Puzzle of Time
July 12, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
There have been a number of interesting ideas that the creators put into the game, one of which was the idea of playing multiples of the same card at the same time to get different effects. When it’s something like Missing Clover, it’s almost completely ineffective, but when it’s something like Puzzle of Time, well it seems to have enough viability to be playable and even competitive.
Puzzle of Time could be played at one copy to get a good scope of what was coming up, but it mainly saw play in pairs as a means of getting cards back from the discard pile. This effect would be used to great effect in a few decks, and to get the most out of the card, it was pushed to four copies in most of these decks. After all, you’d want it to appear frequently enough to get two copies in hand to play at the same time!
Personally the design of these cards is an interesting one, but I can’t imagine that more of these cards will show up unless they have worthwhile effects the way Puzzle of Time did. I’d like such a hypothetical card to come about with useful effects at every tier, but for now, I suppose settling for cards like Puzzle of Time works too. Which now that it’s rotating, means you’ll have to settle for something like Missing Clover.
Standard: N/A (the ideal retriever doesn’t need two cards, but Puzzle of Time defied those expectations)
Expanded: 4/5 (I imagine the decks that utilized it best will continue to do so even in Expanded)
Limited: 3/5 (it’s such an interesting card in general)
Arora Notealus: Maybe one idea for a card like this is to allow you to play with multiple copies at the same time but get an increasingly more powerful effect with each one. For instance, one idea is to boost damage by 10 for every copy you play at the same time! Or maybe you attach an Energy from your deck to a Pokemon for each copy. Stuff like that is interesting, though it’s understandable if it seems like it can be abused. It’s hard to argue that cards like that wouldn’t see play in every deck, but considering the inherent cost to get to their ideal range is about where Puzzle of Time is for its second effect…
Side Reviews: Ultra Space – given how generally weak the Ultra Beast deck archetype is right now, this card hasn’t seen as much play as one would expect. There’s no need for it in decks that only run one kind of UB in it, and those running multiples that aren’t the focus don’t need a card like Ultra Space right around. Don’t worry though, if you keep a hold on this card, it’ll get better with more UBs, and as the deck archetype gets fleshed out, it’ll become much more valuable in it.
Buzzwole – surprisingly this has seen some tech in some Buzzwole-GX builds. It might be as a good way of getting back at an opponent when your Buzzwole-GX has just gotten KO’d, launching into a cheap move that deals 120 damage easily. That can certainly tilt things back in your favor, and that’s likely the main reason Buzzwole here has seen that kind of play. Will he be as useful without the Strong Energy? Maybe, maybe.
Zygarde (71) – …just…just no…
The other Zygarde (72) – decent enough, but just not strong enough to warrant its place in a deck. There are definitely better options.
Next Time: Grasping at you with many tendrils to get you all the cards you need!
Puzzle of Time was reviewed twice: as the fifth best card of the set (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2016/Feb/15.shtml) and being in the runner-up spot (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2017/Jan/16.shtml). This is a card that seems familiar as far as mechanics go. If you played one, you look at the top 3 cards and rearrange them as you see fit. If you played two of them at the same time, you put 2 cards from the discard pile onto your hand. It’s one of the few cards that can get back any card.
Despite doing something potent, it’s a bit unconventional because you have to have two of those Puzzles in your hand in order to abuse the second effect. Sometimes, you may not have two of them when time calls for it. It also risks getting prized. Because of this, it’s either run 4 of these or not at all. Puzzle of Time will be missed, because I can’t see a card that does a similar thing. Well, maybe Diantha, but she restricts you to Fairy decks. Not to mention that there are other cards that retrieve cards that does better than Puzzle. Rescue Stretcher for Pokemon, Energy Retrieval for basic energies, VS Seeker for Supporters, Special Charge for Special Energies. Which leaves a niche for Puzzle of Time to retrieve items and stadiums.
So I remember commenting in a post two years ago – shortly after I first started playing – that I thought Puzzle of Time was a great card, maybe even better than VS Seeker. Someone of course countered my broad statement – and rightly so. At the time I was probably overstating the value of Puzzles.
And then this Zoroark GX card came along….
Between February 17 and April 14, 48% of decks that finished in the top 8, 32, or 64 ran Puzzle of Time. It was the second most common Item card, and it comprised 14.5% of all Item cards played. Between May 19 and June 23 we saw its usage drop considerably, down to the 6th most popular Item card and only about 8% of total Items played. Over this same time frame, however, Zoroark GX dropped from being 10% of all Pokemon cards played to 6.5% of all Pokemon cards played.
Obviously, that changed this weekend in Columbus. Zoroark decks made up twenty of the top 64 decks, five of the top eight, and three of the top four. Puzzles were everywhere (including in a Sylveon GX deck that finished 14th). Tord even took Puzzles to the extreme, using UP Oranguru’s Resource Management to shuffle them back into his deck (which was frighteningly low most of the time).
Much like Brigette yesterday, it took a tremendous card to activate the maximum usefulness of Puzzle of Time. And like Brigette as well, it serves as a reminder that just because a card seems worthless today, doesn’t necessarily mean that that card won’t become a staple at some point in the future.
Standard: 4 out of 5
My response to the person who disagreed with me on how good Puzzle of Time was? “How else are you supposed to get Items back out of your discard pile?” I didn’t just run Puzzles in Zoroark builds, I’ve been using it in every Max Elixir build I make. And I’ve even become a fan of Order Pad too – my favorite move is having a Puzzle in hand, two Elixirs in the discard, and flipping heads on an Order Pad to allow me to go get a 2nd Puzzle to go grab two Elixirs back out of the discard again. When I say I abuse Max Elixirs, I mean it, and Puzzle of Time facilitates that to the Nth degree. As I always say, if you’ve played a card once, chances are you wouldn’t mind playing it again, and no card lets you do that like Puzzle of Time.
Today we have another look of one of the endearing favorite cards of the XY Breakpoint set, a very strong Item card which although feels unwieldly to use, you’ll reap massive rewards when used correctly. Its the Puzzle of Time!
Puzzle Of Time is one of those 2 mode cards seen with most cards of the day, including Giovanni’s Scheme, Parallel City and Chaos Tower, to name a few. If you play 1 copy from your hand, you can rearrange the top 3 cards in your deck, but if you play 2 copies simultaneously, you can pick 2 cards from your discard pile and put them into your hand. We’ll mostly focus on the second part, because that’s where the true power of this card lies. Having the ability to grab 2 cards from your discard pile (any card you want, without restrictions) is a big boon and can shove the game tides into your favor by correctly picking the cards you want back.
Puzzle Of Time finds home mostly in decks that relies more on discard and draw to move their game instead of preservation or disruption. As such, it is often paired with cards that allows the player to bin the resources they don’t want to see in the early game but needed them in the late game. Having the luxury of already seeing said card allows the player to all but take them back when they need to, and Puzzle of Time does exactly that – as an Item card! So you can use a Supporter at the same turn you play Puzzle of Time. It can grab you that late Lysandre or Guzma you need to win the game. It can grab you the last energy or a discarded evolution card that you can’t play earlier. However, to be able to use the return effect, you needed 2 Puzzle pieces in your hand, and in that way, this is where Puzzle of Time finds itself home in a more aggressive deck that needs to see a lot of cards in the early game. Think something like Zoroark-GX and its Trade ability, where you rely on its ability to dig cards as well as discarding one, and Puzzle of Time allows you to grab the discarded cards back later in the game.
There has been many, many decklists where the uses of Puzzle of Time exceeds its expectations. And most of its downfalls is the fact that you needed 2 copies at the same time. In a deck where fast discard draws are king, and its often where Puzzle of Time will find its home, a single copy or 2 might be discarded early, and such you can’t exploit its potential every game. Its not a reliable card, yet very powerful when used correctly.
Cards that allow you to get back resources discarded have been printed in many shape and form. Think Energy Recycler, or Rescue Strecher, or Super Scoop Up. However, Puzzle of Time’s extra precision gives it that extra edge over all of them, and although a similar effect has been printed in the form of Hollow Hunt GX, Puzzle Of Time’s ease of usage will always still linger in many hearts. It is one surely to be missed.
Out of the top 10 cards we’ll miss most post-rotation, Puzzle of Time (XY – BREAKpoint 109/122) is seventh. Why? An amazing effect with an alternate mediocre effect with a hefty cost. Unlike most cards, you can play two copies of Puzzle of Time at once and gain access to a pretty great effect: add two cards from your discard pile to your hand. Adding Pokémon or basic Energy cards to hand isn’t too hard in this game, but Trainer and Special Energy cards are a different matter. If you only play a single copy of Puzzle of Time merely lets you look at and rearrange the top three cards of your deck; a weaker version of Pokédex but far better than nothing when you just can’t manage to have two copies of Puzzle of Time in hand. Are there other ways to recycle any kind of card from your discard pile? Yes, but none with this ease of use that doesn’t rely on luck (Recycle) or helps your opponent as well while being banned (Lysandre’s Trump Card). Without Puzzle of Time, decks that rely heavily on Special Energy will just have to rely on Special Charge to help them out…
…except they can’t because Special Charge is going away as well! I don’t recall any other Trainer that allows you to recycle Special Energy, but that may be a memory fail on my part. There are ways to recycle all other cards, but again that includes relying on attacks or Abilities or Trainers that don’t send them to the hand directly or have a cost-benefit ratio that may not be as favorable as that of Puzzle of Time. Puzzle of Time received some help from an unlikely place… or maybe it was obvious and I just didn’t see it coming, but Zoroark-GX found a natural partner with Puzzle of Time. Its “Trade” Ability allows you to discard a card from hand to draw two… which means you might have to discard something you’d like back but also gives you a way to grow your hand without shuffling or discarding it ALL away. Which is probably why it made all three of our individual Top 10s (5th place on my personal list), earning 85 voting points and tying with tomorrow’s sixth-place winner… with the tie ultimately being broken by the spreadsheet.
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive. We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!