Marshadow – Shining Legends
November 7, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Sooooo, are you now, like, Generation 1 or do we still consider you Gen 7? I mean the movie makes it seem like you’ve allllllllways been Gen 1, but not really? I dunno anymore, they’re rewriting my canon.
In any case, Marshadow does come with a couple of…interesting moves. Shadow Punch isn’t that great, being a 2-for-30 and lacking the power to stop Items, instead having its damage unaffected by Resistance. I guess that means he can hit Metal Pokemon for…normal damage. YAWWWWWWWWWWN
Let Loose is probably the more interesting Ability. When you play Marshadow down onto your Bench, you can basically trigger a Red Card effect and shuffle both players’ hands into the deck and draw 4 cards each. That can be useful if you started out with a bad hand or if your opponent added something to their hand that they needed. But it’s also noteworthy that you’ve both got the option to get bad hands or good hands – maybe yours is better, but so too might your opponent’s. It’s a caveat to these sorts of effects.
The only big difference between this and Red Card? Red Card mainly fuels Trashlanche, whereas this guy is a 70 HP Basic that sits on your Bench after you’ve played him. It really depends on what your deck is like and whether or not you can make the most of Marshadow’s utility or if you’re just better off with Red Card…which means you probably don’t play either.
Standard: 2.5/5 (Let Loose is the primary reason to play Marshadow)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (but he is also more vulnerable than an instant Item card)
Limited: 3/5 (still might be useful in limited settings)
Arora Notealus: But really though, he’s hanging out with Ash from Gen 1 but not really but yes? But no? But yes? I mean Ho-oh wasn’t Gen 1 either, but you don’t see these guys throwing movies out to retcon stories to involve Palkia and Dialga while Victini hangs out with Ash and his Totodile in Kanto.
Next Time: More powerful and shining than ever before! And I…just mentioned him?
Marshadow (Shining Legends, 45/73) enters the meta through the Shining Legends expansion set. A 70 HP Psychic Pokemon, this Pokemon will see use because of its ability Let Loose. When you play Marshadow from your hand onto your bench, you may have each player shuffle their hand into their deck and draw four cards.
I have seen this card used a handful of times. It adds a little bit of disruption for your opponent (the average hand size in the study I just did on the card N (Fates Collide, 105/124) determined that the average hand size was 5.29 cards, so the majority of the time when you play this card, you will leave your opponent with at least one less card. From the results of my study, reducing your opponent’s hand size by one will only hurt him about 25% of the time, but if you can reduce it by two or more cards, that percentage significantly increases to at least 75%.
Marshadow also gives you a little more draw support as well. If you’ve played all the cards you want to play, then put Marshadow down on the bench, you’ll get four fresh cards without having to discard the cards currently in hand. If you have Octillery (Breakthrough, 33/162) in play, this would increase to at least five cards; however, that means your bench will start to get crowded. Fortunately, we have a new card in Hydreigon (Crimson Invasion, 62/111) with the ability Weed Out. This ability allows you to discard one Pokemon off your bench if you have four benched Pokemon and two Pokemon if you have five benched Pokemon. This would allow you to discard Marshadow, where he could easily return to play through the use of Rescue Stretcher (Guardians Rising, 130/145), Super Rod (Breakthrough, 149/162), or any of the multiple other resources we have available to us to bring Pokemon out of the discard pile. While our ability to return other cards to our deck or hand is limited in the game today, one thing we definitely have a surplus of is ways to bring Pokemon back into the game. Marshadow could provide a level of disruption while at the same time giving you a couple more cards that you might not otherwise had access to.
Standard: 1.5 out of 5
If Marshadow got you five cards instead of four, I think its value would increase a little exponentially, but drawing four cards can potentially disrupt you as well. Putting four cards into your hand could easily leave you without a draw supporter or other valuable resource that could stunt your offensive strategy. Also, it’s only 70 HP, and its attack does only thirty damage for two attachments, so it has absolutely no value as a card outside of its ability, and, if you’ve followed my writing over the past months, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of cards that just sit on your bench and do nothing after they’ve been played.
Our second card this week is Marshadow (Shining Legends 45/73). It is a Basic, Psychic-Type Pokémon with 70 HP, Darkness Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], the Ability “Let Loose”, and the attack “Shadow Punch”. Let Loose triggers when you play this card from your hand to your Bench and forces both players to shuffle their hands into their respective decks and draw four cards. Shadow Punch costs [PC] and does 30 damage without being affected by Resistance. This card is a good taste of SM: Crimson Invasion. Why? Because a lot of the folks I like to listen to are totally split on whether this card is the sleeper hit of Shining Legends or a waste of time. Get used to that a lot over the next few weeks.
Due to the nature of this card, I’m going to focus on the Ability first. Let Loose is Judge, but as an Ability instead of your Supporter for the turn. Judge, Peeking Red Card, and the original Red Card remind us that being forced to shuffle away our hand is, in itself, considered detrimental. The more reliable your deck and the better you are as a player, the less this will affect you, but there is a major psychological aspect beyond the obvious question of whether or not your new hand is better, worse, or equivalent to what you had before. So you’re actually hitting yourself with negative repercussions, or at least you will be if you don’t build your deck accordingly while thinking before you active Let Loose. Which brings us now to the rest of the card.
Being a Basic Pokémon means Marshadow is as easy as it gets to fit into a deck and put into play; a slight drawback is that you can be forced to open with it, in which case you won’t get to use Let Loose. Being a Psychic-Type is more important than it looks because Wobbuffet (XY: Phantom Forces 36/119; Generations RC11/RC32) can’t shut it down. There are a few smaller perks I’ll mention later when discussing its attack. 70 HP just barely puts a Benched Marshadow out of the range of the “Evil Intend” attack found on Weavile (SM: Burning Shadows 86/147). I don’t think that card has found competitive success, but I also don’t expect folks to tire of tinkering with it for a long time. It is also low enough to keep Marshadow a legal Level Ball target, though both of these would still be true with 90 HP. Darkness Weakness is risky in Standard and downright dangerous in Expanded. Fighting Resistance is a small perk, but appreciated nonetheless.
The Retreat Cost of [C] is good; easy to pay and anything that reduces Retreat Costs on your side of the field will turn give Marshadow a perfect, free Retreat Cost. Shadow Punch is not a good attack, but it just might matter more than I thought at first. 30 damage for two Energy is poor, but not abysmal. Doing 20 more damage would have the same end result, barring some really complex combos; doing just 10 more damage wouldn’t be as good against Psychic Resistant Pokémon, but most stuff isn’t Psychic Resistant so it still seems like a better deal. This attack is filler, but it is filler that might occasionally come in handy. Part of this stems from Psychic Weakness being found on the bulk of Fighting- and Psychic-Type Pokémon, and part of this comes from being a Basic you’ll probably be running for its effect and not the attack. If your deck has something else that helps, like Counter Energy or Dimension Valley… Shadow Punch still isn’t great, but those rare instances when it comes in handy become just a bit less rare.
Now, putting it all together, we still have some issues; since the shuffle-and-draw amount is borderline, it can still easily backfire or even double backfire; giving you a dead four-card hand while your opponent ends up with exactly what he or she needed. Being an Ability, even though Abilities on Basic Pokémon have to deal with more counters (like Alolan Muk or Silent Lab), even though you’ve got to have a free Bench slot, puts this head and tails above Judge, decent enough Supporter in its own right. Before or after using Let Loose, you can use any handy Supporter. Even a double backfire isn’t so bad if it was after you used N to give both players a new six card hand, and played your new hand down before dropping Marshadow. Indeed, here is where all those little combos really start to shine. We’ll start with a general aspect; besides saving your Supporter for something else, it is usually much easier to fetch a Pokémon from your deck or reclaim it from your discard pile than it is either an Item or a Supporter. Level Ball, Ultra Ball, even something like Rescue Stretcher become outs to a draw/disruption effect.
Decks with Oranguru (SM: Black Star Promos SM13; Sun & Moon 113) or Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162) are more resistant to having their hands messed with in this manner… but also combo nicely with their own Let Loose. Speed focused decks and/or those focused on thinning themselves can use Marshadow and its Let Loose Ability for even more speed; they should have little risk of a dead hand after Let Loose, and even if they do, if the thinning worked your next draw should jump start your deck again. Sky Field provides a lot of room for stuff on the Bench, plus more attacks that want to fill a Bench. Even decks that can’t afford such a thing have options, like effects that discard Pokémon from your own Bench or taking the Supporter usage you might still have available (thanks to Let Loose) and using it on Ninja Boy to not only replace Marshadow with something you want in play, but give you a chance to reuse Let Loose.
If you can actually find a Limited Format event using Shining Legends boosters, the only reason to skip this card is that you’re building a +39 deck around something else. Even the risk of Let Loose double backfiring doesn’t prevent you from running as many of these as you can pull in your deck. Finally, something to keep an eye out for in the future; cards with effects that are beneficial to yourself but allow your opponent to draw. Sounds pretty obscure, and outside of some shuffle-and-draw Supporters that affect both players, I don’t think we’ve had such a thing in Pokémon since Erika, a Trainer card so old she is treated like an Item card because she predates Supporters! I’ve seen other TCG’s give a draw option to the other player as the “cost” for cards that destroyed creatures in play, healed you, etc. It is a long shot, but Marshadow (and the other forced shuffle-and-draw effects) become better under such circumstances.
Marshadow is not the best card from Shining Legends, but it isn’t something to ignore, either. It seems like a good, solid card with decent general usage and some promising, albeit it niche, combos. Though I mentioned Counter Energy, I do not expect this card to become significantly better or worse due to anything in SM: Crimson Invasion. A quick glance shows me that, even though it is a Holo-Rare from boosters available only through gift sets, it isn’t too badly priced. So besides being a combination of draw and disruption you can claim with Pokémon search or recycling effects, it just might be another budget option for decks that can’t afford stuff like Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) or Tapu Lele-GX.
Since we’ve already finished covering what would have been the fifth through tenth place picks had our Shining Legends Top 5 been a Top 10, you probably guessed that this would have been our 11th place pick had the top cut been even bigger. It actually tied with Reshiram (Shining Legends 14/73) and Volcarona (Shining Legends 13/73) and secured 11th place only through a roll-off. A roll-off I am very glad it won, as Marshadow was my fifth place pick.