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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Focus Sash

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Oct. 13, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.83
Expanded: 2.90
Limited: 2.92

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

Focus Sash 

A quick glance at today’s card might well bring back some bad memories for players who were around in the Neo days, when Focus Band + Baby Pokémon meant having to flip two heads in a row to get a KO. Focus Sash is a similar card, but nowhere near as powerful/annoying as its ancient relative . . . and that’s probably just as well. 

Focus Sash has two restrictions that weren’t present on Focus Band: firstly, it must be attached to a Fighting Type Pokémon, and secondly, that Pokémon must have full HP to trigger the effect of this Tool. If those conditions are met, then your Pokémon is saved from a single hit KO! You discard Focus Sash and your Pokémon has 10 HP remaining. It doesn’t protect against two (or more) hit knock outs, and it won’t save your Pokémon if the opponent uses Burn or (more likely) Poison to finish it off between turns . . . to put it another way, Hypnotoxic Laser gets around this card, as does Startling Megaphone, of course.

Because of these restrictions, Focus Sash seems like it would be useful only in a very limited and fairly uncommon set of circumstances: when an undamaged Fighting Pokémon is facing a OHKO. I suppose it could save something like Lucario EX/Mega Lucario from Mewtwo EX, and if that happened then Focus Sash could be very clutch. Unfortunately, I think its low general utility will mean that it won’t make the cut in many lists. It may be tried as a quirky one-off card with the power to make a difference in a match, but I suspect that most players will prefer to use the slot to bolster the consistency of more aggressive strategies.

Rating

Modified: 2.25 (too specific for general use)

Expanded: 2.25 (see above)

Limited: 2 (OHKOs are not the norm here) 


aroramage

Hey all, another week of cards to go through once again! Today's card is another piece of Fighting support that we've yet to go over, Focus Sash. Is it worth running in the newly offensive Fighting deck? Or does it have more potential in other Fighting decks?
 
Focus Sash acts like it does in the game pretty much, just that it's restricted to Fighting-types. If that Pokemon would be KO'd while it's at full health, Focus Sash keeps it around for another turn with 10 damage left, and after that it gets discarded. Now while it's not often that something like Lucario-EX will get one-shotted, the smaller Fighting-types like Landorus and Hawlucha - heck, even Hawlucha-EX - will find a lot more usage for this card.
 
If you can keep a Hawlucha around, he can decimate more of your opponent's Pokemon-EX. If you can keep Landorus around, he charges up your Fighting-types in the back. Hawlucha-EX will take the strike, Counterattack, and then can still throw down a Moonsault Stomp! This card has a lot of utility with smaller Fighting-types, more than it would with the bigger Pokemon-EX (170-180 is still a large number to invest damage in, after all).
 
My only gripes with this card are that 1) it's restricted to Fighting-types so only Fighting decks benefit from a good effect, understandable given the set but everyone could use a card like this, and 2) Hypnotoxic Laser exists, and that's the primary counter that comes to mind with Focus Sash. Even if they survive the intense onslaught, with only 10 HP remaining, they almost instantly succumb to the poison damage between rounds. HTL could also be used earlier to lower the HP value, sacrificing a turn to strike but guaranteeing the KO, but that's a bit of a waste; you might as well just use a weaker attack to do the same thing.
 
I'm almost positive HTL still sees play for damage-dealing, so Focus Sash has had it pretty rough anyway. Still not a bad card by any means, though, and aside from competing with other Trainer cards for deck space, I can imagine justifying running up to 2 of them.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 3/5 (put it on the right Pokemon and pray for no HTL)
 
Expanded: 3/5 (about the same here, HTL just has a lot of presence)
 
Limited: 3.5/5 (there aren't a whole lot of opportunities for OHKO-ing without Muscle Band and HTL, but for weaker Fighting-types going up against a Lucario-EX, it's gonna be worth it)
 
Arora Notealus: You know, I wonder how a flimsy little ribbon keeps a Pokemon from getting KO'd. Do you tie it around your head like a Focus Band or something? Does it just glow with radiant light to shield you from fatal damage? I wonder...
 
Next Time: Magmortar's down! Who'll tag in for him?


Otaku

Hello readers!  We begin the week with a card that is a call back to something much older.  Focus Sash (XY: Furious Fists 91/111) is a new Pokémon Tool, and the first thing we notice is that its effect begins by saying “If the [F] Pokémon this card is attached to…” meaning that you can attach it to anything, but if it isn’t a Fighting, the card itself has no effect.  The next condition we notice is that this effect only triggers if the Fighting-Type in question is at full HP.  Even Pokémon-EX tend not to last long, so while this is definitely a further restriction, its one we might be able to meet reasonably often. 

The sentence continues with “...would be Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack…”: this third condition whittles away on when this card is going to do anything even more.  OHKOs are far more common than I like in this format, but many of them are pseudo-OHKOs: Poison damage from Hypnotoxic Laser, capitalizing on “bonus” Bench damage from an earlier turn, Abilities that mess with damage counters, etc.  This is the third condition and it might end up being quite significant, but if the rest of the effect is good enough, it might be worth it.  The rest of said effect is… the Fighting-Type Pokémon in question is not KOed but instead ends up with 10 HP and discards Focus Sash.  The self-discarding clause is a mixed blessing; something like Landorus-EX and Lucario-EX have single Energy attacks worth using and so already occasionally make use of Max Potion; Focus Sash just makes that into an even more effective combo, but also makes you wish Focus Sash was sticking around to be used again.  Most of the time though, it just gets itself out of the way so that you have the option of attaching another Pokémon Tool, be it a Float Stone to get the injured out of the way or a Muscle Band to pump up for one last crucial attack before your opponent is forced to re-KO it the next turn. 

Before I explain whether I think this is good or bad, I’d like to tell you of what significantly older card this reminds me of: Focus Band.  You can even read a review of it here that dates back to 2002, though the card in question was released as Neo Genesis 86/111 (December of 2000).  I wasn’t reviewing cards back then so I don’t know what took so long to get to it.  Focus Band is perhaps the greatest Pokémon Tool ever released, though I question how well it would do in this format.  Why?  Focus Band is like Focus Sash except it works for any Pokémon-Type, doesn’t require the target be at full HP but does require a successful coin flip to work.  It being “tails fails” is another example of “Effects supposed to be balanced by a coin flip that weren’t.”  Not giving up a Prize is well worth a 50-50 chance.  Which brings us to Focus Sash as it suffers from the same concerns as Focus Band would if Focus Band were legal, in addition to the conditions placed on Focus Sash that we discussed earlier: 

  1. Focus Band didn’t have to contend with Startling Megaphone; discarding Items is amazingly easy by comparison.  Even the effects back then that could do it often weren’t reliable or on something overly strong in its own right.
  2. While Focus Band did have to worry about Poison and (eventually) Burn bypassing it, there wasn’t something like Hypnotoxic Laser in the format.
  3. There weren’t as many potent/competitive “other” effects (attacks placing damage counters, Abilities moving damage counters, etc.) to worry about back then… and I am well aware that they aren’t exactly common right now either.
  4. Neo Genesis was the first set to contain Pokémon Tools; Focus Band established itself before it had much competition, while Focus Sash is coming in when many decks already have something in their Pokémon Tool “slots”.
  5. Neo Genesis also introduced the original “Baby Pokémon”: protected by a “rules text” effect printed on the card (as opposed to an attack or Ability-predecessor) that forced a player to flip a coin when his or her Active Pokémon attempted attacked an Active Baby Pokémon; “tails” on that flip meant the attempt didn’t just fail, but the attack flat out didn’t happen and your turn ended without an attack.  This thankfully doesn’t exist in Standard to combine with Focus Sash!

 

So… Focus Band would actually have issues right now, the main one being its “passive” nature that means it would too often get discarded before it had a chance to go off, or be bypassed by Hypnotoxic Laser or similar effects even if left in place.  Focus Sash faces the same concerns plus it can be thwarted if something damages a Pokémon before it gets attacked for a KO and only works for Fighting-Types in the first place. 

Despite all of this, Focus Sash has a place in the format.  As it is simply a Pokémon Tool, it isn’t too hard to tech in a copy, as insurance against decks that do score OHKOs against whatever Fighting-Type you want to try and save, as well as being a nasty surprise in general.  Focus Sash can serve as a bait or pressure card; your opponent either needs to burn up other resources to deal with it or have a Prize they might have claimed “voided”, and even lends itself to a few combos… Virizion-EX and Espeon (BW: Dark Explorers 48/108; BW Promos BW92), with some finesse can protect against some of the workarounds I cited earlier.  There may also be some gimmick decks that can make use of Focus Sash, though sadly all that springs to mind is Rhydon (XY 60/146), reviewed here and the two sets released since then have just made the deck baby_mario describes slightly less incredulous. 

For Expanded, am not thinking of any major combos the extended card pool enables; Pokepedia has had two major updates recently which were timely as it allowed me to do a quick search of the Fighting-Types available in Expanded and… I didn’t notice anything especially compelling.  Still this card is a bit better because Expanded (based on what little information has emerged for it now) is at least seeing some “big damage” decks that aren’t available in Standard, and thus surviving a OHKO becomes more significant.  I really think of Lucario-EX facing a Mewtwo-EX backed by Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101).  For Limited, the only reason to skip this is if you pull absolutely no Fighting-Types worth using, and even then Focus Sash might an otherwise less desirable Fighting-Type worth including. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 - Focus Sash has a lot of issues, but it also has a potent effect when you can get it to work.  While it only works for Fighting-Types, that is the current popular type with support including Korrina and Strong Energy, which have some basic synergy with Focus Sash.  In the end, this means for decks with a strong Fighting-Type presence, its on the happy side of “average”. 

Expanded: 3.5/5 - As above, but I think raw damage OHKOs are going to be a bit more common in this format, making a Tool that turns them into simply a near-OHKO more appealing. 

Limited: 4.75/5 - You should have the space for both Fighting-Types, some Fighting Energy and Focus Sash in most decks; the big exceptions are +39 decks not built around Lucario-EX and unfortunate pulls.  You probably won’t get the effect all that often, but your deck should have enough room that its worth the slot “just in case”. 

Summary: Focus Sash is a card that is simultaneously potent and yet fragile. When the effect works, it is amazing.  Keeping Focus Sash attached and not having it bypassed by something your opponent does, on the other hand, can be rather trying.  Still it can be useful even indirectly, forcing an opponent to prematurely use up a Startling Megaphone (for example).  I honestly keep changing my mind about this card; sometimes multiple times in a single day!  I don’t expect it to be big, but it might be worth keeping an eye on it.  Who knows, maybe next Worlds it will be the equivalent of a surprise Hard Charm?


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