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Otaku on the Pokémon Trading Card Game
Spoilage
(XY: Evolutions)

August 29, 2016

On Saturday something odd occurred; at a flea market in North Carolina, French-language XY: Evolutions cards seem to have turned up.  If you wish to see these cards for yourself then please watch this video posted by TrainerChip over on Youtube.  This article will be referencing the translations provided by PokéBeach here; I don’t speak or read French so I’ll be relying upon the work of others who do.  The international release for this set is just over three months away, and even the Japanese release is still almost three weeks away!  That means these cards have to be fakes, right?  Maybe.  I have no idea where the Japanese cards are printed, but it seems quite plausible that the North American cards could all be printed at the same facility.  In North America, the major Pokémon TCG language regions are Canada (allows English and French language cards), Mexico (allows English and Spanish language cards), and the United States of America (allows English language cards).  Given the logistics involved it is possible the cards have been printed out this early; if not the finals, then perhaps a “test run”.  We know that those who manufacture the cards are selling to distributors who in turn sell to vendors, and between Pre-Releases and vendors who have sold early in the past, suddenly a three to four month lead time seems only a few weeks early or on time. 

Then again it could still be an elaborate hoax.  Multiple cards from the Japanese release have already been revealed, confirming that these cards are going to be tweaked versions of their Base Set (or other past expansion) counterparts, including use of the same artwork.  So instead of having to come up with plausible new art, stats, and card effects it just requires plausible tweaking older cards.  Unless something else calls them into question, however, I am going to treat them as being real.  Remember though that not only could these be a hoax, but even if I am correct and they are legit, I will be referencing English translations of French cards; it would already have been prudent to use extreme caution when planning for the future based on translations, even more so in this instance.  With words of warning out of the way, however, we can at last dive into the set.  I won’t be addressing every card.  This is for two reasons 

1.    We do not have translations of every card.

2.    Even if we did, as usual there is a lot of filler. 

We’ll just be covering the interesting bits, the stuff that seems to have potential and (mostly) the stuff I am already seeing overhyped to insane levels.  Pokémon will be broken up by Type while Trainers will just be all lumped together.  

Grass 

Venusaur-EX (XY 1/146,141/146;  XY: Black Star Promos XY28, XY123) and M Venusaur-EX (XY 2/146) are just reprints so why highlight them?  Because XY: Evolutions 86/108 is Venusaur Spirit Link.  Some have tried to make this card work already taking advantage of Forest of Giant Plants to Mega Evolve T1, when you can’t attack anyway, but if you’re player two then your first turn is T2 and you’re still giving up an attack.  So just maybe you can manage that chunky [GGGC] attack cost on Crisis Vine and enjoy an attack capable of a 2HKO with automatic Paralysis and Poison.  You cannot prevent all outs against the Paralysis, but Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98) will deny things like Switch, or you could use Garbodor (XY: BREAKpoint 57/122) to get rid of the various pesky Abilities which could also deal with it.  Both have their pros and cons, largely in how it affects your own support options.  I don’t expect this to become a strong deck, but just becoming a legitimate deck is something a lot of people have been waiting for since they saw the card, or at least since Spirit Link cards debuted.  You also can use the Spirit Link with Venusaur-EX (Generations  

Beedrill has two attacks, but we only really care about the second; [GC] to do 40 damage times the number of Beedrill you have in play to one of your opponent’s Pokémon.  As usual, neither Weakness nor Resistance apply for Benched targets.  While a perfect four is unlikely, if you can manage three then Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) is an easy OHKO.  Worth fewer Prizes but still important are other strategic Bench-sitters like Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162).  With Forest of Giant Plants you can run this as perhaps the speediest Speedrill deck ever.  The main hangup is that the best Energy acceleration available seems to be Max Elixir and Exp. Share; whether you run one, the other, or both you may find yourself too often failing to attack, and with its 120 HP you’re already going to be fighting to keep enough Beedrill in play. 

Fire 

Seems like everyone wanted a Charizard (Base Set 4/102) but no one seemed to be able to make work (at least for long).  Now back and buffed for the XY-era… in some ways.  This card was officially reprinted three times as Base Set 2 4/130, Legendary Collection 3/110, and DP: Stormfront 103/100.  That last one is especially interesting as it doesn’t just revise the earlier text, but updates it.  “Energy Burn” began as a Pokémon Power which shut off when Charizard was afflicted with Confusion, Paralysis, or Sleep.  By the Legendary Collection it was shut down by all Special Conditions.  Unless I’ve got a bad ruling, then this newest printing rewrites the older two, so they now count as having Poké-Bodies instead of Pokémon Powers, and Poké-Bodies don’t care about Special Conditions.  “Fire Spin” also was tweaked; originally it discarded two Energy cards, but that last version finally changed it to two Energy.  While the original version could use two Double Colorless Energy to fuel Fire Spin (Energy Burn made them provide [RR] instead of [CC]), since it was worded to discard Energy cards and not just Energy, both would have to go.  DP: Stormfront 103/100 could finally discard a card worth two or more units of Energy to meet the entire cost. 

So… what about the new kid?  They raised its HP by 30 to 150, but the original 120 was the maximum printed on Stage 2 Pokémon at the time; now it is 160.  Resistance only provides -20 now instead of -30, but that is a template thing and so is understandable.  Energy Burn is now an Ability, which is totally expected, but weaker than a Poké-Power.  How so?  Poké-Bodies + Poké-Powers = Pokémon Powers when interpreting older cards.  So if an effect applies to Pokémon Powers it works on both Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers, and if a card stated it worked on both Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers, when interacting with older cards that still had Pokémon Powers it worked on those as well.  Even though Abilities are basically Pokémon Powers by another name, they are not the same thing as far as the cards are concerned.  Abilities have no subdivision, so all cards which affect Abilities apply to all of them; the entire point of splitting Pokémon Powers into Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers was so that most of the time an effect would only apply to one or the other, not both.  So again, with Abilities it is all or nothing. 

Fire Spin now does 200 damage, enough to OHKO every Basic Pokémon-EX other than Wailord-EX, at least before protective effects and combos.  Unfortunately Fire Spin now discards three Energy.  Three Energy!  Even in Expanded play, where Blacksmith will still be legal, that would require using it and your manual Energy attachment for the turn to constantly reload it, plus when actually building it you’ll need another form of Energy acceleration.  Also we come to issues of scale again; when Charizard was doing 100, nothing had more than 120 printed on it.  Now Charizard whiffs on nearly all Mega Evolutions as well as Wailord-EX.  The Energy is the main thing though; after all by the time of DP: Stormfront 103/100 there were cards with more than 120 HP.  Yes you just read three paragraphs of anti-hype. 

Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 12/106; XY: Black Star Promos XY121) gets another reprint, which is not a bad thing as this Charizard-EX has sometimes been worth it for competitive play.  We also don’t know what M Charizard-EX it will be paired with, though Venusaur-EX and M Venusaur-EX are both reprints, plus so far we have seen no Dragon or Fairy Type Pokémon in this set, it will probably be XY: Flashfire 13/106 (and 107/106) or Generations 12/83 as they are Fire Types and thus there is room for them in the set.  Even though those two Mega Evolutions were mediocre at best, even though Blacksmith will be gone from Standard play by this point, not only will Mega Turbo and Clawitzer (XY: Steam Siege 34/114) still legal, but it is suspected that this set will contain a Charizard Spirit Link (but not confirmed).  Even the other M Charizard-EX (XY: Flashfire 69/106, 108/106) can try. 

Ninetales and Vulpix are still unrevealed, but Ninetales BREAK has some potential.  The BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1 is basically a Stage 2 without the perks, but its 140 HP is not bad and its “Explosive Fireball” attack has an affordable base cost and with some acceleration can hit quite hard reliably and repeatedly.  You have to discard all attached [R] Energy, but with 140 HP there isn’t much reason to hold back and if there is… well this might finally make Burning Energy worth using.  In Expanded, your manual Energy attachment plus a Blacksmith means 190 damage: 60 x 3 +10.  Even Blacksmith on its own can do 130.  The Ninetales and perhaps even the Vulpix could make or break this card.  Some of the existing Ninetales have useful effects, but probably won’t lend themselves to Ninetales BREAK. 

Water 

Unless you skipped the previous two sections this will come as no surprise: the Blastoise-EX and M Blastoise-EX from this set are reprints, but Blastoise-EX (XY 29/146, 142/146; XY: Black Star Promos XY30, XY122) and M Blastoise-EX (XY 30/146) may be worth revisiting now that they have a Spirit Link and now that there is even more Mega Evolution support.  Blastoise-EX (Generations 17/83) and M Blastoise-EX (Generations 18/83) can also make use of the new Blastoise Spirit Link.  In fact I am thinking that at least this M Blastoise-EX has the better potential of the two. 

Poliwrath is probably in the set but we’ve only seen the Poliwag and Poliwhirl and while updated they are not impressive.  So next up is Slowbro-EX and M Slowbro-EX.  Better than I expected but the big attack on either of them doesn’t strike me as being either fast enough, reliably enough, or strong enough without additional effort that would make various other cards just as good or better.  Of course these two were probably mostly intended as a joke.  Starmie and Starmie BREAK are getting some hype.  Starmie has an Ability that acts like the pre-erratum version of Energy Retrieval, back when it required a discard to use.  Not bad, but not worth a Stage 1 unless Item lock becomes a big thing.  Starmie BREAK has a single Energy anti-Pokémon-BREAK attack that hits all of your opponent’s Pokémon BREAK for 100 damage each and only requires [W] to use.  Sounds good, but remember it is on a pseudo-Stage 2 with 130 HP, and you cannot Evolve from Staryu to Starmie BREAK in a single turn.  Your opponent will have to really rush ahead or else he or she can either avoid BREAK Evolutions entirely or hold off until the last second to BREAK Evolve into them.  Plus of course many decks won’t have any at all.  Since at a glance it looks like it isn’t too bad, I’ll also point out Gyarados is that bad; you’re paying for better for both attacks (the second fails three out of four times!). 

Lightning 

An unrevealed Raichu means we skip to Electrode.  This brings back the powerful “Buzzap” effect that almost made the Base Set version a must run for several Pokémon decks back in the day… except of course for Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal.  With Buzzap Electrode KOs itself to become a special Energy card that provides two units of Energy; Enhanced Hammer and Team Flare Grunt can guarantee that is giving up a Prize for a single turn’s Energy boost, while Crushing Hammer has a 50-50 shot of doing it.  In Expanded Xerosic joins the crowd, and in all cases, Pokémon are often OHKO’d now so both keeping Voltorb around long enough to Evolve and the fact that whatever you attach this two is likely not long for this world is a huge problem.  This is all before the nerf from the original version.  Electrode (Base Set 21/102; Base Set 2 25/130) provided two units of Energy of the same Type, and that Type was selected by the you (the player) at the time you activated Buzzap.  No restrictions on which Pokémon this Energy could be attached to, but now the new version only works for Lightning Types and only provides [LL]. 

The original Electabuzz (Base Set 20/102; Base Set 2 24/130; Best of Game 1; Platinum 128/127) is back, but with Metal Resistance.  Not sure if that will be treated as an errata for older versions (like with Charizard earlier in this article) altering how older copies are played, or if it will just be treated as a “new” card.  What I do know is that while this was insanely strong when the game began, that was not only prior to significant power creep, but specifically due to how easy it was to keep most decks from powering up to the point that Electabuzz (or other Haymaker caliber Basic Pokémon) could easily be OHKO’d, that you could attack first turn, that you could rip through your deck for Gust of Wind and/or all your copies of PlusPower, etc.  Oh well, at least he got Metal Resistance. 

Zapdos (Base Set 16/102; Base Set 2 20/130; Legendary Collection 19/110) does get several tweaks to power it up for the present.  The HP is 20 more, and the original had 90 when 120 was the best possible, so 110 when 140 is the best is still 30 under and approximately 75% of said max.  The Retreat Cost on the original was [CCC] but now it is only [CC], and while the Resistance has been “modernized” down to -20 for Fighting, the lack of Weakness was preserved!  “Thunder” now does 90 to the opponent’s Active and 30 to Zapdos itself; 30 more damage to them but now you don’t flip for the self damage.  It also has a slight cost reduction from [LLLC] to [LLCC].  Its second attack “Thunderbolt” still forces you to discard all its attached Energy, but now it does 170 instead of 100.  Obviously a guaranteed 30 to self is worse, but not crippling in and of itself; paying enough in Energy to justify 120 damage, meaning the self damage should up it even more?  Now that is crippling.  Given the nature of the second attack, the reduced Energy cost is wasted.  Said second attack may save this card; it actually will depend upon whether Magnezone (XY: BREAKthrough 54/162) proves successful and without finding a better partner.  Currently the obvious Lightning Type is Raikou, who sports 120 HP, an Ability that reduces the damage it takes by 20 so long as it has any [L] Energy attached, and has an attack that does 50 for [CCC], plus 20 per [L] attached to it.  So [LLLL] allows it to do 130.  So… will it be worth potentially recycling Energy more often and being slightly less hardy. 

Psychic 

Nidoking BREAK can use its attack to do 120 for [PPC], plus “double” Poison.  Just to be clear, that is not an official game term, but how I’ll be referring to Poison that places two damage counters between turns instead of one.  So assuming Poison isn’t being blocked, it would be 140 for one (or 160 for one if your opponent can’t ditch it between turns).  This is good, but not great and for what is effectively a Stage 3, it needs to be great.  All Expanded and Standard legal Nidoking available right now depend upon other Evolutions to reach their full potential.  There likely isn’t enough room for Nidoking, or at least not without bumping something more useful.  Focusing on it just doesn’t provide enough of a return.  Expanded gives you Dimension Valley to shave [C] off the cost or Virbank City Gym to add two more damage counters to the between turns Poison count… but the more we put into this attack that isn’t helping elsewhere, the more we need to add to another comparable attacker for comparison sake. 

Mewtwo is an update of Mewtwo (Base Set 10/102; Base Set 2 10/130).  “Barrier” is a distraction, possibly to your benefit; some people may worry about it, but they really shouldn’t.  It was the defining trait of the original though, allowing it to star in a joke deck called “Mulligan’s Mewtwo”; just it and 59 Psychic Energy cards.  You lost if your opponent hit you with an Energy Removal or Super Energy Removal, at least one of which was in most competitive decks of the day.  “Psychic” is the real star; the cost dropped from [PC] to [CC] but the damage per attached Energy doubled from 10 to 20.  The base damage of 10 also doubled to 20, and every little bit helps, but that isn’t too big of a deal.  Mewtwo also bulked up into a 130 HP Basic (10 under the max), far better than its 60 HP (60 under the max).  Still this is only worth it specifically if your deck needs a single Prize big, Basic attacker that punishes Pokémon that meet at least two of the following three criteria: Energy intensive, low HP, Psychic Weak.  One of the decks people have been buzzing about for Standard post rotation is M Mewtwo-EX (XY: BREAKthrough 64/162; 160/162).  While its 210 HP is beefy and its “Psychic Infinity” attack is strong, it also means it is prone to loading up on Energy and its Psychic Weak.  If it has four Energy attached, Psychic can hit for 20 + (20 x 4) = 200… which is 10 short, so make sure you’ve got Fighting Fury Belt or wait for a fifth Energy or look elsewhere. 

Mewtwo-EX is not a reprint!  This version is inspired by Mewtwo (DP: Majestic Dawn 9/100), an update of Mewtwo-ex (EX: Ruby & Sapphire 101/109), which in turn was inspired by Mewtwo (Black Star Promos 4, 13) a.k.a. “Movie Promo Mewtwo”.  It was so named because it was one of four promos you could receive with your ticket purchase for Pokémon: The First Movie when it first hit theaters, with the second version came with the home video release of said same film.  Also because most of us hadn’t grasped the concept of the “Black Star Promo” series at the time (well, I hadn’t).  Movie Promo Mewtwo either killed or took over Haymaker decks (depends on your point of view) but it was eventually dethroned.  Mewtwo-ex tried to revive its approach and failed; Mewtwo (DP: Majestic Dawn 9/100) sort of succeeded, but because it could Level-Up into Mewtwo LV.X.  Mewtwo-EX starts out promising with 180 HP and three attacks!  The first is but this time it only attaches one Energy, not two.  “Recover” improves over past versions by being here - Mewtwo (DP: Majestic Dawn 9/100) had it but not the others I listed - and by healing 60 without requiring you discard a [P] Energy from itself.  The thing is healing attacks only heal rarely prove useful, especially when they don’t heal enough to reliably safeguard against a 2HKO.  If either of these had been an Ability, this Mewtwo-EX would be much better.  Psyburn costs [PCCC] on this version and does 110 damage; decent enough for the investment, but not better than other Mewtwo-EX in Expanded or even Standard play. 

Mew is either the last of the Psychic Types, or the last of the revealed Psychic Types.  This is based on Mew (Black Star Promos 47), a.k.a. “Lilypad Mew” because again, this was before even nitpicky people like myself realized Black Star Promos were really a “thing” different from the other promo cards of the time, or that referring to cards by their set and number might ultimately be the better shorthand.  Back then it was a tiny, 40 HP Pokémon with a Pokémon Power to protect it from all effects of attacks (including damage!) by your opponent’s Evolved Pokémon, though it shut off if Mew was Asleep, Confused, or Poisoned, later ruled to mean all Special Conditions.  For [P] it could do 10 damage and flip a coin for Paralysis.  Now “Neutral Shield” is an Ability instead of a Pokémon Power, doesn’t care if Mew is afflicted with a Special Condition, and “Psyshock” does 30 damage instead of 10.  Not too thrilling as far as I am concerned; being so small means falling back and using the mediocre attacks of an Evolving Basic may still be enough for the OHKO… assuming the Ability isn’t being negated by Hex Maniac, Silent Lab, etc. or bypassed by an attack effect or just the fact that so many decks focus on Basic attackers in the first place. 

Fighting 

Dugtrio might be okay if it were a Basic with say 130 HP, but as a Stage 1 with 90 it requires too much effort to get going.  Yes, even with the various tricks the Fighting Type has at its disposal.  Machamp BREAK has a nice 190 HP that you kind of earn just because either you played it as if it were a Stage 3 (BREAK Evolution of a Stage 2) or because you managed to get a Machamp into play via Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick the previous turn and then Evolved it.  For [FFF] it does 100 damage, plus it places an effect on itself so that it will do 100 more damage the next turn.  Too bad it is so easy to reset such effects, huh?  We have all the old tricks like just forcing it to the Bench with Lysandre or Escape Rope, plus now we can use Pokémon Ranger.  Even though some of them have looked good at first, none of the current Machamp versions have proven worth the effort, and adding more effort for a poor attack and some more HP is a waste.  Just maybe though we’ll get a good enough Machamp this set to salvage Machamp BREAK.  I’ll mention Onix because it almost, almost does Onix (Base Set 56/102; Base Set 2 84/130; Legendary Collection 84/110) right, and may be better than our current option, Onix (BW: Plasma Freeze 61/116).  The HP only went up by 10, but “Harden” can soak twice as much damage (60 instead of 30) and only costs [F] instead of the original [FF].  Much better for a stalling attack, though still not great as it is the type that either blocks the 60 (or less) damage or else lets it all through.  Its “Rock Throw” now costs [FF] instead of [F], but does 40 damage instead of 10; a decent return though if you’re not trying to Evolve into a Steelix of some sort, probably not something to play.

Colorless 

Pidgeot-EX has solid stats for a Basic Pokémon-EX with two good-ish attacks.  For just [C], “Mimic” (possibly this should be “Mirror Move”) does as much damage to the opponent’s Active as it (Pidgeot-EX) took from attacks on your opponent’s previous turn.  If your opponent can’t score a OHKO, this might discourage him or her from attacking unless the damage is low enough to be worth both inflicting and taking.  It also opens up potential combos with Ninja Boy, as anything which survives (especially a Fighting Type with Focus Sash) could become a Pidgeot for a solid single Energy attack.  For [CCC] its “Feather Throw” does 80 damage to the opponent’s Active and 20 to something on the Bench.  For three of any Energy this is a good return, but sadly it falls just a bit short of what it needed to be really good (like say a 90/30 split).  We get Pidgeot Spirit Link though so M Pidgeot is an option!  At least until you read it.  The 220 HP is solid and the free Retreat Cost great, and a reliable 130 for [CCC] seems might seem pretty good; you even have the option of forcing the opponent to change out his or her Active.  However… how often is that going to prove good at the point where M Pidgeot-EX is your attacking, Active Pokémon?  That is a trick that is only sometimes useful as a stall tactic on opening Pokémon or desperate, Evolving Basics stuck as opening Pokémon.  The vast majority of the time you’ll want to just hit the Active again, and unfortunately 130 is that point where many Evolutions and Pokémon-EX will indeed take an additional hit.  I know someone who will insist on using this card because Pidgeot is his favorite Pokémon.  Pidgeot-EX might have a small chance of being worth playing on its own, though. 

Rattata surprises in both good and bad ways.  The good?  Rattata (Base Set 61/102; Base Set 2 89/130; Legendary Collection 89/110) had no Ability, but this one has one that triggers when you Bench it: you discard a Pokémon Tool from the opponent’s Active.  The bad?  The original had 30 HP, Psychic Resistance -30, and a free Retreat Cost while its “Bite” attack did 20 for [C].  This one has an acceptable 40 HP and lack of Resistance (you don’t expect much from a Rattata) but also has a Retreat Cost of [C] and its Bite only does 10 damage.  Before you get excited, remember that not only is this unable to discard a Pokémon Tool from a Bench-sitter but as an Ability?  It won’t work while Abilities are being shut down.  Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen reactions to this mistaking it as an answer for Garbodor (XY: BREAKpoint 57/122) and its “Garbotoxin” Ability. 

Skipping some unknown or unimportant ones, next is the new Chansey.  The original Chansey (Base Set 3/102; Base Set 2 3/130) was famous for its 120 HP (the original max), single Energy Retreat Cost, stalling “Scrunch” attack that blocked all damage from an opposing Pokémon’s attacks if you got “heads” on your coin flip when you used Scrunch, and its “Double Edge” attack that did 80 to the opponent’s Active and 80 to Chansey, but cost [CCCC] which at that time was reasonable (and under some circumstances, a bargain).  This new one has… the exact same stuff, but with its Psychic Resistance gone (as expected) and its Retreat Cost inflated to [CCC].  At least Porygon in this set makes some effort; it still gets an update of Porygon (Base Set 39/102) wrong, but it was never a good card in the first place.  It basically renames one of the original attacks, and rewords in a manner that is not future proof, but they do double its HP from 30 to 60.  “Effort” does not always result in good work. 

Dragonite-EX from this set is the real surprise.  Not that it is Colorless - Dragon Types may be their own thing now but Dragonite are half Flying Type -  but that it might actually be at least a little bit good.  Its stats are alright but its Ability allows you to add two Basic Pokémon from your discard pile to your hand when you Bench Dragonite-EX from hand.  It also stated you can’t target other cards named Dragonite-EX either.  While not a must run for every deck, in decks built around filling Bench while Sky Field is in play, this gives you an easy way to reclaim two of your discarded Pokémon immediately, plus Dragonite-EX is itself decent filler.  M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108, 105/108) can probably use this, and Dragonite-EX can even tap any Colorless Type Pokémon support in the deck.  It also has a good-but-not-great attack, “Hyper Beam”.  It does 130 for [CCCC] plus discards an Energy attached to the opponent’s Active.  At that price I’d prefer hitting harder to discarding Energy, but it’s pretty good damage for four Colorless Energy in the first place, so the discard is mostly a bonus. 

Trainers And Energy 

Of course, all the Spirit Link cards are important; boring to discuss, but important; since their release has any Mega Evolution without one proven worthwhile?  Wasn’t part of the struggle of Mega Evolutions in the first place because the built in drawbacks of the cards (turn ending when you Mega Evolve) had proven too much for all but one or two?  Also boring are reprints that either were never really good (Full Heal, Maintenance) or which are good but also already in the game (Double Colorless Energy, Energy Retrieval, Switch).   Pokédex rejoins Standard which might help a few combo decks (but probably not), while Misty’s Determination hadn’t left because it was still fairly recent, but also probably isn’t a help to most decks.  Maybe something good will be hidden in the unrevealed cards, maybe even something a little too good.  The new basic Energy cards (including for Types which did not exist back then) aren’t exciting either but are appreciated. 

What I don’t appreciate is Professor Oak’s Hint.  The card itself is a Supporter which allows you to draw until you have have seven cards in hand; a Bianca (or going back even further, a Professor Birch) plus one!  Those cards weren’t very good; while Bianca could draw up to five cards, typically you drew more three cards.  Professor Oak’s Hint will draw one more on average, but I think I still would prefer more reliable draw power or other Supporter effects, so it isn’t booting anything out of my decks.  You might also look at it as a Shaymin-EX (or rather its Set Up Ability) plus one or Tropical Beach as a Supporter… but this misses that both of those are useful precisely because they are not Supporters.  This is bad enough, but as Professor Sycamore was reprinted last set (so no worries about keeping him legal through a rotation), I really just wanted to see a Supporter named “Professor Oak” that let me discard my hand and draw seven cards.  The effect was his in the first place, and this should act as an errata for older versions of the cards, maybe shaking up Unlimited play.  Then add Professor Oak to the rule that currently prevents you from running both Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore together. 

Better still print the card but name it “Professor”.  Don’t specify which one, just feature the artwork of the original Professor Oak.  Issue an errata for Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore so that they too are now named simply Professor, so that all three are the same card.  We can then get rid of the oddball rule just for them and future releases of the card can feature both new and older “professor” characters in their art. 

Summary 

So as you can see, I found this set to mostly be nostalgic filler.  If something wasn’t discussed, maybe I missed it, but probably it was neither good nor bad enough to be worth mentioning; the latter was mostly about provoking me into action so a card can still be almost worthless without me having commented upon it.  We are getting this expansion to tide us over until the first Sun & Moon themed set, and it seems odd it wasn’t treated as another outlier set like Generations.  Certainly it feels like a poor end to the XY-era and the XY: BREAK block.  There is room for a few surprises, both because a translation may be wrong, my evaluation may be wrong, not all cards were revealed, or of course the whole thing really could turn out to be an elaborate hoax but now you have an idea of what will be going through the back of my head as I review cards for the next few weeks, when we all but confirm whether or not this is real with the release of the Japanese version.  Which is relevant since my reviews will be looking forward to the new Standard Format which officially starts this Thursday, September 1st. 

 

 

 

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