– Unbroken Bonds
December 31, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
At last, we get to what would be the best card of 2019: Dedenne-GX from Sun & Moon Unbroken Bonds. How is it that this cute and adorable Dedenne-GX – a Pokémon with 160 HP whose weak to Fighting, gives up two prizes when it’s knocked out, and gets certain roadblocks simply by being a GX Pokémon – gets to be the best card of the year? Well, it pretty much comes down to what this card actually does that could help your deck so that it will be worth the risk. But before I go there, let me stress that Dedenne-GX isn’t used much as an attacker. Both Static Shock and Zappy Return costs LC for 50 damage, which isn’t helping even with Electropower boosting damage or Thunder Mountain Prism Star shaving off the L cost. Zappy Return could’ve been a good repeatable Attack, but it’s branded to being a GX attack. Getting itself, as well as all cards attached to it, into your hand is useful so that you can use its ability again next turn, and Paralysis can help buy you a turn. Other than that GX attack, you’ll find almost no reason to be attacking with Dedenne-GX.
It’s Dedechange Ability is why Dedenne-GX sees a lot of play as the moment you play Dedenne-GX from your hand onto your Bench, you get to discard your hand and draw six cards. Since the clause states that you can’t use more than 1 Dedechange ability, this is a hard once-per-turn that even though you make one of them leave play, putting it back in play won’t re-trigger the ability. I suppose that’s a good thing because without the hard once-per-turn clause, the player would potentially go through their entire deck to play as many cards as possible…and possibly deck themselves out if their plan failed or backfired. Hypothetically putting at least five Dedenne-GX in play – whether by Super Scoop Up, Acerola, or Scoop Up Cyclone – isn’t unheard of; such an aggressive deck would want to dig through their entire deck getting nearly everything they want. But back to reality, despite the hard once-per-turn clause, you haven’t used up your Supporter because you’re using that effect from an Ability, and the upcoming Professor’s Research – which is another one of those “discard your hand, then draw 7 cards” after Professor Oak, Professor Juniper, and Professoe Sycamore – can supplement Dedenne-GX, making you draw a total of 13 cards on one turn! You can even make Dedenne-GX fake being a draw Supporter if you already used a Supporter card that provides a searching effect. You could get away with playing Green’s Exploration first, followed by Cherish Ball to fetch Dedenne-GX, and finally put them in play.
Even if there are no other combos for Dedenne-GX to take advantage of, why is it still a powerful card? We’ve seen various decklists whose usage of Dedenne-GX drastically varies; some didn’t run any while others ran between a single copy…to running a full four. Some decks might need a full four to improve consistency so that they’ll have a better chance of getting one when you really need it while not being overly concerned about some cards being inside the prize pile. Others ran fewer than that when it’s not that important to a certain deck, but can still be useful if you happen to have one at the time. Very few Expanded decks would want to run a full four while most of them would run a single copy or two copies due to competition or power creep; the ever constant changing metagame would make it risky to run heavily. There are also other Pokémon that also provides similar draw based effect from their own abilities, but even then, they got their own pros and cons. Zebstrika from Lost Thunder is probably the best example, as it’s Sprint Ability lets you discard your hand and draw four cards. There’s no hard once-per-turn from Sprint, and you could use this as many as four times, assuming if all four Zebstrika were in play. While this is something you could use every turn and is worth a single prize, deck space (you need at least a 1-1 line) and the off-chance that these bench sitters are going to be Knocked Out quicker than Dedenne-GX means that Dedenne-GX is still more resourceful than Zebstrika. There’s your pros and cons between the two.
Dedenne-GX hasn’t completely replaced Shaymin-EX as the draw power of choice, but it is better than Shaymin most of the time; Shaymin’s Set Up Ability only nets you as many cards depending if you can get your hand size as low as possible while Dedenne-GX gets you six cards regardless. You can even argue that if you can’t make use of your current hand, you might as well discard them all anyways as opposed to hanging on to them and see what you can do from here. However, Set Up isn’t restricted to being a hard once per turn, unlike Dedechange, so Set Up can be used as many times as you like as long as you play a Shaymin-EX from your hand into your Bench. Overall, having a Pokémon with such an ability is amazing…until you realize that Pokémon has suddenly changed from being a TCG into Solitare, in which one of the players will try to dig through their deck as deep as possible and use cards that can try and give you a hard time (before you even get a turn) until the point where you have very little to do; your own setup becomes minimal to nothing and whatever you tried to do is futile.
I’ll be the guy to overrate this card for Standard, but Dedenne-GX almost justifies a perfect score. If every deck ran at least one, then it would have it, but those who didn’t use it have compelling reasons such as deck space, bench space, and inherent drawbacks of being such a card (such as being a target for an easy KO, even with 160 HP). Although these are reasonable, concise explanations that showed concern regarding this card, that still doesn’t discredit the power of what this ability does!
By the time we get down to the top 3, any one of those three cards – Welder, Jirachi, and Dedenne-GX – could’ve took first place as well. It’s just that I value Dedenne-GX’s utility more than the other two, which is why the voting points wasn’t unanimous. Only I picked Dedenne as my personal Top pick; Otaku had it as his third best card due to a private email discussion, which means that Aroramage must have placed it as his second best card, hence the total of 33 points out of 36.
Have a happy new year!
Well whaddya know, it’s an electric rodent!
It shouldn’t be any surprise that a Pokemon with a powerful draw ability ends up at the top of the list. Shaymin-EX ended up in a few Top X lists back in its day, and Dedenne-GX fulfills a similar role in today’s game. Draw power has always been a valuable tool, especially on a Pokemon, so there’s no reason that Dedenne-GX wouldn’t make the list – and since there wasn’t anything as crazy as Forest of Giant Plants, it’s something to be said that this card makes the top of the list. In a way, it’s acknowledgement that the designers learned from their mistakes and managed to make the game more balanced by comparison!
So let’s welcome in the new year as we let the old fade away, starting out by tossing out our hands and drawing a fresh new 6 cards with De-de-de-de-denne Change!!
Standard: 5/5 (absolutely a must-have and must-play)
Expanded: 5/5 (arguably it’s even better than Shaymin-EX was back in the day!)
Limited: 5/5 (no questions asked, you’ve got to play this card here)
Arora Notealus: My twelfth wish is probably the most simple wish – let’s continue to make the game fun! Whether that’s trying out new strategies or messing around with older ones, changing the gameplay or keeping things the same, let’s all aim to have as much fun playing the game as we can! Because more than anything else, having fun is the most important part of any game you play, and Pokemon TCG is hardly an exception!
Next Time: Meanwhile out in the competitive landscape, other cards make their way in…
The best card of 2019 is Dedenne-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 57/214, 195/214, 219/214)! Dedenne-GX was our top pick from SM – Unbroken bonds as well, if you felt like taking a peek. Normally, I’d run through the card again, but I really want to highlight what Dedenne-GX has accomplished, and how it seems to be doing as the year closes, so you will need to read the other reviews (new or old) to get the finer details.
Dedenne-GX’s “Dedechange” let’s you discard your hand and draw six cards, but only when you Bench Dedenne-GX from your hand, during your turn, and not if you’ve used a Dedechange already that turn. This means any effect that adds a Pokémon to your hand, whether from the deck or the discard can fake being a Supporter via Dedenne-GX, though Dedenne-GX itself will eat up a spot on your Bench and be a juicy target for spread manipulation, sniping, and Gusting effects (like Great Catcher).
You’ll still have access to your actual Supporter for the turn, however, so not only does your deck’s general reliability improve, but you can either put your actual Supporter towards something other than setting up or field maintenance, or still use it for those but have a potentially explosive turn! Sounds like a deck staple, right?
For a time, I think it was at least close, but not at the end of 2019. Dedenne-GX still sees a good deal of use in successful, competitive decks, with counts ranging from just a single to a full four. Perusing some of the recent tournament results posted to limitlesstcg.com, a lot of decks do not run Dedenne-GX. Some are instead relying on yesterday’s Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161). Other rivals to Dedenne-GX can also be found, from decks avoiding Abilities so they can make good use of Green’s Exploration, or those built around Pidgeotto (SM – Team Up 123/181).
Dedenne-GX is still a great card, though… but instead of being a lose staple, it now shows up in more like one-third to two-thirds of decks in a given metagame. At least, that is how it goes in Standard. In Expanded, I’ve got a lot less data to work with, but it seems similar to Standard; you’ve got an even easier time working with Dedenne-GX (Ultra Ball), but also greater threats (Guzma, Lysandre) and more rivals (Zoroark-GX). If you pull Dedenne-GX at a Limited Format event, only skip it if you pull another Basic Pokémon-GX, one worth running sans any other Basics (to ensure you open with it). Otherwise, Dedenne-GX is a must!
As you know if you’ve read my other reviews, Dedenne-GX wasn’t my first place pick, it was my third. Especially as we’re considering its performance all year, there’s no sour grapes here about it taking first. I gave Jirachi second-place because it has been more widely used and for longer, and while Welder (my actual #1) isn’t used in as many decks as either, I think those decks have really shaped the modern format. Writing this review made me realize none of us nominated Pidgeotto… that seems like an oversight.
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. 😉