Sigilyph – PLB
Date Reviewed: February 25, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our Throwback for this week is…Sigilyph (BW Plasma Blast 41/101)! This is a Basic Psychic type with 90 HP, Lightning weakness, Fighting resistance, a retreat cost of 1, an vanilla attack of Cutting Wind (which costs PCC for 70 damage), and an ability. It’s ability, Toolbox, lets Sigilyph have up to 4 Pokémon Tools attached to it! This card has been reviewed once, and the review crew back then had been optimistic, and may continue to be in the present if you’re playing Expanded or Legacy.
Currently, the Expanded card pool has a lot of great Pokémon tool cards that can be attached to Sigilyph, even counting the ACE SPEC Pokémon Tool cards such as Life Dew and Rock Guard. However, Sigilyph is pretty underwhelming when it come to damage output and tanking, though it might come in clutch in certain situations. While highly unlikely, a Sigilyph with 30 or less HP remaining with FOUR Hustle Belts means that Cutting Wind can deal 310 damage, enough to OHKO most cards short of Pokémon VMAX! Sigilyph may get KOed eventually, but at least prize trade is in your favor. It also faces several counters and competition. Tool removal (the ultimate counter would be Startling Megaphone FLF or Rattata EVO), Ability lock and/or item lock keeps you from banking on your Tools to this Pokémon. Other Pokémon can hold multiple Pokémon tools, albeit from a bygone era. Specifically, the XY series sets ranging from XY Primal Clash to XY Ancient Origins contained certain Pokémon with Ancient Traits. Few Pokémon with the Theta Double Ancient Trait can hold up to 2 Pokémon Tools. There’s no support or counters to Ancient Trait, so perhaps the things they should worry about is tool removal and/or item lock.
Sigilyph still holds the distinction of being the only card in the entire Pokémon TCG to hold the most amount of Pokémon tools. There were few decks that revolves around Pokémon Tools, ranging from Trubbish’s Tool Drop, to Rotom’s Roto Motor series, to this week’s COTDs containing Whimsicott’s Flying Fury and Garbodor’s Trash Cyclone. Having Sigilyph can help save deck space to some extent, though the deck still needs a lot of Pokémon Tool cards (like around 15-20 tools). With Adventure Bag LOT and Elesa LTR to fetch out Pokémon tool cards from your deck, the Whimsicott/Garbodor deck is going to get slightly better there.
Sigilyph still has some potential, but it faces some competition and has some of the biggest counters that will ruin your entire setup. If you can get past those hurdles, the Sigilyph is a valuable asset to decks that bank on Pokémon Tools.
Sigilyph (BW – Plasma Blast 41/101) released over seven years ago. Its claim to fame is its Ability, “Toolbox”. This Ability lets you have up to four Tools attached to this Pokémon at a time. If the Ability stops working while you have more than one Tool attached to Sigilyph, you discard Tools from it until there is only one remaining. Normally, Pokémon can only have a single Tool attached at a time. Multiple copies of some Tools, such as Float Stone, only make sense as redundancies in case one would be discarded by another card effect. Others can get pretty crazy as effects that normally cannot stack with each other (or themselves) suddenly can.
Sigilyph isn’t the only card with a trick like this, but nothing else does it quite this way. Genesect-GX has the Ability “Double Drive”, which lets it have two Tools equipped at once. Entei (XY – Ancient Origins 15/98), Gyarados (XY – Ancient Origins 21/98; XY – Black Star Promos XY60), M Tyranitar-EX, Metagross (XY – Ancient Origins 50/98), and Vespiquen (XY – Ancient Origins 11/98) all possess the Ancient Trait “Θ Double”, allowing them to have two Tools attached to themselves at the same time. Ancient Traits are similar to Abilities, but no other card effects reference them, so they cannot be turned off. They also are listed in a little text box near the top of the card’s art, so they don’t eat up space that could be used for attacks or Abilities. No other card can have four Tool attached at a time, though.
Sigilyph is a baseline Pokémon, which should be neutral but often becomes an advantage when multi-prize and/or Pokémon belonging to certain specialty mechanics become the dominant force in the metagame. It is a Psychic type, which is… okay. When the card released, I believe it was better as exploiting Psychic Weakness was worth more, even if Psychic Resistance was also more common. In the present, this is no longer true, though it can still be handy in certain match-ups. Actual [P] support and counters were originally scarce; in the modern Expanded Format, cards such as Dimension Valley and Mysterious Treasure can be a big bonus.
Sigilyph has 90 HP, which is low. It wasn’t great when the card first released, and has gotten a little worse over the years since. Sigilyph has become more vulnerable to early game OHKO’s, being KO’d by technical attackers, etc. as most other attackers could score the OHKO even back in the day. Being a Level Ball legal target was a big advantage for this card, but I’m not sure if it remains so now that we have even more search options (Quick Ball, Mysterious Treasure). Sigilyph’s [L] Weakness and [F] Resistance were both significant back in the day, but as with the HP, the circumstances where they change things have become less common. Lightning type attackers need fewer of their tricks, while Fighting types need a little more. The Retreat Cost of [C] was and still is good. Maybe a tiny bit better due to the Ability and access to U-Turn Board: Float Stone is overkill, and won’t return to hand when it hits the discard pile.
I haven’t mentioned Sigilyph’s attack yet, and that is because it isn’t usually worth it. [PCC] pays for “Cutting Wind”, which does 70 damage. This was about 20 below the going rate back in the day, and misses the mark by even more now. Still, you can cover two-thirds of the cost with a Twin Energy or Double Colorless Energy, or drop the price down to [PC] with Dimension Valley. As for the 70 damage, the ability to stack up to four copies of your preferred damage-boosting Tool can help, but you’re still getting a bad return for the investment. In other words, only resort to Cutting Wind if you have to, but we have seen far, far worse attacks on cards we’re using for their Ability.
Wait, if you’re not attacking with Sigilyph, how are you making use of its Ability? You might be having Sigilyph wall against your opponent, by stacking multiple HP boosting Tools, damage absorbing Tools, or other cards that discourage your opponent from attacking (Rocky Helmet?). Some of this was discussed in our original review of Sigilyph. Sigilyph would become the go-to partner for Trubbish (BW – Plasma Storm 65/135). Trubbish knows the attack “Tool Drop”: for [PC], it can do 20 damage for each Tool attached to a Pokémon in play. That means for both players, but the average deck doesn’t slap a Tool on each Pokémon, and the natural response to an opposing Tool Drop deck is to play as few of your own Tools as possible. Sigilyph gave such decks a massive boost, as each Sigilyph potentially added +60 damage to Tool Drop.
We might have another deck for Sigilyph. Monday, we looked at Whimsicott (SW – Vivid Voltage 076/185). The short version is that its “Flying Fury” attack lets you discard as many Tools as you want from your Pokémon, doing 10 damage plus 40 per Tool discarded, and that would love Sigilyph to sit on the Bench with four Tools attached. Not only does Sigilyph raise your maximum damage, but used in conjunction with U-Turn Board, your opponent has to throw in somewhat advanced disruption to prevent you just constantly attaching, discarding, and reattaching your copies of U-Turn Board so long as you have at least one Sigilyph on your bench. Gourgeist (SM – Crimson Invasion 45/111) is yet a third attack option; it is essentially an older version of Whimsicott I’d forgotten about, but with slightly different stats, a different supporting attack, and calling the Tool discarding attack “Pumpkin Bomb” instead of Flying Fury.
If any of these three attackers proves worth it, Sigilyph is a must-run. As Gourgeist has been Expanded-legal for over three years, I’m not overly confident in either deck, though U-Turn Board is less than two years old and but quite valuable to such decks. They also overlap with Tool Drop. Even with U-Turn Board, Tuesday’s CotD Garbodor (SW – Vivid Voltage 111/185) is important for mass-Tool recycling. Normally, I’d rather use a Supporter for this kind of thing, but we don’t have one like that. We have Eco Arm and Lana’s Fishing Rod, but Garbodor can use its “Trash Cyclone” to do 30 damage per Tool in your discard pile, then shuffle all Tools from your discard pile back into your deck. Trash Cyclone costs [CC], so Double Colorless Energy, Twin Energy, etc. can help you pay the cost without hassle. As Garbodor evolves from Trubbish, it also means even non-Tool Drop focused decks can still contain the attack.
Don’t forget the Legacy Format! I know it feels like the Dev Team has, and TPCi probably barely knows it exists in the first place, as it is a PTCGO-exclusive Format. The Legacy Format is made up of cards from the HeartGold & SoulSilver (plus Call of Legends) releases, as well as the Black & White series. That means Trubbish, Sigilyph, a nice assortment of Tools are legal here, but most of the worst counters to Tool Drop are not. Tool drop still falls short of being one of the top, competitive decks, or even the decks one step below them. “Tier 3” might be a good term for Tool Drop in Legacy. This is where Sigilyph itself is at its strongest, though, as the lack of power creep means it can even be a decent attacker. At least when a Tool Drop deck in Legacy can afford to attach three Energy to it (thank you Exp. Share!).
- Standard: N/A
- Expanded: 2/5
- Legacy: 3/5
Sigilyph is a card that is all about comboing with other cards. Even if the decks I described were the best in the metagame, I couldn’t score it too high, because they were doing the heavy lifting. It also still has limits; this is not a niche card that can have as many Tools attached to it as you wish, but caps out at four. Legacy is the only place where Sigilyph can take a more active role, by being the Active and attacking (on rare occasions). For a Pokémon from the tail end of the Black & White series, that isn’t bad.
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!