– Unbroken Bonds
December 27, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Welder (SM – Unbroken Bonds 198/214, 198a/214, 214/214) takes third-place in our countdown of the Top 12 Cards of 2019, a step up from her already impressive finish as the sixth-best card of SM – Unbroken Bonds… at least according to our original review for her. This Trainer-Supporter requires you have at least one basic Fire Energy in your hand to use her, because her effect states you attach up to two [R] Energy from your hand, and if you did, you then draw three cards. Even though it doesn’t specify “basic” Fire Energy, nothing else counts as [R] while in your hand. The wording also means you must be able and willing to attach at least one Fire Energy from hand; the draw is dependent on fulfilling that condition.
Welder became tournament legal a few months before this year’s rotation of older sets from the Standard Format. When that rotation happened, Double Colorless Energy finally stopped being Standard-legal, and a lot of decks needed a substitute. Welder had been doing a great job in Fire Decks and… well… honestly, a great job supplementing Double Colorless Energy in some others. Yes, we also had (and still have) Triple Acceleration Energy to pick up where Double Colorless Energy left off, but it only works for Evolutions and discards itself at the end of your turn.
This is on top of being a must-run for any conventional Fire Deck in Standard or Expanded. Well, I must confess I’m guessing about Expanded; the few Expanded Format tournament results I have are missing her, and I’m still behind on playing the PTCGO. Welder is nearly a must-run for the Limited Format. If most of your attackers have few or no [R] requirements and/or [C] requirements, or otherwise have Energy demands that mean you can’t afford run at least seven Fire Energy (a little more than I said in last review), go ahead and skip her.
Some folks say Welder is broken and I agree… but remember, my definition of broken is much broader than a lot of players. I don’t look at just what a card is doing, but what it could do in the future. Energy acceleration that is available to either player on their first turn causes pacing issues, which is why we can’t have nice things like T1 attacks (and soon, T1 Supporters). Coupled with her actual performance in multiple top decks, this sealed Welder as my number one pick.
What would be Otaku’s personal best card for the year of 2019 due to an e-mail discussion, Welder from SM Unbroken Bonds is the 3rd best card of 2019. This is a Supporter card which lets you attach two Fire energies to one of your Pokémon and draw three cards. Because it doesn’t specify which type of Pokémon it would be allowed to attach, you can pretty much attach Fire energies to anyone, but it would only be useful if your deck contains Pokémon whose attack costs require Fire or Colorless energies; it doesn’t restrict to just fire Pokémon.
That flexibility made Welder a great card to affect the year of 2019. This is one of the few moments where you have a pretty good draw engine revolving Fire energies without having to resort to “discard and draw 7” or “shuffle draw six”, though one or two copies might suffice. Fire Crystal helps you replenish Fire energies while Giant Hearth and Fiery Flint fetches you Fire energies. While Standard only has Heat Factory, Welder, and possibly Roast Reveal Ability from Salazzle to facilitate the draw engine, Expanded also has Blacksmith, Fiery Torch, and Scorched Earth to either draw more cards and/or fuel up certain attacks. With Double Colorless Energy gone, Welder fakes being one by effectively becoming RR for any Pokémon. And that greatly helps several Pokémon that I can think of: ReshiZard, Braixen/Charizard, both GX and non-GX Blacephalon, Recall Empoleon, Tracking Shot Decidueye, and much more.
The turn one rules might hurt Welder a bit as players cannot use a Supporter card on the first turn of the game, but it’s hard to argue that players can still get fully charged up by using Welders, Max Elixir, and their manual atttachment, and still go from zero to attacking. For Limited, it’s a very good pull as it draws cards as long as you got Fire energies to spare, and Fire Crystal helps you recover some.
…well, metal to weld really.
Welder is without a doubt the single most important Fire-support card in recent years. Sure, we’ve had cards like Blacksmith around, and even Lysandre <Prism> works alongside Fire cards, but Welder promotes two things that ultimately make for competitive decks: Energy acceleration, and draw power.
Energy acceleration charges up your attacks much faster than the usual “1 Energy per turn” attachment clause in play. And draw power just gets you all the cards you need in your hand so you can actually use them. This is the strength of a card like Welder. You get to have all the Energy put out while also completely replacing the 3 cards – those 2 Energy and the Welder itself – with a fresh new set.
Frankly it would be surprising to not see Welder on this list. I mean look at her! Who’s gonna say no to that face?…the one behind the mask?
Standard: 5/5 (defined a consistent part of many big decks)
Expanded: 5/5 (will undoubtedly remain a staple of Fire decks for years to come)
Limited: 5/5 (always strong here)
Arora Notealus: It’s getting harder and harder for some Pokemon to come back. Even in the games, they trimmed out a lot of Pokemon to make room for all those variants and animations in the camp! It’s a hard thing to come to terms with, but it’s something that’s pretty necessary in the long run when you consider the time crunch GameFreak can be under at times. So my tenth wish is just to let them have a breather for a bit – let GameFreak make a really good set of games for the 9th generation, because this generation was pretty good, but oh it could have been so much more than this. And hey, maybe we can bring back a few Pokemon that didn’t make it to the Galar region in the games for the TCG! We can even call them “traveling Pokemon” or something like that. Get on that theme train!
Weekend Thought: Still finding the list to your liking? Think there were better cards this year? It’s gonna get pretty tough near the top. What do you wish for the game in the upcoming year? Agree with any ideas of mine, or do you’ve got some of your own ideas for what the game should include?
Next Time: Down to the last two, and I can only wish for so much more…
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