Baby Pokémon – The Next Big Thing?


Schnitzel and beer. You can't go wrong with that when you're in Austria.

Hey SixPrizes! It’s me, Logan here with an article that I’m writing while I’m in Vienna, Austria, doing some studying abroad. I’m enjoying the local cuisine and drinks, thank you very much for asking. If you want to see my vlog, here’s the link to my channel.

Today I will talk to you about something that has been going through my mind for a while, ever since Cleffa was brought up as a potential starter Pokémon for our next rotation. As you all know, there are currently eight Baby Pokémon that can be used in the current format: Cleffa, Tyrogue, Elekid, Magby, Mime Jr., Igglybuff, Smoochum, and Pichu.

All of these Baby Pokémon have the same ability, Sweet Sleeping Face, which states that if the Pokémon is asleep, all damage dealt by attacks is prevented. That is a very powerful bit of wording right there. There is a 50% chance that the attack that you have used for your turn may result in your basic Pokémon not taking any damage from a Pokémon during your opponents turn.

However, we must also realize that this does mean that you are vulnerable to special conditions, but we’ll discuss this part later.

Now, as most have you have seen, Cleffa has been creeping into decklists left and right, and taking them all by storm, and often by a multiple of 4. To a lesser extent, so have Tyrogue and Elekid, but the former is meant to counter other baby Pokémon directly, while the latter is meant for damage disruption (another concept that I will discuss later).

Pichu has been placed in certain decks, once in Jumpluff, and then fading away a bit before attempting a comeback in the HGSS-on format. Mime Jr. has been used in decks for the MD-on formats, but has lost much of its hype, and he is now rarely considered for any deck. The others, Magby, Igglybuff, and Smoochum, are barely talked about at all, and, mostly, for good reasons.

The Baby Pokémon

pokebeach.comLet’s start with the ones that have not been hyped, starting with Igglybuff. With the same bottom-stats and Poké-Body (I won’t be repeating this) as all of the other baby Pokémon, it already puts itself into the category of thought-provoking.

However, I’m afraid it doesn’t get much father than that. Its attack, “Graffiti”, increases the cost of each defending Pokémon’s attacks to be increased by one C energy. With all of the energy acceleration going around with Emboar, Pachirisu, and Feraligatr (and Floatzel, for all of you stage 1 lovers out there), it’s probably not going to affect too many people.

But I could see how this could cause some disruption with Zoroark, Cinccino, Donphan, Machamp… What’s that you say? Oh yeah, the wording states “the defending Pokémon”, meaning that if you are affected by the attack, you can retreat, Switch, Super Scoop Up, evolve, or even use “Fighting Tag” to get away from this problem.

The best disruption that this card can give is early game, to make sure that their Cleffa has to have an energy attached, or you can make your opponent waste a DCE on their Stantler if they’re really in a hurry to set up, but I really don’t see it happening. Let’s move on to the next one.

Smoochum. All this card really is a faceplam in card form. It’s not exactly terrible, but it’s not something that can’t very well be widely used either. It’s attack, aptly named Energy Antics, allows you to move one of your opponent’s energy cards attached to a Pokémon to another Pokémon. Simple, and, very situationally, effective.

Though I don’t really like this card, it’s hard not to see some potential with certain decks. You can use the attack to move an energy to a Ninetales for a fire deck, to a baby Pokémon sitting on the bench after not being used, maybe a Shaymin when you’re up against a Zekrom deck, or to another Pokémon that just won’t make good use of that energy card.

It’s beneficial now that there is no Poké Turn (unless you’re thinking about MD-on, in which case, Azelf), but you still have to be wary with its use, as it is a very fragile Pokémon. It could possibly get used as a tech, but just like Igglybuff, I just don’t see it going anywhere, though I think Smoochum has more potential.

Now onto one that has been overlooked too much, Magby. This one doesn’t seem like much, but I desperately want to test with it, because something tells me it has potential if we actually get to a phase where baby Pokémon are starters.

Magby’s attack, “Play with Fire”, burns the defending Pokémon. Why is this important? Remember when I told you that I’d get to the special conditions part of the Poké-Body later? Now is the time. Sweet Sleeping Face doesn’t bother Magby at all, because he just burns you.

Now, imagine your opponent now has to flip two heads in a row to both be awake and to avoid the 20 damage that would be done by burn.

Chances are that your opponent will not be that lucky, as there is only a 25% chance of this happening. What exactly does this mean then? Unless your opponent Seekers or Scoops Up that baby Pokémon you just went up against and it successfully retreats with the burn damage, you can either Gengar Prime that single damage counter for the KO, Spray Splash the baby Pokémon for the KO, use Elekid for the snipe and KO, or (though I don’t recommend it) use Mandibuzz for the baby KO.

An easy prize is always a good thing, right? Though probably not the best combination in the world, you could also combine this with Roserade and a Rainbow Energy to hope that your opponent flips tails. Just some ideas to have you think that this card is not as crappy as you once thought.

Mime Jr. is a card that has seen a bit of hype, even featuring itself in its own deck when it first came out, but since then, it hasn’t seen too much play. Its attack, Sleepy Lost, takes the top card of you opponent’s deck and sends it to the Lost Zone.

How is this good? Well, if you don’t already know the concept of the Mime Jr. deck, the original combination was to use Chatot G and Slowking HS in order to Lost Zone six of your opponent’s Pokémon for the game. Though a good idea, the deck usually lost too much steam around Pokémon #4, and after that, it lost. Honestly, the deck was too slow for an MD-CoL format.

However, now that the metagame will be slowing down dramatically, this card could potentially see some use when paired with its good friend Gengar Prime.

I had originally thought of this combination when my friend was messing with the Mime Jr. deck, but he didn’t have the money to purchase the Gengar Primes, and then we thought that Palkia G LV.X would be a much more suitable partner for Gengar Prime, and as I found out at Regionals, I was right. Now is probably the best time for Mime Jr. to shine, and I hope he does so in style.

pokebeach.comI remember getting Pichu at the prerelease and I immediately thought it was an amazing card. And then about two seconds of thought said, “It’s probably only going to work with Jumpluff.” I think that I’m still standing by this because Jumpluff, at the time, was the only thing that could keep up with the disadvantage of having your opponent set up their basics, too.

Now, it’s still a little difficult for me to see whether Pichu will work or not, mainly because you have the awesomeness of setting up your whole bench, but the disadvantage of giving your opponent the same benefit.

This card competes with Stantler and Cleffa for setting up, but with Collector and Dual Ball in the format, I don’t really know what’s going to happen with this cute little rat, but I say it’s only going to make its way into a few decks, and almost none of them top-tier.

Elekid has got to be one of the strangest techs, or starters, I have ever seen. When you first take a look at its attack, “Sparking Ball”, it seems very mediocre. Well, at least in Modified; during the prerelease, if you didn’t start with this card and your opponent did, it was going to be a rough battle.

pokebeach.comHowever, no matter how bad this card looks on paper, it plays way too well to be overlooked in this format. Where we are all looking at Cleffa for that hand refresh (and I’ll get to that in a minute) to start the game, when you take a look at what Elekid can do for, as well as against, big Pokémon like Magnezone, Reshiram, and Zekrom, it becomes almost infinitely better.

“But Logan, it can only do 20 damage.” But that’s damage to any Pokémon on your opponent’s field. “That’s nothing.” What’s 140 minus 20? 120. What’s 130 minus 20? 110. What’s 30 minus 20? 10. The first two, Magnezone and the legendaries, are now able to be 1HKO’d by Reshiram and Zekrom, and the last one covers the baby Pokémon, which can be immediately taken out with one Sea Spray or part of Gengar Prime’s attack.

The Gengar and Kindgra combos are good in theorymon, but the higher HP Pokémon strategies definitely give your opponent trouble. It’s great to work with Zekrom decks for sure, but testing will reveal its strength with other decks.

pokebeach.comWith all of the Cleffa creep, Tyrogue has been talked about as a counter, and it’s hard to see why it’s not talked about as a counter. For no energy, it dishes out 30 damage, (except to Donphan and Samurott, where it only does 10).

Now, it’s not the most powerful attack for no energy (GYARADOS!!!!!), but 30 is a magic number, not just for the baby Pokémon, but even for the larger Pokémon. While always hitting a baby Pokémon for a prize (except, of course, their Poké-Body and Defender) is great, there are other numbers that like taking 30 away from a Pokémon, not to mention the stall factor. Basic math states that 130-30=100.

Why is this important? Two Pokémon immediately come to mind for hitting that exact amount of damage: Blastoise and Magnezone (2 energy instead of 3 for Magnezone is always a good thing). Other Pokémon hit harder than 100, and this benefits them as well, especially when you consider Machamp Prime, with 150-30=120. 1HKO range for Zekrom and Reshiram.

Tyrogue seems to be a great counter/tech to mess around with, and I know that some groups are abuzz with this card, and it’s been good in the past, so I believe that everyone needs to at least test this card.

pokebeach.comAnd last, but certainly not least, Cleffa, the currently most commonly used baby Pokémon in this developing format. With the classic attack “Eeeeeeek”, you shuffle your hand into your deck and you draw 6 new cards (or, if you shuffle poorly, the same 6 cards).

This card is becoming the new staple starter because of three main reasons: 1) free Retreat Cost, 2) 50% invincibilty, and 3) the ability to regain hand size and/or get rid of a bad hand after use on the first turn.

All of these reasons make Cleffa an almost perfect starter, but I’ll take it over some of the other choices. So this card has no attacking potential whatsoever, but what it gives you in support more than makes up for its lack of power.

This card reminds me a little of Crobat G, and don’t think I’m crazy until I give you my reason, because it is a very useful card when it’s there to serve its main purpose and it’s there on the bench so, when your main guy gets KOd, free retreat. A very promising card that everyone has already talked about, Cleffa should be a prominent option in everyone’s mind.


As you should be able to see, most of these baby Pokémon seem to be very useful, and I think that very resourceful players can come up with great ways to use these guys to their advantage. Personally, I think that the best three are Elekid, Tyrogue, and Cleffa, but Mime Jr., Magby, and Pichu have their own roles.

And maybe some day Smoochum and Igglybuff can serve a purpose other than being cute. The format seems to be moving toward baby Pokémon as starters and counter-starters, so be prepared to either embrace it or counter it. If you don’t like it, make use of Reversals and Circulators. If you like it, read through this article again and test. It will be beneficial.

Closing Remarks (meaning a rant)

flickr.comIt is here that I really want to have some sort of rant about the format. I really, really enjoy it. Ever since I’ve started playing competitively, it’s just been the same thing. Too much draw power and too much support.

At least when I started it was even (I started at the release of Great Encounters, just after Worlds), and then it just grew into a lopsided powerhouse of SP and other broken Pokémon like Gengar SF and Gyarados SF.

It just got even worse when the B&W rules came around, making it a struggle between trainer lock and the ability to donk. It has just been terrible.

But now, I’m enjoying this format. In my limited testing, (I could only get with my friend for one day, and 3 games in and a food break, I started getting a massive headache), I have been in the best games I have ever played.

I refer to these as chess games, because neither side had a major advantage, and you had to really think through every single move before going, otherwise you risk losing the match. Cappuccino (Cinccino and Zoroark) is a very good deck, even with its “low” damage output, it gave Magneboar problems, with the prize count going to 1-1 before I took the match (of course, I wasn’t running RDL, so that may or may not have helped).

Plus, the ingenuity of the decks is amazing, and I really enjoy that we have so much freedom in this format. Just today I was looking at the Japan World Championships decks, and they were Torterra, Blastoise, Raichu, and Magmortar. They are all different, and those are the top four decks. It’s astonishing. I love it.
aka Pokémon Catcher

Which brings me to the next point. I don’t want them to release Pokémon Catcher in the next set. Pokémon Reversal is fair, and we’ve already seen what one card with the effect of Pokémon Catcher can do. This card even had to be played under special conditions for it to have to right effect, but it was still detremental to the players going up against it.

I mean, even when people have equal power, it balances things a bit, but I just don’t like this factor that’s too broken. I mean, Haymaker was a very powerful deck back in the old days, and not many of the evolution decks could keep up with it.

We have a deck now that mimics Haymaker, and it’s Reshiram and Zekrom, not to mention Cappuccino can directly counter, and even overpower, Reshiram and Zekrom. Pokémon Catcher is just too disruptive for the current state of the game, especially when we have those 1st turn trainers rocking everyone around.

Though I don’t think it will distract us from our originality in making decks, I do believe that it will send us back to disliking the format (though I could be wrong).

With that, I think I should end this article. I hope you will now take a closer look at each baby Pokémon card and see what you can do with it. I was going to leave you with a couple of lists that included different uses for baby Pokémon, but I haven’t had the time to develop them due to my studies in Vienna.

Reader Interactions

18 replies

  1. Lee

    As usual, great article Logan. I enjoy your passion for starter Pokemon. In regards to Pokemon Catcher, I personally think you may be worrying too much. I know I don’t need to tell you this, but I still continuously play first gen decks that run 4 GoW and 3 Itemfinder. In fact I played a game last night. Those games, even with the potential of 7 Gust of Winds from one player alone, are not THAT disruptive when the other player has the ability to do the same. Of course it shuffles the game a bit and makes you more carefully consider what you bench, but other than leaving room in your deck for four Gust of Wind, its not the end of the world.

    Now you may say, Lee, you are comparing slow, weak first generation cards that do not OHKO everything to our current format… that is silly. This is true. I would like to note, however, that I do more Unlimited format testing than I do for my first gen decks or our current format (which I have lately done some heavy testing with Pokemon Catcher as well). The point is, in Unlimited you have even more OHKOing with more powerful, faster Pokemon than our current format, and even there Gust of Wind is not just pure disruption as you expect it as much as you expect the sun to rise (or an Energy Removal to be played) and build and work around it.

    Perhaps I am ranting too much. What I am trying to say here, is that while Pokemon Catcher will certainly change how we play the game and how we build our decks, it will not be so disruptive that people will dislike the format (I hope). I personally welcome it considering Gust of Wind has been so ingrained in my mind that it feels strange to me to NOT to worry about it when I put a Pokemon down on the bench. So, I guess my advice is just see it as another challenge to your deck and how to use it to your advantage, not a doomsday card. On a final note, my sympathies to all of you who play Emboar out there if this card does get released.

    • Anonymous  → Lee

      The Emboar thing is pretty much why I’m concerned.  Ever since I was running ‘GatrZone and I saw the scan of Emboar, I’ve really been wanting to play MagneBoar, and I am now.  Luckily, Emboar can still do some decent damage instead of just being a dead support card, like unlike Claydol.  I’ve only ever enjoyed GoW when I played with it, and I’ve never enjoyed playing against it, but as I said to Froztblood, we will adapt.

  2. tim h

    When you have a type disadvantage, a good strategy is to let them KO a weak pokemon, and then try to return a ko.

    i.e, put out Tyrogue, do 30, then lose tyrogue – then kill something with 1 shot with zekrom.

    Gust of Wind (catcher) helped super offensive decks own any non-offensive decks. The way that catcher will be most effective is if your opponent has support pokemon on their bench. The way that catcher will be not effective is if you do NOT have support pokemon on your bench (note: Donchamp)

    I have a feeling Gothitelle will be huge; only because it stops catcher. Still, doesn’t stop catcher from pulling a gothita. 

  3. tim h

    Also, I wouldn’t mind teching 1 Pichu into my Reshiram based decks. If I get it in my starting hand, I can get far ahead of my opponent by playing tepig, magnemite, and 2 reshirams and another tepig/magnemite…

    But I don’t think it’s worth a spot over a cleffa for any deck except cinccino.

    • Anonymous  → tim

      But your opponent gets the same advantage that way.  When I play myself in my head, (it’s not very accurate though), I always watch the person who used Pichu’s attack lose because their opponent is allowed to evolve a turn earlier than you.  I believe that this is the arguement people are using to put in Stantler as a starter, because that means you don’t have to waste your support for the turn on Collector and the evolve time is the same.  However, I’m still very green on whether or not to play Stantler, but I love playing Cleffa.

  4. Ed Mandy

    Sorry, I couldn’t concentrate after seeing that schnitzel and lemon.

    • Anonymous  → Ed

      It was filled with chile, gorgonzola and ham.  It was like eating a chile relleno and schnitzel at the same time.  It was too good to be true, but at the same time, it was. 13,30 Euros though :/

  5. Grant O'Brien

    How did you find the Japan world Championship decks?

    • Anonymous  → Grant

      Wikipedia has them listed by the main Pokemon being used in the deck, but upon further research (and by that I mean my friend magneto1992’s research), they were just decks made to promote the Japan World Championships.  I think.

  6. Emil lumen

    Pokemon catcher should have some sorta of set back, like how luxury ball could only be used if you had no luxury ball in discard, but i guess we’ll have to deal with it.

    • Anonymous  → Emil

      Which is why I would prefer that it just be Pokemon Reversal and not Pokemon Catcher, because at least one is not entirely automatic.  With a full set of Reversals, the chance of you hitting all of them is 6.25%, and a majority of the time you’re going to have two work and two fail (not including Junk Arm, of course).  This is much more fair than being able to do this four times, no questions asked, except to trainer lock.  The way I see it, we’re just going to be too scared to be able to take it on properly because it’s a trainer.  However, in due time, we will probably adapt.

  7. Ryan Graham

    This is absolutely the least fun format I have ever been a part of in the Pokemon Community. I feel as though these decks take no thought process as did a good LuxChomp build or Regigigas, and I just draw a card and attack. I hope we get some game changing cards in the next set because I’m becoming incredibly bored.

    • Anonymous  → Ryan

      I don’t know who you’ve been playing against or what you’ve been playing with, but I’ve had some of the best games testing this format.  However, as I hated LuxChomp and most other decks last format, many people loved them.  To each his own.

    • CarlosPero  → Ryan

      HS-on is just beginning, in fact technically it would be “early”.  Let’s reserve judgment about the format until a year from now when we’re building decks for Battle Roads and Nationals with 10 sets.

  8. Jason Shook

    Nice thought provoking article. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Twins though with an almost 75% chance your opponent gets an easy first prize off of your baby starter.  (50% chance of going second and a 50% chance of waking up) Maybe I’m wrong about that but I have started building decks with more Plus powers and basics that do damage fist turn just because I’m seeing so many little starters lately.

    • Anonymous  → Jason

      Interesting idea.  However, I don’t believe Twins is as powerful of a card right now, mainly because the prize race does not start too fast.  I will have to look into that though.

  9. Travis Yeary

    I’m a little confused as to how Cappuccino counters ReshiBoar. It would turn into a prize race where RehiBoar could easily set up in one turn, and Cappuccino would need either a DCE AND a Pluspower every turn, or to play extremely carefully with energy to even return the KO. Especially Cinccino with his 100 damage.

    • Anonymous  → Travis

      That’s a little bit of what I meant to say, and I probably used the wrong words.  However, because Capuccino runs Reversals, Reshiboar does not normally have too much support to recover from that, giving you the “counter.”  But you still have to remember that sometimes even the best builds have times when they just can’t do that one thing that needs to get done, and Capuccino takes advantage of that.

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