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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Sun & Moon

#4 - Umbreon-GX
- Sun & Moon

Date Reviewed:
Feb. 14, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4
Expanded: 4.5
Limited: 5

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Umbreon-GX doesn't stand out majorly in any way, but he does have three very solid attacks that have driven up a lot of hype around him. Course combined with things like the renewed Eevee Evolution, the hype's probably well deserved, so let's see what all he's got to offer. 

Strafe is an easy 1-for-30 hit that lets Umbreon-GX get out of any situation he's in. Not bad, probably won't be the highlight of KOs, but it'll make things harder to KO Umbreon-GX. Shadow Bullet then is a familiar 3-for-90 hit that strikes a Bench-sitter for 30 damage - now where have we seen that before? Although personally I think it's an attack that's grown into being a little on the shorter side of the curve, the reminiscence to Night Spear from Darkrai-EX (DEX) does give it a little bit of potential. Plus snipe damage is usually pretty good. 

And then there's Dark Call GX, which once per game for 2 Energy will get rid of 2 Energy on your opponent's Pokemon, no matter what it is. Not too shabby in the end!  Sure it's no Lunar Fall GX, but it's got its own merit and uses, and with the right timing it can easily win a game. So I see a pretty bright future for Umbreon-GX. 

Even if he's a Stage 1, he doesn't seem to be too affected by everything that would go against him, like the generally lower damage outputs, the lower HP score compared to other GX (he's only got 200 HP), and a heftier retreat cost. So I guess Dark decks live on! 

Rating 

Standard: 4/5 (a good set of attacks though on a weaker body) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (at least compared to other GX, like the 250 HP behemoths)

Limited: 5/5 (every card has its price though) 

Arora Notealus: Umbreon-GX is looking to be a prominent member of the meta for a bit here, so we'll see how long he can sustain that foothold. Always an interesting feat for Pokemon! 

Next Time: The GX craze continues to grow! And this one will help pollinate the fields...


Otaku

At last, it is time to countdown the top 10 cards of Sun & Moon, as determined by the aggregate efforts of aroramage, Zach, and myself!  As usual, each reviewer submitted his own personal top 10 list, and the results were averaged out to produce the list we are actually using.  Reprints were not permitted for the list; we already know a card like Ultra Ball is good (and actually pretty hard to top)! 

Today we have two reviews going up instead of one, as we had to take Monday off; seems like a cynical Valentine’s Day gift as we give you an extra review that isn’t really extra, kind of like the person who holds off showing affection to those he or she cares for until a holiday (like Valentine’s Day) instead of doing so year round, with holidays like this providing an avenue for extra expression.  With my acknowledgement of such things out of the way, time to look at our fourth place finisher, Umbreon-GX (Sun & Moon 80/149, 142/149, 154/149)!  Right now, being a Pokémon-GX is a pretty good gig; you give up an extra Prize when KO’d (like Pokémon-EX), but the only other effect that references Pokémon-GX is the “Lunar Fall-GX” attack found on Lunala-GX, and instead of punishing their usage it rewards it by excluding them from its automatic KO effect of a Basic Pokémon.  We know from releases already out in Japan, however, that this will not last, and Pokémon-GX counters are coming.  Being a Pokémon-GX also guarantees a GX attack, but even though it is supposed to be a more powerful (and thus better) attack since you may only use it once per game, sometimes they fall flat.  These are the things mechanically guaranteed by acknowledged design templates for Pokémon-GX.  So far all of them also receive a substantial HP boost and, unlike with Pokémon-EX, all have had at least 50 more HP than their “regular” counterparts, some with 100 extra HP.  If that remains true, it is another credit to being a Pokémon-GX. 

Umbreon-GX is a Darkness Type, allowing it to strike some Psychic Type Pokémon for Weakness, but also meaning all Fairy Types Resist it.  This is not good, though it isn’t especially bad; some Fairy Types will leverage this Resistance well but often -20 isn’t going to change things much, while damage doubling Weakness is still a broken mechanic so even though you won’t run into Darkness Weak Pokémon all the time, it’s quite the payout when it happens.  Counters specific to the Darkness Type exist, but never proved worthwhile.  Their Pokémon Type specific support has one real standout - Dark Patch - available only in the Expanded Format.  What makes this still a great Type, I think, is the [D] Energy Type based support (that is not also Pokémon Type exclusive) and stable ot potent Pokémon that, as usual, can perform well off Type or in mixed company, but excel in a Darkness Type deck.  Hard not to be impressed by the type that has given us Pokémon like Yveltal-EX.  Umbreon-GX is a Stage 1 Pokémon, making it a bit slower than Basic Pokémon, but even ignoring some special shortcuts just for Eeveelutions, losing one turn to Evolving isn’t enough to prevent a good Stage 1 from proving competitive.  Its 200 HP is a hardy amount, tricky (but far from impossible) to OHKO.  We’ll discuss it a bit more when I cover some of the other Umbreon cards.  Fighting Weakness is dangerous, and as it is one of a couple key Fighting Weak cards, I expect this to begin to matter as more people seek to exploit the Weakness again.  Even if not, I keep running into Passimian decks (budget or otherwise) so be prepared.  Resistance normally isn’t a big issue, but a big HP score may change that.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can pay it, but high enough you’ll usually prefer avoiding it; build your deck accordingly. 

Umbreon-GX brings three attacks to the party.  First up is “Strafe”, which does 30 damage for [D] and gives you the option of Benching Umbreon-GX afterward.  There are better hit-and-run Pokémon, but for the Energy the sum total of damage and effect are good.  I wouldn’t build an entire deck around it, but only because there are better options for this sort of thing.  The second attack is “Shadow Bullet”, which costs [DCC] and does 90 damage to the opponent’s Active plus 30 damage to one of his or her Benched Pokémon (you choose which).  You’ll need to use that Bench damage well to keep pace with most other decks, but with the correct combos you won’t do just that but pull ahead.  We’ll discuss the specifics later, but know that the Energy cost and particulars of how the damage is split matter.  “Dark Call-GX” rounds things out, with a cost of [DC].  It allows you to discard two Energy from your opponent’s Pokémon.  The wording can be misleading; not only may you select Energy from two different Pokémon, but one or both Energy can be from two different multi-unit Energy cards.  In other words, you can use Dark Call-GX to discard up to two different Double Colorless Energy by selecting one unit of Energy being provided by each; the other unit just goes along for the ride and is also discarded!  This could be brilliant, even broken, as a regular attack, but as your once-per-game GX attack; this is a waste against small-ish attackers you can quickly KO, or decks where the Energy is easily replaced, but can cripple an opponent’s offense where the Energy supply is tight.  Collectively, these attacks provide Umbreon-GX a decent arsenal of tricks, but again, to really prove competitive, you’re going to have to supplement them. 

The first way to help Umbreon-GX is to use the correct Eevee.  I will not be elaborating upon every Eevee and Eeveelution; this review is going up late and many are just too unlikely to be worthwhile deck partners or rivals.  When it comes to Eevee,  BW: Plasma Freeze 90/116, XY: Furious Fists 80/111, and Sun & Moon 101/149 are the clear winners.  Those last two share the same Ability, “Energy Evolution”; when an Eevee with Energy Evolution has an Energy attached to it from your hand, you may search your deck for a Pokémon of that Type which Evolves from Eevee.  If you do, then you Evolve Eevee into that Evolution, regardless of whether or not Eevee would normally be able to Evolve under these circumstances.  Seems like either XY: Furious Fists 80/111, and Sun & Moon 101/149 would be the Eevee to use, unless your deck is trying to quickly lockdown Abilities and/or your deck runs no compatible Basic Energy cards.  Pick between these two based on format - XY: Furious Fists 80/111 - or specific deck needs with the almost negligible differences between their HP, Retreat Cost, and attack.  In Expanded, BW: Plasma Freeze 90/116 then becomes a good choice as its “Signs of Evolution” attack costs only [C] and searches your deck for up to three Eeveelutions, though they must be different Types.  BW: Plasma Freeze 90/116 got its own review here, as did XY: Furious Fists 80/111 here.  I am not sure when, but I plan on having us review Sun & Moon 101/149 in the future as well, where I can go crazy and cover all the various Eeveelutions.

There are no other Standard legal Umbreon-GX or Umbreon cards, but there is Umbreon-EX.  This is a good opportunity to see how Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX compare.  Umbreon-EX is Darkness Type Basic Pokémon with 170 HP, Fighting Weakness, Psychic Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], and two attacks.  The first attack is “Veil of Darkness” for [C], doing 20 damage and allowing you to discard as many cards as you wish from your hand, then draw a number equal to what you discarded.  Given the many combos involving your discard pile, this is a solid attack.  I haven’t tried it myself or given it much heed, but I believe some of the discard-centric decks like Night March have tried this as a counter-counter to Karen.  The second attack is “End Game” for [DCC], which does 70 damage.  This is a bit low for the cost, but there is also an effect that might make it worthwhile: if you use End Game to KO an opponent’s Mega Evolution, you take two more Prize cards.  That is in addition to the two you usually get for KOing a Mega Evolution, meaning four Prizes at once.  I think I really need to look at modern Night March builds and see what people have been up to.  We reviewed Umbreon-GX here but since then, I’ve mostly forgotten about it, save opponent’s using it periodically.  I don’t recall ever seeing someone pull off that much vaunted KO for four Prizes myself, so if I sounded overly impressed just now, that’s because I’d practically forgotten about this card’s tricks. 

Umbreon-EX actually could be used to backup Umbreon-GX; as a Basic it shouldn’t be too hard to slip one in and it can probably make use of most (if not all) of the same support.  Probably not worth it unless Mega Evolutions are a fairly common sight in the anticipated environment, unless you’re backing up your Umbreon-GX with Vespiquen (XY: Ancient Origins 10/98) and want the anti-Karen option (small possibility).  Now comparing and contrasting the two is interesting; for running a Stage 1 worth 2 Prizes, we only have a +30 HP bump, but even ignoring the GX attack I think Umbreon-GX has better attacks.  Umbreon-GX wishes it had that single Energy Retreat Cost; Strafe and several cards you’d still want to run even if Umbreon-GX had a lower Retreat Cost help, but there are some nasty control decks making the rounds; nearly losing an attack to Strafe back to your Bench (and previous Active) can be a very bad thing.  There are multiple past Umbreon cards, only legal for Expanded play.  Again, I am not going to look at them individually.  In fact the only reason to mention them collectively is that they sport 90 or 100 HP, so being a Pokémon-GX may have resulted in doubled Hit Points.  Why do I say “may”?  Power creep has been happening throughout the XY-era cards, and we have to remember this is the SM-era now… which probably means more power creep.  A hypothetical XY-era release for a regular Umbreon may have had more HP, as could a future SM-era Umbreon as well.  The latter we will hopefully still see, but even incremental increases will reduce how much of a bonus Umbreon-GX received for being a Pokémon-GX.  I doubt they would have more than 120 HP, though. 

Now for the part of the cardpool that I know matters, from other players stomping my own decks with them.  Espeon-GX was our ninth place finisher for this countdown.  This is a Psychic Type Stage 1 Pokémon-GX with 200 HP, Psychic Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], and three attacks.  First is “Confuse Ray” for [C], doing 30 and automatically Confusing the opponent’s Active.  Second is “Psychic” for [PCC], doing 60 damage plus another 30 per Energy attached to the opponent’s Active.  The GX attack is “Divide-GX”, which allows you to place 10 damage counters as you see fit on your opponent’s Pokémon.  Thanks to cards like Professor’s Letter and Energy Retrieval, running multiple Basic Energy cards in a single deck is not a problem, and if you aren’t worried about triggering an Energy Evolution Ability, you could also use Rainbow Energy to meet the one [P] requirement that are part of the attacks on Espeon-GX.  None of these attacks are super-special-awesome, but not unlike those of Umbreon-GX, they can prove magnificent under the correct circumstances.  Umbreon-GX does things better, but covering different circumstances (especially exploiting Weakness) should be worth the split Evolution line. 

Which brings us to the next part of the typical Eeveelutions deck; more Eeveelutions!  Flareon (XY: Ancient Origins 13/98), Jolteon (XY: Ancient Origins 26/98), and Vaporeon (XY: Ancient Origins 22/98) each have an Ability that causes your Stage 1 Pokémon to count as its respective Type (Fire, Lightning, or Water) in addition to whatever Types your Stage 1 Pokémon already was.  You’ll have to give up an Eevee you could Evolve into Espeon-GX or Umbreon-GX, but the reward is important.  Right now, Fire, Lightning, and Water Type Weakness are all over the metagame, which means Shadow Bullet and Psychic (the attack) go from good to amazing.  You can even include Wide Lens so that the Bench damage from Shadow Bullet is also doubled.  I’ve seen some trying to incorporate a solid Grass Type attacker as well; while there are still plenty of forms of Weakness not being exploited, once you add in Grass you’ve got six different Weaknesses covered.  The catch?  Now we have a lot of cards all tucked into the same deck, and that hurts reliability.  I mentioned Vespiquen earlier, but I’ve also seen folks try this with Lurantis-GX.  When it works, it is a thing of beauty.  I haven’t been playing as much of the Expanded format lately; I believe this could all work there as well, but don’t recall running into it.  Could just be my sampling size.  Umbreon-GX is a great pull for Limited, and you could even run it on its own Pokémon-wise; just remember one Eevee and enough basic Darkness Energy cards so that it will Energy Evolve into Umbreon-GX ASAP.  Given the presence of Passimian I can’t recommend this, however. 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.85/5 

Expanded: 3.5/5 

Limited: 4/5 

Summary:  Given the Eeveelution sub-fandom, cards based on them tend to see a lot of play even if they aren’t good enough to justify it.  This is not one of those times; Umbreon-GX is a very good card that acts as a great card once you factor in all the combos available to it. 

Umbreon-GX earned 12 voting points from our collective lists, tying with fifth place Professor Kukui.  I submitted this review late, late enough that I am aware I completely messed up the placement of Professor Kukui in the top 10 list and other cards relative to it in his CotD, but not late enough that I’ve had time to fix it.  My apologies, and hopefully the correct review will go up tomorrow.  At least the two actually did tie, and to break the tie I couldn’t use my usual methods; both cards appeared on two of our three personal lists, and in both cases one of the two lists was my own.  In the end, I actually rolled a die to see who would get fourth place and who would get fifth.


Zach Carmichael
Had this at #4 on his Top 10 List.


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