– Guardians Rising
July 22, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Our fifth-place finisher is Tapu Lele-GX (SM – Guardians Rising 60/145, 60a/145, 137/145, 155/145), a card we’ve reviewed twice before. First as the best card from its set, then as the best card of 2017! There were times when some of the top decks required you run four of this card, and where any competitive deck required you run at least two. Prices were insane at times, with a “cheap” Tapu Lele-GX running something like $50 USD. Which wasn’t the high; I’m just in a hurry, so I’m going with what 21times referenced in one of his reviews. So, what happened? Tapu Lele-GX’s selling point was always its Ability, “Wonder Tag”. When you Bench Tapu Lele-GX from your hand, during your turn, you have the option of searching your deck for a Supporter and then adding it to your hand. This meant any Pokémon search or recovery card that didn’t Bench Tapu Lele-GX directly from some place other than your hand became an out to getting a Supporter. Not all that useful if you used a Supporter to draw into or fetch the Tapu Lele-GX, but with anything else, it could jumpstart your deck or enable power plays.
When Tapu Lele-GX first released, the metagame still favored Basic Pokémon, and wasn’t that much heavier in favor of Pokémon-GX (if it was at all), but power creep has already made 170 easier to OHKO than it once was, while your opponent taking two Prizes is still about as big of an issue. “Energy Drive”, while still a decent attack, used to be a “good” attack. “Tapu Cure-GX” was never really that good, but the [P] Typing is probably better now, thanks to Mysterious Treasure. These are only a small part of why Tapu Lele-GX isn’t dominating this list. The meat of it, at least for me, is what Tapu Lele-GX would lose even if it were reprinted in a 2020 Standard Format-legal form immediately, and a recent rival for it. We’re losing several of the “Ball” search cards, including Ultra Ball. We’re losing Double Colorless Energy. We’re losing Acerola. It just won’t be as easy for decks in general to go [Item-based search] => Tapu Lele-GX => Wonder Tag = Supporter. Or using it to finish off a damaged Energy-hog. Or bouncing it to avoid giving up a relatively easy two-Prizes.
Plus, now we have Pokégear 3.0. While not as reliable, as long as anti-Item effects aren’t particularly strong in Standard, for many decks it is worth the savings in Bench space and/or avoiding running a two-Prize Pokémon. We’ll miss Tapu Lele-GX, but not as much as we would have even three months ago, let alone back in 2017. Tapu Lele-GX is still a great card in the Standard Format until the rotation, and should remain more or less a staple (as a single) in Expanded, because in Expanded Tapu Lele-GX was already having to cope with the above issues. Not that you’re likely to get the chance, but Tapu Lele-GX should be a great pull for the Limited Format. Just don’t bother running her in a Mulligan (a.k.a. +39) build; yes, the rest of the card is strong here, but she’s still most valuable for her Ability.
Yes, a card that scored four-out-of-five across the board is fifth-place. Let that sink in: this is a great card, but even before the rotation, Tapu Lele-GX was losing steam. Out of the top five, only one other has a clear replacement of comparable quality. Speaking of those cards, Tapu Lele-GX was my personal fifth-place pick as well, with the remaining four cards all edging it out… though the order I had them in differs from the site’s. In the end, you could probably make a compelling case for why any of these five could have taken first-place, though some would be a little more compelling.
Tapu Lele-GX from Guardians Rising also had a significant impact when it came out. It provided reliable consistency boost to decks that need a Supporter to be used on the turn that Pokémon is played by fetching one of your choice. This could range from draw power, disruption, search, summoning, or extremely specific effects for your needs. It also has an attack that may come in clutch if there are no other attackers. Energy Drive is like X Ball from Mewtwo-EX, but without applying Weakness. And Tapu Cure-GX is niche at best, restoring all HP from 2 of your Benched Pokemon.
Tapu Lele-GX is another example of being universally played due to its Wonder Tag ability and it’s Energy Drive attack. After reviewing it twice in this site, I’m about to run out of things to say about it. Both reviews were at the number one spot: The best card of Guardians Rising and the best card of 2017. Most of what they say were pretty spot on, and most of it can still apply in the present time. Of course, there are other forms of denial that can keep you from using this ability, but if you’ve already used it before they lock you, then all the card denial in the world is inconsequential.
Tapu Lele-GX will be missed, but had it remained in Standard, it would’ve benefit from Mysterious Treasure even if Ultra Ball leaves. Which means it can still maintain a 82% chance to start the game with a Lele (as long as it is in your hand) due to having 4 Mysterious Treasure, 4 Lele, and 4 of a particular supporter (this probability was tested by Harvey aka 21times).
Tapu Lele-GX – You guys do bring up a good point on Tapu Lele-GX. Jirachi-EX saw a ton of play for its “grab a Supporter” Ability, and Tapu Lele-GX filled the same role in Standard after Jirachi-EX rotated out. Heck, it’s technically better, with higher HP, a stronger attack, and even a GX move if you were so inclined to use it for that. Most of the time it was probably just “Jirachi-EX but better” in a lot of decks, but outside of that, yeah I’d be hard-pressed to say Tapu Lele-GX doesn’t deserve a spot on this list. I don’t know if I would have put it above Zoroark-GX, maybe above Choice Band, but Top 6 material for sure.
Note: The above is an excerpt taken from an email discussion about this Top 11 list. Aroramage was unable to submit a full review in time, but agreed this would let him still share his thoughts on these cards. Minor edits have been made to accommodate the change from being part of a larger conversation and reduced to a single paragraph. There are no Ratings.
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