Lucario & Melmetal-GX – Unbroken Bonds
Date Reviewed: August 24, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Had we done a high enough countdown, Lucario & Melmetal-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 120/214) would have been our 18th-place pick. That’s right, I decided our Runners-Up could also be done in countdown form. Lucario & Melmetal-GX is a Rule Box Pokémon, not that it means too much to be one at the moment. Much more relevant are the subcategories of Rule Box Pokémon to which Lucario & Melmetal-GX belong: Pokémon-GX and TAG TEAM. Both these aspects of the card mean it is excluded from some beneficial effects, and a legal target for some detrimental ones. The biggest drawback is they are worth three Prizes when KO’d, as opposed to the usual one or even the usual for Pokémon-GX two. Though being unable to use Scoop Up Net or Twin Energy come close. All the drawbacks come with some big advantages, though. TAG TEAM cards actually has some worthwhile support. Even when a TAG TEAM Pokémon consists of Pokémon who are normally Evolutions, they’re presented as a Basic, the most efficient Stage. HP scores are also significantly higher; Lucario & Melmetal-GX clock in at 260 HP. While 40 below the max printed on TAG TEAM Pokémon, this amount is still rather sturdy.
Lucario & Melmetal-GX has Metal typing, which makes sense as that is the typing shared by the two individual Pokémon. Metal types have enjoyed some great support while Lucario & Melmetal-GX has been legal, so that’s a win even if they aren’t always the best at exploiting Weakness. Their [R] Weakness has been a concern during their time legal, as the [R] type has often been solid, if not strong, during Lucario & Melmetal-GX’s Standard-legal run. Though Weakness Guard Energy and (later) Coating [M] Energy has helped with this problem. The -20 [P] Resistance isn’t as game defining as the Weakness, but has still been handy when attackers like Mewtwo & Mew-GX have been strong. Retreat Cost [CCC] is disappointing; high enough to be a burden, but not high enough to make Lucario & Melmetal-GX legal targets for like Buff Padding.
Lucario & Melmetal-GX knows three attacks, two regular and one GX-attack. For [CC], Lucario & Melmetal-GX can use “Steel Fist” to do 50 damage, plus search your deck for a [M] Energy and attach it to Lucario & Melmetal-GX (“this Pokémon”). This was better when Double Colorless Energy was legal, though Metal Saucer still means a Turn 2 Steel Fist is reasonable. Attaching only to one’s self isn’t a massive advantage, but it does allow Steel Fist to naturally flow into “Heavy Impact”. This second attack costs [MMCC] and does 150 damage. Straightforward, and at the time of release, enough to 2HKO anything based on printed HP scores. These attacks were better when Double Colorless Energy was legal, and before Pokémon VMAX were a thing.
However, neither of these attacks are particularly important to Lucario & Melmetal-GX. That’s right, the card’s GX-attack is what truly defines it. Having a GX-attack is one of the last perks of being a Pokémon-GX I didn’t mention earlier. While you can only use them once a game, they tend to be more potent because of it. In this case, for the super low cost of [C], “Full Metal Wall-GX” places a lingering effect on your side of the field: your [M] Pokémon will take 30 less damage (after Weakness/Resistance) for the rest of the game. The only way to get rid of this effect is Pokémon Ranger, unless the player who used Full Metal Wall-GX decides uses Channeler. While -30 isn’t a huge margin, Metal types tend to have solid HP scores and multiple ways of reducing damage taken in their support. You know, cards like Metal Frying Pan and Metal Goggles. Even just the -30 can save your Metal Pokémon in edge cases, but -60 matters much more often.
Now, TAG TEAM Pokémon have GX-attacks that can do something extra provided you overpay (based on printed Energy costs) by a sufficient amount. In this case, as long as you have at least two Energy attached to Lucario & Melmetal-GX when it uses Full Metal Wall-GX, you still get the defensive buff, but you also get to discard all Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon. Naturally, this effect goes to waste if your opponent has no Energy attached. If they only need one Energy (or one Energy attachment) to attack, and/or have abundant Energy acceleration and recycling or raw quantity of Energy, this effect barely matters. That’s fine, it is purely a bonus. You’re mostly interested in the first effect but are happy to discard some of an opponent’s Energy when it works out.
Okay, so how has Lucario & Melmetal-GX performed over the years? First, a quick link to our original review of this card. It was our 8th-place finisher from SM – Unbroken Bonds. For our individual lists back then, I had this as 19th-Place in my Top 20. This go round, while I considered Lucario & Melmetal-GX, unfortunately they were crowded out by other cards. For the actual Top 15, I think that was a correct judgment but they probably should have held on until the final cut. Why? They’ve been at least somewhat competitive the entire time they’ve been legal, with times where they were the top (or at least among the top) decks in the metagame. Zacian V is a great card, and it likes being able to reduce the damage it takes. Lucario & Melmetal-GX/Zacian V decks are a “thing”, even though Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX/Zacian V decks are also a thing.
If nothing was rotating, I believe Lucario & Melmetal-GX would retain their competitive nature. If just Lucario & Melmetal-GX received a reprint with a “D” or later Regulation Mark, then it’d really help Zacian V decks. They’re losing Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (for the variants that ran it), and they’re losing Metal Goggles. I said -30 isn’t much, but overall it has proven to be “enough”. Hypothetically speaking, just having a worthwhile GX-attack in a Format soon to lack them would also be a big boon. Even though there’s a means of undoing its GX-attack, I suspect Lucario & Melmetal-GX will remain a strong card in Expanded as well. While Pokémon Ranger can undo the added protection of Full Metal Wall-GX, Double Colorless Energy makes it easy to pull off that GX-attack, and losing the defensive buff isn’t as critical as, say, losing both effects of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX’s Altered Creation-GX.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 4/5
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