– Unbroken Bonds
May 28, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Stealthy Hood (UNB 186) is a Pokémon Tool card that prevents all effects of your opponent’s Abilities done to the Pokémon this card is attached to as well as removing any existing effects. In isolation, this seems overspecialized, but there are some scenarios which Stealthy Hood can be useful, but not enough to warrant the need to use this card. I suppose the Pokémon with this tool are protected from ability denial (Glaceon-GX’s Freezing Gaze won’t shut down abilities on Pokémon with this tool), being able to bypass certain abilities (can’t think of one Pokémon at the moment, such as “if the pokemon is a basic pokemon, it can’t attack”), or damage counter placement (like Feather Arrow from Decidueye).
Standard: 2/5 (when Field Blower leaves the format, then it be a potential 3/5.)
Expanded: 2/5 (With tool removing cards, I doubt about its staying power there.)
Stealthy Hood (SM – Unbroken Bonds 186/214) is a Pokémon Tool that can be attached to any Pokémon, with an effect that can work for any Pokémon. That effect keeps your opponent’s Abilities from affecting the equipped Pokémon and removes any such effects already present. This would be clear and concise except, in my experience, it can be confusing as to what counts as affecting a particular Pokémon. How so? I’ll explain, but let’s back up a bit and cover what is nice and easy to understand, starting with the card’s taxonomy. I’ll resist going into extreme detail, however, as most of you are already familiar with these sorts of things and I don’t wish to detract from our discussion of Stealthy Hood’s actual effect.
Stealthy Hood’s card type is “Trainer”, with the subclass of Item and the sub-subclass of “Pokémon Tool”. Technically, you can run a deck without Trainers, but recent competitive decks are usually 50% to 75% Trainers. That isn’t a recent development, either. Anti-Trainer effects tend to be deck-specific, underpowered, or both, while we’ve seen an influx of recent Trainer-support. In other words, it is great to be a Trainer. Items have fewer examples of recent support and more examples of competitive counters, with more of each in Expanded. It is still good to be an Item, though, because unlike Stadium and Supporter cards (the other major divisions within Trainers), Item cards have no universal restrictions or requirements about using them. Being a Tool adds some more support and counters, weighted in favor of the counters. Tools only do something while attached to a Pokémon, and almost all Pokémon can only have one Tool attached at a time. This does come with a powerful upside; Tools usually stick around so it is possible (but not guaranteed) that you can benefit from their effects more than once.
With that refresher course on what it means to be a Trainer-Item and Pokémon Tool out of the way, how about that effect I mentioned in the opening paragraph? Stealthy Hood offers protection against your opponent’s Abilities, but only for the Pokémon with Stealthy Hood equipped. Let that sink in so I don’t have to take a paragraph to list all the things it does not protect against; if it isn’t
…then Stealthy Hood cannot prevent or remove it. Yes it can both prevent and remove, so if something was already being affected before Stealthy Hood was attached or while Stealthy Hood was attached but negated (such as by Lysandre Labs), Stealthy Hood will get rid of it then go on to protect against other stuff in the future.
So what is Stealthy Hood actually good at protecting against? Alolan Muk (Sun & Moon 58/149) and its “Power of Alchemy” Ability is a great example; a Basic Pokémon with a copy of Stealthy Hood attached will retain access to its OWN Ability. It won’t help something like Tapu Lele-GX because it has a coming-into-play Ability, but something like Oranguru (Sun & Moon 113/149; SM – Black Star Promos SM113) is still in business. “Always On” Abilities are also protected, so a Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds 76/214) can still protect your Bench with its “Bench Barrier”. Stealthy Hood can offer more literal protection in the case of blocking the damage counter placement of effects like the “Bloodthirsty Eyes” of Lycanroc (SM – Guardians Rising 74/145, 138/145, 156/145), “Twilight Eyes” of Lycanroc-GX (SM – Team Up 82/181), or “Feather Arrow” of Decidueye-GX. No, I am NOT certain about Twilight Eyes; in the past, such protection on a Pokémon extends to the Trainer and/or Energy cards attached to that Pokémon. I am not sure how something like Stealthy Hood would interact with the “Scoop-Up Block” Ability of Mr. Mime (SM – Team Up 66/181), but the English wording makes it sound like it is indeed targeting the Pokémon that would be bounced, as opposed to your opponent or your opponent’s hand.
Which brings us to where things get really confusing. There are effects that seem to apply to your Pokémon but are actually affecting a different Pokémon or a player. For example, if your Pokémon-GX has Stealthy Hood attached and swings at Hoopa (Shining Legends 55/73), Hoopa’s “Scoundrel Guard” Ability still protects it because Scoundrel Guard does nothing to your Pokémon-GX. Scoundrel Guard prevents stuff from applying to Hoopa. This is most obvious with an example like Buzzwole-GX using “Jet Punch” against two Pokémon, only one of which is Hoopa. Barring any other interference, Jet Punch still damages the other Pokémon just fine; Scoundrel Guard just allows Hoopa to ignore the damage that would have been done to Hoopa itself. Stealthy Hood will not let you play Special Energy, Stadium, or Tool cards from your hand while your opponent’s Honchkrow-GX is Active and thus its “Ruler of the Night” Ability is in effect. Oh, and remember Bloodthirsty Eyes? If your Active has Stealthy Hood attached, it can still hit an unprotected Benched Pokémon, which will force the Active with Stealthy Hood to your Bench as the targeted Pokémon is forced up front.
For the Standard Format, Stealthy Hood offers protections from a variety of Abilities, though none are current, blatant, powerhouses. Collectively, however, there are plenty to make Stealthy Hood a good, maybe even a great card. How about the Expanded Format? Increased competition from other Tools, as well as more counters to Items (in general) and Tools (specifically). However, once against Ability-denial is quite relevant; Garbodor (SM – BREAKpoint 57/122) is pretty relevant. Of course, Garbodor can be countered by just discarding its own Tool (deactivating “Garbotoxin”), but that isn’t always a good option, either. As for the Limited Format, it becomes one of those cards you run because you probably don’t have anything really important to run instead of it, and if you do encounter some of the Abilities in this set which affect your Pokémon, and Stealthy Hood shows up at the right time, it can be a lifesaver.
Part of me wonders if I am just not doing Stealthy Hood justice, while the other part of me wonders if Stealthy Hood just isn’t as good as I thought it was when I added it to the review schedule. I think the truth lies in between. Sometimes, this card is a counter, but its best use is more of a counter to a counter, combating thins like Alolan Muk. That is very niche, but Stealthy Hood is brilliant in this narrow usage. In the end, it seems like a very good card, and one I probably should have had somewhere in my list… though we have so many other, better cards it still wouldn’t have been too high.
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