Special Charge – Steam Siege
Date Reviewed: July 22, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This week’s Throwback is…Special Charge from XY Steam Siege! This card has been reviewed multiple times, being…
-the 12th best card lost to rotation when the season changed from XY BreakThrough-on to Sun & Moon-on
To recap, Special Charge is an item card that lets you put two Special Energy cards from your discard pile onto your deck. While there are other methods from cards of the past that can reclaim Special Energy cards, they tend to be quite restrictive (like how Thundurus-EX’s Raiden Knuckle lets you attach any energy card to one of your Team Plasma’s Pokémon), or to require a significant amount of investment (like how Puzzle of Time lets you retrieve any two card from your discard pile onto your hand IF you played two copies from your hand, though that card is still banned in Expanded for over three years). This is one of the few methods to reliably replenish Special Energy cards. Other than shuffling those Special Energies from the discard pile into your deck, there are no other drawbacks.
Sometimes it may be a good thing, as there are few cards that can accelerate or search energy cards from your deck. Houndoom’s Single Strike Roar (for some reason four Urn of Vitalities aren’t enough) and Octillery’s Rapid Strike Search (can easily fetch Rapid Strike Energy from your deck into your hand) are some examples, even though they’re very specific. But, ideally, you’ll want stuff to be retrieved from the discard pile onto your hand so that you can use them right away, which – prior to being banned – is why Puzzle of Time has eclipsed Special Charge – and other retrieval cards unrelated to Special Energies – in every other way. That’s not to say that Special Charge isn’t seeing play; it does see play in certain decks that can work around the issues Special Charge presents. It isn’t enough to be universally played in every deck because of what Special Charge actually does. Would you still run Special Charge if there’s no Special Energy cards in your deck?
Probably not, though the same thing can be said to a plethora of many other cards that are pretty specialized to be a solid card (maybe going as far as to run a full four) in certain decks but completely useless in others, which makes the task of scoring this card pretty tough. I think it’s a card that’ll be better with time as more and more Special Energy cards are being released. And with the near-lack of competition of other cards regarding Special Energy cards, Special Charge will definitely be remembered due to its niche. No Limited score this time, but the XY Steam Siege expansions contains no Special Energy cards.
Revisiting an older card gives me the opportunity to determine if I still think the same way or not. Fortunately for Special Charge, I still think it is an important card in the Expanded Format, even though it’s a specialized card. Had it remained Standard legal, it would continue to be used in a manner consistent to their deckbuilding. There’s no shortage of Special Energy cards in both Standard and Expanded.
So… why are we looking at Special Charge (XY – Steam Siege 105/114) again? As Vince pointed out, we first reviewed it as the 7th best card of its set. Then we re-reviewed it as the 10th best new card of 2016. Finally, it would have been our 12th-place pick for cards lost to the 2019 Standard Format rotation, but we only did a Top 10 so it ended up being a regular review. Special Charge is a Trainer-Item that lets you shuffle two Special Energy cards from your discard pile into your deck. It is easy to play, unless Item cards are being blocked by another card effect, or you have no Special Energy cards in your discard pile (you may still play it when you only have one).
Very few effects can recycle your Special Energy cards, and none are as easy or effective as Special Charge. At least, none that work for any Special Energy card. As such, I was shocked I rated Special Charge so low in its first two reviews, but then I read why: Puzzle of Time. It is one of those odd Trainer-Items that have a clause allowing you to play two copies at once, with one effect that happens if you use it normally and a different effect that happens if you do play two copies at the exact same time. In this case, Puzzle of Time can let you look at and re-order the top three cards of your deck (one copy), or it can let you add two cards from your discard pile into your hand (two copies played at once).
Playing two of it at the same time is more difficult than just using a single copy of Special Charge, but any Special Energy card reclaimed through Puzzle of Time immediately goes to your hand and you can get any card, not just Special Energy. Puzzle of Time was so good for certain combos that it was eventually banned. I’d say that makes Special Charge the best option for recycling Special Energy cards. It isn’t quite as good as it once was, because it isn’t quite as needed as it once was. The main Special Energy being recycled by Special Charge was Double Colorless Energy. Decks had somehow managed to function on just four Double Colorless Energy, or close to it, before Special Charge released. With Special Charge and/or Puzzle of Time, said decks just became more reliable, and some of these decks were already among the best in the metagame.
So, what else changed? We now have Twin Energy for anything that isn’t a Pokémon-GX or a Pokémon V, and Triple Acceleration Energy for anything that is an Evolution. There are still plenty of cards that cannot use either, and Triple Acceleration Energy actually provides [CCC] but discards itself at the end of the turn. Sometimes the extra Energy and/or the discard clause of Triple Acceleration Energy matter, other times, it is attached to something that will have to discard it for other reasons, be it attack effects, combos (Max Potion?), or having been KO’d. This is fairly minor, but it does mean that there’s a chunk of decks that used to benefit from Special Charge but don’t benefit as much now.
If you’re wondering why I never answered my initial question… the reason is that Special Charge is a key card for Expanded Format play. It makes a massive difference to some decks, and a significant difference to many. It isn’t a staple, but the decks that include it as at least a single surely appreciate it. It isn’t good enough for me to slap a full five-out-of-five score on it, but it easily earns four-out-of-five in Expanded, and would in Standard were it surprisingly reprinted.
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