Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Psychic Pokemon

Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Psychic Pokemon

Next up in our Unbroken Bonds set review series is the Psychic Pokemon. Previously, we have looked at the Grass, Fire, Water, and Lightning Pokemon in the set. The links to those articles can be found below.

There are a total of 21 Psychic Pokemon in the set, including 1 Pokemon GX.

Muk & Alolan Muk GX

On the surface this seems like the weakest Tag Team GX that’s been released up to this point, but there are some interesting effects on the card that may lead to it being played. Especially in post-rotation Standard when we have more limited switching effects, making Special Conditions better.

In particular, Nasty Goo Mix GX is a strong comeback attack. If you have four Energy of any type on Muk & Alolan Muk GX, then you put 15 damage counters on the defending Pokemon for Poison in between turns, in addition to paralyzing it. Against GX Pokemon, you will be holding down the active with Paralysis to be knocked out by Poison headed back into your turn, regardless of whether it’s a regular GX or Tag Team GX. The 15 damage counters is perfect, stopping it just short of knocking out stuff like Dedenne GX, but doing enough to knock out the 300 HP Magikarp & Wailord GX headed back into your turn.

With it being a colorless attack cost, it can be splashed into almost anything, but in particular it will be most useful in decks with Energy acceleration to be able to put on the extra Energy to get the extra effect. Even when you don’t have the extra Energy, guaranteed paralysis could be used in some situations to hold something down while you gather more of the resources you need to win a game.

The rest of the card is hard to judge, as the stats make it borderline playable, but I would hedge on it not seeing much more than fringe play in the competitive circuit.

Severe Poison on its base doesn’t do much, but if your opponent doesn’t do anything to remove the Poison then it can quickly become a problem. It of course combos well with Poison Absorption which would finish off knockouts for you after you Poison something, while also healing Muk & Alolan Muk GX, giving it some potential as a tank deck.

Overall, I’d say the costs are too costly to see real play. The easiest way to power it up would be with Malamar, and with Pokemon like Ultra Necrozma GX being able to take OHKO’s when paired with Malamar, I don’t see much reason to play a build based around Muk instead of that. Malamar also presents a problem for it in terms of Weakness. Malamar is always going to be one of those decks hanging around, so Psychic weakness will often be much worse than other weaknesses.

Arbok

This type of attack isn’t going to land heads enough to be worth playing post rotation after Victory Star Victini from Guardians Rising rotates, and it certainly will be unplayable in the pre-rotation format with Guzma in every deck.

Even if we get another re-flip effect, it’s not going to be worth playing anyhow. With Choice Band rotating, there aren’t going to be easy enough ways to increase your damage output, so against a lot of decks you won’t be hitting good numbers with this card, even when you pull off the Wrap/Heavy Choke combo successfully.

Crobat

This card combines with other new cards in Unbroken Bonds to form a cool combo.

Severe Poison takes [C][C][C] to attack with, so you can power it up with the new Triple Acceleration Energy.

These can be used to power up to four Crobat attacks in a game before you run out, then you will have to figure something else out for the rest of the attacks, either use something like Malamar to power them up, use Oranguru UPR to get the Triple Acceleration Energy back from your discard pile, or use alternate attackers. Something like Espeon LOT, which can attack for a single Psychic Energy and Pokemon like that could be good alternate attackers for a deck with Crobat.

While you only can power up four Crobat with TAE, that’s still good for what you get with Crobat. Crobat does 60 damage + 40 damage for Poison in between turns. Severe Poison isn’t the most powerful attack on it’s own, but it’s plenty strong when you take into account Crobat isn’t going to be damaged on the turn you evolve into it because of its Sound Veil Ability.

We also get Devolution Spray Z in this set, so we will be able to devolve and the re-evolve our Crobats.

For the most part this is worse than the regular Devolution Spray, as that just puts the evolution back to hand, giving you easier access to it, but that’s not legal right now, so you’re forced to play a card like Devolution Spray Z, which shuffles the Pokemon into deck forcing you to have to find it again.

If a Stage 2 Pokemon has a useful coming into play Ability on its Stage 1, then this could actually be better, but none of the current Standard legal Golbat are very interesting. In Expanded we have the Sneaky Bite Golbat from Phantom Forces, but I can’t see Crobat having any competitive potential in Expanded because of the easy access to Guzma via VS Seeker in that format.

Crobat most likely falls into the janky deck category, but we have tools to work with it, and with it’s Colorless attack cost, you can play it alongside all sorts of different stuff.

Gastly

Gastly’s Swelling Spite is one of the best setup Abilities that we have. One of two things will happen when playing a card like this. Either your opponent doesn’t knock it out, and you’re able to evolve into Haunter and Gengar naturally. Or they knock it out, and you’re able to search your deck for two Haunter.

It also gives you early game protection from getting benched out. If Gastly were your only Pokemon and was knocked out, you wouldn’t lose the game as all effects would need to resolve before win conditions are checked.

It’s actually better for an opponent to not knockout Gastly, as if they do knock it out, then you will be able to just evolve into Gengar on your next turn, while if you have Gastly in play, you will need Rare Candy + Gengar to get into it.

Gengar

Gengar’s Shadow Pain could be used in decks to provide extra damage output against EX and GX Pokemon to try to hit magic numbers. Being able to put 6 damage counters on them in any way you like could really get something where it needs to be damage wise against these Pokemon.

I would really like this card more if there was a Haunter that did something useful on your way up to Gengar. We did have the BREAKthrough Haunter that left both Active Pokemon Confused, which could have been good for some early game disruption, but none of the Haunter available in Standard format really provide much.

The Shadow Pain damage is pretty significant though. To put this into perspective, if you evolve into four Gengar in a game, then you would do 240 damage with Shadow Pain, which is enough damage to knockout a Pikachu & Zekrom GX. With Devolution Spray Z, you could potentially be using this Ability more than four times in a game.

I think the Frogadier and Greninja GX line is the better play for this style of this Ability for general use, however. Gengar only can place damage on GX and EX Pokemon, so it could end up struggling against strong non-GX builds.

I don’t think Twilight Poison is a very good attack. The damage output is pretty low, and while the effect is strong, the attack cost is too high, making it tough to use. Between Counter Gain and Triple Acceleration Energy this may not be too big of an issue, but I would have liked the attack a lot more if it either did more damage to make it worth the effort, or if it cost [C][C].

This is yet another card that is built around Special Conditions. We are gaining more and more evidence that Pokemon is intending for Special Conditions to play a much larger role in the post-rotation Format than it has in recent history.

Hypno

Getting your promotion right after one of your Pokemon is knocked out is a fundamental skill of the Pokemon TCG, so an Ability like Hypno’s Hypnotic Pendulum definitely should be explored to see if it actually works in competitive play. We’ve all seen players lose games to promoting the wrong Pokemon at the beginning of their turn, so putting the decision in the hands of a person who has the opposite of your best interest at heart seems like something that could prove devastating, especially in the post rotation format when switching effects will be more limited.

The counterpoint would be that it’s on a coin flip, so half the time you wouldn’t get to make the decision, and in an era of GX and and Tag Team GX Pokemon, you may only be getting the opportunity to promote something for your opponent 1 0r 2 times in a game, making this card provide poor value for the deck slots.

Stir the Brain isn’t a good attack. It costs too much to be easily playable, it doesn’t do a lot of damage, and it’s very easy to play around.

This type of card’s top potential is most likely as a 1-of alongside a better Hypno. In Standard, we don’t have anything worth playing in the Hypno family, but in Expanded, Hypno BREAKpoint has some mild potential for seeing play with its Goodnight, Babies Ability.

Weezing

Weezing is one of the more exciting cards in the set on first read, but it becomes significantly less exciting when you realize that Detention Gas only targets Basic Pokemon. Granted, if this targeted every Pokemon it would probably be too overpowered to be on a Stage 1 Pokemon. With this caveat, if the format is very Basic heavy, which is definitely a possibility with all of these Tag Team GX Pokemon being so strong, then Weezing stands a chance to see play. This actually might be the case for the format Weezing is entering and what we might have post rotation. Big Basic decks get even stronger with Unbroken Bonds with Reshiram & Charizard GX being the power card of the set.

We also have no idea the state of evolution decks post rotation. At the International Championship in Berlin, Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX was the only evolution deck with a significant share of the meta and it will be rotating this summer. There were some scatterings from a few other evolution decks, but for the most part it was a basic dominated format.

Splattering Sludge is a great attack for playing into the spread strategy. With a [C][C] cost, it will be easy to power up with both Double Colorless Energy and Counter Energy. Playing into spread might not be super strong at the moment as Mew with Bench Barrier (covered below) will be played in a lot of lists to counter the snipe from Tag Bolt GX from Pikachu & Zekrom GX.

If you’re not attacking with Weezing itself, or only using it as a situational attacker, another option for it is to use it how we used Flygon BCR, which is a wall for hit and run attackers. Right now we have Hitmonchan, which could be used as a hit and run attacker to get into Weezing. So far Hitmonchan has mostly shown itself to be under powered in Standard format, but it’s quickly become a mainstay of Expanded format where it has more damage modifiers available to it, so the card definitely does have potential when it has enough support.

The 120 HP is very good in that it forces Zapdos decks to have two Electropower to be able to OHKO it with a Zapdos. Pyschic typing is also very nice as you can play Spell Tag to further play into the spread strategy.

Mewtwo

Mewtwo’s Mind Report is a solid consistency option for decks that can get into the Supporter card you place on top of your deck in the turn you do it. Decks with Oranguru SUM, Zoroark GX, Zebstrika LOT, Judge Whistle, or Jirachi TEU can all leverage Mewtwo to find Supporter cards instantly, giving you a wide range of decks that can effectively use Mewtwo.

It also provides another form of Supporter recovery, which is strong, especially in decks which can immediately retrieve it. With Mewtwo, if you play something like a 1-of Acerola, you could now use that twice in a game.

Psyshock isn’t a great attack, but it could be fine in Malamar decks as something to knockout Jirachi or pre-evolution Pokemon for you in the early game.

Mew

Bench Barrier makes its triumphant return to Standard, this time on Mew instead of Mr. Mime. This Ability has been used in every format it’s been legal in since the release of Mr. Mime PLF, so you can bet Mew will see plenty of play too. Whether players play it will come down to personal preference and whether they feel it is relevant to the current state of the meta.

Upon immediate release expect this to see plenty of play to counter Tag Bolt GX from Pikachu & Zekrom GX.

The two decks that suffer the most outside of Pikarom are Tapu Koko Spread, whose entire Strategy gets shutdown by Bench Barrier, and then Quagsire/Naganadel, which utilizes Magikarp & Wailord GX’s Towering Splash GX spread attack to win multiple matchups.

Psypower is a decent attack you may be able to get some use out of to setup some knockouts or to snipe something for a knockout. There is potential for it to see play in Expanded instead of Mr. Mime for this sole purpose.

Mismagius

Mismagius’ Mysterious Message is a very strong draw Ability, but it comes at the cost of knocking Mismagius out. While other cards with strong Ability effects at the cost of being knocked out haven’t seen much play in recent formats, Milotic FLF and Electrode GX being the two that immediately come to mind, Mismagius is a little more interesting of a case as you can get into it on turn 1 with Dusk Stone.

This combo definitely is going to warrant some looks as to whether it’s a healthy combo to allow in the Expanded Format where it will be much more possible to pull off cruel combos on the first turn of the game utilizing cards like Ace Trainer to put your opponent down to three cards, possibly before they even got a turn in the game.

In Standard, I would expect this to see a healthy amount of play. It could be used to trigger your own Beast Ring early, or to get to the opponent prize count you need to utilize the effects of your Ultra Beast’s attacks. It can also be used to just set yourself behind in prizes so you can use Lt. Surge and two other Supporters during your turn from the get go. Additionally, in Tag Team GX decks, giving up 1 or 2 free prizes to the opponent might not matter whatsoever on the game.

Meowstic

First of all, this card is terribly written. “(The amount of Weakness doesn’t change)” doesn’t do a good job of clarifying what they mean. What it’s supposed to mean is you don’t apply Weakness on the initial Perplexing Eyes (unless that Pokemon is already Psychic weak), and you have to wait until your next turn to hit for the newly given Psychic weakness. Here’s the ruling on it from the Unbroken Bonds FAQ.

== PERPLEXING EYES (Meowstic – SM:Unbroken Bonds)

Q. When I use Meowstic’s “Perplexing Eyes” attack does it change my opponent’s active Pokemon’s weakness before I do damage?
A. No. Do damage first, then apply effects.

Q. If my opponent has no Weakness and I use Meowstic’s “Perplexing Eyes” attack, will I do extra damage on my next turn due to Weakness?
A. If a Pokemon has no Weakness printed on the card, Perplexing Eyes will give that Pokemon a x2 Weakness to {P}.

This clarification takes Meowstic from what could have been the crown jewel of a Gathering of the Cats deck to something to just toss in your bulk pile.

Marshadow

Marshadow will be a format staple as it is a searchable Stadium removal card. A nice thing about Marshadow is that Resetting Hole isn’t a coming into play Ability, so you can play Marshadow onto your bench and then activate the Ability later in the game. Marshadow is able to discard Prism Star Stadiums, which is something other cards like Faba or Field Blower are unable to do right now.

Red Knuckles also makes Marshadow a good, splashable counter against a lot of the meta relevant Ultra Beasts in format. It is able to OHKO Buzzwole FLI and Naganadel LOT because of their Psychic weakness, and it can OHKO Buzzwole GX if you have a Choice Band attached and it can even OHKO Naganadel GX with a Choice Band and Shrine of Punishment.

This is an easy response to the splashed in Buzzwole’s, although it falls short against a dedicated Ultra Beast deck as you can deny OHKO’s with Stakataka GX’s Ultra Wall Ability.

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