– Unified Minds
October 15, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Pokémon Research Lab is a Stadium Card that provides support for fossil decks. It lets you search your deck for 2 Pokémon that evolves from Unidentified Fossil and put them onto your Bench. If you do that, your turn ends.
So far, Pokemon that evolves from Unidentified Fossil in the Sun & Moon era are Omanyte, Kabuto, Aerodactyl, Lileep, Anorith, Cranidos, Shieldon, Tyrunt, and Amaura. This Stadium card reduces the need to use unidentified fossil because it can put multiple Stage 1s in play. Ending your turn might hurt, but it is of no consequence on the first turn of the game where you can’t attack anyways. It is also made searchable by Stadium Nav, so having 4 Stadium Navs – or even better, 4 Jirachi – and 4 Pokemon Research Lab can greatly improve the odds of getting at least a Stadium card to be used on your first turn. And even if your Stadium card is going to be eventually replaced, you at least already benefit from this effect on the turn you’ve played this card.
Because it fetches Pokemon from the deck, if you have those Stage 1s in your hand, this Stadium won’t help you. You would either have some Unidentified Fossil in play or use cards that return your hand into your deck and hope you don’t draw into that same card again. Also Restored Pokemon do NOT count towards being a Pokémon that evolves from Unidentified Fossil as it comes from a bygone mechanic. And even though Pokemon Research Lab puts Pokémon into play, you still need the Stage 2 and wait at least one turn to manually evolve. Aerodactyl is an exception as its fully evolved.
I would try to list those fossil Pokémon that would have some sort of general play, but it’s expansive options that evolves from Unidentified Fossil rivals that of Eevee and it’s Eeveelutions. Long story short, if you’re planning to play fossil Pokémon, the first thing to add into your deck is a full four Pokémon Research Lab.
One of the most infamous combinations in the TCG’s recent history was Archeops (NVI) with Maxie’s Ace-in-the-Hole. It was a simple combo: put Archeops in the discard pile so that you can bring it back with Maxie’s. The end result locks down your opponent’s ability to evolve their Pokemon, which while the effect affects the whole board, you’re already set-up by the time you play Maxie’s to revive Archeops and thus shouldn’t have a need to evolve your Pokemon further.
I bring this up to say that Pokemon Research Lab isn’t anywhere near as powerful as that combination, but it’s effective to help bring out Fossil Pokemon nevertheless.
Pokemon Research Lab is a Stadium card that lets either player, during their turn, search their deck for 2 Pokemon that can evolve from Unidentified Fossils – you know, the card from yesterday – and then put them directly onto their Bench. The main drawback is that, if you do choose to search for anything, your turn ends regardless of whether or not you found anything. So try to search when you’ve got stuff in your deck to search for.
I suppose it’s good to point out that this only works on stuff that directly evolves from the Unidentified Fossils, not the final evolution of such Pokemon such as Archeops and Carracosta. Aerodactyl-GX would be fine since you can directly evolve it from the Fossil, but you need to play Archen with Pokemon Research Lab, and then you can evolve into Archeops later. Fossil Pokemon have some odd interactions, notably with Rare Candy – some of the evolutions count as Stage 2 Pokemon whereas others count as Stage 1 – but in this instance, it’s pretty clear you’re getting whatever the most “basic” form of the revived Fossil Pokemon is before you evolve it into something else.
Naturally this only fits into decks running Fossil Pokemon, which means it’s great in its own deck and otherwise generally useless. It’s not like you’re gonna be teching this into a deck along with a line-up of Fossil Pokemon to make the most out of this – especially considering you are still ending your turn when you use this effect. It’s a huge drawback that doesn’t do any favors to Fossil Pokemon, but I’d imagine that if it wasn’t there, they would never make Fossil Pokemon good ever again, as this card would most likely break them.
Standard: 2/5 (it’s only as strong as what it can bring out, and that forced end turn isn’t too kind either)
Expanded: 2/5 (there are usually better ways to get out the same Fossil Pokemon you want more easily here)
Limited: 2/5 (you’re really gonna want this only if Fossil Pokemon are in your future)
Arora Notealus: Pokemon Research Lab offers an alternative to the Unidentified Fossil route, letting you cheat out the Pokemon instead of “evolving” them off the Item. In exchange for this acceleration, you’re having to grind to a halt. Usually cards that end your turn aren’t worth running competitively, since you might want to do more than end your turn. With this in a dedicated Fossil build, it’s debatable, since the set-up is pretty vital to Fossil Pokemon in general.
Next Time: Stay strong, stay sturdy, stay on your toes!
Pokémon Research Lab (SM – Unified Minds 205/236) is a Trainer-Stadium with an effect that may be used once-per-turn, prior to attacking, by the turn player. This effect lets that player search their deck for up to two Pokémon that Evolve from Unidentified Fossil, then play them to the Bench. Then their turn ends. Pokémon Research Lab can thus act as both Pokémon search as well as Evolution acceleration, at a time when Stadium Nav makes it a bit easier to open with the Stadium you like without burning a Supporter to do the job. Giving up your attack for the turn means nothing if it is Turn 1 of the game, and isn’t too “expensive” Turn 2. Note: I am talking about overall turn counts.
We see a dropoff in value after Turn 2. Turn 3 or 4 still aren’t too late, though a lot of decks can already mount a decent offense by this point. Beyond that, most competitive decks are likely to need their attacks for something else. There is still a chance, however, that you can afford to give up one attack for this effect; the combination of not only searching out two Stage 1 Pokémon that Evolve from Unidentified Fossil but being able to put them into play without that Item, skipping a Stage of Evolution truly is amazing. Some strategies are just good at stalling, buying more time to make this trick work.
Looking at actual tournament results, sure enough, Pokémon Research Lab can be found in the few decently-performing decks running such Pokémon, and in high counts: three or four, even in decks running barely that many compatible Pokémon. I’m still guessing at Expanded, but I believe it should be similarly effective assuming the Pokémon themselves prove worthwhile. Remember that it will not work on Restored Pokémon, as they don’t Evolve from Unidentified Fossil! This is a must-run for Limited, giving you a means of discarding the various other Stadium cards in this set and giving you an excuse to look at your deck even if you run now compatible Pokémon, though remember your turn still ends when using Pokémon Research Lab’s effect. If you do have compatible Pokémon, as long as they don’t show up in your hand first this is amazing for them!
Pokémon Research Lab is a potent Stadium but its effect comes with a cost that may actually balance it properly. It also is fairly deck-specific; outside of general uses (enough for Limited Format decks), you only bother with it in decks relying on a Pokémon that either Evolves from Undiscovered Fossil, or from a different Pokémon that Evolved from Undiscovered Fossil. In those decks, though, it is brilliant, leading to a net score on average.
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