Unbroken Bonds Set Review – Darkness Pokemon

Just an update – this is the last part of the set review. I hit a busy stretch with work and at this point people aren’t going to be too interested in reading a set review, and I also would like to move on to writing about some other stuff. -AW 6/1/2019. 

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

There are a total of 13 Darkness Pokemon, including 2 GX Pokemon, 1 of which is a Tag Team GX.

Greninja & Zoroark GX

Greninja & Zoroark GX is cut from the same cloth as Darkrai EX from BREAKpoint, with its Dark Pulse attack being a scaled up version of that card’s Dark Pulse attack, doing 30+ 30x instead of 20+ 20x. This makes the damage output scale up substantially faster and should help Greninja & Zoroark GX be able to have the damage output needed to OHKO Tag Team GX’s.

This card will slot easiest into Turbo Darkrai decks in Expanded. It not only gives the deck an attacker that can trade positively with Zoroark GX, but it also helps fix the awkward Darkrai EX problem that existed in the deck. Now players can comfortably play a 2/2 split between the Dark Explorers and BREAKpoint Darkrai EXs, as you will have another attacker in Greninja & Zoroark GX that serves the same function.

In Standard it will be more difficult to play, but certainly not unplayable. The most likely way that it will see play is with Nagandel LOT, which can be used to flood Energy onto your field to hit for big damage numbers. You could utilize Energy Switch to power it up in a single turn.

Dark Union GX is a solid attack, which could be used to cheat out Stage 2 GX Pokemon, or Mega Evolution Pokemon. Cheating something like Incineroar GX, which can flood your field with Energy with its Scar Charge Ability, could make a strong partner.

The bonus effect also powers these Pokemon up, both getting them ready to go as attackers and getting Energy into play for Greninja & Zoroark GX to attack with. With the bonus effect, it could even be attractive to power up Basic GX or EX Pokemon to get them ready to attack. With a [D][C][C] cost, it won’t be too challenging to get the bonus effect as you can use a DCE along with your one Dark Energy to pay for the cost.

In Expanded it will be very easy to use the GX attack effectively thanks to Battle Compressor giving you an easy way to get Pokemon and Energy into the discard pile. While Shuckle can get Energy into the discard pile easily, getting the Pokemon you want into the discard will be challenging.

I would expect this card to see play in both formats to some levels of success.

Honchkrow GX

Honchkrow GX is a sleeper card from the set that has a lot of potential. There are a lot of strong effects all put into one card, and it should enter the format as a strong disruption option.

First, you can evolve into Honchkrow GX on the first turn of the game with Dusk Stone.

Being able to get into Honchkrow GX right away is super strong because it lets you get into Unfair GX at the very beginning of the game, which is aptly named, as it’s a very unfair attack that could allow Honchkrow players to cheese very easy wins off their opponents. This attack can set your opponent so far back that they probably won’t even get a fair chance at playing the game a lot of times when you use it.

If you discard all of your opponent’s Supporter outs, then they will instantly be in top deck mode. If your opponent is playing an Evolution deck, and they haven’t had a chance to evolve yet, you can discard some combination of those Pokemon or Rare Candy to prevent them from being able to evolve easily. With Double Colorless Energy in format, Unfair GX feels very unbalanced in combination with Dusk Stone and has the potential to create toxic formats. Post rotation, if Double Colorless Energy doesn’t get a reprint, then this card is fine. If it catches on, players might look to including Oranguru SUM in their decks to allow themselves a better chance to actually play the game.

Its Ruler of the Night Ability is the effect of Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel in Ability form. Giratina EX was a very strong counter to Special Energy decks a few years ago, so I see similar potential for Honchkrow GX. This Ability will make Honchkrow GX a great counter to decks overly reliant on Double Colorless Energy or Triple Acceleration Energy, such as Zoroark GX decks, or even a deck like Zapdos/Ultra Beats which only plays four non-Special Energy.

The weakest aspect of Honchkrow GX is its Feather Storm attack, which does 90 + 30 to 2 of your opponent’s benched Pokemon GX/EX. When paired with Choice Band you will mostly be 2HKO’ing your opponent’s active GX Pokemon, even Tag Team Pokemon if you can get a snipe in on them before they become active. Since you only target GX and EX Pokemon with the snipe, Feather Storm will be pretty weak against non-GX Pokemon, so you will probably need strong alternate attackers to deal with non-GX decks.

It has Fighting resistance, which is nice as you can play it alongside other Fighting weak Darkness Pokemon in a deck and use Honchkrow GX to give yourself a soft counter to those Pokemon. Lightning weakness is a little bit of a bummer with how strong Pikachu & Zekrom GX has been, but I think this weakness is fine as any meta swing against Lightning based on typing (Fighting) plays into Honchkrow’s resistance. You also can play alternate attackers which aren’t Lightning weak as well. The two different weaknesses that Darkness Pokemon have traditionally had, play off each other extremely well.


Sharpedo’s Greedy Evolution gives it a Max Elixir like effect when you evolve into it. If you play 9-10 Darkness Energy in a deck, you will be hitting on the Ability most of the time. A single successful acceleration off of Greedy Evolution sets you up as being just a DCE away from attacking.

Upon release, Bad Fangs doesn’t give you a very good reason to play this card, even with the acceleration, as the damage output will be low. This is the same attack effect that Quagsire DRM has, which has seen some successful play, so with additional support it definitely has the potential to be playable. It might get the support it needs when the recently revealed Weavile GX comes out, as this would allow you to evolve into a bunch of different Sharpedo, and then move the Energy around, allowing you to get more Darkness Energy into play and onto a Sharpedo, allowing you to hit for big damage attacks with it.


Spiritomb provides a solid non-GX attacker for decks playing Darkness Energy or Rainbow Energy. Using Building Spite, after five turns you would be able to swing for 160 damage. It would take five turns to get to that damage output, but with Rainbow Energy you would be able to get there a turn sooner, and you can just build up its damage output while you attack with other Pokemon early in the game.

With Choice Band you would be able to do 190 damage, but a better option would be Hustle Belt, which would allow you to do 220 damage.

Spiritomb is vulnerable to snipe and spread attacks, but with Mew and its Bench Barrier Ability in Standard now, Spiritomb is relatively safe.

Sandile 113

If we get a playable Krookodile card in the future, then this Sandile is probably going to be the best pre-evolution to pair with it. Intimidating Fang not only reduces damage against Sandile, helping it survive some of the weaker early game attacks, but it would also reduce damage  by 20 against your benched Pokemon as well, allowing Sandile to be used effectively to weaken spread and snipe attacks.

Sandile 114

I don’t foresee Grandiose Fangs being a very effective attack when used with Sandile itself, but if you can find moments to use it with an attacking Krookodile, using either Shining Celebi or Shrine of Memories to use Grandiose Fangs, then I think it could be quite strong to use this attack for the knockout, as you could follow it up with another of Krookodile’s more powerful attacks for a potential OHKO with the 120 damage boost.

I would guess this strategy isn’t too worth pursuing, as 30 damage isn’t a lot, so it would be difficult to depend on getting knockouts with it to get the damage boost on your next turn.


This Greninja looks interesting on first read, but it seems like it should be pretty terrible. It would be very difficult to play this effectively against Big Basic decks, as your pre-evolution lines that you need to evolve into Greninja would have some of the lowest HP remaining on the field. It could be solid for finishing off something that was previously damaged, however, but a dedicated snipe attack would probably be better.

Mist Slash is a forgettable 70 damage attack.

At best I see this being a 1-of in a deck with a better Greninja, but if this theoretical better Greninja ever comes about, you would probably just want to play four of those.


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