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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Cards of 2014

#4 - Lysandre

- Flashfire

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 26, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.5
Expanded: 4.5
Limited: 5.0

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

#4 Lysandre 

The way the format has been for the past few years, we need a card that has the effect which Lysandre provides: namely dragging a Pokémon up from the Bench to the active slot. With cards like Garbodor LTR, Blastoise BCR, Dusknoir BCR out there, not to mention punch-and-run attackers like Donphan PLS hiding behind Robo Substitute, we need a way for decks to deal with them. 

We did have Pokémon Catcher, of course, but many players (not including me) thought it was too powerful, and when it received an errata, it became unreliable. Meanwhile, Bright Look Ninetales and Flare Command Pyroar are not something that can just be splashed into any old deck. The solution, printing Catcher in the form of a Supporter, seems a reasonable one. Oh, and the fact that it by-passes Item Lock shouldn’t be overlooked. With Lysandre, any deck can now make use of this powerful effect, but it must be used with care as it takes up Supporter use for the turn. As a result, running 1-2 copies has become standard practice in just about every deck. With the recent release of VS Seeker, Lysandre has become an even more potent weapon as not only can it be re-used, it can also be searched out when needed once it hits the discard pile. 

Lysandre does an important job for a fair cost. Barring the release of something less balanced, it should keep its place in players’ decks until it rotates. 

Rating

Modified: 4 (necessary)

Expanded: 4 (equally necessary)


aroramage

Pokemon Catcher was a huge threat when it came out. It was an Item with a simple effect, but as always the simple effects made it highly playable and extremely dangerous. In this case, it was a Switch on your opponent's Pokemon, forcing them to bring out their Bench-sitters for your big EX to crush underfoot. The TCG guys errata'd this card's effect because of how powerful it is, giving it a 50/50 shot of working, which for an Item makes more sense.
 
Then Lysandre came and said, "Hey, remember when Pokemon Catcher was cool? Well, I'll get you that effect as long as I'm your Supporter for the turn." And the rest is history.
 
Lysandre is a much more balanced Pokemon Catcher, but it's still Pokemon Catcher in essence, meaning people will run Lysandre for the same reason they ran Pokemon Catcher. Should've just called him Lysandre the Catcher-re, huh? No? Okay...
 
In any case, Lysandre being a Supporter just means you've got to be more crafty when using him. He can help you grab a crippled EX or snag a Bench-sitter to take care of a nasty threat (hint hint Garbodor), so naturally he's a powerful asset in an aggressive format. Fighting decks run him, Fire decks run him, VirGen decks run him, Blastoise decks run him, Metal decks run him, Gengar decks run him - and let's face it, you probably will run him too.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 5/5 (absolutely and undeniably useful, even at the cost of a Supporter)
 
Expanded: 5/5 (I mean, can you not run him? Seriously, is there a deck you wouldn't play Lysandre?)
 
Limited: 5/5 (of course you run him)
 
Arora Notealus: Something about being the leader of a team of baddies must make it so you've gotta have an awesome effect. Maxie and Archie placed Pokemon into play immediately, Ghetsis profited off of Tools, even Giovanni could bypass the rule of not evolving a Pokemon you just played or evolved! 
 
Next Time: And from the skies above...

Otaku

Welcome to the conclusion of the second week of our Top 10 Cards Of 2014 Countdown!  As we skipped both Christmas and the day before (obvious reasons are obvious), maybe some recapping will seem a little less gratuitous.  The lists were collected and averaged out from the CotD crew to create the rankings for the master list.  As with our Top 10 lists for individual sets, reprints are excluded: without this rule cards like Double Colorless Energy place (if not place high) most years.  For my own list, my main guideline was card impact.  I evaluated each card according to breadth of impact (how widespread its usage/response to its usage was), depth of impact (how deeply it affected the decks that used it/needed to counter it) and time of impact (how long did it affect how we played in 2014). 

Just missing out on a Top 3 finish, our fourth place finisher is Lysandre (XY: Flashfire 90/106; 104/106).  You can read the original reviews for it here; as it was during my most recent hiatus, I didn’t get to weigh in.  I’d love to claim I knew it was going to be a major factor in the game but I greatly underestimated this card.  So let’s cover some basics before discussing how it has impacted the format. 

Lysandre is a Supporter, meaning its got to have a great effect to justify the fact that you can’t play the usual, strong draw or search Supporter that decks in general have been built since almost the introduction of Supporters.  Even in formats where you had strong Pokémon based search and/or draw, the chief purpose of supporters was still draw and/or search (yeah, sometime both, sometimes one or the other) with the express purpose of getting your “real” draw/search up and running.  For the last five or so years (and yes, that is an approximate because I don’t remember exactly when the builds fully shifted over) almost all noteworthy draw and search effects have been Supporters, with the exceptions being Tropical Beach and some more deck specific cards.  Not getting a new hand (even of a reduced size) or good search is a pretty big cost, and a lot of otherwise good Supporters have failed to see competitive play because of it. 

I actually thought Lysandre would be underpowered at first.  Why?  It is just a “Gust” effect.  Gust effects are so named (perhaps only by me) because Gust of Wind is the oldest and perhaps best example of it and was released in the Base Set and quickly became a staple, with the exact count (at least two, upwards of four, with three being pretty common) being in debate.  While other cards had a similar effect, the next generic “normal Trainer” (re: Item) version was Double Gust, so as a long time player, that is how it still comes across, even though neither of those cards have been Standard legal in over 10 years.  Continuing the history discussion, such effects have almost always been major factors in constructed play… but they have been powerful because of the format that already (or would have) existed without them. 

The short version of what would probably be worth a separate article is that Gust effects are only as good as the offense that goes along with them.  If your opponent has a fully prepped attacker up front and swinging away, forcing it to the Bench and something else to the Active position to start swinging away at the new Defending Pokémon only makes sense under specific situations: you’re disrupting a key set-up, your attacker actually is hitting both Active and Bench, exploiting Weakness for an easy (possibly game winning) KO, etc.  Otherwise your opponent has a good chance of just getting their formerly Benched Pokémon back to the Bench, with a better chance of effectively healing damage (if there is less Energy on the Benched Pokémon and there usually is) than the Active.  Even just Benching it and realizing they shouldn’t continue building it means a return not worth the Supporter you just expended.  The format is such that you should be going for a OHKO or set-up disrupting play (possibly at the same time).  What I underestimated was how important that reliable Gust effect would be.  I figured I’d be an oddball for running one and instead I was unusual for not running two. 

Breadth: Simply put, most competitive lists seem to run at least one Lysandre, often two.  It is still a bit early to see if VS Seeker is going to cause more to favor a single copy or if two will remain the norm, but three usually seems excessive.  Even decks that already have a Gust-like effect through some other means seem to like having that Lysandre to fall back on.  The only way the card could do better here was if more copies was the norm. 

Depth: Thanks to Lysandre, again any deck can have a reliable means of disrupting set-up on the Bench.  While there are effects to block Supporters, they haven’t proven competitive.  Much like how we have gotten used to not counting on our hand remaining intact until after the opponent plays a Supporter other than N (even though someone could run a Red Card), now we know our Bench is much more vulnerable until after the opponent plays their Supporter so that they can’t use Lysandre.  While the effect is simple, Lysandre has thus had a deep impact on how we play, knowing our Bench isn’t as secure as we might think it is.  Of course our Bench isn’t truly safe anyway; plenty of cards can attack the Bench and Pokémon Catcher still works (unless Items are blocked) if you get “heads”... but the reliable change out ended up being more valuable.

Time: Lysandre has only had about half the year to affect players, lessening its impact for the year… though a good move by the-powers-that-be as players probably would have been even more annoyed as our copies of Pokémon Catcher were nerfed-via-erratum just so that we had to go with a coin flip or run the new Supporter version.  If that didn’t diminish it or alter things too much, then the way I scored the cards Lysandre would have jumped a place, which may or may not have bumped it up on the overall list. 

Ratings 

Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 5/5 

Summary: Lysandre proved me wrong this year, showing that players would risk a non-draw/search Supporter for a worthwhile effect, which is why I was a bit more open to such cards the rest of the year.  VS Seeker just makes it even better… but also makes fewer copies necessary, so score wise it balances out. Lysandre actually took third place on my own list, and the two cards that beat it have yet to be reviewed.  Of course that means one card I didn’t rate higher knocked it down a place.


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