– Ultra Prism
February 22, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today’s Throwback Thursday pick is also a runner-up from our recent SM – Ultra Prism Top 10 Countdown! We are looking at Pal Pad (XY – Flashfire 92/106; SM – Ultra Prism 132/156), a Trainer-Item that has you shuffle two Supporters from your discard pile back into your deck. If we’d been doing a Top 20, this would have been our 16th place pick as Pal Pad appeared on two Top 10 lists, earning 16 voting points. One of those lists was my own, where it was my 10th place pick. Pal Pad was actually our fifth place finisher when we counted down the top 10 cards from XY – Flashfire about four years ago. The CotD crew at that time consisted of reviewers who are no longer active, and I cannot remember exactly what I thought of the card back then, but I vaguely recall thinking it was at least “good”, and so probably would have ranked it about the same. This card effect may seem rather underwhelming now, at least if you’re used to VS Seeker from the previous Standard Format or from Expanded play, and it certainly won’t be something players max out in their decks. In fact, it is already legal in Expanded but sees no serious use, because VS Seeker outclasses it. That is what happened to it the last time it was Standard legal as well; about six months later, VS Seeker was reprinted and we all switched to it!
Should you be running Pal Pad in your current, Standard Format deck? I say yes, but no more than two copies, and probably just one. Part of this is also contingent on you running Tapu Lele-GX (preferably two or more), which seems like a safe assumption to me. Why? For the same reason, I think you’ll have room for Pal Pad; there are a lot of Supporters we run not because we think we’ll actually need that many copies of it, but to increase our odds of having one when we actually need it. Part of that is to improve our odds of drawing into them at the right moment, the other is to combat the risk of having to discard or even use them prematurely. Which brings us back to Tapu Lele-GX and Pal Pad; Tapu Lele-GX is already a staple because of how potent it is snagging the exact Supporter you need from your deck, and that hasn’t changed. What it changes for Pal Pad is that we have something that is not especially fragile (Jirachi-EX) to dig out a Supporter from our deck we either recycled from the discard pile with Pal Pad or reduced in count to make room for Pal Pad (or both).
The results from the two most recent Regional Championships are the main reason I am not boldly asserting these claims. Pal Pad did show up, but only a handful and spread throughout the top 64 instead of, say, the top 8. Some of that is mitigating circumstances; Pal Pad can (should?) probably be skipped if you’re running four copies of Puzzle of Time, or have some other means of accessing Supporters from your discard pile. Some of the top decks ran neither, however, which could mean I’m overestimating Pal Pad, that it wasn’t right for that particular list, or that it’ll start showing up more often once people know what to safely cut for it in their particular lists. For now, I’m going to call this a useful card that has a solid chance of becoming a loose staple for Standard Format play, with a small chance of becoming an actual staple. For the Expanded Format, just run VS Seeker; I suppose it is possible something like a Wailord-EX Stall deck might want something more, but said deck seems to also run Lusamine and Puzzle of Time so I think it has its bases covered. As long as you have at least a few Supporters in your deck, Pal Pad is a godsend in the Limited Format. It is also great in the Theme Format, where it can be found in the “Mach Strike” Theme Deck and… nowhere else, even though I could have sworn it appeared in one of the others. In Mach Strike, this card is important not just because you never seem to have enough Supporters, but because this is the deck that contains Garchomp (SM – Ultra Prism 99/156) and Cynthia!
Pal Pad was debuted on XY Flashfire as the fifth best card of the set. It left rotation in September 2016 and then returned to Standard on the Sun and Moon Ultra Prism set. This item card lets you grab two Supporter cards from your discard pile into your deck.
When this card came out, it saw sporadic play due to getting back Supporters from the discard to your deck when there are almost no other methods of doing so for it’s time. But when VS Seeker and Lysandre’s Trump Card came out on XY Phantom Forces, Pal Pad had become obsolete. Having a Supporter card that goes into your hand is more preferable than putting it onto your deck IF you wanted to use a Supporter card right away. If you don’t want to use a Supporter or if you have already used your Supporter during your turn, then Pal Pad would be the superior choice due to quantity. The VS Seeker and Lysandre’s Trump Card combo means that neither player would deck out and get all the cards from the discard into your deck, ready to be used again! Eventually, Lysandre’s Trump Card was banned on Standard and Expanded for balancing issues. Even with this card was banned, VS Seeker was still a great card because you can use your Supporter right away, provided that you haven’t used one yet.
Pal Pad has returned to Standard, without VS Seeker trying to drive out this card. However, Lusamine can give Pal Pad competition since she can put 2 of any combination of Supporters and/or Stadium cards from the discard pile into your hand. Getting a Stadium card seems like a good idea, since you can use said stadium to get rid of other stadiums that you or your opponent had played earlier. Getting Supporter cards back, however, badly telegraphs your opponent on what you about to do on your next turn and will probably use some form of shuffling your hand such as N, Red Card, or Wicke. Even if you didn’t reveal them, your opponent would had already looked through your discard pile and know which cards were in the discard. Which means that Pal Pad is better than her.
Ever since the rotation of VS Seeker in the format, the meta has really got a bit picky in terms of using Supporter cards. They know since if we discard a certain Supporter by playing a card that discards them we will lose one, or two outs to a certain Supporter that we wanted. Such examples includes binning 2 Guzmas while trying to setup by playing with a Professor Sycamore and finding that the other Guzma is prized, and you can’t get them. We all have been in this situation, meaning that you now will lose access to Guzma in the entire game until you retrieve the Guzma from the prizes by some miracle. But worry no more, since now we have a “new” card that prevents such weird situations to ever happen again!
Well, when I say new, this card is actually a reprint of the Pal Pad card first released in XY Flashfire, which still maintains the same level of game state strength, only to drop off heavily when VS Seeker is re released back in XY Phantom Forces. But now that VS Seeker has been rotated out of the Standard format and Pal Pad inserts itself back in, what will happen in the Standard format? Could be.
But what does Pal Pad does in the first place? It allows you to search your discard pile for 2 Supporter cards and shuffle them back in your deck. In the past, this effect was too passive because of the fast back-to-back OHKO meta back then, and what we want is a card that can instantly put back a Supporter to be able to return the OHKO back. But the meta is now filled with a dozen filled Pokemon that can only deal 120 damage, on which there’s way too much to describe here. But in short it means that most decks are now engaged in a 2HKO war, on which there are more possibilities to perform other utility tricks, such as recovering resources, healing, and also preparing 2 or 3 attackers in the bench with much less pressure on streaming attackers back to back. In this kind of meta, Pal Pad is actually superior to VS Seeker since you got 2 effects in one with Pal Pad – it allows you to prevent deck out and also ensuring that you have the cards you want back in the deck when the deck gets thin, ensuring that you have a greater chance of hitting that Supporter that you discarded early back and use it. As said earlier, you are in no rush to stream cards that you want in the next 2 or 3 turns; you can take your time and use something else.
And that is the power of Pal Pad; it finally shows its true strength in a slower meta like this where 2HKO numbers are everywhere, you get more freedom in planning the turns ahead instead of just being at in “the moment” turn where the decision for the next turns are decided on a whim, and also just being a nice momentum keeping card that can be teched as a 1-off in every deck.
Pal Pad (UP 132), like an old friend, comes back into our lives in the Ultra Prism expansion set. This card lets you return 2 Supporter cards back out from your discard and put them into your deck.
I remember the first time I saw this and thought, “This isn’t nearly as good as VS Seeker.” And it saw no play while it lived in the shadow of one of the greatest Item cards in the history of the game. Fast forward to February of 2018, and … not much has changed. You have to go all the way down to the 11th place deck from Collinsville to find a list that carries Pal Pad. I stopped trying to find another one around 20th place. It wasn’t just Collinsville, either. No one in the top ten at Malmo ran a Pal Pad as well.
I don’t get it. I will say that part of my new found love of Pal Pad ties in with my love of Super Scoop Up. I used the Super Scooper a number of times this weekend to pick up Lele and use it again. Plus, law of averages, if you run only one, you’re probably going to get it after you’ve played or discarded a couple of Supporters already. I don’t know that it’s better than Lusamine because Lusamine can also grab a Stadium, and, if you grab Cynthia or N, you can reshuffle the other Supporter you pull out of your discard back into your deck as well, so it’s kind of a wash. But for me, Pal Pad was a great card this weekend; obviously, however, the meta didn’t see it that way.
Standard: 3 out of 5
And part of that might have been because so many people are playing Puzzles with Zoroark, and part of it might have been the thought that since we’re adding more Supporters with Cynthia, we really don’t need to recycle them into the deck. Still, I like Pal Pad, and I don’t regret running one of them in my decks.
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