– Sun & Moon
July 25, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
So after nearly seven years since Ultra Ball made its debut on Black & White Dark Explorers, it is about to leave rotation. Part of me wished that it had another print since the latest print of Ultra Ball is in Shining Legends. Japanese’s Forbidden Light had Ultra Ball on the set list, but not in our English print, and even alternate prints won’t save them from being rotated out.
So why did Ultra Ball take the #2 spot of cards lost to rotation? Perhaps the card effect speaks for itself. Searching for any Pokémon is wonderful such that it can support any mechanic being thrown. Even discarding 2 cards can be helpful in certain if you know for sure that you can get those cards back. Discarding cards also mean that you can thin your hand to that Shaymin-EX or Lillie can net you a bigger draw yield, and you can even use the excuse of “well, those cards are gonna be discarded anyways due to SycaPer”.
That’s pretty much what Ultra Ball’s general use is about: a great searching method via item card that can potentially combo with other cards. I wonder what the future holds when there’s much less search related item cards. There are still Ball related items, but Ultra Prism onwards have really specific effects that can naturally fit in a specific deck, but are nearly useless anywhere else. Net Ball and Mysterious Treasure seems to be the next best option for specific decks.
Last but not least, what even tops Ultra Ball?!
The second best card we’re losing due to the 2020 Standard Format going into effect on August 20th is Ultra Ball (BW – Dark Explorers 102/108; BW – Plasma Freeze 122/116; BW – Plasma Blast 90/101; XY – Flashfire 99/106; XY – Roaring Skies 93/108; XY – Fates Collide 113/124; Sun & Moon 135/149, 161/149; Shining Legends 68/73, 68a/73). As you can probably tell from how many releases I just named and how far back they go: BW – Dark Explorers officially released May 9, 2012, seven years ago! Guess we are getting a kind of “Throwback Thursday” this week, after all. We’ve reviewed Ultra Ball thrice before; initially as the best card from BW – Dark Explorers, then as the fifth best card of 2012, and two years ago fo Which is why we’re gir an official Throwback Thursday.
Ultra Ball is a Trainer-Item that requires you discard two cards from your hand in order to use it; if you can’t then it is a dead card in your hand. You then search your deck for a Pokémon to add to your hand, with the option of “failing” the search as the contents of a facedown deck are considered unknown to “the game”, even if previous actions mean both players know that you have at least one Pokémon in your deck. Searching out any Pokémon, as opposed to Pokémon of a specific Type or Stage or other classification of Pokémon, and doing so reliably (as in, not requiring coin flips; you might whiff if you lack discard fodder). As with any search card, Ultra Ball grants the extra advantage of seeing (and arguably shuffling) your deck. Even the discard cost can be a big help in the right deck.
For those who like to (over?) analyze the game, Ultra Ball is a vital part of PokéMath, where we try to work out how much a card’s attributes or effects are worth. We all should miss having such reliable search for any Pokémon in our decks; for years, a copy of Ultra Ball plus even two cards you’d prefer not to discard but can, means you can get your deck moving again when it stalls out, and possibly enable some killer combos (generic or deck specific). Pokémon Communication is probably the closest substitute we’ll have, though it does nothing for decks that want to discard cards, and either you’re running a higher Pokémon count or accepting Pokémon Communication can be a dead card in hand just because you whiffed on a Pokémon.
Ultra Ball will remain a strong play in all other Formats, except perhaps Unlimited, and I’m so out of touch with that even I’m not going to bother with a score. Yes, awarding four-out-of-five across the board is a bit lazy, but it is also reasonably accurate. Each of these Formats has different competition, combos, or general opportunities. Which is why we’re going to miss it so much, even though we’ve got a decent replacement for it already. That the fact we do have other search options is why Ultra Ball was only my fourth-place pick.
Ultra Ball – this is one I’m actually surprised by, cause I would have thought that they would reprint this card at some point in the last couple of years. Having it rotate out removes a really big option for drawing out Pokemon from the deck, and the discard was often used as a positive for loading the discard pile with good stuff for recovery. Course I’m also noticing there hasn’t been too many cards that get stuff back from the discard pile, which may make Ultra Ball weaker overall, but if it’s rotating out, that’s a huge nerf on discard-loading and accelerating strategies as well as Pokemon searching.
Note: The above is an excerpt from an email discussion of this Top 11 list, as aroramage was unable to submit a full review but gave permission to share his thoughts in this manner. That also means no Ratings.
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