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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Blacksmith
- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Oct. 17, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

S
ee Below

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Otaku

Two weeks down, two weeks to go as our Top 20 Cards Lost To Rotation countdown finally busts into the top 10 and - Hammer and tongs! - we start with Blacksmith (XY: Flashfire 88/106)!  Apparently working with a blazing furnace and hammering metal isn’t good enough to get a Full Art. 

As a Trainer card, Blacksmith can benefit from the cards that aid general Trainer usage, like Trainers’ Mail.  There are general Trainer counters, but like Venomoth (XY: Phantom Forces 2/119) they look more effective than they have actually proven.  Probably intentional as there was a Pokémon in the past -  Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111) - with a similar trick to the Venomoth in question and Slowking was so strong it was eventually banned.  As a Supporter Blacksmith has to compete a bit harder for deck space than Items; you are only allowed to use one Supporter per turn so too many and you risk your hand and draws full of many cards that are effectively dead in hand.  Supporters are so restricted because the worthwhile ones have potent effects, usually better than Item cards, which are another major branches of Trainer cards but which have no restriction on the amount you may use in a turn.  Supporters have an amazing piece of support in the form of VS Seeker, which allows you to reclaim a Supporter from your discard pile.  This is quite relevant as it changed not only how Blacksmith has been used, but how Supporters in general have been used.  While there is always the risk of Item lock or not having a worthwhile Supporter in your discard, much of the time VS Seeker acts as a “floating” Supporter, allowing TecH to be reused, staples to be maxed out, or even exceed being maxed out, without there literally being 4+ copies in your deck.  I don’t recall there being a competitive Supporter counter, just stuff like Stoutland (BW: Boundaries Crossed 122/149) looked like they had potential but never paid off.

Blacksmith allows you to attach two [R] Energy from your discard pile to one of your in play Fire Type Pokémon; as the designers have taken pains so as not to have any Energy that provides [R] while in the discard pile except for basic Fire Energy, that means two very real restrictions on top of being a Supporter.  This is both Fire Pokémon and basic Fire Energy support, though the former can be fudged a little with Stage 1 Pokémon thanks to Flareon (XY: Ancient Origins 13/98), as its “Flare Effect” Ability causes all of your Stage 1 Pokémon to count as a Fire Type in addition to their actual Type(s).  Any Fire Type that needs two or more Energy, with at least two of those Energy being [R], [C], or a mix of [R] and [C] requirements can benefit from Blacksmith, though not all of them may need Blacksmith, or at least as much as they need some other form of Energy acceleration.  It is nice that by being basic Energy focused, Blacksmith can play well with Max Elixir, Scorched Earth, Volcanion, and Volcanion-EX ; part of what hurts Burning Energy is that it doesn’t (plus the various Fire Types that don’t discard their own Energy as part of attacking).  Blacksmith has been reviewed once before; it was the sixth place finisher for the top 10 list we did for XY: Flashfire.  I say “we”, but this was when only Baby Mario and Hez were reviewing.  So back then, I agreed with Baby Mario, and in fact was probably expecting more out of Blacksmith than he; I figured this would cement Fire Types near or at the top at least until some more of the other Types got their own Type support.  I was wrong. 

My overly detailed walkthrough of Blacksmith was not just my own compulsion to write my reviews in such a manner; this time it helped illustrate what was going against Blacksmith at first.  Fiery Torch and Scorched Earth weren’t living up to their hype either, and we had Lysandre as a generic clutch Supporter play that was not a draw or search effect.  At this time it meant that Fire Type decks struggled to afford using their Supporter usage on Blacksmith.  A lot of the new and old Fire Type attackers either didn’t need Blacksmith - like Flareon (BW: Plasma Freeze 12/116) - or did but couldn’t quite make it as competitive decks, give or take an initial flare up in popularity - like Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106, XY: Black Star Promos XY121) and Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106).  Seismitoad-EX hit us as of the next set, further dampening the prospects of Fire Types and Blacksmith.  XY: Phantom Forces brought us Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, but also Lysandre’s Trump Card and some other stuff that helped existing strong decks and/or hurt Fire Types, but those two Items would prove important soon enough.  As we’d soon see though that those two Items made Blacksmith so much easier to use; toss it and two basic Fire Energy into the discard, then VS Seeker for Blacksmith and attach the Energy to one of your Pokémon.  Eventually we hit XY: Ancient Origins; XY: Roaring Skies gave us Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) while XY: Ancient Origins gave us Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 14/98), Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 14/98), and Trainers’ Mail.  Basically we had what we needed for a fast, hard-hitting Fire Type deck that used Blacksmith and Double Colorless Energy to fuel massive [RRCC] attack costs in a single turn, while the Item engine and Shaymin-EX handled your draw/search without costing you a Supporter. 

That deck died out, but the Fire Type has continued to get new attackers.  A set like Generations, which largely felt like filler, still ended up giving us Flareon-EX.  XY: Steam Siege was intentionally meant to bolster the Fire Type and gave us Volcanion and Volcanion-EX.  Now the Fire Type had a big Basic that could attack for damage while attaching [R] Energy from the discard pile, and a Bench-sitter that upped the damage of attacks by your Fire Type Basic Pokémon for the low cost of discarding [R] from hand (and it stacked, though that meant multiple copies of Volcanion-EX and of Fire Energy to discard).  It didn’t create the deck that won Worlds or anything, but even post rotation, this deck is alive and kicking, placing (but not winning) in recent Regional Championships.  So in Expanded play, Blacksmith remains a great card for Fire Type decks; as long as they run even a couple of basic Fire Energy cards, it can do wonders as a single, sometimes in multiples, and in some decks you want to even max it out.  In Limited play you just need to have a Fire Type or two from the set and it’s worth running, other than Fletchinder (XY: Flashfire 17/106).  Just make sure said Fire Type is also worth running (most probably are). 

So what if Blacksmith were still legal for Standard play?  Volcanion/Volcanion-EX decks would get a boost, making them stronger.  Not some vast swing though; the deck already does an excellent job by hitting hard with Volcanion while powering up other attackers on the Bench.  I am not overly familiar with the top lists, but I would not be surprised if Max Elixir is also already there so that even without Blacksmith, the deck can try to access bigger attackers more quickly.  Which is why Blacksmith and its loss only matters so much, especially without Battle Compressor to combo with VS Seeker, Blacksmith, and two basic Fire Energy cards. 

Ratings 

Standard: N/A 

Expanded: 3.65/5 

Limited: 3.5/5 

Summary: So Blacksmith is still a key card in certain decks in Expanded, giving it a bit of an odd looking score; being useless off Type and having some alternative options for Energy acceleration means even though it seems like well designed Type support, it doesn’t fall into “Max out or lose!” territory.  Which itself is not a bad thing; the drawback of simplifying things with numerical scores.  Same for Limited; if you don’t get the Fire Types it’s a waste while if you don’t also get stuff like Fiery Torch and/or Scorched Earth, you’ll need more effort to prep for Blacksmith.  If Blacksmith stuck around for Standard play, seems like the same story we have in Expanded, except less deck competition and a few other key differences means it would have scored higher, but not by a huge margin (probably an additional tenth of a point). 

Collectively, Blacksmith snagged 29 voting points, just edging out last Friday’s Super Scoop Up by a single point.  It missed tying tomorrow’s subject by two points, so it’s pretty close in this part of the list.  I had Blacksmith as my 13th place pick, basically because while it is a very good, the decks I see most likely to use it would be improved but in a dramatic way by it suddenly being reprinted, give or take an Entei (XY: Ancient Origins 15/98) focused deck being possibly resurrected.  At this point, we have many cards that are just as good or better, either in similarly specialized roles (like Type support) or for general usage.  Not a huge upset though; I just like explaining my thought process from constructing my own list.


Zach Carmichael

When the Primal Clash-on rotation was first announced, one of the first decks that piqued my interest was Volcanion. A deck that could potentially thrive on the immense energy acceleration from Blacksmith, it seemed to be something that would dwindle down and eventually be nothing more than binder fodder. However, that did not happen at all. Despite losing Blacksmith, the deck has emerged recently as one of the frontrunners of the Standard format, utilizing cards like Max Elixir and Scorched Earth to hit hard as early as the first or second turn of the game. While Blacksmith was certainly a strong Supporter and shed light on a number of Fire-type attackers, I don’t think it will be as missed as originally thought. 

Blacksmith allows you to attach two Fire Energy from the discard to one of your Fire-type Pokemon. In the XY-on format, this allowed Pokemon like Entei from Ancient Origins to emerge out of nowhere and swiftly take City Championships last winter. Combined with discard cards – namely Battle Compressor and Acro BikeEntei was able to quickly get powered up and deal massive amounts of damage to continually pressure your opponent while holding favor in the prize trade. Had Blacksmith been reprinted in Steam Siege, the same would hold true with Volcanion-EX for the most part – possibly to a greater extent. Being able to use its “Steam Up” Ability to stack damage has already proven to be deadly, and the deck will continue to thrive because of this. But Blacksmith could have brought it to another level. While Battle Compressor might be gone, we still have cards like Scorched Earth and Ultra Ball to discard Energy cards. This would have allowed Volcanion-EX to get fully powered up right away versus having to rely on multiple Max Elixir and possibly whiffing.  

In Expanded, Fire-type decks are pretty nonexistent for the most part. This is due to Seismitoad-EX variants that can now hit for solid damage thanks to Max Elixir for Energy acceleration, particularly in Water Box variants that feature a myriad of attackers. Greninja is also very popular in Expanded thanks to greater consistency through cards like Computer Search. Blacksmith might help in some regard by providing means of acceleration for early prize leads, but in the long run Fire decks like Volcanion struggle to keep up with this highly diverse format.

Ratings 

Standard: N/A

Expanded: 2/5

Limited: 2/5 

Summary: Blacksmith enabled a number of Fire Pokemon to become successful in competitive play, with decks like Entei/Charizard sweeping mid-tier tournaments like City Championships this past season. However, Max Elixir has proven to be a suitable replacement that outclasses Blacksmith in some ways simply because it is an Item card that can be played multiple times versus a once-per-turn Supporter. Volcanion is a deck that serves as a testament to this notion, as it continues to be one of the best decks as of this post. In short, Blacksmith provided a means to make Fire-types playable again in a format where they had not gotten much attention, but this is no longer the case thanks to greater variety in Energy acceleration. 


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