Deckbuilding with the New Set: Unbroken Bonds
Here with a break from the meta discussions and list perfecting, I’ll be going over some awesome new cards from Unbroken Bonds that I am excited to start building standard format decks with. The new set is in the air and the rush for singles, sealed product and online codes begins!
Switching from standard to expanded and back to standard throughout this competitive season, it has become painfully apparent that standard format is missing draw support options, especially options that aggressively draw cards. In the absence of cards like Shaymin-EX, Professor Sycamore, and Octillery (Abyssal Hand), standard format is left with very little variety for draw support and the choices that we do have aren’t too great. Dedenne-GX is an awesome new draw support Pokemon that is also very balanced in my opinion. It can help aggro decks like Pikarom burn through more cards to get their combo pieces while not allowing the player to abuse Dede Charge by using multiple Dedennes in one turn thanks to the clause that says you may only use one Dede Charge ability per turn. Its use does not stop at aggro decks, as virtually any type of deck could benefit from discarding their hand and drawing six new cards without playing a supporter for turn. The PikaRom archetype is the natural fit for this card, especially since we are also getting Electromagnetic Radar in Unbroken Bonds which allows you to search for two lightning type Pokemon GX/EX. When Shaymin-EX released many years ago, it was initially seen as a card for the Mega Rayquaza-EX deck since that deck used Sky Field to fill its bench and needed to draw a lot of cards. But as we all know, Shaymin-EX became a staple of its standard format and is still widely used in Expanded today. I expect a similar future for Dedenne-GX.
Pokegear is another great card that I am excited to have in the standard format. In a format where our good draw supporters are limited to Lillie and Cynthia, it is awkward to add suboptimal supporter cards to boost consistency. Pokegear is a valuable asset because it can act as a pseudo supporter slot since it looks at the top 7 cards and potentially finds you a supporter there. This means that your deck could go from having 4 Cynthia and 4 Lillie which would be 8 non-lele-GX outs to a draw supporter card to having 4 Cynthia 4 Lillie and 4 Pokegear which would be 12 outs to a draw supporter card. Add 2 Tapu Lele-GX and 4 Ultra Ball into this mix and you would have 18 outs to a turn one draw supporter which sounds really great. Now, remember that Pokegear is not guaranteed to find you a supporter card or the exact one you want, but it does increase your chances.
Pokegear 3.0 makes a Green’s Search engine very possible. I’ll be going over Green’s Search next but wanted to mention it here as we will be seeing Pokegear and Green’s Search together a lot.
Green’s Search advocates for a very unique way of building decks and I am glad to have more variety being introduced. Green’s search allows you to search for any two trainer cards, but only if you have no Pokémon with abilities in play. Since you need a board that is free of abilities to play this card, that means you won’t be using Tapu Lele-GX to search this supporter out and will likely not be running cards like Dedenne-GX as a supplemental engine. Pokegear is awesome for a Green’s Search build since it helps you find your ideal supporter similar to how Lele would, but without putting an ability onto the board. Mismagius (which is another new card I will be talking about) is a great draw support Pokémon for a deck running Green’s Search as Mismagius’s ability knocks itself out to draw cards, meaning you can remove this ability Pokémon from the board at your own discretion allowing you to use Green’s Search. A popular deck using Green’s Search will be Gardevoir & Sylveon Tag Team-GX if early testing and the Japanese meta are any indication of the TPCI jurisdictional standard format.
Mismagius has the Mysterious Message ability which allows you to draw until you have seven cards in hand and then knock out Mismagius. This gives your opponent a prize card, but giving up a prize card could potentially be advantageous if you want to activate Counter Catcher, Counter Energy, Beast Ring, or an attacker like Buzzwole FLI that has an attack dependent of your opponent’s prize card count. This is also a way to draw cards without using the ability of a Pokemon GX, which is good if Power Plant becomes popular or you want to include Power Plant in your own deck.
Whimsicott-GX was not one of my favorite cards of the set as of my first review, but upon further theorizing there are some cool and possibly effective strategies to try with this card.
The first application of Whimsicott-GX is with Gardevoir & Sylveon Tag Team which is probably an obvious combination. Use Gardevoir & Sylveon’s first attack to accelerate energy onto a benched Whimsicott-GX while protecting Whimsicott from an opponent’s Guzma with Ribombee LOT’s Mysterious Buzz ability. Ideally you could build up a powerful Whimsicott and essentially “tank” hits with its ability or protect it with fairy charms (fairy charm UB and fairy charm Lightning for example).
The second idea I have for Whimsicott-GX is a deck built around Whimsicott-GX and denying your opponent from taking prizes with healing, Fairy Charms, and control. I feel that you cannot rely solely on Whimsicott-GX’s ability to help it survive as it can be shut off by the new Power Plant stadium that turns off all abilities of Pokémon GX. Because of this I want to try cards like Fairy Charm and Choice Helmet to keep Whimsicott from being knocked out in addition to control cards like Enhanced Hammer, Wondrous Labyrinth, and Sudowoodo (Road Block) to moderate the opponent’s board presence. I’m not sure what the best healing option for a Whimsicott centric deck would be, some considerations are Mixed Herbs, Acerola, and Max Potion. Since Triple Acceleration Energy is a great card in this deck to boost Whimsicott’s damage output by a nice burst of 90, max potion could be pretty synergistic as the boost energy discards itself anyway. In this scenario you would look for a line of play such as attack with Whimsicott using Acceleration Energy, the Acceleration Energy discards itself, next turn switch into a new Whimsicott and Max Potion the damaged one discarding any energy left and start over with the fresh Whimsicott. This deck could potentially benefit from Alolan Ninetales-GX and Gardevoir-GX BUS for energy acceleration, search, and additional attackers, but I’m not sure the deck would have space for all of this.
Honchkrow-GX seems fairly degenerative with its soft lock on tools, special energy, and stadiums. Unfair GX is also being underrated in my opinion as something like Judge or Marshadow’s Let Loose into Unfair GX seems really strong. Thanks to Dusk Stone, you can establish Honchkrow-GX on turn one and really hurt any decks that are reliant on special energy like Zoroark-GX variants and Zapdos variants that utilize rainbow energy. I am excited to see what type of decks players come up with for Honchkrow-GX and if any of them will be successful. I think it is inherently a good card, but we’ll have to see if it can find itself in a favorable meta.
Power Plant is a strong new stadium card that reads “Pokemon GX and Pokemon EX in play (both yours and your opponent’s) have no abilities”. This is another card that I believe will encourage more unique and creative deck building alongside Green’s Search and Pokegear 3.0.
Unbroken Bonds has plenty of playable cards, and these cards mentioned barely scratches the surface. It's time to get to work.
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