Opinions and Stories

TCG Set Review: Shadow Punch (SM Burning Shadows)

A review of SM Burning Shadows, in which physics break, Night March gets revived (potentially) by a shadowy marshmallow, and Charizard gets his first Gen 7 print.

Update 8/3 – The set is now released! The original article, which was published on July 26, is below in all its original glory.

Update 8/3 Part II – The three-letter set abbreviation was incorrect in the original article, mostly because BSH seems way more logical for an abbreviation than BUS. This has been corrected.

Brave the shadows, find the truth.” – Zed, League of Legends

Can we talk about how this name doesn’t work? Shadows don’t burn. That’s not a thing that actually happens. Probably. And even using the official explanation of fires hiding in shadows, fires can’t hide in shadows. Fires make light, which kind of inherently dispels shadow. That one I checked. This makes no sense. I’m calling this set BS for short now (pun entirely intended).

Another quarter year has passed since Tapu Lele GX and friends came and ruined the meta more than Photobucket ruined basically every website, and soon TPCi will be jumping in and knocking three sets (four if you count Double Crisis as an actual set) out of Standard. What does this mean for us? It means that five out of the eight sets that will be left in Standard are nearly obsolete, so we need a fourth good set to boost the meta. Does August hold an answer?

I have taken the liberty of meticulously analyzing each and every card in the upcoming TCG set for playability, artistic value, and interesting mechanics. As such, I will be using this article to forgo whatever results I may have picked up from this analysis and just rant about which cards I like and don’t like. So without further ado, here is the third set in the seventh generation, the third in 2017 and the Sun and Moon block, and the equivalent of the Japanese To Have Seen the Battle Rainbow and Darkness that Consumes Light (plus Facing a New Trial), Sun and Moon: Burning Shadows.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions. A few Japanese placeholder images were left because apparently no one has seen an English version.


Symbol – 
Abbreviations – BUS, SM3
Cards – 147 + 22 Secret Rares
Dominant Type(s) – Ironically, Fighting and Grass. Neither burning, nor shadowy.
Card Distribution – 137 Pokémon, 32 Trainers
Pack Art – Ho-Oh, Marshadow, Necrozema, and Tapu Fini. Elite Trainer Box features Necrozema.
Random Stats – This is the first English pack art appearance for Marshadow, Necrozema, and Tapu Fini, and the third for Ho-Oh. This set’s pack artwork features only Legendary (or Mythical) Pokémon. This is the first time since Legendary Treasures that this has occurred. Burning Shadows has the exact same number of cards as the set before it (169), marking the first time two consecutive English sets have had the same number of cards.

Cool Cards

Golisopod GX (17, 129 [FA], 148 [SR])

It’s ya boi Golisopod (again). *Guzma’s battle theme plays* That is all.

I literally only care about one attack here: First Impression. 120 damage for one energy is absurd. Sure you can’t spam it without Switch or similar, but we have plenty of ways around that. Might be something to throw into a deck with the Golisopod from last set.

Ho-Oh GX (21, 131 [FA])

So remember the first word of this set’s name? You know, “Burning”? Well say hello to Ho-Oh GX.

This time the Phoenix-inspired Rainbow Pokémon won’t be reviving itself from the ashes, but instead reviving all its fiery friends. Besides the fact that it can do 180 damage for four energy, with the only downside being that it isn’t spamable, it also has a 50 damage bench snipe for three and a three-cost GX attack that… well…

Eternal Flame GX let’s you pick 3 Fire-type GX or EX Pokémon, regardless of evolution stage, and play them directly to the bench. That means your Mega Charizard EX doesn’t have to go through the normal Charizard EX stage. It means Incineroar GX or Charizard GX can skip their pre-evolutions. If the Fire type had any decent support characters in this format, this could potentially be amazing. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one in this set? Oh wait, Kiawe. Whoops.

Salazzle GX (25, 132 [FA], 151 [SR])

Rumor has it that only female Salandit can evolve into this majestic, fiery, poisonous creature. What differentiates a male Salandit card from a female one is yet unknown.

As for what the card actually does, it has a move that does a flat 110 damage for two Fire. The first attack is quite good for late-game, as the damage rises with each Prize you have taken. Queen’s Haze GX is just downright annoying. This card might see some play as a Gardevoir GX or M Mewtwo-EX check just for that attack, which effectively forces Garde or Mewtwo to do a full reset while only adding 60 damage to Infinite Force.

Also that art is +1.

Alolan Ninetales (28)

Why hello there, Regice but better. Being immune to basically the entire format via its ability, which negates all attacks by GX or EX Pokémon as long as Icetales is active, is nice. Like, I might tech one or two of them into my slower decks, most of them run Alolan Vulpix anyway.

Also it is an Alolan Ninetales, and Icetales is majestic in all its iterations.

As a bonus, this card is a theme deck promo, arguably the first decent one this generation, making it easy to obtain.

Did I mention yet that Icetales is awesome looking? Yes? Oh well, I said it again.

Gyarados (33)

So way back when, when the dinosaurs roamed, all the rares of a set came first in numerical order, and Broken Time-Space was a thing that existed (2008), we had this card called Gyarados (SF 19). Gyarados SF had an attack called “Tail Revenge”, which said, “Does 30 damage times the number of Magikarp in your discard pile.” People in that day and age thought this was amazing! 90 damage was enough to one-shot a majority of the format. Gyarados became the sole attacker of one of the most popular decks in that format. It was fast and really powerful.

Zoom back to 2017, and no one bats an eyebrow at a near identical attack that replaces the number 30 with the number 50. I mean, the Stormfront version’s attack cost zero energy to the DCE of this version’s attack, but it is still 150 damage. Which is a lot. Usually.

Looks cool though.

Tapu Fini GX (39, 133 [FA], 152 [SR])

Skip the useless stuff, we’re talking about the GX attack here. For one Water Energy, make your opponent’s active go away. Like, gone. Poof. Back to the deck with you. Sorry Metagross, but you’ll need another Rare Candy now.

Dusknoir (53)

I felt the need to include SOMETHING shadowy, and Ghost-types are usually the first thing that come to mind. Dusknoir also looks cool, and has a fun ability. Being able to drag a Basic out of someone’s hand is cool, and in the case of something like Tapu Lele GX, it blocks its ability from activating. The 30 damage from it is a plus too.

Necrozema GX (63, 134 [FA], 153 [SR])

I’m not saying this GX Attack is good, just interesting. 100 damage to ALL GX (and EX) Pokémon can destroy some decks.

Oh, and the Ability lets it check Tauros GX and Drampa GX by becoming immune to their damage. This is good because Tauros was annoying.

Rhyperior (67)

As with last set, the MVP of my Prerelease deck gets a spot on this list. The Rhyperior line constituted nearly half my Pokémon in said deck, and was responsible for more than half of the KOes in my X-0 deck. The ability is actually interesting too, and might be useful if it weren’t on a Stage 2.

Marshadow GX (80, 137 [FA], 156 [SR])

Night March called. They want to be meta in Expanded again.

Marshmallow GX might be my favorite card in the set. The ability works incredibly well with things like Night March, and until the EX era rotates out for good there will always be strong basics to tag moves from. The standard attack is also not bad, and the GX attack is… Basically a better version of Lurantis GX’s.

Also, Marshadow is REALLY cute. Like, super fluffy and adorable kinda cute. Just look at the fluffy little punchy ghosty thing awwwwww…

Alolan Muk GX (84, 138 [FA], 157 [SR])

Despite the name, Darkness isn’t terribly prevalent in this set, but the cards that are there are awesome, hence why you get four Dark entries in a row. This one is notable mostly for the GX attack, appropriately named Tri-Hazard GX, which lets you drag up something of your choosing, give it all the special conditions (notably Paralysis), and profit next turn with your first attack, which deals bonus damage for each special condition the opponent has. AND IT COSTS NOTHING. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Not a single energy.

Weavile (86)

Non-GX cards are criminally underrated sometimes. Weavile, besides looking like an absolute boss (he always does), is exceptional for punishing the current Ability-heavy meta. Sure you can’t run any Abilities with it, but 60 damage to potentially 4 or 5 Pokémon at once from a Stage 1 for a single Colorless is pretty awesome.

Did I mention Weavile has a ton of style too? Oh, and Rule of Evil is hands down the best attack name in this set.

Darkrai (87)

Non-GX cards are criminally underrated sometimes. Darkrai, besides looking like an absolute boss (but less so than Weavile), is exceptional for punishing the current GX-heavy meta. With a Choice Band, a non-GX Basic dealing potentially 190 damage for three Energy is pretty insane. Due to the popularity of early GX users like Drampa, this will happen quite often. Darkness decks should certainly consider teching in a Darkrai, just to put the smack down on anyone who dares use a GX attack.

And its name is neither Darkrai-EX, nor Darkrai-GX, so you can use four Darkrai-GX and still have room for this card. No lame excuses today. Speaking of which…

Darkrai GX (88, 139 [FA], 158 [SR])

Revival abilities are the best.

Also, 130 damage for three on a Basic is pretty good. As an added bonus, it ignores Resistance, so Gardevoir GX is still a two-shot.

The GX Attack would be amazing if it weren’t a GX Attack. It automatically KOes any enemy, as long as said enemy has a special condition. Dead End GX is the second best attack name in the set too, so bonus points!

Gardevoir GX (93, 140 [FA], 159 [SR])

This is, objectively, the best card in the set, and there is so much to talk about that I barely know where to start. So, we start at the top of the card.

First thing is that it is a Stage 2. This isn’t good, but hey, 230 HP is nice.

Next thing down is the artwork, and it is beautiful. All three versions of this card look stunning, with the Regular Art being my favorite.

Next is the Ability. Secret Spring lets you attach two energy a turn, as long as one of them is Fairy. This is self explanatory, and really cool.

The regular attack is why we are here. Remember Lugia EX? Yveltal EX? Mewtwo EX? Tapu Lele GX? Well Infinite Force is a buffed version of all of their attacks that costs one Fairy. Totally not overpowered. And keep in mind that the ability lets you attach 2 Energy a turn. Yeah.

Twilight GX is also super cool, especially in a Stage 2 deck, because it allows you to get back important resources (read: Rare Candy) from your discard and put them back into your deck. And it isn’t like two or three cards. It’s TEN.

All in all, this card is beautiful and amazing, like Gardevoir itself.

Noivern GX (100, 141 [FA], 160 [SR])


Besides the fact that Noivern can lock items with its first attack, it can block out Special Energy with its second one and damage your opponent’s entire side of the field with the GX attack. Really cool idea.

It also has the distinction of being one of only two Dragon-types (three of four if we count the FA and SR versions) in this set, with the other being Zygarde-Complete.

Acerola (112, 142 [FA])

The theme for this set’s Trainer cards is “take a bunch of old Trainers and add extra words to them”. In Exhibit A we have Acerola, who feels like AZ, but only works on a target that has damage on it.

But that’s not why Acerola is on this list. Acerola is here because the FA Art looks amazing.

Guzma (115, 143 [FA])

It’s ya boi Guzma. *battle theme plays* That is all.

In Exhibit B, we have Guzma, who feels like Lysandre but also forces you to switch your Active to the Bench. This is more powerful situationally, but it is less of a catch-all than Lysandre.

Wicke (127, 147 [FA])

Exhibit C is Wicke. Wicke is like N in that it refreshes both player’s hands, but this time it gives each player the same number of cards they had before rather than the number of prizes they have left.

Also can we cool down with the FA Art please Pokémon? Like, Skyla was bad enough…

Wishful Baton (128)

This card is so OP that Smogon has already banned it from OU.

Exhibit D is Wishful Baton, which is like inverse EXP Share, just 200% more powerful. Move three energy from your knocked-out active to the benched Darkrai Pokémon of your choice. That about explains it. Pretty stronk.

More Almost Reused Trainers (now with less pictures)

Exhibit E: Kiawe – Blacksmith, but from the deck, double power, and it ends your turn.

Exhibit F: Plumeria – Like Team Flare Grunt, but any opposing Pokémon can be targeted and you have to discard two cards to use it.

Exhibit G: Mount Lanakila – Like Skyarrow Bridge, just exactly the opposite.

Exhibit H: Po Town – Like Magma Base, just more damaging and on evolution rather than basics.

Exhibit I: Sophacles – Like Engineer’s Adjustments, just now you have to discard an extra card.

Bad Misplaced Cards

Machamp GX, Lycanroc, the other Lycanroc, the OTHER other Lycanroc, the rainbow other other Lycanroc, etc.

MORE INCOMPLETE EVOLUTION LINES? PLEASE STOP TPCI THANKS. Literally, there are FOUR Lycanroc cards in this set, but no Rockruff.

Charizard GX

The next set is literally called “Crimson Invasion”, and yet Charizard and its “Crimson Storm” attack somehow found their way into THIS one? Sit down and move back a set, Brokenzard.


Oh come on, ANOTHER Bewear? Three sets in a row of the same Pokémon seems… excessive. Counting the promos, there are six Bewear cards right now, and the Pokémon has existed for less than a year. To make matters worse, this one looks the worst of the bunch.


All in all, Burning Shadows is probably the best looking set in a long time. The cards all look really well done. There are some pretty strong cards here too. I rate this set…

Final Score: Marshmallow/10

That’s all the time I have for today. Join me in November for another fabulous TCG Set Analysis, and make sure to pick up some cards from Sun and Moon: Burning Shadows when they release on August 4th! If you have any thoughts on this new set, tell us in the comments. Try not to get blown up too many times by Gardevoir GX, and look forward to this Autumn’s tips on how to repel the Crimson Invasion*!

* Unless the English version of Shining Legends come out first.

Edited by bobandbill, Meganium, and Volpe Artica.

Image Credits: Bewear, Wishful Baton, RA Acerola, Alolan Muk GX, Alolan Ninetales, and Gyarados courtesy of PokéCommunity user ChariotsofThayer. Golisopod GX and Weavile courtesy of pokellector.com. Ho-Oh GX, Salazzle GX, Tapu Fini GX, Necrozema GX, Marshadow GX, Darkrai GX, and Charizard GX courtesy of pokemon.com. The Japanese images were found on pokebeach.com. All the rest of the pictures provided by the author.