Unidentified Fossil
Unidentified Fossil

Unidentified Fossil
– SM Ultra Prison

Date Reviewed:
October 14, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.33
Expanded: 2.17
Limited: 2.50

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

This week seems to be a theme week as we’re looking at fossils! And what ingredient is used to resurrect certain Pokémon? An Unidentified Fossil! It makes sense in the TCG as an Unidentified Fossil can actually evolve into any kind of Pokémon and for simplicity purposes. Previous fossil related mechanics in the Pokémon TCG requires the specified fossil in order to evolve or to put them into play. Heck, Unidentified Fossil is extremely similar to old school Mysterious Fossil as that item card can also evolve into any Pokémon that evolves from Mysterious Fossil.

Anyhow, Unidentified Fossil is pretty straightforward. You can play this card as a Basic, 60 HP, Colorless Pokemon; you can discard it at any time, and that card can’t retreat (but it can switch). Unless the text states otherwise, your opponent can take a prize card if it is knocked out, and you can use Rare Candy to evolve into certain stage 2 Pokémon such as Omastar, Kabutops, Armaldo, Cradily, Rampardos, Bastiodon, Archeops, Carracosta, Aurorus, and Tyrantrum. Some of those aforementioned Pokémon had it printed as a Stage 1 on older sets, so I’m uncertain if you can use certain Pokémon even though it is printed as a Stage 1. Seriously, this is pretty confusing if you’re using BW or XY cards due to the Restored mechanic. If I use rare candy, can I jump from being a Unidentified fossil into a “Stage 1” Omastar, Kabutops, or even Archeops from BW/XY sets? Not that it matters because those cards didn’t see much play except for Archeops, but still, there would be complications rulings as to which cards can be referred to.*

The fact remains that it is still an item card. You cannot consider Unidentified Fossil as a Basic Pokémon to be put into play during setup of the game. Item lock can prevent you from playing fossils, and it also fuels up damage for Trashalanche. Despite that, Unidentified Fossil is an integral part to getting your fossil Pokémon in play. Without that, you can only hope for a Ditto Prism Star or Maxie/Archie (most fossil Pokémon are coincidentally Fighting and Water Types) to get you to play at least one fossil Pokémon. I won’t say too much here, but there are fossil based support which we’ll get to reviewing very soon.


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

Average scores across the board, Unidentified Fossil is designed to summon certain Pokémon, and it does a good job at it. Unidentified Fossil appears in multiple expansions, so you should have no problems getting multiple copies of those.

*Question answered: Unfortunately you cannot use Rare Candy to a Pokémon that’s printed as a Stage 1 even if the Pokémon in question is the same name (i.e cannot put Stage 1 Rampardos but can put Stage 2 Rampardos). This slightly hurts Expanded a bit, but I doubt any of the “Stage 1” fossil Pokémon from the BW/XY series had some sort of playability (save for Archeops from BW Noble Victories, but that’s banned in Expanded). You can, however, manually evolve from a Stage 1 Omanyte into Stage 1 Omastar. Thank you, Otaku, for the clarification.

aroramage avatar

You’d think that Fossil Pokemon, for all their good points and intrigue into the history of the Pokemon World, would actually be either more powerful than they are currently, considering their primal status, or they’d be much weaker than they are, given that they clearly went extinct for some reason or other. Is there a case to be made for Fossils getting better or worse? I think that’s probably as relevant as today’s card in the TCG – OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SNAP!!

Unidentified Fossil is the latest entry into introducing the Fossil mechanic to the TCG. It actually bears resemblance to the old Mysterious Fossil, and chances are if you’ve been collecting from the recent sets in the Sun/Moon era, you’ve probably run into this card, since it’s appeared in Ultra Prism, Forbidden Light, Team Up, and just recently in Unified Minds. It’s an Item card gets to be played like a Pokemon with 60 HP, but it can’t attack or retreat and you can discard it at any time during your turn.

If you’re new to Fossil Pokemon, your first thought might be, “What is this card? What’s the point of it? Why is this here? And how come it says it’s an unidentified fossil when I can clearly see the different fossils embedded in the rock?” That last question’s not really relevant to the mechanics, it’s just nice to acknowledge that there are a lot of fossils, thus it’s hard to tell which one sprouts the Pokemon which you choose to evolve into. That’s right, there are Pokemon that evolve from this card, and some of those even have Evolutions of their own – including last week’s Aerodactyl-GX.

For the most part, the Fossil strategy has fallen short in a number of regards, the least of which is the reliance on an Item such as Unidentified Fossil to put their Pokemon into play. That’s not to say these Pokemon haven’t been competitive – or even outright broken in some cases – but cards like Unidentified Fossil aren’t the problem. You’ll only ever run this in dedicated Fossil decks with Fossil Pokemon, otherwise just sit back and admire that they fit so many fossils into one unidentified fossil.


Standard: 2/5 (as overall utility is low, I’m giving the fossil a low score – really, it’s more of a composite score between the 1/5 for most decks and the 4/5 to 5/5 in Fossil decks)

Expanded: 2/5 (about the same here, the Fossil card itself isn’t great)

Limited: 1.5/5 (especially in this environment, it’s hard to recommend, since you have to have it AND the Pokemon you want to evolve)

Arora Notealus: Unidentified Fossil isn’t a great card by itself. That’s because it’s meant to evolve into a Pokemon that can evolve from it, so while this review might be deceptive in its low scores, this card is an essential for a lot of Fossil decks. Of course, if you’re able to cheat these Fossil Pokemon out by other means, then Unidentified Fossil becomes a bit unnecessary. But you should probably be thankful there aren’t many ways to cheat out Fossil Pokemon.

Next Time: And now to start off by telling you one of the ways to cheat out Fossil Pokemon!

Otaku Avatar

Welcome to a Fossil-themed week of reviews!  If you’re reading this, then I was unable to post my full review in time.  This is just going to address the bare essentials, which is still quite a bit:

  • Unidentified Fossil is a Trainer-Item except for when you’ve already put it into play via its own effect.
  • When in play from its own effect, Unidentified Fossil is a Basic [C] Type Pokémon with 60 HP.
  • It has no Weakness, Resistance, or Retreat Cost; ignore any effects or mechanics pertaining to these.
  • It cannot retreat at all, but you may discard it from the field at any time during your turn (before attacking).
  • Discarding Unidentified Fossil via its own effect does not give up a Prize; being KO’d in any manner does.
  • All SM-era “Fossil” Pokémon either Evolve from Unidentified Fossil or from something that Evolves from Unidentified Fossil.
  • You can use Rare Candy to Evolve Unidentified Fossil into a Stage 2 Pokémon that Evolves from a Stage 1 that Evolves from Unidentified Fossil.
  • You can substitute something like Ditto {*} for Unidentified Fossil if you’re Evolving into a Stage 1, via Ditto {*}’s Ability.
  • “Fossil Pokémon” from prior eras use the mechanics appropriate for them to hit the field i.e. Restored Pokémon must use Trainer or Pokémon effects that work on Restored Pokémon.
  • The rule of thumb is Stage-based effects and mechanics must still use the correct Stage, but name-based effects and mechanics can mix the different approaches to Fossil Pokémon.
  • In the past, the Pokémon-from-Trainer mechanic has sometimes opened up potent combos.
  • Expanded has a lot of potent anti-Item effects.
  • Limited has a lot more room in decks for simple tricks, like using Unidentified Fossil just to promote it after your Active is KO’d, then discarding it as soon as you know what you really need as your Active.


Standard: 2/5

Expanded: 1.5/5

Limited: 3/5

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