– Guardians Rising

Date Reviewed:
November 29, 2018

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.83
Expanded: 2.75
Limited: 2.75

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

Reviews Below:

aroramage avatar

Interesting techs will usually pop up from time to time. It’s what makes looking at every card worthwhile – you never know when something will be useful or even a potential contender.

Sableye is a Basic Darkness Pokemon, 60 HP, with no Weakness or Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 1. Scratch is a 1-for-20 vanilla strike that’s ultimately unimportant. Limitation however also costs 1 Energy and prevents your opponent from playing any Supporters from their hand on their next turn.

If you’ve been apart of the game long enough, you’ll know that Supporters are a big part of it. It’s one of the reasons that there was a period of time when Exeggutor (PLF) was played to some success because it could lock down an opponent’s Supporters, thus enabling your strategy while keeping your opponent from accelerating through theirs. Sableye has the same idea, just without any damage and requiring Darkness Energy. In this day and age, Supporters are important tools to getting to what you need, and having even one or two turns without them can greatly slow any deck down.

So Sableye – which is in Guardians Rising and is therefore Standard-legal – certainly warrants a look at due to this. But he does have weaknesses, the obvious being that he needs specific Energy for Limitation and that he only has 60 HP. It’s one of the reasons he wasn’t played around in very many decks; at the time of his release, there were just better decks in other Types, and Dark decks didn’t really want to play him. These days, it’s a bit up in the air, but I’m sure a couple of the others will review something in which Sableye shows up. 

Never underestimate the ability to stop Supporters for a turn.


Standard: 3/5 (always a good effect)

Expanded: 3/5 (arguably Exeggutor is better overall, but Sableye might be good for Dark decks)

Limited: 2.5/5 (just that there isn’t much in the way that he can do outside of Limitation)

Arora Notealus: You might even say that Sableye is limited by his one good move, all the more so due to its specifications. If you’re in a meta that doesn’t utilize Supporters often enough, it can be tough for Sableye to find a place. But if there’s a lot of Supporters going around, you can bet that anti-Supporter tech will be in good demand.

Next Time: Sometimes the best way to catch up from behind is to make everything a little easier~

21 Times Avatar

Sableye (GRI 80) – I remember when this card first was revealed in the weeks leading up to the release of the Guardians Rising expansion set, I thought this card would break the meta.  I seriously thought that it would completely ruin the game.  I spent a LOT of time theorymoning this card and wondering how I could best use it and how I was going to stop it.

Yeah that was a big old chunk of my life I won’t get back again.

Limitation has its limitations.  Even before Zoroark GX came out, we had Oranguru SUM and Octillery BKT.  Still, those cards, as well as the legendary Shaymin EX ROS, wouldn’t do you a whole lot of good on your turn 2 if you had five or six cards in hand.  They allowed you to draw cards only if you had a small hand size.  If you were stuck with some evolution Pokemon and Supporter cards in your hand, you found yourself at the mercy of your top decks, a place every Pokemon player fears more than anything in the game.  That’s part of the reason I chose to play Sylveon GX GRI at the North American International Championship in late June of 2017.  I played Sylveon with Red Card and Delinquent and frequently left my opponents with a single useless card in hand.  Top deck mode is dreadful.

Unfortunately, it seems like it happens more often than not that you play Limitation and your opponent has the DCE in hand and a Basic Pokemon (even Tapu Lele OHKO’s Sableye) that can take out your Sableye, and then you’re unable to keep up the Supporter lock or they bypass it altogether.  Malamar decks are good at that, but especially after Zoroark GX came out, who needed draw supporters?  With Zoroark, we discovered that you were better off running supporters that did other, better things than just put more cards in your hand.

When Sableye GRI first came out, I tried it with Darkrai EX, Decidueye SUM, with Absol GRI, all with virtually no success.  As recently as September, I’ve tried it with Greninja GX, but I only won a little less than half the games I played with that pairing.  I even tried it the other night with Tyranitar GX LOT, but Ty just isn’t particularly good.  There just really aren’t any good Dark decks that are great if they have time to set up.


Standard: 2.5 out of 5


We’re running out of time for Sableye to find a niche in the Standard format.  It will probably be rotated in August, but there are some potential suitors for it coming in the Dark Order expansion set that I think is coming out in February.  There’s an Alolan Muk that has an ability to discard Item cards from your opponent’s deck, a non GX Tyranitar that looks like it’s worth setting up (OHKO’s GX Pokemon), and a non GX Zoroark that has an attack similar to Night March (but they capped it at 200 damage), so Sableye GRI might yet function as the oppressive starter Pokemon that I’ve always envisioned  it as being.

Otaku Avatar

Welcome to our Throwback Thursday pick, and we’re going all the way back to… last year? This is a re-review of Sableye (SM – Guardians Rising 80/145), which means we’re looking at something that is still Standard-legal and not due to being reprinted. We originally reviewed it here, so why the re-review? Simple: it started to see some success and while I’m normally the one fighting the trend towards treating timespans like a single year as “a long time ago”, I wanted us to look at Sableye again before it either became an obviously useful card or faded back into obscurity. I’m once again using as my information source, so I’ve only got the Top 8 Masters Division finishers for the Roanoke, VA Regional Championship, but from the Sao Paulo International Championship, we’ve got Top 64 with about 10 decks missing spread throughout. Sableye didn’t show up in the Top 8 of Roanoke, but we’ve got five instances of it in Sao Paulo, including a spot in the first place finisher’s deck.

Let’s begin by running through the card itself quite quickly: a [D] Type Basic Pokémon with 60 HP, no Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], and two attacks. “Limitation” requires [D] and prevents your opponent from playing a Supporter from their hand during their next turn, while “Scratch” costs [C] and does 20 damage. [D] Typing isn’t a big deal right now, but keep it in mind come February when we (likely) get the English-language version of Black Market {*}, a Prism Star Stadium that causes you to give up one less Prize when your [D] Type Pokémon with any [D] Energy is KO’d by damage from an opponent’s Pokémon’s attack. 60 HP is fragile and was back then but now it also makes Sableye a legal Professor Elm’s Lecture target. No Weakness is perfect, no Resistance is the worst, but both don’t mean as much as they could because of that 60 HP. A Retreat Cost of [C] is technically good; easy to pay and recover from having paid, you either won’t need it because Sableye is getting OHKO’d anyway or it might be a pain because you’re running a low Energy count deck and Sableye’s stalling is working.

We’ll get Scratch out of the way even though it is the second attack on the card; it is filler but at least it isn’t totally worthless or near totally worthless filler. If you’re desperate, it gives you an option. Maybe you don’t have any source of [D] Energy to use Limitation. Maybe your opponent has something with almost no HP (or almost no HP left) and Scratch (give or take a damage buff) is enough, while only giving up a single Prize and Energy attachment to do the deed. Maybe you no longer need to lock down Items, and Scratch does just barely enough to make your opponent worried about keeping Sableye around, but I kind of doubt that would happen often. What makes Sableye at least a minor threat is Limitation. Needing [D] Energy hurts and not doing any damage mostly hurts, but locking down Supporters matters. Yes, most decks run several Item cards and/or Abilities to aid in setup… that doesn’t mean they can go too many turns without Supporters. Limitation cannot be used before your opponent gets at least one turn to use a Supporter, but most decks will need one at least every few turns to maintain field presence and/or to push for the win. It might be nice if it did damage, to add further pressure… but some lockdown decks don’t want to take KO’s.

Enter Zoroark Control decks and Unown (SM – Lost Thunder 90/214), Unown (SM – Lost Thunder 91/214), and Unown (SM – Lost Thunder 92/214). Zoroark Control is something we’ve speculated, and which I worried about, since seeing Zoroark-GX. If you have a solid draw option and low-Energy attacker, Supporters can focus on disruption and slots that normally go to Energy can be put towards something else. It looks like Zoroark Control is something brutal if you don’t prepare for it but skilled players run it. Nor can you just always prepare for Zoroark Control because if you do and it doesn’t show up (or even show up enough), those counters aren’t useful enough against the rest of the metagame, so you’re now losing more easily to something else. According to Limitless, five of the six Zoroark Control decks included Sableye, even though they also ran no Darkness Energy cards. [D] Energy had to come from Rainbow Energy, and those decks only ran two copies of Rainbow Energy! Not having seen them in action, I don’t know if Sableye is supposed to open or close, but I’d hazard a guess that it is both (and any other time losing Supporters is a problem).

I bring up the Unown as well, but that is Theorymon. Yes, as of writing this, I am still trying to find or confirm decklists for these sources of new win conditions, but it is at least plausible that a deck which can make room for Sableye and at least a few sources of [D] Energy can buy a precious turn or two in order to mee the conditions of that respective Unown’s Ability. None of them want their Bench-sitters to be forced Active and HAND doesn’t want to be hit by a Judge. They all have other concerns as well, but one less counter your opponent can use is one less obstacle towards victory. In Expanded, I don’t have any new data, but lock cards like this retain at least some hope until near universally outclassed. Never got around to even building it, but something nasty using Alolan Muk and Vileplume (XY – Ancient Origins 3/98) still sorely tempts my inner Johnny. For the Limited Format, you probably won’t get many chances to use SM – Guardians Rising Boosters, but Sableye still remains a decent enough pull. A 60 HP Basic that can do 20 for [C] can still serve as filler, and if you’ve got a room for some [D] Energy, you might actually block the few Supporters your opponent has… or at least have the potential to delay them.


Standard: 3/5

Expanded: 2.5/5

Limited: 3/5


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