– Sword & Shield
February 10, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Ordinary Rod (Sword & Shield 171/202, 215/202) is available in two flavors: Common and Secret Rare. You can even snag a single copy of the Common version in each Cinderace Theme Deck, Inteleon Theme Deck, and Rillaboom Theme Deck. Ordinary Rod is a Trainer-Item that lets you pick between one of three effects:
This would be an example of where “up to” does not include the number zero… because you cannot play a card for “no effect” and you have the option of just not picking the one effect you don’t wish to use.
You can recycle up to four total cards with Ordinary Rod, though you cannot recycle more than two Pokémon or two basic Energy at a time. The closest card to it is the Expanded-only Super Rod, which lets you shuffle up to three cards from your discard pile into your deck, which can be Pokémon, basic Energy cards, or a combination of the two. The only way Super Rod can recycle fewer than three cards is if you have only one or two legal targets in your discard pile; if there’s a card you do not want back in your deck, either you don’t use Super Rod at that time or you accept it is going along for the ride anyway.
No other Item-card in Standard lets you shuffle both Pokémon and basic Energy cards back into your deck. Besides general use, besides the outside chance a mill deck could make good in the future, Sword & Shield brought us Quick Ball and Professor’s Research. Throw in the new T1 Supporter rule giving us added incentive to run more Basic Pokémon (to avoid opening with just one, small Basic), and I just think we’re going to need more freedom in our recycling options. In Expanded, I believe Ordinary Rod replaces Super Rod, strange as that may sound. Of course, plenty of Expanded Format decks do not run Super Rod. They may not recycle anything, or they might use Rescue Stretcher; shuffle up to three Pokémon from your discard pile to your deck or add one Pokémon from your discard pile to your hand. In both Formats, if you need to mass recycle only basic Energy cards, you also have better options (Energy Retrieval, Fisherman, Superior Energy Retrieval).
In the Limited Format, odds are good you only have a single copy of your better Pokémon, and that your deck runs on multiple Types of basic Energy cards. Which means recycling either can be very, very important. Maybe you had to field a Pokémon or attach some Energy early, with a less-than-ideal setup, just to buy time. Maybe you had to discard them with Quick Ball or Professor’s Research. The same three Theme Decks I mentioned have one Ordinary Rod but three copies of Professor’s Research. No shuffling Trainer effects, either. Most games, you have to discard something you really wish you didn’t have to, and if it is a Pokémon or basic Energy, you hopefully still have Ordinary Rod to fish it back.
In the few high-performing lists I’ve seen out of Japan (all from a single event), I actually did not see any copies of Ordinary Rod. I don’t know why, because everything else suggests it should be seeing heavy use. Ordinary Rod only placed 12th on my personal list for that reason; I wanted to rank it higher, so I’m glad it snuck into 10th-place on our collective list.
Details: This is another one of those “quantity over quality” cards, but they do give you a decent amount. Ordinary Rod, the 10th best card of Sword & Shield, lets you choose one or both effects. Either you put 2 Pokémon from the discard pile onto your deck, put 2 basic energy cards from your discard pile onto your deck, or do both 2 Pokémon and 2 basic energy cards.
Its flexibility is useful in several situations where there might be decks that wanted to recover just energy, just Pokemon, or both so that you don’t deck out. This is exactly enough to make Rillaboom accelerate energy assuming you put 2 grass energy into your deck. Some of the time, such Pokémon or basic energy cards gets prematurely discarded by Professor’s Research or the like, and Ordinary Rod comes to save the day.
I can’t say for sure whether Ordinary Rod outclasses certain cards in both formats. Brock’s Grit and Super Rod set the standards of doing a specific thing well enough to be worth using. Super Rod might not fetch exactly 2 Pokémon or 2 trainers but it can fetch 3 of any combination of that. Brock’s Grit does double of that of Super Rod but he is a Supporter. Ordinary Rod seems to be in the middle of the road. So while Expanded makes Ordinary Rod face competition, it is definitely needed in Standard.
If you’re like me, you’re probably looking at this card going, “Wait how is this in the Top 11? This card is just…meh?” So let’s take a closer look at Ordinary Rod to figure out how extraordinary it must really be!
Ordinary Rod is an Item with a simple effect – you get to choose up to 2 Pokemon or basic Energy in your discard pile, show them to your opponent, and then shuffle them into the deck. That’s it. That’s all it does. And for a lot of decks, this kind of effect is mediocre for recycling and likely wouldn’t see play in those.
So is there a deck that does want to recycle cards from the discard pile? Specifically, is there a good meta deck that wants to put Pokemon and basic Energy back into their deck? And the answer may surprise you.
If you’ve been reading Card of the Days for a while recently, you’ve probably heard the deck come up once or twice that revolves around using Pidgeotto. Yes, Pidgeotto Control. It’s coming up again. And that’s probably because Ordinary Rod is most relevant to that deck in particular. Needing to recycle a bunch of their Trainer cards like Crushing Hammer and Chip-Chip Ice Axe is important for the deck’s strategy, but what about the few Energy cards that are in the deck? Usually the deck only runs 3 Water Energy and maybe Recycle Energy, so what if you run into something that puts those Energy into the discard pile? Or worse, what if your Oranguru gets KO’d? You’ll need something to get it back, and the deck doesn’t mind sifting through tons of cards to do it.
Enter Ordinary Rod, which provides an Item-based use for recycling and can be recycled itself so you never have to worry about decking out. The idea’s not as outlandish as it sounds either; there was a version of Pidgeotto Control played at Worlds 2019 that ran a copy of Brock’s Grit for just such a purpose, and that deck managed to climb up to 8th place! More recent versions of the deck haven’t used Brock’s Grit in a while, but I could imagine Ordinary Rod filling a void left behind by it. At the very least, I expect there’s going to be some experimentation with it.
Even after all of this consideration, I’m still not really sold on Ordinary Rod being so high up on the list – and yes, I know I’m saying that as it’s in Top 11 – but I suppose there’s some merit to running it here or there. Generally I think there are better cards, but just like anything, I can absolutely be proven wrong, and if anything’s going to do it, it’s going to be something out of the ordinary.
Standard: 3/5 (definitely will see some experimentation, likely to make it to a competitive deck)
Expanded: 3/5 (not sure what it would go in here, but who knows?)
Limited: 4/5 (can’t say it would be bad here)
Arora Notealus: Don’t let my reservations on Ordinary Rod fool you – there have been plenty of cards that seemed weak like this or weren’t worth people’s time that ended up seeing lots of play in specific decks. Viridian Forest is a pretty good example of this, and even Pidgeotto itself could be considered in that same vein! If Ordinary Rod ends up finding a place in a strong deck, good on it.
Next Time: Unleash the true power of the new Pokemon-V!! Complete with the mighty and powerful…
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