Zygarde-GX & Bonnie
– Forbidden Light
May 16, 2018
See Ratings for both cards below 😉
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
What an unexpected twist! Sure it’s the…fourth GX Pokemon in a row? For the Top 10 list? And yet here, it’s also including a Supporter card too! What madness would inspire these to be reviewed together?
Zygarde-GX is a Basic Fighting Pokemon-GX, 200 HP, with a Grass Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. His first attack in Cell Connector is a 2-for-50 move that lets him attach 2 Fighting Energy to himself, immediately fueling Land’s Wrath at 4-for-130 vanilla. Simultaneously, it powers up Verdict GX, a 4-for-150 move that prevents all damage done to Zygarde-GX by the opponent’s EX/GX during the next turn.
As a lot of major attackers currently are EX/GX, with few exceptions otherwise, Zygarde-GX’s Verdict GX can be devastating with the right timing. If you can’t take it out, the follow-up Land’s Wrath will surely knock them out. But on his own, Zygarde-GX is just a very good GX with a quick boost and follow-up. Land’s Wrath can 2HKO anything unboosted, and Cell Connector only needs DCE to get the two Fighting Energy needed to fuel Zygarde-GX’s other attacks. In short, he’s pretty self-sufficient on his own.
And then there’s Bonnie.
Bonnie is a Supporter that can only be used while a Stadium’s in play. And then she discards that Stadium. Again, on her own, not bad, but for a Supporter that alone wouldn’t be good enough – that sort of effect ends up on Items, there’s no way Bonnie would see play over those. But then we get to the rest of her effect, and this is important: after the Stadium is discarded, Bonnie lets you use Zygarde-GX’s GX Attack this turn, even if you’ve already used a GX Attack this game.
That. Is. HUGE!!
Sure, the effect only lasts the turn, but against most anything, Bonnie enables Zygarde-GX a repeat performance on being completely untouchable by the opponent! Imagine other Pokemon-GX having the ability to reuse their GX Attacks – that could have a major impact on the game! And indeed it will, but at a small cost. Bonnie can’t be played without a Stadium card, and there aren’t too many that could reasonably be run with Zygarde-GX. Brooklet Hill comes to mind, as it can search out Zygarde-GX from the deck, as does Po Town, since you’re not evolving too much. And there’s even the new Lysandre Labs, which knocks out Tool card effects, making it harder for opponent’s to hit Zygarde-GX back!
So you’ve got options, a new archetype, and a powerful set-up. The question is, will it be competitive? And the answer to that may lie in who its partner might be. Possibly a certain swole mosquito?
Standard: 4.5/5 (whatever the case, Zygarde-GX is powerful)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (and Bonnie is a great enabler)
Limited: 5/5 (it’s hard to argue against a reasonably solid Pokemon)
Arora Notealus: Zygarde-GX may start a new kind of Pokemon-GX alongside Bonnie, with whom it shares a relationship with. I know in particular this one is more fueled by the anime more than an actual in-game connection, but it would be neat to have more Pokemon-GX with similar levels of interaction. Perhaps it could become like Spirit Links with M Pokemon-EX?
Side Review: Bastiodon – very sturdy and powerful, but ultimately nothing of consequence. Fossil Pokemon have continued to get a bad wrap, and it’s just something to deal with their inherent weakness. Maybe if Fossil Pokemon were on the same level as Pokemon-GX, they could be competitive – thinking along the lines of Aerodactyl-GX, for instance, would be useful. But Bastiodon just isn’t that useful for Metal decks.
Next Time: So what outranked a powerhouse? Perhaps something that makes it stronger?
Our third best card of the set is Zygarde-GX from SM Forbidden Light! One can never get enough in regard to Zygarde cards, both GX and non-GX. In fact, just looking at Zygarde-GX gives me a sense of deja vu on XY Fates Collide. That set had three Zygarde cards, just like SM Forbidden Light, it also has a partner that boosts damage output (Regirock-EX for XY Fates Collide and Diancie Prism Star for SM Forbidden Light), and it also has another supporting card that helps Zygarde as a add-on (Power Memory in XY Fates Collide and Bonnie for SM Forbidden Light). Zygarde both made #3 of the top 10 of their respective expansions in our countdown. Similarities are nice, but I didn’t chime in on the EX version, and here I am on the GX version.
Being a Pokémon-GX means considerably more HP than their regular counterparts, while giving up two prizes and being excluded from certain cards, as well as anti-GX cards thwarting to stop them. Being a Basic is best for the usual reasons: being able to be put into play and taking less deck space as opposed to evolutions. Fighting types already has so much going for it in both Standard and Expanded as it can hit a good chunk Dark, Colorless, and Lightning Pokemon for weakness. It also gets support with Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick that puts a Fighting Pokemon regardless of Stage from the discard pile onto your Bench while drawing 5 cards (which would be pointless on this Pokémon), Strong Energy/Regirock-EX/Diancie Prism Star and the outdated Fighting Stadium for boosting damage output. There are some anti-Fighting Pokemon, but not worth countering against. It has 200 HP, which is above par of most Basic EX/GX Pokemon, which is hard to OHKO, though the Grass Weakness is still a concern; Golisopod-GX will OHKO with First Impression; even Virizion-EX, who is a support Pokemon, can 2HKO with Emerald Slash while accelerating energy! A retreat cost of three is hefty; you would not want to mindlessly retreat as it is hard to get energy back. It is searchable for Heavy Ball, however.
Zygarde-GX sports three attacks. Cell Connector does 50 for CC, and attaches two Fighting from your discard pile to this Pokémon. This will make Zygarde-GX have a total of FFCC, which happens to be the cost for its second and third attack, a good lead-in attack. Land’s Wrath does 130 damage, which is a solid 2HKO without any other effects, though the attack cost is a bit expensive. And Verdict GX does 150 damage, and it prevents all damage done to this Pokémon by attacks from Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX during your opponent’s next turn. Unfortunately, other effects done to this Pokémon will still happen. It’s an alright GX attack which does a little more than a 2HKO while buying you a turn against those targets. The story would’ve finish there, but there’s more to it: a card which gives a nod to the XYZ Series of the Pokémon Anime and let’s you break one of the fundamental rules of the game regarding the GX mechanic. And that’s Bonnie!
She is a Supporter card in which you can play her if there is a Stadium card in play. Discard that Stadium card, and during this turn, your Zygarde-GX can use its GX attack even if you already used a GX attack. If you have a method of continuously use Bonnie and have a Stadium card in play, you can keep using Verdict GX to continuously be immune from Pokemon EX and Pokemon GX, and your opponent can’t damage you at all except for one-prize attackers. Standard has Lusamine to get back two of any combination of Supporter and Stadium cards from the discard into your hand, ideally Bonnie and a Stadium card; except that you’ve just used your Supporter for your turn. Expanded has VS Seeker which puts a Supporter card from the discard pile onto your hand, ready to be used. You’ll still need a Stadium to be put into play and then discarded. Some ideal Stadium cards that you can use before it gets discarded are Scorched Earth, which you discard a fire or fighting Energy card in order to draw 2 cards, and Brooklet Hill, which puts a Basic Water or Fighting Pokemon from the deck into your Bench.
Bonnie doesn’t limit to just today’s card, since there is another Zygarde-GX (SM Promo 122) that were about to get on June 1, 2018 via Shiny Zygarde-GX box. This one is a Basic Fighting Type with 180, weak to Grass, and retreat cost of 2. Vibration does 20 for C. Cell Storm does 80 for FCC while healing 30 damage from this Pokémon. And Liberation GX costs FFCC and your opponent reveals their hand. This attack does 120 damage times the amount of energy from your hand. This GX attack can be used more than once due to Bonnie, but between Liberation and Verdict, I say Verdict is more reliable than Liberation. Liberation can whiff or OHKO depending on your opponent’s hand; 2 energy cards are needed to almost OHKO the game. Without a way to fuel up Liberatiom quickly because it lacks Cell Connector, this promo version isn’t worth using.
The methods of using Zygarde-GX are similar to Zygarde-EX two years ago. Whether it be a Fighting deck, a deck that tries to continuously use its GX attack, or a deck that goes by the nicknames of Fighting Bats, Fighting Shurikens, or Fighting Arrows, you can be sure Zygarde-GX will have a place to be used. One must watch out for Gardevoir-GX and other X-Ballers, because having too many energy on one Pokemon is risky. They will easily KO this Pokemon and puts all other cards attached to it to the discard. In Limited, Zygarde-GX is a wonderful pull to be used in a +39 deck. Not all 39 Energy though, you might need a little help to capitalize Cell Connector. Mysterious Treasure can help discard a card from your hand so you can recover them later on. After one cell Connector, just keep spamming Verdict or Land’s Wrath until the opposing Pokemon goes down. As for Bonnie in Limited, you got Ultra Space that you can discard.
Zygarde GX (FLI 73) bursts back into the meta out of the Forbidden Light expansion set. The biggest of the Big Basics out of Forbidden Light, it has 200 HP and three attacks. For two Colorless attachments, Cell Connector does fifty damage and allows you to attach two Basic Fighting energy (sorry doesn’t work for Strong energy) to the active Zygarde GX. Land’s Wrath costs four energy (two Fighting and two Colorless) and does 130 damage. Zygarde’s GX attack (Verdict GX) does 150 damage AND prevents all damage (but not effects) done to this Pokemon by EX and GX Pokemon (wait there are still EX Pokemon in the game?) during your opponent’s next turn. Plus, you can potentially use it again during the same game by playing the new Supporter Bonnie (FLI 103) which allows you to use Verdict GX again IF there’s a Stadium in play. Obviously, you can’t have already played a Supporter during that turn, and playing Bonnie also causes the Stadium to be discarded, but it is a great advantage to be able to use Verdict GX multiple times (even if not consecutively, just knowing that you’ll be able to access it again is a HUGE advantage).
I had some good games with this deck, and I had some bad ones. Being able to use Verdict GX is great against GX attackers. In one match I was actually able to get two Strong on a Zygarde and had Diancie Prism in play and was able to OHKO a Zoroark GX with Cell Connector. In another match, I was able to consecutively use Verdict GX in back to back turns, much to the chagrin of my opponent’s Ultra Necrozma GX.
However, I got wiped out by a Golisodor deck, and multiple times my opponents swooped in with Tapu Lele GX to easily KO a wounded Zygarde GX. And Verdict GX doesn’t protect you from Baby Buzzwole or Mew (FAC). Still, this deck will fare well against the best top tier GX decks in the format, but I think it’s just a slight notch below Naganadel, which is a notch below Ultra Necrozma GX.
Standard: 3 out of 5
I went 5 W 5 L with this deck. I did well against meta decks going 3 W 1 L against them (two wins against Ultra Necrozma and a win against Zoroark Lycanroc GX – my loss was to Buzzwole GX but I misplayed pretty hard and had I not put the Strong energy on the wrong Zygarde, I’m almost 100% certain I would have won that match). I did poorly against non meta decks, a couple Greninjas, Empoleon, a Tauros GX, and Golisopod GX. But I would guess that my list wasn’t the optimal list, I’ll bet that someone else will come up with a better list than I had.
Forbidden Light’s first twofer? Oh yes.
So from the start of the reveals for SM Forbidden Light – around February, I suppose – the Internet was buzzing around a potentially very potent Fighting type Pokemon-GX. It generated some hype around it, as Buzzwole-GX is still the quintessential Fighting deck, and it sees more than its share of play. So what is the combo in question?
The first combo is Zygarde-GX, a Fighting type with 200 HP as a Basic Pokemon-GX. For a Pokemon which you can just slap down into play immediately, this is a very good number, and especially as it can receive Fighting Fury Belt boosts, giving it 240 HP on an Item placement. Access to Brooklet Hill is also a huge boon, something that will be even more crucial to it as the combo goes on. Like all Zygarde 100% cards now, it has a 3 retreat cost, and the weakness to Grass is as expected of Zygarde-GX, like its older relative, Zygarde-EX.
The attacks are not really memorable, but they got the job done. Cell Connector deals 50 damage for CC (so it can be fulfilled with a Double Colorless Energy, but Strong Energy is always a MUST considered option for all Fighting decks until its departure soon) and it attaches 2 Fighting energy from the discard pile to itself. On a simpler scale, this attack can do 80 with Choice Band alone, or 100 with Diancie Prism Star, or even 140 with the DCE swapped for 2 Strong Energies. Yes, a Turn 2 attack can hit 140, which for a Fighting isn’t anything special, is it? Land’s Wrath combos beautifully into its charging attack, dealing 130 for FFCC. Again, being a Fighting type, with its numerous damage supports, the damage ceiling is only as high as you can draw them. It can reach 170, 190, 210, 230 heck even 250! And for a basic Pokemon that can reach this with a vanilla attack that’s not a GX attack, that’s for heaven’s sake goodness.
The GX attack, when seen as its own entity, may appear underwhelming. Verdict GX deals 150 for FFCC and it provides immunity from opposing attacks and its effects next turn. We’ve got a lot of self-protecting attacks, both as regular or as GX attacks, that provides this effect. But there’s little options that can do 150 stock and can provide immunity, and Zygarde-GX is one of them. But usually as it’s a GX attack, it can be only used once. Or is it with Zygarde?
We have the second combo piece, and that is Bonnie (FLI 103). This Supporter allows you to discard a Stadium card in play (doesn’t matter who’s Stadium is discarded), and Zygarde-GX can use Verdict GX again, independent on when the marker has been flipped or not. In other words, as long as you can recycle Bonnie when you need them, you had access up to 5 GX attacks in Standard, and 9 in Expanded. In practice though, its hard to successfully chain this combo together, as good as it may sound. Sure in theory you can spam Brooklet Hills and use Bonnie, discard them and use Verdict GX, but then you need to pray to lords above that they don’t have Guzma in hand and ruin your walling strategy, which is what this card is meant to do. Most of the time is that your opponent can play around this by playing an active Stadium THEN Field Blower-ing their Stadium, meaning most of the time, you need to find a Stadium yourself. Since the most reliable way currently to land a Stadium is with Skyla which will 1) rotate out of the Standard format and 2) is a Supporter so Bonnie can’t be played together with Skyla. Puzzle of Time is too unreliable to land a pair unless you use Zoroark-GX that limits its partners in the process, and there’s a chance you’ll need the Stadium as Ultra Ball fodder.
These limiting fodders may seem really nice in paper, but in the end, its just a paper and some ink. Verdict-GX/Bonnie does look like a nice proposition, but at the end its really dependent on many factors and can easily be disrupted by either your own draw or your opponent’s smart plays.
Our third-place finisher is Zygarde-GX (SM – Forbidden Light 73/131, 123/131, 136/131), with Bonnie (SM – Forbidden Light 103/131, 128/131) added in for good measure, for reasons that should soon be evident (if not already obvious). Zygarde-GX appears on all five of our individual Top 10 lists, but we are pretty split about where it belongs. If earned 100 voting points, just four more than yesterday’s fourth-place finisher and only five less than tomorrow’s second-place pick, by topping one list, nearly topping another, but then showing up at or near the bottom of the other three Top 10’s. I was one of the reviewers who only ranked it as my 10th place pick, and while I now believe I did it – or perhaps some of the other runners-up who appeared after it – a disservice because they are better than some of the cards I ranked higher, I’ll explain all the great things Zygarde-GX enjoys, but the chinks in its armor that may keep it from performing as well as others expect.
Being a Pokémon-GX is old hat now, but important not to forget; Zygarde-GX gives up two Prizes when KO’d, has to deal with certain counters and even exclusions from certain beneficial effects. There are some perks to being a GX, but we’ll address those as they come up. Being a Basic is the best, granting Zygarde-GX speed and reliability since one card equals one copy. Being a [F] Type is great right now; Zoroark-GX has made exploiting [F] Weakness a game-winner, and while there are [F] Type counters, [F] Type support is among the best in the game. 200 HP is not a record for a Basic Pokémon-GX/EX, but the larger examples have typically been played as meatshields, not attackers. All Weakness is dangerous, and [G] Weakness is almost insidious as more than a few players seem to forget that Golisopod-GX and Tapu Bulu-GX utilizing decks are still making Top 8 in places, at least prior to SM – Forbidden Light becoming tournament legal. No Resistance is disappointing, especially with 200 HP to try and leverage it, but its also pretty normal to lack any, so we’ll move on to the Retreat Cost of [CCC]. You do not want to have to pay this, but past [CC] a deck usually runs alternatives to manually retreating at full price, so another [C] isn’t too much worse. Some argue it is even better, as it grants access to Heavy Ball; only a few decks have ever managed to use Heavy Ball well, so I still consider [CCC] slightly worse than [CC].
Zygarde-GX sports three attacks. The first is “Cell Connector” for [CC], and it allows Zygarde-GX to attack for 50 damage while attaching up to two [F] Energy from your discard pile to itself. It does NOT specify “basic” Energy cards BUT nothing other than basic Fighting Energy counts as [F] while in the discard pile. An Energy cost that can be met entirely by one Double Colorless Energy is already solid for simply doing 50 damage, with the effect it becomes a very good attack indeed. Not great, however; you’re only allowed to attach energy to Zygarde-GX itself and the best Energy accelerators can attach to other Pokémon as well. More than a few competitive attackers hit harder based on the Energy attached to your Active (or both Actives), which can make the bonus backfire. Even apart from those, you’re not really Energy ahead until you’ve used it for something, and your opponent has an entire turn to KO Zygarde-GX thus making that attachment pointless. The card’s second attack is Land’s Wrath, which does 130 for [FFCC]. This is a vanilla attack, but one where the damage matches what you’d paid for it. Cell Connector becomes a natural lead-in, giving you a solid combo to 2HKO 180 HP targets that lack some means of protection while turning two cards worth of discard costs to your benefit, and without actually using up more than one manual Energy attachment. This is not great for a Basic Pokémon-GX, but it is reasonably good. Factor in the HP, the [F] Typing that lends itself to stacking damage bonuses even more than other Types, and you’ve got a contender here… and there’s just a bit more.
All Pokémon-GX so far have had GX-attacks, and Zygarde-GX is no exception. “Verdict-GX” has the same Energy cost as Land’s Wrath, which means Cell Connector is a natural lead-in to it as well. It allows Zygarde-GX to do 150 damage, 20 more than with Land’s Wrath and place a protective effect on itself that prevents attacks by an opponent’s Pokémon-EX/GX from doing damage during your opponent’s next turn. In isolation, this is actually a bit underwhelming; more and more decks are learning they need a secondary non-Pokémon-EX/GX attacker if their primary is one, to get around effects such as this. Your Bench is still vulnerable, so your opponent can use an attack that hits those Pokémon instead or use a card like Guzma to force one into the Active spot. You might even find decks that deal even more directly with such protection, such as by using Pokémon Ranger. 150 isn’t OHKOing most Basic Pokémon-EX/GX, either. Then we get back to Cell Connector as a lead-in, 200 HP, being a [F] Type, etc. We also, at last, come to Bonnie. She is a Supporter, so if you use her you won’t be able to use any of the other excellent, staple Supporters. Bonnie requires there be a Stadium in play as well, so if there isn’t she’s dead in hand. She then discards that Stadium and allows any Zygarde-GX to use its GX-attack this turn EVEN if you already have used your GX-attack this game. Discarding a Stadium can be an added cost if you’d rather the current one remain in play, but often it will be a benefit as you discard your opponent’s or something of your own that you didn’t want to linger. Note that Bonnie’s effect is ONLY good until the end of your current turn, and also that it is only good for after a GX-attack has already been used; if you haven’t used a GX-attack yet at all or if you don’t use a Zygarde-GX’s GX-attack by the end of this turn, you’re only getting that Stadium discarding effect.
Now we have the full package understood, and it really is impressive. Zygarde-GX decks will become a thing, but I don’t know how long they’ll last, or if there will be more than one that is really worth it. If you go first you don’t get to attack under the current rules, so an opening Zygarde-GX relying on Cell Connector gets attacked twice before it can proceed onto Land’s Wrath or Verdict-GX. Of course, you can go second and then your opponent only gets to attack after you’ve had a chance to use Cell Connector, but still before you can use one of the card’s big attacks and your opponent has the first turn to get ahead in terms of setup. Bonnie can be quite the blessing, BUT you’ll need to load up your own deck with additional Stadium cards; unless your opponent’s deck requires they be in play, he or she will either stop playing them once they see what is coming or use something like their own Field Blower to discard them before you can use Bonnie. Stadium cards aren’t the easiest things to reclaim from the discard pile, either; you could use Lusamine but that means no Bonnie this turn. There are other options, but they require more resources (like attacking with a Pokémon), are already played to recycle other resources (like Puzzle of Time). Zygarde-GX doesn’t play as well as it might with the various [F] Type damage buffs, either. Cell Connector cannot recycle Strong Energy, so you’ve got to manually attach them, either having five Energy (or more!) Energy attached to Zygarde-GX OR using two Energy attachments to get Cell Connector ready instead of one via Double Colorless Energy. A Benched Diance [Prism Star] or Regirock-EX provides an alternate target for Guzma, but if you skip them, you aren’t scoring needed OHKO’s and sometimes you even whiff on vital 2HKO’s against other Pokémon-GX. 200 HP is durable, but it isn’t immortal; typical 2HKO decks are built around taking down 240 to 260 HP Pokémon-EX/GX and some decks can even OHKO those numbers without Weakness.
Once again, I do not think that the above concerns will prevent Zygarde-GX from joining the competitive scene with at least one worthwhile deck in the Standard Format, but I don’t think its position will be as secure or varied as some expect. Maybe I’m wrong and several decks that already use Double Colorless Energy will free up three to five slots to run one or two Zygarde-GX plus two or three basic Fighting Energy cards, to give them a powerful advantage over Zoroark-GX and any other [F] Weak attackers that pop up. For the Expanded Format, I think things are a bit less rosy because this is a format where the non-Pokémon-EX/GX decks seem to spike. Night March is finally dead but… we’ve said that how many times before and something new combos with it, “uncountering” whatever card was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin? It isn’t that such a thing is not a concern for all Pokémon-EX/GX decks, just that one banking on tanking is additionally susceptible to such things. As for the Limited Format, no surprise that this should be great there. You should consider running Zygarde-GX on its own in a +39 build, especially if you’ve got a decent amount of discarding effects so that Cell Connector might get to do its thing. Even needing four turns to build up to Land’s Wrath may suffice, given its 200 HP. It will likely fit into any other possible deck as well; you just need room for it and a handful of Fighting Energy cards. Bonnie is dependent upon this Zygarde-GX for now; I don’t know of any other versions of Zygarde-GX in the works, but the wording at least allows for them. It makes her tricky to score, however; in some ways she strikes me as being better than Zygarde-GX. Yes, she’s specialized with what she does, but she does it so well that specialization is warranted. She’s be utterly broken if she allowed anything access to multiple GX-attacks. She’s even useful on her own in the Limited Format; you don’t have to have a Zygarde-GX in play, just a Stadium. This means you can use her to discard an opponent’s Stadium (there are two this set).
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