Xurkitree GX SM68
December 1, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
If you know what the most recent promos are, it should come as no surprise that we are reviewing Xurkitree-GX (SM: Black Star Promos SM68) is our final Card of the Day this week. It is an Ultra Beast, which means it will eventually gain access to support like the recently revealed Japanese Promo Beast Ball; as of yet, no Ultra Beast-specific counters have been leaked. Being a Pokémon-GX is a surprisingly neutral trait, even with all that goes into it. Just be mindful of the drawbacks like giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, unable to take advantage of cards like Counter Energy, and dealing with counters like the “Luminous Barrier” Ability found Alolan Ninetales while enjoying access to Pokémon-GX support, better HP scores, and three effects (one being a GX-attack). This is also a Basic Pokémon, allowing you to open with it, take better advantage of certain effects, all while requiring the least amount of deck space to run and time to hit the field of all Stages of Evolution.
Being a [L] Type isn’t as impressive as it once was because we don’t have as many juicy, [L] Weak targets as we had earlier in the year; Yveltal-EX is (finally) no longer one of the dominant Standard Format decks, and Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) is now legal only in Expanded. The Type still has some good attackers and other support (especially in Expanded); while them not existing would be better for the [L] Type, anti-Type effects specific to it are obscure while [L] Resistance is only found in the Expanded end of the cardpool. 180 HP is pretty typical of a Basic Pokémon-GX, but that doesn’t keep it from being reasonably durable; OHKO’s will happen more than you like, but few decks can do so rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly. [F] Type Pokémon provide a painful exception to this, and they are no longer an uncommon sight among competitive decks. The -20 damage Metal Resistance provides doesn’t shift things dramatically, but it is appreciated nonetheless. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is typical; high enough you should avoid paying it when you can, but low enough you can often cover it when you haven’t got a choice.
Xurkitree-GX has the Ability “Flashing Head”; it protects this Pokémon from the damage done by the attacks of Pokémon with Special Energy attached. Effects of attacks still go through, Abilities are totally unaffected and there are still competitive decks that run few or even no Special Energy cards, negate Abilities, or even have some other way of bypassing Flashing Head, but this is a good defensive option overall. For [LLC], Xurkitree-GX can attack with “Rumbling Wires” to do 100 damage and discard the top card from your opponent’s deck. 100-for-three, even with a slightly clunky cost, is adequate. Though milling effects can backfire, and it is only one card, I’d say the effect pushes things into the “good” camp. If your Ability is protecting you, this could even be “very good”. We aren’t done yet, though; “Lightning-GX” costs [L] and lets you see your opponent’s hand, then select a card from there to be played facedown as a new Prize card for your opponent. With skill and or luck, this can be devastating for your opponent, and should always be at least a little annoying.
At the very least, I expect Xurkitree-GX to be a decent stall card. Aegislash-EX has a similar effect, and while things change, I don’t think they’ve changed that much since its heyday. Some decks will use Xurkitree-GX without the appropriate Energy for it to attack; due to its low cost, your opponent can’t be sure that Lightning-GX isn’t an option until they learn your decklist or you’ve already used a GX-attack for the game. Guessing wrong can be very, very dangerous if your hand has too many or too few important targets in it… but playing with no hand is rarely a better decision. I’m thinking Xurkitree-GX is a staple for the various [L] Energy using decks that already exist; the main concern here is that most of them don’t have a lot of recent, competitive success. They aren’t completely foreign to the top cut, however; we just haven’t seen a lot of major victories for things like Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX.
I’m curious if we might get a new “walls” deck, featuring the different Pokémon with protective effects. It is just a germ of an idea right now, but especially with Ninja Boy, and maybe with Electrode (XY: Evolutions 40/108), you can quickly fuel attacks while swapping between what is needed: Glaceon-EX, Hoopa (Shining Legends 55/73), Jolteon-EX, maybe another one or two. Some decks can shift attackers quickly enough to still get around this approach, however, or the counters to punch through it. Xurkitree-GX still has universal applicability as a generic wall, though that will often not be the optimal play for a deck. Fortunately, it also has more deck-specific roles to fill, and the two together earn it favorable scores. It isn’t legal for the Limited Format since it is a promo, but if Xurkitree-GX is re-released in a future expansion, it’d be a really good pull, just capable of pulling off a +39 deck, but also a good inclusion for most other decks as well.
Xurkitree-GX has only one thing really going against it; Fighting Weakness. For an otherwise fine wall that even has two fairly good attacks, being Fighting Weak is a serious issue. At least, since Buzzwole-GX can do so much to it fueled only by a basic Fighting Energy card. With so many other decks using Special Energy, though, I think Xurkitree-GX is at least approaching staple status for decks that can meet its Energy costs and might be an option for many decks as an opening staller, never intended to actually attack. Lightning-GX needing [L] doesn’t make it easy for just any deck to use, but it is low enough your opponent cannot be certain it isn’t an option.
Xurkitree GX is going to be more playable than the other promo Ultra Beast GXs. That’s because there are features that are familiar and I’m excited about it.
Flashing Head functions the same as Aegislash’s Mighty Shield ability, which prevents all damage done to this Pokémon by your opponent’s Pokémon with Special Energies attached to it. This could be annoying to some decks that rely on Special Energy, but other decks that don’t run Special Energies laugh at this ability. Rumbling Wires costs LLC and does 100 damage and discards the top card of your opponent’s deck. That effect can hinder or help your opponent; it could get rid of key cards or it could throw away a card that actually needs to be in the discard pile.
Lighting GX is probably the most disruptive attack that I’ve seen. You get to look at your opponent’s hand; you pick one card that you see, and put that card in your opponent’s prize pile, making a seven prize game instead of six! Until your opponent eventually knocks out your Pokémon, your opponent has to deal with losing a card from their hand.
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