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 Fire 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?
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 Fire 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 Fire 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 favour, 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!
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 Fire 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||Trainers – 12||Energy – 18
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.
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!