– Darkness Ablaze
August 27, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, assume that this review refers to the 2021 (TEU-On) Standard Format or 2021 (…still BW-On) Expanded Format.
2nd-Place goes to… Piers (SW – Darkness Ablaze 165/189, 187/189)! This new Trainer-Supporter lets you search your deck for a Darkness Pokémon and for an Energy card. As usual, you have to reveal which cards you searched out (to prevent grabbing an illegal target), then shuffle your deck afterward. The only restriction on what kind of Pokémon you can snag is the Type, and there are no restrictions on what Energy card you snag: you can even get Special Energy cards! In fact, that is the strength of this card; get a Special Energy card you need, then (most likely) grab a Crobat V you can play to draw some cards.
I expected this combo to become pretty common pretty quick, but it is going almost unused, at least as of the Pokémon Online Global Championship, a large but unofficial online tournament held this past weekend. Here are the results, and if you don’t feel like clicking, just know that it only showed up in the 7th-place finisher’s deck. That deck was an Eternatus VMAX deck, so its inclusion makes a decent bit of sense; plenty of Pokémon to target, and the deck hits that sweet spot of enough Energy to have plenty of targets, but not so much that it is pointless searching for them. I think I know why it Piers isn’t seeing the play I expected.
Piers is still relatively new, so it may need some time to catch on… but the inverse could be true; it is as popular as it is ever going to be because it is still novel. What doesn’t have a similar, ambiguous nature is that I just thought about it wrong, and thinking about Piers in the right way means it faces competition still. I immediately latched onto the Piers => Crobat V + Special Energy combo, but I need to think of it as Piers = Special Energy + Crobat V. It does not make sense to burn a Supporter on searching out Crobat V when you could just play a draw Supporter. Ideally, Crobat V reaches your hand through drawing into it or using a less costly form of search, such as Quick Ball. If you’re using Piers for Special Energy, however, then what about Guzma & Hala?
Guzma & Hala is a TAG TEAM Supporter, so Tag Call can add it to your hand from your deck. Its main effect is searching your deck for a Stadium, but its optional, secondary effects says you may discard two cards from your hand to search out a Special Energy and a Tool as well. Piers only makes sense if you really want to also search out a Darkness Pokémon (instead of the Stadium and/or Tool), can’t handle the discard cost, or have a decent chance of needing a basic Energy some of the time. If more decks are start running Crobat V, Galarian Zigzagoon, a nice blend of basic and Special Energy, and move away from TAG TEAM cards, Piers… still might lose out to Guzma & Hala if searching out a Stadium and/or Tool are more important.
So, for the Standard Format, Piers seems good but not great, but I was expecting it to be a pseudo-staple. If it doesn’t get a new rival for searching out Special Energy cards, it may achieve that in a year, when Guzma & Hala are (most likely) gone from Standard. In the Expanded Format, it will always have to compete with them. In the Limited Format, you’ll probably always have room for it, but you may not have overly good targets; snag a basic Energy and then a (filler?) Darkness type?
Piers is a good card, but not a great card… yet. I had it as my 2nd-place pick, but I totally spaced-off we had what is a superior Special Energy-search option unless you’re running a lot of Darkness Pokémon or not running many Tools or Stadiums worth searching out. Part of me hopes Piers makes good in the coming months, not that it would vindicate my decision since I’ve flip-flopped already.
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