– Unbroken Bonds
May 3, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We are here with another countdown, this time being the top 11 cards of Sun & Moon Unbroken Bonds despite the master list contained 31 cards; there’s just so many potential cards from the set that it is probably worth more bang for your buck, if you managed to pull some of the important cards from this expansion. Perhaps the best way to start this countdown is to discuss about the 11th best card, Incineroar! This is a non-GX Stage 2 Fire Type with 160 HP, weak to water, and a retreat cost of two. I had Incineroar as my third place pick because it provides a effect that constantly works.
That is with all due respect to its ability called Strong Cheer. It lets your Pokemon deal 30 extra damage before applying Weakness & Resistance. This is a good boosting effect and that any Pokemon can benefit from this while hitting extra damage to any Pokemon, unlike Choice Band, which restricts to hit harder to EX/GX Pokemon. While Choice Band seems to be the efficient thing to run in a variety of decks, it will soon be leaving the Standard Format one day before the 2019 World Championships, so Incineroar May be an important asset in terms of damage boosting effects, because none of them seems close to doing it. Another thing to point out is that you can’t apply more than one Strong Cheer ability, so even if you had all four Incineroar in play, only one ability will be applied; the other three are ignored. Therefore, it makes sense to run a single copy, or two in case one of them are prized. It’s attack, Flamethrower, does 90 for RC, which is good value, and it can be boosted by its own Strong Cheer ability to make it become 120 for RC.
So you’ve got one reason that Incineroar can be used as a damage booster, but another reason is that it can be a nice addition to a well dedicated Incineroar deck! There are other Incineroar options that you may or may not consider.
-Incineroar (Sun & Moon 26/149) is a Stage 2 Fire Type with 160 HP, weak to water, and a retreat cost of three. Fire Fang costs RC for 30 damage and Burn Special Condition. Darkest Lariat costs RRC and flips 2 coins, dealing 100 damage for each heads. This one is forgettable, sadly.
-Incineroar-GX (Sun & Moon 27/149, SM Guardians Rising 147/145, SM Black Star Promos 38) is a Stage 2 GX with 250 HP, weak to water, and a retreat cost of three. Hustling Strike does 10 damage for R, plus 20 more damage for each Fire Pokemon on your Bench. Tiger Swing costs RRC for 80 damage and two coin flips, which does 40 more damage for each heads. Burning Slam does 200 damage for RRC and places a Burn Special Condition. While Incineroar-GX may not see as much play during its debut, today’s card and Fire type support such as Welder and Fire Crystal may help improve this Pokémon, but not by much. I would have said that there are better attackers out there, but Incineroar doesn’t clash with different other evolutionary lines.
-Incineroar (Shining Legends 17/73) is a Stage 2 Fire Type with 170 HP, weak to water, and a retreat cost of two. Profane Punch costs RC for 50 damage, plus 80 more if your Benched Pokemon has any damage counters on it. Flare Blitz costs RRC for 180 damage, while discarding all Fire energy attached to it. Profane Punch and higher HP of a non-GX Stage 2 is probably the selling point of this card.
-Incineroar (SM Team Up 97/181, 167/181, 188/181) is a Stage 2 Dark Type with 250 HP, weak to Fighting, resist Psychic, and a retreat cost of three. The Scar Charge Ability puts 3 damage counters on itself so that you can attach 3 dark energies from your deck to itself. Crushing Punch costs CCC for 130 damage and discards an Special energy attached to the Defending Pokemon. Darkest Tornado also cost CCC, but deals 10 damage, plus 50 more for each damage counters on this Pokemon. This is THE Incineroar-GX to use, and today’s card helps ramp up the damage output. While it could be the focus on its own deck, it could indirectly help Dark Pulse users like Darkrai-EX or the new Greninja & Zoroark-GX deal far more damage depending on how many dark energies are on board. Scar Charge single handedly adds 90 more damage for the Dark Bros.’s Dark Pulse, and it’s Night Unison attack even lets you skip Litten and Torracat completely!
No decklist featuring Incineroar at the moment, so this is Theorymon at this point. Like I said earlier, this can fit into any deck if your deck has room for some Rare Candies and 1-1 Incineroar line, and it is a good choice for Incineroar decks. The Dark typed GX seems far better regarding utility, but even the older version isn’t too shabby as well. Not much more for me to say, but today’s Incineroar gives me a reason to use it multiple ways. It may not be important now, but once the next rotation hits, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any card besides Incineroar that provides a consistent un-altered damage boost that any Pokémon can benefit. Standard’s prospect is getting better while Expanded is extremely crowded to fit Incineroar in. In Limited, the Incineroar line could be one of the evolutionary lines you can pull from one of the possible Build & Battle boxes. You could use Incineroar as an attacker, or to support other Pokémon.
And lastly, it also appear in the Battle Mind Theme Deck as a 3-3-2 line, and this theme deck has a somewhat good amount of draw Supporters and even a little bit of Fire support. The damage boost will be extremely helpful in that format.
Welcome back once again! It’s that time of year again – where cards rain down like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops, cause that’s where you’ll find THE TOP 11 LIST FOR UNBROKEN BONDS!! Seems like when it comes down to these lists, there’s always a good chunk of cards in the set that are just so good that we can’t turn a blind eye towards them. Makes these lists interesting.
Incineroar is a Stage 2 Fire Pokemon, 160 HP, with a Water Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 2. Strong Cheer is pretty much the reason to play Incineroar, not only because it adds 30 damage to all your Pokemon’s attacks hitting the Active Pokemon but because it lets you emphatically cheer on other people from across the hall. Or at another table. Or out of earshot of your local judges. Flamethrower’s alright though, a 2-for-90 that discards an Energy attached to Incineroar. One minor note is that you can only apply 1 Strong Cheer Ability at a time.
Adding on 30 more damage to any attack is a pretty powerful effect in and of itself, but being attached to a 160 HP body makes it hard to deal with if you’re not running Water-types – which last I checked weren’t exactly a popular Type at the moment. Alright, so things are optimistic, but he’s still a Stage 2 Pokemon, meaning to run a line-up includes running Litten, a little Torracat, and probably a couple Rare Candy. It’s going to take some effort to get that extra 30 damage into play.
Still, the chances he’ll see play are looking to be on the up-turn; with the upcoming rotation in a few months, one of the most key Tools, Choice Band, is going to end up hitting the road at some point, meaning there’s going to be plenty of room for these types of Abilities to make room in the upcoming game. I’d keep an eye on Incineroar at the very least, since he’s bound to leap in and take one down for the team.
Standard: 3/5 (I think this is about the right spot for Incineroar right now; once Choice Band’s out of the picture, this could go up to a 3.5/5)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (that does bear in mind though that there are a lot of issues to overcome with running Incineroar, so it’s best to take his power with a grain of salt)
Limited: 3.5/5 (but if you can afford to make the room for it, Incineroar’s Strong Cheer can boost the power of your deck to pretty incredible heights)
Arora Notealus: As much as I like Incineroar’s introduction to the damage-boosting power, I do have to worry a little about having so many different types of effects in the game. Expanded in particular is looking at a large assortment of damage-boosting effects – things like Strong Energy, Muscle Band, etc. have affected the way certain Pokemon are designed, just so that they aren’t overpowered with these effects than before. You can see some of that design philosophy with Incineroar’s 2-for-90 Flamethrower, which would likely be more of a 3-for-130 otherwise.
Weekend Thought: What are your thoughts on the Battle Chatelaine series? Do you think any of the girls stand a chance in the current game? Would you run any of them in your deck? How about Unbroken Bonds? What are your thoughts on the new cards? Do you think this set will be extremely impactful like some other sets were, or are you not as impressed with some of the cards introduced?
Next Time: You might find our #10 spot a bit familiar…
It’s that time again! We’re counting down our Top 11 picks from the SM – Unbroken Bonds, the latest TCG expansion that officially released today. If you’re unfamiliar with how this works, and you can’t or won’t click the link for a more detailed explanation, the short version is each CotD reviewer creates a list of top picks, then we compile the site’s list from that.
11th place is Incineroar (SM – Unbroken Bonds 24/214). Its [R] Typing is a good start: double damage against most [G] and [M] Types, nothing naturally Resistant, some new (and impressive) support, and no serious Type-based counters. Being a Stage 2 could be a problem; they can be competitive, but it is difficult for them to overcome the increased deck space and time requirements. Let us also remember that Incineroar is a single-Prize Pokémon; with all the double-Prize and even some triple-Prize Pokémon running around, this is becoming an advantage! It is also why Incineroar’s 160 HP is fairly good; slightly durable and no worries about Choice Band or Shrine of Punishment fudging things in your opponent’s favor. [W] Weakness isn’t happy and lack of Resistance is typical, but neither are major issues at the moment. Similarly, the Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither good nor bad; it isn’t easy to pay but neither is it difficult, at least most of the time.
Incineroar has one Ability and one attack. “Strong Cheer” causes the attacks of your Pokémon to do 30 more damage before Weakness or Resistance is applied. It also clearly states that you may only apply one instance of Strong Cheer at a time, so it can’t stack with itself (you can still enjoy other damage bonuses alongside Strong Cheer, however). 30 is the same kind of margin that Choice Band supplies and Strong Cheer will boost your damage against anything instead of just against Pokémon-EX/GX. Still, remember that it will ONLY matter when it reduces how many turns it takes for your attacker to score the KO. Such as with Incineroar’s own attack, Flamethrower costs [RC] to do 90 damage, but requires you discard an Energy card from Incineroar. Still a decent return, and thanks to the Ability and (possibly) a Choice Band, Flamethrower can hit key 2HKO amounts. Even with such buffs, though, it falls just a bit shy of valuable OHKO totals.
There isn’t much to celebrate with the Incineroar-family of cards. None of the Litten or Torracat really stand out; go with the best HP, unless you’re running Professor Elm’s Lecture. None of the other Incineroar, nor either version of Incineroar-GX, have good track records. There’s a chance it could help one of them, with the [R] Types having added plausibility because of new releases like Fire Crystal and Welder. My Inner Johnny wonders if the combination of the [D] Type Incineroar-GX (SM – Team Up 97/181, 167/181, 188/181), Nanu, and today’s Incineroar could finally help Guzzlord-GX… but probably not, as I’m mostly fixating on “Glutton-GX” and even with Strong Cheer and Choice Band, that attack is only doing 160. I wish I had some examples of big decks expected to run Incineroar, but I don’t have any. I’ve seen it hyped by one or two folks, but never with compelling decks to justify it.
Incineroar makes perfect sense for a deck where it is easy-ish to run… but I don’t know of any such decks. Besides decks already running a different Incineroar or Incineroar-GX, maybe some crazy combo deck where Meganium (SM – Lost Thunder 8/214) lets you easily drop it to the field? Other than that, Litten is easy to OHKO and while I said Incineroar wasn’t, I didn’t mean to imply it was especially durable, either. If an opponent’s strategy hinges around that +30 from Strong Cheer, it is well worth KOing; your opponent will have to be able to stream copies of Incineroar or at least take critical KO’s while it is on the field. With Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 132/214, 205/214, 225/214) and its “Mysterious Guidance”, shouldn’t a 1-0-1 line of Incineroar be pretty reasonable? A Rare Candy I put towards Incineroar is one less I can put towards my primary Stage 2. If the 30 damage is important, I’d have to run a more fleshed-out line and what has the room? I’ve heard Alolan Ninetales-GX/Gardevoir-GX/Incineroar decks proposed, but I think I’d rather just use the room to make sure multiple Gardevoir-GX hit the field reliably… or else for an alternate attacker if Gardevoir-GX isn’t enough.
As such, while Battle Cheer is most impressive, I can only give it a solid three out of five for the Standard Format. I think it faces worse prospects in Expanded… but this is again one of those cards that might become amazing due to unintended combos with forgotten cards, or when Incineroar itself becomes a forgotten card. Do enjoy Incineroar if you pull it in the Limited and Theme Formats. For the former, only skip it if you fail to pull at least a 1-1-1 line or you’re able to run a worthwhile big, Basic Pokémon-GX solo. For the latter, I expect it to prove quite effective in the new “Battle Mind” Theme Deck, but I haven’t had a chance to try it for myself, yet.
As you can tell, while I was impressed by Incineroar, it wasn’t anywhere near enough for it to make my own Top 11 (or even my personal Top 20). It did catch my eye, but given how Empoleon (XY – BREAKthrough 38/162) failed, how various Stage 1 damage-boosters have failed, I’m thinking that even in a Standard Format environment friendlier to Stage 2 Pokémon, Incineroar will face an uphill battle. I’ll be happy if I’m proven wrong, however.
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