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The Sun Rises in Unova, but Sets in Alola: A Sun-Moon Set Review

Caleb Gedemer

Hello all, welcome back to Dead Draw Gaming! It is time once again for my quarterly set review, and this time we are looking at Sun & Moon, which drops in early February. This new expansion is home to many new exciting cards, especially the Pokemon-GX! Card scans and translations have both been provided by Bulbapedia. You can check out the entire set here. Without further ado, let us get right into it!

 

006/149 Pinsir

When this card was revealed it immediately received some hype from the social media groups in the community. With an interesting first attack, some people were quick to rush and call it a “second coming” of the infamous Shiftry card that was banned from Next Destinies. However, this card is nothing like that, and is sure to bring some new skillful interaction to the game. So many competitive decks play Double Colorless Energy these days, so Heavens Throw is just a single attachment away. Think about how sweet it would be to put a super charged attacking Yveltal-EX right back into an opponent’s hand! Pinsir will make players think twice before going all in with a beefy attacker.

 

012/149 Decidueye-GX

Sorry to rush into it, but this is probably my favorite card in this entire set. Decidueye-GX is an absolute beast with its fantastic Ability of Feather Arrow. Remember Crobat from Phantom Forces? I am sure you do, it was a huge player in many decks in its time. Even still in Expanded it holds a key spot in some Seismitoad-EX decks! Crobat could drop three damage counters anywhere on an opponent’s board, but only had a onetime use. Decidueye is similar, but can be used once, every single turn! Imagine filling your Bench with four ‘eyes and dropping eighty damage on your opponent’s field every single turn. Getting all of them into play is easier than ever with the help of Forest of Giant Plants removing Evolutionary rules on Grass Pokemon. Just the thought of that gives me chills, I cannot wait for this card.

 

015/149 Lurantis-GX

Dang, the Grass Pokemon in this set are jacked! Flower Supply can attach two Basic Energy cards from your Discard onto any of your Pokemon, How neat! M Manectric-EX from Phantom Forces was a huge part of the competitive scene for a long time, with a similar attack. However, M Manectric took two Energy to use, and came with the downside and chunkiness of a M Pokemon-EX and Spirit Links. Lurantis, just like Decidueye, can be thrust into play with help from Forest of Giant Plants and has the necessary attacks to be a competent, strong attacker. ChloroScythe is awesome for its GX attack, and can serve as a game finisher on perhaps a ‘antis that you were charging up on the Bench with Flower Supply.

 

017/149 Shiinotic

The Grass support just keeps coming! Shiinotic is very exciting and is reminiscent of a Sunflora card from HeartGold & SoulSilver. With all these amazing Grass Pokemon that I just finished covering, ‘notic can fetch them out of your deck and get them into play. By itself it is just a Stage 1, so it will be easy to get online quickly, and after that, the flowery Pokemon you choose to play will not let up!

 

020/149 Tsareena

Oh my, another Grass giant! Queenly Majesty is interesting, but not great. Looking at your opponent’s hand is fun and all, and Discarding a card there is fantastic for sure, but putting all of this on a Stage 2 with no other merits is lackluster. Perhaps Tsareena could be part of a big new disruption deck, but I predict that to be highly unlikely.

 

027/149 Incineroar-GX

I would like to cover all of the Pokemon-GX, so that is why Incineroar is on here, but other than that, it is not a good card at all. There currently is not much support for Fire Pokemon, especially Stage 2 ones, and even if there was, ‘cineroar’s attacks are not all that special. My favorite is its first, Hustle Blow, but with a damage cap of 170 before modifiers, even with a full Bench, even that could be mediocre.

 

035/149 Lapras-GX

Lapras-GX is slightly better than Incineroar-GX, at least, but it is nothing special, either. Collect could be okay to open a game with, but there are not too many Water Energy bearing decks out there now. Ice Beam is okay, automatic Paralysis is always something to look at, but for only 100 damage, this attack is not fooling me.

 

042/149 Primarina-GX

Once again, we have here a Stage 2 Pokemon. Although it has a broken GX attack, Grand Echo probably will not be used too many times since it will be a pain to get this critter out into play at all. Bubble Beat is not awful, but without a great way to accelerate Water Energy out there, Primarina will probably not be doing very much damage in this way. Regardless, maybe one day there will be something that breaks this card, because in of itself, healing all your Pokemon is just insane.

 

044/149 Wishiwashi

I am including this card on here mostly in solace of how bad it turned out. The original translation did not include the discrepancy text, which basically makes this card unplayable. Reuniclus from Black & White would have been nuts with this guy in Expanded. Reuniclus moves damage counters around on a player’s Pokemon, and Wishiwashi would have been able to pick itself up and “heal” those damage counters. Essentially, nothing would ever get knocked out, unless it was in one hit. Sadly, that is not the case and this card is probably going to be unplayable.

 

047/149 Pyukumuku

 

Historically, there have been many cards similar to this little guy, but maybe this time around this concept will be playable. Innards Out can punish a player for attack your Active Pokemon, so perhaps Pyukumuku can be part of a deck that needs to take time to set up, or something that increases in damage output, depending on the number of damage counters on the opponent.

 

052/149 Vikavolt

Unfortunately, with this card, we can probably infer that it is bad. Remember Magnezone from BREAKthrough? That was supposed to be okay, but never turned out that way. Vikavolt could potentially be good in the future if there were Grass printings of both Lanturn and Charjabug, but we will see. Strong Charge is strong, and even better because it takes Energy out of the deck without having to have them in hand. Grass and Lightning in combination is interesting, too.

 

058/149 Alolan Muk

The second, I mean third coming of Garbodor? Will Alolan Muk be even better than Garb itself? In my opinion, I still like Garbodor a lot more. Even though Alolan Muk does not require a Tool to active its Ability, it will probably want a Tool (Float Stone) when it gets pulled up by your opponent’s Lysandre. Four Retreat is massive, so the future for this card is uncertain. Also, most prevalent Pokemon with Abilities (outside of Shaymin-EX, mainly) are not Basic Pokemon. Not sure what to make of this card, currently.

 

061/149 Espeon-GX

Yay for Eeveelutions! Espeon-GX takes the back seat to Umbreon-GX, which you will get to read about soon, but in the meantime, let us look at this sadly abysmal card. Psybeam is nothing special, and Psychic is meh at best. Most attacking Pokemon take one, or two Energy on average, so Psychic is probably going to clock at around a modest 120 damage. While that is not horrible, there simply are better attacks available to the modern player. Lastly, Division is great, but only if you could use it more than once. Ten damage counters everywhere is extremely potent, but if you only get to attack twice or so with Espeon-GX, there will probably not be too many targets to clean up on. Esp also takes a big hit to M Gardevoir-EX from Steam Siege, which can knock it out in one hit with its Psychic and Fairy typing. Perhaps this card could be used at some point; Division is the biggest selling point.

 

I really like this card! Guaranteed Poison infliction is quite amazing, and especially punishes “correct” gameplay from the opponent. Whenever they choose to Retreat and take a Pokemon out of harm’s way, then he or she immediately gets stomped on again with Poison! With some of the cards we have available, namely bigger HP Basic Pokemon, it seems like a deck revolving around those could be on the rise with cards like this. Every speck of damage counts in a “big Basics” deck, and this card can be there to help assist that.

 

066/149 Lunala-GX

When I first saw the concept of Pokemon-GX, this card enthralled me. I figured it would be a Basic Pokemon, and for a Basic, it was stunning. But, alas, it is a Stage 2, instead. Psychic Transfer is just like Aromatisse’s Fairy Transfer, but for Psychic Energy, as the name suggests. Abilities like this are always playable, except if they find themselves on a clunky Pokemon like this. Lunar Fall is a sick attack, too, but for three Psychic Energy, even that is questionable. I do not think this card will be very playable in the near future.

 

073/149 Passimian

This is a cute little card that a lot of player’s will probably overlook when first checking out the Sun & Moon set. Fling is not fancy at all, but Team Play is another story. With three Passimian on the Bench, Team Play swings for 100 damage. With a Fighting Fury Belt, that boosts up to 110. Regirock-EX can further supplement this damage, and the attack only costs a Double Colorless Energy. Passi could even be played with Decidueye-GX to increase damage output. Buddy-Buddy Rescue could be used in this sort of a deck to immediately retrieve your monkey’s and get them back on the Bench. The future is bright for this card, but its damage output could maybe be its downfall, since it is on the lower end.

 

077/149 Alolan Raticate

Raticates seem to keep getting good attacks! Dark Instruction is the selling point on this baddie, but for an attack on a Stage 1, it might not even be that great. If you have a full Bench of five Pokemon, you can use Dark Instruction to grab a whopping five cards of your choice! I do not believe there has ever been a card like this in the history of the Pokemon Trading Card Game, but it may never really see the glory that the effect has. An opponent can simply play a hand disruption card such as the ever-so-popular N, and wipe away those five key cards, putting you back to square one. This Alolan Pokemon probably will not be played too much.

 

080/149 Umbreon-GX

Here we have another of my favorite cards in the set. For a Stage 1, Umbreon-EX has a ton of HP and three great attacks. Strafe is probably getting less credit than it deserves, and can be used as a stalling measure to set up a winning position. Shadow Bullet is just like Darkrai-EX from Legendary Treasures, with a pop for 90 on the opponent’s Active and a 30 drop on his or her Bench. There are many crafty players this type of damage distribution can set up, and that is very exciting. Night Cry can stop a player from getting too much rolling on his or her board, with a two Energy Discard. Be on the lookout for this card in the upcoming competitive scene!

 

087/149 Alolan Dugtrio

Alolan Dugtrio totes the same Ability as Team Aqua’s Muk from Double Crisis, which never saw much play, but perhaps somewhere down the line a disruption deck could use this bizarre, hairy critter. Its attack is nothing special, and people will not be playing this card for the attack.

 

089/149 Solgaleo-GX

A pseudo reprint of Keldeo-EX’s Rush In Ability, this time in “Ultra Road” form. In fact, Ultra Road is even better; no Float Stone needed for the Pokemon to switch into the Pokemon of your choosing. Sunsteel Strike is dang good, but for a Stage 2 Pokemon, its viability is uncertain. Sol Burst is going to be sketchy to pull off, too, but it in of itself is broken. Throwing five Energy cards on your Pokemon in any way you want can set up a game winner.

 

093/149 Ribombee

The Item card that is Potion never sees consistent play because it is a onetime use, but Ribombee is not, and comes in the form of a Pokemon! As a Stage 1 it is reasonable to get out into play, and Healing Pollen can wipe away 20 damage from any of your Pokemon every turn. I am not immediately sure what this could be good in, but there must be something out there that could reap the benefits from a spamming of healing each and every turn; remember, you could have four out and be healing 80 each turn!

 

095/149 Dragonair

One of the weirdest attacks ever, Dragon Prayer, has a lot of potential in the competitive scene. Dragonair is a Stage 1, and would be serving as a setup Pokemon, but it might be all you need to get a win. Dragonite unlocks the “one Energy per term” restriction on a player during his or her next turn, and in that turn, they can go crazy with attachments and do some neat things. Big attackers like Yveltal-EX could get fired up in one turn, and the nastiest thing of all is that it can be any Energy, even Double Colorless Energy. ‘nair has a ton of potential and some big combos are inevitably going to be set up by it.

 

100/149 Tauros-GX

This big Basic tank is sure to please. Rage gets better and better the more the opponent attacks, and Mad Bull is very strong for a GX attack. Even Horn Attack can do a consistent 70 damage with a Fighting Fury Belt attached to Tauros-GX. The best part is that all of these attacks can be used with just a Double Colorless Energy, fancy that. Along with Decidueye-GX, this card could see a lot of play and vie for one of the best decks in the Standard format, at least.

 

101/149 Eevee

This is a slightly different reprint of the Eevee in the set Furious Fist. That one had slightly less HP, a worse attack, and a lower Retreat. This card can be very useful in setting up Eeveelution attackers, such as the new Umbreon-GX. That card is definitely slated for a big showing, and Eevee can even get an Umbreon into play on the first turn of the game with help from Energy Evolution, which bypasses Evolution rules.

 

104/149 Herdier

Herdier is similar to Milotic from Primal Clash, which saw a lot of play for a while in decks like Night March. Milotic would specifically work to get Double Colorless Energy out of a player’s Discard, and continually allow their repeated use. Milotic is still legal in both the Expanded and Standard formats, so Herdier probably will not see much play. However, it does have 90 HP, instead of 110, and that means Level Ball can grab it. Maybe it could see play in a Raichu deck?

 

110/149 Gumshoos-GX

Donald Trump, on a Pokemon card? What is up with that? Searching the Premises is subtly a very good Ability. Having access to seeing your opponent’s hand every single turn is amazing. Headbutt Bounce is not the greatest, but Gumshoe Chance is super as a GX attack. This card could realistically see play in pretty much every deck out there, either as a utility card, or a game finisher.

 

113/149 Oranguru

Oranguru is arguably the best card in Sun & Moon. The Ability on it is stupendous. Late game Ns to one or two can become obsolete, since a player can draw back up to three with Oranguru. If you draw even one playable card off the N, then the total number of cards drawn increases. Psychic is even a decent attack, but is by no means the highlight of this card. ‘guru should see play in nearly every deck in both formats.

 

121/149 Llima

This card reminds me of Team Galactic’s Wager from Mysterious Treasures, without the “Rock-Paper-Scissors”. Llima should probably make it into most Standard format deck lists, as it can both disrupt the opponent and draw you more cards. The only downside is the fact that you could wind up with only three, so that could make it iffy. Llima will probably be seen in only a single copy if it does get played in decks.

 

122/149 Lillie

Lillie is almost a reprint of Bianca, but it is even better! On the first turn you can play it to draw until you have eight, instead of the usual six. I do not think this card is that great, but on the first turn it surely is. However, an opponent could just play an N and drop you down to the usual six. Lillie does not seem good enough to play more than one of, and with starting odds, you probably will not draw it on the first turn, making it an inferior card to the likes of N and Professor Sycamore.

 

123/149 Nest Ball

I like this card, but not that much. Most decks settle for only four Pokemon searching effects, and those are nearly always Ultra Balls. Ultra Ball serves dual purposing with its ability to “draw cards” with Shaymin-EX, and obviously just getting Pokemon that a player wants in a pinch. Nest Ball is a one trick pony, and you cannot even make use of Shaymin-EX’s Set Up, since it would get played directly to the Bench. This is definitely a card to consider, depending on the deck, but probably will not see widespread play.

 

124/149 Poison Barb

I have been patiently waiting to cover this card, because I really like it. It punishes any opponent that attacks the Pokemon it is on, and nearly guarantees an extra damage counter on them from Poison. This can supplement attacks and could see play in a variety of decks. In the Expanded format, things can play Virbank City Gym and work against the opponent even further. Greninja BREAK decks in Expanded, for instance, would love to play this card with Virbank City Gym, but since Trevenant BREAK decks still exist, it is in their best interest to continue playing Rough Seas, sadly.

 

128/149 Professor Kukui

Buck’s Training from Legends Awakened is very similar to this card, but Professor Kukui adds an extra ten damage. If Kukui drew more than two cards, this might see play, but for now, it is probably just a “better” Giovanni’s Scheme. When a player chooses to draw until they have five cards in hand with Giovanni’s they will on average be drawing around two to three cards, so with Kukui, you can draw the cards and get the extra damage.

 

133/149 Team Skull Grunt

Finally stall decks in the Expanded format have a way to deal with Greninja BREAK decks. Greninja has been notorious for having a good matchup against them, and with Team Skull Grunt, when a ‘ninja player returns an Energy to his or her hand with Moonlight Slash, that Energy can then be Discarded immediately with this Grunt card.

 

134/149 Timer Ball

I really do not enjoy this card, and it probably will not be that great. Dual Ball from Call of Legends was good because it got Basic Pokemon, but since this Timer Ball only gets Evolutions, I doubt its viability. Most Evolution-based decks already fight an uphill battle to set up, and flipping two tails with Timer Ball could be a death sentence for a fragile deck.

 

Conclusion

Sun & Moon is looking like the best set in ages, as far as playability goes in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Be sure to check Dead Draw Gaming for pre-orders of the new set, and any other cards you are looking for! They have great prices and will be happy to assist you in the buying process. Thanks for reading everyone, good luck out there!



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  • Nick on

    Loved this article! Getting hyped for the prerelease!


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