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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Plasma Storm
#8 - Bicycle

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
February 8, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.90
Limited: 4.75

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

#8 Bicycle 

Our #8 card was something that we were all expecting to appear in Boundaries Crossed, but for reasons best known to the Pokémon Company themselves, they decided to hold it over. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes it was. 

Bicycle is something that we haven’t seen in the game for ages. It is Trainer-Item draw. Because draw is so powerful in Pokémon (as it is in all TCGs), it has been (more or less) exclusive to Supporters and Pokémon with Powers for many, many years. The reason for this is that both come with a built-in cost – you only get one Supporter per turn, and if you go down the Powers route (as with Uxie LA and Claydol GE), then you need to devote Bench space and possibly give your opponent the chance of an easy Prize. 

The difference with Items is that their use is unrestricted: if you have them, you can play them as much as you like during your turn (ok . . . unless your opponent attacked with Zebstrika NEX). As a result, you couldn’t expect Bicycle to have the same effect as a Professor Juniper, or even a Cheren, and it doesn’t. What Bicycle does is let you draw cards until you have four in hand. 

So . . . when is it useful? For those situations where you have a very small hand size of course. This can happen more often that you would think. Burning your hand in order to get set up quickly is one scenario (those Ultra Balls and Computer Search come with a heavy discard cost). Another is your opponent playing a nasty N when you have taken four or five Prizes. In these situations, Bicycle is a fantastic out and of course you still have the option to play a Supporter as well if you happen to draw one off of it. 

Bicycle isn’t powerful enough to become a reliable source of draw in its own right, and it’s absolutely no substitute for proper hand management and a solid Support line up. What Bicycle does do is allow some less-than-conservative play when appropriate and it can also get you out of some tricky situations if you are the victim of hand disruption. Speed decks that burn through their 40-odd Trainers will love it, and I can see an acceleration deck like Blastoise using a copy or two to re-stock the hand after Deluge-ing a handful of Energy. I think it will see quite a bit of play, if only as a single copy. If you’re a hyper-aggressive player who often over-extends, or if you find your deck tends to leave you with a small hand size, then this is definitely a card you should be testing out. 

Rating

 

Modified: 3.75 (a gift to aggressive decks and players alike)

Limited: 4.75 (it’s a draw card – you play it)

virusyosh
Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Today we're reviewing a new Item card that has been widely spoken about, but has to really have a deck built specifically around it to work. Today's Card of the Day (and #8 on our Top 10 Countdown) is Bicycle.
 
Bicycle is a Trainer - Item card, meaning that you can play as many Bicycles during your turn as you would like. Bicycle also has a fairly simple effect: Draw until you have four cards in your hand. Trainer-based draw power is something that the Pokemon TCG hasn't seen in a very long time due to its potential game-altering power, so it is important to prove it with some limitations. For example, note that Bicycle can only be used for an effect if you have fewer than four cards in your hand, which is a somewhat uncommon situation. Therefore, for a deck to run Bicycle effectively, it needs to be optimized for running low hand sizes. This goes against many common strategies in the Pokemon TCG, where draw Supporters like N and Professor Juniper can often give you more than four cards in hand. There are, however, places where this card can run, such as very fast decks that want to draw through their decks quickly, such as donk decks. Overall, Bicycle doesn't fit into every single deck, but will probably be quite effective in certain niches where it will definitely be a force to deal with.
 
Modified: 4/5 Item-based draw is very rare in the Pokemon TCG, and is almost always good. I see Bicycle being no exception to this rule, but once again, it doesn't fit into every deck. I would test with Bicycle extensively first before committing to the card as it doesn't run well with N in the early game or Colress, but it is potentially very powerful when you're in a small-hand situation.
 
Limited: 5/5 Any draw power is good here, especially Item-based draw. While Limited games tend to have larger hand sizes, there's no reason not to run the card since it's potentially very powerful.
Jebulous Maryland Player

Bicycle

Bicycle is an Item that lets you draw until you have 4 cards. This has ups and downs, so let's look at a few. A good thing is that this is an Item, and it lets you draw. Drawing either has taken the form of a Supporter or an attack. So at best, you play your hand down to Bicycle, play it, get a Bicycle and 3 playable cards, and continue this two more times. The likelihood of that is very low (better odds with a Blastoise on the field or you just draw a bunch of hammers).

A bad thing is that if it's anything like Bianca, you won't be gaining much. With Bianca you are lucky to play your hand down to 1-2 cards (or you have to go out of your way to do so). With Bicycle, the maximum you draw is less, so you really will need to play down to 1-2 cards for the best draw.

Another good thing is that you can get it with Skyla, so you can draw the turn that you play Skyla. Kind of like giving you an out with the Skyla you get stuck with.

I haven't had any plans to use it right now, so I haven't thought too much about it.

Modified: 4/5
Limited: 4/5
Combos With: ...

Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

Welcome to the number eight pick for our Top 10 Promising Picks of Plasma Storm… Bicycle (BW: Plasma Storm 117/135)!  This card was originally expected by many (including myself) in BW: Boundaries Crossed due to when it was released in Japan.  The nature of this card doesn’t lend itself to my current structuring of reviews, so for better or worse I’ll be reviewing this in a more freestyle form.  Do not expect that to make the review any shorter. 

Bicycle is an Item, a subdivision of Trainers.  What makes it special is that it the only Item we currently have with a “draw” effect.  Bicycle lets you draw until you have four cards in hand. A general rule of the game is you can’t play a card when you know it has no effect, so we already know you can’t play this card if you have four other cards in your hand. 

As you can’t play it for zero cards, the draw range is technically one to four cards.  It isn’t a good thing, but if you draw one card it is like you ran a 59 card deck legally.  Drawing two cards from an Item is good… that is how Bill worked when it was first released in the Base Set and when it was re-released in the Legendary Collection (he wasn’t reprinted as a Supporter until much later). 

Obviously, once you hit three cards you’re getting the kind of return you would from Cheren, and a full four is even better.  Still, you have to be able to empty out your hand, and that isn’t always easy.  Bianca sees play, but she isn’t one of the main Supporters in most competitive decks; Supporters like N and Professor Juniper are usually run in threes or fours, while Bianca is usually run at a two count or less, including not at all.  It is easy for a hand to be clogged by spare Pokémon, spare Energy, and even spare Supporters or other Trainers. 

There is also an older example to consider as well.  The effect of this card appeared on the “Normal” Trainer (Items before they were called “Items”) Mail From Bill.  Mail From Bill had different text, but the same effect (I prefer the modern wording).  So, was Mail From Bill widely run?  In a word, “no”, but that is oversimplifying things. 

Mail From Bill was released as part of Neo Destiny over 10 years ago.  This put it in the first two Modified formats, when a deck with a 20-20-20 split for Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy was pretty common, perhaps even the norm.  Getting your hand down to four cards was not easy as the format was big on Evolutions and about as slow paced as the TCG every has been.  Dumping cards from your hand wasn’t an easy option, either. 

Today, decks are structured differently, and can run Ultra Ball and Professor Juniper to discard cards from the hand.  Many popular Items that can be played for less-than-optimal effect while still nabbing a decent return.  Decks can run Skyla to fetch key Trainers, as opposed to having to rely only on big draws (that result in big hands you probably can’t play down).  You can also use Skyla to fetch Bicycle, allowing Skyla to fake being a draw Supporter.  It can even be a handy retrieval pick for the signature move of Sableye (BW: Dark Explorers 62/108), Junk Hunt. 

If you are trying to build a donk deck, this isn’t a must-run card, but it is a must-try.  If your donk deck runs low on cards that aren’t easy to play out or dump, it really is amazing when you pull off multiple copies of Bicycle, or even just one before or after a Supporter.  Well, for Modified; for Unlimited, Mail From Bill still doesn’t see play so the same card by another name isn’t going to, either.  In Limited, even though it can be hard to drop your hand size, it is a must run. 

Ratings 

Unlimited: 1/5 

Modified: 3.25/5 

Limited: 5/5 

Summary

Bicycle had me very worried when I first saw it, but then again that was as a translation from when it first released in Japan and our metagame was more different from now than I expected it to be.  I haven’t tested this card a lot lately; most of it was when I was expected it in BW: Boundaries Crossed.  I am thinking a single copy could be good in most decks running heavy Skyla, plus a few special cases here and there, but a lot of decks can leave it. 

You should probably get a full play set, though; I am sure some deck will warrant it.  Despite the recommendation, I was surprised to see it make the list; on my own list it clocked in at number 12, because I submitted a Top 20 list to help with tie breakers.  That really shouldn’t shock anyone, given my obsessive streak.

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Promising Pick #8: Bicycle

Now here's something we haven't seen in a while: card draw on an Item card. The last was Pokedex Handy-101 from Platinum, and before that Poke Drawer + from Stormfront (I loved that card!), so a new tool for the 'turbo' decks is much appreciated.

For the uninitiated, a turbo deck is on that focuses on cheap attackers backed by drawing through as much of the deck as possible in the first few turns, typically with the plan of using multiple damage boosters (Pluspower, Hypnotic Laser, various old coming-into-play Poke-powers) to rack up a series of successive KOs. This strategy works best when paired with a single-energy attacker that can somehow recur the boosters (the old Shuppet PT returned itself to hand along with the attached Pluspowers back before they were changed to their current rules text) and when the metagame is dominated by low HP attackers relying on cheap attacks. If you have ever been on the receiving end of the dreaded Sableye SF Donk deck in Unlimited (or if you faced the Modified version at Battle Roads just after the release of The B&W base set), you have seen exactly how the strategy works... and how ridiculously cruel the strategy can be.

So why am I celebrating the creation of a turbo card now, when I've just stated it sucks the fun out of playing for your opponents and the metagame is loaded with high HP nightmares anyway? Because unlike the other Items I mentioned, Bicycle can do more than simply replace itself with another card from your deck.

The effect is to draw cards until you have 4 cards in hand, so right away it is an awesome topdeck if your hand is empty. Better yet, it doesn't stop you playing any of the possible 4 cards you draw, unlike the hand-refill Supporters around (Bianca, Colress and Hugh, plus the usual suspects N and Professor Juniper).

Of course, this is balanced out by the low cap it places on your hand size, because you won't want to play it unless you are at 3 or fewer cards, something that happens rarely thanks to the aforementioned N and Professor Juniper. And a card you can't play very often is not going to be included in your deck, no matter how ridiculously powerful the effect is (just look at all of the attempts to make a playable Charizard, only a few of which have found any niche and none of whom were ever the format defining terror that Poke'mon EX have become).

The saving grace for Bicycle is that we have several other powerful Items that force us to discard cards from our hand to use the effect. Computer Search, Dowsing Machine and Ultra Ball all provide powerful effects at the cost of a 2 card penalty, which is still a heavy price even when mitigated by the diverse retrieval cards we have available (Sableye DEX, Recycle, Energy Retrieval, etc). Adding to the pain is the fact that they are useless is drawn later when you don't have any disposable cards in hand to throw away. Both of these drawbacks turned into advantages by Bicycle.

Most decks in their current forms cannot take proper advantage of Bicycle, but by migrating away from relying on Bianca and Juniper while increasing the count of Ultra Ball and Skyla in your decks, you can turn to Bicycle as your primary draw engine and guarantee that you can play whatever Supporters you happen to draw. Best of all, if you can play out your hand, you can drop another Bicycle in the same turn to draw cards again, digging deeper into your deck for whatever you most need while avoiding the pain that comes from having multiple Junipers in hand (being unable to hit another draw card after I discarded one or two Supporters previously has cost me more than a few matches in recent months).

Much like Crushing Hammer and Random Receiver, Bicycle is a powerful card if you optimise your deck to abuse it but will feel anaemic if you simply shove it into decks willy-nilly. 4 copies of Professor Juniper is still the best way to ensure consistency and availability of cards in your deck, but I can see a future where Supporter-light decks speed up their draws by playing a 4/2 Bicycle/Juniper split with Sableye for backup, letting them pull ahead in the race for the first KO. With Colress Machine, Dark Patch and other Item based accelerators, Bicycle is sure to find a home.

Modified: 4.5 (as long as you can reliably play out your hand and/or discard the spares, Bicycle is a vastly superior Cheren, but you do have to work at it. As such, I can understand Bicycle being at #7 even though I marked it personally at #2)

Limited: 5 (if it says "draw" and "card" in the same line of text, you play it in Limited, and Bicycle is no exception)

Combos with: Ultra Ball, Sableye DEX


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