– Unbroken Bonds
May 22, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today we look at Marshadow (SM – Unbroken Bonds 81/214). I’ll start off by addressing something I usually skip: the name! Marshadow (Shining Legends 45/73; SM – Black Star Promos SM85) is already a common (though not universal) play in the Standard Format and even shows up sometimes in the Expanded Format due its “Let Lose” Ability. Which means that this new Marshadow must compete against it for deck-space. Fortunately, most lists I’ve seen don’t run more than two copies of the Let Loose-version, so unless today needs to be run at three or four copies, they won’t be crowding each other out of a given deck. Though we’re only focused on today’s, both are Basic Pokémon: fast to the field, minimal deck-space required, a natural affinity for certain mechanics, and it can even function as your opening Active. That last one may not always be a good thing, and there are some potent anti-Basic effects, but then some bits of Basic-based Stage support are also great. Yeah, just a more precise way of saying “Being a Basic is still the best!”.
[P] Typing allows Marshadow to exploit the [P] Weakness found on many (most?) [F] and [P] Type Pokémon, though you’ll need to mind the [P] Resistance found on most [D] and [M] Types. Weakness is far more significant than Resistance, so that’s clearly a net positive. Fairy Charm [P] is the only anti-[P] effect of which I am aware, but I don’t expect that to matter to Marshadow. [P] Type support, however, could be quite significant; Mysterious Treasure is just the most obvious. 80 HP isn’t a lot; Marshadow is a pretty easy OHKO for most decks unless they have a poor field or just aren’t focused on attacking for damage. [D] Types have an even easier time of it, thanks to Marhashadow’s [D] Weakness. At least Marshadow enjoys [F] Resistance; it only helps it out a little given the 80 HP attached to it, but it is something. So is the Retreat Cost of [C]; I’m not saying you should slap an Escape Board to Marshadow and use it as a pivot Pokémon, but it is nice that it is an option, as is just burning an Energy to manually retreat at full price.
Marshadow possesses the Ability “Resetting Hole” and the attack “Red Knuckles”. Resetting Hole is a once-per-turn (per copy) Ability, and can only be used prior to attacking (or initiating any other action that automatically ends your turn once complete). Resetting Hole states it may only be used while Marshadow is on your Bench, and while a Stadium is in play because the first part of this Ability’s effect is you discard a Stadium card that is in play. The second part of the effect is you discard Marshadow and all cards attached to it. Discard, not “Knock Out”! Your opponent will not take a Prize for this! Red Knuckles requires [C] to use, and only does 10 damage unless you’re attacking an Ultra Beast; at that point, the effect kicks in and increases the damage by 60, so you’ll be doing 70 before other effects, as well as prior to Weakness or Resistance.
Resetting Hole is very good, while Red Knuckles is niche (but adequate). Why? Yes, you can discard a Stadium card simply by playing a Stadium card with a different name. You could also use a card like Faba or Field Blower, which can also get rid of a Stadium while also doing a little something extra. Why would a deck need Marshadow? Because it is a Basic Pokémon. That makes it much, much easier to fetch from your deck and recycle from the discard pile. The other methods also come with some blind spots; you cannot play a Stadium card if one with the same name is already in play, and Prism Star Stadium cards are unaffected by Items and Supporters. Red Knuckles also plays a role; Buzzwole, Buzzwole-GX, Naganadel, Naganadel-GX, Poiple (any version so far), Nihilego, and Nihilego-GX are all [P] Weak Ultra Beasts. Individually, they aren’t massive in the modern metagame, but collectively it is nice having something that threatens them.
In the short term, I expect Marshadow to become one of those cards you play if your deck has room, but which a lot of decks skip because they simply don’t have the space. The early tournament results suggest (or at least don’t contradict) that happening; Marshadow shows up in a few, high-placing decks, but far from everywhere. Field Blower leaves the Standard Format as of August 15th due to set-rotation, so I expect its long term prospects to improve. All kinds of lock are present in Expanded, so diversifying your options makes you more likely to crash into it but also less likely to be completely crushed by it; I think that means Marshadow actually has a similar role there. Given how much a Stadium or Ultra Beast can mess you up in the Limited Format, only skip Marshadow if you pulled a big Basic worth running entirely solo.
Marshadow would have been our 17th place choice if we’d started our countdown of the top picks of SM – Unbroken Bonds from a high enough number. That is specifically because it was my personal seventh-place selection. I want to brag a bit that I recognized it was such a good card, but it didn’t instantly show up in most decks, and with the sheer amount of great cards this set, I understand why I see it didn’t quite make the cut according to some. If I were redoing my list today, it may or may not drop a few ranks, but I’d still keep it in my personal top 11.
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