Pokémon Collector – HeartGold & SoulSilver
December 7, 2017
Standard: See Below
Expanded: See Below
Limited: See Below
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This Throwback Thursday we look at Pokémon Collector (HeartGold SoulSilver 97/124), a card currently only legal for the Unlimited Format, the Legacy Format, and the Limited Format (if using packs from HeartGold SoulSilver). While Pokémon Collector is labeled as a Supporter-Supporter, the short version is that it is indeed treated as a Trainer-Supporter by the rules. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference; there aren’t many effects that reference Trainers in general, with the two that are (barely) relevant being Skyla and Trainers’ Mail. Supporter specific effects give us the potent VS Seeker, which is very, very relevant… or would be, if Pokémon Collector and VS Seeker coexisted in the same format other than Unlimited.
The actual effect of Pokémon Collector is that you may search your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon, show them to your opponent, add them to your hand, then shuffle your deck. This is a nice, simple effect, and while it searches out Basic Pokémon, it can help out Evolutions because (most of the time) they need to Evolve from the appropriate Basic Pokémon. That doesn’t seem to be how things worked out for it, however. When it first released, Pokémon Collector faced competition from Roseanne’s Research, a Supporter that could only get two basic Pokémon from your deck but could grab two basic Energy cards instead, or grab one of each. Things began to change, though; Roseanne’s Research rotated and more “Pokémon Prime” released. They were actually a rarity and not a true game mechanic, but the designers usually gave them better stats and/or effects, so Pokémon Prime began to dominate. At this time, though, it was still largely about setting up Evolutions.
Eventually, Pokémon Collector began to fade from usage, even before it rotated out of the Standard Format. I wish I remembered plainly, but I believe it was because your Supporter usage for the turn, by this point, was clearly needed to use N or Professor Juniper. You also had Ultra Ball for direct Pokémon search. As such, even though we had a format dominated by big, Basic Pokémon, a card that snagged three of them at once just wasn’t worth your Supporter for the turn. That isn’t the end of the story, however; prior to Pokémon-EX being introduced, Pokémon Collector facilitated the rise of decks built around Pachirisu (Call of Legends 18/106), Shaymin (HS: Unleashed 8/96), and some basic beatsticks. The two most likely of those were Zekrom (Black & White 47/114, 114/114; BW: Black Star Promos BW005, BW24; BW: Next Destinies 50/99; BW: Legendary Treasures 51/113, 115/113) and Tornadus (BW: Emerging Powers 89/98, 98/98; BW: Black Star Promos BW42; BW: Legendary Treasures 108/113). As a reminder, not only was this prior to the release of Pokémon-EX but long before Pokémon Catcher received the errata adding a coin flip (so it was Lysandre as an Item) and during a time when the player going first could still attack. It isn’t too surprising that it was the CotD crew’s collective pick for the number one card of 2010.
What about the Legacy Format? It is a strong play, but not for every deck. Even those that use it probably only run one or two; you usually want to open with it, but after that, you (hopefully) have enough Basics in play you don’t really need another three. It has competition in the forms of Dual Ball and Pichu (HeartGold SoulSilver 28/124). Dual Ball is an Item that requires you flip two coins, and while each “tails” does nothing, each “heads” allows you to search your deck for a Basic Pokémon to add to your hand (you have to show your opponent what you picked, and you have to shuffle afterwards, same as usual). Pichu has an attack that requires no Energy, but allows both players to Bench Pokémon from his or her deck (can’t exceed your maximum Bench size, though), then puts itself to Sleep. This Pichu has only 30 HP, with no Weakness, Resistance, or Retreat Cost, plus a Poké-Body (similar to an Ability) that prevents damage from attacks while it is Asleep. Faster decks tend to favor Dual Ball, slower decks tend to favor Pokémon Collector or Pichu.
So… what if Pokémon Collector was reprinted? It would replace Pokémon Fan Club and Brigette. While neither card is universal, Brigette has been seeing a lot of play in the Standard Format for several months. Pokémon Fan Club is just a Pokémon Collector that snags one less Pokémon, while Brigette is a Pokémon Collector that Benches the Basic Pokémon it searches out (instead of adding them to the hand). Brigette also cannot grab multiple Pokémon if you want to fetch a Pokémon-EX; it is one Pokémon-EX or three non-Pokémon-EX. The increasing prominence of Evolving Pokémon, Basic Pokémon-EX being replaced by Basic Pokémon-GX, Ability based draw from something other than Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108), and Tapu Lele-GX (or rather, its Supporter searching Ability) are what has helped Brigette do so well in the modern Standard Format. All that would apply to a hypothetical re-release of Pokémon Collector, except any Basics would be legal targets while still allowing you to make use of coming-into-play Abilities. Pokémon Collector would likely be amazing in Expanded as well because now we’re adding Shaymin-EX back into the mix. It would make it a lot more likely you would get to use it in the Limited Format, where Pokémon Collector is a good to great pull (depending on the rest of your deck).
Standard: N/A (If reprinted, 3.75/5)
Expanded: N/A (If reprinted, 4/5)
Sorry for not being able to give some more insight for the past three cards. Life has been getting in my way as well as not having much thought about these cards (and may risk not reviewing them). I hope I can make it up with today’s Throwback Thursdays.
Today’s Throwback Thursdays is Pokémon Collector from the HeartGold and SoulSilver expansion released in Febuary 2010! You may notice that this card says “Supporter” twice, but cards like these are treated as Trainer-Supporter, to follow just like Black and White-on cards. Being a Supporter card means you are limited to using only one Supporter card per turn unless other cards have the means of overriding that restriction. Right now, it would mean using Magnezone’s (BW Plasma Storm) Dual Brains Ability to play two Supporter cards and having an Active Smeargle’s (HS Undaunted, Call of Legends) Portrait Pokémon Power to play a Supporter from your opponent’s hand, totaling three uses of Supporter cards per turn. This is possible to perform in the Legacy Format, where both Magnezone and Smeargle are legal there.
Pokémon Collector allows you to search your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon and put it onto your hand. There are some forms of Basic Pokemon such as just Basic, Basic EX, Basic GX, and Prism Star Basic. The wording means that you don’t have to fetch all three; you can fetch just one or two. However, it is more likely that players would use this effect to it’s fullest extent possible.
I don’t know where to begin, but Pokémon Collector has been a very good search card. This card has been reviewed twice: one from March 11, 2010 as a regular review and early January 2011 as the best card of 2010. Based on what I read, when Pokémon Collector came out, Roseanne’s Research was still legal at the time, giving this card competition. The flexibility of fetching either Basic Pokémon and/or Basic Energy cards (up to a combination of two), was preferred more than just one category. Once Roseanne’s Research was rotated, Pokémon Collector took it’s place. From the duration of this card’s legality, Pokémon Collector can fetch lots of very good Basic Pokémon, whether it be a support Pokémon or Big Basics.
Just to give you an idea for both Ex-Standard and Legacy formats, here are some good basic Pokémon including but not limited to:
-Uxie (DP Legends Awakened) for it’s Set Up Ability
-Baltoy for evolving into Claydol (DP Great Encounters) for it’s Cosmic Power ability
-Crobat SP (Platinum) for damage counter placement via Flash Bite Ability
-Smeargle (HS Undaunted) for it’s Portrait ability
-Celebi Prime (HS Triumphant) for it’s Forest Breath ability
-A vast majority of 100-130 HP basics such as Unova Dragons Trio (Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem), Weather Genies (Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus), and the four Musketeers (Virizion, Terrakion, Cobalion, and Keldeo).
-All Basic EX cards ranging between BW Next Destines up until BW Legendary Treasures (Legacy format is why the range is limited, but put this in hypothetical Expanded, and you can say include all Basic EXs and Basic GXs)
-Exeggcute (BW Plasma Freeze) for discard fodder, but can retrieve itself from the discard to your hand via Propagation ability.
-Victini’s Victory Star ability
-Sableye for it’s Junk Hunt attack
With some amazing Basic Pokémon to choose from, it’s no wonder why Pokémon Collector has been a staple card, running about 3-4 copies in a deck.
If this card were to be reprinted on Standard and Expanded, I would imagine players flocking back to enjoying this effect. However, I feel that it isn’t what it once was. Black and White onwards made the matches fast paced, with decks consisting of Professor Juniper/Sycamore, N, and VS Seeker to maximize the need to get as much resources as possible, leaving little room for other niche Supporters that would’ve been good in a much slower format. Skyla, Lysandre, Guzma, AZ, and/or Acerola have niche appeals what are worthy for a Supporter slot even if they don’t involve drawing cards. At the same time, if you had both Sycamore and Guzma in your hand, you have to factor in your current situation, whether it is worth a turn to use Sycamore to draw more cards or to force a benched Pokémon active for the KO (with the risk of your opponent using N next turn to shuffle your Sycamore to your deck and get an undesirable hand). Pokémon Collector may be on a similar fate, although you could fake a Roseanne Research by having Pokémon Collector and Professor’s Letter to do more than twice the work Roseanne’s Research does. Pokémon Collector outclasses Pokémon Fan Club due to quantity and it even beats Brigette because you can fetch your Pokémon to your hand instead of the bench. Having Basic Pokémon from the deck to your Bench means you’re missing out on coming-into-play abilities that you could’ve enjoy. Meanwhile, Pokémon Collector can fetch a Shaymin-EX and a Tapu Lele-GX for draw power and consistency (it can be the other way around, too, with Lele fetching Pokemon Collector).
That pretty much covers hypothetical Standard and Expanded. Despite huge competition and other considerations of using this card, Pokémon Collector is still a very good card. Professor Juniper and N are still in the Legacy Format, but the lack of Lysandre/Guzma/AZ/Acerola means there’s room for other good Supporter cards to use such as this card, Twins, and Seeker. In limited formats using HeartGold and SoulSilver packs, it is a good pull unless you use a +39 deck……………oh wait! This set doesn’t contain good basic Pokémon (mostly evolving basics and sub-par basic that doesn’t evolve further), so you’ll definitely need more backup than this!
Standard: N/A (would be 4/5 if reprinted) (Feb 2010 to Aug 2010: 3.5/5) (Sep 2010 to July 2011 season: 4.4/5) (July 2011 to September 2012 season: 4.3/5)
Expanded: N/A (would be 4/5 if reprinted)
Conclusion: Pokémon Collector is one of those cards that I had to carefully examine the card instead of jumping into the bandwagon proclaiming this card to be the best Supporter card. The effect may seem like it can be used at any point of the match, but the ideal time to use it would be the first couple turns of the match. It wouldn’t make sense to use Pokémon Collector when the situation at hand is beyond repair such as being so far behind on prizes. Even having three or more copies is overkill since decks don’t run too many Basic Pokémon (I can see between 4-12 basics). If Professor Sycamore and N were to leave September 2018, I can see Pokémon Collector being heavily used IF it were reprinted.
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