The Floating Duck: Teaching Newer Players

We all love Pokémon league. Who would not love free format staples paired with a chance to playtest against your peers each week? But the third aspect of league is often overlooked by the community as a whole. That aspect is the power leagues have to draw in new players.

Without new players, a game goes stale. For that reason, it is important to encourage new players, even if they’re really young, to pick up the game at their own pace.

Unfortunately, here’s a common scenario: Little Alice comes to league with her brand new theme deck. Everyone else in the league has a meta-ready super-teched deck. Assuming Alice knows the rules, you bust out Luxchomp and proceed to defeat her in one or two turns every time. She goes to her mommy, tells her “This game sucks! I don’t wanna!” and the Pokémon community has lost a potential recruit forever.

So instead I bring a new type of deck to the table: teacher decks. These decks are designed to water down a metagame idea to an easily observable point, and encourage newer players to emulate the strategy or combo in their own explorations. These decks will also ideally be cheap to build and easy to play. This is something the current Pokémon community lacks. As such, we’re here to introduce our first teacher deck.

What the Deck Teaches

– Energy acceleration
– Cumulative damage output
– Energyless attacks
– Poké-Powers
– Poké-Bodies
– Optional attack effects
– Situational evolution
– +# vs 2× weaknesses
– Stadium cards
– Healing damage
– Supporters versus Trainers
Switching via Trainers versus retreating
– Recovering cards from your discard
– Pokémon SP versus regular Pokémon
– Pokémon Tools
– “Come from behind” Supporters

As you can see, this deck teaches a lot of very important concepts to our current metagame.

Here’s the basic deck build. Note that the deck is intentionally flawed. Once the new player is beating it consistently, the deck has done what it is supposed to do!

The Teacher Deck

Our first teacher deck is built around the Golduck and Floatzel lines.

Pokémon – 16
3 Buizel UL
3 Floatzel UL
1 Psyduck TM
3 Psyduck PL
2 Golduck PL
2 Golduck TM
2 Floatzel GL RR
T/S/S – 28
3 PlusPower
3 Switch
1 Luxury Ball
3 Potion
2 Bubble Coat
2 Flower Shop Lady
3 Lucian’s Assignment
3 Black Belt
1 Marley’s Request
2 Pokémon Collector
2 Interviewer’s Question
3 Dawn Stadium
Energy – 16
16 W

And there you have it. I’m going to say it again: This deck is NOT for serious play. Period. End of thought. If you use this outside league, you’re gonna lose to Sea Blaster (curse you, Travis!), it’s that bad. However, this would be a great deck to teach various aspects of the metagame to a newer player. The other nice thing is that none of the cards in this build are that expensive. The two Collectors can be found in a Trainer Kit anyway. Anything that is a rare in this deck is so non-playable that it’ll be hard to not find them for cheap.

The Strategy

Although the basic idea of this deck is self-explanatory, I’ll go ahead and outline various teaching methods to be used along with it.

pokegym.netThe Pokémon you want to start with is a Psyduck. If you have no energy, you can lock your opponent from setting up by using Trainers or Supporters, such as Luxury Ball or Pokémon Collector, with “Headache”. If you do play an energy, you can risk the second attack. This isn’t recommended, as you would have to be confused if the coin lands tails-side up, and each attack after that would require two heads to do anything.

Also another reason to not play an energy is that you want to evolve into the Golduck PL as a very early attacker. 30 damage for free, but, if your opponent uses Rainbow or W Energy, deal 30 damage instead anywhere on his or her field.

Note that in the unlikely event you start with the Psyduck TM, it won’t kill you to start with it as long as you don’t attack. If you have the Golduck PL in hand, no energy goes to Psyduck. If you have the Golduck TM and no way to get the one from Platinum or a different attacker, stack the energy and hope for the best.

Don’t attack unless you’re feeling lucky. “Tripping Headbutt” tells you to “filp a coin” (but they really want you to flip one), and, if it’s not heads, you deal 30 to your side of the field. Avoid this if you can.

Should Golduck and your opponent survive through the abuse of “Swift Swim”, set up your bench. Ideally you want at least one each of Golduck TM and Floatzel UL as attackers, and a Floatzel GL to recover any lost Lucian’s Assignments, Marley’s Requests, or other Supporters that are still used in the late game. Use Floatzel UL to attach two energy per turn, either one two Floatzel and one to Golduck TM, or, if you have a Lucian’s Assignment on hold and Golduck TM has no damage on it, it’s safe to attach two to Floatzel.

If Golduck PL should die or is dying and you need to use the handy Retreat Cost of zero, and you have three energy on a Floatzel UL (get two out as soon as you can) and fewer than five W Energy on your side of the field, send up the Floatzel and hit for 60 in one go. It’s not the greatest attack, but you don’t want to send up a weak Golduck TM to die early. As an added bonus, you may have less prizes than your opponent now. If you have a Black Belt, now might be a good time to use it and hit for 100 damage instead.

pokegym.netBut in the best case, you’ll want to bring up the Golduck TM and not risk losing you Floatzel UL, even if they also have free retreat and can come back to the bench. You don’t want to risk your opponent also using Black Belt, Expert Belt, a surprise Lightning type, or any attack that prevents you from retreating. You want both Floatzel to sit on the bench and hold on to your energy.

“Powerful Splash” will hit for 30 base damage for two energy. But before you bring it back to the bench for the free-attacking Platinum variety, read the rest of the attack. If you’ve been stacking energy like I’ve told you to, then you’ve got a great hard-hitter.

For every water energy on your side of the field, the attack does 10 more damage. And since this deck has 16 water energy, get them all our and you’re hitting for 190 each turn. This is very unlikely, yes, but pair that possibility with the Black Belts and you’re taking out all but the most loved (or hated) tanks.


Well, there you have it folks. Cheap, messy, but it gets the job done. Tell us what you think. Would the 6P community like to see more articles about teacher decks? Is this a stupid idea and should it never happen again? Let us know.

Reader Interactions

25 replies

  1. Anonymous

    its true. alot of people tech with decks complicated like luxchomp and cards that are expensive. a teacher deck can help focus on the metagame more than the does. as genguy said they say sudowoodo is a good card for his 70hp basic with nom lv x or evolution and 20 is great. i mean garchomp c lv x one shots him.

  2. Anonymous

    I have several more of these decks floating (bad pun again) in my head. Is this something 6p would like to see more of?

  3. Jordan Grainger

    It’s important I see with the newer younger players that you take an interest in the gameboy game. I think most of us do love those games but we need to tie the tcg and gbg together to infuse even deeper interest in the tcg. That’s my experience.

  4. Jonah Davids

    I really liked this article! The problem is that many newer players wan’t to play a deck with cute/favorite Pokemon. One kid at league in seniors still refuses to run anything but a deck that has Ariados and Miltank. I really don’t like the “strategy” articles Pokemon gives out. They tell kids that playing Sudowodo UL is a good choice because he’s a basic who can absorb “Earthquake” damage, and that playing like 20 energy is good.

    The deck concept is quite good, I think I’d replace Potion with Life Herb, as it teaches that Pokemon is very luck based.

    • Anonymous  → Jonah

      Actually, interestingly enough, this deck was developed using those two pokemon lines for the same reason. My girlfriend’s cousin likes Floatzel. A lot.

  5. DrMime

    Most importantly, great article, and great job highlighting something that totally happens all the time.

    For the Juniors and Seniors that come to the leagues I’ve been to with my son, this deck would be too complicated for a first deck, but I think if I understand you right, you mean that the theme deck would be like teacher deck #1 (focusing on game mechanics), and this would be like teacher deck #2. I really like that idea.

    • Anonymous  → DrMime

      Correct. This is once they;ve mastered the basic rules of Pokemon and are ready to start learning metagame ideas and strategies. This is deck #2 or #3.

  6. Joshua Pikka

    Its great that your doing that.

    Thats what leagues should be for.

    Thanks for growing the game.

    • Anonymous  → Joshua

      Thanks. To be honest, before writing this, i searched for content like this. All I could find were threads of people also asking for this or looking for something like it.

  7. thomas clip

    This is a great idea! I tried to get my little brothers to play, but even if I went easy on them, I kept beating them with ridiculously superior decks.

    Great article! Love to see maybe deck #3 or 4.

  8. Patrick Jeffries

    I live in Tallahassee, Florida and am trying to start a league or at least get new players interested. I have found no players except my son and I. I was wondering where to start and this is great. Any other articles would help also. Thanks.

    • Anonymous  → Patrick

      Given the net positive reaction to this article, I’m glad to say this is not the only one i’ll be putting out along these lines. Look forward to my next one.

  9. stephen shirley

    decks good but if a leage is getting lots of newer players couldn’t they just play each other so they don’t get thrashed and get better so they don’t

    • Anonymous  → stephen

      In this case, our league has gotten two new players. Both know nothing about the game. Do you really think they’d enjoy playing each other over and over while the big boys do their own thing? Not to mention, they’re siblings. There’s no way that’ll fly. It’s best to expose them to a wide variety of playing styles and ideas.

      • theo Seeds  → Anonymous

        one way i learned about the meta is by getting my ass card(s) they used to attack, what cards they used to set up, and what cards they used to draw cards. The one thing I didn’t learn that way was a regular energy count, but that I could probably ask about.

  10. George

    I’ve been running several of these types of decks at the League I run. I feature 1-2 metagame pokemon in the deck with some “fun” pokemon included for beginners who like the show.

    The most important thing in teaching decks is to teach newer players the importance of Stadium, Trainer, and Supporter cards. Most new juniors come in with decks that run 30 pokemon and 30 energies. They have to play to see that it just doesn’t work.

    But, winning on T1-T2 against beginners is just not right. My teaching decks are designed NOT TO DONK. Pokemon is first and foremost a social game. It is meant to be fun. I have had to reteach some of the Masters players at my league this concept. I had one who was not only playing top meta game decks against junior players, but also trash-talking while doing it.

    I solved that problem by building a speed Charizard deck for my 5-year-old nephew. We practiced with it for about a month, then he came in and showed the Master what for. That’s when my talk with him finally got through. (It’s no fun getting dissed by a 5-year-old ; – )

  11. Mickey Catron

    Great article. As a relatively new league leader and father, I see all of the problems you are talking about, and have found myself wishing I had a more basic deck to use as I try to teach the game (which I really love to do). I am going to have to make myself a copy of “Floating Duck” Can’t wait for the next article!

  12. Joe Callen

    Love the idea! Since I spend a lot of time at my local league doing just that…teaching younger kids, this idea works out perfectly!

  13. Davey Garner

    fantastic article, great way to get new players into the game and teach them properly

  14. Victor

    Very cool article !! I tried to build this kind of deck on my own, but it wasn’t really working. I think this might work, though! I am totally getting the cards I miss. 

    It would be cool to have this kind of deck idea in HGSS-on format, if possible. ^^ It remembered me of when I tried to do a “Badges Road” with different decks increasing in level just like in the anime and video game, but with cards. Then Pokémon TCG Online Trainer’s Challenge came out :P !
     But I still think it is better to play with actual cards at league, since it is way more fun, as you are making friends, seeing people in real life and it just creates very nice moments. 

    Anyways, thanks for the article ^^ !

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