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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Cleffa

- HGHS

Date Reviewed:
Aug. 4, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Legacy: 4.75
Limited: 4.25

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Oh hey, I remember Cleffa! Not just from looking back at older decks and what-not, but I think my friend actually used to play with Cleffa or something...or maybe I've got a Cleffa hanging around? Then again, she is a rare. 

Cleffa represents a currently "extinct" form of card known as the Baby Pokemon...or at least, it represents a newer version of Baby Pokemon. The oldest forms of these cards stems back to the time of the original Gold and Silver games, when the TCG was starting up its new Neo series. Back then, these Pokemon came with the clause that if an opponent tried to attack them, they'd have to flip a coin and get heads - otherwise their turn would end without an attack. They also had the notable feature of evolving into their regular Basic forms, meaning Cleffa could evolve into Clefairy. Later on the Baby Pokemon would reappear with the new Baby Evolution Poke-Power, which allowed to evolve and remove all damage done to them once per turn. 

The HGSS generation of Baby Pokemon though...they were vastly different. For starters, they weren't treated as "Baby Pokemon" - they were just Basic Pokemon. Their regular evolved versions got their own separate Basic forms, and the two became distinguished between each other - that means no evolving this Cleffa into a Clefairy. Not that it would be detrimental to the line-up, cause the new Baby Pokemon do have one thing in common: Sweet Sleeping Face. This is a Poke-Body, which is different from a Poke-Power in that it's constantly active rather than needing to be activated - and furthermore, it's different from an Ability simply out of being a different set of terminology. So Poke-Bodies and Poke-Powers don't get shut down by things that shut Abilities down, like Garbodor's Garbotoxin. 

So what does Sweet Sleeping Face do? Well as long as Cleffa is Asleep, she can't take any damage. Seems like an okay Poke-Body, nothing special there, but every one of these newer Baby Pokemon has an attack that is not only costless but also puts them to Sleep. And yes, I did say costless, as in it doesn't require any Energy to use at all - you just say you're using it, and bingo! 

Now Cleffa's attack is just Eeeeeeek, which effectively is an attack form of Professor Oak's New Theory. That's right - you use this, you shuffle your hand back into your deck, and then draw 6 new cards. The only difference is, as I mentioned before, it puts Cleffa to Sleep - triggering its Sweet Sleeping Face and keeping your opponent from doing much of anything. In the days of HGSS, this was a must as an early game opener, allowing one to set-up their resources with a single attack AND prevent their opponent from getting an otherwise easy KO. And this was back in the day when you could attack if you were going first.

Cleffa was considered an essential, though I don't know if the new rulings to the "first turn attack" still apply in Legacy. No doubt otaku will send me an email about it or announce it in his own article if he knows, but otherwise, Cleffa is still a noteworthy addition to any deck. It's like a fifth Professor Oak's New Theory, in a way, and I would be surprised if people weren't trying to run her in Legacy. 

...I mean, unless you need Pokemon to attack. That would be helpful. 

Rating 

Legacy: 4.5/5 (truly a must-have in these times) 

Limited: 5/5 (and draw power is still draw power) 

Arora Notealus: Part of me wants to see a newer rendition of Baby Pokemon that could just straight up evolve into their final forms - like a self-motivated Rare Candy of sorts, although that could end up being way too powerful with the right partner. Or maybe an alternative would be to get Baby BREAK Pokemon. Or Baby Pokemon that evolve into Pokemon-EX! The list could go on for too long... 

Next Time: I'm feeling a bit lost after all of that...wait where am I?


Otaku

Today we continue our Legacy Format week with Cleffa (HeartGold/SoulSilver 17/123; HS: Black Star Promos HGSS12; Call of Legends 24/95).  Not sure what a Legacy Format is?  Click here for an article explaining it in some detail; otherwise the short version is that it is a PTCGO exclusive format that uses all the cards from the HeartGold/SoulSilver series, Call of Legends, and the Black & White series.  No set rotation.  No bans.  No new cards being added!  It also means some mechanics we haven’t seen for a while. 

Cleffa is a Colorless Type; it does no damage so the fact that there are both Colorless Weak and Resistant Pokémon among the HS-era releases (though not on the same card of course).  You could boost the HP by 20 with Aspertia City Gym, and if someone is running Haxorus (BW: Dragon Vault 16/20), that card’s “Axe Slugger” attack (costs [CC], does 60 damage) would do an extra 60 damage; not likely either of those will matter.  Being a Basic is the best; one card is one copy of Cleffa, there is no waiting to Evolve (you can Bench it immediately if you have room), it can function as your opening Pokémon, and it can use Basic Pokémon support.  You also have to deal with a few anti-Basic Pokémon effects; neither the Basic support nor counters are as strong as they are in Expanded or Standard.  Cleffa only has 30 HP, so it’s quite fragile; your opponent could take it out with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym alone, which means you risk getting donked if it opens.  This also means it is small enough that something like Darkrai-EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW: Black Star Promos BW46; BW: Legendary Treasures 88/113) can use its “Night Spear” attack and while it’s hitting the Active with the bulk of the damage, the bonus Bench hit damage can OHKO Cleffa.  Cleffa has totally blank bottom stats; that means the best Weakness and Retreat Cost but the worst Resistance.  With the HP neither Weakness nor Resistance would likely matter, but the Retreat Cost is great! 

Cleffa has a Poké-Body; we discussed Poké-Powers yesterday and Poké-Bodies are very similar.  One major difference is that Poké-Bodies don’t have text stopping them from working while that Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition, and tend to be a bit more passive in nature.  The other major difference is that Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers can be singled out by card effects, so that (for example) one or the other is being shut down while its opposite still functions.  Getting back to Cleffa itself, its Ability is called “Sweet Sleeping Face”, and as long as Cleffa is Asleep attacks can’t damage Cleffa.  Cleffa has an attack that costs no Energy, called “Eeeeeeek”; it has you shuffle your hand into your deck, draw six cards afterwards, then Cleffa is Asleep.  The card itself states “Cleffa” instead of “this Pokémon” because for some reason, that is just how they wrote cards until Black & White.  Yes, it was really confusing and it made for longer, clunkier card text when a situation would arise like when a modern card states a particular Pokémon name.  So… Cleffa just puts itself to Sleep at the end of using Eeeeeeek; other Cleffa remain awake.  Due to the Poké-Body, what would normally be a drawback is a significant bonus, and allowing Cleffa the potential to wall despite its low HP. 

Now those familiar with the video games know that the designers like to expand upon an existing Evolution line.  Sometimes it means adding a new final Stage of Evolution, but sometimes it means adding a new Basic Stage.  In the TCG this has been handled by releasing the new Pokémon as a Basic, but keeping the next Stage of its Evolution line as a Basic as well.  The original versions of such Pokémon were a specific subclass of Basic Pokémon called “Baby Pokémon” by the card text itself, protected by a Special Rule (the Baby Rule) that forced an opponent to flip to attack if the opponent’s Active was a Baby Pokémon.  There was also text that allowed you to Evolve these Baby Pokémon into the appropriate Basic Pokémon.  These were released in the Neo Genesis and e-card sets, with the latter being notably weaker.  After these, we got Basics that were not officially referred to as Baby Pokémon by any in game text, but were still called as such by players because they all shared a common Poké-Power called “Baby Evolution” that allowed them to fake Evolving into the appropriate Basic Pokémon, with the added bonus of removing all damage counters present.  Then comes the HS-era Pokémon that… can’t Evolve at all.  Sorry!  They do all have Sweet Sleeping Face, zero Energy attacks, and the same bottom stats. 

The low HP of Cleffa (and the other HS-era “Baby” Pokémon) makes them a huge risk, but ones like Cleffa come with a huge reward.  Eeeeeeek lets you draw the same amount as you would get from Professor Oak’s New Theory, which we looked at on Tuesday.  So every time you can attack with Cleffa it is similar to having a bonus Supporter… at the cost of your attack for the turn.  So definitely not for aggressive decks that will use that attack for something else, but if you have a slower deck that isn’t super crowded already, you get something to aid in setting up and (with some luck) stall your opponent.  It also can work with Smeargle, which we covered yesterday yesterday, which has good odds of also allowing you to take an extra Supporter for the turn.  So if all goes well, that is an effective three Supporters and a little wall.  Not as general usage because - like Smeargle - it’s a Pokémon and so it takes up Bench space if your opponent doesn’t KO it and gives up a Prize if they do, but it is worth at least considering in the Legacy Format and often great in slower decks.  I don’t think it would do so hot if it were re-released though; I’m assuming Sweet Sleeping Face would become an Ability, so plenty of effects like Silent Lab could easily shut it down, plus Lysandre gets around it as due the multiple attackers that ignore effects on the Defending Pokémon.  On the unlikely chance you can participate in a Limited Format event using cards from HeartGold/SoulSilver or Call of Legends, Cleffa is a great pull because… well the same reasons it is good elsewhere, it is just you have even less options in Limited. 

Ratings 

Standard: N/A 

Expanded: N/A 

Limited: 5/5 

Legacy: 3.65/5 

Summary: Cleffa is a good card in general, and great in certain decks in the Legacy Format.  You usually won’t need too many; even though you want to open with it, as a Basic it is often easy enough to search out the one or two copies you do run.  As I didn’t bring it up in the review, here is the one time the review crew looked at this card in the past.  Much like Smeargle it didn’t fare as well due to the intense competition for opening Pokémon at the time.  Don’t believe me?  Pojo did an entire week of reviews for them.


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