By: Brian Hsieh
When Luxray GL Lv. X hit the Pokemon scene, we were all hit with nostalgia as its PokePower (similar to Gust of Wind of Base Set) allowed it to switch the defending Pokemon with another Pokemon on the bench of the player’s choice. This allowed Luxray to attack the newly brought in Pokemon, or free retreat to have a better Pokemon knock out the newly brought in card. Since it was recently rotated out, another card has come in its place in the form of a trainer; Pokemon Catcher. Since its release, it has become an expensive card, even topping the ultra rare cards like Thundurus and Tornadus in this set. If Luxray were still in this format, its price would still drop due to all the advantages that Pokemon Catcher has.
With Pokemon Catcher, it’s safe to build any deck. Pokemon Catcher comes as a versatile Trainer and does not have a specific type assigned to it. Luxray GL Lv. X had the SP and lightning tag on it. This made it more likely to be featured in lightning and SP decks. It can be argued that one can tech in a Luxray in any deck that had a strong physical presence that could do the dirty work instead; the tags are not much of a minus but do hurt its playability to an extent.
A big hit on Luxray was that there could only be two Lv. Xs in a deck, as they were considered the same as the regular Pokemon it leveled up from. In order to use its effect, you would have to actually bring out a regular Luxray GL and then upgrade it when it’s the active Pokemon. If you have it on your bench, you must switch into it in order to activate the Lv.X form. This would be a pain as that is your only switch for the turn unless you use the Trainer card Switch. Also, if opponents see it coming, it is sure to be knocked out before you can level it up, leaving you with a Lv. X in your hand and needing a discard pile searching card to get your Luxray back. Having a limited number of Luxray also hurts as one could possibly be prized. There are many supporters that help out SPs, so this technique of getting Luxray out wasn’t as hard as it looked. With Poketurn, one could actually use the ability more than once, and the introduction of Junk Arm allows for even more production. With Pokemon Catcher, there is no setup involved. You just play and select a target. Junk Arm gives this card a boost also; as you can just discard two dead draw cards and play Catcher again, with a maximum of eight uses. This strategy allows you to have a higher success of drawing one.
The only positive thing I could say about Luxray would be that it was actually searchable. Only Twins can search for Pokemon Catcher while at the time, Bebe’s Search, Pokemon Collector, Pokemon Communication, and Premier Ball each had its advantages of bringing this card into play. Having this ability in a Pokemon comes at a price, with Luxray being knocked out. Besides, if you have a good number of Pokemon Catchers in your deck, you would just need to rely on nice draw cards like Professor Juniper, Sage’s Training, and Cheren to draw it out.
Luxray had a good run as a top tier card in its format, but with its set rotated out and Pokemon Catcher’s set rotated in, we’ll be seeing Catcher change the format even more due to its simple nature. Since it does not need two cards two complete the effect, this card will see itself in many decks, if not all the top tier ones in this format. A person from my league made this simple remark on Pokemon Catcher, “You either play it or play against it.”