Kaboom! An Explosive Deck for Battle Roads

Emboar BWpokebeach.com
Emboar: the Great Enabler

With Battle Roads fast approaching (some people may be reading this the morning before), I thought I’d write one last article for the MD-on format, specifically MD-BW. While Black and White really doesn’t add much to competitive Pokémon until we see sets up to Arceus rotate out of the format, there is really one card that comes to mind: Emboar #20, and his Ability, “Inferno Fandango”.

What Emboar can do, for those who have not seen the card, is attach any number of R Energy per turn, to ANY of your Pokémon. This is similar to Blastoise from Base Set and Feraligatr Prime’s “Rain Dance” – except now any type of Pokémon can receive the energy. There are two Pokémon in this format who stand out for effects when energy is attached to them: HGSS Promo Shuckle, and Forretress LA.

The goal is simple: attach enough energy to Forretress to Knock Out every Pokémon in play other than itself, and win by last Pokémon standing. Its “Iron Shell” Poké-Body says that whenever an energy is attached to Forretress, flip a coin; if tails, put 2 damage counters on every Pokémon but itself.

When you’re flipping a lot of coins, the results will tend very close to the average, so it should be safe to assume you will need between 12 and 18 coin flips to win the game. How do we manage to attach that much energy to Forretress, preferably in one turn before it can be Knocked Out?

Shuckle Promo HGSS15pokebeach.com
Enter the Shuckle.

Enter the Shuckle. Its Poké-Body, “Fermenting Liquid” lets you draw one card whenever an energy card is attached to it. Once you get Emboar out (which should be done as quickly as is safe), start attaching as many R Energy to Shuckle as possible.

Use cards like Professor Juniper and Uxie LA to load your hand with some energy first, playing out Pokémon and Trainers to draw more. Hopefully some of the cards you draw are more R Energy, letting you draw even more cards with Shuckle. Careful use of cards like Seeker, Super Scoop Up, and Unown (with the “RETURN” Poké-Power) can let you reuse these energy cards to draw your entire deck.

With your deck in hand, and a lot of energy in play, pick the energy up one more time (Super Scoop Up, Seeker or Unown RETURN), and attach it to the Forretress you should have put into play by now (using Broken Time-Space if necessary). Flip a bunch of coins, and the game is over – likely in your favor, as your Forretress should be the only Pokémon left on the board.

Note your opponent’s prize count, however; if your opponent takes prizes before you go off, you may have to limit the number of Pokémon on your bench before exploding, or they will win on prizes before you can win by clearing the field!

Efficient Explosions

Forretress: A bomb by any other name.

Now that the core of the deck has been settled, how do we add consistency, so that we can reliably combo off and win the game by turn 2 or 3 at the latest? Note that turn 1 was not mentioned – though it is possible for the deck to go off and end the game on turn 1, Sabledonk is a more efficient way to do the same thing.

Kaboom relies on finding its own niche by being somewhat donk resistant, while providing a decisive end to the game around the same time other decks will get set up.

Being able to draw a consistent stream of cards is important. Many cards exist in duplicates only for consistency, and want to be played just once per game; Broken Time-Space, Shuckle, Emboar, and Forretress are among them.

This means that Professor Juniper is an excellent way of digging through the deck, throwing away any card that can’t be used and giving you 7 new ones. It does use the turn’s Supporter slot, but the effect is too good not to run 4 of them.

Unown R is also obvious; its Poké-Power, “Retire”, lets it act like an empty slot in the deck, drawing you another card to replace itself. This makes any deck a little faster and more consistent, and while they can be replaced by R Energy, using Unown R lets you draw cards before Emboar and Shuckle join forces to draw the deck.

The other key consistency cards are Uxie LA, to draw you cards early on, Spiritomb AR, to prevent donks and help evolve Emboar, and your retrieval engine – Super Scoop Up, Unown (Return), and Seeker. The resultant deck skeleton looks something like this:

Pokémon – 26 

2 Tepig Promo
2 Pignite BW
2 Emboar BW #20
2 Shuckle Promo
2 Pineco LA
2 Forretress LA
4 Uxie LA
4 Spiritomb AR
4 Unown R LA
2 Unown (Return) HS

Trainers – 12 

4 Professor Juniper
4 Super Scoop Up
2 Seeker
2 Broken Time-Space

Energy – 18 

18 R

This leaves 4 open slots. In my build personally, I use 2 Energy Retrieval, 1 Azelf LA, and 1 Junk Arm; a different mix of cards may be preferable. Still, the focus of this is purely on drawing as many cards as possible, getting the energy used back into your hand, and going off with a bang using Forretress LA.

Playing Against Kaboom

Ampharos Primepokebeach.com
Game Over

I see this deck actually getting some exposure at Battle Roads, so players may want some idea of how to counter it. Aside from simply setting up early and attacking as fast as possible, the best way to counter it is to put it in topdeck mode. Cards like Cyrus’ Initiative, Judge, and Weavile UD will take many good openings away from Kaboom, and let you take the deck apart before they recover.

Ampharos Prime provides a hard counter to the deck, as drawing more than five cards with Shuckle, or exploding more than 8 times with Forretress Knocks it Out, costing them all of the energy used. Kaboom players would have to rely much more on their ability to return Pokémon to their hand if Ampharos Prime hit the board.

The third way to slow down Kaboom, and one that requires more discussion, is the use of Power Spray. What to Spray against Kaboom comes down almost entirely to how many cards they have in hand, and how much bench space they have available.

Saving sprays for Uxie’s “Set Up” or Unown’s “Return” is not always a good idea – spraying Unown R’s “Retire” when they have a full bench could buy you a full turn to disrupt their strategy. Spray carefully, and when in doubt, Spray often – using Cyrus’ Conspiracy to fetch another Cyrus and another Spray is a very good play in this matchup.


All in all, I think Kaboom is a really fun deck to play, and is one of the only true combo decks in Pokémon. While it may not be top tier, testing has shown it to be a fairly reliable rogue deck, able to end games as they just get going, and have at least some resistance to Sabledonk. Plus, there is some thrill to taking out every Pokémon your opponent has in a single turn! Good luck, and enjoy the fireworks!

Reader Interactions

11 replies

  1. kathyobrien

    for 8 tails, you K.O. your own emboar… and what if they play the same deck/ Everyone Explode now foretress?

    • tim h  → kathyobrien

      If they run emboar, you just get 8 flips.

      If more than one person is running a forretress deck at league… be scared. Anyway, it would be a win for the player who attaches. Knock out all your pokemon except emboar; they will be forced to put their forretress active. When they do, send up your inferno fandango emboar.

      If they have emboar out, just explode all the pokemon on the field. Neither of you can hurt each other if you don’t have any metal energy :P

  2. tim h

     The correct way to win with this strategy is to kill absolutely everything they have. Firstly, you can’t kill your own forretress with your booming; and secondly, Emboar has a stupid amount of HP. If you flip the 8th coin (15 and 16th damage counter) and it’s tails, then surely everything else will have died (140 hp or lower)… and if not, your emboar will die at the same time as their… tyranitar prime? machamp prime? This deck sets up stupidly fast. Turn 2 massive donk. I think Pokemon Collector x4 would be a good card in this deck, as well as an unown Q. If you get spiritomb stuck in the active and no basics to evolve (you run 26 pokemon, and 4 basics that evolve) then you will be far behind.

    Lastly, if prizes permit, don’t feel bad to kill off all of your benched uxies and spiritombs so you can play more uxies. As long as your opponent doesn’t take 6 prizes before you knock out all of their pokemon, you should be fine. (Remember, 2 uxies = 140 hp, so make sure you calculate how many flips you’ll need to kill them before playing uxie (for instance, uxie dies in 4 flips – so make sure to wait until they only need 3 flips to play your uxie if you can)

    I tried to play this deck with Smeargle from secret wonders and blastoise (wash out? attach a lot of water energies) but it never worked. This, on the other hand…

    • tim h  → tim

      Also, if you’re worried about sabledonk… don’t. You run 20 basics; 4 of which are spiritomb. 

  3. Joshua Hall

     I heard about this deck once before…and it’s sick.  I really hope it wins some battle roads.  KABOOM

  4. Roarkiller Master

     I actually played this deck in Battle Roads, albeit a more conservative build.

    My style of play, however, is different from yours. The idea is to have 4-5 energy in your hand minimum, depnding on board’s max HP. Drop everything down, that’s 5 flips. Seeker/SSU, that’s another five. Unown return, another five. Oh, and unown is KOed. No matter, POKEMON RESCUE!!! For yet another five.

    You don’t need stupid amounts of energy in your hand, just ways to get it back when it leaves. You DO, however, have to watch out for judge. That card screws up your game royally.

    But regarding Sabledonk, well… I got donked TWICE in that BR. The other two games, I won one from game strategy, lost the other one due to a severe msplay on my part, but both times I hit only 4-5 tails out of the double digits I threw.

    So, yeah. If you trust your coin/dice, go ahead. If they decide to give you heads all the way like they did to me, good luck.

  5. Poet Larsen

    I played a deck like this, but it was before triumphant was even released so Emboar wasn’t around.  I don’t remember how he attached the energies. I got destroyed because he got like 15 tails in my battle against him. 

    I don’t think you really need the spiritombs because you all ready have tons of basics.  This would add space to put in techs, which could help in getting the KABOOM out quicker.  I just don’t see you pulling the KABOOM off turn 2 or 3, while having spiritomb as a starter.  You could replace the spiritombs with some rare candies and pokedrawer+. 

    This is just my idea, if you don’t like it thats fine.

  6. Caleb Cline

    Being the first one to post the idea up on the gym way back when emboar was featured in a commercial in japan, I think you have the right idea, but your list is off. I really don’t think the juniper, or uxie are necessary at all to the deck. Also I’m on and off about SSU. I love and hate that card so much in this deck. It can be stupid broken, but also just stupid. Truth be told, with RETURN, you don’t really have to run SSU. Without uxie, etc. clogging your bench, you have room to drop a couple of them in one turn. As jahikoi said, your goal is to knock out everything in one turn, no exceptions. Finally, we named it “Do the Fandango” over here, I thought that name was a little more fun. xD  

  7. Anonymous

    I really like the idea of this deck and I honestly hope it sees some success at BR’s.

  8. Anonymous

    A guy played this at a BR I went to today. I don’t believe he won, but I know he made top 4.

  9. Edgar F

    Funny how this didn’t get rated so high and yet turned out to be the clear BDIF, winning every single BR I saw it played in.

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