Next up in our Unbroken Bonds set review series is the Lightning Pokemon. Previously, we have looked at the Grass, Fire, and Water Pokemon in the set. The links to those articles can be found below.
- Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Grass Pokemon
- Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Fire Pokemon
- Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Water Pokemon
There are a total of 7 Lightning Pokemon in the set, including 1 Pokemon GX. There is also a new Lightning support card released, which I will also discuss before getting to the Pokemon.
While Lightning type only has a few cards in the set, this is among my favorite type of cards from the set as there is one obvious powerhouse, along with some very interesting cards that will make some old decks more interesting in both Standard and Expanded.
Electromagnetic Radar provides a great consistency card for Lightning decks, especially in a post rotation world that will likely be missing Ultra Ball and Nest Ball from it, barring any last minute reprints.
This card will be most utilized in Pikachu & Zekrom GX decks, as that is the top Pokemon GX Lightning deck in the game right now. It can search out for you your Pikachu & Zekrom GX, Zeraora GX, Jolteon GX, and Tapu Koko GX. It also will be able to search out the new Dedenne GX, which you could use to draw you a fresh hand of six cards. In a world without Ultra Ball, where other decks would have to have a two card combo with Pokemon Communication to search out a Dedenne GX, a deck having a card that functions similarly to Ultra Ball will be a big consistency advantage for decks that can play it.
Being able to search out two Pokemon is super strong as you can search out an attacker as well as a Dedenne GX for draw.
Can’t really say without testing it of course, but it would not surprise me if Pikarom decks switched over to an Electromagnetic Radar and Dedenne GX engine in the new format, opting to cut Ultra Ball and cards like Tapu Lele GX and Marshadow SGL that are supported off of that. It’s also possible that players play a split of the two cards, as in lists with Volkner, you would be able to search out which is better for a given situation.
We saw something similar where Ultra Ball was the conventional play headed into the World Championship in Zoroark GX/Garbodor decks, but then Robin Schulz and some other European players in his testing group did the at the time unthinkable thing of dropping Ultra Ball, and exclusively playing Mysterious Treasure. Going this route with Pikarom probably wouldn’t support the Zapdos variants all that well (although you still have Nest Ball to search that out), so it would more likely be the aggressive, all in builds that would look to take this route.
This card is somewhat interesting as well in that its limitation is on non-GX Pokemon, while typically the limitation of a card will be on Pokemon EX or Pokemon GX. While the card is still strong, not being able to search out powerful cards like Zapdos or Tapu Koko Prism Star helps provide balance to the card.
I was ready to give up on this card, but after considering it a little more, I think it might have a small chance to be effective in the post rotation format. Being down three prize cards would normally mean game over, especially if you were then using an attack like this that wasn’t taking a knockout, but in the upcoming format, that may not be the case.
First, the rotation of Guzma means Pokemon you power up won’t automatically be brought up and damaged after you power it up with an attack like this. While some decks might have solid gust options, many will not, so your Pokemon will be safer, allowing you better opportunities to power up your benched Pokemon to attack later.
Second, we are now living in the Tag Team GX era. Previously, being down three prizes would mean you needed to take at least three more knockouts (6-3 or 5-2 prize situations). Now in the Tag Team era, you can win with two knockouts. Here is how such a scenario could easily play out:
- You attack with Raichu, power up some sick attackers.
- Your opponent knocks out Raichu.
- You OHKO your opponent’s Tag Team GX with the sick attacker you powered up.
- Opponent cannot OHKO you back.
- You OHKO a second Tag Team GX to win the game.
Being down 4-1 in prizes I think will be mostly irrelevant with Raichu as your opponent will then only need to take one more knockout to win the game, and they could just knockout the Raichu to do it, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most decks to do.
I think this card would have been pretty interesting with Raichu GX, as you would already be playing a Pikachu line in that deck, so including this as a 1-of wouldn’t have been a big issue. Unfortunately, Raichu GX won’t be surviving rotation, as it fell just below Marshadow’s promo number, so it didn’t make the cutoff. I don’t think Raichu GX would be poised to do well in the pre-rotation format that we have for the rest of this season.
Raging Thunder is a solid starting attack in Lightning decks, being able to knockout some pre-evolution Pokemon when using Electropower. However, I think working off of switching effects to utilize Zapdos for this role would be a better option.
Electric Trap has the potential to do 180 damage for a Double Colorless attachment if you have damage counters on all of your Pokemon. You could hit for 210 damage with a Choice Band, and use Electropower to get up to 240, 270, etc.
The problem with this card is getting the damage counters on your Pokemon. If there is a reliable way that can be figured out to do this, then this card could be very good. If there isn’t a good way to get the damage on all of your Pokemon, then it’s not going to hit for relevant enough numbers to be worth playing.
We do get some support for this card in the form of Spiritomb from this set.
This gives you up to 4 bench slots worth of damage. From there, you would need to find ways to get the last remaining damage counter onto your Pokemon. The best option in Standard may be to play Spiritomb, along with Damage Movers to move damage onto your other two Pokemon.
You can only play four in a deck, so you will run out of being able to do this, but against Tag Team GX or regular GX decks you only need a few knockouts to win the game, so that may be all you need. You can also use Raging Thunder on turn 1 to setup something with 10 damage, while also softening up your opponent’s active by 30 damage, making it easier to KO the next turn.
Against non-GX decks you probably can get by with just your Spiritombs having damage on them, as that would allow you to hit for 120.
In Expanded, we have some better options to get damage counters in play. First, we have Frozen City, which can damage your Pokemon every time you attach Energy to it. We also have Team Magma’s Secret Base, which puts damage counters on your Pokemon when you bench them.
This is the best Pokemon card in the set. It might not be the best card in the set, as there are some very strong Trainer and Special Energy cards in the set, but I’m confident it’s the best Pokemon in the set.
I don’t really understand the doubt some people have towards this card as we have good precedent with Shaymin EX that this type of Ability is terrific. Shaymin EX still sees lots of play in Expanded, so people should know how strong a searchable draw card is.
While it is possible to build a deck that doesn’t need to use a card like this in it because you’re playing Jirachi, that’s only one deck engine, and in many other decks it won’t make sense to play a Jirachi engine and in those decks it will more often than not make sense to play Dedenne GX as an Ultra Ball, Electromagnetic Radar, or even in post rotation play, a Pokemon Communication out for draw.
Even in Jirachi builds I could see Dedenne GX getting play as it is a very strong Ability, regardless of whether Jirachi is your main engine.
Being able to turn your search cards into draw cards by searching out a Pokemon with a draw Ability would be good in any format.
One deck that I think will benefit a ton from Dedenne GX is Archie’s Blastoise in Expanded. Now when Blastoise players open Ultra Ball to start a game, but don’t have the Archie’s Ace in the Hole play setup with their opening hand, they can now make a decision between whether they should grab Dedenne GX or Shaymin EX to try to pull off the turn 1 Archie’s. Players who can successfully choose which is the better of the two Abilities for a given hand should be able to improve how often they get the turn 1 Archies off.
Static Shock is a pretty bad attack, but it can take knockouts for you with Electropower in games you start it and don’t have much else going in your opening hand and attach to it twice when you’re playing it in Pikarom or Zapdos decks.
Tingly Return GX is a solid attack for Lightning decks to have. It can clear Dedenne GX off your field to get rid of the two prize liability, and Paralyzation could swing a game, especially after Guzma rotates.
Dedenne GX probably becomes even better post rotation as it will be safer as a bench sitter without 3-4 Guzma being in every deck threatening to drag it up active. Even now, we get Giovanni’s Exile alongside Dedenne GX, so we do have an option for self removal available right now in Standard.
While it’s seen as a two prize liability, it still has 160 HP, which while low, isn’t super easy to OHKO. It’s not like Shaymin EX with its 110 HP, so there’s a good chance you can get away with just leaving it on your bench most games without getting punished.
I really wouldn’t worry too much about it being a liability. A bigger liability to winning a game than a 160 HP Pokemon GX being on your bench is an inconsistent deck.
I do hope we see a tin reprint of this card this summer. I was lucky enough to pull one during my pre-release and pre-ordered a couple more, so it doesn’t affect me, but I think the game is better when the staple cards like Dedenne GX or Jirachi are cheap and the archetype specific cards (like Reshiram & Charizard GX) are the more expensive ones.
This is one of my favorite cards in the set and should make Vikavolt decks a lot more interesting. It can be used with Vikavolt SUM, Vikavolt GX, and/or the new Vikavolt (talked about below) to form a new deck.
It also should be good in some count in VikaRay decks as it’s a +60 damage Ability that doesn’t count for your attachment for turn. It can also just act as the Stage 1 as another way to evolve into a Vikavolt in the deck.
One cool thing, is that the text just refers to providing Double Lightning Energy when attached to a Pokemon, so you can use Tapu Koko GX’s Aero Trail, Multi Switch, or Energy Switch to move it onto another Pokemon as an Energy card.
As it’s a Pokemon, it can also be recovered by cards like Rescue Stretcher or Brock’s Grit, allowing you to use it beyond the normal four times per a game that you can use Special Energy cards, making this give a very serious boost to Vikavolt decks.
This Vikavolt is an amazing attacker, and should see competitive play with all the support available to it. It does 120 base damage, which is very strong and can OHKO non-GX Pokemon, such as Zapdos. You can take out 130 HP Pokemon like Buzzwole with an Electropower.
If you choose to discard all your Lightning Energy, you can do 220 damage, which will knockout most GX Pokemon. With Choice Band and Electropower you can knockout Tag Team GXs as well.
There are plenty of good ways to power up Vikavolt. We have the Charjabug above, which you can power up Vikavolt with two attachments of those. You can also play Vikavolt SUM and accelerate Energy with Strong Charge in addition to using Charjabug as a Special Energy to power up Vikavolt.
With all the support available to Vikavolt, it’s hard to imagine someone not cracking a Vikavolt deck in the new format.
Stealth Body is also a nice add on Ability too. There will be a Stadium in play most of the time, so you should be taking away its Weakness in most games. While Stadiums can be removed with Field Blower or Faba, for the time being, it puts the onus on your opponent to have a removal effect for you Stadium if they want to use something like Baby Buzzwole to take a OHKO on your Vikavolt.
Zeraora probably lacks the strength needed to be competitive in Standard. Crushing Claw could be annoying in some matchups, in particular against Zoroark decks, but at 120 HP it’s also an easy OHKO for Zoroark GX, so it doesn’t even fulfill that role well.
I think Discharge is the attack with more potential, especially in the Expanded Format where you can pair it with Eelektrik and swing for 230 damage per a turn with a field of three Eelektrik, a Choice Band, and an attachment for turn. This gives a power hitter to a fully non-GX variant of Eels.