Alolan Ninetales-GX
Alolan Ninetales-GX

Alolan Ninetales-GX
– Lost Thunder

Date Reviewed:
December 25, 2018

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 4.13
Expanded: 3.50
Limited: 4.33

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

Reviews Below:


Merry Christmas!

Today we look at our fifth-place pick as we countdown the top 11 cards of 2018. Normally, it would only be a top 10 countdown. With 2018 ending on a Monday, counting down from 11th place wraps up this list on the final day of the year. Fifth-place is Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 132/214, 205/214, 225/214). It’s not quite six weeks since we first reviewed the card as the fourth-place finisher in our countdown of the Top 11 cards of SM – Lost Thunder. The past month has mostly confirmed what was already said, though there are enough areas where I under- or overestimated Alolan Ninetales-GX that running through this card’s stats and effects probably won’t hurt.

The [Y] Typing can be useful, but mostly only when you run into a Rayquaza-GX deck to exploit that Pokémon’s Weakness. Being a Stage 1 isn’t as good as being a Basic, but Stage 1 Pokémon are arguably dominating the Standard Format lately. Being a Pokémon-GX is what justifies the HP and the efficacy of some (maybe all) this card’s effects, but we cannot forget that it comes at the price of being worth two Prizes when KO’d and having to deal with cards like Shrine of Punishment. Speaking of Hit Points, Alolan Ninetales-GX has an adequate 200 HP; it isn’t an easy OHKO but it also isn’t setting records for a Stage 1 worth two Prizes. The [M] Weakness should be bad; we’ve got some established archetypes, some would-be rogue decks, and proven TecH that can all exploit it however none of it seems to be showing up in the top cut lately. Enjoy that while it lasts, I suppose. [D] Resistance is handy because Zoroark-GX is widely played. A Zoroark-GX with a full Bench but no buffs can still punch through for a 2HKO, but anything less than that will need a third strike. The Retreat Cost of [CC] has lately been making me rethink my stance that it is “average”. More and more, with tight decklists, I find cards with the same Retreat Cost being stranded in the Active position. Of course, I’m not running Alolan Ninetales-GX so it could be context specific.

“Mysterious Guidance” is the Ability found on Alolan Ninetales-GX and its main claim to fame. You may activate it when you Evolve one of your Pokémon on the field into Alolan Ninetales-GX, and if you do, you then search your deck for up to two Item cards and add them to your hand. Item cards are quite versatile in the Pokémon TCG. During your turn, you may use as many as you wish and are able; built-in costs or conditions are specific to the Item itself. There are also several I think are a little too good for the health of the game, which greatly bolsters this Ability. For [YC] Alolan Ninetales-GX can attack with “Snowy Wind”, doing 70 damage to the opponent’s Active and 30 an opposing Benched Pokémon of your choice. A total of 100 damage for two Energy is pretty good, though splitting the damage between two targets trades more reliable KO’s for multi-KO’s. That same [YC] pays for “Sublimation-GX”, which presents its own kind of extreme split; it does nothing unless your opponent’s Active is an Ultra Beast, in which case it scores an automatic OHKO! As long as at least one Ultra Beast has a solid presence in the metagame AND the rest of your deck cannot handle it with ease, this is a good deal. Especially when combined with the rest of Alolan Ninetales-GX and the combos available to it, these attacks warrant trying to squeeze in a source of [Y] Energy into any deck also running Alolan Ninetales-GX. I’m not sure why I was thinking otherwise in the previous review.

Now let’s examine some of the proven uses for Alolan Ninetales-GX, as well as the support that helps it work well. Up first is Alolan Vulpix (SM – Guardians Rising 21/145, 21a/145), a popular choice as an opening Basic Pokémon in slower, setup oriented decks. “Slower” being a relative term as its “Beacon” attack lets you add three Pokémon of your choice from deck to hand, all for the bargain price of [0] Energy. It’s a [W] Type and not a [Y] Type, but that’s a net positive; it might be worse in [Y] decks but it is a notable advantage in your typical [F] or [W] deck running Brooklet Hill. Everywhere else, it’ll simply be a neutral change. Its 60 HP means it won’t survive after attacking unless your opponent ignores it to focus on something else… which is a significant risk due to today’s Alolan Ninetales-GX. Its [M] Weakness and lack of Resistance don’t make much of difference due to the HP, though its Retreat Cost of [C] means it shouldn’t get stuck in the Active position too often. Alolan Vulpix’s “Icy Snow” attack will rarely matter, but 20 for [CC] is decent for what is a filler attack on an Evolving Basic. One of my past mistakes was underestimating how well Beacon leads into Mysterious Guidance. It really is nice for Stage 2 decks, but also for other decks with great Pokémon/Item combos.

Which brings us to how Alolan Ninetales-GX is being used. While Alolan Ninetales-GX has not become a staple, it has been seen in a variety of decks. Zoroark-GX/Decidueye-GX decks like it not only for snagging Items but as another attacker. I was on the receiving end of this deck’s assault while running a Granbull (SM – Lost Thunder 138/214) backed by the typical Magcargo (SM – Celestial Storm 24/168) and Oranguru (Sun & Moon 113/149; SM – Black Star Promos SM13)… which meant Choice Bands became discard fodder for “Trade” while Counter Gain let Alolan Ninetales-GX attack for just [Y] (at least if I pulled ahead in Prizes). I was fortunate I was able to empty out my hand on enough of the turns where I didn’t have a Magcargo… because several turns Magcargo or Slugma became easy targets for Snowy Wind and Decidueye-GX’s “Feather Arrow” Ability. It is also seeing a good deal of play helping out Buzzwole-GX. We’re also seeing Zoroark-GX backed by Alolan Ninetales-GX but NO Decidueye-GX; while you lose those fantastic Feather Arrows, you gain a lot more room for other things… like a solid assortment of TecH Stage 1 Pokémon. Yes, it is happening; people are pushing what they can do with Ditto {*}!

Another Pokémon Alolan Ninetales-GX has been backing up is Buzzwole-GX, and in the lists I’m seeing, Lycanroc-GX (SM – Guardians Rising 74/145, 138/145, 156/145) is an equal partner as well. It certainly makes sense; besides the general uses provided by Alolan Ninetales-GX for most decks, there’s also ensuring a double Beast Ring when the Prize count is right. Once again Snowy Wind is seeing use while attacking; Unit Energy [F][D][Y] also showed up in some of the earlier Zoroark-GX lists, which makes sense as in both cases, two of the three Energy Types it can provide are being used. What I’m not seeing is major successes for Alolan Ninetales-GX in Expanded. I don’t know if it is because decks are less able to afford a turn of Alolan Vulpix attacking, reducing the value of the pair in setting up. It could be the stronger anti-Ability and anti-Item effects, or both. Could be something else I missed entirely, but whatever it is, among the few results I have for Expanded Format tournaments, I’m not seeing Alolan Ninetales-GX.  I’m not going to count it out, but its receiving average marks based on its potential. SM – Lost Thunder Pre-releases are long done, and those pre-releases are usually the only Limited Format event regularly held. Still, if you do get the chance to enjoy this set a similar manner, Alolan Ninetales-GX is a great pull. You won’t be able to run it solo, but it should slip into most decks with ease, and allow you to search out any valuable Items you’ve still got in your deck by the time it shows up. Of course, the HP and attacks are also great here.


  • Standard: 4/5
  • Expanded: 3/5
  • Limited: 4/5

I underestimated Alolan Ninetales-GX as an attacker, and how valuable it is with Alolan Vulpix as a lead-in for more elaborate setups… and it isn’t exactly like I scored Alolan Ninetales-GX poorly last time. It is a great card that has really made a name for itself in these last few weeks of 2018, and it probably isn’t going anywhere for at least the first few months of 2019, either. Even then, it has the kind of effects that the designers love to reinvigorate through combos at a later date. Sometimes unintentionally, when they forget something rare like Item search is in the cardpool.


I don’t think there was any contest as to whether or not Alolan Ninetales-GX would see play. It even made our #4 spot on the Top 11 cards of Lost Thunder! Having the ability to grab cards out of your deck that you might want/need is an incredibly powerful effect, especially when they’re Items that can be played immediately, so it’s really no surprise that Alolan Ninetales-GX sees play in a lot of decks as of late.

If you needed more than just an Ability, Snowy Wind offers a 2-for-70 strike that deals 30 to a Benched Pokemon, while Sublimation GX can get rid of an Ultra Beast immediately. It’s not something that will always come up, but if you need to take care of something right away and don’t mind using your GX Attack to do so, then it’s a pretty good tech of sorts for that. In general though, most people are using Alolan Ninetales-GX for the Mysterious Guidance, and considering the overall success in such decks, it’s probably no surprise that Alolan Ninetales-GX makes the list.


Standard: 4/5 (never a bad time to grab a bunch of Items)

Expanded: 4/5 (more options, less Ultra Beasts, doesn’t matter too much if you’re just playing for the Ability)

Limited: 5/5 (very useful to grab what you’d want)

Arora Notealus: I really do like Alolan Ninetales. Between this form and stuff like Alolan Sandslash and Alolan Muk, there’s just so much to like about the transformations! Course it’s incredibly unexpected, having a Fire-Type go into an Ice-Type and even a Fairy-Type. Maybe not as hard as Ground into Ice/Steel, but still! It’s pleasantly unexpected.

Next Time: This guy really does turn things on its head!


Alolan Ninetales GX (LOT 132) has already made a solid impression on the Pokemon Trading Card game even though it has existed in the Standard format for only a little more than a month.  This card has earned its place in the game solely based on its ability Mysterious Guidance which allows you – when you evolve this Pokemon from your hand – to select two Item cards from your deck. 

You can find a myriad of uses for Mysterious Guidance, from Beast Rings to Custom Catchers to Choice Bands to Max Potions to Net and Nest Balls… the list goes on.  But the most popular combination, the strategy that is single handedly increasing the playability of Stage 2 Pokemon, is the Rare Candy Ultra Ball tactic.  Now you can easily and consistently get a Stage 2 Pokemon on your board in the second turn of the game.  Especially if you went second and were able to Beacon on your first turn, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be able to get whatever Stage 2 you want on the board for your second turn.

And that’s about to become EXTREMELY important: there is a Dragonite coming out in just over a month that allows you to select a Supporter card from your deck once per turn – EVERY TURN not just in the turn you evolved Dragonite.

I KNOW that is completely broken and could potentially become the greatest ability since I started playing the game almsot three years ago.  Think about how valuable Lele is – and now you get to use this ability EVERY TURN!!!  Sorry I know that this is a review about Alolan Ninetales and not Dragonite, but I seriously think that Fairy Ninetales will serve as a valuable tool to enable you to get Dragonite into play for your second turn so you can go get whatever supporter you need in the turn that you need it.  And we’re getting Pokemon Communication again in February, so you don’t even have to use Ultra Ball necessarily and waste two resources to get the Pokemon you need into your hand.

Alolan Ninetales GX has had a significant effect on the Pokemon TCG in the short time it’s been around, and I think its value to many archetypes is about to increase exponentially.


Standard: 4.5 out of 5


If you read my reviews, you know that I don’t give four and above very often.  I have criticized the game’s designers in the past for either significantly underpowering cards or not producing a type of card altogether.  So for me to give Fairy Ninetales a 4.5 is very meaningful, and I honestly believe a lot of decklists could easily start going to a 4-2 Alolan Vulpix GRI Alolan Ninetales LOT split.  At least that’s the way I’m going to start building a lot of my Stage 2 decks. 


It’s good!


Standard: 4/5 (This card has appeared on several deck lists.)

Expanded: 3.5/5 (This format is somewhat hostile if you ask me.)

Limited: 4/5 (If you pulled this, then it’s a good choice of an attacker.)

Notes: I really haven’t had much to say about Alolan Ninetales-GX. It is a good Pokémon to fetch two item cards that can be used right away and makes those cards that require you to play two cards at the same time. Additionally, it has a good evolving Basic; Alolan Vulpix from SM Guardians Rising has the Beacon attack that can grab you two Pokémon, ready to be evolved or benched on your next turn, assuming your hand doesn’t get shuffled. It came out very late in the year, but has an enormous impact of the Pokémon TCG. The attacks aren’t bad; Snowy Wind provides strategic damage placements while Sublimation can strategically take down the Defending Pokémon that is a Ultra Beast. Both of its attacks cost YC.

Next up: Now here’s an engine that’s well established in the competitive scene!

Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive.  We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!  

We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews.  If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email.  We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc.   😉