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Pojo's Pokemon Card of the Day

 

Defender

Date Reviewed: July 14, 2011

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 1.50
Limited: 2.75

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

Defender

I don’t know about you, but I always think of Defender and PlusPower as a pair: the offensive and the defensive counterparts. Even the artwork tends to be very similar, with PlusPower as a red capsule and Defender as a blue one. (I feel like I should mention something about The Matrix here). Unlike PlusPower, which has had several reprints, Defender recently appeared in Undaunted for the first time since Base Set 2.

The change to Defender seems small but it is very important and it’s one that all players need to know. It seems that there have been a few cases recently where someone not knowing this errata has caused arguments and this shouldn’t really be happening. Keep up with the official errata, make sure you know your own cards, and call a judge in the event of a dispute at a tournament . . . that’s my advice.

Errata

The wording of Defender is now as follows, "Attach Defender to 1 of your Pokémon. Discard this card at the end of your opponent’s next turn. Any damage done to the Pokémon Defender is attached to by attacks is reduced by 20 (after applying Weakness and Resistance)." Defender now protects against all attacks, even ones not made by the opponent.

Why was it changed?

The actual wording of the Defender on the Undaunted version specified damage from the opponent’s attacks, meaning that the card did not protect against self-damaging attacks. I suspect that this was a case of the English translation not following accurately the intention of the Japanese card, especially as the original Base set version worked the same way.

What effect will it have?

Defender is already a good card in a lot of decks. Just reducing the damage by 20 could prevent a OHKO and leave your Pokémon standing to take another Prize. At the very least it could force your opponent to Lost Zone an extra Energy with Magnezone or burn through some PlusPowers and Junk Arms.

The new text preventing self-damage obviously makes no difference to the vast majority of playable Pokémon, but the one huge exception is Zekrom. Attach a Defender to that card and not only do you reduce the damage from its own Bolt Strike by 20, but you also require the opponent to hit for 130 if they want to KO it on their turn: even a Reshiram or a Donphan Prime hitting for Weakness will need a PlusPower to get the job done. There are a couple more cards Defender can work with such as Drifblim UD, but the main beneficiary here are the Zekrom decks. If you play one, make sure you’re running Defenders; if you play against one, make sure you know this ruling.

Rating

Modified: 2.75 (not quite as universal as PlusPower, but a good card in a lot of decks, and brilliant with Zekrom)


Otaku

Defender is the card that really made me believe we needed an Errata Week. I was bemoaning how I wished they hadn’t nerfed it when they reprinted it and… found out they had issued an erratum that undid the power down. The official announcement of the errata is as follows:

  • The wording of Defender is now as follows, "Attach Defender to 1 of your Pokémon. Discard this card at the end of your opponent’s next turn. Any damage done to the Pokémon Defender is attached to by attacks is reduced by 20 (after applying Weakness and Resistance)." Defender now protects against all attacks, even ones not made by the opponent. (Apr 11, 2011 TPCi Announcements; May 5, 2011 PUI Rules Team)

When Defender was first released, that is how it worked. While it wasn’t heavily played except for a few decks, it was quite useful in those decks because it was usually included to reduce self-inflicted damage and then just enjoy the benefits of blunting whatever the opposing player would do as well. Defender was not available for Modified play until it returned in HS: Undaunted. When it first returned, Defender faced a format full of nasty ‘tricks’ and high damage coming from Basic and Stage 1 Pokémon. Even if they were Level Up forms, it still was more efficient to worry about recycling Knocked Out Pokémon than protecting them with Defender. Now the format has slowed, and for the most part damage has been dialed back a little. HP scores are higher, but barring one or two exceptions that is because we are back to using large Stage 2 Pokémon. Aggressive decks can still OHKO these cards, but have to spend extra resources to do it. This means most decks have a practical general use for Defender: either my deck focus is safe from being KO’d or my opponent has to burn through multiple copies of PlusPower or extra Energy (for cards like Magnezone Prime). Obviously I am assuming a completely or at least mostly uninjured Pokémon, and you rarely will be able to drop Defender to save something already almost KO’d.

Like PlusPower, it comes down to math and mind games: the best players plan things out several turns in advance. I’ve explained above the math aspect: a single extra turn can equal a half a Prize to a Prize’s worth of advantage. Even a single oddball TecH copy played at the right time forces that good opponent to rethink things, rendering the last several turns of planning obsolete and forcing said player to re-plan but with only a fraction of the available time. Trying to strategize quickly increases the likelihood of mistakes. A single copy is so unlikely to be run that an opponent is apt to expect more. An opponent might anticipate you having multiple copies of Defender ready and thus waits until they can “overkill” cards so that it won’t matter, or they might push to defeat you before you can draw them. If you really are running a single copy then this becomes an advantage since you aren’t able to do either and they are wasting resources!

Let us talk about some specific uses for Defender. The first Pokémon to spring to my mind is Zekrom. You can drop a Defender to shave off some of its self-inflicted Bolt Strike damage and increase its odds of surviving next turn. With 130 HP, a fully healthy Zekrom protected by a Defender can Bolt Strike while only doing 20 points of damage to itself, leaving 110 HP. As Defender is still protecting it, it now requires 120 points of damage to finish it off instead of 80, a significant difference. If your opponent hits hard and fails to score a KO, Outrage can now be used instead of Bolt Strike. If they hid lightly (after Defender) then you probably have enough HP for another Bolt Strike. In either case your damage output is should critically wound or OHKO most Pokémon! This example also shows that this ideal use for Defender translates into 40 points worth of damage per copy: 20 points you would have done to yourself and 20 points your opponent’s Active would have done to your Pokémon. Two copies at once can be amazing for a Zekrom: no self-damage and it takes 170 points of damage (after Weakness) to OHKO it! Given the aggressive nature of Zekrom you may very well avoid taking any damage, since you can shrug of 40 points before Weakness and you probably just took out whatever they had powered up.

I mentioned this quite a bit when I first discussed the card, but Bouffalant (Black & White 91/114). The reason Defender is a little extra nice with this Bouffalant is threefold. First, I anticipate this card to see widespread play just because you can drop it, attach a Double Colorless Energy, and hit for 90 points of damage if your opponent’s KO’d something of yours the previous turn… like a Zekrom that just dropped itself to 90 HP by using Bolt Strike. If this becomes a common response than any deck already running PlusPower can just up it to a three card combo (Bouffalant plus Double Colorless Energy plus PlusPower) to instantly regain their advantage, OHKOing the other Bouffalant back. Defender obviously prevents that, but this is certainly not enough reason alone to run the two together. Second, few people expect Bouffalant to receive more Energy in order to use its second attack, but Defender makes that a realistic option. Said second attack only needs another two Energy to use (so two Double Colorless Energy can cover it) and reliably does 80 points of damage… not enough for another OHKO but enough to be a threat. It has a nasty little drawback of self-damage, but a single Defender completely negates that while forcing your opponent to commit to an attack that does 120 points of damage (after Weakness). Again, not a brilliant option but a solid one. The final reason is what makes the first two actually matter, though it is quite deck specific: Bouffalant can act as a third-rate Zekrom, making use of its set-up. If your opponent enabled Revenge’s secondary effect, then Pachirisu/Shaymin can power Bouffalant up in one go. What compounds it all is adding a Double Colorless Energy readies the second attack, and 80 with a 50% chance of doing 20 self damage (zero with Defender) is a nice fall back. If your opponent doesn’t take Bouffalant seriously, you can always use Shaymin to shunt Energy to a later Zekrom, and if your opponent does take Bouffalant seriously, better it than Zekrom.

This card is only worth using in Unlimited for a few specialty decks, as most of the time attacks are already in the OHKO range, you’re packing Focus Band to try and stay alive, and there is quite a lot of Trainer denial in the format. In Limited play this is a must run as all decks can use it quite well in a format where most Pokémon are slowly built up instead of being fueled by fast combos.

Ratings

Unlimited: 1.5/5 – A general score; the card is great in some very obscure decks and unfortunately won’t block enough damage to matter.

Modified: 2.75/5 – A general score; the card is great in some decks but functional in most.

Limited: 5/5 – Usually you’re trying to build up one or two key pulls, and this can give them an extra turn which translates into an extra attack that translates into an extra Prize.

Combos With: Zekrom (Black & White 47/114, 114/114), Bouffalant (Black & White 91/114)

Summary

Defender might finally become an important card, and it is almost ironic how that has occurred: a format where instead of soaking light damage you’re using Defender to fend off a OHKO. Most decks can use it, and a single copy is a great way to mess with your opponent’s mind, plus there are a few prominent Pokémon like Zekrom that can really get a good return from this simple Item.

Of course I am still selling my former possessions on eBay here. Pojo.com is not responsible for any transactions.

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Defender (HS Undaunted)

Hey Pojo Readers, today we have the opposite number of yesterday's CotD. Give a warm welcome to Defender!

First of all, the text that was in place before the errata stated that Dfender would be attached to one of your Poke'mon and would be discarded at the end of your opponent's next turn. While attached, it would prevent 20 damage from any of your opponent's attacks done to that Poke'mon (after applying weakness and resistance).

The errata leaves all of those effects in place and adds a new one. The original Defender (again, from Base Set, I'm sensing a theme here) allowed you to reduce recoild damge from your own attacks by 20 as well as reducing your opponent's damage, and that ability has now been restored.

I was afraid that the old Technical Machines and Poke'mon Tools would all be removed from the game, but since Defender is an Item Card that still gets attached I remain hopeful that new cards will be printed to replace the Tools and Machines we have loved and lost.

Back to the main topic, the main use for Defender is to soak incoming damage to prevent an OHKO, giving your Poke'mon an extra turn to evolve, set up and/or attack. This works best for Poke'mon that damage themselves as you get the full effect to soak as much as 40 damage and self-damaging Poke'mon are the most likely to suffer from a nasty revenge KO (take Zekrom BW as the best current example).

If you don't use any recoil attacks in your deck, Defender can still be used to keep a glass cannon (Cinccino BW is the best example) from being oneshotted after your first attack, allowing you to pull ahead in Prizes rather than simply trading shots until your energy acceleration fails (you will soon run out of DCE to power your fresh Cinccino on the bench).

A third use is to protect an essential bench sitter against a heavy sniper(for instance, a single Defender would stop an unassisted Blastoise UL from getting the OHKO on Ninetales HGSS). Since there are no spcifications about which Poke'mon Defender must be attached to, you can use it to protect anything your opponent may try to reach (although you can't split a single Defender across multiple Poke'mon). In an interesting twist, the ability to soak your own recoil as well as an opponent's attack also applies to a benched Poke'mon with Defender attached, so if a Zekrom deck wants to run Entei & Raikou Legend they can protect both Shaymin UL and Pachirisu CL from the recoil of Thunder Fall as well as an opponent's spread attack (although I admit that you would need more than 1 Defender to keep Pachrisu CL alive so Super Scoop Up is probably better in this siuation).

The key to playing Defender effectively in any deck is to predict how much damage your opponent can deal with their next attack so you can time the drop for maximum effect, rather than simply soaking light damage only to be OHKOed in the turn afterwards. Both Smeargle UD and Mr Mime TM would help you learn exactly what is in your opponent's hand for the best timing, but for most players you will just have to learn how to read your opponent's intentions based on what they have in play (always a valuable skill).

If you feel that you would do better to heal recoil damge rather than prevent it or if you run a lot of high HP Poke'mon, you should run Potion instead. I know that my last review painted that old and faithful card in a horrible light but after a recent discussion with Otaku, it does come out as the best mix of reliable and easy-to-play healing we have in the current format. If you need to deal with just a small amount damage after the fact rather than before then Potion could well help you if you don't like to gamble. Or you could run one of each to cover both situations, as Special Conditions like Poison and the placement of Damage counters could still ruin Cinccino's day even with Defender in place. With Junk Arm currently flying the flag for Item cards, you can get a lot of use out of a one-of tech.

Sorry that this review rambles a bit but at the end of the day, Defender is brilliant for recoil damage and also works well protecting anything with less than 120 HP. Better pack some of those opposing Pluspower to negate the advantage!

Modified: 4 (it varies from useful to essential depending upon your build but anything that buys you an extra turn is worth playtesting at least)

Limited: 5 (you will almost always use every Trainer you can get your hands on and the lower average damage makes Defender more powerful than it is in Modified)


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