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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Level Ball

- Ancient Origins

Date Reviewed:
September 16, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.25
Expanded: 3.40
Limited: 4.67

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

And now for the last card of the week, it's Level Ball! 

It's good. GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!! 

Rating 

Stan-alright, alright, I'll look at the card. 

Not that there's much to say about it - it's a reprint of itself from Next Destinies, and it's pretty much got the same effect, just a new shiny coat of paint. Like every Ball Item card, Level Ball searches your deck for a Pokemon - like catching a wild one! - before adding it to your hand. Now the developers have made different balls that do different things and help out different decks in different ways. Poke Ball, Great Ball, and Ultra Ball (and Master Ball, if you run that) are all generic support for just about any deck, but there are a few cards like Level Ball that are rather niche. 

For instance, there was a time period when Heavy Ball was in the format - snatching up Retreat Cost heavy Pokemon (which the card figured was 3+ Energy in the Cost) and adding them to your hand. This made things easier to grab stuff out like Blastoise, but it wasn't as wildly versatile as Ultra Ball since it couldn't grab lower stuff. Likewise, Dive Ball only ever worked in decks that ran Water Pokemon since it could only snatch up Water Pokemon from the deck - but people found a way to use it effectively! 

And now we come back to Level Ball here, another searcher that does things in a particular way. Its niche is picking up really low-HP Pokemon - we're talking 90 or lower here - and putting them in your hand. Now 90's been a magic number in the game as the universal signature of the OHKO-2HKO range for Pokemon, and it's only gotten easier to hit 90 as time goes on. That said, there's a lot you can do with up to 90 HP! 

While you can't just grab a Pokemon-EX, you can get a lot of Evolving Pokemon - and a lot of Evolutions in turn! In fact, there just so happens to be a particularly good one to grab - Ariados! Pick him up and get that Spinarak evolved quick, and your opponent won't even remember how it felt to NOT be Poisoned! You could also snatch up Gloom and, with Forest of Giant Plants, instantly evolve your Oddish right into Vileplume, setting up your Item-Lock! 

Then you've got stuff like the Eeveelutions of this set - the ones that give your Pokemon an additional Type to take advantage - as well as Vespiquen to access Bee Revenge a bit sooner (if you like your Vengeance-style decks). Or maybe you just need the Basic of whatever you're evolving into, and then BOOM! You've got it! And that's all JUST examples from this set, not even including stuff in Expanded! 

...well, you pretty much know what's in Expanded, Level Ball's still legal there.

In any case, this a more than welcome reprint into the game, and I'm sure those of you in Standard will appreciate this comeback. 

...well, unless you don't want to call it a comeback. It has been here for years. 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (again, not every deck can make use of it, but those that can will find it runs efficiently well - searchers are very good, after all!) 

Expanded: 3/5 (of COURSE it does well here, gotta get my Eels somehow!) 

Limited: 4/5 (better up for grabbing those Evolvers!) 

Arora Notealus: I mean, I never really had to use a Level Ball back in Gen II, and it wasn't a big deal after that gen since the Nest Ball did the same thing more or less. So why the change-up? And why has the TCG stuck with Level Ball over Nest Ball? The questions I wonder aloud... 

Weekend Thought: Okay, you've got a LOT of time to think about this "weekend" thought, since it's five days long, but this is something I've given a little bit of thought to. Once upon a time, there was an era in the Pokemon TCG that had some cards focusing on an area called the Lost Zone, something that worked like the banished zone in Yugioh but you couldn't really get cards out from there. There was even a deck centered around this alternate win condition using Gengar Prime in conjunction with Lost World to get 6 of your opponent's Pokemon sent into the Lost Zone. 

So my question then is this: should there be another means of "winning the game" outside of picking up Prizes, "donking" the opponent's Pokemon until they have none, or decking out - another alternate win condition, if you will? What do you think it could be? Would you want to see the Lost Zone mechanic comeback, or was it a terribly impractical idea? Or maybe you can think of another way to make things work out in the TCG? Maybe it's impractical as can be - maybe it's something they should try or try again!


Otaku

Our final review for this shortened week of CotDs is Level Ball, re-released as XY: Ancient Origins 76/98 but originally released as BW: Next Destinies 89/99.  That makes it kind of special because it had to sit out the previous Standard Format before getting to return.  It is an Item that allows you to search your deck for a Pokémon with 90 or less HP and add it to hand (shuffling your deck afterwards).  No other requirements or restrictions.  We first reviewed Level Ball as as our sixth best card of BW: Next Destinies, then once again (alongside Heavy Ball) as our third most important card(s) lost as during the rotation to BCR-On over a year ago.  So is it still any good?  If it is, why didn’t it make the Top 15 for XY: Ancient Origins? 

It is a good card, though I’m not sure if it is as good as it once was; it wasn’t a legal candidate for the list because it was a reprint.  There are a lot of small, useful Pokémon that this makes for a painless search agent… but very few decks use nothing but 90 (or less) HP Pokémon.  Sometimes there is another worthwhile means of searching out the 100+ HP Pokémon that blends nicely with Level Ball, other times not so much.  Ultra Ball still offers unrestricted Pokémon search in Item form but that discard cost can get nasty (though some decks combo with it nicely).  This hasn’t really changed since the last time the card was Standard legal.  What has changed is that a few key 90 HP support Pokémon have rotated out, with one noticeably replaced by something just a little too big for Level Ball: even before rotation most had swapped out Jirachi-EX for Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108).  You could still use Jirachi-EX in Expanded (and some decks will) but in Standard you no longer have a trick to turn a Level Ball into a Supporter.  There are however some very good 90 HP Pokémon you can search out in either format. 

I did want to make a brief note: in the past I’ve read (and made) comments about how Level Ball is good for Evolutions… and it is.  There are some big, Evolving Basics that are outside of its range, but most aren’t and you’ll find fewer (but still a decent amount) of Stage 1 Pokémon that are safely in range.  I may have even referred to it as Evolution support but… it isn’t.  It is “low HP Pokémon” support and that just so happens to be handy for many Evolutions, but not all of them and it is far more effective at supporting non-Evolving 90 HP Basics, all other aspects being equal.  So if you have sufficient legal targets in your deck this can be an amazing inclusion, be it Standard or Expanded.  Go ahead and run it in Limited; even if you have nothing legal to search out with the effect it gives you a chance to try and figure out what is Prized! 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.35/5 

Limited: 5/5 

Summary: Where this card works, it often works wonders but some decks don't even have a legal target or have enough mixed company that Level Ball doesn’t fetch enough and of course some decks will have a few targets but it won’t be clear whether or not it is enough.  I was quite excited when this card was announced but rotation neutered a lot of the decks where I would have sought to include it.  Perhaps I am just having a “thick” moment as I write this review, but Level Ball is a good card that used to be great; I am still happy to have it back though.


Emma Starr

Well, Level Ball is here again! It still searches your deck for a 90 HP or lower Pokemon to add to your hand, but what can it do this time around? Well, with Evolutions becoming more useful now, where can we start?

Grass decks should be glad to use it to search for Pokemon like Oddish and Gloom, to help evolve into Vileplume quicker and easier. It can also search for both Spinarak AND Ariados too! Another Stage 1 set you can search for here is Combee and Vespiquen (10), along with the helpful Unown, as well! And although not entirely essential, it could also help to find Weedle and Kakuna too, for evolving into Beedrill (PC 3), which can actually be a pretty sneaky card at times, especially if you have Vileplume out, which prevents Switching by locking out Item Cards, and forcing your opponent to have their Pokemon faint next turn, or pay the Retreat Cost. The very best part about all of these Pokemon I have mentioned is that they all could potentially set this all up on Turn 1, with Forest of Giant Plants!

Of course, Grass Decks aren’t the only decks out there! Fire Decks can be glad to have it for Pyroar, Eevee/Flareon, and Tepig (Expanded). Steel Decks can search for Jirachi EX and even normal Jirachi (ROS 42), along with Bronzor and Bronzong (PHF 61).

Obviously there are many more possibilities that are possible here, but with the release of Forest of Giant Plants, there has never been a better time to head into a forest with a Level Ball.
 
Modified: 3.5/5 (Remember to weigh the costs of this card and Ultra Ball for whatever your deck needs more, and plan accordingly. For example, if you’re discarding Fire Energy with an Ultra Ball, Blacksmith can easily re-attach them to one of your Pokemon, making it possible to get 3 Energy attached to them in one turn, for the cost of using your Supporter for the turn. Plus of course...it can search for EXs. For Grass decks though, this can find lots of key cards for no discard costs.)

Expanded: 4/5 (More Pokemon = more targets. Jirachi EX, Tepig/Squirtle, Duskull, etc.)

Limited: 5/5 (No Ultra Ball here! So, make use of the next best thing! Just be careful of Vileplume!)


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