Spell Tag
Spell Tag

Spell Tag
– Lost Thunder

Date Reviewed:
December 12, 2018

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.88
Expanded: 2.67
Limited: 3.50

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

Reviews Below:

aroramage avatar

Any time you go around to a haunted place, you might considering packing something along for the ride. A bag of salt, some special charms, a lucky rabbit’s foot – you know, whatever makes you feel safe. In Japan, this comes down to having a creative piece of paper with some scribbling on it. Supposedly stops ghosts and stuff. Though I guess you gotta have a medium do it, or it’s as useless as…well, a piece of paper with some scribbling on it.

Spell Tag is the in-game Item that got translated to a Pokemon Tool that works well with Psychic Pokemon, which also encompasses in-game Ghost Pokemon. If the Pokemon Spell Tag is attached to gets KO’d by an opponent’s attack, you can distribute 4 damage counters to their Pokemon in any way you’d like.

Simple, effective for what it does, with the classic damage manipulation that Psychic tends to have. It could be useful in some decks, and supposedly there are some decks that say this is useful that came up recently. I think in the long run though Spell Tag will get dropped from these decks, partially in part due to the ever-rising HP scores of opposing Pokemon – looking at those Tag-Team-GX right now – accompanied by the ever-growing need to follow up on maneuvers like Spell Tag, which itself has the weakness of slowing you down to try and get your opponent to KO the Pokemon it’s attached to with an attack.

My first thought tends to be, in regards to any deck Spell Tag might go in, “would Choice Band be more useful?” And certainly in most situations with most decks, that’s guaranteed to be true. So it’s better to ask, “if I don’t have Choice Band, will Spell Tag work out?” And then my thoughts go to decks with Psychic Pokemon with low HP – enter Lost March for Standard with Natu. So take that how you will!


Standard: 2.5/5 (I don’t expect this card to remain competitive for a long period of time)

Expanded: 2/5 (but it is pretty handy)

Limited: 3.5/5 (especially in low-Hp environments, whether to be used by them or against them)

Arora Notealus: All joking aside, Spell Tag is based on the ofuda, a Japanese talisman issued out by a shrine as a means of protection. The irony is, Spell Tag’s Japanese name translates over as “Cursed Ofuda”, meaning that this was actually tainted by an evil spirit. Which would explain why it powers up Ghost-Types rather than weakens or forces them to run away. 

Next Time: Fly back to the throwback for the lost…back…what?

vince avatar

One of the items that boosts the power of Ghost type moves is Spell Tag (Spooky Plate being the other). However, the effects of this card has nothing to do with the games, because it acts like a retaliatory tool. If one of your Psychic Pokemon this tool is attached to is knocked out by damage from your opponent’s attack, you get to distribute 4 damage counters to any of your opponent’s Pokemon. This gives me the impression that a select few decks will take advantage of this retaliatory item due to being specialized.

Your opponent can see this coming, and will try to remove it with Field Blower, but if they don’t, when they knock out one of your Psychic Pokemon, your opponent will account on the fact that 40 damage will be placed on their board, helping you soften up for an easy KO…or multiple KOs. It may not be easy trying to rely on your opponent’s actions, so treat Spell Tag as a bonus, and not something to heavily rely upon. If you do trigger the effect of Spell Tag even once, that might be enough to secure the KO. Yveltal GX’s GX Attack will automatically KO any of your opponent’s Pokemon with exactly four damage counters. And in Expanded, Gengar’s Creep Show automatically KOs any Pokemon with three or more damage counters.


Standard: 3/5 (Damage Counter always means something, even with just 10 damage)

Expanded: 3/5 (There are more cards to work with regarding specific damage counters)

Limited: 3.5/5 (Just be aware that it only works for Psychic Pokemon)

Notes: Like Poison Barb, effects don’t always carry over from the games to the TCG, otherwise it wouldn’t be as exciting. It wouldn’t be necessary either because there are other tools that boost damage output regardless on the type of Pokémon. Muscle Band would remain to be the king of damage boosting items due to its versatility.

Next Up: We haven’t seen a baby Pokémon for quite a long while.

21 Times Avatar

Spell Tag (LOT 190) magically appeared in the Pokemon Trading Card Game out of the Lost Thunder expansion set.  This Tool allows you to put 4 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like when the Psychic Pokemon it is attached to is KO’d by damage from an opponent’s attack.

Yes, that means Decidueye GX and Tapu Lele (UPR 94 and SM 45) make Spell Tag irrelevant, and it doesn’t activate if you get KO’d from Shrine of Punishment damage either.  Most of the time, however, this is a GREAT retaliation card, and I’ve loved using it in conjunction with Giratina (LOT 97).  Just think, this could be up to an additional 160 damage every game!  And you get to put that damage wherever you want!

Speaking of Tapu Lele SM 45, obviously Spell Tag pairs beautifully with that card as well.  Overall, I would definitely say that this is a four of in Psychic archetypes, and it’s well worth inclusion in those decks.


Standard: 3 out of 5


Outside of Psychic decks, this card won’t ever see any play, but I would highly recommend it (and maybe an Adventure Bag or two) in Psychic featured builds.  I’ve also put it on Malamar as well from time to time in case your opponent targets down your Malamars, but I think it’s better off on your featured attacker whenever possible.

Otaku Avatar

Spell Tag (SM – Lost Thunder 190/214, 235/214) is a Trainer-Item, specifically a Pokémon Tool. Its effect triggers when the [P] Pokémon to which it is equipped is KO’d specifically by damage from an opponent’s attack; at that point, you may place four damage counters how you wish on your opponent’s Pokémon. You can attach this to something which is not a [P] Type, but unless it is somehow a [P] Pokémon when KO’d, the effect of Spell Tag will not Activate. It doesn’t matter whether the Pokémon equipped with Spell Tag is your Active or on your Bench when it is KO’d, or how many turns it takes to be OHKO’d, or whether that opposing attacker is Active or on the Bench when the KO actually resolves, so long as what finishes off the Pokémon with Spell Tag is damage from the attack of an opponent’s Pokémon. The four damage counters you place can all go to a single opposing Pokémon or be distributed among multiple targets, so long as the total number of damage counters placed equals four.

In brief, being a Trainer doesn’t mean much right now, while being an Item can mean quite a bit if you’re running a card like Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 132/214, 205/214, 225/214) or run into something like Garbodor (SM – Guardians Rising 51/145, 51a/145) or Seismitoad-EX or Trevenant (Trevenant (XY 55/146). Tools have their own bits of support like Adventure Bag and Eco Arm, but some devastating counters like Faba, Field Blower, Lysandre Labs, Startling Megaphone, etc. We typically see a cycle where Tool use rises, counters to Tools then see more use, so Tool use falls, and then usage of Tool-counters follows suit. Throw in the natural bottleneck with Tools, how you can only have so many in play, and (most of the time) can only have one attached to a particular Pokémon, and the competition for what Tools are worth running becomes pretty fierce. Spell Tag is a bit odd due to the timing involved and the Type restriction. Either it is meant to discourage KOing the Pokémon to which it is attached OR it is meant as an aid to scoring KO’s. Take out an opponent’s Benched Ditto {*}, place the final damage counters needed to KO something larger, prep something else for a KO later on… there is much room for strategy here.

The catch is that all this strategy creates more openings for counterstrategies by your opponent. Besides the direct counters mentioned above, unless everything you have in play sports a Spell Tag or is protected from Trainer (or Supporter) effects, something like Guzma can provide an easy out. KOing via something other than attack damage isn’t common for most decks, but in some decks, it is to be expected. If you have Spell Tag on something worth attacking without KOing, your opponent can still build to their win state (even one by taking KO’s) by just damaging the equipped Pokémon without KOing it until one of the previously mentioned counters is available. With all that can go wrong, you can see why most decks are just going to stick with what has been proven, like Escape Board to help Bench-sitters return to the Bench or Choice Band to bump up attacks against an opponent’s Pokémon-EX/GX.

Still, I’ve encountered a few decks making solid use of Spell Tag. Especially if the idea is to run no Pokémon-GX, there is Giratina (SM – Lost Thunder 97/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM151) backed by Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131, SM – Black Star Promos SM117). There are spread decks that focus on attackers like Latios (Shining Legends 41/73; SM – Black Star Promos SM88) and Tapu Koko (SM – Black Star Promos SM30, SM30a, SM31). Both decks also utilize Shrine of Punishment and Tapu Lele (SM – Black Star Promos SM45): the former because it places more damage counters (at least against Pokémon-EX/GX) and the latter because it has an attack to move around the damage counters on your opponent’s Pokémon. The Latios/Tapu Koko decks are also likely to use Counter Energy and can use Tapu Lele (SM – Ultra Prism 94/156), the latter being the same as Tapu Lele (SM – Black Star Promos SM45) except it is a [Y] Type with [Y] Energy requirements where the other has [P] Energy requirements. We’ve even seen a Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel and a Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (Trashalanche) deck slip in a Spell Tag for when the Psychic-Type attackers in the deck are up front.

That covers the Standard Format. I’ve little information for the Expanded Format, though Niigata was Black & White-On (but with Japanese sets). The obvious choice is Trevenant; it already likes to spread damage around, and currently seems to favor Rescue Scarf as its Tool of choice. Spell Tag won’t make it easier to maintain your Item-lock, the way Rescue Scarf does BUT it may just help you win faster so you won’t need to. The Limited Format is pretty simple. If you’re running a +39 build then there’s no chance for Spell Tag to trigger or else just an incredibly tiny window where it probably won’t do you any good. I’m unsure of exactly how things resolve, but almost certainly not worth it. Anything else where you’ve got at least a few [P] Types to sport it while Active? Yes, please!


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 3/5
  • Limited: 3.5/5

Spell Tag has its place in the metagame, with the potential to become huge. For now, however, it is just a nice option for a select few decks. It is extremely metagame dependent, with the potency of Anti-Tool effects, other offensive buffs that compete with it (like Choice Band), AND the prominence of [P] Types all being factors. Even if this card never sees a lot of major play, it isn’t the type about which you can afford to forget.

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