– SM Ultra Prism
February 6, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
As the #9 spot, there was apparently a look at a few cards that altogether prove to be more than the sum of their parts, so to speak. That is to say, it’s going to a family of cards that all work in conjunction with each other to form a cohesive and consistent Evolutionary line-up – the Luxray line, to be exact.
In total, there are 4 cards in this set that can form the line-up – Shinx (45), Shinx (46), Luxio, and Luxray. I’m going out on a limb here and saying Shinx (45) is the one you want to run, considering he’s got Evolutionary Advantage as an Ability, which says that if you go second, you can evolve Shinx during your first turn. Not that Shinx (46)’s Charge that nabs you an Energy is bad, but Luxio has a cheap enough move that it won’t matter if you can grab another right away.
Luxio is a Stage 1 Lightning Pokemon, 80 HP, with Fighting Weakness, Metal Resistance and a Retreat Cost of 1. His only attack is Disconnect, which is a 1-for-30 move that says your opponent can’t play Items during their next turn. Remember how Seismitoad-EX was a problem back in the day for a 2-for-30 Quaking Punch that would stop your opponent’s Item usage? The only real nerf here is that it’s on a Stage 1 with less HP, which when you’ve got a Basic form that lets you evolve into it on your first turn…even if that’s you going second, that’s still pretty good. That’s probably why he’s notable at all – 80 HP isn’t much to go through, and if the meta has calmed down with Garbodor’s presence, there may not be as great a dependence on Items, but it’ll slow things down to a degree.
And then there’s Luxray, a Stage 2 Lightning Pokemon, 150 HP, same Weakness/Resistance, but no Retreat Cost whatsoever. No Retreat Cost? On a Stage 2? Hey, that’s pretty good! His Ability Intimidating Fang reduces incoming damage by 30 BEFORE Weakness and Resistance apply, which makes him hardy, and Volt Bolt costs 3 Energy, discards all the Lightning Energy on Luxray (which is at least 2 given the cost), and deals 150 damage to any opposing Pokemon. The attack would be pretty good…if it didn’t basically cost you 2 turns of set-up to perform it again. I dunno about you guys, but last I checked, Lightning-types in Standard didn’t have that much acceleration.
Overall, I see the appeal in the Luxray line – having the ability to evolve on your first turn (even if you’re going second) is a pretty good start, Luxio having a better version of Quaking Punch to work off of that helps even more, and Luxray himself can provide for an additional set of sturdiness while potentially one-shotting something you’d been damaging with Disconnect, or something with not a lot of HP in the first place. It’s good against most anything that’s not an EX/GX of any sort, though the cost of discarding all the Lightning Energy makes it more difficult to pull off consistently. Maybe he’s not the star of the deck he’s in, but I can’t say he’s anywhere near awful.
Standard: 3/5 (Luxray is surprisingly not as affected by “Stage 2 syndrome” as most Pokemon)
Expanded: 3.5/5 (again, thanks to Evolutionary Advantage – you could even Rare Candy him out)
Limited: 4/5 (outside of that though, I dunno what the big deal is)
Arora Notealus: Looking at just Luxray, I guess I kinda missed the whole Shinx and Luxio bits that make the line-up generally better and more playable. Luxray on his own isn’t a terrific Stage 2, even with the Ability namely because of his one attack. But with the extra advantages brought to it by the other two, I can see why it’d be fairly nice.
Next Time: Riding around on the edge!
Our #9 best card of Sun & Moon Ultra Prism is Luxio! A Stage 1 Lightning Pokemon with 80 HP, Fighting weakness, Metal resistance, and a retreat cost of one, it has Disconnect, which costs C for 30 damage, and your opponent cannot play any item cards during his or her next turn.
We had some good Stage 1 Pokemon that can further evolve, but sometimes a Stage 1 is good on its own that it doesn’t need to evolve or could be evolved later. Take Eelectrik NVI for example. This Pokémon is good because it’s Dymamotor recovers Lightning energy. Gabite DRX, yes the stage 1, has Dragon Call which searches your deck for a dragon Pokemon from your deck to your hand. And Frogadier BKT summons three more Frogadiers onto the Bench. Overall, you can see how useful certain Stage 1 Pokemon would be without dismissing them by using Rare Candy.
But wait! Doesn’t Stage 1 have some hurdles? Yes, Glaceon EX blocks all damage from evolved Pokemon and almost OHKOs Luxio, and even if it is not the case, you have to wait a turn to evolve, which is actually too long even for one turn. Pokemon cards, however, are not shy of giving certain cards that lets you evolve on the turn that you’ve played or evolve on the same turn. Delta Evolution Ancient Traits from XY Roaring Skies, Forest of Giant Plants, Adaptive Evolution Caterpie and Metapod, and even Energy Evolution Eevee comes into mind. Shinx is joining the list of Rule-breakers that gives Luxio the speed to be put into play. Shinx works differently than other “insta-evolve” users, however. Evolutionary Advantage only works when you go second in a game; any other turns have no effect. Also, you would have to have both Shinx and Luxio in your starting hand to capitalize on that ability.
Item lock, even if it lasts for just your opponent’s next turn, is a pretty potent strategy. Imagine what your deck look like without typical staples such as Vs Seeker, Ultra Ball, Super Rod, Field Blower, and much more. Your deck will slow to a crawl. Sure, you got Supporters and Stadiums, but you can only use one per turn. Item Lock also invites certain combos such as doing damage based on how many items are in your hand. Even if they reduce the effectiveness of “poltergeist” style attacks by sending items into the discard, you have the almighty Garbodor whose Trashalanche does a respectable amount of damage. Standard would welcome a splashable item lock user. Some may argue Noivern-GX, but its attacks need dark energy, making it not as splashable. What about Expanded? The competition of cards are so fierce that some cards are far superior that what we’re looking at today. Some Pokémon would want item lock abilities that last multiple turns, even if it has some drawbacks. Vileplume AOR and Trevenant XY comes into mind. If you really want a reliable splashable item lock attacker, then Seismitoad-EX still remains the superior choice. Seismitoad-EX may also be hitting a relevant type for weakness, since Fire types are attempting to take down Metal support that this set has given, making it a valuable tech.
Also, Luxio’s own 80 HP means it won’t last very long on the field, even it is has a great attack. You could evolve it into Luxray, which in this set, has 150 HP with an ability which reduces damage taken by 30 before applying Weakness and Resistance as long as this Pokémon is Active. But then, you lose access to Luxio’s Disconnect attack, mandating the need of either Shrine of Memories, Celebi-EX, or Shining Celebi in order to access attacks from its previous Evolutions. Even though the amount of cards invested helps improve Luxray’s bulk and accessibility, you’ve just added even more problems of what you’re trying to accomplish. Ability denial, OHKOs, Pokemon Ranger……..those workarounds won’t seem to go away. So you’re going to accept that counterplays like these cards/tactics can happen in the worst time.
Which is why I am not too excited about Luxio. The stuff cards tried to do, others does it better. I am still happy that another option with a similar purpose is available to use. Maybe taking up two cards while giving up one prize is better than an EX giving up two prizes for some players. In Limited, it’s a good pull unless your opposing deck runs no items, and 30 damage isn’t hitting hard enough there.
Luxray? Since when it become big? Oh, wait. Ultra Prism.
When I mention the Luxray line here, I will be referring to Shinx ULP 45, the only Luxio in the set and the only Luxray in this set as well. Why I choose a specific Shinx in this countdown? Well, this is because this Shinx is the only one of the two Shinx cards in this set with an ability this is insane; Evolutionary Advantage allows you to evolve Shinx directly into a Luxio, but only in your first turn. So the idea is very simple; swarm a bunch of Shinx into play with Brigette or the like, then go search the Luxio and evolve the Shinx directly. This sort of T1 evolution is very strong, as we see often with the likes of Mega Rayquaza-EX (though that was because of the Delta Evolution Ancient Trait but it’s the same thing). And this is a very good ability, because the Luxio is very, very strong.
The Luxio itself isn’t that strong stat wise; it only has 80 HP and a weakness to Fighting, which isn’t that good since Buzzwole is staying and it’ll get more partners as time goes on. But it has a very good attack which recalls 2 Pokemon at once; Disconnect for [C] does 30 damage and prevents your opponent from using items in their next turn. Yes, this is a combination of Zebstrika NXD’s Disconnect attack and Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch for a single Colorless energy. This property allows Luxio to be included in many decks; some builds opt to go to the Luxray/Shining Celebi route, which is very, very expensive, or those like me that opt for the Espeon/Garbodor route which abuses both Item and Ability lock from Garbotoxin while keeping up pressure with Espeon-GX threatening them in the bench. As we often see with the old Seismitoad/Garbodor deck, giving your opponent both Item and Ability lock really hurts their setup in the early game, and with Luxio only giving 1 prize this should be a even harder deck to break, especially if you have backup attackers ready to unleash hell after the Item lock ends.
The Luxray meanwhile, has a good tank ability in Intimidating Fang which reduces damage taken by 30 after type matchups, meaning that it should stay around for longer as it abuses Shining Celebi’s Time Recall to reuse Disconnect while being a 150 HP tank with that ability. It also has the option to use Luxray BREAK (XY BKP) which has 170 HP, making it that much harder to one shot as it keeps on item locking. However, it also has its own attack in Volt Bolt – for [L][L][C] it discards 2 [L] energies from it and it deals a whopping 150 damage to any Pokemon on your opponent’s side of the field; perfect to use after all those chip damage done via Disconnect. It having free Retreat is also a big blessing for it, as it means that it can freely move around the field without having to rely on something like Guzma or Float Stone for mobility and it can use Choice Band instead for more damage with either Volt Bolt or Disconnect.
Overall, I really like the synergy between these 3 Pokemon; each of them benefits the other in speed, control and snipe damage all packaged into a slim possibly 4-4-4 line ( or 4-4-4-3 if using the Luxray BREAK). It has potential for sure, but since the meta has played much less items than before and we have no access to VS Seeker in this Standard format, I don’t know how much an impact this item locking deck can do. But it’s still interesting to see how it will pan out in the future.
Expanded: 4.6/5 (Toad/Luxio/Garbodor looks like the dream team)
Luxio (UP 47) comes in at number nine on our top ten list of best cards from the brand spanking new Ultra Prism expansion. This card has one potentially super duper Colorless (!!!) attack, Disconnect, which has everyone raving because it does a whole THIRTY damage.
Oh and BTW it prevents your opponent from playing ANY Item cards during their next turn.
OUCH! We all know the pain of Item lock. No Ultra Ball, no Choice Band, no Float Stone, no Field Blower, no Ancient Crystal, no Escape Board, no Looker Whistle, no Missing Clover, no Order Pad, NO Items. And man we got a LOT of GREAT items out of this Ultra Prism expansion.
Because it doesn’t always convey well through writing, let me make sure that I identify that last paragraph as sarcasm. Pokemon whiffs again, giving us five Item cards from the Ultra Prism set that will see virtually no play. Maybe they’ll have more value in the future – maybe we’ll get variations of the Looker card, maybe Escape Board will replace Float Stone post rotation, but right now they did a good job of not giving us additional playable Item cards.
Look, I’m not saying that they should have made Order Pad without the coin flip. I’m not saying Ancient Crystal should reduce damage by 60 instead of 30. I’m not saying that Missing Clover should get you a prize card if you only play two of them at the same time. All I’m saying is that I’ve opened well over a thousand cards from Ultra Prism, and maybe ten percent of them are worthwhile? Maybe less, as we see cards like Glaceon maybe aren’t as impactful as we thought, and Garchomp and Empoleon aren’t quite top tier competitive.
All I’m saying is that for a game that has totally sold out on the increased potency of its feature attack cards, it has almost completely put the brakes on its Item and Supporter cards. Every expansion has new, more powerful Pokemon that obviate the best cards from previous releases. Look at SUM base set – played any Lurantis, Decidueye, or Tauros lately? What about Drampa GX and Ninetales GX? Even Gardevoir is being kicked to the curb. And yet we still can’t get more than one or two playable Supporters and Items out of a set.
And these are what add complexity to the game. They’re like the brown sugar and garlic powder on your ribs, the Marsala wine on your chicken, the cookie dough in your ice cream. One of the main criticisms of this game – compared to some of the other games you’ll find here on the Pojo site – is that we lack the intricacy of many other popular card games. Pokemon again had the opportunity to provide us with the ability to add more creativity to our game… and again they left us wanting.
Standard: 2 out of 5
Sorry I went off topic again. Luxio is not devoid of worth. And maybe in a more Item rich meta in the future, its Colorless attack will gain more value. Right now, however, most of us will simply shrug off Item lock and proceed with our development virtually unimpeded.
As we count down our top 10 picks from SM – Ultra Prism, ninth-place gets… a bit weird. In a good way, though, as we technically have an entire Evolution line sharing this slot. Granted, I’m the one who insisted it should be the entire line, with everyone else just focusing on the Stage 1… which is still remarkable, given that it is an Evolving Stage 1! Without further ado, we look at Shinx (SM – Ultra Prism 45/138), Luxio (SM – Ultra Prism 47/138), and Luxray (SM- Ultra Prism 48/138). As it appears to be taking me longer trying to focus on “just the good bits”, I’m going to go ahead and use my slightly more detailed (but not fully detailed) approach. So let’s start with what all three of these cards have in common. All are [L] Type, which doesn’t mean a lot in terms of Resistance, Type-based counters, Type-based support, or Weakness right now. All are [F] Weak, which is pretty dangerous at the moment and doesn’t look to change anytime soon; [F] Types hit hard, they hit fast, they often stack damage bonuses, and lately, we’ve had some great decks featuring them. The entire line also shares [M] Resistance; not only am I happy that there is any Resistance, but SM – Ultra Prism contains a lot of [M] support, so taking less damage from that Type sounds like a good deal.
Shinx (SM – Ultra Prism 45/138) only has 50 HP, so it is going down pretty easily – at least, while on the Bench, it isn’t super vulnerable. It has a Retreat Cost of [C], so retreating is a reasonable option most of the time. Its Ability is “Evolutionary Advantage”; it only works during the first turn of the player going second, but allows you to immediately Evolve Shinx. The wording may even allow you to use Rare Candy to Evolve directly to Luxray, but I don’t have a firm ruling on that and soon I’ll explain why you won’t want to even if it is permitted. Though the Ability does nothing the rest of the game, it doesn’t especially need to, as will become a bit more clear when we look at its Evolutions. Even if one thinks the Ability ought to work all the time, what it has still makes it the best Shinx to run and one of the best twice-Evolving Basics in the card pool. Its attack is a forgettable 10 for [L] unless you’re the right kind of animation or comic book fan, as it is named “Static Shock”.
Luxio (SM – Ultra Prism 47/138) has 80 HP, which may be 30 more than Shinx but is still rather fragile. It has the same decent single Energy Retreat Cost. It has no Ability but has the attack “Disconnect” for [C]. Disconnect does 30 damage and prevents your opponent from playing Item cards from hand during his or her next turn. Disconnect may not hit hard, but we know from similar attacks, like “Quaking Punch” found on Seismitoad-EX, that this can be amazing. If you oversimplify, your fundamental strategy for a lot of decks works without Item cards; get Pokémon into play, attach Energy, and attack. When you go into full detail, most strategies need Items in some capacity, either a particular Tool to ensure proper damage output, a Rare Candy to Evolve more quickly, an Ultra Ball to improve setup, and often all of the above. Before we move onto Luxray, you might stop here in terms of building a deck; Luxio is small and fragile but you can back it up with loads of disruption, including something like Alolan Muk or Garbodor (XY – BREAKpoint 57/122) on your Bench to lock down Abilities. Sure, your own Abilities are gone, but unless you decide to Wally into one of those two, Shinx will have to have served its purpose by then, and odds are so will Tapu Lele-GX.
The other option here is to advance to Luxray, and I’m here to tell you that if you do, it ought to be SM – Ultra Prism 48/138 and that this might be nearly as good, as good, or better than the previous approach. Luxray has 150 HP, which is pretty good for a Stage 2 and almost on par with your typical Basic Pokémon-EX/GX thanks to cards like Choice Band causing obviously unequal HP amounts to provide similar durability. Luxray has a very useful free Retreat Cost – as good as it gets – but now we need to go back to the HP. Why? Because Luxray has the Ability “Intimidating Fang”. This Ability reduces the damage from attacks made by your opponent’s Active by 30, and it even states it is before Weakness and Resistance applies (most such effects apply after). So, to score a OHKO, your opponent’s Active [F] Type must swing for 110 damage, Active [M] Type must swing for 200, while everything else needs to hit for 180. Luxray also has a fairly good attack; “Volt Bolt” requires [LLC] and discards all [L] Energy from itself but allows you to do 150 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon (your choice). This is a good return for the investment, though just a bit shy of being devastating; you’ll need combos to OHKO anything especially big, while smaller targets will need to be strategic or already injured for a good return.
Remember Luxray BREAK? Effectively a “Stage 3”, we haven’t really had a reason to consider it before. If we use it with the above Luxray, you’ll have 170 HP instead of 150, but retain have access to Intimidating Fang and the same Weakness/Resistance. Now, even a [F] Type needs to swing for 130 damage, a [M] Type needs to swing for 220, and everything else needs to hit 200 for the OHKO. Luxray BREAK also brings “Wild Fury” as another attack, requiring [LLCC] to do 130 damage while also having you flip until you get “tails” for 40 more damage per “heads”… which isn’t something I’d want to rely on but does have a 50% chance of at least doing 170 damage. The thing is, I’m not recommending you use Luxray BREAK in a deck where you can afford Wild Fury. We aren’t even going to try and afford Volt Bolt.
Instead, we’re going to bring in Shining Celebi (maybe Shrine of Hidden Memories if we’re playing in Expanded) so that anything Evolved from Luxio can use Disconnect. 30 damage is still low, but now it is backed by 150 or 170 with Intimidating Fang. Luxray BREAK is optional for this strategy, at least if you’re still running heavy disruption like with the other deck. As you’re attacking for just one Energy, Max Potion can keep Luxray or Luxray BREAK going for quite a while. If you can stagger your Evolution lines, you can even use Acerola or Super Scoop Up to bounce the whole thing back into your hand, Evolve a waiting Luxio or Luxray, and maintain the lock. Volt Bolt may still be worth using as finishing blow, assuming you can afford it. Should we all be living in fear of the new Item lock deck for Standard Format play? No. Be prepared to bump into it? Yes, especially long term. The same goes for Expanded, save you need to worry about multiple other Item-lock decks. Item-lock waxes and wanes in potency, but I doubt we’ll have to wait too long before someone cashes in on abundant, potent Item cards and the rest of the metagame follows… until Item-lock rises again. Unless Garbodor (SM- Guardians Rising 51/145) and its “Trashalanche” attack does the deed instead. The Luxray line also must worry about its [F] Weakness; those two things together are why Noivern-GX has faded into obscurity.
The Expanded Format already has potent anti-Item decks, so I’m just not seeing a space for it to fill here. It isn’t hopeless, as it may still function; you’ll just need a reason to run it instead of Seismitoad-EX or Trevenant BREAK and it is possible the shifting metagame may unleash such a thing. Luxio appeared on four out of the five lists, earning 34 voting points, with only one of those insisting on looking at the entire Luxio line (my bad). Finally, here is where things get complicated… because I should have let everyone focus on just Luxio. Do I score the entire line? Just Luxio? All three? I guess it will be the latter, but only Luxio’s score will affect the averages listed at the top of the page.
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