Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick
Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick

Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
– Primal Clash

Date Reviewed:
January 24, 2019

Ratings Summary:
See  Below

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Today’s Throwback is Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick from XY Primal Clash. It was reviewed twice by the Pojo crew, one as the 9th best card of the set alongside Archie (February 2015), and the sixth best card of 2015 with Archie again (December 2015). However, Maxie has gotten a lot of attention than Archie because Maxie is about to be banned from Expanded very soon, so make use of it while you still can.

So what does he do? Well, you can only play him if he is the only card in your hand. It that requirement is met, then you put a Fighting Pokemon from your discard pile into your Bench and draw five cards. It can be any Stage – such as Basic, Stage 1, Stage 2, Restored, or Mega – except Break Evolutions because they are an incomplete card. While it is helpful to fetch a Pokémon of a higher stage and skip the lower lines, it also enable potent lock strategies before your opponent gets to do anything. That’s why Archeops from BW Noble Victories was banned from Expanded, as it prevents your opponent from evolving their Pokémon as long as this Pokémon is in play.

But Archeops isn’t alone in locking strategies. Two new Fighting types from a future Japanese expansion created more unhealthy lock tactics with Maxie around. Omastar has the ability called Fossil Barrier, which states that if you have fewer Pokémon in play than your opponent, then the opponent can’t play any item cards. Kabutops’s Fossil Memory states that if this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon, your opponent can’t use any Supporter cards. With more options to lock your opponent from playing three kinds of things, it was necessary to ban the source of the problem, rather than banning one by one. Archeops may still be banned due to Ditto Prism Star evolving into a Stage 1, which Archeops is due to Restored Mechanic.

Meanwhile, Archie is relieved to avoid the ban hammer, but if the designer does make a water types Omastar and Kabutops that does the same thing, then he shall suffer the same fate Maxie has. Until then, Deluge Blastoise will cling to that card. Assuming that those Pokémon didn’t exist, then Maxie might still contribute in Expanded, but it’ll be gone.


Standard: N/A (That card rotated out in September 1, 2017)

Expanded: Banned (During it’s time, it would be around 3/5 to 3.5/5)

Limited: 1.5/5 (unlikely to empty your hand often enough to reap the benefits of this card)

21 Times Avatar

Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick was so good it made itself disappear!

Sorry, I don’t have much to say about this card other than that one liner.  With the banning of this card, Zoroark GX becomes even more dominant in Expanded.  It was a fun combination to attempt to pull off, and I like it because it allows Stage 2’s to get out more quickly.  But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the designers are very determined to prevent any possible ability or effect that could be used by the player going first to gain an unfair advantage (and it looks like the new Kabutops from Team Up fits that bill).

And let’s also note that Unown Damage was banned as well.  Huh… I wonder who said that was going to happen?

Otaku Avatar

We’re taking a look at Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick (XY – Primal Clash 133/160, 158/160), a card that originally (and officially) released with the rest of XY – Primal Clash on February 4, 2015. It is a Trainer-Supporter that requires it be the only card in your hand when you go to play it. It also requires you have a [F] Type Pokémon in your discard pile and an open spot on your Bench because Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick will play the [F] Type Pokémon you select from your discard pile directly to your Bench. That means an Evolution is played without its lower Stages under it; it also means that cards which are incomplete Pokémon on their own, such as BREAK Evolutions, wouldn’t be legal targets. After all of that, you also get to draw five cards! A week ago, it was announced that as of February 15, 2019, Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and Unown (SM – Lost Thunder 90/214) will be banned from the EXPANDED Format. That is the same day SM – Team Up becomes tournament-legal and the official explanation does indeed cite potential combos between Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and some of the cards from the new set as the reason for the ban. I’m telling you right now that Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick probably would have needed banning even without such threats looming on the horizon. I’ll explain the reasons, and how they suggest we shouldn’t be attached to Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Ditto {*}, why Archeops (BW – Noble Victories 67/101; BW – Next Destinies 110/108) isn’t probably isn’t coming back, and banning Unown “DAMAGE” was the right call at this point.

I’m sure when Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick was just a concept, an update to the original Maxie (EX – Team Magma VS Team Aqua 73/95), the designers thought that emptying your hand before you were able to play it was going to be incredibly difficult. They were wrong. Battle Compressor, Exeggcute (BW – Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW – Plasma Blast 102/101), Jirachi-EX, Shaymin-EX (XY – Roaring Skies 77/108, 77a/108, 106/108), Ultra Ball, and VS Seeker: all of these but Shaymin-EX were Standard-legal when Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick originally released, and Shaymin-EX joined them before the oldest cards in this rotated from then Standard Format, and varied from true staple to heavily played cards. All are still available in the modern Expanded Format, though most would run Tapu Lele-GX instead of Jirachi-EX. There are a few other cards I could add, but I think these are sufficient to make clear that emptying out your opening hand to reliably hit a T1 or T2 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick may not be simple, it can be done and reliably in the right deck. Sometimes, though, something does not need to be reliable to cause problems. By the time Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick was Expanded-only, we saw Basic-focused beatdown decks backed by control elements slap a Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick or two, a target or three, make it almost impossible for Evolution decks to function; if your opponent was counting on Evolving from hand, you’d speed Archeops to your Bench, but if not you’d use a different counter or the general-purpose Gallade (XY – BREAKthrough 84/162).

Archeops was eventually banned for this reason, but ANY [F] Type Evolution with the right effect or attack could easily be “broken” by hitting the field too soon. This game’s designers have to constantly “pre-nerf” them for that reason, which means sooner or later they’ll fail. Or perhaps just say “Forget it! Let’s break it and be done with it!” which I think may be the case because of the almost-here Kabutops (SM – Team Up 78/181) and Omastar (SM – Team Up 76/181). Both are Stage 2 [F] Type Pokémon with control-style Abilities, with Kabutops preventing your opponent from playing Supporters while it is Active and Omastar preventing your opponent from playing Items while your Bench is smaller than theirs! These have potential even without Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick; with it, I expect we’d see many generic beatdown decks (and anything else with a few slots to spare) once again using Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick to severely hinder a variety of decks. Especially those which need a robust Bench; any extra space means a possible porter-lock OR additional lock (Alolan Muk?), and two extra slots could mean both. Even if it was just Omastar or Kabutops slipped in for early game disruption, that’s vicious. It also seems obvious, so I’m wondering if the designers figured it was better to intentionally spring this trap than to forget about it until another few years and thousands of cards later.

It is actually worse than what I’ve just described because every obvious problem-child like Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick can distract from less obvious ones. It is a lose-lose situation, which is why we can’t just ban every Pokémon “broken” by Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, even if something well-balanced or even underpowered is benefitting more from it than the “broken” combos. Which is why I don’t think Archie’s Ace in the Hole should be left in too much longer. I also don’t want it gone right away, either; banning too much at once is usually as toxic to the player-base as one-sided lock combos or a frustrating, monotonous metagame. Will Archeops be able to come back? I don’t think so; remember that, so long as there are enough competitive decks relying on Evolving to make it worthwhile, Archeops is only a Stage 1 Pokémon. Yes, it can be a hassle discarding a copy of Archen (BW – Plasma Blast 53/101), but if you do, you can use its Ability to place it on the bottom of your deck, which means a Plume Fossil is guaranteed to hit it, so Archeops can hit your field T3 (Player 1’s second turn)… the turn before Player 2 can manually Evolve. You could even simplify so long as you can spare your Ditto {*}; just use its Ability to Evolve into any Stage 1 to drop Archeops into play. Yes, this means you cannot utilize Ditto {*} for something else that game, but you can use it on whichever Stage 1 is most needed (and available) at that time… even if it ends up not Evolving into TecH but into a Stage 1 for which your deck already includes the Basic Stage.

So, what about Unown “DAMAGE”? I know of three different (though two use a similar principle) decks one can build with it; one can hit the field on a player’s first turn, allowing a T1 or T2 win. The other is less reliable and more vulnerable to sabotage because the earliest it can hit the field is Turn 3 or 4, but if it does it is likely to win that very turn. Why not just ban a different key component? I actually would prefer some of the pieces involved to be banned eventually but you’re talking a minimum of two cards instead of one… and some of these cards already have alternates that could immediately replace them! Unown is the lowest common denominator and the card least likely to have a viable successor down the road. Why are such decks a problem in the first place? Even if I’m wrong and most folks are fine just sitting there and waiting to lose, these combos tend to also be time-consuming, creating problems for organized play. There is also a question over whether such decks require sufficient skill for their wins, though I do hate bringing such a thing up as it sounds like pure salt. If such a deck isn’t sufficiently reliable, it won’t likely matter, but I can’t define “sufficiently”. A FTW deck might be too unreliable for a skilled player to willingly run it, but it may give a less skilled player a better chance of winning than going with what would otherwise be the optimal metagame play. There is a very dangerous range where a competent (but not great) player has a better chance piloting a FTW deck than a solid metagame pick. As casual players can simply ignore the Banned List, I think this is a good move for the tournament scene.


Standard: N/A

Expanded: 3/5 (Soon to be N/A)

Limited: 1.5/5

While not easy to play (almost impossible in Limited), Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick offers an incredible effect rarely seen elsewhere and backed by decent draw power.  It is only as good as the Pokémon it can field, but the nature of its effect means the designers must always check every [F] Type Evolution to make sure Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick doesn’t “break” it.  Either they’ve already tripped up or decided to just show exactly why Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick needs to go with some cards from SM – Team Up. I’d say the Ban List itself helps prove how many effects can be a problem when available on the first turn of the game, especially with the right associates, and wonder if some more cards are on the way out.

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