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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.