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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Head Ringer

- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Nov. 20, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.50
Expanded: 3.38
Limited: 3.25

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

Head Ringer 

I was pretty shocked when this card didn’t make it into our top 10 lists. Its close cousin, Jamming Net, sneaked in, but this is likely the better card and will see more play. 

Head Ringer is one of the revolutionary Team Flare Hyper Gear cards. It is a Tool that you attach to your opponent’s Pokémon and increases the cost of their attacks by one Colourless Energy. Uses? It’s got ‘em. Set your opponent behind a turn on Energy attachments and force them to over-commit Energy to an attacker; reduce their damage output by preventing them from attaching Muscle Band; make them end a turn if they want a Mega by saying ‘no’ to Spirit Link; deny switching decks access to Float Stone . . . and the best part is that it is very hard to deal with. Xerosic, AZ, or Cassius means using a Supporter; Super Scoop Up is flippy; Tool Retriever is low utility; and Masquerain PLB isn’t worth the bother. 

So, who can use it? Trubbish Tool Drop decks are a given (it’s one way around Startling Megaphone). Fast decks like Landorus EX variants and anything using Manectric EX (and the Mega) will love it too as it effectively widens the speed gap between them and an opposing deck. Probably the biggest beneficiary is Seismitoad EX, however. With this card and Hammer Items to remove Energy, you can slow your opponent’s deck down to a crawl while locking them out of Items and Abilities (if you run Garbodor). That leaves more than enough time for Quaking Punch and Hypnotoxic Laser to take your Prizes. 

A great new mechanic that takes a bit of skill to use for a maximum disruptive effect, I think these Team Flare Tools are not just good, but good for the game.

Rating

Modifed: 4.25 (very powerful when used with care)

Expanded: 4.25 (just as good here)

Limited: 4.5 (nothing your opponent can do about it) 


aroramage

You may recall last week when we reviewed Jamming Net, we also briefly mentioned Head Ringer as well. That's because it's the other Tool in the set that lets you attach itself to your opponent's Pokemon-EX! I did say Jamming Net would be more useful, but that's not to say Head Ringer doesn't have its own niche!
 
Reviewing the Team Flare Tool rules, we know that it can only be attached to a Pokemon-EX without a Tool attached to it already and that when it gets removed for whatever reason, it's sent to the discard pile. Reviewing what I said about Head Ringer, it basically tacks on another Colorless Energy to your opponent's attacks, which can force them to wait another turn before attacking and stall them out.
 
That is, unless they need a DCE or else are running Blastoise, Emboar, or in the case of a Bench-sitting EX any of the various discarded Energy runners like Eelektrik, Landorus, and the new Bronzong. With the popularity of certain Types comes the popularity of certain cards of those Types, and the support for Fighting and Steel, as well as Water, Fire, and in the case of Expanded Rayquaza-EX, a majority of the metagame flourishes with these. Oh, and don't forget Virizion-EX can work with Grass-types, so there's another Type for ya!
 
That'ts why Head Ringer is, in my opinion at least, the lesser of the two Team Flare Tools. Jamming Net has a wider range and affects damage, making it useful in every scenario. Head Ringer is good too, but there are several different decks that have access to some form of acceleration that makes it just a mild inconvenience, and that means no matter how much ringing you think you've got going on, just remember that it's all in your head.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 3/5 (a good Tool, but just so much acceleration to go around)
 
Expanded: 2.5/5 (the inclusion of Eelektrik in this format makes this Tool's inclusion in your deck a bit less likely)
 
Limited: 4/5 (once again, you'd run it against those +39 decks; don't worry, there's only Bronzong to deal with here)
 
Arora Notealus: I wonder if Team Flare used some kind of annoying song in the Head Ringer and maxed out the volume. Can you just imagine one of those terrible pop songs getting sung at that rate? "FRIDAY, FRIDAY, GOTTA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY"
 
Next Time: FRIDAY, FRIDAY, GOTTA GET SOULS TAKEN ON FRIDAY


Otaku

This week we are covering the cards that made at least one individual reviewer’s Top 10 list but not the shared Pojo Top 10 list: in short its “Runners Up” Week.  The cards are not being reviewed in the order in which they placed but in the order that seemed best for review purposes. 

Head Ringer Team Flare Hyper Gear (XY: Phantom Forces 97/119) is the next-to-last runner up we’ll be covering this week, and I’ll simply be referring to it as just “Head Ringer” for the rest of the review, though the text write-up in the Card Database of the official Pokémon website does indeed include “Team Flare Hyper Gear” as part of the name.  I’ll be doing the same with Robo Substitute Team Flare Hyper Gear (XY: Phantom Forces 102/119) and Jamming Net Team Flare Hyper Gear (XY: Phantom Forces 98/119) when they come up.  Of course, the main reason to mention Robo Substitute is that it is one of the three Team Flare Hyper Gear cards we have received. 

Head Ringer and Jamming Net are our only Pokémon Tool F cards, Pokémon Tools that can only be attached to an opposing Pokémon-EX.  This is a bit exciting because it’s a novel mechanic for the Pokémon TCG, though somewhat common for TCGs in general.  Attaching to an opponent’s Pokémon makes removing the cards difficult: the only direct options I am aware of are Masquerain (BW: Plasma Blast 2/101) (a Stage 1 line), Tool Retriever (mostly useful for this purpose), Tool Scrapper (which isn’t Standard legal) and Xerosic (which is Standard legal, but a Supporter).  Indirect tricks are an option because Pokémon Tool F cards are discarded if an effect removes them from the field (this is to effects like that of Tool Retriever from putting your opponent’s cards into your own hand). 

Both Pokémon Tool F cards take up the lone Tool slot a Pokémon has: your opponent can’t attach their own Pokémon Tool to something you’ve nailed with Head Ringer or Jamming Net but that also means that you can’t stack multiple copies onto the same Pokémon-EX.  Why does that matter?  Just like Jamming Net, Head Ringer has a negative effect on the Pokémon equipped with it: Head Ringer increase the Energy costs of attacks on the equipped Pokémon by [C] while Jamming Net dropped the damage from the attacks of the equipped Pokémon by 20 against the opponent’s Pokémon (note that in that last instance, “Pokémon” is plural: damage to Benched Pokémon also goes down).  Stacking these with each other or multiple copies of themselves would be a pricey but possibly worthwhile way to render a Pokémon-EX dead weight.  So what is it like with single copies? 

Still very hit or miss.  Obviously if a non-Pokémon-EX is attacking, it isn’t vulnerable.  If it is a Pokémon-EX that already has a Pokémon Tool attached, it isn’t vulnerable unless you use a Startling Megaphone or Tool Scrapper on it first.  The final hurdle is… actually affecting the match-up.  Obviously if your opponent was planning on slapping a Muscle Band, Float Stone, etc. onto the Pokémon you instead equipped with a Pokémon Tool F, that too is a bonus.  My first hand experience is that while players usually want to attach a Tool to their Pokémon, they often don’t draw it at the right time or it quickly gets discarded anyway.  Just as I’ll credit attaching a Jamming Net on a Pokémon that would have received a Muscle Band as a -40 damage swing, if you had to discard the Muscle Band with your own card effect first, that first -20 (due to the discarded Muscle Band) is credited to the effect doing the discarding, and if no Muscle Band was ever going to be attached, Jamming Net doesn’t get credit for that either.  Yes, this means you often you won’t know the exact benefit of using these cards!  There is also the question of whether the reduced damage matters; just as a Muscle Band can be a waste because you would have scored the KO without it, Jamming Net means little if the opponent scores a KO with the same number of attacks using the same attacker they would have anyway or a different attacker they already had ready.  Again, it can get quite confusing as if a backup attacker is already ready, calling it into service isn’t much of a loss until the back-up attacker is needed and no longer available… such as being forced into the position of primary attacker early and thus being KOed sooner than another backup attacker can be readied. 

What does this have to do with Head Ringer?  It is in much the same situation.  Increasing the Energy cost of attacks by [C] only matters if it ultimately impacts your opponent.  If you slap Head Ringer onto a Yveltal-EX that was already going to attack using Evil Ball, fueled by a Darkness Energy and Double Colorless Energy but that was not going to equip a Muscle Band, you’re not ahead.  Sure the opponent couldn’t use Y Cyclone, but removing that option only matters if it would have been the best option to pick.  If you are able to (in the example) discard the Double Colorless Energy and your opponent can’t drop another one right away, again now it has mattered but if they can afford to replace it, then Head Ringer didn’t ultimately do anything but take of space in your deck and offer a false sense of security.  It can be even worse if a deck simply can afford to overpay; technically you are making the attack cost them more, but if they can afford it then in the long run it does you no good; the “wasted” Energy and attachment have to ultimately have been needed elsewhere or its like discarding a Energy card on something that ended up never needing the Energy in the first place. 

Despite how terrible I’ve made these cards out to be, they really are good.  I just encounter people that don’t quite grasp things… which includes myself.  The Pokémon Tool F cards are proving themselves not as general anti-Pokémon-EX cards, but as part of specific combos, such as ensuring Manectric-EX can score 120 points of damage with its Assault Laser or providing hard-to-discard Pokémon Tools for Trubbish (BW: Plasma Storm 65/135) and its Tool Drop attack to count.  My rather negative reading comments are also to explain why I actually prefer Head Ringer to Jamming Net: at a glance Head Ringer seems like much more of a gamble but with most cards Jamming Net isn’t much better.  Well, unless your experience is constantly having Pokémon KOed with no more than 10 points of overkill.  I would rather take my chances on an opponent being unable to quickly supply the extra Energy needed for Head Ringer and missing an entire attack or suffering because they needed that Energy (and/or Energy attachment) for something else later but had to “waste it” on whatever I equipped with Head Ringer. 

The cards have solid general usage but then we have to look at the niche they fill: disruption.  I could, for example, be running Enhanced Hammer, another Startling Megaphone, etc.  I could dedicate the space to simply improving my overall offense, such as with (another copy of) Hypnotoxic Laser or Muscle Band.  Its deck specific usage might be part of what revives an old deck and helps birth a new one (or two), but I’m not sure those will be lasting decks.  At least if they rely on Pokémon Tool F cards, it just takes the metagame shifting back to big, Basic non-Pokémon-EX in enough decks that its no longer a reliable enough trick.  For general usage, where the deck isn’t dependent on the Pokémon Tool F card… it isn’t dependent on them.  It is probably a great deck that just got a little better: for example Seismitoad-EX control decks. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 - The same score I gave Jamming Net, I give to Head Ringer.  For a few key decks it is great and it has decent general utility… but in an area where it has such huge competition. 

Expanded: 3.25/5 - Also the same score I gave Jamming Net, I’m not seeing anything in particular that really differentiates it here. 

Limited: 3.25/5 - You guessed it; same score I gave Jamming Net and with almost identical justification as well.  In Limited you won’t often encounter a Pokémon-EX but when you do, you might not have this card handy but you should have enough space in your deck to include it anyway since when it is good, it is very good. 

Summary: I’m just not that impressed by Pokémon Tool F cards.  Part of me liked how Pokémon made sure you didn’t have to worry about your opponent’s cards being attached to your opponent’s cards (and thus decreasing the risk of one player walking away with another’s cards).  I suspect the excitement over this new (to the Pokémon TCG) mechanic might coloring impressions of the cards… or maybe it is just people overestimating what Head Ringer (and Jamming Net) can actually add to a deck.  For most, its just another alternative to several cards, all of which make a great deck just a little bit better… decks that probably didn’t need the help.  The few where it makes a real difference, I’m not sure they’ll last.  As usual, if I’m wrong about these things: good for the game.


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