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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Throwback Thursday
Energy Removal
- Base Set

Date Reviewed:
March 9, 2017

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


aroramage

HOLY COW I REMEMBER THIS CARD 

Throwback Thursdays hit the nostalgia button on an old card from nearly 20 years ago...or, actually 20 years ago if we're looking at the Japanese release. Energy Removal is a card from a different era. Back then, there weren't any of these crazy EX and GX Pokemon running around, no Tools to power up, no Abilities...well, okay, they had Poke-Powers, but they function very differently. The game was simpler, HP capped at around 120, and the only thing limiting you from drawing cards was how many Bills or Professor Oaks you were running. 

But I digress. Energy Removal is a staple card of its time, and with good reason. As its name would imply, it removes an Energy from your opponent's Pokemon. I'm sure if the card was reprinted nowadays, it would be guaranteed to see a ton of play, making cards like Vileplume and Seismitoad-EX all the more powerful, ESPECIALLY given all the Special Energies we've gotten in recent years. Keep in mind this card was never limited in what type of Energy could be discarded. 

It was the first step to tripping your opponent up and giving yourself the fighting chance. Take out their Energy, attach your own, and keep smacking them around until they've got nothing to show for it. That's all Energy Removal was and is. Simple bliss. 

Rating 

Standard: N/A (in its time, 5/5. if it were around today, 5/5) 

Expanded: N/A (as it were, though, it hasn't seen another printing since Base Set 2...and that's probably for the best) 

Limited: 5/5 (because there are so very few cards of its kind, and it's probably for the best that it doesn't come back) 

Arora Notealus: Can you imagine trying to fill your deck with 4 of this, 4 Professor Oaks, 4 Bills, and then all the other cards you need to run? I mean this is already 12 cards right there, and that's not even including Computer Search! Different times man. 

Next Time: He will teach you the ways of the draw.


Otaku

This Throwback Thursday we are going way back, to the days of Base Set.  There are many Trainer cards released in this set that would shape the game until their eventual rotation with the implementation of the original Modified (Standard) Format.  In a sense, their influence extends beyond as many later cards (including some used in most decks today) are just nerfed versions of what players enjoyed (and/or cursed) back in the day.  In most cases, losing any one of them would noticeably alter how the game played back in the day, and some would affect the Unlimited Format even today if they suddenly were banned.  I still lack a good source for contemporary Unlimited Format expertise, but I’ll do the best I can with the bits I have found here and there.  Our first subject is a card that is a bit easy to shortchange; not in terms of it having been a great card back in the day, but in exactly how much significant a role it played in shaping early Pokémon metagame, and even our thinking for years later.  Today we look at Energy Removal (Base Set 92/102; Base Set 2 119/130), a Trainer card that discards an Energy card from one of your opponent’s Pokémon.  At the time it releases, there was only one kind of Trainer, which behaved like present-day Item cards; in fact, when using older cards you now treat Energy Removal as an Item card.  This means you’re discarding a potentially once-per-turn resource for something that can be played as often as you like per turn.  There was also Super Energy Removal, which required you discard an Energy card from one of your Pokémon in play, but it allowed you to discard two Energy cards from one of your opponent’s Pokémon.  As you can imagine, that is going to be a lopsided trade under most circumstances, though not all. 

Let us start with the card’s historical usage, as I think that will give us the best idea of how to use this card, and why it was so important to how that history unfolded.  Base Set included no anti-Trainer effects except Lass, which forced both players to reveal their hands to each other, then shuffle away all Trainer cards found therein.  For Trainer support, it had Item Finder, which allowed you to reclaim a Trainer from your discard pile at the cost of discarding two additional cards from hand.  Doesn’t sound too bad or too good, but this was a time of incredible draw and search power, so it was quite easy to get an Energy Removal or two into your hand.  Don’t believe me?  Take two of the best Trainers in the Expanded play cases and make them better; Professor Oak works just like Professor Juniper or Professor Sycamore, except it was a “normal” Trainer (worked like an Item).  Computer Search was originally another “normal” Trainer (Item) in Base Set and didn’t become an Ace Spec until being re-released years later.  Players didn’t have Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX back then, but what we did have were “big, Basic Pokémon.”  The name is a bit misleading as it wasn’t just about having a lot of HP but having solid, single Energy attacks.  In fact, the big, Basic Pokémon usually had only about 70 HP, at a time when they could have had up to 120, but damage output was much lower and even with cards like PlusPower, 70 was usually safe from being OHKO’d… because of Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal. 

Thanks to there being easy, inexpensive options for discarding Energy cards in play, it was very difficult for anything to use an attack that costs more than an Energy, barring those strategies with effective Energy acceleration.  If an attack couldn’t make use of Double Colorless Energy or take advantage of Blastoise (Base Set 2/102; Base Set 2 2/130) and it’s “Rain Dance” Pokémon Power for Energy acceleration, it needed to cost just one Energy or it probably wasn’t getting used.  This basically included all the attacks on Pokémon other than big Basics which could KO big, Basic Pokémon.  Evolutions already had it rough, as the best of the big, Basic attackers could use PlusPower and Gust of Wind (Lysandre as an Item) to KO an Evolving Basic; you pretty much had to Bench two of whatever Pokémon you needed to Evolve so that one would survive, at least until you had a threat your opponent couldn’t ignore.  The reason why I tend to fixate on Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal is because there actually was an answer to speedy Basic attackers in Base Set: Electrode (Base Set 21/102; Base Set 2 25/130); its Pokémon Power “Buzzap” allowed you to KO it (your opponent would still take a Prize) and then Electrode would become an Energy card that provided two units of Energy of your choice.  You chose what Type when you activated Buzzap; both units of Energy became and stayed that Type until discarded. 

Which is where Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal threw things out of whack. With that Electrode, included as a 1-1 to a 3-3 line, various Evolutions capable of scoring a OHKO against big, Basic Pokémon attackers could get the boost they needed.  Haymaker, the most iconic of the big, Basic decks, could score a OHKO against either a Voltorb or the Basic Stage of your Evolution, so it was pricey as you’d want two of each to be safe and you’d be down two Prizes even if your Stage 1 or 2 Pokémon started taking OHKO’s the next turn, but those big, Basic Pokémon lacked a means of OHKOing your Evolution back.  At least, that is my theory, based on trying it out with the cards myself years later.  Please keep in mind, I was playing the game when all of these were new, but my local high school metagame is hardly the same as playing in competitive tournaments of the day.  I do know that a player of questionable skill such as myself was able to dominate for quite a while with Haymaker until I made too many changes to it.  The conjecture is with Electrode possibly giving more Evolutions a fighting chance had Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal not been there to immediately strip them away, buying Haymaker decks time to chip away at your Evolutions; the rest is what actually happened.  Over time, more counters to Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal were released, but it the institution of the original Modified (what we now call Standard) Format that did them in as they weren’t in any Standard-legal sets. 

For some more conjecture, Energy Removal would be insane if it were reprinted.  Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, and Team Flare Grunt are all nerfed variants on the premise introduced by Energy Removal.  There are enough budget attackers and methods of Energy acceleration that not every deck would max out on Energy Removal, but I’m thinking most would pack one or two.  So how does it work in the modern Unlimited Format?  From what information I’ve been able to gather, there are a few serious decks that include it, but the big issue is that this format contains decks which win on a player’s first turn, some even if it is the very first turn of the game (so they win without attacking).  Others don’t win outright, but effectively win as they set up some nasty lock.  This is why, when I explain “broken” cards, I will emphasize they come in a range and the more broken cards, combos, and decks may crowd out those which are less broken, but still by no means balanced.  If you somehow are using this card in Limited play, stop throwing money away! 

Hypothetically, if we somehow got a re-release of either Base Set or Base Set 2, Energy Removal would be a very valuable pull you absolutely should run.  If you face off with Theme Decks in real life - they don’t have anything older than the HS-era releases on the PTCGO - the original 2-Player Starter Set, Brushfire, Blackout decks from Base Set contain it, with Blackout having a full playset!  The 2-Player Starter CD-ROM Starter Set, Grass Chopper, Hot Water decks from Base Set 2 also contain at least one Energy Removal.  The Misty and Lt. Surge starter decks from Gym Heroes contain Energy Removal.  The Koga and Giovanni starter decks from Gym Challenge sport them as well.  If I counted correctly, that means you’d have 10 different decks that include Energy Removal, and usually several other good, classic Trainer cards.  It actually makes me want to hunt these down (or the singles to build them) and try it out for my nostalgic Pokémon TCG fix.  Anyway, while harder to fetch from the deck or reuse with either Limited or Theme Deck play, that also means most decks are going to have a harder time recovering from the Energy loss unless they’ve already reached the point where losing one Energy won’t matter. 

Ratings 

Standard: N/A 

Expanded: N/A 

Limited: 5/5 

Unlimited: 3.5/5 

Theme: 5/5 

Summary 

Energy Removal is one of the cards that demonstrates how all broken cards are not equal.  In Unlimited, unless the format is very different from what I could find (stuff from two or three years ago), it is just used in a few key decks because a few other competitive decks still attack without having an easy time resupplying the lost Energy.  It makes this review feel a bit anti-climactic, and I now realize I probably should have picked more of the supporting cards for the format before looking at this one. 

Which is why this wasn’t a two-in-one review with Super Energy Removal, so we can look at that one once I think I’ve got the formula down.  Alternatively, once we have some other, more competent reviewers for the Unlimited Format.


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