Pow! Hand Extension – Team Rocket Returns
Date Reviewed: January 14, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Pow! Hand Extension (EX – Team Rocket Returns 85/109) has nothing to do with our countdown of the top cards of 2020! Instead, it is simply an older card I was quite fond of back in the day. You can see “our” original review here and a re-review here. This is a “normal Trainer”, which means it was retroactively classified as a Trainer-Item once that mechanic was properly established. As such, the only costs and conditions to use Pow! Hand Extension are those printed on the card… and there’s a pretty significant one. You may only use Pow! Hand Extension when you have more Prize cards remaining in play than your opponent. Ignoring things like the specific strategy of either deck, and just looking at raw numbers, most of the time you won’t be able to use this card.
In a blowout game, or even just an evenly matched affair where your opponent constantly catches up but never pulls ahead in prizes, Pow! Hand Extension may always be a dead card! If your deck is slower than your opponent’s, or isn’t using a strategy that takes Prizes, or is using one that intentionally gives up Prizes to your opponent, you may be able to use Pow! Hand Extension with ease. In your otherwise typical deck, Pow! Hand Extension is an insurance policy; fall behind, and you gain its effects… and they are good effects. When you can use Pow! Hand Extension, you’re allowed to choose between two effects:
- Move an Energy card attached to one of your opponent’s Active Pokémon to another of your opponent’s Pokémon.
- Switch one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon with your opponent’s Active Pokémon. You choose what is forcibly promoted from the Bench. If using the 2-on-2 rules variant (each player has two Active Pokémon, and up to four Benched), then your opponent gets to pick which of their Active Pokémon go to the Bench. You still pick what comes up from the Bench before that.
If all of that was obvious to you… great! It was a bit of a kerfuffle when this card was new.
So, while it only works when you’re “behind” on Prizes, Pow! Hand Extension functions as your choice of either Gust of Wind or a slightly weaker Energy Removal. Moving an Energy from one target to another can backfire spectacularly, but just as now, there will be Bench-sitters never meant to have Energy, Energy that really only serves a purpose with a specific attacker, and Energy that cannot normally be attached to a particular target. If you take advantage of that last one, you can make your opponent discard an Energy, such as by forcing Double Rainbow Energy onto an illegal target, such as a Basic Pokémon.
Back in the day, Pow! Hand Extension was not a staple, but it did show up in various decks. I personally used it in my Liability decks, decks built around carefully trading Prizes through attacking with Weezing (EX – Deoxys 51/107). It has an attack named “Liability”; for [C] it let you place damage counters on your opponent’s Active until they had 10 HP left, then you did 70 damage to Weezing (which had 70 HP). Some builds were about Weezing avoiding the self-KO through combos, others wanted your Weezing to self-KO because you were promoting something else to create a combo. In either case, whether part of one of those two combos or in addition to them, you likely had a way to place one more damage counter on the Defending Pokémon between turns, effectively scoring a OHKO.
With decks like Liability, Pow! Hand Extension was usually important for your final KO. You’d try to keep a single Prize behind your opponent during the match, then once you were at two Prizes remaining and they were at one, use Pow! Hand Extension to force a Pokémon-ex (not to be confused with Pokémon-EX) into the Active position to OHKO it for the win. Or you might use it to slow your opponent down; Liability decks usually couldn’t afford to sacrifice Weezings all willy-nilly, and plenty of other decks could also benefit from stalling through Energy denial. If this sounds underwhelming, it helps to understand that most decks lacked better forms of gusting or Energy removal.
We did have Pokémon Reversal (Pokémon Catcher by another name) and energy Removal 2 (Crushing Hammer by another name), but this was a time when the coin flips were a bigger issue. Draw/search was also different; we had some powerful non-attack effects like the “Quick Search” of Pidgeot (EX – FireRed & LeafGreen 10/112) or “Smooth Over” of Magcargo (EX – Deoxys 20/107) providing great search. We had some solid draw effects, some Supporter-based, some Pokémon-based. What we did not have were crazy powerful things like Professor’s Research. We did have a card that was almost identical to N, however; Rocket’s Admin. As you would expect, a deck that could make good use of Pow! Hand Extension could also make good use of Rocket’s Admin.
I don’t have a handy list of the “winning” decks from the period when Pow! Hand Extension was Standard (Modified) Legal. We can still get a snapshot from the two World Champions (the 2005 and 2006) where it was legal.
- Bright Aura, a Medicham-ex deck used by Curran Hill to win the 10 And Under Age Bracket in 2005, included three copies.
- Mewtrick, a deck built around Mew ex (EX – Legend Maker 88/92), was used by Jason “Ness” Klaczynski to win the 15 And Over Age Bracket in 2006, and contained two copies.
Yes, just one deck out of four, but both won their Age Bracket and the latter was Ness, and in the oldest division. Where Pow! Hand Extension worked, it was brilliant, and where it didn’t, alternatives were readily available.
So, what if this card was re-released in the present? I believe it would still remain a card that was a so-so general play, but quite effective in the right deck. Decks inclined to “fall behind” in Prizes should be able to use Pow! Hand Extension magnificently, however, they may prefer to stick to the reliability of Boss’s Orders, even though it is a Supporter and not an Item. Something I didn’t cover earlier, because I don’t remember it mattering all that often, is how Pow! Hand Extension is actually part of an Item-subclass known as “Rocket’s Secret Machines”. There are a few card effects that offer a little additional support to such cards, and I recall a few of them being at least decent… but they weren’t a defining aspect of the card.
- Standard: N/A
- Expanded: N/A
- Limited: 3/5
Pow! Hand Extension was a good card back in the day, but not for everything. Were it reprinted, it would still be a good card for certain decks, but poor to merely “decent” everywhere else. While I loved cards such as Pow! Hand Extension and Rocket’s Admin. back in the day, I’ve since soured on the mechanic in the present. However, some of that is due to specific examples – like N – and how they’ve actually functioned.
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