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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Cards of 2014

#1 - Muscle Band

- XY

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 31, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.75
Expanded: 4.85
Limited: 5.00

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

#1 Muscle Band 

Like this wasn’t obvious . . .  

For the second year running, our top card is an Item which adds damage. That says a lot about how effective these cards are. A staple at 3-4 per deck from the day of release, the only decks that don’t use Muscle Band are using Silver Bangle instead – which is basically a slightly tweaked Muscle Band for non-EX attackers.

I wish I could pretend that Muscle Band is an interesting card, or a card that demands much skill or thought to play, but I can’t. Obviously, it’s not something you want to waste, but beyond that, you just stick it on an attacking Pokémon and get to where you want to be that much faster. There really isn’t much of a downside to consider (marginal utility and Manectric EX, I suppose), and that makes me a little bit sad. 

In fact, every time I look at Muscle Band, it reminds me of just how well designed Expert Belt was, but that was a card from a very different format. I guess Muscle Band is pretty representative of the game as we now know it. 

Rating 

Modified: 4.75 (no reason not to)

Expanded: 4.75 (likewise)


aroramage

Beating out deck thinners, Energy accelerators, and all sorts of cripplers, Muscle Band tops the list as the best card of 2014 - and probably as one of the best Tools ever! Considering it's been getting usage all year long and has completely changed the format from even just BW standards, Muscle Band is an unforgettable piece of tech that every deck in the game runs (not should run, not could run, DOES run)!!

 

And what kind of widespread effect could something like this have to get such usage? Why, a power boost, of course! Muscle Band does what Strong Energy essentially copied, only instead of attaching it as Energy to a specific Type, Muscle Band can equip to ANY Pokemon of ANY Type and give it an extra 20 damage on all of its attacks. That's the sort of power that's been KO-ing Pokemon since its release!

 

Now 20 damage may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in case you've been living inside of a rock like a Shuckle for the past year or so, lemme tell ya what all Muscle Band can achieve:

 

-Mewtwo-EX needs 1 less Energy to deal any damage (dealing 60 damage at 2)

-Yveltal-EX does even MORE damage with that same regard (dealing 80 for 2)

-Seismitoad-EX suddenly has an Item-lock that does almost 1/3rd of most Pokemon-EX's health (50 damage and no Items!)

-on top of that, it puts Seismitoad-EX's Grenade Hammer at a point where PoisonBank can KO anything (150 damage before PoisonBank kicks in)

-Lucario-EX can hit for 50 on 1, 80 on 2, and 120 on 3 Energy!

-Landorus-EX hits for 50 on the Active and 30 on a Benched for 1 Energy

-similarly, Manectric-EX can hit for 40 on the Active and 20 on the Benched, though his Assault Laser can now do as much as 140 when a Tool's attached to the target

-Donphan PLS hits for 60 on 1 and switches out

-Gengar-EX does 80, Poisons, and switches out for as low as 2 with Dimension Valley around

-Pyroar can deal 80 damage without discarding, making opposing Pokemon-EX fall faster

-MHeracross-EX can take another 20 damage more before his attack is useless, starting at full health with dealing 200 damage!!

-Hawlucha FUF can hit Pokemon-EX for 80 on just a single Energy

-MKangaskhan-EX is dealing 120 damage BEFORE flipping coins

-Keldeo-EX does 70 damage to start with BEFORE adding Water Energy

-similarly, Aeglislash-EX does 60 damage BEFORE adding Metal Energy

-Darkrai-EX does 110 damage on the Active alone, and he still snipes for 30 damage

-similarly, Genesect-EX does 120 damage on the Active and snipes for 20

-Cobalion-EX will hit for 120 damage regardless of whatever the Defending Pokemon's got

 

Need I go on?

 

Rating

 

Standard: 5/5 (pretty much defined the way we play the game today)

 

Expanded: 5/5 (there's more targets here to choose from, and while it's less viable to attach it to some than others, it's still pretty darn powerful)

 

Limited: 5/5 (do you even need to ask?)

 

Arora Notealus: Funny thing is, Muscle Band in the video games also has the power to boost the damage on attacks - so long as they're physical. It's only a 10% boost, which begs the question of whether it'd be ethical to bring something like Life Orb (which provides a 30% boost) into the TCG; I mean, if 10% = 20 damage, then 30% is gonna be crazy!! I don't even think the recoil would be a deterrent!

 

Hope you all enjoyed the Top 10 Countdown for the Best of 2014! Happy New Year to you all, and I'll see you in 2015!

 

Weekend Thought: Looking forward to anything in 2015? I know I've already got my eyes on some stuff! And I'm thinking Fairies are gonna make a break come May-June, call it a hunch. What're your predictions for what's to come? 


Otaku

Welcome to the number one pick of our Top 10 Cards Of 2014 Countdown!  If you’re going through them in reverse order (or is that proper order since this is “number one”?), individual Top 10s were submitted by each current Pojo CotD reviewer: aroramage, baby_mario and myself.  These lists were averaged out to create the official list for reviewing.  As the Top X lists we do, reprints are excluded: without this rule many reprints of well known, established cards would crowd out most of what was actually new for the year, and like rate high.  For my own list, 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). 

So the card that made the overall greatest impact in 2014 should come as no surprise unless you dismissed it because it seemed too obvious and simple: Muscle Band!  We first looked at this card here… though I wasn’t reviewing at the time.  So why does a Pokémon Tool that provides +20 damage while equipped rate so high?  Especially when it was introduced while Tool Scrapper was already a “thing”, while there were already potent Pokémon Tools like Eviolite, Float Stone, Silver Bangle, Silver Mirror, etc.?  One clue would be a piece of Darkness-Type support that Muscle Band made obsolete: Dark Claw.  This card was very important to Darkness-Types prior to XY, part of why they performed so well (though Dark Patch was much more important) and suddenly everything could tap that +20 (if its attacks did damage in the first place). 

As for Tool Scrapper (and later Startling Megaphone), just like with Dark Claw it was made apparent that Tools you could use right away for some gain were still worth it; what was the point of discarding a Muscle Band that had already provided its bonus in a format where your deck should be able to OHKO or 2HKO whatever was attacking?  A single Muscle Band usually just isn’t worth it, though it can be a nice bonus if there is something else on the field.  There are also the Pokémon Tool F cards, which (like all Pokémon Tools which can be attached to a particular Pokémon-EX) Muscle Band can defend against. 

Breadth: Most decks ended up running Muscle Band.  There are definitely exceptions, but its probably the closest card we have to something universally played, and only a select few decks - for example one of Pooka’s “Bad Deck Monday” offerings built around Garbodor (BW: Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW: Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW: Legendary Treasures 68/113), Gourgeist (XY 57/146) and Meowstic (XY: Flashfire 43/106) - has no real reason to run it (the strategy is to spread damage counters with Gourgeist before using Meowstic to then move all of those counters around to either cripple your opponent’s set up or take the win in one fell swoop, while Garbodor provides adequate disruption).  Yeah, as you can see I’m reaching, because even its closest rival Silver Bangle is only better if you’ve got absolutely no Pokémon-EX attacking.  Most decks would run four if they had the space, and many do make room for 2-3. 

Depth: Such a simple effect, but so deep a change.  Having lost first turn attacks, things were looking to slow down a bit.  Not only did we then get Yveltal-EX to help keep things speeding along, but Muscle Band meant the Pokémon-EX attackers that just fell shy of a OHKO or a 2HKO even with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym no longer did.  Non-Pokémon-EX attackers also benefitted, its just that against Pokémon-EX they could have been using Silver Bangle before this (now they could hit each other harder as well).  Now with its full set-up of four Deoxys-EX and a Muscle Band, Lugia-EX could OHKO a 180 HP Pokémon-EX for three Prizes.  Decks already able to make use of Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym could add an effective 50 points of damage (70 against Weakness or neutralize Resistance), meaning a 120 point hit could jump to an effective 170 with relative ease.  The massive scores of Pokémon-EX were still the most safe (barring effects that boosted damage against Pokémon-EX of course) but they weren’t as safe as they were before.  So useful is this little +20 that decks that need another Pokémon Tool - like Mega Evolutions with a Spirit Link card - are trying to make Tool Retriever or an opponent’s Startling Megaphone work for them, getting to both avoid the turn ending drawback of Mega Evolving while also getting to enjoy that small but often vital +20. 

Time: This one is easy; as the card debuted in XY and was instantly recognized as being amazing, has had the most time to make an impact.  Still for scoring purposes, it only “tied” with its set-mates.  That still meant an amazing score for this area, and is one of the reasons this category even exists; even if something better or at least just as good had come along, Muscle Band is one of the only cards this year that since XY released we’ve had to ask ourselves “Will my opponent be able to play one next turn?” all year long.  Well, assuming it wasn’t already in play, which strengthens the point! 

Summary 

Standard: 4.5/5 - As stated, Muscle Band is almost literally everywhere and as more than a single copy.  A perfect five out of five score would be Muscle Band as a four of staple in virtually every deck, or if it boosted damage even more but I repeat myself as that would indeed likely make it a three of or four of staple in all competitive decks. 

Expanded: 4.65/5 - A small bonus because Tool Scrapper does allow more technical feats with Pokémon Tools while still being more generally useful than Tool Retriever. 

Limited: 5/5 - Run this because the odds of you pulling a non-damaging attacker and only a non-damaging attacker worth running are too small even for how I rate things. 

Summary: Muscle Band is either the obvious first place pick, or easily overlooked because by now it has become such a near universal aspect of play that you don’t even really think about how it changed things.  That is why it not only topped the collective list, but my own individual list as well.  I hope you enjoyed 2014; have a happy New Year!


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