Blacephalon (Unbroken Bonds UNB 32)
Blacephalon (Unbroken Bonds UNB 32)

– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
May 31, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.90
Expanded: 3.88
Limited: 4.25

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Now this is a Pokémon I’ve come across pretty often on my recent visits to Pokémon League casual play. I feel like this is one of the best single prize attackers that can compete against various EX/GX Pokemon, and can trade favorably.

Blacephalon from the Sun & Moon Unbroken Bonds expansion comes in with two attacks. Blazer costs a single Fire energy for 10 damage and it makes you turn one of your prize cards face up. If that card is a Fire Energy, you get to deal 50 more damage! The card that was flipped face up, it remains face up for the rest of the game. Even if it is not a Fire Energy, the fact that it stays face up can give you information on what the other face down prize cards are, and gives you a better chance of randomly picking the right prize card for your needs. This isn’t an attack to rely on, so consider this attack to be a benefit if you actually reap the extra effect. We’ll have to turn to its next attack.

Fireball Circus costs RRR and lets you discard as many Fire energies from your hand, and it does 50 damage each time you discard energies. To reach OHKO levels, you’ll need a Choice Band attached to it and five Fire energies from your hand. If you’re facing 300 HP titans such as Magikarp & Wailord-GX or the upcoming ZapMolCuno-GX, then you might need six energies to do the job. I actually liked this attack than Blacephalon-GX’s Mind Blown attack, as Fireball Circus doesn’t send energies to the Lost Zone while the former does. However, today’s card is almost no different when it comes to energy counts; Blacephalon decks need around 15-20 energies. If you wanted to achieve great feats of big damage, you’ll have to find other cards to help doing the same thing over and over again.

Fortunately, there are couple Fire based or general energy support cards that can rinse and repeat your cycle of doom. Fire Crystal recovers three Fire energies from the discard pile onto your hand, so that you can theoretically deal 150 more damage if you’re focusing on the attack. Welder attaches two Fire energies from your hand to one of your Pokemon – to eventually meet the attack cost of Fireball Circus – and draws three cards. Heat Factory lets you discard a Fire energy to draw three cards. In the Expanded card pool, there’s Scorched Earth to discard either a Fire or Fighting energy to draw two cards. Fiery Torch is an item card that makes you discard a Fire Energy to draw two cards. Blacksmith is a Supporter that attaches two Fire energies from the discard to one of your Fire Pokemon. And if you think Fire Crystal isn’t good enough for energy recovery, then Energy Retrieval and/or Energy Recycler can help recover even more energy to continuously fuel your Fireballs.

I can’t think of any glaring notable weakness Blacephalon have. 120 HP may be a easy number to KO for, and Water Pokemon only needs 60 damage to KO it. Anti Ultra Beast cards can exist in the form of Alolan Ninetales-GX’s Sublimation or Fairy Charm UB. Retreat cost of two means that even Escape Board can’t make it retreat for free. Still, the capability to OHKO any Pokemon in the game greatly outweigh several tiny pieces of roadblock this card have to endure. If the Blacephalon player sets up really fast – with all the Fire support SM Unbroken Bonds has to offer, on top of existing support that came from XY FlashFire – then it will overcome would-be counters. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blacephalon decks appear in tournament sources because I am already convinced that today’s card is pretty speedy in a similar manner to Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. And I got defeated many times against Blacephalon. GX or not, I simply cannot keep up with the speed they provide.

And if you pulled one in Limited, and possibly support cards like Fire Crystal and Welder from that same set, you are destined to win there unless RNG ruins your prospects and/or you’re facing even stronger Pokémon such as Tag Teams.


  • Standard: 4/5
  • Expanded: 4.25/5
  • Limited: 4.5/5

This should’ve made the top 11, but I had too much to think from this enormous set. Blacephalon is a very, very good attacker.


Thoughts on my current position here: I have chimed in on the review crew since June of 2017 when Golisopod from SM Guardians Rising was scheduled. So far, when looking at what I wrote, it was fascinating of what I was capable of regarding discussing about certain cards, but at times, there was a point where I was lost in thought, and I have to shorten my length to become as concise as possible so that I don’t make things too complicated. It’s still a pretty ongoing habit for me, so you may notice inconsistent review lengths that I exhibit. Other factors can affect me from writing as much as I hoped such as life outside from reviewing. There were some cards that I had a lot in mind to make it like an essay, but collapsed during the process, so I had to make a placeholder version with scores. If I have more to say from an older card, I’ll just simply extend my length while keeping the older review. Couple reviews that I was extremely satisfied of my work include, but not limited to, Detective Pikachu Greninja, Roto Motor Rotom forms, and Professor Sycamore (cards lost to rotation).

Overall on this week’s set of cards, Blacephalon and Persian-GX are the only card that I actually can make a decent review length because of my experiences using it facing against those cards. That’s not to say that I don’t have much to say on other cards. I’ll always do my best to give some insight even if I never owned or used those cards. But as of my current state, I’m pretty burned out and may have to relax for a while and be shortly back while being energized. That’s pretty much it on my thoughts and to share about this, and I thank you all for reading this far. I had this on my mind for several months and finally had to release it.

Otaku Avatar

Blacephalon (SM – Unbroken Bonds 32/214) is the main event in today’s twofer. This is a [R] Type Pokémon, which means most [G] and [M] Pokémon will take double damage from Weakness but don’t have to worry about crashing into Resistance. There are anti-[R] effects, but they’re not major factors, either being weak, specialized, or awkward to include for most decks. [R] Pokémon-specific effects aren’t much use in Standard right now, but [R] Energy-based ones include Welder, Fire Crystal, Fiery Flint, and Heat Factory {*}. Expanded adds to the list, though of the obvious inclusions, the only one I suspect will matter is Blacksmith and (maybe) Scorched Earth. In both Formats, additional strong [R] Type attackers and/or Bench-sitters might matter as well. Blacephalon is an Ultra Beast; they’ve got some good support and some solid counters, so I’m calling this a neutral trait… at least, for now.

Basic Pokémon also have some good support and solid counters but also are the fastest Stage to the field, the least demanding of deck space, can function as your opening Active (sometimes that isn’t a positive), and naturally work better with certain game effects (like bounce). Blacephalon has 120 HP, which is solid for a single-Prize Basic Pokémon, though it will be OHKO’d by most decks once they’re up and running. [W] Weakness is a problem, but specifically because this will allow secondary attacks (or attackers) score a reliable OHKO; primary attackers using their “main” attack will just score even more of an overkill. Lack of Resistance is the worst, but most Pokémon don’t have any Resistance, and -20 to damage received from a single Type wouldn’t likely have made much of a difference. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is also pretty typical but does make a difference. You can probably pay this if you need to, but you’ll also probably be hurting from doing so. Higher would be more painful, but just one lower would let Escape Board zero the cost out entirely… which may or may not prove important.

Blacephalon has two attacks. For [R], “Blazer” does 10 damage, plus it has you reveal one of your face-down Prize cards. If the revealed card is a [R] Energy – and only basic Fire Energy cards will count as such while in your Prizes – Blazer does an extra 50 damage. If the revealed card is anything else, you still do the base 10 damage. Regardless, the revealed Prize card remains face-up the rest of the game (unless acted upon by another card effect or mechanic). [RRR] pays for “Fireball Circus”, which lets you discard as many [R] Energy from your hand – again, only basic Fire Energy cards count as [R] while in hand – as you want, then does 50 damage for each card discarded in this manner. 60-for-one is good, but when it is this unreliable and limited in its use, it is merely adequate. Fireball Circus is the main attraction, and it is hardly energy efficient. If you can afford it, though, you can KO anything in the game. Well, anything not immune to damage. So, can you afford it?

Considering there are already Blacephalon – not Blacephalon-GX – decks doing well. They’re not dominating all the recent events, but we’ve got a 22nd-place finish from the Santa Clara, CA (USA) Regional Championship, and both 4th- and 6th-place finishes at the Special Event tournament held in Johannesburg (South Africa). The latter was out of only 38 Masters, the former was out of 470, but both are still quite relevant. With cards like Welder to take a Blacephalon from zero to Fireball Circus in a single turn, Fiery Flint and Fire Crystal to use and reuse large quantities of Energy, Blacephalon can smoke the competition. The one list I have from the winning decks (Roberto Lozada’s) doesn’t have an option for Pokémon immune to damage from Basic Pokémon or Ultra Beasts, but Ultra Forest Kartenvoy could deal with that if it ever becomes a serious issue. My real concern is the prominence of Tag Team Pokémon-GX; at 50 damage per Energy, that’s five Energy for the smallest of them and six for the largest. Plus three because you need [RRR] attached to Blacephalon.

With that said, this still seems like a great deck for Standard. Lozada’s list runs no Pokémon-GX, and the only Ability-user is Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161), though this list does max out Jirachi. You might also see Blacephalon added into Blacephalon-GX decks; Blacephalon leads into Blacephalon-GX well, though you might be in trouble if you go in the opposite order. I’m very interested in seeing if Blacephalon decks can make the jump to Expanded; they won’t like having Items or Abilities being locked, but with some tweaks, I could see a list that still let it do its job.  Maybe even better than in Standard. If you pull this in Limited, definitely run it, but not in a mulligan (a.k.a. solo, a.k.a. +39) build. The HP might barely last if you have fantastic luck, but you can’t count on Blazer revealing [R] Energy or having enough [R] Energy in hand once you do get enough attached for Fireball Circus.


Standard: 3.8/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 4/5

Blacephalon does things a bit differently from Blacephalon-GX, but they feel a lot alike when you’re on the receiving end. Blacephalon didn’t even make a single reviewer’s personal top pick list for SM – Unbroken Bonds, and I’d say that was a mistake but there are just so many great cards in the set and these [R] decks would be hurting if not for Welder.  Hm… maybe that was the real mistake; not leaving out Blacephalon, Reshiram & Chairzard-GX, and Fire Crystal, but Welder not ranking higher.

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