– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
June 12, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.88
Expanded: 2.88
Limited: 3.25

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

I remember looking at older COTDs regarding Arcanine and wondering if players will eventually get a good one to be worth using. Some were pretty decent, but outclassed by some Basic counterparts that had similar damage output and HP. Anti-Basic effects or even anti-EX/GX effects can hinder other but didn’t affect Arcanine at all, so maybe it has a chance of being used. It wasn’t until I read a partial article from PokeBeach mentioning Arcanine, and it points to that card. That piped my curiosity a bit and were about to look at it.

Arcanine from Unbroken Bonds has two attacks. Grand Flame costs RRR for 120 damage, and also lets you attach 2 Fire energies from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokemon. The damage is decent, but falls short of 2HKOs on some of the Tag Team Pokemon out there. Choice Band won’t be able to stick around due to rotation, so use it while you can! Heat Tackle costs RRRR for 190 damage and does 50 damage to itself. If you are confident that you can KO with this attack, and there are lot of Basic two-prize GX Pokemon within KO range, then it may be worth using. Otherwise, skip this attack.

As a Fire Pokemon, it gets support like Fire Crystal and Welder to cycle and accelerate energies so that it can attack early. However, the only attack worth using for today’s Arcanine is just Grand Flame, since this is the safest attack than Heat Tackle and it can also help prep another attacker. As I said a while ago, it can bypass some things your GX Pokemon can’t, so it might be worth consideration. As far as other related cards from previous formats, I was going to mention Arcanine Break, but Turbo Flame is pretty redundant as Fire energies might be the only basic energy cards you have in your deck, so it’s only there for a HP boost, and a small +20 over today’s card (and removing Special Conditions and effects as if you are evolving it) for the cost of a deck space.


  • Standard: 2.75/5
  • Expanded: 2.75/5
  • Limited: 3/5
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Today we have an abridged review again, as this is just going to be another busier week than I expected. It won’t be quite as short as yesterday’s, however.

We’re looking at Arcanine (SM – Unbroken Bonds 22/214) because it started showing up in Reshiram & Charizard-GX decks. Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure why it is there, but I think we can make an educated guess. The Typing probably isn’t important directly, but it means that Arcanine runs on [R] Energy, so all the [R] Energy-based support that helps the rest of the deck still helps it. Being a Stage 1 is about as fast as an Evolution can hope to be; the deck could run a “big Basic” but this helps deal with anti-Basic effects. 140 HP isn’t huge, but for a single-Prize Stage 1, it’ll do. [W] Weakness ain’t great to have, and it would have been great if it had been almost anything else… but it isn’t. The lack of Resistance is similar, as any would be better than none but “none” is the most common. That Retreat Cost of [CC] is painful but would force you to run alternatives to manually retreating at full price, so it ain’t that bad, either.

Arcanine has two attacks, “Grand Flame” and “Heat Tackle”, costing [RRR] and [RRRR], respectively. That means neither is fast without some form of Energy acceleration. Grand Flame does 120 damage while attaching two [R] Energy cards from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon. which means once you get it started, it could stream to itself… or just be used as a lead-in to something better, whether (relatively) early-game or as a kind of recovery option mid-to-late game, say after a big attacker has gone down (or lost its Energy somehow). 120 is a bit low for reliable 2HKO’s, but just a bit; with Choice Band you should be good. Heat Tackle does 190 damage to your opponent’s Active but causes Arcanine to hit itself for 50. That means a fresh Arcanine will still be down to 90 HP, making it a fairly reliable OHKO after… but this is also enough to OHKO most non-Pokémon-GX and Basic Pokémon-EX/GX. If you can spare a damage buff, Stage 1 Pokémon-GX and small-to-midrange Mega Evolutions also join OHKO range… so trade smartly and it can be worthwhile.

Maybe you could build yourself an Arcanine deck, or even an Arcanine BREAK deck… but as I said at the start, this Arcanine is already seeing success in Reshiram & Charizard-GX decks, as just a 1-1 line. I wish I could tell you more than the obvious; Welder means the first attack can be accessed in a single turn ([RR] from Welder, a third [R] from hand). I know I sound like a broken record, but I don’t have data on Expanded yet; with Blacksmith added to the rest of your [R] support, the only reason I could see Arcanine being worse is competition from other, older [R] Types… unless the archetype is no good there in the first place. As for the Limited Format, as long as your deck can run on mostly basic Fire Energy and you didn’t pull something you’re better off running solo, Arcanine should be a fantastic pull. Somewhat humorously, if you pull Reshiram & Charizard-GX, that’s could be an example of what NOT to bother running with Arcanine (as you’d just run the Tag Team solo).


Standard: 3/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 3.5/5

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