fetch the Stage 2, which has considerably higher HP than 90.
This card has a long history, with multiple reviews like 6th best card of Next Destinies, 3rd best card lost to rotation during the transition from NEX-on to BCR-on, and returning to Standard when it was reprinted in XY Ancient Origins. Those reviews are favorable and still applies today. Even though big basics rule the format, there might even be smaller Pokémon that can still compete against the big ones. Even the only EX that can be searched via Level Ball is Jirachi-EX!
Another Thursday, another Throwback. This time, we’re looking at Level Ball (BW – Next Destinies 88/99; XY – Ancient Origins 76/98). This is a Trainer-Item, part of the “Ball” series of Trainers, and it lets you search your deck for a Pokémon with 90 or less HP and add it to your hand. No additional costs or conditions. BW – Next Destinies officially released February 8, 2012, and we reviewed it a few days later as the sixth-best card of the set. The next time we looked at Level Ball, it was because it was scheduled to leave the Standard Format; it took third-place in that countdown and was reviewed alongside Heavy Ball because of their similarities. Level Ball received a reprint in XY – Ancient Origins, which officially released on August 12, 2015; this lead to a second re-review not long after we finished counting down the Top 15 cards of XY – Ancient Origin. It is worth noting that we were fairly strict about the “No Reprints!” rule, which may be why it didn’t make that Top 15.
Both times Level Ball has been legal, it has proven useful for competitive play… even though it faced steep competition. The most obvious is Ultra Ball, released in the set after Level Ball and only recently ending its time as the default search Item of Standard. There were other cards as well, but Level Ball’s specialization proved surprisingly handy, to the point it often was used to supplement or complement its rivals. Exeggcute (BW – Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW – Plasma Blast 102/101) and Jirachi-EX were common Level Ball targets; even after Battle Compressor provided a more effective way of accessing Exeggcute and even though Tapu Lele-GX has largely replaced Jirachi-EX, it just takes a deck with enough Level Ball-legal targets for the retro approach to actually prove viable, if not the best.
The other major use for Level Ball was indirectly supporting Evolution. Though I believe the game’s designers should actually “frontload” HP scores because of how fast and aggressive this game can be, that hasn’t happened. This means Level Ball wasn’t just useful for fetching something like Mr. Mime (BW – Plasma Freeze 47/116) but also to get the Basic from which something else Evolved. Combining no cost with reliability meant Level Ball might still be worth it for an explosive start even if decks that ultimately focused on much larger Evolutions. When you do have entire Evolution-lines that are 90 or less, it can be a huge blessing. While exactly how useful Level Ball would be has varied over the years, overall it performed well in Standard and Expanded… and it should come as no surprise it is a must-run for the Limited Format. Yes, even if you have no legal search targets for it; just use it to see what is in your deck before shuffling.
It should come as no surprise that Level Ball is very useful in the Legacy Format, performing similar to how it did during its first time being Standard-legal. Yes, even when competing with Dual Ball, Pokémon Collector, Ultra Ball, etc. There are a few older Theme Decks that contain Level Ball: Voltage Vortex, Iron Tide, and Stone Heart. It is possible I missed some, but even if I did, none should be new enough to stand a chance in the modern Theme Format. There are no plans to re-release Level Ball for the modern Standard Format. If it did happen, though, Level Ball would be a most welcome addition. No, it wouldn’t be used everywhere, but the decks with smaller Pokémon would love “their own” search card… even the decks that already have one, like how Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117; Shiny Vault SV18/SV94) already have Mysterious Treasure, but Level Ball could free up copies of Mysterious Treasure to use elsewhere.
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