Dedenne-GX – SM Unbroken Bonds
Date Reviewed: August 22, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
At last, we come to 1st-Place, and it should come as no surprise that it is Dedenne-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 57/214, 195/214, 195a/214, 219/214)! However, I do consume articles by others, so I know that some folks don’t think this is the number one loss. So let me explain my choice in our customary fashion. Dedenne-GX is all about its “Dedechange” Ability; when you Bench this Pokémon from your hand, during your turn, you may discard your hand then draw six cards. You’re only allowed a single use of Dedechange in a turn; even if you Bench another Dedenne-GX, if the first already used its Ability, the second (and later) instances can’t. This is draw power just shy of one of the top draw Supporters in the game (Professor’s Research), but you don’t give up a Supporter to use it. You can combine it an actual Supporter to push for a big play. Discarding your hand can be a massive cost, or it can be a bonus. Your exact deck build and your luck will determine where it falls on the spectrum.
The rest of Dedenne-GX does matter. Dedenne-GX is a Basic, and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as an Evolution. Especially with the current metagame; not only do you have the normal benefits of being a Basic (1 card = 1 copy, no waiting to Evolve) are combined with Quick Ball being the best search available in Standard, even if it can only snag Basics… like Dedenne-GX. The next most important thing about the card is a tie between being a Pokémon-GX and having 160 HP, but the latter needs the former for context. Being a Pokémon-GX means Dedenne-GX cannot be bounced with Scoop Up Net. It means Dedenne-GX counts as a Rule Box Pokémon, so Path to the Peak can deny your Dedechange Ability. It means Dedenne-GX gives up an extra Prize when KO’d… so the beefy 160 HP (for a single Prize Basic) is revealed to be fragile instead.
Being a [L] type just edges out the relevance of Weakness, because so many primary attackers already OHKO Dedenne-GX before applying Weakness. Back when Electropower was legal, it meant Dedenne-GX might launch a surprise attack for big damage, but the main thing was being a legal search target for Electromagnetic Radar… which released a few sets before Quick Ball. Dedenne-GX’s [F] Weakness hasn’t been as dangerous as I would have expected the entire time, but often enough, it meant a match-up where 80 damage – just eighty damage – scored your opponent two Prizes. Against a type known for stacking damage bonuses. Ouch. The Retreat Cost of [C] is and has been good; effects that reduce it by one make it free, but even if you have to pay, its somewhat affordable.
Least important is probably a three-way tie. The -20 Metal Resistance proved somewhat useful later in the card’s Standard-lifespan. Zacian V itself can easily punch through it, but at least some of its deckmates might whiff on the OHKO. “Static Shock” just does 50 for [LC] which was poor even when Dedenne-GX was new. It is filler, but at least it isn’t worse. “Tingly Return-GX” also costs [LC] and does 50, but it adds a self-bounce attack… that gets Dedenne-GX out of harms way and gives you the option of dropping it again on your next turn to re-use Dedechange. If it was a regular attack, it’d be decent, but is lacking as your once-per-game GX-attack.
Dedenne-GX hasn’t been a staple since it first released, but that’s easy to forget. I had high hopes for it when we first reviewed it as the number one card from its set. It didn’t quite live up to expectations by the end of the year, but it still finished in 1st-Place for our 2019 year end countdown. By the end of its Standard-legal run, it has reached the lofty expectations we originally had for it. There were times when pretty much every competitive deck included a copy. There were times when many decks ran it in multiples. I don’t have time to comb through old results, but I think there was at least one archetype that ran a full four and performed well in tournaments. Now? It is still heavily run, with one or two copies in most decks.
If that doesn’t sound impressive, remember that Dedenne-GX now have more competition. We’ve got Crobat V, among others and… Dedenne-GX sees more play, and outside of some specific decks, players run both because each has a true once-per-turn Ability. So you try to drop each of them the same turn if you need to make a big, big play. Either means any compatible search doubles as a form of draw power. I had this as my 1st-Place pick, and I think I’ve done a decent job explaining why but I do understand why some – no, not Vince – disagreed. Remember how I said we were losing Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds 76/214; SM – Black Star Promos 215) and its “Bench Barrier” Ability? Dedenne-GX’s 160 HP is too big for something like Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX to OHKO it on the Bench, but…
…that’s without help, and ignoring the attack in question lets Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX strike two targets at once. There are other attackers, like Cramorant V that can OHKO a Benched Dedenne-GX. Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX can use Telescopic Sight plus the “Throwing Coach” Ability of Passimian (SW – Chilling Reign 088/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH115) to OHKO a Benched Dedenne-GX… while still slamming another target as well. If Dedenne-GX were sticking around, it might have a harder time of things as power creep in offensive and a lack of protection make it more vulnerable than ever. Though at least it wouldn’t have to fear Great Catcher.
Finally, in Expanded expect Dedenne-GX to be at least a loose staple, maybe even a true one. Having a Basic Pokémon-based, Ability-based draw effect you can access through any compatible search (or just through drawing into it) is that powerful. Dedenne-GX is far from perfect, but now that I round up, that’s still good enough for perfect scores.
- Standard: 5/5
- Expanded: 5/5
For the third time, Dedenne tops another countdown, the first being the best card of Unbroken Bonds , best card of 2019 and now the best card lost to rotation. This was also our unanimous pick as well, which says a lot about Dedenne-GX’s potency.
Dedenne’s major asset is its Dedechange ability, which states that when you play this card from your hand into your Bench, you may discard your entire hand and draw six cards. Think of it as a slightly nerfed Professor’s Research, but you can still play your Supporter card if you haven’t done so. This greatly helps thin your deck and enable more combos to be played based on what you just drew. This ability is a hard once per turn, though. Even then, you’re still getting a great deal from this effect. The rest of this card, for the most part, doesn’t matter, unless Dedenne-GX is part of Lightning based decks. Both of its attacks cost LC and does 50 damage. While Static Shock is a repeatable attack, Tingly Return uses up your GX attack for the rest of the game, and the payoff is automatic Paralysis and putting itself and all cards attached to it onto your hand, so you can theoretically play Dedenne from your hand again to discard your hand and draw cards again.
From the moment it was released around May 2019, it was a staple in some decks. There may be a few situations where Dedenne-GX wasn’t worth the deck space and/or giving up easy prizes, but other decks love to benefit from the raw draw power it provides. The amount of copies players used varied, with some running a single copy to others being a full four. As the years go by, there were several factors that greatly helped Dedenne-GX in both the Standard and Expanded formats: the return of “Discard your hand and draw 7 cards” via Professor’s Research, another draw based Pokemon which might compliment each other like Crobat-V, and Shaymin-EX from XY Roaring Skies being banned from Expanded. With Shaymin-EX banned, Dedenne-GX is now one of the best draw based cards in Expanded, and with Dedenne-GX leaving Standard, Crobat-V is the only one standing, at least for now. It’ll be a matter of time until there’s a card that picks up where they left off. But for now, Dedenne-GX will be greatly missed, and I don’t think there are other Pokémon with draw based abilities that can come close to this caliber.
Standard: 5/5 (Soon to be N/A)
And that pretty much wraps up the remains of the Sun & Moon series. With Sword & Shield-on, it’s pretty much uncharted territory for me, mostly because of various factors, such as IRL issues. The suspension of physical league tournaments and not buying as much Pokémon TCG merchandise (with the exception of Eeveelution cards from Japan’s equivalent of Evolving Skies) has me not having any insights. It’s why I haven’t been chiming in on COTDs lately, for fear that I would under or over-estimate a certain card. Before the pandemic, I was only able to experience a few Sword & Shield related cards, like Libero Cinderace, perhaps the only deck that I use to take on as many archetypes as I can during the 2019-2020 season. Now that deck is gone, however, I do have another deck that I can build in this season, and that’s going to be my favorite Eeveelution: Sylveon VMAX!
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