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I am writing this on December 31 of 2014, with the final CotD of this year having gone up. The last 10 reviews were of course our Top 10 cards for the year and through submitting individual reviews which Pojo himself averaged out, the site’s official Top 10 list was determined:
As I made clear in my reviews, that has a lot of the cards I selected, but not all of them and not in that order. This is an article highlighting what I picked and why. This will be based on the list I submitted to Pojo, as opposed to a revised Top 10 list that I hypothetically would make today. That isn’t a subtle hint about a future article. The last time I tried that it did not end well. Technically it never ended at all but is an embarrassing unfinished article series; feel free to enjoy a laugh and hopefully learn a lesson from my folly.
As I mentioned in every article, I tried to be a little more technical than I usually was. I still composed a “rough” list of 10 cards I found the most promising to start, then ranked them from 1st through 10th place, with 1st place receiving 10 points down through 10th place receiving a single point in three categories. For ease of use, I decided to refer to what I was looking at as “impact”, how the game was being affected and I broke that down into three broad (and admittedly, somewhat overlapping) categories: breadth, depth and time referring approximately to how widespread a card’s usage was, how significantly it altered how the game is played and how long it was a significant presence in the metagame. If I had the time, patience, skill and knowledge needed, a list composed of every unique (that is neither a reprint of something from a previous year nor multiple releases of the same card for this year) would instead have been the starting point, but that is a task far beyond me.
So what follows are the Top 10 lists for various steps, with a brief (relatively speaking) explanation of each.
So the two that didn’t make it to the final Top 10 list for the entire crew were Raichu (XY 43/146) and Miltank (XY: Flashfire 83/106). Why were they on the list at all? Both cards have had a noticeable impact on the game this year, with Raichu still seeing at least some competitive play while Miltank saw some after it released but before this year’s set rotation (as well as Seismitoad-EX officially becoming Standard legal). Both are also something of “stand-ins”; I chose Raichu to help represent the Stage 1 attacking Pokémon currently seeing competitive play because they fit a specific niche; mostly they are trying to exploit Weakness while delivering a solid hit against most other Pokémon another example would be Beartic (XY: Furious Fists 22/111). An example that isn’t quite the same principle as it involves a hit-and-run strategy would be Donphan (BW: Plasma Storm 72/135). Of the legal candidates, Raichu seemed like the best both for longevity and what it specifically was trying to counter: Yveltal-EX. Miltank was an easy to way reference the Stage 2 Pokémon that made their marks mostly early this year in addition to those that came from earlier times and probably only made the list due to my personal fondness from using it myself until the rotation.
Battle Compressor served as more than a bit of a proxy for VS Seeker, as I am quite fond of the Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo (this should be remembered as you read the individual breakdowns in addition to the rough draft above). Strong Energy was also partially a proxy for Donphan, Korrina, Landorus-EX and several other Fighting-Type Pokémon and pieces of Fighting-Type support. This was a somewhat questionable tactic and I am uncertain if I would repeat this were I to redo the list.
So looking at how much the overall metagame was affected by these cards, I scored Muscle Band the highest because most decks run multiples of it. Battle Compressor scores high because - as a fan of VS Seeker and their combo - I personally am unlikely to build a deck without at least a single Battle Compressor. I admit this was a mistake on my part; this practice is in no way common. Lysandre and Startling Megaphone are both quite commonly played, and at about the same single or double level. Yveltal-EX is a common sight, either in a deck focused upon it or splashed into something that can make room for Rainbow Energy (and earlier in the year, Blend Energy GRPD or Prism Energy). Seismitoad-EX should have topped it instead of tying with it, however, as Seismitoad-EX just needs a Double Colorless Energy to run really well instead of to function at all; two manual Energy attachments do work fine using any Energy. Strong Energy probably shouldn’t have tied with them; it is very important but only to mostly or mono-Fighting-Type decks. Pyroar also seems to have been lowballed; while only in one or two distinct decks itself (its own focused deck and general Fire) it affected how many decks were built (as a deck began to need a way around Intimidating Mane).
Though Muscle Band only adds 20 points of damage to attacks, it has proven to be a very relevant 20 points. Similarly we’ve had Item lock since long before Seismitoad-EX but enabling it through an attack for [CC] that also does 30 points of damage, on a Pokémon-EX with 180 HP really changed how we played. Battle Compressor again benefits from my assumption that it should be a more or less staple combo with VS Seeker and that the two together really streamline how a deck runs. Yveltal-EX again doesn’t do new things, but does old ones so well that decks often had to be built to survive the match-up. Lysandre brought back that ability to reliably strike the Bench that decks have to factor in, usually at a fundamental level, but this time as a Supporter. Startling Megaphone, especially once Tool Scrapper rotated out, again dictates how nearly all decks are built and run. Unsurprisingly, I do wonder if I should have scored these lower since for the most part they just took something already there and pushed it significantly beyond previous limits.
Pyroar probably seems surprisingly low; after all doesn’t it force decks to run something to get around the Ability? While it does, as we soon discovered some of those things should have been being played already. Raichu and Miltank mostly enhanced what was already there by providing an inexpensive, alternate attacker, and probably should have tied for last place. Strong Energy probably should be closer to Muscle Band because its doing the same thing, just as a Special Energy and for only one Type. Otherwise again, it just took what was already happening (barring a few specific examples) and made it work even better… which applies to almost the entire list.
Possibly the most controversial strategy but the most straightforward to explain. Since this was to be a list reflecting 2014, time spent being influential seemed most relevant and thus older cards have an edge. This didn’t seem too out of line given newer cards tend to have an edge elsewhere because they can appear to have more untapped potential and since they are knew, are foremost on my mind. Cards of course tied with their set-mates.
So the preceding is the list submitted to Pojo. Time in the format and being general usage rocketed Muscle Band to the top of the list; even if revisions changed the rest I doubt Muscle Band would drop. However second place is just seven points different from seventh place; looking at just the numbers and ignoring the actual real world ramifications, leveling out these two scores would be as simple as Yveltal-EX (hypothetically) and Battle Compressor having their releases swapped. I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the curtain.
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