Pokémon Communication – Team Up
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Almost with this was a Thursday, because our 7th-Place pick, Pokémon Communication (HeartGold & SoulSilver 98/123; Black & White 99/114; SM – Team Up 152/181, 152a/181, 152b/181, 198/181) is older than it looks. How so? This is a Trainer-Item that lets you show your opponent a Pokémon from your hand, add it to your deck, then search your deck for a Pokémon card. While worded differently, this is an example of “same card, different name” with respect to Pokémon Trader (Base Set 77/102; Base Set 2 106/160; Legendary Collection 103/110). Pokémon Trader was a “normal Trainer” back in the day, and since it was never re-released as or ruled to be anything else, it now counts as a Trainer-Item. Turns out, we’ve never reviewed Pokémon Trader, but you can see our original review of Pokémon Communication here. Then, it was re-reviewed as the 6th-best card of 2010. Finally, it enjoyed a Throwback Thursday review.
I don’t remember how useful Pokémon Trader was back in the day, so perhaps it is good this isn’t an official reprint of it, nor a Throwback article. I was easing back into the game when Pokémon Communication was new, but looking at the 2011 World Championship decks, it seemed to be an often used card. Which makes some sense; Pokémon Communication is universal Pokémon search, and the only cost is shuffling a Pokémon from your hand back into your deck. As long as your deck isn’t running too light on Pokémon, that is a pretty reasonable cost. Pokémon Communication was legal in the 2012 World Championships as well, but doesn’t show up in any of the decks, and only shows up in one for the 2013 World Championships…
…because we had Ultra Ball by then, and discarding any two cards to fetch any Pokémon is just a better deal. Even though two cards are being discarded as opposed to one going back into your deck, the fact the the discards can be anything while the card returned must be a Pokémon, Ultra Ball was better. Well, that and many decks can turn discarding cards into an advantage. Fast-forward to the present: we don’t have Ultra Ball in Standard, and we haven’t for a little while. We still have Ultra Ball in Expanded, but some decks may still use Pokémon Communication if they are Pokémon heavy and need to avoid discarding. In fact, we even have both Ultra Ball and Pokémon Communication in the Legacy Format. You can even find Pokémon Communication in the Theme Format.
Getting back to Standard, we do have Quick Ball and Evolution Incense. The former requires a discard of one card and gets you any Basic Pokémon, while the latter has no added costs but can only snag Evolution cards from your deck. There are also more specialized forms of search as well. Why run Pokémon Communication? Because it gets anything, no discarding, no flips, or any other costs or conditions. Quick Ball is a deck staple in Standard: even decks focused on Evolutions (almost) always still need to get their Basics out first. Evolution Incense is a common enough choice, but so is Pokémon Communication. You’ll still see some decks using Pokémon Communication instead of or in addition to Evolution Incense.
Just check out the Top 15 – yes, Top 15 and not Top 16 – from the Players Cup IV Global Finals. Every deck ran Quick Ball, 14 maxed out and one at three copies. Evolution Incense and Pokémon Communications do each show up in seven decks, but Pokémon Communication varies from a single copy to four, and Evolution Incense from two to four. There was also a decent amount of overlap, so there are multiple decks that don’t need either, but a few that ran both. Which means we’ll have competitive decks that will most likely miss Pokémon Communication once it is gone. This makes it a solid-three-out-of-five card in my book, and almost makes me round it up to four-out-of-five. Still, is that good enough to be 7th-Place?
Probably not but there’s more to this story. Pokémon Communication will be missed, for the most part, we have replacements of some sort. This was my 3rd-Place pick. That may have been high, but there’s a good (but speculative) reason for it. There’s something they cannot do that Pokémon Communication can, but to explain further we need to go into Spoiler Territory. Not far; I believe the cards in question officially release next month, were officially announced a few months ago, and were revealed in Japan near the beginning of this year. Still, if you don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t want to know what it is until you see it on store shelves, skip to the Ratings. Everyone else, you probably already know I’m talking about the V-Union mechanic.
Seems you need the pieces of a V-Union Pokémon in your discard pile to actually field one but getting them there isn’t as easy as it sounds: they’re still Pokémon cards, but they are not Basics or Evolutions. We’ll have a Supporter (Professor Burnett) that lets you search your deck for two cards to discard them… but that is only halfway there, and it costs you your Supporter for the turn. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just burn an Item to get one of the pieces into your hand, then use anything with a compatible discard cost to get it into the discard pile? I think it would be, so unless we get more support that makes it totally unneeded, Pokémon Communication gains added functionality. It is also still just a good, solid, generic search card, so even though fetching V-Union pieces to discard is not super good, it still would have added value to the card… and upping its Standard score by 1 point.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
- Legacy: 2/5
- Theme: 4/5
For the second time, Pokémon Communication is about to leave the Standard Format.
First debuted in the HeartGold & SoulSilver, it is a item card that makes you put a Pokémon from your hand into your deck, then search your deck for a Pokémon and put it onto your hand. Since this card has a cost, players may not be able to fulfill it at a specific time, which makes it pretty underwhelming. At the time of its release, Luxury Ball was the go-to card when it comes to fetching any pokemon (except LV.X), and later down the road, Ultra Ball. If a deck runs a high amount of Pokémon, then they find a use of Pokémon Communication for when Ultra Ball is too costly or that other forms of Poké Balls are luck based or specific.
With Pokémon Communication gone, you might have to rely on either Poké Ball to fetch anything or Quick Ball for Basic Pokémon. I don’t see any other alternative of this card at the moment.
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