– Rebel Clash
May 21, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Surprisingly, Poké Ball does not date back to the Base Set, even though it is such a fundamental item in the video games. Instead, its history is as follows:
I hadn’t realized that Poké Ball missed all of the 2002 and 2003 Standard Formats in their entirety, and just returned to the current Standard Format with its Rebel Clash re-release. That, or I’d simply I’d forgotten. It is also possible I missed some more obscure printings; I used a combination of PkmnCards and Bulbapedia as the official database doesn’t include WotC cards. Also… even I don’t care about it that much, because its Poké Ball.
Yeah, I know; they might rescind my otaku card for a lack of obsessiveness, but Poké Ball is a Trainer-Item that lets you fetch any Pokémon from your deck and add it to your hand but requires a coin toss, and “tails fails”. Yes, some effects are well worth the coin toss, and if our draw and search power been weak enough, Poké Ball could have been one of those.
There’s actually some support for Poké Ball! All “Ball” cards can benefit from Apricorn Maker… in the sense that this Supporter can fetch up to two copies of any card with “Ball” in its name from your deck. Its not exactly a great card. Foongus (XY – Steam Siege 12/119) lets you put three copies of Poké Ball from your discard pile into your hand when you Bench it from your discard pile. This is enough to matter, but without a good Amoongus to go with it, Foongus is a 40 HP Basic just eating up a slot in your deck and on your Bench to try and justify running three to four copies of Poké Ball.
We’ve always had better options than relying on Poké Ball; it is a card for beginners who aren’t ready to deal with costs or conditions, or those who really love their coin flips. I won’t detail all the alternatives, because that’s a lot of cards! They vary from generic to deck-specific, from Pokémon effects to Trainers and even to Energy cards! It released the set after the original (non-Supporter) Bill, (non-Ace Spec) Computer Search and Professor Oak, after all.
Fast-forwarding to the present, you’ve got Quick Ball, Evolution Incense, and Pokémon Communication in Standard. Yeah, all have costs or restrictions on what they can search, but they’re reliable. The Expanded Format adds in Ultra Ball, the go-to Pokémon search since it released, and the Legacy Format also enjoys Ultra Ball. In the Limited and Theme Formats, whether or not a copy of Poké Ball works can decide the game… though Poké Ball is only legal in older, weaker Theme Decks.
It is almost embarrassing that Poké Ball, something so iconic in the Pokémon franchise, is such a bad card, but search effects are very hit or miss. They tend to either be really good, or really… not. The designers want Poké Ball to be able to search or anything, and that makes sense, but if they ever decide to update and errata their Ball search again, they need to rethink this card.
Update (20200604): Shortly after this article was posted, I learned that Seongmo Byun took 79th-place in the Limitless Online Qualifier #3 with a Zacian ADP deck that included one copy of Poké Ball. Recently, in Limitless Online Qualifier #4, Emery Taylor used three copies of Poké Ball in their Toxtricity VMAX deck with which they took 79th-place. It is odd that they both finish the same, though the tournaments had different attendance (1158 and 1303, respectively). If it happens again, I’ll update one more time, and adjust Poké Ball’s score up by one (out of five) in Standard.
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