Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Welcome to our countdown of the Top 15 Cards From SW – Battle Styles! If you’re unfamiliar with our site, one of our traditions is trying to work out the best cards from the latest release. You can get a better idea of the process here, but the short version is that Vince and I each created a list of what we thought were the best cards in SW- Battle Styles, then merged them to create the site’s list of cards to countdown. Reprints were permitted if they were deemed “significant”, such as when the reprint returning a card to Standard-legality.
We’ve used the term “Honorable Mention” before, and for different things. This time, it was because 15th-Place went to a card that is likely to heavily rely upon another card. The combo does not drive the deck, but it is likely to be important to it. Yamper (SW – Battle Styles 052/163) is a baseline Pokémon: not a Pokémon V worth multiple Prizes, not one of the new Single Strike or Rapid Strike Pokémon, or any other specialty mechanics. It is a Lightning type, but for reasons that will become clear, that doesn’t really matter. As a Basic Pokémon, Yamper is easy to run.
The only real drawback to Yamper being a Basic is that it can be your opening Active, and this is one of those times we really don’t want that. Yamper is capable of evolving into Boltund, and we’ll discuss Boltund cards a little later. 60 HP means Yamper is an almost guaranteed OHKO while Active, though sometimes you’ll get lucky and it will survive. It isn’t all bad, though; this makes Yamper a legal target for Level Ball and for Professor Elm’s Lecture. I don’t know if the latter matters, but the former is going to prove important. [F] Weakness looks like it is finally going to get dangerous again, while a lack of Resistance is the worst. Except neither really matters because of that 60 HP. A Retreat Cost of [C] is good; free is better, but this is still easy to pay much of the time.
Yamper has one Ability and one attack. “Ball Search” can only be activated when this Pokémon is played from your hand to your Bench, during your turn. Ball Search lets you add a Great Ball, or add a Poké Ball, or add one copy of each card from your discard pile to your hand. This is super niche, but if it worked for any Ball-Item, then it would would likely become too good. If it worked with other lesser-played ones, it would become too complicated. Recycling Item cards is difficult, because Item cards have no universal costs or conditions to use. This makes them easy to spam, so if something like Quick Ball or Ultra Ball could be easily recycled… well, perhaps it wouldn’t be that powerful, just because most decks only need a finite amount of search.
What it would not do is give you a reason to run Great Ball or Poké Ball. Great Ball is a decent card, and actually sees some competitive success, but Poké Ball is not. Poké Ball debuted all the way back in Jungle, the second TCG set in North America. It has been reprinted often, but there are gaps. Not because it was so good they thought it needed to go away. Rather, because it is like Full Heal; rarely – if ever – a competitive success, and lucky to be a good choice for a beginner’s deck. Being able to recycle up to one of each of these Items does make the Items better, but not enough you’re going to run them over something like Quick Ball or Pokémon Communication.
Still, this Yamper is probably your best bet for any Boltund decks. The issue there is I don’t think we have any Boltund worth running right now, as Boltund V doesn’t count (it doesn’t evolve from Yamper). Boltund (Sword & Shield 075/202; Shining Fates SV040/SV122) looked like it might be decent when its Japanese counterpart was first revealed, but with out multiple damage buffs, it’s anti-GX/V attack doesn’t hit hard enough. Even with such buffs… well… why use it when you could use something better that also worked with those same tricks? The story with Boltund (Sword & Shield 076/202) is similar; it isn’t horrible, but what it does can be done better by other cards. I’m afraid Boltund (SW – Battle Styles 053/163) continues the trend. The second attack has a beneficial effect, but even when you’re using it, it doesn’t hit hard enough for the effort.
This is where our 15th-Place Pick comes into the picture. Galarian Mr. Rime (SW – Battle Styles 035/163) has an attack called “Ball Juggling” it can use for [CC]. Ball Juggling lets you discard as many Ball-Items from your hand as you want, then does 10 damage plus 40 per Ball-Item you discarded. Benching a Yamper means another 80 damage, at least, if you have a Great Ball and Poké Ball in the discard pile. If you have Scoop Up Net, you can use Yamper again on another turn for another +80 damage… or immediately Bench it for yet another +80 damage, if you have a second Great Ball and second Poké Ball in your discard pile. You can also use Great Ball and/or Poké Ball for their search effects, if that is needed more. I could be mistaken, but I think Ball Juggling could be a fun and at least somewhat effective deck in Standard and Expanded.
Is this enough to make Yamper good? At the very least, it is enough that I don’t think Yamper is bad. Even if we never get a Boltund worth running, even if Ball Juggling decks never wind up a has-been that never actually was, today’s Yamper is still the best Yamper we’ve got, and one of the better examples of an evolving Basic Pokémon. You’ll need to have room for Great Ball and Poké Ball in your deck for Yamper to be worthwhile, making it niche, but we’ve been spoon fed such a deck, and future potential made me think Yamper was worth its own review. Maybe it could have waited until after the countdown, however. In case you’re wondering, it was indeed my idea to review it alongside Galarian Mr. Rime in our countdown.
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