Welder – Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed: August 18, 2021

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 4.00
Expanded: 3.00

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

Reviews Below:

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I was floored when I looked up our original review of Welder (SM – Unbroken Bonds 189/214, 189a/214, 214/214).  We had it as the 6th-best card of SM – Unbroken Bonds.  Sixth-Place!  Not only that, but on the Top 20 list that I submitted, I had it as my 10th-Place Pick!  Thankfully, we didn’t agree on several cards we ranked above it, so it rose to 6th-Place, even though it didn’t place much higher on the other reviewer’s lists.  However, our re-review had Welder as the 3rd-Best card of 2019!  I actually had it as my number one pick for the year… but that was silly.  Dedenne-GX, Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161) thankfully placed above it in our countdown, due to the others.  There are a few other cards that probably should have placed higher as well, but I’ve dwelt enough on mistakes of the past.

Welder is a broken Supporter.  Using her or him – Japan has another promo version where it is a guy under the suit – isn’t for every deck, but Welder-compatible decks received a huge boost for much of its Standard-legal lifespan.  Wait… I said it was broken, but I also did not say it was a must for every deck compatible with it.  Isn’t that a contradiction?  Not with how I define “broken”.  Cards that disrupt what I believe to be a healthy game balance are “broken”.  It can make the game not fun, causes game mechanics not to function as intended, etc.  However, a card doesn’t even have to be played to be broken.  How can that be?  Limited deck space, and how an overly powerful card might have an even more overly powerful rival for the same space in a deck.

Welder requires you have at least one [R] Energy in hand to attach to one of your Pokémon in order to play it.  Only basic Fire Energy cards count as [R] in hand.  You can attach – and usually prefer – to attach two with their effect… and as long as you attached one or two Energy in this manner, Welder then has you draw three cards.  Now, normally drawing three cards isn’t enough, but this is in addition to an already Supporter-worthy effect.  Welder’s predecessor, Blacksmith, did not draw cards.  He also attached two Fire Energy from your discard pile, not your hand.  I prefer attaching from the discard, as it means I can potentially recycle the same Energy cards over and over again, but Welder also draws, so it usually the superior choice.

Thanks to Welder, any attack that costs [XCC] or [XRR] can be access in a single turn!  You’ll need the fire Energy in hand before you use Welder, and the third Energy can be in hand before or after, but for as demanding as that sounds… it really hasn’t been.  If you’re wondering what Energy type X represents, in this case, it means any Energy.  While not as easy as using Welder in a purely Fire-based build, you can indeed run them alongside non-basic Fire Energy cards.  Aurora Energy can handle diverse Energy requirements, which was particularly useful for the Mewtwo & Mew-GX/Welder archetype.  As long as it isn’t for a Pokémon-GX or Pokémon V, Twin Energy lets you even cover [CCCC] or [RRCC] costs in a single turn!

Accessing more expensive attacks faster meant you were scoring KO’s, inflicting potent effects, or both on your opponent faster.  When Welder first released, there was at least some question about whether to go first or second if you were relying on it.  Player 1 could use it on their first turn, but couldn’t attack.  However, this also meant they could shoot for a second Welder on their next turn, for truly massive setups!  For instance, if Player 1 was using a Reshiram & Charizard-GX deck, going first would allow a Turn 3 (Player 1’s second turn) “Double Blaze-GX” with its bonus damage (hitting for 300 instead of 200) and ignoring all effects on your opponent’s Active… or just drop a fourth Energy, use your Supporter on Boss’s Orders, and “Flare Strike” something for 230 damage (and probably a juicy OHKO).  However, Player 2 using the same deck has the option of opening with a baseline Double Blaze-GX (200 damage for just [RRR]).  Or use a different but similarly priced attack, preferably saving your GX-attack for later.

Either way, there is big potential for an early lead.  Then, to balance this out a little, they changed the rules of the game.  No more Turn 1 Supporters.  Okay, no Turn 3 full-power Double Blaze-GX without a lot more work and luck required.  The thing is… that just meant the Turn 2 approach was better, especially with the right attacker.  You see, now your opponent who went first?  Their setup was entirely dependent on Pokémon Abilities, Items, up to one Stadium card, and up to one Special Energy card.  You know how burning your GX-attack just to do 200 damage for [RRR] seemed kind of wasteful?  Not if you’re OHKOing your opponent’s only Pokémon in play.  I believe this change also made us even more dependent on cards like Dedenne-GX and (eventually) Crobat  V.

When they could have just issued an errata for Welder, changing them to something like “If this is your first turn, draw three cards.  Otherwise, attach up to…” and had the rest of the effect.  Or even just have a clause stating you could not play Welder on your first turn.  However, I may have been wrong about all of that.  Why? Power-creep.  Yes, it is time to consider the Players Cup series of tournaments, or at least, their Global Finals.  There haven’t been a lot of major events, so perhaps it is just bad luck that Welder decks were a no-show in the Top 15 of the Players Cup IV Global Finals, the most recent event held.  Four Welder-based decks made the Top 16 of the Players Cup III Global Finals, but only one made it into the Top 16 of the Players Cup II Global Finals, and one into the Top 16 of the Players Cup Finals.  The best of these was a 3rd-PLace Finish at the Players Cup II.

Welder is still a great card.  It just went from being the insane cocktail that fueled Fire dominance to something necessary for them to be generally competitive.  Fire decks will be hurting after Welder rotates from Standard, but what if it did not rotate?  Honestly, Welder wouldn’t be as good, even if they were sticking around.  Remember how I said it wasn’t that hard to get the Energy you needed into hand for Welder?  That is because of cards like Energy Spinner, Fire Crystal, Giant Hearth, and Viridian Forest.  All of these are gone from Standard as of September 10th.  I’ve been attribute Welder’s decline to power creep, but I would be remiss if I left out how the previous rotation robbing Welder decks of Heat Factory {*} and Fiery Flint.  Power creep and losing its best, current support are why I had Welder as my 12th-Place pick.  Yeah, after going on and on how it is “broken”, I had it that low on the list.

As for the Expanded Format, I’m going to be optimistic and say that Welder should still be pretty good here.  My actual concern, as Welder regains all of its lost support is… well… back to power creep.  Blacksmith suffered the same fate; it was great in Standard, was still good in Expanded until there weren’t enough Fire Pokémon worth using it with.  Once we finally did get better Fire Pokémon, we had Kiawe and then Welder.  With Welder being the third Supporter to accelerate basic Fire Energy in as many generations, by the end of Sword & Shield or perhaps sometime during the generation after, I wouldn’t be surprised if something even better than Welder comes along.


  • Standard: 4/5
  • Expanded: 3/5

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