– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
June 3, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.00
Expanded: 2.50
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

Honchkrow-GX is one of the cards that can interact with Dusk Stone. As a GX Pokemon, it gains considerable amount of HP, a GX attack, gives up two prizes, and can benefit or hindered by certain effects. Being a Stage 1 means you would have to evolve from Murkrow or Ditto Prism Star, but Dusk Stone creates a shortcut for Murkrow, but not Ditto Prism Star. 210 HP is pretty good for a Stage 1 Pokemon GX, though the Lightning Weakness can be dangerous (the Lightning type got their own boosting item in the form of Electropower), and Fighting Resistance can help tank certain hits (though it doesn’t amount to much, especially with a good amount of damage boosting cards can make it break even). The retreat cost of two is inconvenient; even though Alter of the Moone can enable free retreat, it is about to leave rotation, and Escape Board can’t fully reduce the cost.

This Pokémon has an ability and two attacks. The ability, Ruler of the Night, states that as long as this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, your opponent cannot play any Pokémon Tool, Special Energy, or Stadium cards from their hand. Seeing this as an ability as opposed to an attack that only locks your opponent for a turn, it greatly outclasses Mismagius from SM Crimson Invasion and Giratina-EX from XY Ancient Origins, but not totally. Your opponent may try to work around it by switching your Honchkrow-GX for something else that doesn’t lock their options, but until then, your Stadium in play is safe for the time being. Obviously this ability sees no use of your opponent doesn’t use either of those three subcategories. This pairs nicely with various hit and run users if Homchkrow-GX’s attacks aren’t desirable, but we’re about to find out.

Feather Storm costs DCC for 90 damage, and also does 30 damage to 2 of your opponent’s EX and/or GX Pokémon. The damage is nice and can help set up for easier KOs when prior damage is present, but besides collateral damage, the front damage is a little lacking. I guess the only perk to this attack is to pair it with Choice Band (also rotating soon) or Incineroar, exploit weakness, and OHKO Gengar & Mimikyu-GX for three prizes. Unfair GX is, pun intended, really unfair for your opponent, as it lets you look at your opponent’s hand and discard two cards from there. Pick correctly, and your opponent may be crippled without those cards, but pick incorrectly, and your opponent may recover those cards back.

No decklists featuring Honchkrow-GX, so it’s pretty much Theorymon at this point. An Ability this good would prompt players to figure out a way to get this Pokémon out fast. 4 Dusk Stone and 4 Murkrow is a must, as it improves the chance to get Honchkrow-GX out on turn one. I don’t know the statistics of it, but all I know is that the probability will improve if you add in more search cards…..for the cost of deck space. From then, you hope to deal as much damage as possible until you win. Another card that complements Honchkrow-GX is Black Market Prism Star, as it makes your opponent take one fewer prize cards if a Dark Pokemon with darkness energies are knocked out. Since the ability prevents your opponent from playing Stadium cards, Black Market will be protected by almost everything…..except for attack effects. With this Stadium, Honchkrow-GX could be worth a single prize 210 HP body.

As good as it is, the metagame is hostile due to Lightning Weakness and OHKOs without relying on weakness. Expanded has more ways to work around with this ability, like exhausting their Supporter use of Guzma or Lysandre just to make the ability useless. Even the outclassed Mismagius or Giratina-EX can benefit a one turn lock even if your opponent switches your Pokémon, but they’ll have to use Pokémon Ranger every time.


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 2/5
  • Limited: 3.5/5
Otaku Avatar

The first Pokémon of Dusk Stone Week is Honchkrow (SM – Unbroken Bonds 109/214, 202/214, 223/214). As I prefer to do, we’ll run through the card first. Yes, this means covering things that are pretty obvious, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about reviewing cards over the years, is that the more you look at the easier it is to miss the obvious. Honchkrow-GX Evolves from Murkrow, just like baseline Honchkrow cards; the good news is that this might make it easier for them to work together, the bad news is that means they have to share Murkrow (and probably a Ditto {*}) if they’re both worth running. As a Stage 1 Pokémon, Honchkrow-GX is a turn slower and takes twice the amount of deck space as a Basic Pokémon, and deals with Stage 1/general Evolution support and counters instead of Basic Stage support and counters. Being a Basic is best, but being a Stage 1 is still good. As the week’s Theme reminds us, this is one of the Pokémon that can use Dusk Stone to be just as fast as a Basic and a bit more reliable than Stage 1 Pokémon in general, but at the cost of running Dusk Stone. You still can’t open the game with Honchkrow-GX, but you can get it to the field on your first turn, even Turn 1 of the overall game.

As a Pokémon-GX, Honchkrow-GX has better HP and was at least intended to have better effects than a baseline version of Honchkrow, but pays for it by giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, exclusion from certain beneficial effects, and inclusion with the targets of certain deleterious ones. A scant few cards we rarely see used actually reward a player for running Pokémon-GX. It is a good deal, also a fair one unless something specific about the card changes that. Being a [D] Pokémon and/or Energy have some intriguing support options, but the newer stuff is still unproven and the older stuff that (while still good) isn’t as great as it used to be. It also seems fairly rubbish for Type-matching; hitting some [P] Types for Weakness but Resisted by all [Y] Types. Honchkrow-GX has 210 HP; solid enough to survive many attacks, but well within typical 2HKO range. [L] Weakness is bad right now, mostly thanks to Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, but probably not the absolute worst Weakness. Any Resistance is welcome, and [F] Resistance is unusually useful because most [D] Type Pokémon are [F} Weak. The Retreat Cost of [CC] does the card no favors BUT also is a pretty typical amount, so it is neither good nor bad.

Honchkrow-GX has the Ability “Ruler of the Night”, the attack “Feather Storm”, and the GX-attack “Unfair-GX”. Ruler of the Night works while this Pokémon is Active: your opponent cannot play Special Energy, Stadium, or Tool cards from hand. Not every deck utilizes all three of those subclassifications of cards, but few decks are without all three, either. Sometimes they’re supplementary and sometimes they’re central to a deck. Ruler of the Night doesn’t discard anything already in play, and it can’t stop card effects which play Special Energy, Stadium, or Tool cards from someplace other than your hand. If you can force something without Ruler of the Night into the Active position, you can regain access to playing those cards manually, so this still counts as a “soft lock”… but if your deck runs on Special Energy (and a decent amount do), you’re in trouble if you don’t have an answer handy or were unable to load the field with Energy ahead of time.

Feather Storm requires [DCC] to do 90 to your opponent’s Active and 30 to two of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon-EX/GX. This attack is greater than the sum of its parts, but not by much. 90-for-three used to be the going rate years ago, but it is more like 110 to 130. “Friendly” Energy costs, like those compatible with Double Colorless Energy, and beneficial effects, such as bonus Bench hits, elevate Feather Storm to “Adequate Filler”. Ignoring potential game-balance issues, I really wish the asking price was [CCC] so that Triple Acceleration Energy could cover the cost in one go, and/or the bonus Bench damage applied to any two Pokémon of your choice; a non-EX/GX with 100 to 180 HP will require being attacked while Active twice for the KO. Unfair-GX threatens to live up to its name; for [CC] you look at your opponent’s hand and discard two cards from it. If used without a deck built around hand control, you’ll need to get at least a little lucky, but even then you have a decent chance of leaving your opponent in top deck mode.

Honchkrow-GX’s effects complement each other, with Feather Storm being the weakest of the three but still adequate. Even a one-time bit of hand control on top of a soft-lock can be devastating. They also work fairly well with what the [D] Typing brings. Dusk Stone means Honchkrow-GX can try for a T1-lock. Zoroark-GX can provide an alternate attacker with a different Weakness/Resistance but still utilizing much of the same support. Ruler of the Night protects against Power Plant and Shrine of Punishment while protecting your own Black Market {*} or Devoured Field. Unfair-GX, even if you don’t go for full-on hand control, can take out any currently in-hand outs your opponent has to Ruler of the Night. Honchkrow (SM – Guardians Rising 79/145) has an attack that hits harder based on how many damage counters are on your opponent’s side of the field, while Honchkrow (SM – Ultra Prism 72/156) provides a non-damaging hit-and-run style attack that discards a random card from your opponent’s hand before Benching itself (allowing you to promote Honchkrow-GX).

Seeing all of this, it makes me wonder where Honchkrow-GX decks are at right now? The answer is timing; it released at a time when the top decks are mostly fast, hard-hitting Tag Team Pokémon decks utilizing basic Energy cards. Yeah, losing access to Special Energy, Stadium cards, and Tools slows down something like Reshiram & Charizard-GX, but it is a long way from stopping it. Same for Pikachu & Zekrom decks, Zapdos (SM – Team Up 40/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM159), Blacephalon decks, or Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel decks. Even some decks which run primarily on Special Energy cards, namely Zoroark-GX variants, may still be able to cope.  Zoroark-GX’s “Trade” Ability improves their odds of having an out to Honchkrow-GX’s effect handy. Again, none of these decks escape unscathed, but they can manage or even thrive in spite of the disruption.

Which makes me wonder what Honchkrow-GX will be like post-rotation; it is still too early to tell if losing stuff like Double Colorless Energy, Guzma, etc. will help or hurt Honchkrow-GX more than it hurts other decks. I’m actually curious to see how this fares in Expanded; it is a metagame even more dependent on Special Energy BUT as usual, there are more alternatives and counters. For the Limited Format, often you’ll just end up with a solid Stage 1 Pokémon-GX that can’t be run totally off-Type, but with only a little Darkness Energy to cover that one [D] cost in Feather Storm. Your opponent may be running NONE of the cards Ruler of the Night affects, and they shouldn’t be relying on such cards. It will sting to lose access to them for those that do have them. Unfair-GX is almost literally hit-or-miss; your opponent will likely have more “filler” in their deck, so maybe you only discard two of those cards or maybe you hit one of their few Supporters, something they wanted to save for later. Oh, and Dusk Stone is in this same expansion.


Standard: 3/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 3/5

Honchkrow-GX, as it was revealed at or around the same time as Dusk Stone, scared me at that time. By the time we composed our Top Pick Lists for this set, it was enough for Honchrow-GX to still catch my eye, but not enough to make my Top 20. It was still good enough to make at least one of the others’ lists, and as I’m still unnerved by it, I don’t blame them. Unless Honchkrow-GX surprises us before rotation, it deserved to be crowded out of our Top 11… but had we done a Top 20 countdown for SM – Unbroken Bonds, it might have earned its 20th place finish.

Note: I realized I had an embarrassing typo, leading me to rewrite the end of the sixth paragraph.  My apologies for not catching this before posting.

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