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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Heavy Ball

Next Destinies

Date Reviewed: Feb. 20, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.00
Limited: 3.75

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: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#5 Heavy Ball

Hello and welcome to the final part of our countdown of the top 10 cards from Next Destinies. We kick off the week with the card that is the counterpart to the one we reviewed on Friday.

Heavy Ball is a Trainer-Item that allows you to search your deck for Pokémon with a Retreat Cost of three or more. In practice, this means it can fetch playable stuff like Reshiram-EX, Zekrom-EX, Regigigas-EX, Magnezone Prime, Donphan Prime, and Emboar BW (both of them). It’s worth noting though that it does not get LEGEND pieces. As with Level Ball, how playable the card is will depend on how it compared to the rest of the search options we have.

As far as the Basic –EX Pokémon are concerned, Pokémon Collector or even Dual Ball are likely to be preferred because they can grab multiples. When it comes to evolution cards, decks that run Magnezone and/or Emboar will have some tough choices to make: Pokémon Communication offers greater flexibility (it can get whatever you need), but Heavy Ball does not require a Pokémon to be shuffled back into the deck, meaning that playing a couple of them on the same turn is much easier (which you might well want to do if you are playing MagneBoar, for example). It’s all about testing and tweaking until you find the balance that works best for your deck.

And that’s why I like these new Ball cards really. With Level Ball, Heavy Ball, and the forthcoming Ultra Ball the possibility of building a super-fast search engine based only on Trainers becomes possible again (it was last seen a couple of formats ago, I think). Anything that gives players more choices and more ways of optimising their deck is a very good thing. The playability of Heavy Ball is obviously dependant on the playability of high Retreat cost Pokémon in the future, but it’s good to know that it’s there if needed.

Rating

Modified: 3.5 (nice search option for some decks)

Limited: 4 (Not too many targets in the set, but if you pull one of the –EX Pokémon other than Shaymin or Mewtwo, this is brilliant)


Otaku

Greetings, readers! We start this week with the weighty topic of the number five card on our countdown of the top 10 most promising cards from BW: Next Destinies, and that card is Heavy Ball.

It’s time for me to weigh in.

Stats

Heavy Ball is an Item, a sub-type of Trainers. This is the most common Trainer class to be blocked by outside effects, and that is the only drawback I can legitimately come up with: Items are the easiest class of Trainer to play, only requiring you be able to play out the effect (or at least believe you may, given the game state). As such, small effects often add up rather quickly in a game like Pokémon, where draw power plentiful.

While unlikely to return, the “Ball” Trainers were for a time treated as a sub-type amongst Items (or rather “Normal Trainers” as they were then known). I can only find one piece of actual support for them; Apricorn Maker (Skyridge 121/144) wasn’t especially good but its existence is encouraging, both with respect to advancing game mechanics and maintaining the ambiance of the game.

Effects

Heavy Ball has a simple effect: search your deck for a Pokémon with a Retreat Cost of three or more and add it to your hand. Referencing Pokémon weight would have been more faithful to the source material, and even possible, given that weight has returned to Pokémon cards, but knowing where to draw the line might be a bit awkward (plus weight has been dropped from cards in the past). The Retreat Cost is a decent compromise, as well as allowing some leeway with card design: while a large Retreat is still a burden, two versus three can now be used to better balance some cards.

I find this restriction on searching preferable to that of Level Ball, since this is more likely to get something big, be it a Basic Pokémon or a Stage 2, and generally speaking “large is in charge”: Pokémon can be fantastic but still have low HP, but lowering HP is a more extreme form of compensation than raising Retreat Cost, and the end result is that low HP Pokémon are just a little less likely to be as useful as those with a larger Retreat Cost. Lastly I will pass on a ruling: sadly despite the bottom half having the Retreat Cost printed on it, you cannot use Heavy Ball to snag that portion of a Pokémon LEGEND card.

Usage

First, this card is very effective at torturing a player like me. Why? So many of the legal targets for this card in Modified are ones I had high hopes for… before the format shifted to something dominated by Basic versions of rare/Legendary Pokémon (Pokémon-EX or not). Many we saw at the close of the previous format, where again they were crowded out by amazingly (I would say over-) potent cards and mechanics, and player’s like me looked forward to the format change allowing them to finally shine. They never did get the chance, though for some not all hope is gone. Still, let me focus on the present (and recent past). You find some great candidates for Heavy Ball:

  • Donphan (HeartGold/SoulSilver 107/123)
  • Emboar (Black & White 19/114)
  • Emboar (Black & White 20/114, BW Promo BW21, BW: Next Destinies 100/99)
  • Feraligatr (HeartGold/SoulSilver 108/123, HGSS Promo HGSS07)
  • Kyurem EX (BW: Next Destinies 38/99, 96/99)
  • Magnezone (HS: Triumphant 96/102)
  • Regigigas EX (BW: Next Destinies 82/99, 99/99)
  • Reshiram EX (BW: Next Destinies 22/99, 95/99)
  • Terrakion (BW: Noble Victories 73/101, 99/101)
  • Zekrom EX (BW: Next Destinies 51/99, 97/99)

Obviously not a huge list, but not bad. In fact, as I look I can’t help but notice it almost looks like it was designed for three decks: Magneboar (Emboar/Magnezone), Rain Dance (Feraligatr/Kyurem EX), and some sort of Fighting deck that either hasn’t (or perhaps never will) fully gel. Indeed there were multiple Fighting-Type Stage 1 and 2 Pokémon that I left off the list because they never succeeded in getting a deck, or I found the outlook doubtful. Getting to the point of this line of reasoning, this may indeed be a sort of “not technically” theme support: specific decks were either in mind when Heavy Ball was designed or cards for those decks were designed knowing Heavy Ball was on the way.

I say this because as many like to point out, there really are valid alternatives to search for the above Pokémon. Any Basic Pokémon can easily be one of the three you’re allowed to snag with Pokémon Collector (two most recent printings are HeartGold/SoulSilver 100/123, Call of Legends 82/95) may only grab a single card, but instead of a Basic Pokémon it is the Evolution of your choice. Those are of course Supporters, so obviously there is still an advantage to using an Item instead, namely saving your Supporter for something else (like raw draw power). Shifting to other Items, you can go with the reliable Pokémon Communication (HeartGold/SoulSilver 98/123, Black & White 99/114) but then you have to already have another Pokémon you want to put back into your deck in your hand. You can go with the classic Poké Ball (most recent and up-to-date printing is Black & White 97/114), but that is seldom a good idea as searching for a Pokémon is usually too important to trust to a card that fails half the time, even if it is an Item. Basic Pokémon fair a hair better since Dual Ball (two most recent printings are HS: Unleashed 72/95, Call of Legends 78/95) works for at least a single Basic Pokémon with three of its four possible outcomes, but it still is coin flip dependent. All in all, I’d say this creates a nice niche for Heavy Ball in Modified.

Unlimited has many, many potent Pokémon that can be searched out via Heavy Ball, but this is Unlimited: the best draw and search cards in the game are here, and they aren’t even Supporters! On top of that, many decks won’t have something with a three Energy Retreat Cost even if they are a more casual deck, and just like in Modified you wouldn’t use Heavy Ball unless multiple (not in terms of copies but kinds) such Pokémon are in the deck.

In Limited play, you’ve got 24 Pokémon in this set that have a high enough Retreat Cost that Heavy Ball can snag them. Two of these cards are Secret Rares and Evolutions, making it not only highly unlikely you’d pull them, but pointless to run unless you are drafting alongside a set containing their lower Stages. Of the rest, only six Common rarity Pokémon (all Basics as well) and two Uncommon (both Evolutions whose Basic forms also qualified) meet the minimum three Energy Retreat Cost requirement for Heavy Ball. If you are fortunate enough to have even a single legal target of Heavy Ball worth running in your deck, then odds are it is well worth the possible dead draw to run Heavy Ball alongside it; it is quite probable you simply won’t have a target for it in your deck list.

Ratings

Unlimited: 2.5/5

Modified: 3.5/5

Limited: 3/5

Summary

For all formats, the usefulness of Heavy Ball really depends on your deck. Unlike its set-mate Level Ball, for which it is hard to build a deck that lacks a single legal target, Heavy Ball can be completely useless in a particular deck list, and even when there is a legal target, only in Limited will it be acceptable to run it for a single Pokémon (even with multiple copies of that Pokémon). This greatly restricts what decks should use it, but when you do have a deck with plentiful targets it is pretty great.

Please check out my eBay sales by clicking here. It’s me whittling away at about two decades worth of attempted collecting, spanning action figures, comic books, TCGs, and video games. Exactly what is up is a bit random. Pojo.com is in no way responsible for any transactions; Pojo is merely doing me a favor by letting me link at the end of my reviews.

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia
#5: Heavy Ball (Next Destinies)
 
Poke'mon is a game with a strong theme of duality. Since Level Ball from last week was an easy-to-play search option for smaller Poke'mon, we now have the other end of the scale with Heavy Ball, which is designed to quickly find the big Poke'mon in your deck but bypasses the lightweights that you'll need in order to play them.
 
Heavy Ball allows you to search your deck for a Poke'mon with a retreat cost of 3 or higher, which currently includes such crowd favourites as Magnezone Prime, Regigigas EX, Feraligatr Prime, Terrakion NV, Donphan Prime and Emboar BW.
 
Heavy Ball faces the same problems as Level Ball, in that there are some well established staple cards that make it unlikely to fit into current tournament lists. Still, if you suffer from the pain of heavy retreating (Rain Dance and MagneBoar players know how that feels) there is now some compensation. And since both of those decks love their discard-fueled draw power (Professor Juniper and Sage's Training are necessary to find the all-important Item cards like Rare Candy) they will appreciate not having to sacrfice their Supporter use for the turn.
 
Heavy ball is another great addition to the game of Poke'mon, and I look forward to future cards that can take advantage of a higher retreat cost!
 
Modified: 3.5 (again, this is a card that fills a very specific niche but it fills that niche beautifully)
 
Limited: 4 (unless you have no legal targets in your deck, you can justify Heavy Ball)
 
Combos with: a Snorlax EX and other 'heavy' hitters!
 
Yes, that pun was beyond terrible and I am truly sorry.
 


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