Pokémon Sun & Moon – Ultra Prism Set Review

The long wait for the new Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) Expansion is over. Sun & Moon Ultra Prism is highly anticipated to be the biggest set in recent times, comparable to the Sun & Moon. On top of a new range of over 150 playable cards, Ultra Prism contains:

  • 6 Prism Star Cards
  • New Gameplay Mechanics
  • 10 Pokemon GX Cards (including 5 Ultra Beasts)
  • 18 Trainer cards
  • 3 New Special Energy Cards

For the purposes of easy reading, I’ve spread this set review into three sections: Ultra Prism’s New Gameplay Mechanics, Top 10 Card SpotlightTop 3 Notable Mentions and a summary of my Final Verdict about the set. The review will center on playability for Standard format with ratings that scale from 10th place to 1st place. These assessments are based on the playability of the card and its potential in today’s format. So sit tight and get comfortable, as we go through this review!

Ultra Prism New Gameplay Mechanics

Prism Cards

In a flashback to the Pokemon TCG scene from 2008/2009, I’m excited to hear the introduction of Ultra Prism as we see the mechanics of’Lost Zone’ being revived into Standard play. Unlike the discard pile where players are able to obtain resources by playing cards throughout a match, once Prism Cards are used or knocked out, they are immediately sent to the ‘Lost Zone’ and become unobtainable.

There is a very good reason for this: Prism Cards are overpowered. From Pokemon with high hp and strong attacks, to powerful supporters and supercharged energies, it’s no wonder they are sent to the Lost Zone. To further balance their power, players are allowed one copy of a Prism card in a deck. This is a similar approach to ACE SPECS (item cards with powerful effects that are restricted to one copy in a deck). I think Prism cards succeed in attracting new players and reintegrating Diamond/Pearl veteran players back into the Pokemon TCG scene.

  • Only one copy allowed in deck 
  • Once used and/or knocked out, Prism Cards become unusable; getting sent to the lost zone. 

Fossils

Fossils have been around for a while yet they haven’t seen regular play. Previously, they were used as items to search out the Pokemon that evolved from Fossils. Having to add both Fossils and the Pokemon evolving from them made them too troublesome and slow to set up in the current format. 

However in Ultra Prism, they now function as 60 hp Basic Pokemon when played from hand. Fossils are unable to retreat which isn’t too bad since their first evolutions have a decent amount of hp to withstand an attack (90-100hp). No longer needing to have Fossil Items and Pokemon together, they could become a viable deck given their evolutions have strong attacks.

 

Top 10 Card Spotlight

(10) Passimian

Much like the ability of Passimian from the Sun & Moon set, Power Huddle is a great ability that pairs well with Passmians’ TeamPlay attack. Ideally, the aim is to have two Power Huddle Passmians buff TeamPlay by 60 and with a full 4 Passimians on the bench, its number jumps to 190.

Adding a Choice Band, its damage becomes 220, allowing it to knock out the relevant decks in the format- GX Pokemon with 190-210hp. To hit the 230 damage mark against Gardevoir GX, the Passimian deck could decide to include Professor Kukui.

Unfortunately, Power Huddle Passimian has the same name as its counterpart from Sun & Moon, meaning players can only include a mix of Passmians instead of 4 of each type. Still, I feel it is worth testing to see if it is better than having 4 Team Play Passmians.

 

(9) Luxio

Hey look its Seismitoad EX! Only in this case, it’s a single prize, Stage 1 attacker that requires one energy for Quaking Punch. Remembering when Seismitoad EX variants went rampant gives me chills and seeing this card printed made me relive some of my past nightmares. Keeping in mind the past success of Seismitoad EX, why isn’t this card rated higher on our Ultra Prism Top 10 Spotlight? 

Here’s why: Having only 60hp AND being weak to fighting does not bode well for the success item lock once had. Any variant of Buzzwole GX with its advantageous typing and its access to a high count of fighting energy crushes Luxio’s potential in the current format.

However, if we pair Luxio with Garbotoxin Garbodor (BKP) and some energy denial cards, we start to see its potential against decks relying on Tapu Lele GX for set up and those that stop card advantage from Zoroark GX’s Trade ability.

Another way to play Luxio would be to build it around Shining Celebi’s ability Time Recall – each evolved Pokemon can use its previous evolution’s attacks. By adding Luxray into the deck and having access to Time Recall, its survivability is improved with a high 150 HP, Intimidating Fang lessens damage by 30 and you can use Volt Bolt to snipe the opponent’s bench. Having both builds in mind, only time will tell if these builds of Luxio are strong enough against our current popular decks.

 

(8) Empoleon

In 8th place, we have Empoleon – a one prize attacker packing a lot of damage. For one colourless and a water energy, it outputs a maximum of 200 damage. Adding a Choice Band, it does 230 against GX Pokemon. Reaching that damage range is crucial considering that can OHKO Gardevoir GX with ease. Besides Gardevoir GX, there are other competitive 190-210hp GX Pokemon Empoleon deals with such as:  Zoroark GX, Gollisopod GX, Lycanrock GX and Buzzwole GX. Furthermore, the attack cost combines well with Aqua Patch for consistent early aggression and Counter Energy when Empoleon gets knocked out and falls behind on prizes.

However, its typing leaves a lot to be desired. Water does not counter any competitive decks other than Volcanion EX – currently a scarce deck. On the upside, its lightning weakness isn’t too much to worry about.  Empoleon is worth building and has potential post rotation as the format slows down after losing Professor Sycamore.

 

(7) Dusk Mane Necrozma

Bringing back memories of Black Kyreum EX (PLS), Dusk Mane Necrozma in Ultra Prism has the exact same card concept. Doing 220 damage without a massive drawback is amazing and alongside Sun’s Eclipse GX, it is able to OHKO all Pokemon GXs in the format. That being said, players would still have to discard 3 energy after Meteor Impact.

However, with the release of Magnezone and Prism Star Solgaleo, it is able to either accelerate all the energy back with Magnezone’s Magnetic Circut or through the discard with Prism Solgaleo’s attack. In the near future, decks built around Dusk Mane Necrozma would efficiently handle decks such as Gollisopod variants that rely on Accerola for sustain. Yet, that amount of damage may be a drawback against non-Pokemon GX centric decks and that may cause this card to only see niche play. On top of that, having fire weakness gives Volcanion EX a chance at resurgence as well as other decks teching Fire Memory.

 

(6)  Glaceon GX

Glaceon GX comes in right after Dusk Mane Necrozma due to its Freezing Gaze Ability. Say goodbye to setting up Garbador since Glaceon GX will be doing all the heavy lifting. Combine Glaceon GX with  Eevee(SUM) Evolutions Ability and we are looking at turn one ability lock.

In our current format, this would be detrimental to popular decks that set up with Tapu Lele GX, using Zoroark’s Trade Ability, Gardevoir GX’s Secret Spring Ability and Lycanroc’s Ability. Glaceon GX’s attack is decent, a carbon copy of Darkrai EX (DEX) Dark Spear attack.

However, with all its potential, Glaceon EX struggles coming into the legal play of Ultra Prism due to its metal weakness. Metal decks will be a favourite coming into the next metagame because of the amount of metal support cards released.

 

(5) Cynthia

A card that we’ve been waiting to be printed for the longest time. An exact copy of Professor Oak’s New Theory, Cynthia comes in full force and I feel we are going to see Cynthia put in most, if not all, competitive decks. Being able to shuffle your deck and refresh your hand to 6 is better than what we had access to before which was Shauna. Having one less card to draw makes a world of difference which is why most players included N rather than Shauna.

In the format’s current state with access to discard draw supporters, we will probably see an inclusion of two in the deck. As the format rotates and we lose discard draw supporters, a full playset of Cynthia would be included.

 

(4) Mt Coronet

Coming next, we have Mt. Coronet which will become a must have card in any competitive metal deck. Being able to search for metal energies from the discard and place them into hand is good in combination with Alolan Dugtrio and even Dusk Mane Necrozma. Metal energies will end up in the discard throughout the game as Alolan Dugtrio discards metal attached with Gold Rush and the same goes for Dusk Mane Necrozma.

To attach the metal energies after Mt. Coronet, players are able to use Magnezone to accelerate energy onto their respective metal attackers. Overall, there is no downside to this card other than being a stadium card – both players have access to its ability. If metal does become a popular archetype, Mt. Coronet may only be included with low counts while adding counts of disruptive stadiums such as Po Town or Parallel City.

 

(3) Leafeon GX

An attack that allows Leafeon GX to evolve all Basic pre-evolutions in play into Stage 1 Pokemon? Pair Grand Bloom GX with Eevee’s (SUM) Energy Evolution ability and you have yourself one of the fastest and efficient set up attacks in the game. Coupled with an attack that knocks out most Pokemon in two hits and a Choice Band alongside a built in heal, it holds its own against decks that rely on multiple attacks for knockouts.

Leafeon GX can be paired well with Decidueye GX which will give you more opportunities to have access to more Feather Arrows. This can help bridge the damage that Solar Beam can’t finish off.

 

(2) Alolan Dugtrio

We are getting close to the end as Alolan Dugtrio comes in 2nd place! Combining an attack that has limitless damage output with the abiltiy to use that attack for free puts it high on our Ultra Prism list. Pair this with Mt Coronet and Magnezone and you have a mini version of RayEels – a deck that revolved around doing damage based on the amount of lightning or fire attached to Rayquaza EX.

I feel Alolan Dugtrio has no downsides other than its weakness to fire. Other than that, it is a single prize attacker that attacks for free – what more can you ask for? Expect to see decks revolve around Alolan Dugtrio when Ultra Prism becomes legal for play.

 

(1) Magnezone

Last on our list and in a well deserved first place, we have Magnezone – a metal version of Blastoise from Boundaries Crossed. The ability to accelerate Metal energy from hand is incredible and alongside supporting attackers and Mt.Coronet, Magnezone becomes the top card to obtain in Ultra Prism.

Its access to a high damage attack adds to its versatility. Being up against an anti-GX Pokemon deck such as Quad Hoopa, metal decks that have Magnezone will be able to knock Hoopa out without too much of a struggle.

Expect this card to be an auto inclusion in all metal decks.

 

Top 3 Notable Mentions

This list was very hard to put together since Ultra Prism contained a card pool full of potential. Keep in mind that if I fail to mention a card on this article, it doesn’t mean those cards are unplayable. Rather, these cards on the list are what stood out to me the most.

 

Torterra

This card embodies the classic saying, ‘bigger is better‘ as we start with Torterra on our Notable Mentions List. What stands out to me the most is its 180hp, the highest amount I have remembered seeing on a stage 2 non-GX Pokemon.

Its attacks aren’t too bad either with 50 and heal and a massive 180 damage attack. It comes at a price as Earthquake does damage your side of the field. However, with the damage it does, it’s not too much of a detriment. Players can couple this card with Cherrim and remove one of its downsides which is its fire weakness. The energy cost for the card feels too high and this was why it is under Notable Mentions rather than the Top 10.

 

Dialga GX

Being able to take an extra turn is unheard of in Pokemon and on top of that, Timeless GX does a decent amount of damage as well. However, despite being able to take an extra turn, its energy cost seems high and its other attacks aren’t anything too game changing.

Ideally, I feel you would want to use Timeless GX and then use an ability or a way to spread damage and use another attacker to potentially get a four prize lead. Another way would be to use this card as a one-off tech in metal decks. Overall, Dialga GX has potential to be good but whether or not it will see a large amount of play will remain to be seen.

 

Weavile

Lastly, we have Weavile with its attack, Evil Admonition. Dealing 50 damage for each of your opponent’s Pokemon that has an ability? Sounds like a good card to me. Most current decks run Tapu Lele GX and Zoroark GX for consistency which Weavile preys upon.

It would be a good partner with Weavile(BUS) that does 60 damage to each Pokemon with abilities. Albeit, this does hit your own bench as well if you have Pokemon with abilities but being able to have a choice in either Weavile is great. With one Weavile at least outputting 130 (2 opponent’s Pokemon with abilities and a Choice Band), the other Weavile can provide the last remaining damage.

While there are many options for Weavile, the fact that it’s weak to fighting is a hindrance. Buzzwole GX can easily dismantle a Weavile deck.I could see it as a 2-2 line in Zoroark GX decks but other than that, I’m not sure how often we would see it being played.

 

Final Verdict

Amongst all these new cards, we have a few reprints including: Rare Candy, Crushing Hammer, Lillie, Sivally GX and Pokemon Fan Club. I feel enthralled with this set as there are many possibilities for deck ideas looking at the added card pool we have now. New mechanics also help to refresh the game, which are much needed as it was starting to get repetitive due to limited deck building options (most of them including Zororark GX).

 

Unboxing Video & Discussion

For even more Ultra Prism content take a look at our unboxing video from Anthony & Jack!  They crack open a full box of boosters and discuss some of the more interesting cards and how they might affect the meta.

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