Manaphy – Brilliant Stars
Date Reviewed: June 5, 2023
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
For this week, I decided to backtrack a little bit since Paldea Evolved will be released this Friday and will eventually get the English print of the new cards. Since I missed over a year’s worth of COTDs, I’ve looked through the card gallery of various expansions from the Sword & Shield series and nabbed a couple great cards from the set to look at, starting with Manaphy (SWSH Brillant Stars 41/172). This card would have been on my hypothetical Top X Cards of Brillant Stars. A Basic Water-type with 70 HP, Lightning Weakness, and a retreat cost of C, it has an ability and an attack. Its Wave Veil ability states that it prevents all damage done to your Benched Pokemon from your opponent’s Pokemon. And Rain Splash costs W for 20 damage.
The Wave Veil ability has been seen on older cards such as Mew (SM Unbroken Bonds 76/214) and even as far back via two versions of Mr. Mime (BW Plasma Freeze 47/116) and (XY BREAKthrough 97/162; Generations 52/83). Based on older reviews – and I did chime on one of the reviews of Mew – this is a great ability to have. There might be some decks whose attacks can damage Benched Pokemon such as Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and Jolteon VMAX; their attacks can already do over 100 damage to your Benched Pokemon! These attackers could potentially OHKO most smaller targets like Bibarel (SWSH Brillant Stars 121/172) and previously Drizzile (Sword & Shield 56/202). Manaphy can come in and render some of those attacks useless. What Manaphy doesn’t protect, however, is certain effects that places damage counter placements instead of dealing damage. For instance, Shadow Rider Calyrex-V’s Astral Barrage attack will still place five damage counters on two of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon, bypassing the ability. There are other ways to deal with Wave Veil, but that’ll involve your opponent using up some resources to do that. Boss’s Orders brings Manaphy up front, but they have used up their Supporter for the turn. Cross Switcher is still Standard legal, with a similar effect of Guzma, but they must play two of them from their hand at the same time.
Manaphy becomes a loose staple in a variety of decks that anticipate the threat of having their Benched Pokekmon sniped by various attackers such as Jolteon VMAX. But it becomes a cycle of:
- Opponent no longer uses Pokemon that deals Bench damage.
- You drop Manaphy since your opponent no longer uses certain Pokemon.
- They think players aren’t using Manaphy anymore, so they get back to Bench sniping attackers.
- Other players re-inserted Manaphy to deal with the same threat. Rinse and repeat back to number one.
Additionally, unlike two of the Mr. Mime cards, Manaphy won’t protect from your attacks that also damage your Benched Pokemon, which while insignificant, could matter on certain rogue decks that you might be trying to accomplish. Still, with no other “Bench Barrier” variants besides itself in Standard, Manaphy is the go-to option to deal against certain attackers. For Expanded, both of Mr. Mime’s Bench Barrier is actually better because it does prevent damage from not only your opponent’s Pokemon, but your own attacks as well. As such, Manaphy is completely outclassed there. For Limited, looking at the gallery, there are enough Pokemon for Manaphy to matter, assuming they pull certain Pokemon such as Empoleon and Zarude-V. Other than that, Manaphy could be used to round off the 40-card deck.
Albeit a nerfed “Bench Barrier”, Manaphy does a good job keeping certain attackers in check. It might not always be needed, but the option is always there. I do hope that future Standard formats would contain at least one of those “Bench Barrier” variants. Just look at that long list of decks in Limitless that uses Manaphy!
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