Professor Oak’s Setup
– Cosmic Eclipse
April 5, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Professor Oak related cards tend to have a mixed reception depending on the effects the designers give. Ranging from the underpowered Professor Oak’s Hint and Professor Oak’s Visit to the vaunted Professor Oak Base Set and Professor Oak’s New Theory, there’s some cards which needs to include him and others not. Professor Oak’s Setup from Sun & Moon Cosmic Eclipse seems to be in the middle, neither bad nor brilliant.
This card actually caught my eye because it gets you more Basic Pokémon in play while thinning your deck. In his case, he lets you search your deck for up to 3 Basic Pokémon of different types an put them onto your Bench. Granted, you won’t be able to benefit coming-into-play abilities from your hand, but most of the time, you’ve got other abilities that’s not reliant on coming-into-play abilities and other ability-less pokemon (like the ones that are beatsticks). Depending on what deck you use, you might not be able to benefit getting 3 different types of Pokémon in play. Good thing the text says “up to” as you don’t want to be forced to play Dedenne-GX from your deck; Jirachi Stellar Wish doesn’t care though. Perhaps the best example of a Pokémon that benefits from Professor Oak’s Setup is Arceus Prism Star, whose Trinity Star needs a Grass, a Water, and a Lightning Pokemon in your Bench in order to use this attack, and he chiefly does that.
Throwback or not, this reminds me of two different cards, both from a different era, which is actually better than Professor Oak’s Setup. Lanette’s Net Search from EX Sandstorm also fetches you 3 basic Pokémon with different types (except Baby Pokemon), but it puts them onto your hand. Dedenne-GX would love this over Professor Oak’s Setup. Baby Pokemon are a distant mechanic, as it’s pre-evolved forms are also basic Pokémon, like how both Pichu and Pikachu are both Basic Pokémon. Knowing that you can’t evolve Pichu into a Pikachu in the TCG, nearly all Baby Pokemon has some sort of Pokémon Power such as Baby Evolution that can let you evolve despite sharing the same stage. Ultimately, though, this card was obsolete the moment Pokemon Collector from HGSS debuted. You would never play Lanette’s Net Search I’m Unlimited whatsoever.
Another card that is similar but better than him is Brigette from XY BreakThrough. She also fetches you 3 basic Pokémon from your deck into your Bench regardless of type, but you’re forced to find 3 basic Pokémon from your deck that are not Pokémon-EX, or otherwise you can only fetch one Basic Pokémon-EX instead of 3 non-EX Pokemon. EX Pokemon used to be pretty trendy since 2012, but due to power creep, this retired mechanic are filled with underpowered Pokémon. The ones that still have any relevancy in Expanded and/or Legacy would be the the ones with very good scaling attack (like Rayquaza-EX’s Dragon Burst) or ones with good utility (like Darkrai-EX/Manaphy-EX’s Dark Cloak/Aqua Tube Ability). Brigette doesn’t restrict future mechanics, so she could potentially snag 3 Basic Pokémon-GX and/or Pokémon-V!
So with two examples that are better than Professor Oak’s Setup, what does it mean for him? Frustrating enough, there’s not many cards that can do that besides himself in Standard, so he’s your only option unless you’re not planning to play anything from your deck. In Expanded, there’s still Brigette as an option, and as I said earlier, despite restricting Pokemon-EX, she’s better than him most of the time due to not being restricted into different types.
The game has a long history with Professor Oak-based cards. No, I’m not going to run through all of them; I started to, but then I realized it was becoming an info dump that would just obscure the focus of this review: Professor Oak’s Setup (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 201/236, 233/236)! Is this another hit to join the likes of the original Professor Oak and Professor Oak’s New Theory, something awful like Professor Oak’s Hint, or something in between such as Professor Oak’s Research (sometimes printed as Prof. Oak’s Research)?
Professor Oak’s Setup is a Trainer-Supporter, like most of its kin. So not only can you (usually) only play one of it during your turn, you’re giving up on using another powerful card like Professor’s Research. Professor Oak’s Research lets you search your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon and play them to your Bench. They must each be different Types. In the case of a Dual Type such as Volcanion-EX, your other two Pokémon can’t match either of its Types. You can’t search out more Pokémon than you have available Bench spots; if your Bench is full, you can’t use this Supporter at all!
Being unable to snag multiple Pokémon of the same Type hurts Professor Oak’s Setup, but not by much. Few decks are truly mono-Type, and even those that are mostly one Type typically contain off-Type cards such as Dedenne-GX or Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds76/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM215). What hurts is you can’t make use of coming-into-play Abilities, prepare for future turns when your Bench is full, or grab discard fodder. Avoiding the few detrimental coming-into-play effects, like that of Team Magma’s Secret Base, ain’t worth missing out on all that good!
Which doesn’t mean Professor Oak’s Setup is bad; far from it. You could still Bench the above Mew so that its “Bench Barrier” Ability can protect your Bench. Dedenne-GX can’t help you draw, but Oranguru (Sword & Shield 148/202) can still use it’s “Primate Wisdom” Ability to swap a card from your hand with the one on top of your deck. Is that enough? If you look at the last three months worth of tournament results over on LimitlessTCG, you won’t find any decks using Professor Oak’s Setup. If you go back further, however, you’ll find this card was being used at first. So, what happened? I think the answer is Sword & Shield.
Sword & Shield brought with it Quick Ball and the new “No T1 Supporter” rule. Quick Ball only gets one Basic, but it goes to your hand (hello, Dedenne-GX!) its discard cost of just one card is a bargain even when not up against your Supporter use for the turn. While the lack of a T1 Supporter use hurts all Supporters, it hits those like Professor Oak’s Setup worse. This is an early-game setup card, as the name makes clear, and you don’t have time to wait until Turn 3 to use it if you go first. Put the two together, and you may as well run a different Supporter while – as most decks actually do – maxing out Quick Ball for your Basic-searching needs.
The only place where Professor Oak’s Setup is a must-run is in the Limited Format. There’s still a real risk it will be dead in your hand late game, but any search is valuable here. Seeing your deck matters as well, and as you probably won’t have enough Supporters to use one each turn, Professor Oak’s Setup is even worth a spot or two in a Mulligan build, which runs just one Basic Pokémon (that’s guaranteed to be your opening Active).
I originally had a much more positive review of Professor Oak’s Setup written because I forgot it Benched the Basics! If we still had T1 Supporters, Professor Oak’s Setup would have scored at least a point higher in both Formats… and probably would still be seeing at least a little play in high performing deck lists. It still has some potential, but mostly in Standard. Even though I gave it a minimum score in Expanded, it is not useless there, just not good enough to earn a two-out-of-five.
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