Next up in our Unbroken Bonds set review series is the Fighting Pokemon. Previously, we have looked at the Grass, Fire, Water, Lightning, and Psychic 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
- Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Lightning Pokemon
- Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Psychic Pokemon
There are a total of 25 Fighting Pokemon in the set, including 1 Tag Team GX.
Marshadow & Machamp GX
Marshadow & Machamp GX is going to be one of the more difficult to use Tag Team GXs, one of the weakest in terms of raw power, but it has some nice things going for it. It may have a little bit of playability just as a result of Fighting weak Pokemon being some of the strongest in the meta, and as a high HP, Fighting Pokemon, it might be able to be used effectively to counter Pikachu & Zekrom GX and Zoroark GX decks.
The biggest issue with the card in Standard, at least for now, is being able to get the Energy on it to attack. The number of decks that can support getting the Energy onto it are going to be low, but there will be some opportunities for it. One deck that immediately comes to mind is the Zapdos/Lycanroc GX deck that saw some play last format. With Tapu Koko Prism Star, you can power up Revenge in a single turn to OHKO Pikachu & Zekrom GX or a Zoroark GX. Then on the next turn, you can attach another Fighting Energy and use Hundred-Blows Impact for another knockout. If you play Viridian Forest, you can find your Fighting Energy pretty easily.
Acme of Heroism GX is a great GX attack if you can get the extra Energy on it. It’s another attack that can be used to forge a comeback in a game by denying your opponent a knockout. Unlike how we usually see this effect on Fighting cards, Marshadow & Machamp GX doesn’t need to be at full health to have the knockout prevented. This could open up a path of Revenge -> Acme of Heroism GX -> Hundred-Blows Impact to get a lot of use out of a single attacker.
It also doesn’t specify Fighting Energy for the extra Energy, so if you already have [F][F] on it, then a Double Colorless Energy will give you the extra Energy. In the Zapdos/Lycanroc GX deck, as an example for how it could be used, you would also be able to power it up to use the GX attack the turn after using a Revenge by using an Energy Switch to move the other Lightning you accelerated with Tapu Koko Prism Star onto Marshadow & Machamp GX, and then attaching a second Fighting Energy to it to fully power up the GX attack.
Underground Work provides a mill effect in combination with Giovanni’s Exile. This card is meant to combo with Rhydon (reviewed below), which also has a triggered effect from Giovanni’s Exile to form a new mill deck. The effect is quite strong, and could be played as at least a 1-of, although I’m not sure you will be able to just use Diglett as part of your main discard as you probably need to be playing draw Pokemon to your bench if you want to use Giovanni’s Exile every turn to trigger Rhydon’s effect.
Home Ground provides a strong answer to the primary Fighting weak Pokemon in format right now. It would do 240 damage to a Fighting weak GX Pokemon if you have Choice Band attached and a Stadium in play.
Pikachu & Zekrom GX would be knocked out to this, although a Zoroark GX with Bodybuilding Dumbbells would survive a Home Ground, although if the Stadium in play is Shrine of Punishment, then it too would be knocked out. Diancie Prism Star also could be used to get it to OHKO numbers.
While it works as a strong counter to the Fighting weak Pokemon, it’s limited in the amount of decks you can play it in because you need to have a pre-evolution and have something that can fulfill a Fighting cost. Post-rotation, it won’t be nearly as effective without Choice Band.
Assault Boom provides a TAE (Triple Acceleration Energy) attack that can OHKO Fighting weak Pokemon if they have a Pokemon Tool attached to it. I don’t think this card makes a good counter against Fighting weak Pokemon as it can be played around by the opponent, as they don’t have to attach Tool cards, and wouldn’t if they see a Cubone come down into play. It could be masked with Ditto Prism Star, but in a best of 3, your opponent would probably know for games 2-3 that you play it if you have to depend on it to win a matchup.
It could become better if we get a Tool you can attach to your opponent’s Pokemon like we had with Head Ringer and Jamming Net a few years ago.
Rhydon has the potential to be a very strong mill card in both formats. Discarding five cards per a turn when you use Giovanni’s Exile during your turn is very strong. It’s one more card than Durant NVI did, and Rhydon has some potential to be scarier as it has 110 HP, which could be extended to 150 HP with Bodybuilding Dumbbells and in Expanded you could use Focus Sash to prevent it from being knocked out.
However, while the actual mill effect is strong on Rhydon, it could be hard to put it all together. Part of what made Durant so strong was the disruption with cards like Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer, and as Rhydon is a Stage 1, you are going to have devote at least four extra slots to your deck relative to Durant, limiting the amount of disruption you can fit into your deck. You get even less slots when you figure you would need to also play four Giovanni’s Exile to pull off a Rhydon deck. The [C][C] attack cost isn’t going to be too big of a deal, as you have both Double Colorless Energy and Counter Energy to fulfill it, and as you wouldn’t be taking prizes, Counter Energy will be fine for most of the game.
In order to utilize Giovanni’s Exile, you would need to play cards like Dedenne GX and Zebstrika LOT to get Ability based draw so you can use your Supporter for turn on Giovanni’s Exile. Dedenne GX pairs well with Giovanni’s Exile, as you would clear them off your bench, preventing you from getting punished from getting a two prize Pokemon knocked out. I think you would want both Dedenne GX and Zebstrika as a pure Dedenne GX engine would easily get countered by Alolan Muk.
You can get up to two cards of extra mill if you discard two Diglett with Giovanni’s Exile, although I don’t think this will be overly plausible to utilize in tandem as deck space will be tight.
You also could potentially play Rhyperior from Burning Shadows to get three more cards of discard with its Toppling Wind Ability, which discards three cards when you evolve into Rhyperior. To use this, you would have to use Shining Celebi to be able to use Rhydon’s attack, which is another Ability that would struggle with Alolan Muk.
In Expanded, you could play it alongside Octillery BKT as a draw engine. You would be able to search out the pre-evolutions for both Rhydon and Octillery with Brooklet Hill, which could help in building a more consistent deck.
I think this will be the Wooper to play in Quagsire decks, at least in the Sun and Moon through Unbroken Bonds format. As it’s a Fighting type, it could be used against Zoroark GX decks in games you go first as an attacker. Attach twice, and you can OHKO a Zorua or Ditto Prism Star, while being able to conserve an Energy and a Quagsire for use later in the game. As it’s Fighting type, it can still be searched out with Brooklet Hill.
This new Quagsire provides a solid counter to Pikachu & Zekrom GX and Zoroark GX decks for Quagsire decks. However, upon release, I think it’s probably best to stick with Onix LOT. The reason for this, is that it would be more difficult to stream Quagsire than Onix, which you can just Rescue Stretcher back. You may also whiff the counter as you would likely need to have one of each Quagsire in play to move the Energy to use Surf, making it less consistent than Onix.
In the post rotation format, this might become the preferrable attacker to Onix, as it conserves an Energy, and if gust plays less of a role in the format, then you are going to be safer with only one Quagsire DRM in play more often.
This set’s Fighting Pokemon are like a variety pack of potential counters to Pikachu & Zekrom GX and Zoroark GX, with a bunch of cards being able to OHKO them with a variety of conditions to do so.
Gligar provides a Basic Pokemon that can do it, but to do it you need to play Janine from your hand during that turn.
Janine is definitely on the weaker side of the Supporter spectrum, so I don’t think many decks, outside of maybe a Venomoth GX deck would opt to play it. This could change a few rotations from now, but at least for next year, there are too good of Supporters to be playing Janine in your deck.
You also need to get three Energy onto Gligar, which won’t be super easy to do for a lot of decks. You could use Counter Gain plus either Double Colorless Energy or Counter Energy to power it up though, but then you would be relying on a three card combo to get the OHKO, and that’s going to be very tough to do since you are playing a weaker Supporter card in Janine for that turn.
Moving on to our next counter, we have another TAE counter. With a Choice Band it will OHKO a Zoroark GX after the Poison damage. You would need a Diancie Prism Star to OHKO a Pikachu & Zekrom GX. Like the Marowak, it’s somewhat problematic as a counter as you have to telegraph that you play it because it’s a Stage 1.
It also takes up a lot of deck space, as you would also need to include Diancie Prism Star in your list to OHKO Pikachu & Zekrom GX.
On first look, these new Baby Pokemon, which are actually just Basic Pokemon with weird Abilities, look unplayable, but I think they have great potential in decks that don’t want to attack. Just what we need, more cards that help stall.
They also all appear to have free retreat, and it is nice to have a free retreat Pokemon to promote in between turns.
As for Tyrogue itself, it doesn’t combo well with stall decks, and I don’t see a great reason to run a card for a 50% probability of doing 30 damage. It’s definitely the worst of the three “Baby” Pokemon in the set.
A 60 damage spread attack is very strong and would help soften up your opponent’s Pokemon for Hitmonchan to knockout, or to finish off knockouts after you’ve spread damage with Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee. It does take a three attack combo to get to, but a 60 damage spread to everything is so powerful it’s probably going to be worth it to build towards that strategy.
Unfortunately for Hitmontop, it’s entering the format at the same time as Mew, so that damage would be blocked by Bench Barrier. It may be possible to build a Hitmonchan/Lee/Top deck with Alolan Muk to shutoff Bench Barrier, but that would also shutoff Diancie Prism Star, which may make you miss your damage numbers with Hitmonchan anyhow.
The Fight Alone Lucario never ended up seeing competitive play, and I wouldn’t expect Crabominable to either. It’s damage actually scales slower than Luacrio’s (which was 30 + 60x), so it will have a harder time hitting relevant damage than Lucario did. It does have a [C][C] attack cost, however, which does make it easier to use.
I think it could make a good Zoroark GX counter, as you would be able to cleanly OHKO them with a two Pokemon differential, and you could still score a OHKO with a one Pokemon differential if you have Choice Band attached. I don’t think it would make a great Pikarom counter, however, as they can more easily play with a smaller bench than Zoroark decks, allowing them to play around it.
Stakataka provides a strong late game attacker for Fighting and Beast Box decks. I would expect players to now play a split between Baby Buzzwole and Stakataka in these decks. Buzzwole is still great for attacking during the four prize turn and for utilizing its 130 HP against Zoroark GX, which prevents Zoroark GX from being able to OHKO it without a modifier.
While Stakataka’s Wall of Stone would also prevent it from being OHKO’d by Zoroark GX late in the game, in practice, that won’t be the case as they will almost always work to get Alolan Muk in play to shutoff the Ability.
As a Fighting attacker, Stakataka with its Top Down attack is solid. It OHKO’s Zoroark GX naturally and can OHKO Pikachu & Zekrom GX with any damage modifier of +10 or more. It can even OHKO Zapdos as long as you have Diancie Prism Star in play.
Wall of Stone is also a great Ability. Combined with Stakataka GX’s Ultra Wall Ability, Stakataka could be an absolute tank late in the game.