Spirit Mask – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: October 3, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Perhaps I ought to have saved Spirit Mask (SW – Evolving Skies 160/203) for Halloween? This Tool actually is a bit scary, going both ways. It is a bit scary to use because of the requirements. The Pokémon with Spirit Mask equipped needs to:
- Be your Active.
- Be attacked…
- …and damaged…
- …by an opponent’s Pokémon.
The reward is that when all this is fulfilled, Spirit Mask forces your opponent to discard a card. Yes, even if their attack KO’d the Pokémon to which Spirit Mask was attached. True, the way I read it your opponent picks what they discard, so there’s a chance Spirit Mask helps them out… but how many decks can discard over and over again? Though I broke them down into four separate requirements, about the only thing that requires effort on your part is having Spirit Mask attached to your Active. Most decks, after all, have a hard time not attacking and damaging your Active, especially for an entire match.
There are direct counters to Spirit Mask, of course, the best examples of which are probably Tool Scrapper and Tool Jammer. For the record, I owe Tool Jammer an apology: it appears to have been seeing competitive success in at least the early days of this metagame. There’s also the chance that your opponent can at least temporarily evade Spirit Mask’s effect by using a gusting effect (like Boss’s Orders) to force something without it Active (to attack instead), or has an attacker that can hit just your Bench. Doing so all game is less likely, and Spirit Mask seems like a natural inclusion for control (or its cousin, disruption) decks. Which suddenly makes it a lot more likely you’ll have to attack whatever is sporting Spirit Mask, further messing with your hand.
Spirit Mask seems to fall smack dab in the middle when it comes to its usefulness; it doesn’t appear crazy broken on the surface, and it doesn’t appear to be useless or Johnny Bait. One potential candidate for this in Standard is Garbodor VMAX. We haven’t had time to look at it yet, but you could toss this 330 HP Pokémon up front and – thanks to its Ability – have not one but two copies of Spirit Mask attached. Or Spirit Mask with another useful Tool. I’m not seeing any decks doing this yet over on LimitlessTCG, but I didn’t have time for an exhaustive search. Garbodor VMAX’s attack costs [DC] to do 120 damage, Poison your opponent’s Active; not brilliant, but if you’ve got a lot of disruption to go along with it, it might do.
In Expanded, while I worry about anti-Ability effects, you have cards like Sigilyph (BW – Plasma Blast 41/101), which can have up to four Tools attached at once. I don’t know if having three or four copies of Spirit Mask attached would do you much good or if you’d get into overkill territory pretty quick, but the Expanded Format still has Life Dew, an Ace Spec Tool that reduces how many Prizes your opponent takes when KOing the equipped Pokémon by one. Also, Expanded has a nice amount of cards (even Items) that can search your deck for Tools or recycle them from the discard pile. Hardly a concrete deck list, but perhaps a decent germ of an idea.
So, in both Formats, I’m awarding a solid three-out-of-five to Spirit Mask. Yes, even though there are many, many counters to it. If it was hard to counter, I’d have hopefully made sure to include it in my Top Picks list. Mostly out of paranoia, I’ll even suggest being on the look out for potentially “broken” combos. I seem to recall Spirit Mask not being allowed at one of those smaller tournaments I’ve been referencing. It was a “for fun” one so I’m probably just being paranoid.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
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