A Survey of Top Trainer-Items
25 Oct, 2011
A host of new Trainer-Item cards are adding a deeper layer of strategy to all deck builders.
There’s been an explosion of good Trainer-Item cards lately—the Black & White expansion introduced Revive and Energy Retrieval, and brought back Energy Search and a Pokédex that is slightly different than the Pokédex (HANDY909) (EX FireRed & LeafGreen, 96/112) Trainer card. Now the next wave of Trainer-Item cards, this time from the Black & White—Emerging Powers expansion, is making huge waves when it comes to Pokémon TCG strategy.
While so much attention gets directed at the most powerful Pokémon in each new expansion, there’s perhaps no more powerful card in the Black & White—Emerging Powers expansion than Pokémon Catcher (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 95/98). It’s a simple effect: choose a Pokémon on your opponent’s Bench and swap it with his or her Active Pokémon. Yet with a single card, you have a world of options.
For example, use Pokémon Catcher to choose a Pokémon from your opponent’s Bench that you can beat easily. Early in a match, if your opponent has played Sewaddle (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 3/98) to start setting up a Leavanny (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 7/98) on his or her Bench, play Pokémon Catcher to make Sewaddle, with its paltry 40 HP, active. It won’t be long before you’re picking up an easy Prize Card. To expand this technique, combine Pokémon Catcher with Seeker (HS—Triumphant, 88/102) early in matches to get quick wins by forcing your opponent to empty his or her Bench before attacking.
The Crushing Hammer (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 92/98) Trainer-Item card is a deceptively useful card. When you play it, you flip a coin: if you get heads, you discard an Energy from one of your opponent’s Pokémon (not just the Active Pokémon). There have been a fair number of cards recently that provide greater benefits by piling as much Energy on them as possible. We looked at one in the last strategy article: Gothitelle. In much the same way, Gigalith’s (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 53/98) Rock Bullet attack delivers more and more damage for each Fighting Energy attached to it. Thanks to Crushing Hammer, you have a chance to slow down this kind of Energy-fueled juggernaut. Of course, in the case of Gothitelle (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 47/98), you’ll have to take advantage of Crushing Hammer before Gothitelle is your opponent’s Active Pokémon or before it evolves, as its Magic Room Ability will block Crushing Hammer.
Crushing Hammer is also a nice card to use against Reshiram (Black & White, 113/114), which depends heavily on a constant addition of Energy. Slow down Reshiram’s charge after it uses a Blue Flare by playing Crushing Hammer to remove yet another Energy attached to it. Hopefully that will buy you a couple of turns before Reshiram starts swinging away again.
At first glance, Max Potion (Black & White—Emerging Powers, 94/98) seems like an excellent card, letting you heal all damage from a Pokémon. But once you start try to play it and realize the cost of discarding all the Energy attached to that Pokémon, the decision becomes much more difficult. Fortunately, with a little planning, you can maximize the benefits of Max Potion while reducing its downside. Before looking at examples, here’s a general tip: If you’re going to play Max Potion, the first thing you should consider is adding a few Energy Retrieval (Black & White, 92/114) cards to your deck. It lets you fetch two Energy cards from your discard pile and put them in your hand.
One of the best places to use Max Potion is in Reuniclus (Black & White, 57/114) decks. Reuniclus’s Damage Swap Ability lets you move damage counters around as you wish among your Pokémon. So, move all the damage taken among all your Pokémon to just one Pokémon that doesn’t have any Energy attached to it, and then, use Max Potion to heal it...without any penalty! You can potentially heal many or all of your Pokémon with this crafty maneuver.
You should also consider Max Potion for Pokémon with attacks that already require you to discard Energy. Reshiram is a good example, since you probably should already be planning to use Energy Retrievals or Typhlosion Prime (HeartGold & SoulSilver, 110/116) (or both) to get Energy out of your discard pile. Also, Emboar’s (Black & White, 19/114) Flare Blitz attack delivers a scorching 150 damage, but if requires you to discard all of your Fire Energy attached to Emboar. If you’re already forced to discard Energy to use such a devastating attack, follow up on your next turn with a Max Potion to heal Emboar before building its Energy back up.
As you can see, powerful Pokémon get a lot of the attention, but some of the new Trainer-Item cards could easily be the difference between winning and losing your next Pokémon TCG match. Experiment with the ones that work best in your deck!
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