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Subject 00-147 @CardBoardWar_ Friday, March 22, 2024

The Salvatore Ruling and You, or: “Things to Check Before You Search Your Deck”


With the upcoming release of Temporal Forces, new official rulings were made and announced regarding an upcoming card: Salvatore. This Supporter card allows you to search your deck in the same way as Wally, for a Pokémon without an Ability that evolves from 1 of your Pokémon in play, and to put it onto that Pokémon to evolve it. The precedent this new ruling sets is important for Gym Leader Challenge, since it changes how much the game “knows” about the format being played, and supersedes older rulings about cards like Evosoda and Wally.

What is the “Salvatore Ruling” Anyway?

This ruling for Salvatore came out prior to the imminent release of Temporal Forces:

Q. Can I use Salvatore to search my deck for a card that is not legal for play in the current tournament format? For example, in a Standard format tournament, could I use Salvatore on a Raichu to search for Raichu BREAK?

A. No. A card has to be legal for play in the designated tournament format in order to be searched for by Salvatore.

This ruling is especially relevant to GLC, since the extra rules of the format (singleton, non-Rule Box, monotype) add more constraints to the cards that are “…legal for play in the designated tournament format in order to be searched for…” After some swift input directly from the game’s designers, it was also clarified that this does mean that some cards are unable to be played from the hand or have their effects activated under certain conditions. 

Public Information

The crux of this is that the game can use so-called “public information” to make inferences about the game state. Public information is any cards that are face-up and in the play area, including cards in the discard pile, Lost Zone, and even any face up Prize cards. If it can be known from the public information in the game state that a card would have no effect, it cannot be played or activated. A more well-known example of this (at time or writing) in the Standard format is Elesa’s Sparkle. If all four of your Fusion Strike Energy are in public zones, you can’t even play Elesa’s Sparkle from your hand since the game “knows” it can’t possibly have an effect.

As of this ruling, public information also includes the format being played – this means, for example, that any card whose effect is only to search for cards with a Rule Box, such as Electromagnetic Radar or Cherish Ball, cannot be played from your hand, since the game “knows” that there cannot be any targets for these cards in your deck for you to find.

The opposite of public information is private information – zones in which the game “knows” nothing about a card except for the fact that it is – well – a card. Private zones include the deck, hand, and face-down Prize cards. If a card ever enters one of these zones, the game forgets about it completely, even if it was revealed before it entered that private zone. This is why you can choose to fail a card like Pokémon Communication – the contents of your deck are private, so even though you put a Pokémon into your deck in order to play the card, the game doesn’t know at all whether there are any Pokémon in your deck for you to find (and it’s this uncertainty that allows you the room to fail the search.)

Notable Affected Cards

Type-Specific Search Cards

Since the game now “knows” the format is monotype, if your type is public information, you can’t use effects that would search for Pokémon that can’t possibly be in your deck. This means that a Lightning deck can’t search using Brooklet Hill – not even just to shuffle their deck - since there are no Basic Water or Fighting Pokémon in the format that could be in a Lightning-type deck.

There are two key caveats to this, however: the “Snorlax Paradox”, and the printing of exactly five single-prize, naturally dual-type Pokémon in Steam Siege.

The “Snorlax Paradox”

Named for Snorlax Doll, but also applying to any game state where one player has only Doll and Fossil cards in play (and no typed Pokémon in any public zones), the Snorlax Paradox means that a deck that finds itself in this scenario can activate any type’s searching effect. This is because these cards could feature in any type of deck. 

When the game has no public information to go off, you could even use Brooklet Hill’s effect, then play Mysterious Treasure in the same turn.

Dual-Type Pokémon

The 5 dual-type Pokémon printed in Steam Siege are:

  • Shiftry STS 11 (Grass/Darkness)

  • Volcarona STS 15 (Grass/Fire)

  • Galvantula STS 42 (Lightning/Grass)

  • Bisharp STS 64 (Darkness/Metal)

  • Azumarill STS 77 (Fairy/Water)

The existence of these Pokémon allows a few extra types a backdoor into using a very small number of cards. Most importantly (and the most likely to occur), the existence of the three Grass dual-types allows decks of the respective other types: Fire, Lightning, and Darkness - to use the effect of Turffield Stadium to search and shuffle their deck, since they have a format-legal Evolution Grass Pokémon they could potentially find – as long as the relevant dual-type is not already in a public zone.


Evosoda (and similar cards, like the eponymous Salvatore,along with Wally, and Technical Machine: Evolution (which received a similar ruling when released, but nobody noticed)) all need to have available, format-legal targets to allow them to be played. This means no more playing Evosoda when your only possible target would be a BREAK evolution – the game now “knows” these cannot be in your deck for you to find.

This goes one step further, however: since the game also “knows” that the format being played is singleton, it can also check public zones with this in mind. This means that if your only Pokémon in play capable of evolving is Arctibax, but Baxcalibur is in the discard pile (a public zone), you can’t play Evosoda (or search your deck with a similar effect) – and this could sometimes be important in situations where you need to thin your hand down in order to draw more cards with an Ability, or play a Supporter like Archie’s Ace in the Hole. Remember though – some Pokémon have split evolution lines. This means that Evosoda could be played with only Pikachu in play even if Raichu is in the discard pile, since Alolan Raichu also evolves from Pikachu.

Searching for Specific Attributes

Some cards search for much narrower criteria than simply evolving from a Pokémon in play. An especially good example of this at the moment is Techno Radar, which searches for Future Pokémon. As with evolving, this means that there needs to be at least one Future Pokémon available within your type that is not in a public zone (and does not share a name with a card in a public zone) for you to be able to play this card. The same is true for cards like Single/Rapid Strike Style Mustard, Tag Call or Ball Guy – though with slightly larger groups of targets like these, it’s incredibly unlikely you’ll even be running every format-legal target in your deck – so you can guarantee you won’t put all possible targets into public zones.


The most important take-away from this is that as of this new ruling, you cannot use the search Stadiums of other types*, and that you should always check your discard pile (and any other public zones) before playing a search card with only a small number of potential targets – especially later in a game –make sure you could still have an in-format target to find, from the point of view of the game.

Overall, this probably won’t affect the vast majority of games played – but it’s still important to be aware of, just in case.

*Except in the situations listed above