– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
June 11, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.10
Expanded: 3.15
Limited: 4.00

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Like Energy Spinner yesterday, Volcanion has an attack that also benefits from going second. Flare Starter costs R and lets you attach a Fire energy from your deck to one of your Pokemon. But if you go second, and it’s your first turn, then you get to attach three Fire energies from your deck to your Pokémon in any way you like. In isolation, this is a good starting attack, and it helps your other Pokémon get ready to attack as well. And we haven’t even factored in all the other Fire based support like Fire Crystal to recover Fire energies, Welder to accelerate energy and draw cards, and Heat Factory to draw more cards. However, if your opponent make you go first, then you’re out of luck regarding bonuses in specific turns.

High-Heat Blast is Volcanion’s next attack, as it does 50 damage for RR plus 60 more damage if there’s at least 4 Fire energies in play. Second turn Flare Starter does help lead to this attack to do the most damage possible. 110 damage for 2 energy is good, but underwhelming because that’s the most damage this particular Volcanion card can deal. With Choice Band, it can help barely 2HKO any Pokemon in the game. However, I feel like Blacephalon from that same set would be a better attacker than Volcanion. Not to say High-Heat Blast is useless; if you can’t get Fireball Circus to deal extraordinary damage, then perhaps High-Heat Blast is a nice alternative for the time being until you finally got the cards to recycle stuff and reuse.

So Volcanion has a place in standard for sometimes being guest appearances to Blacephalon decks. In Expanded, however, being a Basic Fire Type means that it can benefit greatly from Volcanion-EX, whose Steam Up ability can ramp up the damage depending on how many Volcanion-EX you have in play AND if you had sufficient energies to boost damage. While it does benefit from that particular Pokémon-EX, ultimately it would then have to compete with other Basic Fire types in the enormous card pool. Some Basic Fire types can hit harder and not rely on energies on the field; Reshiram from Shining Legends provide the biggest damage output as a Basic Fire Type via Scorching Breath for 130 damage (unless I missed something). The discard can be hefty, but again, there’s Fire Crystal and Energy Retrieval to bring back energies. Volcanion appears as one of the four Pre-release promos that you can possibly pull, so you can already start to make use there.


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 3.3/5
  • Limited: 4/5
Otaku Avatar

Today’s going to have to be an abridged review, though I’ll still be citing card set/number when absolutely necessary… like pointing out how today’s Volcanion (SM – Unbroken Bonds 25/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM179) is so similar to Volcanion (XY – Steam Siege 25/114; XY – Black Star Promos XY145). The differences are 10 less HP and exactly how its two attacks work. Both their first attacks cost [R] to use, with the older version doing 20 damage while attaching one [R] Energy to two of your Benched Pokémon. Today’s Volcanion does no damage and attaches just one [R] Energy from your deck to one of your Pokémon in play (so it can accelerate Energy to itself). If this is your first turn and you’re going second, (so the overall second turn of the game), you may instead search your deck for up to three [R] Energy cards, then attach them to your Pokémon as you like. The older Volcanion could also attack for 100 damage at a cost of [RRR], while [RR] allows today’s Volcanion to do 50 damage, plus another 60 (so 110, total) if you have at least four [R] Energy in play.

Head-to-head, I’m a bit torn; odds are good you’re just using Volcanion to attack early game, and it isn’t like either of them can attack on T1 (the overall first turn of the game). Unless Volcanion shows up “late” to do its job, you should be enjoying three basic Fire Energy cards attached from your deck, instead of just one. Oh, yeah; while the cards say [R] Energy, only basic Fire Energy cards count as such when not attached to a Pokémon in play. On the other hand, the new Volcanion does no damage with its first attack. In Standard, you can’t use the older Volcanion anyway, and while there are some other Pokémon you might run to accelerate the Energy instead, this one has been showing up in some Reshiram & Charizard-GX lists, including those that have performed quite well, such as second place at the Madison, WI Regional Championship. It should be noted the deck ran just one copy of it; with four Welder and two Kiawe, I’m thinking it isn’t “bad” for the deck to go first and just enjoy the extra lead-in time.

In Expanded, I don’t have personal or published results, but I think many (most) [R] decks will be adding Blacksmith to Kiawe and Welder. Probably with Battle Compressor and VS Seeker to make all three Supporters easier to pull off on your first turn (but especially Blacksmith). You’ll have the option of Volcanion-EX and its Ability to buff your damage, at least when attacking with a [R] Type Basic Pokémon whose attacks already do at least 10 damage… which really makes me favor the older Volcanion. However, as long as you’re running at least two copies of Volcanion, one should probably be today’s version as well; if you do go second and scoring a quick KO isn’t necessary (or your deck doesn’t need Volcanion-EX), it should be an easy power play. You should definitely enjoy this new Volcanion in the Limited Format unless you pull something better that is totally incompatible… which probably means a big, Basic Pokémon-GX you’d rather run solo, to ensure you open with it.


Standard: 3.2/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 4/5

We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews.  If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email.  We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc.   😉

Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive.  We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!