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Today we’ll be looking at the bottom three cards for my Top 20 list, and it may be quite shocking because one made my original as well as the final Top 10. My apology for the delay as this article was supposed to be ready by Tuesday morning. We’ll begin by examining just three cards, including two cards that tied.
20) Exeggcute (BW: Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW: Plasma Blast 102/101)
This is the only Exeggcute to ever secure a CotD review; you can read said review here. Pokémon has some excellent cards with discarding effects, like Ultra Ball that would love to have re-usable discard fodder. The ruling is even that Propagation can be used over and over again with the same copy of Exeggcute; the game “loses track” of the card as it moves from public to private zone, so the restrictions built into the effect mostly prevent it from being discarded repeatedly for the same effect. In the end only a few decks successfully ran Exeggcute, even after the changes to the rules, and this card could very easily have traded places nearly two dozen other cards that nearly made this list.
Exeggcute suffered because it was (and still is) painful when “back luck” forced (forces) you to open with it. The erratum for Pokémon Catcher and alteration prohibiting the player who goes first from attacking weren’t in effect for most of 2013 and even now Hypnotoxic Laser coupled Virbank City Gym can take Exeggcute out first turn. For most of 2013 then it was probable that opening with an Exeggcute would cost you the game in high level play… which spread out over a tournament still greatly diminished your odds of making the top cut. Even if it didn’t directly cost you the game via being “donked”, it hurt in other ways.
If you went first and managed to Bench something along side it, your opponent would (and still does) get to decide what is more advantageous; leaving Exeggcute “alive” so that you can’t access its Ability or going for a quick Prize. The latter at least isn’t quite as easy now, but it still happens. There are also attacks that hit the Bench, and whether it was being KOed on its own or while hiding on the Bench or allowing Darkrai EX to Night Spear and take three Prizes in a single turn, it was hard to overcome. Effects similar to Propagation have made for “staples” or even “banned” cards in other TCGs, but in Pokémon it’s reserved for decks that can really milk the effect, like a Deluge deck running heavy on both Ultra Ball and Superior Energy Retrieval.
19) Superior Energy Retrieval (BW: Plasma Freeze 103/116)
How can such a vital Item only rank in 19th place? You can read the Card of the Day review for it here, where it took sixth place in our “Top 10 Cards of BW: Plasma Freeze”. Superior Energy Retrieval is currently a major part of Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135; BW: Plasma Blast 16/101) based “Deluge” decks and Emboar (Black & White 20/114; BW Promo BW21; BW: Next Destinies 100/99; BW: Legendary Treasures 27/113) based “Inferno Fandango” decks and is a staple in those decks and claimed such a title shortly after release.
So what reason could I have for ranking 18 other cards as higher? While this card has had a huge impact, its only in a few (albeit it high performing) decks, and in the decks that provided the best place for it this last year, there were alternatives. Superior Energy Retrieval is better for Deluge and Inferno Fandango decks than Energy Retrieval; while the latter doesn’t require a discard at all it only snags two cards so to get the same four basic Energy cards back a player needs to drop two copies of Energy Retrieval. Most decks weren’t (and still aren’t) desperate for discard fodder, and given the massive amount of Energy that Deluge and Inferno Fandango decks are likely to go through, snagging twice as much Energy for the same amount of deck slots has paid off quite well.
In the end though, before the format shift to the 2013-2014 (NEX-On) Format and after Energy Retrieval was reprinted as BW: Plasma Blast 80/101, it was still a functional option. There was and still is the option of Super Rod; Deluge and Inferno Fandango aren’t fast decks and regularly work a lot of draw options in that aren’t as common elsewhere like Tropical Beach (even before the rules changes), Bicycle (BW: Plasma Storm 117/135) and Electrode (BW: Plasma Freeze 33/116), so sometimes it is just easier to recycle all that Energy to the deck and count on your massive draws to just get the needed Energy back into hand. Superior Energy Retrieval is for sure the historical option, if not the clear superior one… but in the end a card carries a lot more weight to me when it’s not just providing replaceable “support”.
18) Black Kyurem EX (BW: Plasma Storm 95/135)
Black Kyurem EX (BW: Plasma Storm 95/135) was first reviewed here, where it just made the Top 10 Cards of BW: Plasma Storm, and reviewed again here because it wow enough of the review crew to take the number six slot for the official “Pojo.com Top 10 Pokémon Cards of 2013” list. In fact, I stated in my review for the official “Pojo.com Top 10 Pokémon Cards of 2013” that I personally had scored it too high... so the feeling has obvious intensified given that I am ranking it twelve whole places below where the group did.
This card is a OHKO machine when slapped in front of a set-up Deluge deck… and that is all. Deluge decks already had a OHKO machine when it debuted. In fact it had two: Keldeo EX and Mewtwo EX. Keldeo EX was the deck’s original attacker; the minimum three Energy required for its Secret Sword attack would hit for 110 points of damage when fueled purely by Water Energy cards. This made for easy 2HKOs, but in Deluge decks you could pile on the Energy so that only effects that prevented Keldeo EX from attacking or rewrote the damage Secret Sword could inflict could prevent a OHKO. The catch is that it took huge amounts of Energy to fuel more than one at a time while simultaneously making Keldeo EX vulnerable to X-Ball based OHKOs by Mewtwo EX.
Mewtwo EX was also an attacker that Deluge decks used to regularly run, though it would often need even more Energy for the OHKO. Black Kyurem EX and its Black Ballista delivers that 200 points of damage that rarely failed to deliver a OHKO and ends up with just a single Energy attached to it, so if it was in turn KOed you weren’t replacing as many resources. That is why even though Black Ballista requires (LWWC) and thus requires a Deluge player run a source of (L) Energy, it was appealing. Head-to-head against Keldeo EX, when you can invest the required Energy right away and are not dealing with Weakness or attacks like X-Ball, the two perform similarly. Seven Water Energy cards allow Secret Sword to hit for 190 points of damage, a negligible difference between the output of Black Ballista. Two shots from Black Ballista will require seven total Energy, one of which must provide (L) and two of which must provide (W).
Keldeo EX is still mandatory for Deluge decks because of its “Rush In” Ability, let alone during all of 2013. It was in fact more important before Pokémon Catcher was altered to require a coin flip in order to work. Black Kyurem EX really earns its keep because the combination of Superior Energy Retrieval and itself allows Deluge decks to run a lot less Energy than if Deluge decks were still stuck loading up Keldeo EX; the same four Energy can be used over and over again with Black Ballista to hit 200 points of damage. It is still a great attacker and deserved to make this list, but not any higher. Many Deluge decks seek out alternative attackers to support Black Kyurem EX, so if it had never been released, Deluge decks would still have been a force to recon with having relied more on Keldeo EX and metagame specific optional attackers like Suicune (BW: Plasma Blast 20/101).
Now that I have explained why each of these three rank so low, I feel the need to address the tie; I don’t believe I can really distinguish between the overall impact of Superior Energy Retrieval and Black Kyurem EX. Both took an already great deck and helped it to be a little better, and while its been more recent Superior Energy Retrieval gets credit for being a serious benefit for more than one deck. Both could be replaced with some effort, so it is very hard to determine if one slightly less “niche” card is more significant than the other, and honestly their effectiveness comes almost entirely from the cards and combos that make up the rest of Deluge and (in the case of Superior Energy Retrieval) Inferno Fandango decks.
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