Another late card review, this time, I’ll be looking at Muscle Band (XY 121/146), where it was first reviewed as the best card of the set: (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2014/Feb/21.shtml),
then reviewed as the best card of 2014
and last reviewed when it was the third best card lost to rotation
If you read some of the older reviews, you’ll see why Muscle Band is ranked very highly. It is one of those cards where you can use it for any deck because it is easy to play by virtue of being an item card and it isn’t specific. It is also a Pokémon Tool card, so you can attach it to any of your Pokemon, so you can thin your hand so that you get to draw more cards. Even with tool removing options available, Muscle Band at least lets you take advantage of the effect during your turn so that you can pull it off at least once, as opposed to passive effects being at the mercy of your opponent. So what does Muscle Band do? It lets any Pokemon do 20 more damage to the Defending Pokemon.
Such a simple effect has a huge influence on almost all decks. Few decks that doesn’t need Muscle Band would be if a Pokémon already has OHKO power that such a boost is unneeded or if your Pokemon are playing around with effects and/or doesn’t do damage at the first place. But most of the time, you will need a damage boosting item so that you can achieve important numbers for 2HKOs or, even better, OHKOs. Even if that’s not the case, you have left a larger dent of the Defending Pokémon for more pressure. When it first came out, it became near-staple status, due to another damage boosting item competing against this card. Silver Bangle (BW Plasma Blast 88/101) worked only for non-EX Pokemon and that Pokemon would be able to deal 30 more damage to the Defending Pokemon that is an EX. Though providing a bigger boost, the restriction hurt on decks that use EX Pokémon, though not so much on decks that didn’t use EX Pokémon.
Eventually, Silver Bangle rotated out from the Standard format in September 2015, and Muscle Band remained to be the only damage boosting card until February 2016, in which another damage boosting item arrives on the scene via Fighting Fury Belt (XY BreakPoint 99/122). This tool grants +40 HP and 10 damage boost. This would be perfect for big basics, as they got both power and durability to work with. With that tool, Muscle Band fell from being a staple to being a loose staple at that point, since some can argue that Fighting Fury Belt can still achieve important numbers in regards to 2HKOs IF Muscle Band still failed to secure the OHKO, making it no different from Fighting Fury Belt because it would be a 2HKO anyways even with Muscle Band. Some decks use either a full four of one or the other, or do a versatile split of 2/1 in case decks worry about falling short of either spectrum. Muscle Band and Fighting Fury Belt has fought head to head of deck construction until it’s eventful rotation, which will retire Muscle Band into Expanded on a September 2016.
Which brings me to think about how well Muscle Band would do in the Expanded. I still say that Muscle Band is still a good card, but sometimes crowded out of competition from other cards that can do a better job. Choice Band (SM Guardians Rising 121/145) is a hot commodity in Standard and still is in Expanded. Rendering Silver Bangle obsolete (though still a staple in Legacy), it works for any Pokemon and said Pokemon can do 30 more damage to EX/GX Pokemon, which a majority of decks run. Muscle Band maintains its niche of the ability to hit extra damage to any Pokemon, not just EX/GX Pokemon. Not only EX/GX Pokemon has rising HP scores; even single prize Pokemon has more HP as power creep continues, to the point where you have some Stage 2 non-GX Pokemon having 180 HP, or a regular Stage 1 Wailord Card having 220 HP (seriously, look at the SM Celestial Storm print). Just that record alone makes Muscle Band a bit more valuable than Choice Band, which does nothing to them.
After everything being said, Muscle Band will continue to see play in Expanded. It is also a must run in Limited unless you have a Pokémon that doesn’t do damage in the first place. Attacks that does zero base damage will not get the damage boost.