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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 15 Sun & Moon: Guardians Rising

#7 - Turtonator-GX
- S&M: Guardians Rising

Date Reviewed:
May 25, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4.13
Expanded: 3.88
Limited: 4.88

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page



Just kidding, it's just Turtonator-GX. But let's be honest, for a moment there, you thought there was a Ninetales-GX and forgot Alolan Ninetales-GX was a thing. Yeah? No? Alright then. 

So Turtonator-GX is a Basic Fire GX with nothing but attacks - the first of which costs 2, and the second of which costs 3...huh...that does sound like Alolan Ninetales-GX already. In fact, looking closer, that's a 2-Colorless Energy and a 3-Energy, 2-Type-specific Energy and a third generic attack in a row. I wonder what else is similar? Shell Trap starts out as a 2-for-30 move with an effect - okay, that's different. The effect is that it does 80 damage - yes, 8 DAMAGE COUNTERS - onto your opponent's Pokemon that attacks Turtonator-GX during their turn after Shell Trap is used. That's 110 damage if you're counting at home. 

But let's say they don't attack - they just take 30 damage. Now what? Well that's where Bright Flame comes in - as a 3-for-160 strike that discards 2 Fire Energy from Turtonator-GX. That's pretty much Alolan Ninetales-GX's Blizzard Edge in a nutshell, granted that the latter's Edge discards any 2 Energy against Flame's discard of 2 Fire. But that's 190 damage between Shell Trap and Bright Flame - unboosted, I might add, and already KOing most Basic-EX and Basic-GX, including itself. Add on the 80 damage if your opponent made the mistake of attacking and not finishing off Turtonator-GX, and that's a KO on anything in the game. 

So how to pump up that Turtonator-GX with all that Fire Energy...well, there's Volcanion (STS) - the basic one, not the EX version - that can attack and charge Turtonator-GX with Energy, but there's also another method, and this is where cards like Hala could see play in this deck - Nitro Tank GX. For but a single Fire Energy, Turtonator-GX will heat things up and charge out 5 Fire Energy from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way you like. If you get 5 Fire Energy into the discard - really though, if you get ANY Fire Energy into the discard - and use Nitro Tank GX, Turtonator-GX gets charged, your other Pokemon get charged, you use your GX Attack for the game, and Hala draws 7 cards forever. 

Turtonator-GX and Volcanion - a match made in the fiery volcano on Akala Island. 

And note: Volcanion-EX's Ability? Yeah, that works with Turtonator-GX, since he's a Basic. Think about that. 


Standard: 4.5/5 (a strong contender with Volcanion decks, probably even a must-run) 

Expanded: 4/5 (and definitely a strong vote of confidence for other Fire decks as well) 

Limited: 5/5 (and definitely a powerhouse in a limited environment) 

Arora Notealus: Really, the only things I could knock about Turtonator-GX are his weakness to Water - which will be a thing, given the presence of some recent Water support - and his Retreat Cost of 3, which would make moving him out difficult without Switch or Float Stone or the like. But considering he's as much a self-serving engine as he is a tank of a GX at 190 HP, chances are you're not retreating him...even with that Water weakness. 

...although if you didn't use Nitro Tank GX earlier, maybe the retreat to get rid of some to use for another Nitro Tank GX or Volcanion's attack is good? 

Next Time: The grace and aura of ANOTHER GX?!


Turtonator GX (Guardians Rising, 18/145), a brand new Pokemon out of the Guardians Rising expansion set, has 190 HP and three attacks.  Its GX attack, Nitro Tank-GX, allows you to attach five Fire energy cards to your Pokemon from your discard pile in any way you’d like.  Bright Flame does 160 damage but forces you to discard two energy.  The attack that I’ve exclusively used, however, Shell Trap, does only twenty base damage.

Wha???  You have only used an attack that does twenty damage in the fifteen times you’ve played Turtonator?  Yes, you only need to use his double Colorless energy attack Shell Trap.  The effect of this attack almost makes Bright Flame irrelevant.  You see, after playing Shell Trap, if your opponent attacks this Turtonator, your opponent’s active Pokemon has eight damage counters placed on it.  It essentially functions the same as a Bursting Balloon (Breakpoint, 97/122), only it does twenty more damage, eighty instead of sixty.  Therefore, Shell Trap really does 100 damage to your opponent’s active the majority of the time.  Furthermore, if you have a couple Volcanion EX (Steam Siege, 26/114) on your bench, all of a sudden Shell Trap actually hits for 130, 160, or even 190!  Turtonator becomes a very good complement to Volcanion EX; IMO, it’s actually a better pairing than baby Volcanion (Steam Siege, 25/114).  I don’t run baby Volcanion in my Volcanion EX builds any more.  I run Flareon EX (Generations, RC28), Torkoal (Sun & Moon, 23/149), and Turtonator.  These Pokemon don’t give your opponent a turn off like baby Volcanion does.  In today’s meta, you’ve got to hit for triple digit damage pretty much every turn.  If you only do twenty or fifty or even eighty damage, it doesn’t matter that you can attach two energy to your benched Pokemon.  You need to hit for a lot more than that while simultaneously using resources other than the effect of an extremely underpowered attack to power up Pokemon on your bench.  That’s just the way it is – I’m sure we’re all coming across (and playing) very high powered Pokemon that set up quickly and hit for a ton of damage every turn.  If you want to compete at the highest levels in today’s game, you can’t waste a couple of turns dinking your opponent for twenty damage.

In full disclosure, I only have a single copy of Turtonator.  I have only teched him into decks where other Pokemon are the feature Pokemon.  I have no doubt, however, that you could use him as a feature Pokemon, the main attacker, and run a four count of him in a deck.  Also, I could definitely see situations where you could use Turtonator’s other attacks as well, and when I get a couple more copies and make a full Turtonator deck, I’ll have the opportunity to employ his other two attacks.  So far I’ve just used him as a tech in, a bonus attacker, and Shell Trap has worked very well for me in the situations I’ve used it in.  Certainly, Bright Flame with three Steam Ups does enough to one shot any Pokemon in the game, and then you will most likely be able to follow this up with Shell Trap in the next turn.  Nitro Tank-GX also opens up a world of possibilities to a variety of EX and Mega Fire Pokemon who have devasting attacks with such ridiculously high energy costs that had previously made them unplayable.  I would definitely say that Turtonator’s other attacks could prove quite valuable in a Turtonator featured deck, but as I’ve only used him situationally as a tech in one of, Shell Trap has served quite well in Turtonator’s limited role.


Standard: 4 out of 5


Turtonator GX makes one of the best decks in the format even better.  If you run a Volcanion deck, this has now become at least a one of in those decks, and I don’t doubt that we won’t see some Turtonator featured decks even though right now he is mostly being used as a tech in one of in most builds.  One final thought: I have heard recently that the prevelant thought is that Volcanion EX will no longer be competitive in the meta against Garbodor (Guardians Rising, 51/145) and Sylveon GX (Guardians Rising, 92/145), but I am 3-3 with Volcanion decks against these Pokemon.  I do believe that Garbodor and Sylveon GX are tough matchups for Volcanion EX decks… but they are tough matchups for virtually every deck in the format.


We are in the middle of counting down the top 15 cards of SM: Guardians Rising.  The Pojo site list is based on individual lists submitted by the review staff; reprints are excluded to avoid highlighting cards we already know are quite good. 

Our seventh place finisher is Turtonator-GX.  Yes, I’m going to remind you of the obvious; as a Pokémon-GX it is worth an extra Prize when KO’d, should have more HP than its regular counterpart, will have three effects (one being a GX-attack), and has to deal with anti-Pokémon-GX cards like Choice Band.  As a Basic Pokémon, it requires minimal deck space and time to run, enjoys a natural synergy with various game mechanics, and even enjoys some nice Stage-specific support.  There are Basic Pokémon counters, but even with several of them, this is the best Stage.  As a Fire Type, it can hit most Grass Types for double damage (because they’re Fire Weak) and doesn’t have to deal with Resistance (because we aren’t worried about the Unlimited Format).  There are a few anti-Fire effects, with Araquanid surprising me by proving useful even though it is so specialized.  I didn’t think a Stage 1 Water-Type that could wall (via Ability) against only the Fire-Type would matter, but it’s already seen successful tournament play!  The Fire-Type has some nice attackers, but the big standout is Volcanion-EX, for both its attacks and its “Steam Up” Ability.  As a Basic Fire-Type, Turtonator-GX can join in on the damaging boosting shenanigans.  Expanded has Blacksmith, some brilliant Energy acceleration from the discard pile (even if it costs you your Supporter for the turn).  While it actually is support for basic Fighting Energy and Fire Energy, not caring what Pokémon you’ve got in play, Scorched Earth provides relatively painless extra draw for many Fire Type decks… and now we have Mallow create a double unrestricted search combo. 

Turtonator-GX has 190 HP; about what you’d expect for a Basic Pokémon-GX, and 60 or 80 HP more than its non-Pokémon-GX counterparts Turtonator (SM: Black Star Promos SM27) and Turtonator (SM: Guardians Rising 17/145), respectively.  Since it is worth an extra Prize, it needs the extra HP, but this gets it to a point where, outside of Weakness, it takes some real effort for most decks to score the OHKO, especially doing so rapidly, repeatedly, and reliably (most competitive decks will manage just two of the three).  Water Weakness is the bane of most Fire-Types, and it means Turtonator-GX is all washed up if it gets hit by an attack that does at least 100 damage before Weakness.  If it wasn’t for Aqua Patch, that wouldn’t seem like a low threshold to clear, but now that Water-Types can easily get two or three Energy attached in a turn, 100 damage happens.  Lack of Resistance is typical; the worst a card can have, but the most common “Resistance” you’ll see.  Given this card’s HP and first effect, any Resistance would have been a nice bonus, but the Resistance mechanic actually seems fairly balanced, so unlike Weakness, it doesn’t tend to create dramatic shifts in deck capability.  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] means it is hard to get Turtonator-GX out of the Active slot without some help, so build your deck accordingly.  While the ship has pretty much sailed for Heavy Boots now that Choice Band and Field Blower are here, Heavy Ball might still be a small upside to having to deal with this Retreat Cost. 

Turtonator-GX has three attacks, the first of which is “Shell Trap”.  For [CC], this attack does 20 damage and places an effect on Turtonator-GX; during your opponent’s next turn, if this Pokémon is damaged by an attack, you place eight damage counters on the Attacking Pokémon.  20 damage isn’t much, but 8 damage counters is pretty sizable.  For two of any Energy, it’s a good but not great attack; your opponent can get around it by attacking something else (whether hitting the Bench or forcing you to change Actives) or through Pokémon Ranger.  There is also my usual caveat; while eight damage counters is quite a bit (and usually includes 20 damage from the attack itself), it has to shift the turn count for KOs or trigger some effect.  I expect it to matter the vast majority of the time, especially if we combo with Steam Up and/or Choice Band so that the attack is actually doing 40 to 130 damage.  Now those eight damage counters can finish off even many Pokémon-GX.  For [RRC] Turtonator-GX can use “Bright Flame” to do 160 damage, but you also must discard two [R] Energy from it as well.  As we just established a 20 to 110 damage boost is likely, this attack ends up being pretty great.  It is tricky to use over and over again in Standard (Expanded has Blacksmith).  Remember to fall back on Shell Trap if you run low on Energy, and be aware that Energy manipulating opponents can capitalize on your discards. 

This brings us to the GX-attack “Nitro Tank-GX”, and it only costs [R].  What it does is attach five [R] Energy from your discard pile to your Pokémon in any way you like.  That is a lot Energy Energy acceleration, though you do need to remember you’re giving up your GX-attack to do it: a one-time deal that potentially costs you an easy OHKO later on (depending on the deck).  Of course, this is enough Energy to potentially prep you for the rest of the game.  Not 100%; you’ll still need your manual Energy attachments, and if your opponent is waiting to assault you with cards like Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt, you could still run dry.  You also need to be wary of dropping all that Energy on a single target for what obvious reason; your opponent has an entire turn to try and seriously damage, maybe even OHKO, that Pokémon.  Given the amount of attackers that hit harder based on the amount of Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon, even some of the larger Pokémon-GX aren’t totally safe.  Of course, I don’t have any really good partners to suggest that would require you attach all the Energy to them, anyway.  Instead, before we even think about the rest of a potential deck, just with two other Turtonator-GX this can leave you with three that each have [RR] attached, one away from what they need for Bright Flame. 

When we do start thinking about full-on decks, I don’t have any creative new insights; this is at least the new costar for Volcanion-EX decks.  Turtonator-GX just fits in too well as a decent defensive attacker, alternate big hitter, and alternate Energy accelerator.  I don’t run Volcanion-EX decks often enough (or with enough success), so I don’t know how necessary this card really is for them.  From facing it, I think Turtonator-GX will be a nice addition, but it is just taking something already good and making it better.  I don’t want to drop Possibly, it will become the primary attacker and Energy accelerator, but I don’t think it should completely replace Volcanion (XY: Black Star Promos XY145; XY: Steam Siege 25/114); Nitro Tank-GX is a one-time trick and it is nice having a single Prize attacker.  Expanded gets Blacksmith, and then I start to think we can make do without Volcanion: Hex Maniac and Pokémon Ranger were already options to deal with protective effects, and now we’ve got a solid alternate Energy accelerating option.  Both formats suffer a bit because of the metagame.  Water was already strong, and it just got better.  Decidueye-GX and Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98) is still going strong (I think) so actually being able to OHKO the former is a big deal.  For Limited play, I’d definitely be happy to see Turtonator-GX in one of my packs.  You can risk running it solo, though an opponent running Water Types will likely ruin your day, while Shell Trap allows it to slip into any deck if you don’t want to focus on it.  Of course, an actual fire deck featuring more than just Turtonator-GX gives you the most options; all three of its attacks remain potent, really becoming even better, here. 


Standard: 3.75/5 

Expanded: 3.75/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 


Turtonator-GX is a strong new addition to Volcanion-EX decks, so why didn’t I score it higher?  Well, Volcanion-EX decks already have a lot going for them, so even if it is a must-run for the deck it isn’t changing the deck or the metagame all that much. 

Turtonator-GX edged out yesterday’s Tapu Koko-GX by a single voting point but missed tying tomorrow’s sixth place finisher by nine points.  Past this point, the scores really start jumping.  Turtonator-GX didn’t make my Top 20… what?  Yeah, mea culpa folks; my brain just locked onto “Volcanion-EX decks get a bit better.  So?”  So it ended up being my 21st place pick.  It should have rated better, but I’m fairly comfortable where it ended up on the overall list.

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