Spiritomb – Unbroken Bonds
Date Reviewed: August 23, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
While we gear up for our next countdown – the next set is almost here! – we’re going to cover a few Runners-Up. Cards that didn’t make the final countdown, but appeared on at least one of our individual lists. Up first is Spiritomb (SM – Unbroken Bonds 112/214). This is a baseline Pokémon: no Rule Box, no name alterations, no Battle Style, no giving up extra Prizes when KO’d. While this means it lacks the strengths of those specialty mechanics, it also doesn’t have to deal with their weaknesses, by which I mean counters, added rules, or exclusions from beneficial effects. Spiritomb is a [D] type, which has become much better for exploiting Weakness in the SW-era, where TCG Psychic types based on VG Ghosts and VG Psychics are now [D] Weak, and now that nothing is naturally resistant, save the lingering TCG Fairy type cards. [D] support has some useful tricks as well.
Spiritomb is a Basic Pokémon, so there’s no waiting to evolve or needs to run other cards to put Spiritomb into play. Its 60 HP is low, making it an easy OHKO, which undermines the cards otherwise perfect lack of Weakness. No Resistance is the worst, but like the Weakness, it doesn’t really matter with the low HP. Its Retreat Cost of [C] is good; usually easy to pay and recover from having paid. Spiritomb’s has the Ability “Building Spite”, which lets you place a damage counter on it once during your turn. Why would you want to do that? Its attack, “Anguish Cry”. It costs [D] to use, and does 10+ damage where the “plus” is another 30 damage for each damage counter on itself. Even with only 60 HP, this is can hit reasonably large numbers reasonably quickly.
For example, with no additional combos, you can immediately drop Spiritomb to 50 HP by using Building Spite, then attack with Anguish Cry for 40 damage. No, the damage isn’t good, and yes, Spiritomb is probably getting OHKO’d. The former can be improved with combos, and the latter is just what we’re expecting; Spirtomb is a glass cannon. In Expanded (and the previous Standard Formats), you could use Rainbow Energy to drop an extra damage counter on Spiritomb. There are Stadiums like Old Cemetery and Spikemuth that can also help you get some damage counters on Spiritomb. Perhaps best of all is Jynx (SM – Unified Minds 76/236) with its “Ominous Posture” Ability. Once per turn, you can move a damage counter from one of your Pokémon to another. If you have multiple Pokémon with Ominous Posture in play, it is the kind of Ability that each may use once, during your turn.
Combine with with multiple Spiritomb, and or one of the Stadium cards I mentioned, and you can quickly get a Spiritomb with four or five damage counters on itself, letting it do 130 or 160 damage for just one Energy, on a single Prize Basic. You’ll need to use Boss’s Orders to force up and OHKO a Dedenne-GX, but that’s a good deal. What about your other four Prizes? You can always trade multiple Spiritomb for multi-Prize Pokémon and try to pull ahead just at the end. Or you can do something like slap Cape of Toughness and work your above combos harder, using multiple switching effects so that your Spiritomb can have as many as 10 damage counters on it!
That means it is doing 310 damage. You don’t even need that much to favorably trade with most Basic Pokémon V. If you can reach that high, you’re OHKOing TAG TEAM Pokémon and even the smaller Pokémon VMAX. Oh, and this is just in the present. Only one deck built around it made the Top 16 for the Players Cup III Global Finals, and another for the Players Cup IV Global Finals but the more recent of those had a Spiritomb deck taking 2nd-Place! Quality over quantity, I guess. Spiritomb didn’t become competitive just recently, either. While, like most competitive decks, there were times when it wasn’t as strong, it has been a pretty consistent presence since it released.
Well, “consistent” in the sense it was being used in something. It has had a couple different dance partners over this period. With its recent, strong finish, I felt I needed to include it on my Top 15 list for cards we’re losing to rotation but only as my 13th-Place pick. Why so low? Spiritomb is another card losing its key pieces of support. It can – and in some decks, even already has – proven to still be a decent back-up attacker. You just drop it on your Bench and let it build for a few turns. If your opponent can’t nail it with bonus Bench damage or spread, they’re using an attack (and maybe other resources) to down something so… expendable. It also can be used to get around certain protective effects, namely if your main attackers are stuff like Pokémon V.
Were Spiritomb suddenly reprinted with a D or later Regulation Mark, so it could remain Standard-legal, it would be okay, but no where near what it was. As for the Expanded Format, it has access to all its past, present, and hypothetical future combo partners but it faces a lot more competition. Plus some hard but relatively common counters, like Silent Lab. Overall, though, I’m satisified with Spiritomb being a Runner-Up. If you’re wondering, this would have been our 19th-Place pick if we’d done a large enough countdown.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 3/5
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