TCG Set Review: A Blaze Of Glory (SM Unbroken Bonds)
In the spirit of friendship and camaraderie, this review of the shiny new Sun and Moon: Unbroken Bonds TCG set will discuss Tag Teams, pretty full arts, and the proper way to play Rock/Paper/Scissors.
“Our bonds give me strength!” – Chrom, Fire Emblem series
Really? Unbroken Bonds? Something something friendship is magic. Oh well. It’s not the least original set name this year.
It’s been a bit of an eventful year so far. We had the Tag Team GX mechanic introduced, and it’s been making as much of a splash as we anticipated. Well, in Expanded anyway. In Standard it’s been more of a zap than a splash, but that’s neither here nor there. Point is, we have something scarier than PikaRom now! Oh yeah and Detective Pikachu was a thing.
Also holy mother of Arceus this set is HUUUUUGE
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 tenth full set in the seventh generation, the second in 2019, and the equivalent of the Japanese Double Blaze, Night Unison, and Full Metal Wall, Sun and Moon: Unbroken Bonds.
Standard Disclaimer: As usual, these are my opinions.
Abbreviations – SM10, UNB
Cards – 214 + 20 Secret Rares
Dominant Type(s) – Fighting, for some reason
Card Distribution – 119 Pokémon, 24 Trainers, and 3 Special Energy
Featured Pokémon – Pack art depicts Machamp and Marshadow, Gardevoir and Sylveon, Lucario and Melmetal, and Reshiram and Charizard, with the latter also being represented on the Elite Trainer Box. Theme decks are called Battle Mind and Lightning Loop, and feature Mewtwo and Zeraora respectively
Pokémon Debuts – Meltan and Melmetal
Random Fact – There is at least one unique GX of every type in this set – so at least 3 total per type including secret, alt, and full arts
Venomoth-GX (12, 193 [FA], 216 [SR])
Greninja-GX was reserved for the Detective Pikachu set, so our ninja representative on the Pokémon front is Venomoth. Who is now a shinobi. While being a moth. I don’t know I just read the card.
Venomoth has a cool interaction with two Supporters this set – Janine and Koga’s Trap. Its Shinobi Strike attack (which shares its Japanese name with a Warrior Skill from the second best spinoff, Pokémon Conquest) has an additional effect if one of those supporters were used this turn – bonus damage for Koga’s Trap or protection from Basic-induced damage for Janine. The ninja supporters also have similar interactions with other ninja-y stuff in the set such as Tentacool.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX (20, 194 [FA], 217 [SR])
The Unovan legends must have been really mad there was no Unova set last year, and they’ve come to take revenge in the form of Tag Team GX cards – Pikachu & Zekrom GX last set and now this monstrosity.
Don’t have much to say about it other than that is just really good. Going second with Welder in hand allows Brokenram-GX to fire off the GX attack for 200 damage on your first turn, which is just a lot.
And if you needed any more reason to be scared of Fire-types now, how about one of the best draw engines in the game? Stolen right from HGSS Ninetales, Roast Reveal lets you dump a Fire Energy to get 3 cards from your deck. This is just a good card. Period.
Did you know that since before I started playing, the official Pokémon tournament rules has had official rules for how to play Rock/Paper/Scissors, for when a card decides a coin flip just doesn’t cut it? Here’s an excerpt from the April 2019 rulebook (the current one unless they change it when this set goes legal in two weeks):
Some cards may require players to determine results of the card’s action by playing Rock/Paper/Scissors. To provide a uniform experience, players must use the following method of determining the winner of Rock/Paper/Scissors:
- Players must look each other in the eyes to reduce the likelihood that an early result will be seen by the opponent.
- Both players make a fist with one hand, and hold the other hand open, palm up. Both players tap their fists on their open palms simultaneously, four times, displaying their choice of Rock, Paper, or Scissors on the fourth tap.
- Rock beats Scissors, Paper beats Rock, and Scissors beats Paper.
- Both players must agree on the result of the hand motions before the hand motions are withdrawn.
- In the case of a tie, both players repeat this process until there is a winner.
Pyukumuku invokes this clause for the first time since… uh… a long time ago. And my Prerelease had three Pyukumuku decks. For memes, obviously.
Dedenne-GX (47, 195 [FA], 219 [SR])
With the announcement of the early rotation, Tapu Lele-GX players needed a backup for when they lose their hand acceleration. So Pokémon was kind enough to gift them an adorable rodent that can draw a ton more cards when it is played to the bench. Cute.
AAAAAA ITS SO CUTEEEEEEE
Also Battery is a cool Ability.
BUT MOSTLY CHARJABUGGGGGG.
Muk & Alolan Muk-GX (61, 196 [FA], 197 [Sp], 220 [SR])
POISON FOR EVERYONE!
Muk2-GX just poisons things for like 80 damage per turn and it’s super cool. That’s all.
Weezing is a really fun deck that’s all about spreading damage all over your opponent’s Pokémon, especially their basics. Passive damage from his Ability plus spread damage from his attack makes it easy to hit large numbers very quickly.
Crabominable walks a lonely road, the only one that he has ever known. Don’t know where it goes, but it’s only him and he Fights Alone.
And by Fights Alone I mean uses Fight Alone to do as much as 330 damage without any boosts. This was such a fun deck with Lucario from Fates Collide and it’s so good to see it back.
Greninja & Zoroark-GX (107, 200 [FA], 201 [Sp], 222 [SR])
So remember when I said Greninja-GX wasn’t in this set? I sort of lied.
Grenark-GX brings its friends to life with Dark Union GX, and then brings the pain with Dark Pulse. By “its friends” I mean two Dark GXes of your choice, including Stage 2s, from your Discard, each freshly loaded with a pair of spooky Dark energy. And by “brings the pain” I mean does 30 per Dark energy on ALL your Pokémon, which is a lot after getting a bunch of energy on your bench without wasting your manual attach if you Dark Unioned correctly.
Also I really hate supporting Greninja but… this card looks really badass.
Honchkrow-GX (109, 202 [FA], 223 [SR])
Honchkrow wins “best Ability name” for this set with the really cool sounding Ruler of the Night. It’s also a pretty interesting oppressive Ability – blocking your opponent from using Tool, Special Energy, or Stadium cards.
And on the other hand, he also gets “best attack name” with Unfair GX. Because that’s just darn unfair.
Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX (130, 204 [FA], 205 [Sp], 225 [SR])
LOOK IT’S SOOOOO PRETTY AAAAAAAAA
Gardeon-GX is just an amazingly beautiful card, the special art (shown) in particular. That is all.
Whimsicott-GX (140, 206 [FA], 226 [SR])
This one is pretty AND meme-y! EVEN BETTER!
Besides looking adorable as heck, Whimsi also has a 50% chance to just not take damage. Period.
Green’s Exploration (175, 209 [FA])
AAAAAAA ANOTHER PRETTY FULL ART UGH NOW I WANT ONE
Oh also Green’s is a really good Trainer search for Abilityless decks. That’s a thing too.
Koga’s Trap (177, 211 [FA])
WAHAHA! YOU’VE ACTIVATED MY TRAP CARD, KUNAI WITH CHAIN! YOUR ATTACKING POKEMON IS NOW IN DEFENSE POSITION (confused)!
The FA again looks really cool. But. Memes.
Welder (189, 214 [FA])
Debatably the single most broken card in the set, Welder lets you attach a ton of free Fire energy for no reason without consuming your manual attach for the turn. Which is really powerful.
But Welder FA isn’t pretty, so therefore it’s less important than Green’s.
All in all, this set is pretty groundbreaking. It introduces a lot of cool things that could bring drastic changes for the meta. I rate this set…
Final Score: Fire/10
That’s all the time I have for today. Make sure to pick up some cards from Sun and Moon: Unbroken Bonds when they release on May 3rd! Yes, I’m a week and a half late. Sorry. Have fun fighting the Fires, and our Unified Minds will collide again once more in August!
If a player is uncomfortable using the standard hand motions for Rock/Paper/Scissors, that player can use three cards as a replacement. Each card must be clearly marked with Rock, Paper, or Scissors in text. Each card can only be marked with one result, and all three results must be present. Players using cards choose Rock, Paper, or Scissors and reveal it at the same time as the opponent reveals their choice.
There are no other acceptable replacements for the Rock/Paper/Scissors hand motions.
Edited by Rabinov.
Card images from Pokemon.com