No Removal Gym
– Gym Heroes
July 23, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today we’re dealing with a card from the Gym (late Classic or Gen I) era of the TCG. No Removal Gym (Gym Heroes 103/132) officially released on August 14, 2000, alongside the rest of its set. This Trainer-Stadium states that a player must discard two cards from their hand in order to play a copy of Energy Removal or Super Energy Removal from their hand. Energy Removal is an Item that discards an Energy from the opponent’s Pokémon of your choice; Super Energy Removal is the same, but you have to discard an Energy from one of your Pokémon first and you get to discard two Energy from one of your opponent’s Pokémon (again, your choice).
A little more background information. Not only is this so far back that many TCG mechanics we take for granted just aren’t there: Item cards were simply “Normal Trainers”, Supporters didn’t exist, and there were no multi-Prize Pokémon. This is actually one of the first wave of Stadium cards ever released! It is also worth noting that this is well before sets had a stable release schedule. The previous expansion, Team Rocket, officially released on April 24, 2000 while Gym Challenge the next set, released on October 16, 2000. Though it didn’t play a major role in No Removal Gym’s success (or lack thereof), this is back before Stadium cards were once-per-turn, and before you couldn’t play a Stadium if one with the same name was already in play.
When I first saw No Removal Gym, and until just a few years ago, I thought it was a great card. I was wrong! Maybe this Stadium worked well for me when I originally ran it, but I was only playing in a small time, Midwestern Pokémon League. The issue isn’t the effect, but that it is on a Stadium card. Had this been on a Stage 1 or a Basic, it may have worked as intended. Many a newbie still had Energy Removal in their deck, and good decks often ran a mixture of Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal. Discarding two cards from hand as a penalty is almost paradoxically difficult; between cards like Computer Search, Item Finder, and Professor Oak, decks were used to having to discard cards… but that meant they might also run short having yet another reason they needed to discard from hand.
When most of your opponents were lucky to have any Stadium cards – Gym Heroes introduced the mechanic – No Removal Gym may have been a good deal. Eventually, though, not only would running at least a few Stadium cards become the norm, but we’d receive better options. Chaos Gym and/or Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111) could prevent your opponent’s from using any Trainers; yes, they relied on coin flips, but they stacked with each other (and multiple Slowkings with themselves). When you just need one coin flip out of up to five to go your way, that tends to do the job better than a two-card discard penalty! Ecogym eventually released, meant that non-Colorless Energy cards would go to your hand if discarded by an opponent’s card effect; this was probably the nail in the coffin for whatever niche No Removal Gym could have claimed.
Not that it mattered for the 2002 Standard Format, or the 2001-2002 Modified Format as we called it for many, many years. This was after the first set rotation, and every set from before Team Rocket was cut. That means No Removal Gym was in a Format with no Energy Removal or Super Energy Removal. Sure, Energy Removal 2 and Super Energy Removal 2 would eventually be released, but not only was this after No Removal Gym had rotated, but they don’t count anyway. No Removal Gym’s effect is only works on card with the exact names of “Energy Removal” and “Super Energy Removal”. Cards which aren’t in Gym Heroes, so the only reason No Removal Gym is somewhat handy in Limited is because it acts as a totally neutral Stadium you can use to discard your opponent’s Stadium.
No Removal Gym would be pointless to reprint, as Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal are not being re-released for Standard Format play. I could see a card inspired by No Removal Gym as a possibility, however. Perhaps something that penalizes a player using Item cards with “Hammer” in the name? I’m not saying such a card is in the works, and even if it was… I didn’t say it would be a good card, either. There have been a few times when Hammer-spam defined the Standard Format, but even then we’ve got the same problem mentioned above; your opponent just has to use their Stadium to discard your Stadium.
I was surprised that, even as recently as 2016, I not only thought No Removal Gym was good, but one of the best cards in its set. There’s no older Card of the Day, though I’ve (incorrectly) stated it was good in certain articles. As such, it seemed like a good Throwback option; explain why certain effects just don’t work well on a Stadium, set the record straight, and finally have a review for it!
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