Umbreon & Darkrai-GX
– Hidden Fates
September 6, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Umbreon & Darkrai-GX is another one of those cards where it gets more support even if they aren’t doing well on their own. For the most part, their attacks leave something to be desired. Black Lance does 150 damage for DDC and also does 60 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon-GX or Pokémon-EX. The damage is barely enough to 2HKO anything, and that snipe can help set up further KOs unless there’s no Pokémon-GX or Pokémon-EX to begin with. Dark Moon cost C and locks your opponent from playing any Trainer cards for one turn. And if you have five extra Darkness energies attached to it, then additionally that GX attack instantly knocks out your opponent’s Active Pokémon.
The support for this Tag Team comes in various forms. Weavile-GX’s ability can move basic Darkness energies around. Dark City allows free retreat for Basic Dark Pokémon, which is what those Tag Team Pokémon are. As for Expanded, Darkrai-EX’s Dark Cloak enable free retreat for any Pokémon with Dark energies attached. With Weavile-GX, you can employ Max Potion to heal all damage. Move the energies away from the damaged Pokémon, heal all of them for no penalty, and then put those energies back on said Pokémon. Dark Patch and Naganadel’s Charging Up can facilitate energy acceleration. Overall, there’s a lot to work with, but said moving pieces can be disrupted.
We close the week with Umbreon & Darkrai-GX (SM – Unified Minds 125/236), one of the TAG TEAM Pokémon from the next-most-recent expansion. TAG TEAM Pokémon come with all the drawbacks and benefits of a Pokémon-GX, save they give up three Prizes when KO’d instead of two and there are a few TAG TEAM specific effects. [D] Typing isn’t much good for exploiting Weakness/avoiding Resistance at the moment, but it still has a few good tricks (with more in Expanded). Being a Basic is still the best and 270 HP is only 30 shy of the printed max (it’ll often survive a hit, sometimes two). [F] Weakness is dangerous, but currently not as bad as it was in the previous Standard Format. [P] Resistance is a nice little bonus, for the matchups where it will matter. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is typical; not too hard to pay up front, but you’ll probably feel it sooner or later.
Umbreon & Darkrai-GX has one regular and one GX-attack. The former is “Black Lance” and the latter is “Dark Moon-GX”. Black Lance requires [DDC] to use, and swings for 150 damage to your opponent’s Active plus another 60 to one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon-EX/GX. You choose which Benched Pokémon takes the hit, but if there are no Pokémon-EX/GX, there is nothing to choose. 150 is enough to 2HKO anything in the game but with no margin for defensive combos. It’ll take three or turns for the bonus Bench-hits to add up in Standard… at least if you’re trying to KO something with just those hits. You’re probably better off using the 60 to soften up or finish off one of your opponent’s other attackers, going for the pseudo-OHKO. It isn’t a raw power attack, but for three Energy the damage seems fairly good.
Dark Moon-GX only requires [C] for the base effect, which prevents your opponent from using any Trainer cards during their next turn. If timed well, this can really hurt an opponent’s momentum; unless timed supremely poorly, it should at least be an annoyance. If Umbreon & Darkrai-GX (or something copying this attack) has at least five extra [D] Energy attached (so six Energy total barring other combos), Dark Moon-GX KO’s your opponent’s Active… which makes it much more likely your opponent will wish they had their Trainers to prep another attacker! KOing via effect instead of damage has its own pros and cons; no worrying about HP scores or damage modifiers but there are cards that block attack effects. In fact, Expanded has a Tool – Bent Spoon – that just for that. Though both effects are great, as a GX-attack this is a one-time deal and six Energy – five of which must be [D] – takes some doing.
Black Lance and Dark Moon-GX are good, separately or together, but I’m not sure if they are great. Prior to SM – Unified Minds release, I was one of the folks expecting Weavile-GX-backed [D]-focused decks to be a big thing. Guess who was wrong? We saw one manage a Top 16 finish at Worlds, but it might be the exception and not the rule. The recent Pokémon Special Event tournament held in Melbourne, Australia saw no decks of this variety in the Top 32. Naturally, I’m hopeful this is just a matter of the local metagame, but as Black Box decks are the only real use for Umbreon & Darkrai-GX in Standard, this is a big concern for the card. Even in this deck, Umbreon & Darkrai-GX aren’t the “main” attacker; the deck doesn’t really seem to have one: Greninja & Zoroark-GX, Hoopa-GX, plus MegaSableye & Tyranitar-GX all share the limelight. Umbreon & Darkrai-GX are for when the bonus effects of its attacks really matter, and/or when you’d rather have more HP than the 10 more damage Hoopa-GX does for the same investment.
In Expanded, technically Black Box is still the only real use… but there’s more [D] support, enough to potentially run the deck in an entirely different manner. That comes at the cost of everything having access to better support, so I doubt the Expanded Format will be this card’s salvation. As for the Limited Format, this is definitely a candidate for a mulligan build. You can’t attack for damage until your third turn, but after that you should be scoring OHKO’s (barring Paralysis or other interference). If your opponent doesn’t bust out a strong attack (which includes even a half-decent [F] Type) 270 HP ought to last that long… and this set does contain walls like Keldeo-GX in addition to a solid [F] presence.
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