– Sword & Shield
February 19, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Throughout this countdown, I’ve repeatedly made it a point to tell you how there are many, many great cards in Sword & Shield. Which I then use to explain why, even though I scored the card being reviewed well and sang its praises (at least a little) in the review, I thought maybe that card had been rated too high. We’re at the top, now. I’ve heard compelling arguments, supported by the winning Japanese decklists I’ve seen, that each of our final three cards might be the best overall card in this set. Without further ado, we look at our third-place subject, which nearly was our second-place pick, Quick Ball (DP – Mysterious Treasures 114/123, DP – Majestic Dawn 86/100, Sword & Shield 179/202, 216/202).
Quick Ball is a Trainer-Item that requires you discard a card from your hand in order to use it, but then lets you search your deck for a Basic Pokémon. In the Standard Format, Quick Ball is going to approach “full staple” status in decks. Some decks will skip it entirely, or use it to augment a more strategy-specific search option, but even many of those will want Quick Ball because they have off-Type Basics, non-Pokémon-GX Basics, etc. they need to hit the field. Even Evolution-focused decks still start with Basics the vast majority of the time. Discarding a card does mean that Quick Ball could end up dead (or effectively dead) in hand, but the majority of the time it is (at worst) an inconvenience. Some of the time, the discard cost will actually be to your benefit!
In the Expanded Format, Quick Ball can be thought of as “Ultra Ball Lite”: half the discard cost with most of the search power. I’m not sure what the Expanded metagame will look like after Sword & Shield; I think there will be enough decks running Evolutions that Ultra Ball will remain the dominant Item-based Pokémon search, but it should at least be supplemented by Quick Ball. If a deck is mono-Basic and does not need to discard a lot o cards from hand, then Quick Ball may actually replace Ultra Ball in those decks! For the Limited Format, if you pull a copy of Ultra Ball, you run it. Yes, even with a Mulligan (+39) build; you won’t have any Basics to search out, but you can get a peek at your current deck contents.
Quick Ball is technically not a new card. Back in 2007, a Trainer-Item (by modern classifications) with the name “Quick Ball” released but with a different effect than the modern take. The original revealed cards from the top of your deck until you hit a Pokémon; add the Pokémon to your hand, shuffle the rest back into your deck (all the revealed cards, if you never found a Pokémon). Due to an official erratum, old copies of Quick Ball now function the same as the new. Reprints usually aren’t eligible for our countdowns, but that is to avoid reprints cluttering up our lists. We make exceptions for relevant reprints, like a card returning to Standard and Expanded legality. At least, if they are good enough to have otherwise made the countdown.
According to Vince – even I didn’t remember this – the last time I awarded a “5/5” to a card in Standard was to Pokémon Catcher. Twice! Pokémon Catcher – prior to the erratum that added a coin flip – was simply too good for the metagame into which it released, let alone what was too come. Quick Ball is not that good. Now that I no longer award partial points, with some cards I round down, but others I round up. Quick Ball is one of the latter, as I expect most decks will soon include at least a few copies (though I’m less certain for Expanded). If something is even better than this, I’ll just explain so in the review; that’s why we don’t just post scores in the first place!
I will cheat by allowing myself a second paragraph for the conclusion. Quick Ball missed tying for 2nd-place with tomorrow’s card by one voting point. I actually made a judgment call to put Quick Ball in 2nd-place; going by how many copies were being used in as many decks, it should have been my 1st-place pick. If I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have changed our actual #1 pick for Sword & Shield, but we’d have had that tie!
Details: Well, our third best card of Sword and Shield is a pretty confusing case, because it is one of those cards that has just undergo a major text change, overwriting all older previous copies of said card. And that might make it eligible to be part of a countdown, which happened for Quick Ball!
Quick Ball was first released in the Diamond & Pearl series, specifically in DP Mysterious Treasures (no, not that item card, that’s the actual expansion name)! The original effect was to reveal cards from the top card of your deck until you reveal a Pokémon and put it onto your hand. Unless you have something to manipulate the top card to get whatever Pokémon you need, then this is a very unreliable effect. Not to mention that revealing several cards from your deck gives a ton of information to your opponent regarding what kind of deck and other TecH cards that you’re about to use. Here’s a outdated review of Quick Ball (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2007/Sept/7.shtml) of that older effect. While the reception is mixed, it leaned toward decent.
So that older effect was intact for around 13 years until the next print of Sword & Shield. This new effect makes you discard a card from your hand and grab a Basic Pokémon from your deck. This seems to be a far better effect than the older effect despite fetching only Basic Pokémon. After all, we’re still in the format where TAG TEAMs, Basic Pokémon-GX, and Pokémon-V are seeing lots of play than Stage 1 and Stage 2 attackers. It even makes it ridiculously easy to fetch Zacian-V on the first turn and to use the Intrepid Sword ability so that the “ending your turn” clause is inconsequential. For those reasons, I think decks that are centered on Basic Pokémon will need to run a full four of those so that you could get at least one more basic Pokémon for utility or backup purposes.
On a side note, I still don’t think that the new errata is going to affect Unlimited as much, but this new errata is going to affect how Quick Ball is being used. I won’t be rating Unlimited score here. Also, if they kept the older effect in Standard, it may or may not find as much favor. While getting a random Pokémon makes it unreliable, Magcargo’s Smooth Over will guarantee whether Basic Pokémon you search for.
On a personal note, I used to have around 10+ Quick Balls from the DP series. At the time I didn’t think highly of it and gave it away to some of my relatives so that they could play and enjoy. How am I supposed to know that 13 years later they’re gonna be reprinting such cards again?! Same goes for Lucky Egg, Lum Berry, Sitrus Berry, Hyper Potion, etc. I might as well keep ALL of them just in case.
Actually, this is technically a reprint of a card from so long ago, you might not even remember it…well, okay, you would if you’re aware of Mysterious Treasures, so perhaps that’s being a bit silly. But perhaps more importantly than remembering old sets and the like is that this card actually has a new effect for a new era, so let’s check it out!
Quick Ball is now an Item card – yeah, turns out the “Item” class of Trainer card is as recent as HG&SS era, even though Supporters and Stadiums were around – that lets you search your deck for a Basic Pokemon and add it to your hand, but you have to discard a card from your hand to play it. Prior to that, it could get you any Pokemon, but you had to reveal cards from the top of your deck until you revealed a Pokemon and then had to add that to your hand.
Similar to Aurora Energy, Quick Ball has that discard disadvantage, but it comes with a great benefit as well, just like Aurora Energy. It’s been a pretty popular trend for new mechanics to have their fair share of Basic Pokemon – ever since Pokemon-EX started out with “big Basics”, succeeded by Pokemon-GX in some ways, which then later gained the Basic Tag Team-GX, and now with Pokemon-V, it looks like being Basic is going to be as popular as ever! So naturally, any Basic support helps all these decks.
And considering every deck runs Basics, Quick Ball looks to be a must-have.
It won’t always be helpful in every situation, and in some specific cases like with Tag Team-GX, there may be better answers for them that don’t cost so highly, but for the most part, Quick Ball is definitely going to see play in quite a few decks, especially those that can take advantage of the discard! So keep an eye on your Quick Balls – they may be gone before you know it!
Standard: 4.5/5 (a format staple for its time)
Expanded: 4/5 (works alongside many options for many decks)
Limited: 5/5 (always good searching here)
Arora Notealus: Compared to the older version, this version of Quick Ball is not only generally better made, but it’s also a lot better to use for many decks in its time frame. I can’t really say that the old version of Quick Ball didn’t see play – getting any Pokemon might not have necessarily been a random pick with the right set-up – but I personally think this version is a lot better for a lot of reasons, the least of which is that it can grab some really big Pokemon!
Next Time: Would you be surprised if your favorite Supporter made it on the list?
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