– Black & White
January 10, 2019
Standard: See Below
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today’s Throwback Thursday is a card that I’ve suggested because it’s about to receive another print in one of the future Japanese expansions: Pokemon Communication. Currently, it was only printed twice: one from HeartGold & SoulSilver and one from Black & White, which made it legal in Expanded and Legacy. Unless I missed a link (I did not Ctrl-F) it was reviewed once almost nine years ago (March 12, 2010). This card makes you put Pokémon from your hand into your deck, and then fetch a Pokémon from your deck into your hand. Essentially your hand is at -1: by playing this card from your hand AND giving up a Pokémon from your hand to get a different one from your deck. Most likely, you’ll play that Pokémon right away, so your hand would be at -2. It helps some cards that draw up to a certain amount of cards in your hand.
Although the review crew at the time thought highly of it, this is extremely outdated; in its present time, Pokemon Communication isn’t what it once was. You’ve got heavy competition from other cards that also fetches Pokemon, sometimes with or without any built in cost. Ultra Ball fetches you a Pokemon…after you toss two cards from your hand. Other ball related cards that are specific – like fetching a Pokémon with certain type (Dive Ball or Net Ball), HP (Level Ball), Stage (Net Ball or Nest Ball) and/or retreat cost (Heavy Ball) – didn’t have a cost to use. Decks that use very few Pokémon won’t need Pokémon Communication….and benefit more on the discard aspect that Ultra Ball or other cost inhibited cards provide. As far as I remember, Pokémon Communication did see use in some of the World Championship decks from 2010, 2011, and 2013. Out of those twelve featured decks, three of them run a full four, one of them run three copies, two of them run two copies, one of them run a single copy, and five of them didn’t use it. No World Championship decks in 2012 used Pokémon Communication. Granted, those were decks that use multiple evolutions and wanted to conserve them instead of dealing with inevitable discards.
So what do I think about present day use? Although I can’t find recent decks that use it, I’m not ready to count it out. Pokemon Communication is definitely a safe option to use for decks using a lot of Pokémon, like around the 15 to 25 range and doesn’t want to discard them. For limited, It’d be a decent pull unless you use only one Pokémon in a deck. Most of what can be said in Expanded also remains in Legacy. And finally, Pokemon Communication has appeared in a variety of Theme Decks, and given the heavy amount of Pokémon, this will see a lot of use there.
If what I scored seemed too low, remember that everything around it had changed over the years. Pokémon Communication had came way before Ultra Ball and other Ball related cards, so it might have reached its peak in regards to usage and competitive worth. Now? If a card were to maintain favorable scores, it would have to triumph over other competitors (where it would be frequently run more often than other cards), not feuding over other niche cards. And with a vast card pool in Expanded, there’s not much room to squeeze it in.
Pokemon Communication (BLW 99) will return to the Pokemon TCG in less than a month! I don’t know whether or not this will qualify for our ranking of top ten cards coming out of Tag Team, but I’m putting four of them in most of my decks starting February 1st. I’ve been running so many Pokemon in my decks lately, I just can’t keep a deck under eighteen Pokemon. That means 30% of my decks are Pokemon. If you have six cards in hand, you’re very likely that one if not two of them will be a Pokemon when thirty percent of your deck is ‘mons. Therefore, Pokemon Communication is going to become very common in most decks because it functions essentially as an Ultra Ball without having to discard two resources.
It is a minus two though: if you have six cards in hand before you play PC, you’ll have four cards in hand after (assuming you put the new card in play). I’m not sure whether or not you can fail Communication, however, the same way you can select “No Target” with Ultra Ball. Somebody will have to enlighten me on that … it’ll be Otaku don’t worry he always catches me when I mess up on something : )
But it’s going to predominantly replace Ultra Ball when you use Mysterious Guidance. All those times when you cringe as you discard two Item cards with Ultra Ball are replaced with smiles when you get Pokemon Communication. If nothing else, we now have eight outs to any Pokemon in our deck. That just means it’s going to be that much easier to get the new Dragonite into play on turn 2!
Standard: 4.5 out of 5
Pokémon Communication (HeartGold SoulSilver 98/123; Black & White 99/114; SM – Team Up 152/181) is our Throwback Thursday pick. Yeah, that’s right… it has already been confirmed that Pokémon Communication will be reprinted in SM – Team Up, the expansion that officially releases February 1, 2019! This Trainer-Item lets you reveal a Pokémon from your hand, put it into your deck, then select a Pokémon from your deck and add it to your hand, finishing by shuffling your deck. Pokémon Communication was not the only search option during its initial Standard-legal run. While I am basing this off of a combination of memory and a tiny sampling of decks (specifically, the World Championship decks from 2010 until 2012), it seems like players sometimes favored older options, moved more towards Pokémon Communication unless the decks were focused on Basic Pokémon, and then moved away from Pokémon Communication as most decks started focusing on Basic Pokémon and/or the next wave of search cards made Pokémon Communication less attractive.
To give you a slightly more detailed look at this history, let us begin with Bebe’s Search. She’s a Trainer-Supporter that requires you take a card from your hand and place it on top of your deck but then lets you search your deck for a Pokémon to add to your hand. She was a big deal during her day, and some of those World Championship decks ran her and other search options instead of running Pokémon Communication. Sometimes to the point of excluding Pokémon Communication, other times just running fewer copies of it than they may have otherwise. As I do not clearly remember exactly why that was for this time, I believe Bebe’s Search was being used in part because it was what people had been using, though other alternatives like Pokémon Collector and/or Dual Ball were run because they’re just better when it comes to snagging Basic Pokémon. Still, rotation cut older options like Bebe’s Search and players started adjusting to the then present state of things, and Pokémon Communication usage increased… but eventually it started going down because of rivals like Level Ball and Ultra Ball. Decks not only seemed to be running fewer Pokémon overall, but Basics were the face of the Format. Even the few Evolutions that were seeing play could be exceptions, Eelektrik (BW – Noble Victories 40/101); it just relied on Level Ball if Ultra Ball wasn’t enough.
Which brings us to the present day Standard and Expanded Formats. I was just about to mention how I doubted it would prove worthwhile. We’re all used to Ultra Ball, as well as less general search like Level Ball or Mysterious Treasure. I’d have mentioned that Pokémon Communication probably had a niche role, however, and I would have been wrong! I checked the results from the last Expanded Format Regional Championship, the one held in Anaheim, CA. Surprise! Several Zoroark-GX decks, finishing at various levels, ran a lone Pokémon Communication. Technically, that could still be niche, but with 12 different decks running at least one copy, and the highest performing of those finishing in 4th place, it is clear I underestimated how much being able to shuffle a Pokémon back into your deck to search matters! I must confess, now I’m wondering if it would be nice for a Granbull (SM – Lost Thunder 138/214) so that things like a Granbull I don’t need THIS turn can just be sent back to the deck instead of having to discard it and (hopefully) recycle it later. It makes me wonder about the multi-Stage 2 decks, that tend to run a lot more Pokémon so having something to “exchange” shouldn’t be a huge burden. While the Zoroark-GX decks I mentioned are all Expanded Format builds, they aren’t too different from their Standard Format counterparts in most cases, so at least some of those should transfer as well.
No score for Standard (yet), but I’m expecting a reasonably good performance now. No, I didn’t just change my mind yet again; my previous gushing is because a card I thought was might be too niche for its own good is apparently a solid choice for deck building in Expanded. As for the Limited Format… much like draw power, search power is highly desirable. Not for a +39 deck; while seeing your deck is useful, I don’t think it is worth running a non-Basic Pokémon just so you have something for Pokémon Communication to return to your deck. Pokémon Communication is an option for the Legacy Format as well, where it serves as general search for decks that cannot easily afford the discard costs of Ultra Ball… which isn’t a lot of decks, but I recall there being some. Unfortunately, there aren’t many folks playing the Legacy Format on the PTCGO anymore, so it has been quite some time since I’ve been able to see firsthand. Also unfortunate is that the older Theme Decks that contain this card just aren’t very good; if it shows up in newer ones after being reprinted, we’ll see that it is about as good as it is in the Limited Format, for similar reasons.
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