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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Ninja Boy
- Steam Siege

Date Reviewed:
Jan. 3, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3
Expanded: 3
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


Otaku

With our top 10 list complete, what to review now?  We have a month before Sun & Moon officially releases.  There are a few cards left in XY: Evolutions, recent promos, and (perhaps) a few others missed here and there (or worthy of re-review).  There is another option at the “use it or lose it” stage, however; the runners-up from our Top 10 of 2016 list.  The site’s Top 10 came about from individual Top 10 lists all being scored and combined; we didn’t each nominate the exact same 10 cards, so there were a full nine nominated beyond the final 10 we actually reviewed.  With Monday being a day off for the entire Pojo site, and many of us still recovering from the additional demands of the holidays (but no longer with vacation time from work, school, etc.), re-reviewing the rest of the best of 2016 gives us familiar material to cover.  Familiar, but still worthwhile to look at once again, especially as few of these cards have performed exactly as we anticipated.  I’ll also mention there will be a small, special surprise with 11th place. 

So we begin the new bottom of our list, the 19th place finisher Ninja Boy (XY: Steam Siege 103/114).  You may read the original review here, but if you cannot or will not take the time to do so, I will give a brief recap.  Ninja Boy is an example of an older card being tweaked and renamed, as it is very similar to Swoop! Teleporter (EX: Team Rocket Returns 92/109).  Swoop! Teleporter was so good the CotD crew looked at it twice, first here and then here.  Both cards allow you to select one of your Basic Pokémon already in play, search your deck for another Basic Pokémon, replace the former with the latter, and then shuffle your deck.  Everything from the original is transferred to the new Basic Pokémon, with the card text on Ninja Boy specifying “...attached cards, damage counters, Special Conditions, turns in play, and any other effects...”.  Suddenly having a different Pokémon that already has Energy and/or a Pokémon Tool in play, possibly already as your Active, can enable surprise plays; even things that might seem like a drawback such as damage counters carrying over from the first Basic to the second can be turned to your advantage so long as the second Basic has an effect that makes use of them.  While both of these cards only work for Basic Pokémon, they actually can help support Evolutions; a Basic with a useful stats or effects can do its turn of waiting before being swapped out with a much less impressive Evolving Basic Pokémon.  These cards are also useful for ensuring you open with the desired Basic Pokémon as well. 

There are differences and drawbacks to these cards, however, and I’ll address them now.  Swoop! Teleporter places the first Pokémon in the discard pile after the swap, while Ninja Boy returns it to your deck prior to shuffling.  Depending upon the Pokémon and the deck either of these outcomes could prove desirable.  Swoop! Teleporter excluded Pokémon-ex from its effect; you couldn’t select one in play or fetch one from your deck.  The Pokémon-ex of old are not the Pokémon-EX of the BW- and XY-eras, though they are quite similar to each other in mechanics as well as name; Ninja Boy working with any Basic is definitely an improvement.  Swoop! Teleporter is what was then referred to as a normal Trainer, what we now know as an Item card; Ninja Boy is a Supporter instead.  Being a Supporter means Ninja Boy is far more difficult to block and can make use of VS Seeker but Swoop! Teleporter didn’t require your Supporter for the turn.  The effect of Swoop! Teleporter was so potent that a slightly better version of it made sense to me as a Supporter; I expected big things of Ninja Boy.  So how did it actually perform? 

While Ninja Boy took second place in our Top 10 Cards of XY: Steam Siege countdown, since then it hasn’t really accomplished anything notable.  I see some usage of Ninja Boy on the PTCGO, and not just in experimental or newbie decks.  What I do not recall seeing are any major, tournament winning decks that have used it at all, let alone well.  I would love to find out I had simply missed examples of this - while the data is out there I don’t have it well organized or committed to memory - but I think it means that most players cannot and are not making room for Ninja Boy in their builds.  Being forced to rely upon alternate draw/search power for any other cards you need on a turn where you burned your Supporter usage on Ninja Boy is part of it.  Another is simply the crowded field; Ninja Boy is nowhere near as good as say Professor Sycamore, nor is it of the same caliber as Lysandre.  I initially thought it might become the AZ of the current Standard Format; swapping Pokémon is not the same as bouncing them, but for a format that still makes heavy usage of Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108), it was the closest alternative still available.  Instead Ninja Boy seems to be on the level of cards like Pokémon Center Lady, Team Flare Grunt, etc.  Ninja Boy is still a good card, but not a great one.  Of course as the two other examples I mentioned are currently seeing play in multiple decks, some even of a higher level, my message may be a bit confusing. 

Many Supporters see a bit of hype prior to release, and it may persist even a little afterwards, but even if they are not bad cards it can take some time before a deck comes along that puts them to good use, or the general metagame shifts enough that general they see more general usage.  Though still not guaranteed, I think Ninja Boy is going to be one of those cards.  We’ll continue to see people try it every now and then in both Standard and Expanded Formats.  Eventually someone will either come up with a specific deck (maybe more than one) that leverages swapping out your Basics for a big play while also winning a major event.  Alternatively something else about the game could shift and in the crowded field of TecH Supporters, Ninja Boy finally gets his chance to shine.  The third option is that I have been completely wrong about this card, and the only place where it is worth running is in the Limited Format; because you are less likely to have another Supporter to use anyway, and because even lesser forms of search are more valuable here as you probably won’t (or can’t) pull the preferred options to which we are accustomed in the constructed formats. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3/5 

Expanded: 3/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary: Ninja Boy offers a potent trick, however not one valuable enough to warrant including it over several other cards vying for the same slot.  It is approximately as valuable in both formats at least; while there is even more competition for it in Expanded play, it also gains more combo options which helps compensate.  The good general usage coupled with some phenomenal deck specific performances I predicted… never happened.  There is a decent reward for general usage, and some the deck specific ideas I proposed work, but none of it well enough to justify how I initially scored and gushed over the card. 

Ninja Boy earned a single voting point, hence being on the bottom of what became our Top 19 list.  It was one of three cards that managed to sneak into the 10th place of a single list.  It didn’t make my own, but came so close that when this review was first posted, actually claimed it had.  Instead another reviewer picked this and… I’m good with that.  Ninja Boy isn’t bad, it is just that there were definitely 18 cards more worthy of this list than itself.


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