Pokémon has officially released the Unbroken Bonds TCG set, and its broken into the scene in a big way. With Pokémon’s official website listing it at having over 210 cards, and community sources confirming a total of 234 (including all unlisted/secret cards), calling it “big” is an understatement. Maybe even “huge” is a little shortsighted. For lack of a better word to define this expansion, the easiest way to put it is that it’ll expand your collector’s binders until they bust, and have you tirelessly replacing cards just to fit your deck within the 60-card limit. Whether 234 is a number that gets your collector’s sense tingling, or makes you shiver at the thought of needing to haul cash-filled pockets to the store, this set has something for everyone.
Unbroken Bonds’ Build
Admittedly, 234 cards is a lot to wrap your head around, and for most of us, it’s simply a little too time consuming to look at scans of each card in the hopes that one or two will fit into our deck. So, if you’re a competitive player, what’s in store for you? Well, you’ll likely want to go into more depth on your own since you know the ins and outs of your own deck, but below is a short list of potentially useful picks for convenience sake:
- Venomoth GX: It’s a strange card, and considering the seemingly endless amount of damage that modern day cards can do, this may seem like a weak choice. But, don’t be fooled. It’s all in the GX move. Sporting the ability to shuffle your hand back into your deck and draw an entire set of 10 new cards into your hand for one colorless energy, it’s added 60 attack damage is a small, but deadly companion to get you out of those tight spots.
- The Reshiram and Charizard tag team GX card hits this set out of the park. It’s ridiculous. With its Outrage attack being a fiery reminder of the Black and White base set’s Reshiram and Zekrom cards, being hit by your opponent has never felt so good, especially when you can retaliate with 10 damage for every damage counter they dealt, and an extra 30 damage. This will definitely come in handy when using the card, as its other moves both require 3 or more energy, so you’ll likely be spending some turns taking hits when charging them up. Speaking of those moves, Flare Strike hits for a brutal 230 damage for the low price of not using the attack next turn, whereas Double Blaze GX allows you to hit for up to 300 damage. Yes, it can take awhile to build up the energy to hit for that much, as usually Double Blaze GX will be hitting for 200 for 3 fire energy. However, if you add an extra 3 fire energies, you’ll be burning down the playmat with that sweet 300 damage stomping out even the most defensive cards. Oh, and something tells us that the Fire Crystal item card might help with those energy problems.
- In a set where Reshiram and Charizard GX is burning everything to the ground, a solid water defense to put out its flames will be a must for those of you not running fire type decks. The solution? Blastoise GX. It’s not an immediate heavy hitter, so you may have some setting up to do, but the payoff is worth it. Its Rocket Splash move is a good example, sporting the ability to do 60x however many water energy cards you shuffle back into your deck upon using it. If you are short on energy on the playmat, then its GX move, Giant Geyser, will be allowing you to attach any amount of water energy from your hand onto your Pokémon in any way you like. Also, its ability gives it a helpful 30 less damage whenever it is attacked, allowing it to tank those necessary hits when needed.
- Sporting some of the more technical playstyles, the electric type cards are about the non-offensive moves. Dedenne GX’s ability is something you’ll need to watch out for, both for if you intend to play with it or against it. When it is played from your hand to your bench, you can discard your hand and draw 6 cards. You can only use this ability once per turn, but it is worth it, especially with its GX move practically setting it up for another. Otherwise this set’s Raichu can use Never Give Up when you have 3 prize cards remaining to quickly take all of the electric energy cards from your discard pile, and attach them to your Pokémon in any way you like. Zeraora’s Discharge attack is also an honorable mention alongside Vikavolt.
- Muk and Alohan Muk GX. Just looking at this card is discomforting, especially if you are ever confronted with its poison unexpectedly reaping havoc on you. It’s Severe Poison move allows the player to put 8 damage counters on the poisoned Pokémon between turns instead of one. Yikes. Nasty Goo GX is essentially an upgraded version of this, with the opponent’s Pokémon being paralyzed and poisoned for one psychic energy, but if you have an extra 4 energy, you’ll be putting on an extra 15 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokémon between turns.
But, of course, this is only a short list, and by now, you probably have the idea already – look to the GX cards for some heavy additions to your deck, and then see how the other cards can support them. Now, we aren’t saying that GX cards are the only ones relevant in this set, but they’re a good starting point. There’s much more ground still to be covered, and it’s wise to look at the other cards, particularly the trainer cards, as they’ll help with setting everything up and boosting your plays, alongside the other card types not mentioned in the above.
Unbroken Bonds – Broken or Building Something New?
The final verdict? Well, it’s difficult to say. On one hand, you have a new set that’s full of new cards that’ll decimate your opponents in every way. But on the other, you have a set that’s too full; full to the point of breaking. It is truly enormous, which brings you so much potential, but that potential may become overwhelming. As with each set, suddenly the playing field at your local tournaments will change, but with an extra 234 cards, it won’t just be a minor tweak. Whether you intend on buying these cards or not, it’s wise to take into account what they can do, as 234 of them means that you’ll be seeing a lot of them, but maybe not the same ones. Some will likely call the additions to this set “broken”, whereas others will see the potential for it to build into something new. Whatever it is, it’s out now, and it’s best to be quick in snatching up those rare pulls before you find them against you.