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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Head Ringer & Jamming Net
- Phantom Forces

Date Reviewed:
Oct. 10, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

See Below

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

Back to the main COTD Page

 

We have both a tie and a twofer to begin this week.  The 14th and 15th place cards received the same number of voting points (the tie), but that is not the reason for the double review.  Instead we are looking at two closely related cards that seemed kind of silly to view separately.  With Manectric-EX and M Manectric-EX last Tuesday it was because both cards had met or exceeded expectations and proven competitive.  Don’t assume that is the case here.  So 15th place is shared by Head Ringer Team Flare Hyper Gear (XY: Phantom Forces 97/119) and Jamming Net Team Flare Hyper Gear (XY: Phantom Forces 98/119).  I’ll just call them Head Ringer and Jamming Net for the rest of the review, but I like starting things off officially.  We’ve looked at both of these before: Head Ringer was reviewed once normally and then re-reviewed as the 7th best card of 2014 a month later, while Jamming Net was reviewed as our 9th place pick for the top cards of XY: Phantom Forces but never re-reviewed.  The red border “FLARE” stamp behind the effect text indicate this is a Team Flare card… except these two are the only cards with it, even though there are several Team Flare inspired cards that have neither (like Team Flare Grunt).  Go figure.  These are Trainer cards, Items, and Pokémon Tools; examples of cards that care about this are Skyla and Trainers’ Mail (work on Trainers), Ghetsis and Korrina (work on Items), and Eco Arm and Tool Scrapper (work on Pokémon Tools). 

So these cards share the same core card class, the same subclass, and the same sub-subclass… and it goes one step further (sub-sub-subclass) as these cards are a special kind of Pokémon Tool the game officially labels as “Pokémon Tool F”, below the card art.  Instead of attaching to one of your own Pokémon, you may only attach a Pokémon Tool F card to one of your opponent’s Pokémon-EX.  This is one of the few (perhaps the only) examples of one player’s cards being placed on your opponent’s side of the field, “attached” to one of the other player’s cards.  This is probably why the cards have the bright red borders and stamp, since mixing cards can make it easy to someone to walk away with one of the other player’s cards (whether accidental or intentional).  There is also another thing unique to them; their effect text makes it clear that when a Pokémon Tool F leaves play, it goes to the owner’s discard pile.  Doesn’t matter if the effect in question would normally bounce the Tool to a player’s hand, move it to another Pokémon, etc. it will instead be sent to the owner’s discard pile: yet another precaution to avoid people having cards lost or stolen since this is one of the few times players directly mix cards.  Being on your opponent’s side of the field has some other consequences as well: learn to read the wording of effects that apply to Pokémon Tools carefully, because many specify which player’s Pokémon or which side of the field.  For example, Startling Megaphone cannot spare your own Pokémon Tool F cards when you use it against your opponent and it cannot free your own Pokémon-EX if your opponent has attached a Pokémon Tool F card to it. 

So what do each do?  Head Ringer increases the attack costs of the Pokémon equipped by [C].  Sometimes this will be meaningless; your opponent had another reason that would have led to them overpaying anyway, like boosting the damage output of an attack that scales with your attached Energy.  Most of the time though it matters; either your opponent won’t be able to attack at all because they cannot meet this new attack cost or they can but now they have to invest extra resources they would have used elsewhere.  Jamming Net has received an erratum because it was originally worded incorrectly.  According to the official Pokémon TCG errata document it should now read as 

The attacks of the Pokémon this card is attached to do 20 less damage to each of the opponent’s Pokémon (before applying Weakness and Resistance). (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

So this Tool should only affect the damage being done to the other player’s Pokémon, not (for example) self-damage, which makes Jamming Net better because the vast majority of the time you did not want to help your opponent reduce self damage.  If a Pokémon with a Jamming Net attached hits multiple Pokémon for damage, the damage done to the other player (the player who used Jamming Net) will all take 20 less damage.  For example if a Landorus-EX with a Jamming Net uses “Hammerhead”, the attack will do 10 to the opponent’s Active and 10 to a Benched target (before other effects) thanks to Jamming Net.

There is another benefit provided by both cards that is almost as important as their specific effects; this blocks your opponent from attaching a Pokémon Tool to that Pokémon-EX.  With the exception of M Tyranitar-EX, the only Pokémon-EX that can have multiple Tools attached thanks to its “Θ Double” Ancient Trait, this shuts that Pokémon off from any intended Pokémon Tool support completely.  If you slap Jamming Net onto an Yveltal-EX not only will it do 20 less with its “Evil Ball” and “Y Cyclone” attacks, but your opponent cannot drop a Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt on it.  This effectively reduces the damage done by 40 if Muscle Band was the go-to Pokémon Tool or by 30 and the HP by 40 if Fighting Fury Belt was your opponent’s plan.  Keldeo-EX is famous for comboing with Float Stone; this allows its “Rush In” Ability to approximate a free Switch once per turn.  Slap either Pokémon Tool F onto Keldeo-EX, and that combo isn’t happening unless your opponent can ditch said Pokémon Tool F.  Mega Evolutions are both better and worse off than regular Pokémon-EX; usually a player is running enough Spirit Link to promptly play one down, and so their Mega Evolution would be protected from a Pokémon Tool F (except for Tyranitar-EX/M Tyranitar-EX).  If a player does not get that Spirit Link down in time, your opponent can slap a Pokémon Tool F card down and now not only do you have to deal with attack costs increased by [C] or damage dropped by 20, but you’ll have to forgo Mega Evolving or do so at the cost of your turn ending immediately.

Now it might seem like an easy thing to block; as stated most decks run their own Pokémon Tools, so just play yours down before your opponent can slap a Pokémon Tool F onto any of your Pokémon-EX (or at least the ones you care about).  The catch is that Pokémon Tool F cards released alongside Xerosic, with Startling Megaphone and Tool Scrapper already being legal; in the prior Standard format only Tool Scrapper was absent.  Startling Megaphone clashes a bit with Pokémon Tool F usage because it would discard your own Pokémon Tool F cards, but it enables a catch-22 to use against your opponent; if he or she plays down Pokémon Tool cards to block your Pokémon Tool F cards, there is a risk you just discard those Tools.  This is bad enough if you barely got to use your, say, Muscle Band but it can be devastating if it was a clutch Float Stone or Spirit Link card your deck basically needs to function.  All of this before combos to make Pokémon Tool F cards stronger.  Additionally, if your opponent goes first and you open with some Pokémon-EX, he or she has first dibs at attaching and there is likely nothing you can do about it. 

So what are the combos to which I alluded?  One-sided Item lock means a player loses out on probably the two (and a half) the easiest way to protect themselves from Pokémon Tool F cards.  Though I just explained the risks, getting your own Pokémon Tool down is the best method so long as it’s a Tool you can make use of immediately (that’s one).  You can use Tool Scrapper to discard up to two Pokémon Tools in play; unlike Startling Megaphone it can hit your own side of the field (that’s two).  The third best trick is to use the combination of Battle Compressor, VS Seeker, and various Supporters (AZ, Cassius, Xerosic, etc.) that either discard a Pokémon Tool or create an effect that causes a Pokémon Tool F to leave the field, triggering its own discard clause.  Obviously you can skip the Battle Compressor and/or VS Seeker if circumstances are correct but often enough the card in question is TecH or a two-of at best (that’s the half).  There are various other ways to protect your Pokémon, but they are either deck specific, not that good, or both.  So yeah, one-sided Item lock such as through Seismitoad-EX or Trevenant (XY 55/146) is a potent combo with Pokémon Tool F cards.  In fact, most forms of disruption work well with them; Energy discarding effects partner especially well with Head Ringer.  There are also various attackers, like Manectric-EX that get a bonus for hitting something with a Tool attached.  Yes, I’m being pretty general here; this isn’t that complex and if you’ve got even a few months of experience in Expanded (or Standard prior to rotation), you’ve probably run into this already. 

Head Ringer proved far better than Jamming Net, however going into it I had the opposite expectation.  Card pool matters, though it may also have just been an oversight on my part.  Thinking of attackers like Landorus-EX or the decks that had good Energy acceleration, Jamming Net may only drop damage a little, but it seemed more reliable; it isn’t that big of a deal to slap a Head Ringer on Black Kyurem-EX (BW: Plasma Storm 95/135) when your opponent was just going to drop an extra Water Energy on it through “Deluge”, since that was the point of running it with Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135; BW: Plasma Blast 16/101).  Instead decks like those began to fade while competitive decks began to run fewer and fewer Energy; they also began to run more Energy removal so decks using Head Ringer had that combo handy while decks trying to resist Head Ringer had less Energy with which to power through.  Control/disruption decks made great use of Head Ringer, as did a few like those focused on Manectric-EX.  Said decks usually didn’t have room for Jamming Net as well; just too many other cards to include. 

So why would either or both Pokémon Tool F cards be an important reprint for Standard?  While there are of course non-Pokémon-EX attackers, a lot of hype has been given to Mega Evolutions.  We also lost the best tricks for dealing with Pokémon Tool F cards; the two together could really mess up certain decks while Pokémon Tool F cards can fit into almost any deck.  Of course, with no easy Tool removal it also means your opponent can more effectively block them with regular Pokémon Tools, so it isn’t perfect for Pokémon Tool F cards.  You will still see these being used in Expanded, mostly in control/disruption decks where their effects can be maximized.  If you’re able to use XY: Phantom Forces packs for Limited, these aren’t the greatest pull but they are wonderful insurance should your opponent bust out a Pokémon-EX. 

Ratings 

Head Ringer 

Standard: N/A 

Expanded: 3.5/5 

Limited: 3.25/5 

Jamming Net 

Standard: N/A 

Expanded: 3/5 

Limited: 3.25/5 

Summary: Head Ringer and Jamming Net are two useful anti-Pokémon-EX cards that are also good for messing with Mega Evolutions.  They lose a lot of their combo partners thanks to rotation, but enough remain that in a format expecting heavy Mega Evolution play and lacking a good way to discard Tools, they should at least remain about as useful as they have been, if not becoming stronger.  Head Ringer is going to remain the better of the two unless we see a competitive deck arise that can easily afford an extra Energy attachment and that isn’t also shut down by the other control/disruption cards that are likely combos with Head Ringer. 

Jamming Net wouldn’t have made the list at all, save for being partnered with Head Ringer, however it is largely a case of two cards competing for a niché use that isn’t large enough to accommodate them both.  They scored 23 voting points as Head Ringer made all three lists.  On my personal list, they took 9th place; part of me thinks 15th is too low because of the amazing control combos this enabled and because these are generic use cards… except they aren’t too generic since they are Pokémon-EX counters, the lack of Trainer based Tool removal ends up cutting both ways, and their best combo buddies also rotated out.  15th place might be a good fit after all. 


Zach Carmichael

Today we are looking at Head Ringer from the Phantom Forces expansion. Alongside Jamming Net, this is one of two cards with the label of Team Flare Hyper Gear. This mechanic changed the game dramatically by allowing you to attach these Tool cards to your opponent’s Pokemon. While Team Flare Grunt saw a reprint via Generations, sadly Head Ringer did not, so it is unfortunate that this mechanic was short-lived despite providing some variety in the game. 

By attaching Head Ringer to an opponent’s Pokemon-EX, the attacks of that Pokemon cost one Colorless Energy more to use. This is especially good in Energy removal decks that use cards like Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt. Seismitoad-EX decks especially benefit from Head Ringer, as the combination of locking your opponent from playing Items and barraging Energy disruption cards while they struggle to set up and pay more to attack can be devastating. 

I had really hoped that the Standard format this season would be Phantom Forces-on. So many great cards were in Phantom Forces, namely Bronzong, Manectric-EX and M Manectric-EX, and the Team Flare Hyper Gear cards. Without Tool removal, Head Ringer and Jamming Net would have become much stronger and likely staples in most decks. Yanmega BREAK decks would benefit the most from these cards, as Yanmega’s Assault Boom attack deals more damage if your opponent’s Active Pokemon has a Tool card attached to it. Evolution decks struggle against hard-hitting, big Basics, so being able to slow your opponent down a bit by having them attach an extra Energy is a big deal.

In Expanded, we will continue to see Head Ringer used in disruption decks like Seismitoad-EX. A popular variant of this in Expanded uses Crobat from Phantom Forces, whose “Sneaky Bite” Ability places 3 damage counters wherever you’d like when Crobat is put down. Add in Hypnotoxic Laser for inducing Status Conditions – as well as Silent Lab for Ability lock throughout the game – and the deck quickly becomes annoying to play against. At last year’s US Nationals, the biggest surprise of the tournament was the infamous Wailord-EX deck that took the event by storm, with Enrique Avila making it to the finals but losing to three-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski’s Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor deck. The Wailord-EX deck relied on some of the strategies mentioned above, using cards like Head Ringer and Crushing Hammer to whittle away your opponent’s deck until ultimately no cards remained.  

Ratings 

Standard: N/A
Expanded:
3.5/5
Limited:
1.5/5 

Summary: Head Ringer helped introduce a game-changing mechanic into the TCG, albeit one that was short-lived in the Standard format. Though it is now rotated, the card certainly has a place in Expanded with the likes of Seismitoad-EX and various forms of Energy denial. In Limited, it does not have much use unless your opponent happens to get lucky enough to pull a Pokemon-EX out of their packs; otherwise it is a useless card since you can’t attach it to your opponent’s Pokemon.


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