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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Cards of 2011 Countdown - #1

Pokémon Catcher

Emerging Powers

Date Reviewed: Jan. 6, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.93
Limited: 5.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst.  3 ... average.  5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#1 Pokémon Catcher (Emerging Powers)

Throughout the history of the Pokémon TCG there are some cards from the original Base Set that no-one thought we would see again. They were just too powerful, too broken, to ever get a reprint.

Then Double Colourless Energy returned in HGSS and players were mildly shocked. Then Item Finder found its way into Triumphant in the shape of Junk Arm, and players again raised an eyebrow. Finally, to the disbelief of everyone, this card appeared: a functional reprint of Gust of Wind, now renamed Pokémon Catcher.

What this card does is simple: you choose a Pokémon on your opponent’s Bench and drag it into the Active position. The benefits that this effect gives to the player are huge. Potential threats can be KO’d before they have a chance to evolve or attach Energy. High Retreat Pokémon can be forced out to buy a player a turn or two. Bench-sitting techs can be turned into easy Prizes. Catcher changed the game as we know it: decks that used Bench Support now had to search out multiple copies of their Basic because the risk of one being Catchered out and KO’s was so great. Most slower decks had to turn to Vileplume UD to lock Catcher out of the game before it destroyed their set up. What’s more, with Junk Arm in the format you were never safe from a Pokémon Catcher, and pretty much had to play as if one was always in the opponents hand. This meant that players became extremely aware of what they were Benching, and Switch started to appear in more and more decks.

Really, unless you run Vileplume UD, you are running 2-4 copies of Pokémon Catcher. That’s how format-defining this Trainer is. Although many players predicted that it would ruin the game, this hasn’t turned out to be the case (Pokémon Reversal was far worse because of the element of luck it introduced). What it has done is make Pokémon a very different game from what it was before, and that is the sign of a truly powerful card. This is why Pokémon Catcher is the obvious pick for Pojo’s #1 card of 2011.

Rating

Modified: 4.75 (If it wasn’t for Vileplume, I’d be giving this a perfect score)

Just for fun, here are five Honourable Mentions that didn’t make the Top 10, but could have . . .

Pachirisu CL – Together with Shaymin and the new BW Rules, it made doing 120 on the first turn very possible and turned Zekrom into the most feared deck in the format. Rating: 4.25

Reuniclus BW – Weak, with a pathetic attack, its Base Set Alakazam-like Ability helped created some of the most interesting and strategic decks of the year (The Truth, Gothitelle). Rating: 4

Eelektik NV – This card is making a big impact right now and you will be seeing a lot of it in the coming year. Energy acceleration for arguably to most powerful Type in the format? Yes please! Rating: 4.25

Chandelure NV – The unexpected hit of the current City Championships. An Ability that spreads damage, an attack that inflicts two Status Conditions, and a great Stage 1 combine to make this card part of one of the best current decks. Rating: 4

Lilligant EP – OK, I should have picked Super Rod, Durant, Cobalion or something, but I love Lilligant and this is the best one. The fact that it inflicts guaranteed Paralysis or Confusion for just one Energy means that it will make life very awkward for the forthcoming EX Pokémon. Rating: 5 (of course)

Ok, that wraps up our look at the best cards of 2011. The New Year looks like it is going to see some astonishingly powerful cards entering the format. It’s going to be an exciting time ahead for the game.

Happy New Year everybody!

virusyosh

Happy Friday, Pojo readers! I hope that all of you had wonderful weeks. Today we are reviewing the #1 card of 2011, and I'm sure that most of you already know what it is. Today's Card of the Day is a functional reprint of a card originally from Base Set, but makes a gigantic mark on every format in which it is legal. Today's Card of the Day is Pokemon Catcher from Emerging Powers.

Pokemon Catcher is a Trainer - Item, meaning it can be used as many times as you'd like during your turn, and is blocked by Gothitelle's Magic Room and Vileplume's Allergy Flower. Pokemon Catcher, very simply, allows you to switch your opponent's Active Pokemon with one of their Benched Pokemon, and you choose which Pokemon are switched. This is an incredible ability, as a Pokemon Catcher will almost always lead to a KO in your favor (or will greatly slow your opponent down by pulling up something with a huge Retreat Cost that was sitting on their Bench). Pokemon Catcher allows you to play around your opponent's main attackers by KOing their support, and when combined with Junk Arm, can probably give you enough KOs to win the game by itself. Pokemon Catcher will probably find itself into any deck that runs Trainers (most Trainer lock variants won't run any, or maybe just one), and will be run in multiple copies to maximize the chances to get cheap KOs. Like all of the other cards we're reviewed, expect to see a lot of this one in your local tournament circuit.

Modified: 5/5 Pokemon Catcher may be one of the best Trainer cards ever printed, and is more than worthy of the top spot on our countdown. The way that this card swings game tempo is amazing, and using it to draw up a weak bench sitter for an easy prize is what many tournament decks are all about. To put it simply, Pokemon Catcher wins games. Period.

Limited: 5/5 Everything that applies in Modified applies here as well, with the additional bonus of your opponent having even fewer ways of countering it. If you happen to be drafting Emerging Powers, this card is definitely worth a high pick, and if you are doing EPO sealed, use as many of these as you pull. You won't be disappointed.


Otaku

At last we reach the number one card of 2011 and it is should come as no surprise due to its conspicuous absence anywhere else on the list: Pokémon Catcher! Our original reviews and predictions were almost spot on, so instead of thoroughly repeating myself, just click here to re-read them as a refresher.

The short version is that Pokémon has long rewarded the ability to choose which of your opponent’s Pokémon you Knock Out. The strategy is simple in concept, though it can be challenging in execution; you must weigh current threats versus pending ones, and try to deduce what will cripple your opponent’s plans. I don’t recall formats where this wasn’t an option for most decks (usually the best ones), though the method has varied. If you really don’t fancy a short essay on the history and current state of the game, feel free to jump to the Ratings and Summary sections.

For those still with me, let us begin our journey. First we had Gust of Wind, then Double Gust. In the next block we got Pokémon Reversal for the first time, but while Double Gust was still legal, it was skipped. Pokémon Reversal largely flew under the radar until the last format rotation because there was always something more effective in the game, whether you traded the coin flip for restricted use (Pow! Hand Extension), less control but reliable activation (Warp Point, Cyclone Energy), or relied upon a Pokémon (be it insane sniping attacks or Gust of Wind-like effects).

Why does this matter? Well at a glance, I do not like Pokémon Catcher; it is too good a card. With the current card pool, it is overpowered: unless your deck focuses on blocking Items (and sometimes even then), a player is quite restricted on their approach to the game. It is important that a Pokémon sitting on the Bench not be functionally invincible, especially when the card pool contains cards like N or Twins that can reward you for being behind in Prizes (regardless if, in terms of set-up, you’ve practically won the game).

However, when even ignoring first turn “donk” combos the damage-to-Energy ratio is as high as it currently is, it makes it very hard to design interesting or creative cards that can withstand the onslaught without those cards making the problem worse. I find this in turn diminishes my enjoyment of the game, since I am forced between running decks I enjoy and those that win instead of the ideal: finding a deck I enjoy that wins!

All that being said, I am glad Pokémon Catcher was printed, because as frustrating as it can be what we had immediately prior to its release was worse, a pretense of freedom when in reality we were shackled by coin flips. You could run a riskier deck and if the cards and coin flips favored you, you could win. That isn’t so bad, except it means the opposite was true: if the coins and cards did not favor you, you could lose. Not just if you were running a risky deck, but running what would be considered excellent builds of the strongest decks and were a skilled player, a streak of “tails”, especially compounded by poor draws would knock you out of the tournament almost as fast as your opponent was Knocking Out your Pokémon!

The truly insidious part is that at least a vocal minority (and perhaps a playing majority) of the Pokémon TCG fan base wasn’t aware of this. Enough people were trying to run decks that have since faded from popularity due to their vulnerabilities, because as long as their luck held out said players could still come out well in a tournament. I am not trying to diminish the accolades deserved by those who won titles and tournaments during this time, but from what I have observed even those who would have won without requiring the luck of the coin in a different format, needed it this one. It was just the nature of the game.

Pokémon Catcher, while crushing the hopes of many players for enjoying decks that didn’t set-up almost instantly, block Trainers, or present too many important targets for anyone of them being OHKOed to matter, technically just removed the illusion that we had such an option to begin with. If damage output was lower and/or HP scores higher, instead of one Pokémon Catcher yielding a Prize it would usually be two or three. Either because players would have time to return the Pokémon to the Bench on their next turn, or because the slower pace meant taking out a Bench-Sitter left time to build a replacement and possibly a back-up attacker as well.

Ratings

Unlimited: 5/5

Modified: 5/5

Limited: 5/5

Summary

Pokémon Catcher is inferior to Gust of Wind and possibly Double Gust (depending on the deck), but it scores equally because the one card I can think of that would demonstrate this (Gothitelle BW Emerging Powers 47/98) is suicidal to run. In Modified it is a staple: even when locking down your own Items or trying to win without drawing Prizes, you want at least a copy “just in case” for the lock deck and for the usefulness of disrupting your opponent for alternative win conditions. In Limited it might technically be more powerful, but a perfect score is the highest I am giving.

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