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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Team Skull Grunt
- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 24, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3
Expanded: 2.5
Limited: 4

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Ending our week is the ever interesting always here to mess with your face Team Skull Grunt! Even though it clearly shows two of them... 

...please ignore my embarrassing gang-slang from yesterday. 

Team Skull Grunt is a Supporter, naturally, with a couple of neat effects. The first is that he looks at your opponent's hand...which on a Supporter is extremely bad on its own. Like if Team Skull Grunt's only effect had been to look at your opponent's hand, it would never see play. No Supporter would be worth that time, and it would be almost befitting of Team Skull's role in the Sun & Moon games. 

Luckily for us TCG folk, it has another effect. You take a look at the opponent's hand, and then you get to discard 2 Energy cards from it, or all of them if it's less than 2. So now we go from an effect you'd never want to run a Supporter on to an effect that is REALLY worth your time as a potentially spicy tech. See, Team Skull Grunt can now do two things: disruption, in the form of tossing out Energies, and information, telling you what the opponent's game strategy is. Between the two, disruption is a bigger part of that than the information, even with information's uses. But chances are if you're running the Team Skull Grunt, you're doing it for the disruption, and that is a powerful thing. 

Against decks like Greninja BREAK and Volcanion-EX, this can be a powerful tool in getting rid of your opponent's main offensive power - they can't hit Giant Water Shuriken or Steam Up without discarding Energy, and Team Skull Grunt can hit them where it counts. On top of that, in the early game, the Grunt can easily slow your opponent down by withdrawing crucial Energies they may need for their own set-up, making them a potent force. 

On the other hand, putting Energy into the discard pile does help a lot of decks out as well. Stuff running Volcanion and Lurantis-GX will appreciate the Energies they couldn't use being put into the discard to then be cycled out onto their other team members, and before the Grunt realizes their mistake, they've already been overrun by a bunch of power-hungry decks that trample right over their disruptive efforts. 

Such is the nature of Team Skull? 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (so really I suppose Team Skull Grunt is a neat tech that should be played carefully) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (cause against the right deck, they can be a powerful disruptive force) 

Limited: 4/5 (but against the wrong deck? that could just spell trouble) 

Arora Notealus: Man, now I want a Team Skull Grunt whose line is, "Lemme tell ya how to spell trouble! S-K-U-L-L!!" Maybe one day we'll get that snarky Team Grunt that does that with their team name. "R-O-C-K-E-T!" 

Weekend Thought: Any of these cards from this week spell trouble for you? Some ideas you'd wanna through around? Some decks you want to try? Or have you relegated a lot of these cards to the confines of the binder? More cards to review in this set, and hopefully you enjoyed the first of our Throwback Thursday segments!


Otaku

*ahem*

That’s right, today we look at Team Skull Grunt (Sun & Moon 133/149, 149/149)!  This brand new Supporter allows you to take a look at your opponent’s hand, and if (if present) discard two Energy cards from it.  Please note that it does say Energy cards; I don’t know if the game even recognizes that Double Colorless Energy has two units of Energy before it is attached to a Pokémon, but if it does, Team Skull Grunt only uses up one of its two Energy card discards hitting it.  So, what is it like for a new Supporter right now?  General Trainer helping effects aren’t excessive, but there are some very good examples like Trainers’ Mail.  General Trainer counters are rare and rarely used, also good for Team Skull Grunt.  Supporter cards are incredibly important to decks but require a delicate balance due to their once-per-turn nature; too many and your hand is cluttered by a bunch of cards you won’t actually be able to use that turn, while too few and you whiff on often vital card effects.  Since they debuted, Supporters have been either one of or the primary draw mechanic for decks.  During the BW-era, the competition was very stiff, but it has gotten somewhat better thanks to more non-Supporter based draw options as well as VS Seeker; the former of course freeing up your Supporter for the turn, while the latter increases the value of variety in your Supporter options. 

That doesn’t mean the field is wide open, though; in Expanded play it is more crowded than ever because the combo of Battle Compressor and VS Seeker on top of various Ability, Item, and sometimes even attack-based draw effects means even some of the mediocre or extremely niche Supporters have found their place, with a wide assortment tempting for most decks.  The Standard Format cuts back on the competition, but lacks Battle Compressor; it forces you to really consider whether you have room for another TecH Supporter or if you would be better off adding an extra copy of one you don’t currently have maxed out.  It isn’t just other Supporters either; right now the game has a lot of potent Pokémon, other Trainers, and even Energy that are all fighting for the same deck slot.  So can Team Skull Grunt compete?  Yes.  It took me a moment to see the possibilities when I first saw a translation of the Japanese version, and even then I really wanted some confirmation from either myself or others using the card, but to paraphrase an English expression, two Energy in the hand may be worth one on the Active.  Team Flare Grunt is probably the most direct competition for Team Skull Grunt, which seems oddly appropriate.  You can take a guaranteed shot at an Energy attached to your opponent’s Active, or try your luck with his or her hand to hit two instead of one. 

Except it isn’t quite that simple.  Even if you find no Energy there, you still get to see what your opponent has in hand.  Usually, Energy in play will have eaten up some resource for the opponent, whether a turn’s manual Energy attachment, use of a Max Elixir, etc. while one from the hand is just there, but an Energy in play will likely have already paid for something in the current climate (usually an attack), and we are in a format of OHKO’s and 2HKO’s; seldom should you discard an Energy from the opponent’s Active if you are going to KO that card this turn.  Your local metagame will be a major factor as well because we see such extremes in decks.  Decks that run a good amount of basic Energy, and cards to reclaim it from the discard pile, may actually be happy you’re removing some glut from their hands; makes it easier to draw off of Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) or Oranguru.  They will have an Energy Retrieval, Fisherman, or more deck specific trick to reclaim what they lost, so they may be happy you just burned a Supporter on such a thing.  Many decks right now, however, seem fairly tight on Energy counts.  Even if a deck runs a decent amount of Energy, it wants most or all of it handy.  It may still have a trick to get it back, but it was counting on that trick for other cards or just because the deck itself is going to run through its own Energy pretty quick.  Decks that run low counts of Energy are less likely to have something in hand to discard, but more likely to feel the hurt when you actually nail an Energy in hand.

So for Standard and Expanded play, this is something to keep handy in the pseudo-sideboard some players maintain (and the rest of us ought to have).  Pay attention to the metagame going into an event, because this might be one of the minor deck tweaks worth slipping in if enough players are running the decks vulnerable to it.  That is just in general; certain specific decks are going to want to run this card.  You’ve got decks where hitting Energy in the hand solves a problem match-up because said match-up is against a deck especially vulnerable to its Energy being discarded from the hand.  That is still likely to only justify a TecH inclusion, of course, but it is something.  Control and/or mill decks are the most likely customer for Team Skull Grunt.  If you can combo other hand-control effects, you can leave your opponent either actually or effectively topdecking.  Mill decks often have at least some control elements, such as running your opponent out of a particular resource before you actually run his or her deck out of cards.  Definitely, run this in Limited play: you’ll almost certainly have room in your deck and Supporter usage to spare, and even if you didn’t, this is a format where seeing your opponent’s hand is extra valuable and he or she is less likely to have a means of replenishing that lost Energy. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 

Expanded: 3.15/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Team Skull Grunt means your Energy is no longer safe while in hand, beyond the generic threat of your opponent hitting you with effects like that of N or Red Card.  I expect it to show up as at least a single in some of the established control decks.  Thanks to what we have learned in the XY-era, I don’t think Team Skull Grunt will catch as many people off guard as Team Flare Grunt usage initially did; the mixed blessing for Team Skull Grunt is more people giving it a try but also being on guard against it before it has been proven.  I’ll also add that I appreciate how the effect of knocking two Energy cards from an opponent’s hand seems appropriate from what little I know of Team Skull grunts (the characters, not the cards). 

Team Skull Grunt snagged eight voting points in our top 10 countdown for Sun & Moon; that means it took 11th place and was just one point away from turning the three-way tie between 8th, 9th, and 10th place into a four-way tie including 11th.  Of course, it also only scored one more point than the tie we had for 12th and 13th place, cards we’ll get too soon enough.  For my personal top 10 list, I had Team Skull Grunt as my 10th place pick and was a bit sad they didn’t make the site list.


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