Muk & Alolan Muk-GX
– Unbroken Bonds
June 21, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
If there was a card that would be the pinnacle of creating as much toxicity to other Pokémon, it would be Muk & Alolan Muk GX. Sure, Toxapex-GX has Super Intense Poison that can put TEN damage counters between turns, but today’s card can more than that! As a Tag Team, it gives up three prizes, so they will have to work very hard to make it worthwhile. 270 HP is good, though the Psychic weakness hurts when dealing against them. A retreat cost of four is expensive, though Buff Padding grants a 50 HP boost for a retreat cost this high. Being a Psychic Type can reap benefits from both formats: Malamar’s Psychic Recharge to accelerate energy or Dimension Valley to make attacks cheaper by one Colorless Energy.
Now we’re getting to the attacks! Severe Poison costs PCC and Poisons the Defending Pokémon, except that you would place EIGHT damage counters instead of one between turns. If the Defending Pokémon doesn’t switch out or retreat, then the damage continues to happen, eventually knocking them out. Eight damage counters is enough to OHKO most evolving Basics and even Stage 2s should they still stay in the Active. Basic EX/GXs will be in a extremely low HP range for a small attack to finish them off if they stayed. This attack could lead to Poison Absorption, which costs PCCC for 120 damage, and heals 100 damage from this Pokémon if the Defending Pokémon was poisoned. The damage is a bit low for 2HKOs, but can offer some serious staying power as long as the Defending Pokémon is poisoned!
And if those attacks aren’t good enough, you have a one time deal with Nasty Goo Mix GX! This costs no energy and makes the Defending Pokémon Poisoned and Paralyzed. However, if you have four extra energy attached to them, as if you’ve fueled up for Poison Absorption, the you get to put FIFTEEN damage counters instead of one between turns. This is a lot of damage, and Paralysis will ensure that another fifteen damage counters will happen unless they switch or bounce. Still, 300 damage is enough to wipe out any Pokemon in the game. For Tag Teams, they’re an easy three prizes if they didn’t switch or bounce! I wouldn’t rely on that soft lock all the time because there’s so many switching related cards.
While the Muk duo is the king of Poison, they still run into problems. Status denial, effect denial, and anti-GX/Tag Team can cripple this strategy. Besides Poison Absorption, the other two attacks cannot exploit Weakness due to damage counter placement as opposed to direct damage. Perhaps a small gain for Expanded would be Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, which guarantees Poison and a chance to flip for sleep, while the ladder places two more damage counters for poisoned Pokémon, making it TEN for Severe Poison and SEVENTEEN for Nasty Goo Mix. And I believe Seviper from a certain Sun & Moon set also places extra damage counters for Poisoned Pokemon?
Anyhow, while other Tag Team Pokémon were primed to deal as much direct damage as possible, the Muk duo has attacks that have effect, and that might help get past some Pokémon that blocks only damage, but not effects. I didn’t see any decks featuring the Muk duo, so I may have the feeling that this card could suffer the same problems Toxapex-GX had.
We close out this week with Muk & Alolan Muk-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 61/214, 196/214, 197/214, 220/214). If we’d done a Top 30 for this set, instead of a Top 11, Muk & Alolan Muk-GX would have been our 29th place pick. It (they?) didn’t make my personal top 20, nor am I seeing this in recent, higher performing Standard Format decks. Let’s look at this card a little more closely, to see if there is something being missed. Muk & Alolan Muk-GX is a Tag Team Pokémon, a subclass of Pokémon-GX. This will cause it to give up an extra two Prizes when KO’d, exclude it from certain beneficial effects, and expose it to certain counters. There are actually a few cards that reward you specifically because you’re using a Pokémon-GX, but the real rewards are how Muk & Alolan Muk-GX should be a Basic instead of a Stage 1, have better HP than even Alolan Muk-GX. As a [P] Type, Muk & Alolan Muk-GX gains access to goodies like Dimension Valley and Mysterious Treasure, can exploit the [P] Weakness found on many [F] and [P] Types, but has to deal with the [P] Resistance found on most [D] and [M] Pokémon.
As a Basic Pokémon, Muk & Alolan Muk-GX is requires minimal deck space and time to hit the field and can better utilize certain mechanics (like bounce). It can be your opening Active, which is both a good and a bad thing. some effects reward being a Basic, and some punish it; I consider this to mostly be neutral because it ties directly into the specifics of the metagame. Muk & Alolan Muk-GX enjoy a formerly record-setting 270 HP, which still makes it very difficult to OHKO outside of exploiting its [P] Weakness; not the worst Weakness to have right now, but definitely not the best, either. The lack of any Resistance is the actual worst but is so common it doesn’t seem like it. Similarly, [CCCC] is the worst printed Retreat Cost on anything recent but once you get past [CCC] (maybe even [CC]), it is only marginally worse. Throw in access to stuff like Buff Padding, and it might actually be better than [CCC]!
Muk & Alolan Muk-GX know three attacks. [PCC] pays for “Severe Poison”, which does not damage but inflicts an abnormally potent form of the Poison Special Condition on your opponent’s Active; eight damage counters placed between turns, instead of just one. [PCCC] lets Muk & Alolan Muk-GX use “Poison Absorption” to do 120 damage, and if your opponent’s Active is Poisoned, the attack heals 100 damage from Muk & Alolan Muk-GX. “Nasty Goo Mix-GX” has a free Energy cost for its base effect of Paralyzing and Poisoning your opponent’s Active; if you have at least four more Energy attached to this Pokémon than what is needed to use Nasty Goo Mix-GX, instead of placing one damage counter between turns, the Poison from this attack places 15. Unless you can afford using up your GX-attack for just Poison plus Paralysis, this duo takes some time to build, though it helps that Double Colorless Energy can cover some of the costs. My main concern is that
The former isn’t terribly common, but the latter is often just a Guzma away. Which means Severe Poison will probably trigger once and… eight for three is a mediocre return on the investment. If it does stick around, then Poison Absorption can finish off most larger targets while healing your attacking Muk & Alolan Muk-GX, really stretching its 270 HP. I just think the odds are the Poison just won’t stick around. Smaller targets can try to win the Prize trade, even if they are being OHKO’d by Severe Poison; if they’re KO’d, you cannot use Poison Absorption the next turn to heal. Medium-sized targets can do the same thing but survive long enough to get off an extra attack (unless the preceding active was KO’d going into your turn). Again, not favorable for trading Prizes. Only something with 170+ HP survives so that you can score the KO with Poison Absorption and gain that precious healing… and such Pokémon are the most likely to be worth expending resources to save from being Poisoned.
Dust Island can help force the Poison to stick around, and it has been ruled that the exact Poison condition is maintained e.g. if something is Poisoned by Severe Poison and you use a Trainer to Bench it, your new Active is not only Poisoned but Poisoned with the eight-damage-counters-between-turns variety of Poison. Even Dust Island in play, though, Evolving still gets rid of Poison, bounce effects (even Trainer based ones) still shake Poison, and any non-Trainer switching effect still shakes Poison (which includes manually retreating). You’ll probably just have to bite the bullet and include some other options for Poisoning your opponent’s Active, at least if you plan on using Poison Absorption. There are other tricks, especially in Expanded, that enhance Poison, but also more counters and just other strong decks. The main place to enjoy Muk & Alolan Muk-GX is the Limited Format, I think. Mind your [P] Weakness, especially if you go the +39 route and run this Tag Team completely solo.
Ridiculous amounts of Poison damage always sound good… but you have to ask what you could have done with a similar attack in terms of damage. Which is why I don’t think Muk & Alolan Muk-GX really live up to their potential; the decks that can quickly fuel them can do the same for other attackers. Still, one copy might be useful in something like a Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117).
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