Rocky Helmet – Vivid Voltage
Date Reviewed: December 17, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Rocky Helmet is another good candidate for a Throwback because it had just received a reprint in SS Vivid Voltage. It’s initial print was from BW Noble Victories and also got another regular AND secret rare print in BW Boundaries Crossed. This is a Pokémon Tool that states that if the Pokémon is damaged by an opponent’s attack (even if the Pokémon is Knocked Out), put 2 damage counters on the Defending Pokémon.
As this is one of the Pokémon Tools debuted on the Black & White series (along with Eviolite), it saw a decent amount of play. Keep in mind that there were no Pokémon Tools cards from HGSS series and Tool Scrapper had yet to happen between November 2011 to August 2012 (where BW Dragons Exalted released Tool Scrapper). Most of the time, your Pokemon will get damaged by an opponent’s attack, so putting 2 damage counters can actually go a long way to eventually KO something in return. The Unova Dragons will have its HP dropped from 130 to 110, enabling opposing Unova Dragon to return KO with their 120 damage attacks.
More and more Pokémon Tools are competing for deck space, and sadly, Rocky Helmet has been dropped. Exp. Share helps manage basic energies; Dark Claw is a nice damage boosting card for Dark Pokémon (that would be made obsolete with Muscle Band), Silver Bangle deals more damage against EX Pokémon (that also gets obsolete with Choice Band, though still a staple in Legacy). That’s pretty much the list of competition from the BW series, and I haven’t even gotten to XY or even the SM series!
Multiple other cards tried to emulate what Rocky Helmet does but better except that they have their own drawbacks. Giant Bomb and Bursting Balloon doesn’t last long after one turn and Rock Guard is an Ace Spec card that locks your other Ace Spec options the moment you put Rock Guard in your deck (missing out Dowsing Machine, Computer Search, etc.). The massive HP scores made Rocky Helmet’s damage minuscule, but even 20 damage can still be enough to matter, even against VMAX Pokemon.
Rocky Helmet is back in Standard, and maybe one day, it might see play again.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 1.5/5
- Limited: 4/5
- Legacy: 2/5
- Theme: 3/5
Today’s Throwback is Rocky Helmet (BW – Noble Victories 94/101; BW – Boundaries Crossed 133/149, 153/149; SW – Vivid Voltage 159/185). Putting the release information into dates, Rocky Helmet first released in November of 2011, was re-released in November of 2012, and was only just re-released eight years later! Rocky Helmet is a Pokémon Tool; when an opposing Pokémon attacks and damages an Active Pokémon sporting Rocky Helmet, Rocky Helmet places two damage counters on the Attacking Pokémon. This effect happens whether or not the damage KO’s the Pokémon equipped with Rocky Helmet. Two damage counters isn’t very much, but there are enough match-ups where an attacker survives on a small margin… small enough two damage counters can still be enough, especially if the Pokémon wearing Rocky Helmet requires two or more hits to KO.
If Rocky Helmet was guaranteed to trigger anytime your opponent attacked, it might be broken. Just slap up to four of these on whatever of your Pokémon didn’t need a different Tool, and watch as your opponent suffered eight damage counters work of kick every time something of theirs attacked. That is not how the card works, though. If Rocky Helmet worked anytime your opponent’s Pokémon attacked while the Pokémon with Rocky Helmet attached was your Active, that would be good. That also is not how the card works. Your opponent’s Pokémon has to attack something in your Active Spot that has Rocky Helmet attached in order for its effect to Active, and that attack has to do damage.
Rocky Helmet won’t punish Bench hits or damage spread. It won’t punish damage counter placement, inflicting Special Conditions, drawing cards, searching, etc. unless it is in the form of an attack that also does damage, and the Pokémon with Rocky Helmet is your Active and taking that damage. Now, there is one benefit to all these conditions; you don’t have to worry about the attacks of your own Pokémon ever triggering your own Rocky Helmet. Why am I being so demanding? Rocky Helmet is a passive Pokémon Tool. Why does that matter? Compare and contrast it with Vitality Band; Vitality Band requires your equipped Pokémon attack to do damage, and only increases the damage done by 10, but you attach it, you attack, and you’ve gotten your damage bonus.
However, when you attach Rocky Helmet, your opponent controls when it actually triggers. They have at least an entire turn to using a gusting effect, Bench hit, or Tool discarding effect, etc. to deal with it. Only using something like Tool Scrapper is a permanent answer, but especially in our multi-Prize Pokémon metagame, bypassing it once or twice might be game. Power creep is also a strange thing; on one hand, two damage counters represents a smaller percentage of higher HP scores but higher HP scores may mean it takes more attacks for something to be KO’d, giving Rocky Helmet more chances to trigger.
All of this before we consider the competition. Yes, I mentioned Vitality Band, but that is not really much competition. Vitality Band sees a little play. There isn’t really a generic Tool that sees use in all decks, but Air Balloon and Big Charm see a decent amount of play, and a lot more than Vitality Band, in several decks. You might see more specialized Tools like Buff Padding, Cape of Toughness, or Metal Goggles. Some decks just don’t bother with Tools now, which is actually a mixed blessing: if everything ran more Tools, then Tool Scrapper would also be more heavily played. Now… how does this compare with Rocky Helmet’s historical use?
Pretty similar, actually. Rocky Helmet released alongside a Tool called Eviolite, a Tool that reduced the damage the equipped Basic Pokémon took from attacks by 20. In a metagame where several of your best attackers were big, Basic Pokémon, and that quickly shifted to a clear super majority of decks being built around big, Basic Pokémon-EX. We also received Tools like Float Stone, Silver Bangle, and Silver Mirror. As time went on, we gained even better Tools, like Muscle Band, and Rocky Helmet became Expanded-only. In spire of all of this, Rocky Helmet did see some successful, competitive use while it was Standard-legal, and I believe a little while Expanded-legal…
…but it also gained more competition in its own wheelhouse. If you could spare your Ace Spec for these purposes, Rock Guard is a triple strength Rocky Helmet; six damage counters instead of two, with the same conditions. Bursting Balloon is a non-Ace Spec Rock Guard, with the catch that it discards itself at the end of your opponent’s next turn. Giant Bomb is still Standard-legal, it has all the conditions/restrictions of Rocky Helmet, it discards itself at the end of your opponent’s next turn (like Bursting Balloon), and it has the additional requirement that the damage from the attack must be 180 or higher (!) for it to work… but the payout is massive: 10 damage counters on your opponent’s Active. If Bursting Balloon and Giant Bomb sound harsh because of their discards, remember Lana’s Fishing Rod (Standard) and Eco Arm (Expanded).
There is a place Rocky Helmet can do its job, and do it well: the Limited Format. OHKO’s are less common, HP and average damage outputs are lower in Rocky Helmet’s favor, and you’ll almost certainly have room in your deck. I don’t just mean other Tools; count yourself lucky if you have 40 good to great cards to run in your Limited Format deck. Rocky Helmet is almost as good in the Legacy Format; while it still has to compete against the likes of Eviolite and Float Stone, and deal with Tool Scrapper, I recall there being a few stall/control decks that make good use of Rocky Helmet. Rocky Helmet is technically as good in the Theme Format as in Limited. The catch is that the deck which contain Rocky Helmet are all old enough that the rest of the deck lets Rocky Helmet down. I say “deck” because the only one I could find was the “Raiders” deck that released alongside BW – Dark Explorers.
- Standard: 2/5
- Expanded: 1/5
- Limited: 3/5
- Legacy: 3/5
- Theme: 3/5
Rocky Helmet is more specialized that it appears. Placing damage counters while being damaged by an attack sounds like something any deck could use, but they usually have better options, including using the same space for non-Tools doing completely unrelated things. I’m allowing it could have some decent use in Standard, mostly because we don’t have the kind of powerful, general use Tools we often have seen in other, past Formats. Meaning no Muscle Band, no Float Stone, etc. In Expanded, there are just too many counters and too much competition, even in its niche. In the Limited, Legacy, and Theme Formats Rocky Helmet can do its job, and do it well… though the only Theme Deck I found containing Rocky Helmet isn’t worth running.
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