In this article I will be analysing a whole lot of cards (47 to be exact) from the upcoming Sun & Moon Base set, so let’s just get right into them… You can find a conclusion to which i give my opinion about the set and my thoughts on what could be the strongest cards of the set at the very end of the article.
(caution, most of this was written before the English cards were revealed and thus, may contain mistakes, wrong translations or other problems.)
You can use this ability once during your turn. Draw cards from your deck until you have 3 cards in your hand.
[C][C][C] Psychic: 60 damage. This attack does 60 damage plus 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
An Octillery that draws you less cards, isn’t easily searchable, but doesn’t have to be evolved and potentially can attack for decent damage. The glaring problem with this Pokemon is the tiny maximum of cards for the ability, as you will barely ever feel any significant effect from it. Yes, it can save you from late-game N or an unexpected Delinquent, but outside of those situations, the card drawl is just too insignificant to make any big waves. Maybe use it as a one-off safety net in some decks.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Lillipup
Ability: Treasure Hunt
You can use this ability once during your turn, when you play this card from your hand to Evolve a Pokemon. Choose 1 Item card from your discard pile, show it to your opponent, and put it in your hand.
[C][C][C] Bite: 50 damage.
Ever heard of Dousing Machine or Junk Arm? No? Well, let me put it bluntly: Getting items back from your discard pile is extremely strong of an ability. Sableye from Dark Explorers gets you 2 items back as an attack and it saw a lot of play (still does in the Legacy format), so my assumption is that for the ability alone, Herdier will also be played quite a bit. Lillipup and Stoutland are, more or less, only mentioned here because they belong to the evolution line and there are no other Lillipup or Stoutland currently legal in Standard.
Ability: Energy Evolution
You can use this ability once during your turn, when you attach a basic energy from your hand to this Pokemon. Search your deck for a card that evolves from this Pokemon with the same Type as the energy you attached, and play it on top of this Pokemon to Evolve it. Shuffle your deck afterward.
[C] Quick Draw: Flip a coin, if heads draw a card.
I am in love with this card. The fact that this ability returned makes all Eevee-lutions that come out worth more than just one or two glances, until this card is rotated out again. Evolving into a stage 1 Pokemon right away without the need for Wally or Forest Of Giant Plants is amazing, and the fact that normally you´d need a supporter or a type-limited stadium card to do so should show how strong that kind of effect can be. Sadly, Eevee seems to have eaten a few too many Poke-Beans and got lazy, so his retreat cost are pretty high. Both the Eevee-lutions in Sun/Moon are pretty stable and actually benefit from having the 1 energy, you used to trigger Energy Evolution, on them. There also was a Sylveon GX announced (not for this set), which works pretty much the same way as Espeon GX and Umbreon GX, so maybe we will see the entire Eevee-lutions line within the upcoming sets. And then we can judge how amazing this little furry fella really is.
[G] Signs of Evolution: Search your deck for one each of Dratini, Dragonir, and Dragonite and put them in your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
[L] Tail Whip: 10 damage.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Dratini
[C] Dragon Prayer: During your next turn you may attach as many energy as you like from your hand to your Pokemon.
[G][L][C] Tail Whip: 60 damage.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Dragonair
[G][L] Dragon Wave: 130 damage. Discard a [G] energy and a [L] energy attached to this Pokemon.
[C][C][C][C][C] Giant Tail: 200 damage. Flip a coin. If tails, this attack does nothing.
Both Dratini and Dragonair support their evolution line and make it easier to effectively play Dragonite. But the question is, should you? While Dratini, for one energy gets you the entire Dragonite line onto your hand, you still have to wait until the next round to even use any of them. Stage 2 Pokemon, more often than not, are used in correlation with Rare Candy to skip having to play the middle evolution, unless it gives a strong benefit like Frogadier does for Greninja decks. So being able to search your deck for a Dragonair can be pretty useless, unless you combine Rare Candy for some Dratini with playing the entire line on others.
Luckily, Dragonair has a very useful attack too, allowing you to play as many energy next round as you wish… unless your opponent doesn’t negate that effect with Pokemon Ranger. Fewer and fewer people use Pokemon Ranger though, so that danger is not too prevalent. What you should worry more about is the two small dragons being knocked out easily before they even get to become a Dragonite.
But maybe the payoff or getting a Dragonite out is huge? Well, no, it isn’t. The Dragonite from Sun/Moon is decent, but requires you to discard energy to use Dragon Wave, which is another issue the deck would need to work around. Dragon Tail is a joke of an attack, a mere last ditch effort to deal 200 damage if you´d otherwise lose the game. I suggest taking a look at the two Dragonite from Roaring Skies, they can be of more worth than the one from Sun/Moon, even if the next Standard rotation leaves us with nothing else than the newest one.
In the end, the synergy the evolution line has among itself is something id love to see in many other evolution lines for stage 2 Pokemon, if only the payoff was higher. Maybe we see a Dragonite GX in the future?
Stage 1 – Evolves from Cutiefly
Ability: Healing Pollen
You can use this ability once during your turn. Heal 20 damage from one of your Pokemon.
[Y] Fairy Wind: 30 damage.
Easily searchable, kinda useful effect, and that is about it already. Ribombee is way too easily knocked out at a mere 60 HP, has to be evolved from Cutiefly before it even is useful and its previous evolution has only 30HP, which makes it an easy target for being sniped on the bench or be one-shot k.o.´ed if it just so happens to be active for some reason. The 20 HP heal Ribombee provides also is kinda okay at best and useless at worst. It just is not enough to warrant playing a fragile stage 1 in any deck. Heck, there are basic Pokemon like Litten, that still evolve twice, with more HP than this stage 1 Pokemon.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Alolan Diglett
Ability: Tangled Hair
As long as this Pokemon is in play, the Defending Pokemon’s Retreat Cost is [C] more.
[C][C][C] Dig Under: This attack does 50 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness or Resistance.
Team Aqua´s Muk but weaker. At least Alolan Dugtrio only increases the opponent’s Pokemon’s retreat cost, if only the active one’s. Thats pretty much all I can say about this thing. Maybe some weird gimmick deck with this set´s Sharpedo can make use of the increased retreat cost. On a side note though… why does this thing have 2 retreat cost as a Dugtrio?!
Stage 1 – Evolves from Carvanha
Ability: Rough Skin
If this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon and is damaged by an oppontnent’s Pokemon’s attack, place 3 damage counters on the attacking Pokemon.
[D][C][C] Aqua Impact: 60 damage. This attack does 60 damage plus 20 damage times the number of energy in the defending Pokemon’s retreat cost.
As mentioned above, Sharpedo has a weird but weak synergy with Alolan Dugtrio. But it already is a pretty capable Pokemon by itself. The ability, Rough Skin, is a weaker Version of Evolutions Machamp´s Counterattack, which for a stage 1 Pokemon is completely reasonable. Sharpedo has decent HP, no retreat cost, can attack for 2 energy attachments (Double Colorless and a Dark) and even is capable of dealing decent damage if the attack hits the right opponent. If you use Dangerous energy, you can even deal 40 damage back to any EX Pokemon attacking Sharpedo, for free. Overall, Sharpedo is nothing outstanding, but quite useful if only to passively deal damage with its ability and then retreat for no cost to bring on whatever heavy attacker you charged up on the bench. It is worth mentioning though, that Carvanha can discard Poke-Tools from opposing active Pokemon for a single colourless energy. Since we lack reliable Tool-removal effects in Standard right now, this may come in handy sometime.
[D] Gnaw: 20 damage.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Alolan Rattata
[C][C] Dark Design: Search your deck for a number of cards up to the number of Pokemon on your bench and add them to your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
[D][C][C] Endeavor: 60+ damage. Flip 2 coins. This attack does 30 more damage for each heads.
Here we have one of my favourite stage 1 Pokemon and it´s pre-evolution, which both are actually useful. Alolan Rattata has low 40 HP, which is not 30 Hp, so that’s good. It also has an attack that deals 20 damage for no energy at all, and it has no retreat cost! That means a starting Alolan Rattata in the active is, except for it possibly being knocked out, no issue at all. It can be retreated at any point, can even attack and soften up opponents without the need of an energy attachment and it can suddenly become Alolan Raticate. The big rat is much heavier at three retreat cost (I guess those hamster-cheeks store some bowling balls?) and it can attack for a single energy attachment, being a Double Colourless Energy. Though the attack does not deal any damage, it possibly gives you a massive benefit over your opponent: Up to FIVE cards from the deck that you may choose. If your opponent doesn’t have an “N” ready, you can unleash massive plays the next turn and maybe load up your bench even more than it was the turn before to get the maximum benefit from Dark Instruction. For one more Dark Energy (two attachments in total), Alolan Raticate can even dish out some damage, though that is not what it should be used for most often. Just make sure to always fill up your bench as much as possible when using the rat pair.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Krokorok
[C][C] Accusation: 20+ damage. This attack does 20 damage plus 20 damage times the number of cards in your opponent’s hand.
[D][D][C] Dark Fang: 120 damage. Before doing damage, discard all Pokemon Tool cards attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
A relatively unspectacular stage 2 Pokemon, pretty generic but far from bad. The first attack, for a Double Colourless Energy, can deal decent damage, but is unreliable. Obsidian Fang also misses the mark just slighly, by costing 2 Dark and 1 Colourless instead of 2 Colourless energy. The damage is good, the effect is, especially in the current meta, very useful, but its too hard to pull off, costing you effort to even evolve this guy, and then an additional three attachments of energy. Id like to see it get some play, but it wont get further than being used in some random fun decks.
[F] Fling: This attack does 30 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)
[C][C] Team Play: 10+ damage. This attack does 10 damage plus 30 damage times the number of Passimian on your bench.
And here we have my favourite card from the set, weird since I do not like the Pokemon in the video game or even monkeys in real life. But hey, this card is amazing. Easy and fast to set up, can deal massive damage and synergises well with some staples like Strong Energy and Fighting Fury Belt. Talking about Fighting Fury Belt and Strong energy, using 2 Strong energy and a Fighting Fury Belt on this Monkey can shoot it´s damage up to 150 for 2 energy, on a Pokemon that is not even an EX/GX. Sadly, just like Evolutions Beedrill, Passimian has a glaring flaw: prizes. If some of your Passimian are in the prize cards and you cant get them out in time, you may have a problem.
Luckily though, Passimian does not need to be evolved, has decent survivability thanks to its 110HP (or 150HP with the Belt) and has an attack for a single energy that also deals decent damage. First round, those 30 damage can easily become 60 with a Fighting Fury Belt and a Strong Energy. Or exploit an opponent´s slow moment and snipe off a benched Shaymin. I personally love this card and will built a few decks around it for sure. Maybe a deck review is coming one day, who knows? Now I am tired of writing Fighting Fury Belt…
[C] Collect Dust: Draw a card.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Cosmog
[C] Teleport: Switch this Pokemon with 1 of your Benched Pokemon.
Not much to say here, both are sad excuses for Pokemon and only exist to be evolved into Lunala or Solgaleo. Luckily, Solgaleo is actually really good and will probably see a lot of play. Unluckily for Cosmoem, people will much rather use Rare Candy than use this useless stage 1 Pokemon.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Mareanie
Ability: Toxic Spikes
As long as this Pokemon is in play, whenever your opponent’s Active Pokemon retreats, the new Active Pokemon is now poisoned.
[P][C][C] Venoshock: 50+ damage. If your opponent’s Active Pokemon is Poisoned, this attack does 50 more damage.
An interesting ability, which barely ever will come into play though. This effect only affects Pokemon that got switched in, by regularly retreating, not when Olympia or Switch is used. That means, most of the time, the ability does nothing. And even when it does affect the new Pokemon, it is not enough damage by itself to make a huge difference after all.
The attack Venoshock is also quite underwhelming, since 50 damage is way too low and 100 damage for 3 energy still is not enough to be called anything close to strong. Underwhelming in every way, but at least the idea behind the ability and attack and their synergy is neat. Hopefully some actually useful Pokemon gets something similar in the future.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Alolan Grimer
Ability: Power of Alchemy
As long as this Pokemon is in play, each player’s Basic Pokemon in play, in their hand, and in the Discard Pile have no Abilities.
[P][P][C][C] Crunch: 90 damage. Flip a coin. If heads discard 1 Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
The rainbow slime still has me torn on how much play it will actually see. Ability denial always is strong, as we’ve seen with Garbador. But what will Alolan Muk actually stop? Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX, which most likely already have been played before Alolan Muk is evolved from Alolan Grimer. Giratina, which will see a lot less play soon anyway, with Mega Pokemon being less and less useful in the meta.
Mew, Mew EX, Magearna EX and Volcanion EX come to mind, being basic Pokemon which have lasting effects in battle, but those you do not meet often enough to warrant a consistent line of Alolan rainbow slimes in your deck. In the future though, maybe after the next Standard rotation, Alolan Muk will get much more useful and actually disable something that makes it worth using. Oh, and its attack is garbage, it should never be used to attack at all.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Charjabug
Ability: Strong Charge
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may search your deck for a [G] Energy and a [L] Energy and attach them to your Pokemon in any way you like. Shuffle your deck afterwards,
[L][C][C][C] Electrocannon: 150 damage. Discard 3 Energy attached to this Pokemon.
Simply put, Vikavolt has one of the strongest abilities in the TCG to this point. Attaching 2 energy from your deck to any of your Pokemon, even when this big bug is on the bench, is downright amazing. However, setting Vikavolt up is pretty difficult, with it being a stage 2 Pokemon that evolves from 2 simply useless Pokemon. You can not even use Forest Of Giant Plants effectively, because Charjabug, the stage 1 of the bunch, is electric type. Rare Candy, Level Ball, Heavy Ball and possibly Timer Ball can help you though. To conclude, Vikavolt is hard to set up, but worth it if played correctly.
I can see many future decks trying to implement this guy.
Ability: Innards Out
If this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon and is knocked out by an opponent’s attack, place 6 damage counters on the attacking Pokemon.
[W] Continuous Tumble: 30x damage. Flip a coin until you get tails. This attack does 30 damage times the number of heads.
While nothing special, I actually love this little thing. It allows for some interesting mindgames and potentially hits pretty hard if the coin-flip luck is on your side. Alongside cards like Bursting Balloon, a simple Pyukumuku can stop the opponent from attacking for several turns, or make them pay the price for hitting a sea cucumber.
You can use this ability once during your turn, excluding your first turn or the turn this Pokemon comes into play. Discard all cards attached to this Pokemon, and return this Pokemon to your hand.
[W] Water Gun: 10 damage.
A weird card in every way. It has a weird name, a useless attack, the minimum of possible HP, no resistance, a common weakness, even retreat cost (I am shocked it´s only 1 though, not 4 or 5) and an ability with a self restricting clause. However, the ability may come in handy one day. I just have no idea how… Better keep an eye on this card, some genius will use this one day at worlds in an outstanding tactic and win every match. Or so I hope at least Another option would be that we see “Wishiwashi, School Form” one day that somehow benefits or requires the regular Wishiwashi and then this card will finally see its glory days.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Poliwhirl
[W] Quaking Punch: 30 damage. Your opponent’s Pokemon is now Confused.
[W][C][C] Wake-Up Slap: 80+ damage. If your opponent’s Active Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition, this attack does 80 more damage. Then, remove all Special Conditions from that Pokémon.
This card simply lacks in every department. Poison Barb seems to be the must have tool to use with Poliwrath, however even then the consistency is near non-existent. With Poison Barb you rely on the opponent to attack you, but not knock you out, without it, you rely on the opponent staying confused after you use your 30 damage 1 energy attack, effectively giving your opponent a free turn to react and retaliate. 160 Damage for 2 attachments (Double Colourless + Water) are pretty good, but the situations where this actually pays off are scarce, too scarce to make it worth playing.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Psyduck
[C] Scratch: 20 damage.
[W] Double Jet: 60x damage. Discard up to 2 [W] energy cards from your hand. This attack does 60 damage times the number of cards discarded.
More than meets the eye! Yes, Golduck is a Transformer… 120 damage for 1 energy is very good, but having to discard them from your hand makes it much more difficult to use. The key feature of this card though, is its free retreat and the fact that it is a Golduck with a decently powerful attack. This means, Golduck Break may see more play now and may be easier to use, thanks to its free retreat and a decent attack to cash in some sneaky knockouts with. The fact that it has 90 HP also makes it easily searchable with Level Ball and, of course, Dive Ball. Maybe using it with Evolutions Starmie could work out.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Growlithe
[R][C][C] Searing Flame: 60 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Burned.
[R][R][R][C] Firestorm: 190 damage. Discard 3 [R] Energy attached to this Pokemon.
Pretty much Charizard from Evolutions, but as a stage 1, however lacking the ability. That is the shortest explanation I can give of how I feel about this card. I probably like Arcanine more than most others, simply because I see how a simple stage 1 Pokemon can oneshot even the “larger” GXes like Snorlax GX. Of course, 4 energy cost for the attack and having to evolve first, makes this very difficult to pull off, but far from impossible. Also, Searing Flame is a decent attack for those moments when you do not need 190 damage or don’t want to/can not use Firestorm. I´d love seeing this card built into some Volcanion decks, that help it build up faster and always be a threat while sitting on the bench, just waiting to blast 190 damage and one-shot some EX/GX.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Steenee
Ability: Queenly Majesty
Once during your turn (before your attack), when you play this card from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokemon, you may look at your opponent’s hand and discard 1 card.
[G][C][C] Trop Kick: 80 damage. Heal 20 damage from this Pokemon and remove all Special Conditions from this Pokemon.
Finally we see more hand-control cards in PTCG. Ive missed this element of gameplay in the Standard format for a very long time. Tsareena sadly has a one-time effect when you evolve it, but that alone can mess up opponents badly. After all, you may look at the opponent´s hand and choose what to discard. This way, you can discard their only draw supporter, VS Seeker or even the one card they need to pull off a Knockout the next turn. Forcing the opponent to rely on their draws is extremely powerful of an effect and the synergy with Delinquent is massive. Also, of course, Forest Of Giant Plants makes pulling this off much more consistent and fast. Tsareena’s attack is pretty weak though, so attacking with it should only be a last ditch effort.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Morelull
You can use this ability once during your turn. Search your deck for a [G] pokemon, show it to your opponent and put it in your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
[G][C] Wavering Spore: 30 damage. The defending Pokemon is now Asleep.
One of the, in my opinion at least, greatest cards to come out of Sun/Moon. And to explain why, I only need to name one card: Forest Of Giant Plants. Play Morelull, evolve it into Shiiontic right away and use its effect to search for another Morelull or Shiiontic, which you then also can use right away. Even with only 2 lines of these mushrooms in your deck (and none prized) you can potentially start the match with 2 effects on the field that let you search for any Grass Pokemon you need, which obviously is very powerful in any grass deck. Search for the missing piece to your Lurantis to attack with it right away, get multiple Tsareena to easily apply hand-pressure on the opponent or let Shiiontic help you build a swarm of sniping Decidueye quickly. A very powerful card, as long as Forest Of Giant Plants exists, but still good without it, though it would lose most of its usefulness. Shiiontic helps applying a lot of pressure early game and allows to keep your plays consistent in late game.
[C][C] Sky Throw: Flip a coin. If heads, return your opponent’s Active Pokemon and all cards attached to it to your opponent’s hand.
[G][G] Guillotine: 50 damage.
Pinsir may see some play in fun decks on PTCGO, since with a Double Colorless Energy, it can already win you the match if the opponent didnt play anything onto their bench. Useful for quickly winning a lot of matches, however, that is where Pinsir’s usefulness already ends.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Torracat
[R][C] Fire Fang: 30 damage. Your opponent´s active Pokemon is now burned.
[R][R][C] Darkest Lariat: 100× damage. Flip 2 coins. This attack does 100 damage for each heads.
Very high HP, even for a stage 2 Pokemon, but that’s about it. Both attacks are not good enough to reason setting up the Stage 2 in the first place, the retreat Cost of 3 makes it even worse. If you are lucky, you may get 200 damage out of Darkest Lariat, but it is just as likely to get no damage at all.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Dartrix
[G] Leaf Blade: 30 damage. Flip a coin. If heads, this attack does 30 more damage.
[G][C][C] Brave Bird: 120 damage. This Pokemon does 20 damage to itself.
With two Decidueye in the set, i hoped for one of them taking in its Ghost typing, but no. This feathery Robin Hood wannabe has absolutely nothing about it that makes it in any way outstanding. Brave Bird, being 120 damage for 2 attachments, one of them being a Double Colourless Energy, is pretty nice, but not good on a stage 2 and especially not when it also damages itself by using it.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Brionne
[W][C] Disarming Voice: 30 damage. Your opponent’s active Pokemon is now confused.
[W][W][C] Sparkling Aria: 100 damage. Heal 30 damage from this Pokemon
Not good, but still better than both its non-GX starter-counterparts. Disarming voice confuses, which has some benefit to it, most of the time. Stopping the opponent from attacking you or forcing them to switch always is nice to have. Sparkling Aria deals a decent 100 damage and heals 30 on itself, which can allow Primarina to live longer, but healing 30 damage isn’t much by itself. All 3 non-GX starters look as if they were made for nothing but theme decks.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Brionne
[C][C] Bubble Beat: 10+ damage. This attack does 10 damage plus 20 damage times the amount of [W] Energy attached to all your Pokemon in play.
[W][W][W][C] Ocean Sound: 120 damage. Discard an Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[C][C] Grand Echo GX: Heal all damage from each of your Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
I think while making this card, the designers had their own little bit of fun and gave this card a few Colourless energy requirements, though it’ll always use pure water anyway. Bubble Beat reminds strongly of attacks like Life Stream and Dark Pulse, dealing damage for every (in this case Water) energy attached to your Pokemon. That can quickly get very powerful if paired with energy acceleration like Double Dragon Energy (and a Dragon Type Pokemon, obviously) or Max Elixir. If you use only Water Energy for the attack, the base damage is already 50, 4 more energy on your field and the damage already is 130, able to knock out even fully evolved stage 2 GX’es in 2 shots. Seasound is a weaker version of Evolutions’s Dragonite Hyper Beam, but good enough of an attack to still use it when you have a way to set it up. Guaranteed energy-disruption always is a good thing.
Now we get to Grand Echo GX, and at first, I didn’t like this attack. However, it synergises well with Bubble Beat, allowing you to keep damaged Pokemon from getting knocked out, which saves you from losing energy. It also allows you to halt most bench-damage based decks in their tracks and allow you to set up even more energy for Bubble Beat. I am looking forward to seeing decks based around this Pokemon.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Dartrix
Ability: Feather Arrow
You can use this power once during your turn. Choose one of your opponent’s Pokemon and place 2 damage counters on it.
[G][C][C] Razor Leaf: 90 damage.
[G] Hollow Hunt GX: Put 3 cards from your discard pile into your hand. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
Probably the stage 2 GX that is going to see the most play. Thanks to its amazing ability, sniping off Pokemon on the opponent’s side of the field is easy as cake, especially if you can set up multiple Decidueye GX at once. Three Decidueye GX on your field can KO a Shaymin EX on the opponent’s bench within 2 turns. The attack Razor Leaf is simply garbage, but at least it can be set up with 2 attachments. Hollow Hunt GX can easily turn the game around, but if your opponent plays an “N”, Red Card or such right after, the effect of your only GX move is diminished. A risky play that can save you the game. In total, I am not a fan of this card, but the great synergy with Forest Of Giant Plants and the ability to get up to 80 free damage every turn can cause trouble for many opponents.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Torracat
[R] Hustle Blow: 10 damage. This attack does 20 more damage for each [R] Pokemon on your Bench.
[R][R][C] Tiger Swing: 80+ damage. Flip 2 coins. This attack does 50 more damage for each heads.
[R][R][C] Burn Slam GX: 200 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Burned. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
My favourite of the Sun&Moon starter GXes. Finally we see a fire type that doesn’t depend on Volcanion EX to be effective. For a single fire energy, Incineroar GX deals up to 110 damage (or 170 with Sky Field), though 70-90 is more realistic, since you are likely to play some support in form of Shaymin or similar. Tiger Swing has an average of 130 damage, which is very good for 3 energy attacks. Though a lot of times you´ll get the 80 base damage and no heads, or 2 heads when you don´t need any. Still a decent attack. What intrigues me though, is Burn Slam GX. Basic GX and EX Pokemon are going to be finished off right away by this attack. Excluding Snorlax GX and Zygarde EX, Fighting Fury Belt will only extend their suffering until right after the attack when the burn effect triggers and deals additional 20 damage to them, finishing them off. All others are given a single turn to react, or be KOed. Either by a follow-up attack or by the second triggering of the burn, if it didnt wear off right away. This makes the attack a threat to pretty much every single Pokemon card in existence to this point, and thus, making Incineroar GX a threat in every matchup. However, since it has to evolve from Litten before being a threat at all, it lacks consistency and will probably see little play.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Yungoos
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may have your opponent reveal his or her hand.
[C][C][C] Flying Headbutt: 100 damage.
[C] Gum Chance GX: 10+ damage. This attack does 50 more damage for each Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
While Donald Tru… I mean Gumshoos GX is a mere Raticate/Furret/Linoone/Bibarel etc. clone in the video games, its card version is actually pretty good. Get one of them onto your bench and keep spying at your opponent’s hand every turn. That can help you judge whether or not to play an N, plan your turns in advance and see possible counters to your strategie that you potentially can play around. And when absolutely Nessecary, Gumshoos GX can use its GX attack, Gum Chance, to decimate an opponent´s Pokemon for a single colorless energy. That means, Gumshoos GX is splashable into pretty much every single deck. Just be aware that it needs to be evolved from Yungoos, which by itself is a near useless Pokemon.
[C][C] Rage: 20+ damage. This attack does 20 damage plus 10 more damage for each damage counter on this Pokemon.
[C][C] Horn Attack: 60 damage.
[C][C] Mad Bull GX: 30x damage. This attack does 30 damage times the number of damage counters on this Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
All of Tauros GX’s attacks are usable with one attachment of a Double Colorless Energy, which makes this big bull very scary early game. Horn Attack deals “only” 60 damage, but that still is enough to, for example, oneshot a Froakie or Rowlet, potentially winning you the game in one attack for a single energy attachment. That, of course will be the exception though, and Horn Attack is only a placeholder for until Tauros GX took damage and can retaliate with Rage or Mad Bull GX. Either attack is dependant on the damage counters on Tauros GX, so Fighting Fury Belt increasing Tauros GX’s HP to 220 is a good idea. 8 Damage counters plus Fighting Fury Belt is enough to one-shot any Pokemon up to 250 HP with Mad Bull, for a single Double Colourless Energy mind you.
Sadly this also means that Tauros GX’s attack always will, at least somewhat, be under the opponent’s control, since they decide how hard and when to attack this beast, well aware of how devastating a Tauros GX with a lot of damage can be. But this also means you have some means of pressure on your opponent, which always is good. Maybe one day we will get some means of transferring damage over to other Pokemon in Standard, so Tauros GX can get as many damage counters on him as he needs, whenever he needs them.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Cosmoem
Ability: Ultra Road
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may switch your Active Pokemon with 1 of your Benched Pokemon.
[M][M][C] Sunsteel Strike: 230 damage. Discard all Energy from this Pokemon.
[M] Sol Burst GX: Search your deck for up to 5 Energy cards and attach them to your Pokemon. Then, shuffle your deck. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
Unlike his sister, Lunala, Solgaleo is actually really useful, even for being so difficult to set up in the first place. For a single metal energy (possibly on your second turn already with Rare Candy) you can completely set up Solgaleo GX and other Pokemon with energy. Keep in mind Sol Burst GX does not limit you to using Basic Energy, you can attach Double Colourless Energy, Strong Energy, Shield Energy and other Special Energy from the deck. This fast burst-setup can easily allow you to overwhelm your opponent quickly and Solgaleo GX himself is no slouch when it comes to attacking either. Sunsteel Strike may require you to discard all energy attached to Solgaleo GX, but easily takes out basic EX and GX, even Mega EX Pokemon.
And then we have Ultra Road, which is a free switch every turn. There is absolutely no need to explain how strong this ability is, and with any Float Stone or Zoroark on the field, you can freely switch Pokemon in and out to your liking, shaking off Status effects and be immune to potential Lysandre-stall attempts. I assume Solgaleo will see a lot of play, if it isn’t held back too much by the fact that it has to be evolved from two doorstops.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Eevee
[D] Strafe: 30 damage. You may switch this Pokemon with one of your Benched Pokemon.
[D][C][C] Shadow Bullet: 90 damage. This attack does 30 damage to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)
[D][C] Night Cry GX: Discard 2 Energy attached to your opponent’s Pokemon in play. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
One of the two GX Eevee-lutions of the Sun&Moon set. Thanks to the new Energy-Evolution Eevee, getting out an Umbreon GX first round is easy, and even attacking is possible thanks to Strafe being available for a single energy. While mostly useless, Strafe can at least substitute the retreat cost for your attack, but if that is good, depends on the situation of course. Shadow Bullet, however, is where it´s at. Adding a Double Colourless Energy to Umbreon GX the turn after evolving it with Energy-Evolution, already gives you access to this attack, which some of you might notice, is very similar to Dark Explorers Darkrai EX´s Night Spear, but a tad better.
While Night Spear still is an attack many people use a lot, Shadow Bullet comes at an even easier to reach energy cost, thanks to the two Colourless. Dealing 90 damage to the active Pokemon while sniping anything on the bench for 30 is very strong, and can soften up otherwise hard to beat Pokemon or take additional prizes by finishing off a Shaymin or an un-evolved basic Pokemon. Night Cry GX I personally do not like very much, but it is a great GX attack nonetheless. Discarding 2 important energy can set the opponent back by a lot when they have few energy already (after finishing off a fully set up Pokemon for example), or depend on Double Colourless Energy (like Vespiquen Decks do).
Stage 1 – Evolves from Eevee
[P] Psybeam: 30 damage. The Defending Pokemon is now Confused.
[P][C][C] Psychic: 60+ damage. This attack does 30 more damage for each Energy card attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[P][C][C] Division GX: Place 10 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
Just like Umbreon GX, Espeon GX benefits greatly from the Energy-Evolution Eevee of this set, and gives it immediate access to a 30 damage attack for one energy. The extra confusion of Psybeam may even save you some damage from a retaliating opponent, maybe forcing them to switch. Psychic deals 60 damage and 30 additional damage for each energy attached to the opponent, under normal circumstances, this averages out at 120 damage for 3 energy, which is pretty good. More energy on the opponent means more damage for you. That gives the opponent the possibility to, to a degree, control how much damage Espeon GX can do, while at the same time pressuring them into possibly playing around this attack to avoid getting one-shotted or two-shotted.
Division GX is great to place the last few damage counters on already weakened Pokemon, to collect the remaining prizes and clean up the match. With this attack being available to you, the opponent will think twice whether or not to retreat a damaged Pokemon to “save it”, giving you further control over the opponent´s play style.
Stage 2 – Evolves from Cosmoem
Ability: Psychic Transfer
As often as you like during your turn (before your attack), you may move a [P] Energy from 1 of your Pokemon to another of your Pokemon.
[P][P][P][P] Phantom Ray: 120 damage. The Defending Pokemon can’t be healed during your opponent’s next turn.
[P][P][P] Lunar Fall GX: Knock Out 1 of your opponent’s Basic Pokemon that isn’t a Pokemon GX. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
A Stage 2 that has one of the currently most popular types as weakness, a horribly weak attack, evolves from Cosmog&Cosmoem which have absolutely no field presence and has an ability that is good, but not needed for its typing.
All in all, this is the worst GX card of Sun&Moon, at least in my opinion. The GX move is possibly the strongest yet, if not close to that. However that only lasts until GX’es take their leave and by then, no longer can you simply take 2 prizes no matter what with this move. Moongeist Beam is laughably weak, even if it would cost an energy less it would still just be an “at least its 120 damage” move on a Pokemon you have to work so hard to build up. But no, it costs 4 energy and thus is way too weak to use effectively.
The ability Psychic Transfer is good, very good in fact. But as of now, the psychic type does not benefit much from being able to transfer their energy all over the place like Fairy did when Aromatisse was a thing. Maybe the future holds some gimmick for Psychic types like Fairy Garden was for Aromatisse´s Fairy Transfer. At least you can now clog up your psychic deck even more with a stage 2 line for Lunala GX, Rare Candy and Max Potion, just to use Max Potion without having to remove any energy, I guess.
[W] Collect: Draw 3 cards.
[W][W][W] Blizzard Burn: 160 damage. This Pokemon can’t attack during your next turn.
[W][W][C] Ice Beam GX: 100 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Paralyzed. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
The second worst of the new GX cards. While collect is great to set up early game, it is much worse than it was when Kangashkan EX had it a while back, when N wasn’t a thing. Blizzard Burn is able to one-shot stage 2 Pokemon, but just misses out on being strong enough to finish off EX’es and GX’es in one attack, which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the effect. You can not attack the next turn with Lapras GX unless it gets switched out or you play Pokemon Ranger. That by itself would not make Lapras bad, it still is a decent attack that seems to be a better version of Volcanion EX´s Volcanic Heat attack.
However, the GX attack Ice Beam GX is the most underwhelming GX attack I have seen yet.
The damage is barely enough for 3 energy, but the effect being only a mere guaranteed paralysis is way too weak for it being a one-time use attack. Switch, Escape Rope, Zoroark, Olympia and many other cards make your one and only GX move you have in a game a 3 energy for 100 damage attack. If you know your opponent can not switch out by any means and badly need to finish off a Pokemon with more than 160 HP, this may come in handy, but that´s it. Lapras GX is not bad, but the second worst of the GX cards, because of its inconsistency.
Stage 1 – Evolves from Fomantis
[G] Flower Supply: 40 damage. Attach 2 basic Energy from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way you like.
[G][G][C] Solar Blade: 120 damage. Heal 30 damage from this Pokemon.
[G] Chloro-Size GX: 50x damage. This attack does 50 damage times the number of [G] Energy attached to this Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
My favorite GX card from Sun&Moon. Immediate setup thanks to Forest Of Giant Plants, an attack for a single energy to set up right away and a decent second attack. Flower Supply pretty much screams for you to discard 2 energy first turn with Ultra Ball, which in process helps you get out Lurantis GX.
Solar Blade can be set up by using Flower Supply if wanted, and can deal quick heavy damage. The 30 HP it heals by using this attack not only are a nice benefit but also give it additional survivability, which can be deadly if Lurantis GX is set up by turn 2. ChloroScythe GX does not seem to fit to this Pokemon at first, but the potential to one-shot pretty much any Pokemon for 5 energy, including fully set up monsters like Solgaleo GX or Incineroar GX gives Lurantis GX also great potential to be useful late-game, not only as an early set up Pokemon. I can guarantee that I will use this card a lot once I get my hands onto 4 of them.
Flip 2 coins. For each heads, search your deck for an Evolution Pokemon, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
With Sun and Moon bringing a lot of stage 1 and stage 2 GX Pokemon with it, this card is amazing. Timer Ball helps you set up a those big GX’es like Solgaleo and Incineroar as well as other Pokemon that require evolution. Sadly, it is completely luck based, so if you are unlucky, you get no card at all out of it.
When the Pokemon this card is attached to is your Active Pokemon and is damaged by an opponent’s Pokemon’s attack, the attacking Pokemon is now Poisoned
A very hard to judge new tool card, that may or may not see a lot of play. It does make a few fun tactics like Sceptile EX even easier to pull off and it even gives the Poliwrath of this set a reason to exist, but it also would have to replace Fighting Fury Belt and Bursting Balloon to even be used in decks in the first place. Poison by itself though is just far too weak to make a real difference in a match, so some gimmicky setups will have to be used next to Poison Barb. And gimmicky setups never are a good thing, or at least consistent. For more info on poison and its uses, before I knew of this card, check out my article “Poison: Why and How to use it”.
Search your deck for a Basic Pokemon and put it onto your Bench. Shuffle your deck afterward.
As if Volcanion EX decks weren’t strong enough already, this card comes along and gives them even more search power. Besides the obvious Volcanion, this card will see a lot of play, since it easily can get you key EX cards from the deck like Darkrai EX and Giratina EX (or the previously mentioned Volcanion EX). Luckily it places those directly onto the bench, so no scary Shaymin plays are possible with this.
Draw 3 cards.
The Tierno of the upcoming years, nothing special about this card, but we probably will see it a lot in upcoming theme decks.
Your opponent reveals his or her hand. You may discard 2 Energy cards you find there.
Surprisingly, these guys actually have some use in the TCG, unlike in the video game. Though they most likely will only see play in fun decks, potentially getting an opponent stuck without energy is pretty strong. Then again, playing an N or Sycamore can already save you from the energy-free hand, so even when the Grunts do their job well, they still are countered easily. However, they do have some synergy with a card later on, so I will mention them again when the time comes.
Draw cards from your deck until you have 6 cards in your hand. If you used this card on your first turn, draw cards until you have 8 cards in your hand.
Bianca, just better (and cuter), though when Bianca was a thing, she barely saw play. Way back when, I used Bianca as a one-off in many decks to potentially prevent myself from having to discard resources with Sycamore or give the opponent more cards by playing N. Lillie on the other hand needs to be played in the very first turn on the game to get additional benefits, so playing multiple of her becomes a necessity. However, I personally do not mind that. In fact, often enough i’d rather draw “up to 6” than having to shuffle my hand into the deck and draw me a hand anew. Drawing up to 8 on the first turn can cause explosive setups, especially in combination with Shaymin EX. I do not believe many think like me, but I think I will reduce the N count in my decks to make some space for this blonde sweetheart.
Draw 2 cards. During this turn, your Pokemon’s attacks do 20 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon (before applying Weakness and Resistance).
Kukui seemingly has learned from the Boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni(’s Scheme) and does things even better than the crime lord. The added 20 damage can give many Pokemon the edge they need to perform two-shot knockouts or even one-shot in some cases. Drawing two cards in addition to that, is nice, but not enough to play this card over N or Sycamore. However, that is in no way what Kukui is meant for. Rather, play him when you know your Pokemon lack the damage to knock some of the new 250HP GX cards out, and get some additional free card draws for free. He is Muscle Band in supporter form, while giving you card advantage as well. Sweet! If only that scary grin of his wasn’t a thing…
I am not surprised to see no anti-GX cards in the set yet, but they will surely come soon. Metal still lacks any direct support in the Standard format, tool removal cards still are scarce and unreliable (and all Pokemon) and some staples got reprinted. Interestingly, no VS Seeker or a comparable card. Does this mean we will see VS Seeker rotate out of Standard? That is an interesting thought.
My personal favourites of this set are: Lurantis GX, Solgaleo GX, Shiinotic, Passimian, Lillie and Nest Ball. Lurantis GX and Shiinotic will find themselves in many future decks of mine, as long as Forest Of Giant Plants is legal in Standard. Passimian I will surely build a lot of decks and experiment around with.The last fighting type deck I built seriously, was when Zygarde EX was just released. Lillie may very well take a few spots in most of my future decks, especially if VS Seeker gets rotated out.
The cards I expect to be played most and actually stay in the meta, are: Nest Ball, for its obvious uses. Lurantis GX, for impressively fast setups for any Grass deck. Gumshoos GX, as a tech to spy on your opponent´s hand thus have an easier time predicting their moves. Shiinotic, to increase the consistency and speed of any Grass deck. Alolan Muk, as soon as Garbador rotates out or tool-removal gets too prominent, this slime will see its prime.
And of course the obvious staples that already are used, like Ultra Ball, Crushing Hammer and Rare Candy. Though there are many more cards with great potential, which I may just underestimate and we will see some genius come up with a cool combo. Or, of course, upcoming releases might even change everything.
Only time will tell.