#5 Naganadel-GX
– Unified Minds

Date Reviewed:
August 12, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.90
Expanded: 3.00
Limited: 4.25

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:


Looks like we’re approaching the end of the Ultra Beast line-up in the Sun & Moon era. At least until we hear or see more of these cards show up in the next generation, minus of course the next couple of sets left until November.

Naganadel-GX is a Stage 1 Dragon Ultra Beast Pokemon-GX, 210 HP, with a Fairy Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Ultra Conversion lets you trade in an Ultra Beast in hand to draw 3 new cards, while Venom Shot costs 4 Energy (requiring Psychic) before it discards 2 of those Energy and deals 170 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokemon, minus Weakness and Resistance to Benched Pokemon. Injection GX is a quick little 1-Energy GX Attack that requires Lightning Energy and lets you take one of the cards in your opponent’s discard pile and add it to their Prize cards face-down.

I think ultimately you’ll see Naganadel-GX running as a draw engine with Ultra Conversion in decks that run a fair amount of Ultra Beasts. Ultra Necrozma-GX is the likely candidate for this, since it runs a couple of Ultra Beasts (and is one itself) and is probably the closest to a meta contender in Ultra Beasts after Buzzwole-GX rotated out. You could also run this alongside the first Naganadel-GX from Forbidden Light, but just be aware that because they share the same name, you can’t run more than 4 Naganadel-GX in total. Venom Shot seems okay, but Naganadel-GX’s Beast Raid and Jet Needle are probably better options, especially when there isn’t a quick DCE to boost up to Venom Shot. On the plus side, Malamar’s still in the format, so discarding Energy isn’t so bad!

Overall, I think this card’s pretty good, if nothing else but for the draw power. Draw 3 has been experimented with in different ways, usually with Energy, but I can see how Ultra Beasts could work given the limited number that people could run in a deck. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deck emerges from Naganadel-GX!


Standard: 4/5 (strong draw effect balanced by the discard choice)

Expanded: 3.5/5 (it’ll be easier to use Venom Shot here, but draw choices get stronger here too)

Limited: 5/5 (can’t really say you wouldn’t run this, since you can pick the best Venom Shot target)

Arora Notealus: Naganadel-GX once again shows a lot of promise, though it’s arguable on which Naganadel-GX is better. Is the one with less damaging attacks overall more useful because of the powerful draw Ability, or is the one without any kind of Ability better for the strength of its attacks? Needless to say, the answer isn’t that simple, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how it plays out as we move forward.

Next Time: Now see here, we on Poni Island don’t take too kindly to strangers, ya hear?


Our 5th-place finisher is Naganadel-GX (SM – Unified Minds 160/236, 230/236, 249/236). Yes, we already have a card with that same name, Naganadel-GX (SM – Forbidden Light 56/131, 121/131, 134/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM125). There’s also Naganadel (SM – Lost Thunder 108/214), which gives us a good baseline for additional comparison. Let’s start with typing: the new Naganadel-GX is a [N] Type versus the other two are [P] Type. Mysterious Treasure works with either, so that is quite useful as folks get used to the lack of Ultra Ball. Each Type also has specialized support, and while there are anti-[N] Type effects, like most such things they are rarely worth it. When it comes to Type-matching, [N] Types can’t exploit Weakness at all in Standard, and barely in Expanded, but at least they never have to worry about Resistance; [P] Types are reasonably useful for exploiting Weakness but crash into Resistance somewhat often. Weakness matters more than Resistance, so the [N] Typing isn’t as good but it is still serviceable.

All three of these are Stage 1 Pokémon; while not as fast or efficient as being Basics, neither is it a hurdle to clear like being a Stage 2. While some insist being a Pokémon-GX is an inherent advantage, it isn’t; Pokémon-GX have better HP scores than their baseline versions and usually better effects, but it comes at the cost of giving up an extra Prize when KO’d and dealing with anti-GX effects. In this case, both Pokémon-GX versions have 210 HP, giving either Naganadel-GX a good chance at surviving a hit, unlike the 130 HP Naganadel (though at least it is still large enough not to be especially fragile). The new Naganadel-GX is [Y] Weak while the other two are [P] Weak, and while no Weakness is the only good Weakness, [Y] Weakness is less likely to be an issue than [P] Weakness; I don’t know of any worthwhile [Y] Types to splash into other decks, though there are a few [Y] decks that may still be competitive. No Resistance is the worst Resistance, but that is the same for all three, and -20 damage from a single Type isn’t a big deal much of the time. All three also have a Retreat Cost of [C], this is very good as it is rather affordable and can even become free for a simple Escape Board or U-Turn Board.

The new Naganadel-GX has the Ability “Ultra Conversion”; you discard an Ultra Beast from your hand and then draw three cards, once per turn per instance of it in play, before attacking. This is enough draw power that two (maybe even just one) can free up your turn’s Supporter usage for other purposes. Of course, if you don’t have a decent amount of Ultra Beasts to spare, the Ability is useless… and you’ll need one in hand before you can try to draw for more. “Venom Shot” costs [PCCC] but also requires you discard two Energy from the attacking Naganadel-GX, but the payout is 170 damage to the opposing Pokémon of your choice: enough to one-shot most things that aren’t Pokémon-EX/GX, and even smaller Pokémon-EX/GX. Including juicy targets like Dedenne-GX, Shaymin-EX (XY – Roaring Skies 77/108, 77a/108, 106/108), or Tapu Lele-GX.  Triple Acceleration Energy makes it a good play even in Standard, as do some more deck-specific Energy acceleration options.  [L] pays for the GX-attack, “Injection-GX”, which lets you pick a card from your opponent’s discard pile and add it to their Prizes. I’m not too impressed by this; you’re giving up your attack (something often worth a Prize) to make your opponent take an extra Prize.

As a reminder, let us look at what the other Naganadel-GX and baseline Naganadel do. The original Naganadel-GX could use “Beast Raid” for [C] to do 20 damage per Ultra Beast you have in play. “Jet Needle” for [PCC] lets it do 110 damage while ignoring Weakness and Resistance. [CCC] covers the GX-attack, “Stinger-GX”, which forces both players to shuffle their Prize cards into their decks, then shuffle their decks and set aside the top three cards as Prizes. I was very hyped for this card when we reviewed it, and… I was wrong. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t become the next big thing. Perhaps things have changed enough so that Beast Raid will be worth it but Jet Needles is just poor now that Double Colorless Energy is gone, and Stinger-GX requires very specific circumstances to prove worthwhile. Still, it may be worth including as a single just for Beast Raid in a deck that is mostly or only Ultra Beasts.

Naganadel has also already been reviewed, and this time, I think I was on the mark. Its “Charing Up” Ability gives you a once-per-turn (per copy) basic Energy attachment to itself from your discard pile, prior to your attack for the turn. This does make its “Turning Point” attack easy to pay, not that [CCC] would be too bad otherwise; the attack only does 80 damage, however, but when your opponent is sitting at three Prize cards it becomes a good 160. Not bad, but not great… until we bring in the combos, and folks did. As long as a deck is decent at moving Energy around or paying for costs with Energy attached to other Pokémon, it should at least consider Naganadel… and unlike the older Naganadel-GX, it is already supporting various decks. As long as they’ve got a decent Ultra Beast presence, the new Naganadel-GX becomes a probable inclusion. Not guaranteed; maybe you need as many Naganadel in play as you can get, but if your deck can spare even one Poiple (or Ditto {*}), the new Naganadel-GX then provides that sweet, Supporter-free draw power.

Of course, this shouldn’t be enough to get Naganadel-GX into the top half of our countdown… and it isn’t. “Beast Box” decks have been a thing for a while, as have decks built around particular Ultra Beasts. Beast Box definitely should run this new Naganadel-GX, even if it means leaving out the original Naganadel-GX. Ultra Beasts already have a good pool of theme support, and that includes how many of them are niche attackers; under the right circumstances they’re amazing, but the rest of the time, not so much. When they aren’t needed, pitch them for Ultra Conversion. Ultra Space provides a simple, reliable way to get an Ultra Beast from your deck into your hand, at least while the Stadium remains in play. All at a time when the game should be slowing down, at least ever-so-slightly. It might be enough to make Beast Box worthwhile in Expanded as well; there is much competition and some general-purpose counters, but there are also more potent non-draw Supporters. Finally, this is pretty much a must-run in Limited; only skip it if you pull a Basic worth building into a +39 (a.k.a Mulligan) deck, or fail to pull enough other Ultra Beasts.


Standard: 3.8/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 3.5/5

If you’re skeptical of my take on today’s Naganadel-GX, I wouldn’t blame you. I was far too generous with its predecessor, and I’m still operating on 99% pure Theorymon when it comes to the 2020 Standard Format. A draw Ability and sniping attack at perhaps just the right time. Naganadel-GX took 6th-place pick for my personal Top 11, so taking 5th seems about right.


Had this as my #10 of my personal Top 11.

Standard: 3/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 3/5

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