– Unbroken Bonds
May 15, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Looks like it was a matter of time that the card designers take as much opportunities as they can to promote certain characters into another form of media besides the core series games. Along with the 2nd (which we’ll look at tomorrow) and the 3rd best card of the set, Red’s Challenge, those characters are based on the Let’s Go series that were released November of last year. While appearances are nice and all, ultimately, it is the effect text that matters much more than the artwork.
When looking at the effects, it reminds me of a card that was once powerful, and still is to that day. You must first discard 2 cards from your hand, otherwise you can’t play him. Then you get to fetch any card from your deck into your hand. This is nearly identical to Computer Search! When it came out in Base Set, you can run those at 4 copies, but when it was released again in Black & White Boundaries Crossed, it changed from being a regular item into an Ace Spec item card, which restricts it to one Ace Spec card per deck. By using Computer Search, you give up twelve other different potential Ace Spec cards. Anyways, even being limited to one didn’t stop players from abusing Computer Search to great effect, and I suppose that’s why Red’s Challenge was placed highly in this countdown.
So should you run this at four copies just like the older version of Computer Search? Well, Red’s Challenge is a Supporter, which means that once you’ve used him, you used up your Supporter for your turn. However, if you played Lt. Surge’s Strategy, then you get to play two more Supporters! Perhaps the idea would be to use Lt. Surge’s Strategy as your first Supporter, Red’s Challenge as your second, and whatever Supporter as your third. One might wonder why not just put multiple copies of said Supporter instead of a 3 card combo that would have done the same. That’s because you might not draw that particular Supporter in time, so that three card combo is sometimes necessary for clutch moments. But Red’s Challenge isn’t restricted to anything, if you’re not concerned about the 3 card combo, then you can simply play just him to fetch Pokémon, Energy cards, or insta-play cards like items or stadiums. It’s just the Supporter aspect that you have to make a workaround.
Regardless, this is one card you should consider using for what the Sun & Moon format has to offer, and he could get even better post-rotation. As for Expanded, however, Computer Search outclasses him despite inherent drawbacks of being item cards, and few Supporters draw far more cards, which can be much faster than searching for cards, so I think Red’s Challenge won’t fare well there. In Limited, if you pull one, it is definitely a must run. The only reason not to use it is if you don’t own one.
It’s probably strange to think that one of the most iconic characters in all of Pokemon is the first player character who served as the protagonist for the first few games of the franchise, and it’s even stranger to think that his name is, canonically, Red – as shown to us in their sequels. Then his rival character is Blue, their female rival is Green, it’s all just a strange mess, and all I can think of is who in the world is naming all these children COLORS OF THE RAINBOW?!?!
Red’s Challenge is a Supporter that features the Champion of the RBY (and sometimes G) era of the Pokemon games, who traveled the Kanto region, fought the 8 Gym Leaders, and even toppled the evil Team Rocket organization, foiling their plans time and time again. Course his challenge isn’t as demanding as doing all of that, so you don’t have to worry about spending 40+ hours just to become a Pokemon Champion mid-game. Rather, you discard 2 other cards in your hand and search your deck for any card of your choosing to add to your hand.
Think of it this way: you can play an Ultra Ball on any card in your deck.
That’s an impressively powerful search card in its own right! Certainly, there are some cards that will search for stuff without the need for a discard – similar to how Ultra Ball’s superior is Master Ball, but applied to a Supporter, it becomes a bit of a different story. The closest we’ve gotten to searching Supporters tends to be stuff like Skyla, which can search out any Trainer, or Winona, who can grab 3 cards as long as they’re all Colorless Pokemon. There’s not really a Supporter that has the generic search option available, which is what makes Red’s Challenge particularly unique in the Supporter category.
Of course sharing the same costs as Ultra Ball, Red’s Challenge also comes with the same pros and cons; you can’t use it, for instance, if you top-deck it with no cards in your hand, but it does let you put cards in your discard pile for other effects to take advantage of them. Being a Supporter also ties in with this, since you’ll be using your Supporter for the turn if you play Red’s Challenge, and if you choose to use another Supporter instead, you won’t be able to play it until your next turn…with the noteworthy exception of Lt. Surge’s Strategy, which makes this card even more powerful.
And keep in mind, you can grab whatever you want from the deck – Pokemon, Trainer, Energy, doesn’t matter what Stage of Evolution it’s at, whether it’s a Stadium or a Tool, Special or Basic Energy! And that’s power I don’t think should be overlooked.
Standard: 4.5/5 (definitely gonna be seeing play around and about)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (a lot of cards here especially can take advantage of putting in a Red’s Challenge)
Limited: 4.5/5 (virtually solid all-around in any arena)
Arora Notealus: I wonder why he’s issuing the challenge in the first place. Or is it like this is his challenge that he has to complete in order to become the best like no one ever was? Or maybe the challenge is from Red figuring out what the challenge he’s issuing out is? Or maybe he’s challenging people to figure out what the challenge Red’s issuing out is? Or maybe he’s actually challenging Blue to challenge people to solve the riddle behind the insidious challenge riddle that Red’s issued in Yellow? Or maybe-
Next Time: We should probably just move on to the next main protagonist.
Third-place as we countdown our Top 11 Picks of SM – Unbroken Bonds, Red’s Challenge (SM – Unbroken Bonds 184/214, 213/214). This Trainer-Supporter requires you discard two cards from your hand to play it. Its effect is that you search your deck for any one card you want, then add that card to your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward (of course!). As you can fetch any card you want (no restrictions), you cannot opt to “fail” the search but must select a card to put into your hand from your deck. Beside lacking two cards to discard from your hand, you also cannot play Red’s Challenge if you have no cards left in your deck. Yeah, hard to think of a situation where you’d need to shrink your hand’s size by burning your Supporter for the turn while your deck is empty, but there you go.
If this card’s effect sounds familiar, it should; Red’s Challenge is the same as Computer Search’s. Red’s Challenge just “trades” being an Ace Spec Item for being a Supporter; is that a good deal? If we go by “PokéMath”, it is. Look at Master Ball and Trevor. Both cards let you search your deck for a Pokémon, add it to your hand, and then shuffle your deck. Master Ball is an Ace Spec Item while Trevor is a Supporter, just like Computer Search and Red’s Challenge. There are other factors to consider, however. While Master Ball and Trevor weren’t released at the exact same time, it is close: Master Ball released near the end of the BW-era while Trevor is a promo from the earlier days of the XY expansions. Red’s Challenge and Computer Search are nowhere near as close; while both will still be legal in Expanded, they released six and a half years apart. Not all effects are equally effective in different forms; Gust of Wind, pre-erratum Pokémon Catcher, and Lysandre were (or are) all Format-defining, and Abilities with similar effects are also great, but it is pretty rare for attacks that pull the same trick to prove worth it.
Computer Search was (and in Expanded, remains) one of the best Ace Spec cards. Part of that, however, is you’re allowed to play as many Item cards as you want in a turn, at least under normal circumstances. If you simply drew into Computer Search, get it with Trainers’ Mail, etc. just get whatever you currently need. Back in the day, you could use it so that your Skyla (Supporter; add a Trainer from your deck to your hand. Shuffle afterward) could essentially grab any card. Just go Skyla => Computer Search => desired non-Trainer. I mean, you could still grab a Trainer, but that would just be a waste. We no longer have Skyla, but yeah, no combos where Computer Search was provided by or provides a Supporter work with Red’s Challenge. No, not even when you factor in tricks like the new Lt. Surge’s Strategy; with Computer Search you’d just have an additional Supporter you could still use!
With all that said, I still think this is a fantastic card. The Abilities of Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161) or Tapu Lele-GX provide a simple combo; use them to get whatever you want. You can go Ultra Ball => Tapu Lele-GX => Red’s Challenge, though you’ll have to discard two cards twice (first for Ultra Ball, then Red’s Challenge). Much of the time, that is too pricey to be worth it, but in a clutch situation or decks that can accommodate it, it should be quite nice. Should be? At present, only one deck I use runs Red’s Challenge: Granbull (SM – Lost Thunder 138/214). Kota Sekine used such a deck to take 53rd place at the Champions League Kyoto tournament, which is still the only recent (within the last two months) Japanese tournament for which I have results. Of course, since there were 1489 other players in the Masters Age Bracket, that was still pretty impressive. Red’s Challenge is great in that deck, but I was surprised Red’s Challenge showed up in no other deck from the Top 64 of that event. Unless it was in some of the few lists that were missing.
I wouldn’t stake my life on it, and it might not happen right away, but with so many decks having supplemental draw (via Abilities), running Tapu Lele-GX and/or Jirachi, and possibly running Pokégear 3.0, Red’s Challenge just seems too good to skip for Standard Format play. Only something like Granbull should max it out, but most decks would I think benefit from at least one copy of Red’s Challenge. For Expanded, maybe one copy unless a deck is running something which naturally combos with it other than VS Seeker (that helps every Supporter). The obvious example would be Exeggcute (BW – Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW – Plasma Blast 102/101); two of those and you essentially eliminate the discard cost of Red’s Challenge. While I lack complete confidence in my Standard and Expanded Format predictions, this is a must-run for Limited… well, unless you do something like run a Tag Team Pokémon plus 39 of the same basic Energy. Even I’m not going to dock Red’s Challenge any points for that.
I expected Red’s Challenge, at least as a single, to be a loose (if not true) staple in Japan. That hasn’t been the case. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it will happen here. Maybe not right away, but before the 2020 Standard Format goes into effect. Which is why Red’s Challenge was my personal third-place pick. Was? Red’s Challenge is a general use card that becomes better in certain decks, so I rated it much higher than something that would be great but only in specific decks… like Reshiram & Charizard-GX. I am thinking that was a mistake unless Red’s Challenge does go on to become a multi-copy staple.
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