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Pojo's Pokemon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 New Pokémon Cards of 2010
#5 - Smeargle
 

Undaunted

Date Reviewed: Jan. 10, 2011

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.10
Limited: 2.60

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

Combos With:

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#5 Smeargle (Undaunted)

 

Hello, and welcome to the second part of our countdown of the best new Pokémon cards of 2010, here on Pojo’s CotD.

 

We kick off the week with the card in the number five position: Smeargle UD. This card has proved to be somewhat of a surprise hit with players: when it first appeared, it was immediately obvious that the Portrait PokePower had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t quite as clear how players were going to make the best use of it.

 

Basically, ANY card that allows you to break one of the fundamental rules of the game has got to be worth serious consideration, and Smeargle fits into this category by effectively allowing you to play two Supporter cards on your turn by using Portrait to look at your opponent’s hand and copy the a Supporter they have. Sure, there is a chance that your opponent won’t be holding a Supporter, or (even worse) have one that will hurt you (usually Judge), but the potential benefits of Portrait make it well worth the risk, and the sneaky look at your opponent’s hand is always something you can use to your advantage.

 

So far, Smeargle has seen most use as a tech, especially in SP decks. Simply attach an Unown Q to give it free retreat and you have a great chance of copying something useful without wasting an attack. I’m also seeing a few decks running the maximum number of copies and playing Smeargle as an outright starter: it’s a useful way of kick-starting a Machamp Prime deck and is a chancey-but-potentially-superior alternative to Sableye in decks like Gyarados and Sablelock (Smearglelock?).

 

Yeah, the attack sucks, and it isn’t exactly a tough KO for any deck, but no-one plays Smeargle for any reason other than Portrait. It’s one of the best utility techs we have and the most playable starter we’ve seen since Spiritomb AR.

 

Rating

 

Modified: 3.5 (conservative players will prefer Sableye, but when Portrait comes good, it’s better)

Limited: 1.5 (Supporters in your opponent’s hand? Unlikely)

 

Combos with

 

Unown Q

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Smeargle (HS Undaunted)
 
Hello everyone, we’re back for a new week with the upper half of our Top 10 cards for 2010 and we have some brilliant cards lined up!
 
Sorry to everyone for being so late with my reviews of the bottom half, but I am all caught up now. Now I just have to write up the other reviews I have missed (don't hold your breath... you'll turn blue!).
 
Now we get to number 5 on the list, Smeargle. It isn’t often that a soft and somewhat dippy-looking Pokémon gets any kind of respect in the TCG (Chatot MD was the last that I can think of) so it is quite surprising to see so much love heaped on the hippie painter (the Secret Wonders version was also played occasionally, so maybe Smeargle has a secret fan back at Pokémon HQ).
 
So, why is this card so well appreciated that it made it to the Top 10? Let’s find out.
 
Smeargle is a Colourless Basic with 70 HP, Fighting weakness and a retreat cost of 1 (no resistance), with a brilliant Poke-power and a truly terrible attack. Put simply, the 70 HP is half of what makes this card playable, because it means that Smeargle is safe from anything except Donphan and Machamp SF for the first turn or 2. The weakness could be better, but Donphan and Machamp would normally get an easy OHKO on Smeargle even without the weakness. Gengar SF and Luxray GL can take the artist out but they need a little help to do so (one less Crobat G drop to worry about later) while Garchomp C can turn Smeargle into an easy prize, but to be honest it means that Garchomp has burned a DCE against a non-essential target which gives you one more turn with your other techs. What I really don’t like is the retreat cost, because you have to burn a card of some variety to get Smeargle away from the Active Slot (but then maybe free retreat would have been unbalanced). Smeargle is also splashable, but not because of the Colourless typing.
 
Now the attack. Tail Rap is terrible, costing [c][c] for 2 coin flips. Each Heads result equals 20 damage, and based on the current curve the optimum result of 40 damage isn’t enough to justify the investment of 2 energy (or a DCE if you are desperate and/or crazy), let alone an attack that deals 20 damage on average with a 25% chance of completely failing. Chatot MD got guaranteed damage with an added effect for the same cost, and the unexpected bonus of being able to trap Spiritomb PA in the Active Slot until your opponent screams with frustration (always, ALWAYS funny to watch)
 
Since we know the attack should absolutely never be used, now let’s discuss the Poke-power. This is truly a work of art, and I must say that I underestimated the subtle brilliance of this move even after giving the card a glowing review the last time it was on our agenda.
 
The simply named Portrait has 2 effects and an astounding number of bonuses with only 1 major and 2 minor drawbacks. Precise wording below:
 
“Once during your turn, before your attack, if Smeargle is your Active Pokemon, you may look at your opponent’s hand. If you do, choose a Supporter you find there and use the effect of that card as the effect of this power. This Power can’t be used if Smeargle is affected by a Special Condition.”
 
Okay, so if Smeargle is your Active you can sneak a peek at your opponent’s hand and copy one of their Supporter cards for your own use. This means that Smeargle is best used as an Active Pokemon at the start of the game (though it can still be used effectively later on). Based on how Gardevoir SW was lauded for its Telepass Poke-power as well as the Psychic Lock attack, we can assume that copying an opponent’s Supporter is an excellent thing to do and seeing what your opponent has planned is even better, allowing you to plan your moves accordingly.
 
The main drawback is that you have to copy a Supporter you find, even if you don’t want to. This will mainly be the case if your opponent is holding a Judge or Cynthia’s Feelings as the only Supporter in their hand, forcing you to accept a shuffle-draw that will more than likely leave you at a disadvantage with a smaller hand than you had before using Portrait. However, if there are other Supporters in your opponent’s hand alongside the Judge/Cynthia’s/other shuffle-draw you don’t want to copy, then you can choose that Supporter even if you can’t use the effect (for example, if it was a choice between Judge and Twins, you could say you are copying Twins and then not use the search if you have equal or less prizes, just to avoid copying the other Supporter). The same would apply to other cards with some kind of undesirable penalty like Sage’s Training and Engineer’s Adjustments if you are low on energy (or just don’t play any Energy that turn and say you can’t discard). In all honesty though, the best way to avoid getting disrupted by unwanted shuffling is to play out your hand as far as is feasible before using Portrait (play all of your basics and attach the energy and tools before going any further) and then accepting the risk. In the end you are still scaring your opponent into playing their Supporters out before they really know what they want, which is especially satisfying if they had 2 or more Supporters you wanted to copy.
 
The other drawbacks are the need for Smeargle to be Active to use Portrait (using Smeargle from the bench would be completely unbalanced) and having to rely on the contents of your opponent’s hand (if they have a bad start, then they are slowing you down too).
 
But the benefits more than make up for the drawbacks. Inside information is crucial in some decks (anyone like playing Gengar SF or the Prime?) and always useful, and getting to effectively use 2 Supporters at the start of the game is always good (3 if you have extra Smeargle available and some way to move them around). More than that, you are using a power that doesn’t rely on being played from the hand, so Smeargle doesn’t fall prey to hand disruption and can start the game for you. But the truly brilliant thing about Smeargle is that you aren’t attacking to get the effect!
 
Maybe you aren’t seeing just how cool this is, so I’ll elaborate. There are 4 dedicated Starters in the current format: Chatot MD, Sableye SF, Spiritomb PA and Smeargle UD.
 
By dedicated starter, I mean a Pokemon that can be used in different archetypes to start the game on a high, rather than a card which is okay to start with because you’re going to evolve it later anyway. Basically, a splashable non-evolving Basic with a great setup attack (an evolving Basic that is splashable with a great setup attack could also make the grade, but I have never seen any printed).
 
Why do these 4 cards fall into this category? They can use their particular setup effect for FREE! No energy or trainer investment necessary! No breaking up your list with clunky support techs or one-off cards! Just lovely, consistency-boosting attacks on splashable Pokemon that can make or break the early game and set you up for the win!
 
But wait, I just said attack, didn’t I? Smeargle DOES NOT ATTACK. Put simply, if you can drop a Switch/Warp Point, or better yet an Unown Q (that Quick Poke-power really makes Smeargle’s day!) to get Smeargle away from the Active slot, then you still have an attack to use. This works especially well if you can put out another of the above starters I mentioned, or if you have an attacker (or better yet a disruptor like Gastly SF or Dialga G) ready to bring the hurt!
 
To cap it all, you can later bring Smeargle Active again (typically after your previous Active has been KOed) and repeat the trick to get more information/possibly recover by hitting something useful (hello Twins!), especially if you used Unown Q to give free retreat to Peeping Picasso, or if you are stalling and need some cannon fodder.
 
Truly, the ability to still attack after using Portrait is what makes Smeargle worthy of its Top 10 placement. It made number 2 on my personal list, right below Donphan Prime who was surprisingly low in the countdown, I wonder why?
 
I will finish by giving a list of good Supporters to copy if you find them. Bebe’s Search is obviously good for your setup, as are Pokemon Collector and Cyrus Conspiracy (which has the added bonus of grabbing you a Supporter for yourself to play on the same turn!) wile Professor Oak’s New Theory would give you a fresh hand of 6 cards (probably more than you had after playing out your hand, or otherwise welcome because you hand must have been unusable).
 
Cyrus Initaitive is another great pick, as you can disrupt your opponent and get rid of the card before they can drop it on you! Unless you flip all tails and/or they have Sableye Active, in which case you will probably still suffer some disruption (but less than if you had left the Initiative to your opponent, pun intended). Draw supporters are all good worth copying if you don’t find search cards (yes, even Bill and Mom’s Kindness, and surprisingly Buck’s Training too because you haven’t attacked yet), seeing as how you aren’t burning your own Supporter use (said loss of your Supporter use for the turn being the main reason we call the cards crappy in competitive play).
 
To end this epic of fanboy worship, I will conclude by stating that Smeargle is awesome and I expect all players worth their game to have at least 3 in their collection (I already use 4, I got very lucky at the pre-release by pulling 2 of them and did some excellent trading that day). The loss of Unown Q in the next rotation (whenever that may be, but I pray to the gods of gaming that it won’t be until September, do you hear me! Praise be to the holy dice!) will hurt Smeargle’s playability a little, but the loss of Chatot, Sableye and Spiritomb will probably make up for that. Now the final score:
 
Modified: 4.5 (not for every deck and not without its drawbacks, but the number of ways Smeargle can used and abused by different decks means I have to give it a high score. Called me biased, but there is good reason for it!)
Limited: 3 (only a few supporters to copy, but it is still good to know what your opponent is holding and the retreat cost is low)
 
Combos with: Unown Q, Gengar SF, Gengar Prime

conical

1/10/11: Smeargle(Undaunted)-#5 Card, 2010
 
Hooray, it's the top 5 cards of 2010! Which are also the 5 cards better than the cards we reviewed last week.*
 
*Released this year. And not a reprint. Yeah.
 
Number 5 on the list is Smeargle, a card which, until Undaunted was released, had very little hype, hype that it likely deserved. Anything which allows a player to play multiple supporters in a turn should merit some degree of attention, especially one that allows you to look at your opponent's hand. Sure, you could Portrait, and find no supporters, or a lone Cynthia's Feelings, but if your opponent has zero supporters, or one they didn't need at the moment, they won't set up soon anyway. At any rate, it has people's attention now, and it has proven to be a very handy tool in many decks, like Luxchomp and Gyarados. Which, if you haven't been paying attention to the metagame, are two of the best decks in the format right now.
 
The card isn't great besides that; the HP is average for an unevolving basic, Tail Rap is pretty mediocre attack (except maybe in Luxchomp mirror), and given the lack of Supporters in Limited, it's not great in that format, but in Modified, it can make for an excellent consistency boost.
 
Modified: 4.25/5
Limited: 2/5


Otaku

Number five on our countdown is Smeargle from HS – Undaunted, another card I left of my list, and now somewhat regret.

Smeargle is a Colorless Basic Pokémon with 70 HP.  Being a Basic is usually quite good, making it fast and efficient (in terms of deck space), and being Colorless is moderately useful for Type-matching.  The HP is enough that it will take a main attacker to take it down, outside of Weakness.  Smeargle has the traditional double Weakness to Fighting Pokémon, but most of the time the downside is limited to Donphan Prime not needing the single PlusPower it would have otherwise required for the OHKO.  The lack of Resistance is more annoying because it feels so lazy than for lost opportunity: decks aren’t especially slow and hitting for 90 isn’t that hard for most competitive decks.  The single Energy Retreat Cost matters greatly for this card because of its Poké-Power, which I’ll get to.  It makes abusing the Poké-Power challenging, but not impossible.

The Poké-Power is a once-per-turn affair that let’s you see your opponent’s hand, then the Power copies the effect of a Supporter of your choice you find there if Smeargle is your Active Pokémon.  If this was a card with a free retreat, it’d be a must run: anytime you opened with it you could score a free peak at your opponent’s hand with the change of either a second (or third) Supporter for your turn or any Supporter use on your very first turn.  If you want to invest a bit heavily in the card, you can still get the effect off twice a turn fairly painlessly: even manually retreating isn’t that bad if you’re trading a single Energy attachment for a seriously great Supporter.  After all, you’d know from the first use of the Poké-Power if it was worth a second shot.

Even if you whiff and there are no Supporters in hand, you still enjoy the benefits of looking at your opponent’s hand, letting you know ahead of time if you should play a disruption card, or if you have to play defensively to keep from losing right away, or to play aggressively because you can safely push for the win.  There is a slight risk that they will have a Supporter you really didn’t want to play, because the effect is not beneficial.  A useful example is you have Smeargle and one Basic Pokémon in play, with Smeargle as your Active.  You have a Stage 2 that Evolves from the Benched Basic and Rare Candy in hand.  If you use Portrait first, you might hit only a shuffle and draw card, especially Judge it can horribly backfire.  If you use Portrait after using the Rare Candy to Evolve, won’t it be awful if the only Supporter in your opponent’s hand is Seeker?

The attack is one level removed from being straight forward.  (CC) to flip two coins and score 20 per heads.  It’s weak considering Smeargle doesn’t Evolve, but given the potency of Portrait that might be intentional.  Especially since you can burn a Double Colorless Energy to power-up in one go, it is still an option.  An Unown Q can give you a free Retreat Cost and if you’re spamming their draw and/or search Supporters you should easily be able to get an Unown Q or two and a spare Smeargle.

For Limited play it is a good pull… because it is incredibly valuable to see what your opponent has.  This way you can see how best to counter your opponent’s set up.  Being a large Basic Pokémon with a Colorless attack is also useful, and if you do find a Supporter in their hand, all the better! 

Ratings

 Modified: 4/5

 Limited: 4/5


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