Greninja (Unbroken Bonds UNB 117)
Greninja (Unbroken Bonds UNB 117)

– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
July 30, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.00
Expanded: 2.25
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

Yay! We got another single prize Stage 2 Greninja card to look at, and this time it’s from Unbroken Bonds!

Greninja is a Dark Type, though it doesn’t matter when it comes to exploiting weakness, because it can’t based on two attacks. Both attacks are recycled. Mist Slash, first seem on Greninja (XY 41/147), costs DD and does 70 damage whatsoever. No applying weakness, resistance, or any other effects on the Defending Pokémon. Bring Down, first seem on Gardevoir LV.X, costs CC and stated that you pick a Pokémon in play with the fewest HP remaining (except the Active Greninja itself) and that Pokémon is instantly KOed. An attack this insane would have some hiccups, and we’ll try to tackle the problem.

So Bring Down affects any Pokemon in play, and you would be foolish to knock out your own Pokémon if you’re not careful. Having Greninja as your only Pokémon might work since you can KO any of your opponent’s Pokemon and not worry about yours. If you are 1v1, meaning both players have just their Active Pokemon and no Benched Pokemon at all, Greninja will ALWAYS win because Bring Down will target the Defending Pokémon since it’s the only option left (remember, Greninja is excluded from Bring Down)! But then, Greninja’s 130 HP won’t last long, and can be easily KOed by moderately sized attacks. DCE is about to rotate in a few weeks, so use it while you can. You can, to some extent, try to manipulate your options by placing extra damage counters so that you can make the Pokémon you choose to have the fewest HP remaining. I’m gonna list Standard/Expanded options; Decidueye-GX’s Feather Arrow seems to be a reliable user to manipulate damage, but that requires another Stage 2 line, and can make your deck inconsistent. Giratina’s Distortion Door also places damage counters, but is slower than Decidueye-GX. Or even better, you can turn to…

Greninja BREAK!

Yes, this could be more efficient than previous examples. It gets a HP boost from 130 to 170 and changes from Dark to Water type, though it’s attacks can’t even exploit weakness. It maintains its Fighting weakness, Psychic Resistance, and free retreat. Greninja BREAK adds an ability called Giant Water Shuriken. As long as Greninja Break is your Active Pokemon, you may discard a Water energy from your hand and put six damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon. It’s free retreat allows another Greninja Break to use another Giant Water Shuriken, and before you know it, it may be enough to manipulate your targets when you can potentially put 120 damage on the board! Bursting Balloon can further aid in putting damage on board; if the Pokémon with Bursting Balloon is damaged by your opponent’s attacks you put six damage counters on the attacking Pokémon! This tactic can even bring some Tag Teams into Bring Down’s range. Take 270 HP behemoths for example. Two Giant Water Shurikens brings it down to 150 HP, and your undamaged Greninja Breaks in play won’t have to worry about being targeted by Bring Down. And you can even take three prizes! I think Greninja Break got a better Stage 2 to use, though the matter is getting them in play fast because Greninja Break decks can brick at the worst times.

Overall, Bring Down may be tricky to master, but it can be brutal under the right circumstances. This may seem better suited in Expanded than in Standard. In Limited, if you get just Greninja in play and no other Benched Pokemon, then you’re four turns away from victory if you can manage to last that long!


Standard: 2.5/5 (Familiar attacks can be better or worse depending on its history)

Expanded: 3/5 (If you experiment with today’s Greninja, you better add some Greninja Break as well!)

Limited: 3.5/5 (Watch your opponent’s team slowly crumble in this format!)

Otaku Avatar

I don’t know if Greninja (SM – Unbroken Bonds 117/214) is a textbook example of Johnny-bait, but it sure comes close.  Though I’ve used that term before, I don’t know how common it is (I just assume someone else beat me to it long ago).  The short version is that a “Johnny” is someone who prioritizes winning with a unique and/or complex combo over winning in general.  The “bait” portion is close to a standard English definition for the word; we’re talking about cards that attract Johnny-Type players, for better or worse.

In this case, I’m thinking it is “for worse”.  “Bring Down” is the obvious star of this card.  The pricing means Double Colorless Energy or Triple Acceleration Energy can ready the attack with a single attachment.  This means an automatic, attack effect-based OHKO of something in play.  Thankfully, Bring Down states it can’t hit the Pokémon using the attack, but your own Benched Pokémon are legal targets.  If there is a tie, at least you get to pick what is KO’d. Therein lies the rub.  I’m trying to keep this review concise, so I’ll go with a list of (bloated) bullet points:

  • If you have no Bench to guarantee you OHKO something belonging to your opponent, you’re begging to lose as Greninja is KO’d by your opponent the next turn.  You also may be doing this just to “snipe” a 60 HP Evolving Basic.
  • If you have the kind of Bench that makes it easy to stream Greninja, or to drop the HP of your opponent’s Bench, you’re more likely to have things on your Bench that Bring Down will hit instead of your opponent’s more valuable targets.
  • If you just have something like Magikarp & Wailord-GX on your Bench, so you don’t lose when your opponent takes out Greninja but can still easily hit their stuff with Bring Down, how do you retain momentum?  Greninja is a Stage 2; OHKOing something every other turn is hardly impressive, especially when your opponent can protect their Tag Team Pokémon by dropping an inconsequential, single-Prize Pokémon with less HP.
  • These kinds of decks have natural counters.  One is strategic; if you’re not dealing with your opponent’s Active attacker, it is free to safely deal with you.  The other(s) are card specific, like Bent Spoon.

I don’t think Greninja is going to amount to anything in Standard unless I’m missing some key combo (or such a combo releases in the future).  In Expanded, I was thinking maybe it could work its way into Greninja BREAK decks but… they like to swarm and even Greninja BREAK doesn’t have the highest HP.  Sure, you can get lucky and Bring Down a Shaymin-EX (XY – Roaring Skies 77/108, 77a/108, 106/108) but that isn’t all that difficult for Greninja BREAK decks in general.  Enjoy this card in Limited, where its free Retreat and “Mist Slash” attack join with Bring Down in making it a good (though still not great) Stage 2.


Standard: 1.5/5

Expanded: 1.5/5

Limited: 3/5

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