Can You Play a Fire Deck without Ninetales?

In this article, I’m going discuss 4 topics discussing using, and not using Ninetales. They are: 1. Why we use Ninetales? 2. Draw without Ninetales? 3. Goals and Strategies (with a decklist), and 4. Pros & Cons of both. In conclusion, I will briefly sum up the 4 points, and hopefully convince you to think outside the box when it comes to draw power.

But before I go into the topics, let me give you a brief description of who I am, my history with Pokémon, my success with the game, and explain what type of articles you can expect to see from me in the future.



Hi!! I’m Sam R, I’m 30 years old, and I live in Charlotte, NC. I’m known on the forms as Amphy on here, Amphy#1 on the Gym and TCG Player, Yusei99 on PoJo, and MegaAmphy on YouTube. I’ve posted many decklists, strategy articles, and trade posts on most of all of these sites. I started playing Pokémon back in late 2000- 2001. I was around 19, or 20, so I never had the chance to play this game as a child.

I quickly learned how to play Pokémon and shortly after that I became an assistant Gym Leader, at Underground Games. I then took over that league, and I’ve been the only Gym/league Leader in Charlotte, ever since.

I’ve helped place Pokémon Leagues in 2 other stores since then, and I’m starting up another one in Mount Holly as we speak. I’ve been a rogue type of player for most of my Pokémon career, due to limited resources and funds.

Playing competitively is pretty fun for me, and I love to help and teach kids how to play. I’ve won a couple of Prereleases, and I got top 4 at Battle Roads using Honchkrow. This was right after the Supreme Victors Prerelease.

The types of articles you can expect from me are deck profiles, strategy articles, card tech choices, tournament reports, and how to articles. My articles usually have catchy titles, like this one, and are pretty fun and exciting to read.

This will be my first front page article ever!! This topic is something that hasn’t been done before, so go easy on me, But give me your thoughts on this article, and how you think I did. I always want to improve, and get better. So without further ado, it’s on to the topics.

1. Why we use Ninetales?

Well, let me answer that question. We use it as a draw engine to hopefully get the cards we need, at the right time. That’s really a great card right? A Pokémon, with the power to do what Supporters do makes it easier for us to play with because, once we use 1 Supporter, it’s gone. With Ninetales’s Poké-Power, we can use it every single turn!

There only 2 decks that I know of that could possibly use Ninetales as a draw engine. They are: Reshiram/Emboar, and Reshiram/Typhlosion. They can both use Ninetales for draw power, but 1 can work better with it, and 1 can work without it. That brings us to my next point.

2. Draw without Ninetales?

If you’re playing a Fire deck, or can abuse R Energy, then you should play with Ninetales Right? Sure!! Ninetales is the best draw supporter (other than Magnezone Prime) in the game. You’ll be crazy not to use it. This is just another option for you to take, if you choose to take it.

Now some people swear by it, and when they go to help players with Fire decks, it’s the first thing they mention. There are plenty of decks out there right now that don’t have a Pokémon draw engine, and they’re doing fine.

Here are some decks that can draw without a Pokémon draw engine: Blastoise/Floatzel, Donphan/Machamp, some Zekrom variants, Mew/Gengar, Tyranitar, Grass decks, Metal decks etc… Most of them are all good decks, and have great success without a Pokémon draw engine. Also, if these decks had a Pokémon draw engine like Ninetales, they would be right up there with Magneboar competing for the best deck in the format.

With that said, you can achieve the same goals as Ninetales, with cards like Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Cleffa, Copycat, Engineer’s Adjustments, and Judge. All of these cards draw more than it does and can give you the same, or even better results.

pokebeach.comWhy take the risk of wasting your Supporter for the turn? Look at what Ninetales does. Her Poké-Power says, you have to discard a R Energy in order to draw 3 cards. Discarding an Energy card is crucial for some decks.

See, Reshiram/Emboar decks needs R Energies in the hand. So in order to use Ninetales, you have to risk getting rid of the Energy you’ll need to power up your Pokémon possibly for that turn. Or, you put extra Energies in your deck, just to have them be discarded by Ninetales.

Or, you can add extra Energy Retrieval’s and Fisherman to your deck to get back the Energies you lost. None of those options sounds really good, but players are willing to take that risk.

3. Goals and Strategies

In this topic, I will go over a deck that normally would use Ninetales, and explain how to achieve the decks goal and strategy without it. I will also give you a list to look at so you can see it from that angle as well. The first one I’m going to go over, is Reshiram/Emboar.


Now what is the goal and strategy of this deck? The goal and strategy, is to get out Reshiram quick, and power it up with Emboar (Ability), so you can use its Blue Flare attack. Then use Energy Retrieval, and Fisherman to pull R Energy from your discard pile to your hand, so you can do Blue Flare again. Now we already know how Ninetales helps us to achieve this. So how do we do it without Ninetales?

pokebeach.comYou do it with cards like Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Cleffa, Copycat, and Judge. With these cards, you’re going to have to play smart, and I’m going to discuss how to do that. With Professor Juniper you have to get rid of your entire hand. That’s not bad if you barely have a hand in the first place. See, you’re going to be using up most of the cards in your hand.

Like Energy Retrieval, Dual Ball, Pokémon Communication, dropping R Energy with Inferno Fandango, etc… That’s perfect for you to use Professor Juniper. So then you draw 7 new cards!! What could those cards be? They’re more of the stuff that you need to use, like the cards I mentioned a couple of sentences ago. You can use them right on that turn, or you’ll have them for next turn. You may also draw into more discard/shuffle draw cards with it.

With the rest of those cards I mentioned, you basically just shuffle what little hand you have (because you used most of your stuff) back into your deck, then draw 6, 4, or your opponent’s hand. This should be simple right? Well it is. After your first 3-4 turns, you’ll have out all of the Pokémon you need.

Reshiram’s are super easy to get with Dual Ball, and Pokémon Collector. And you should have Emboar (Ability) set up by that time. That’s the stuff you’ll be shuffling/discarding. Dead Collectors, Communications, things you don’t need because you already have them out. Here’s a list for you to see what it would look like on paper.

Pokémon – 16

4 Tepig BW Promo
2 Pignite BW #17
2 Emboar BW #20
2 Emboar BW #19
3 Cleffa HS/CL
3 Reshiram BW

Trainers – 29

3 Pokémon Collector
3 Prof. Juniper
2 Prof. Oak’s New Theory
2 Prof. Elm’s Training Method
1 Fisherman
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Energy Retrieval
3 Rare Candy
2 Dual Ball
2 Switch
3 PlusPower

Energy – 15

10 R
3 Rescue
2 Double Colorless

I would have done a list, and explained more info for Reshiram/Typhlosion, but that deck really works better with Ninetales, and there’s no point in doing it, since we all agree with that, and know what it does. Now on to my next topic.

4. Pros & Cons of both

pokebeach.comWell, let’s look at them one at a time shall we. What are the pros for Ninetales?

  1. It’s Fire, so it pairs well with all of the Fire types.
  2. You draw cards off of it every turn and can still use a Supporter as well.
  3. Cost for using its Poké-Power is minimal.

The cons are:

  1. Takes up bench space.
  2. Discards an Energy card from your hand.
  3. You have to add more energy recovery in decks (except Typhlosion) to get back the Energy you discard, which takes up space in your deck.
  4. It’s a target for snipers and Pokémon Reversal.

As I said before, this is just another option, just like Shuckle is another option for draw power. That’s the beauty of this deck. It doesn’t matter what you play with it. I just wanted to show you another way of winning that’s all

In conclusion, I’ve explained why we use Ninetales, and how we can draw without it. I also explained the goal and strategy of a deck, and how you can achieve that without Ninetales. I’ve also explained the pros and cons of Ninetales, and Supporter draw to show you how balanced they are. It is truly an amazing card, and it deserves every bit of praise that we give it.

I just hope that by doing this article, you’ll think outside the box a little bit, and consider all possibilities when it comes to choosing your draw engine for the deck. And with the Pokémon National Championships around the corner, you’ll need all the help you can get. I know I will. Until next time. Amphy out!! :)

Reader Interactions

35 replies

  1. Anonymous

    NinetaLes is the best way to run a fire deck. It is the reason why fire is a strong contender.

    • Cam Graybill  → Anonymous

      no, magneboar destroys any fire deck with ninetails, it gets reversaled up and is an easy prize

      emboar does not need it, and i’ve seen reshiram work without it too

      • samuel roach  → Cam

        actually, they’ll Reversal up Emboar 20 before Ninetales. You stop their energy acceleration, you stop the deck. But you’re still right. Ninetales isn’t needed in this deck.

  2. tim h

    I still disagree that a fire deck without ninetales can be as good as one with ninetales, but you didn’t really talk about the biggest alternative (shuckle) much at all. 

    • aura  → tim

      With all the Junipers, PONTS, Collectors, and trainers, I don’t think it’s necessary to have Ninetales, but the deck runs great either way. Heck, when Catcher comes out, who’s going to run fire anyway?

      • samuel roach  → aura

        I totally agree with you about that first point, But fire might be good with catcher too, so don’t rule that out either.

        On another note, I like to give thanks to Adam who helped edit this article. And a big thanks to Dukcyninja, because it was his arguing that made me change my article around. So yeah buddy, thanks. :smile:

        • Sam Stevens  → samuel

          But ability Emboar is too much of a catcher liability … decks after catchers release will be fast, low retreat cost Pokemon or trainer lock variants focused on Vileplume or Gothitelle (or both if that works) … Anyways there’s no point in talking about catcher as after its release it will make a completely different format

        • samuel roach  → Sam

          Then why mention that now? Let’s deal with Nats, and Worlds, then we can worry about next format.

          Anyway, with the way that that deck is built in the article (plus some stuff in the next set), it can survive a Catcher, or 2. Plus Switch says hi.

        • Sam Stevens  → samuel

          I mentioned it because the above comments were referring to catcher, and unless you plan on playing 4 switch and getting lucky on drawing them 1 catcher completely stalls the deck out as you need to pay 4 retreat or give them turns to set up further… The fire deck that would run in a catcher format is ReshiPhlosion as Typhlosion has 2 retreat cost and that 2 less makes a mega difference

        • samuel roach  → Sam

          2 retreat cost? :lol: Why even worry about that when I’ll get KO’ed? Either play switch, or set up another one. If you try to set up another one, you’ll still be too slow. But, since the deck in the list runs a lot of Emboar, setting up another one is a piece of cake.

          I’m always thinking 2-5 steps ahead of the problems, and I make all my decks like that so they can counter those future problems. I’m like Shikamaru on crack. :smile:

  3. Dave Wilson

    Having tested extensively with and without ninetales I can promise he isn’t needed. Unfortunately, he does help for those few times that you can’t seem to find draw power or you get judged.

  4. Dave Wilson

    Having tested extensively with and without ninetales I can promise he isn’t needed. Unfortunately, he does help for those few times that you can’t seem to find draw power or you get judged.

  5. AndrewV

    Why don’t people consider running engineers adjustments anymore? it’s a great and versatile card and is pretty much a ninetales engine except for 4 cards. heck, you could use them both in one turn to draw 7 ON TOP OF your current hand then use that energy retrieval you drew into to get them back

    • Anonymous  → AndrewV

      you let my secret out :)

      i’ve been testing this reshiram decks with ninetales out for the last couple weeks with engineer’s adjustments. drawing 7 in one turn without having to ditch your current hand (except 2 fire energies) is HUGE.

    • samuel roach  → AndrewV

      I did. I’ve tried every version of draw there is (including Shuckle) Hmmmmm……. Maybe I should run the gauntlet again.

  6. Mekkah

    I can see where you’re going with this, but most of the cons listed either don’t really matter to Reshiram/Emboar, or aren’t actually solved problems by leaving it out.

    I have never had bench space problems with this deck when running Ninetales. Granted, I was not using Attack Emboar back when I used it, but I was using RDL, so that’s about even. Generally, the most space you should have occupied is 2x Reshiram, 1x Fandango Emboar, 1x RDL/Attack Emboar, maybe a retreated Cleffa or something. There’s one space left for Ninetales, and another if one of these isn’t in place yet.

    Having to add energy recovery and having to discard Energy is a problem? The list you posted has 4 Energy Retrieval and a Fisherman, in addition to 10 Fire. Roast Reveal fits right in along with the attacks of Reshiram, RDL and Emboar. This list is missing Junk Arm though which I have in most of my lists…perhaps you could make the argument that the 4 spots you’d normally use for 2-2 Ninetales could be used for Junk Arms, but since they’re not in the list you posted I don’t think that holds water.

    Target for sniping and Reversal? You have a Pokémon with 4 retreat on your Bench that your entire strategy is reliant on. If they hit a Reversal heads, they won’t be strapped for targets. Switch buys you out, yeah, but having to find it is inconvenient and the lack of Junk Arm only makes that worse. Sniping I will give you, though it’s not like 90 HP is very vulnerable anymore. There are no more Garchomp Cs and Crobat Gs waiting to team up on Ninetales. Yanmega Prime needs to Linear Attack Ninetales three times (and PlusPower doesn’t work here), Crobat Prime needs to Skill Dive three times, and Blastoise could KO your Active with Hydro Launcher anyway. Can’t think of any other popular snipers, Crobat is stretching it already.

    I don’t mean to start an argument here, by the way. I just thought the pro’s and cons in particular weren’t really giving a proper view of the situation.

    • samuel roach  → Mekkah

      With the way the deck in the list is, the bench would look something like 2 Reshi, 1 ability, 2 starter boar, or 1 starter boar/Reshi depending on whats active. The reason why it’s like this is to fight against the bigger Pokemon, like Magnezone, Machamp, RDL, Donphan,. Having andother starter boar gives Reshiboar a better late game. You could find space for Ninetailes, but it would be tight.

      Yes, it is a problem. If I discard an Energy for roast reveal, that’s 1 less energy I’m going to have to attack with. I have 2 starter boars in here, and I don’t always have DCE. I’m actually considering Junk Arm, so You’re right about that.

      You’re right that there aren’t any good snipers, but what they do have is Pokemon Reversal. It’s very dangerous, even though you have to flip for it. They can pull up Ninetales and just KO it. I mentioned that in the article as well. With my big Pokemon (unless they pull up pre-volutions), won’t get sniped off, or KOed by Reversal (unless they hit for 150) which would be luck on their part.

      That’s cool. Actually, I don’t mind arguing, because I do listen to the help that’s been given, and I tweak and change my list because of it. The deck gets better, and so do I. Also, this article is partially the product, of people arguing. So I thank them.

      • Sam Stevens  → samuel

        You only need 1 Emboar on the bench as another gives you no bonus effect at all, and if the 1st gets KO’d then set up the 2nd… Anyone who knows how to play will reversal the Emboar as its the most challenging to retreat, only drag up Ninetales if you are on your last prize or played Alph Lithograph and need something very particular from your prizes… But every deck besides trainer lock should run Junk Arm

      • Mekkah  → samuel

        2 Reshi, 1 ability, 2 attackers still gives you space for a Ninetales (1 Active, 5 Bench). Unless you’re meaning to imply that you are putting this many attackers on your Bench when you also have another Active, which is kind of silly if you ask me. The set-up I proposed will always give you a Benched back-up attacker (both a Reshiram and either RDL or Attack Emboar), you don’t need another at hand. Especially not Reshiram, which can be searched out by everything and its dog.

        I get that Roast Revealing reduces the amount of Energy you can attach, but you seem to totally miss the other counterpoint I made to your argument. You argue using Ninetales requires you to run Energy recovery cards, but the Ninetales-less list you posted still has 4 Energy Retrieval and 1 Fisherman. Which is perfectly logical because a deck based on Blue Flare, Flare Blitz, etc needs those cards. But it doesn’t stroke with your argument.

        You could argue Roast Reveal requires you to run more than that…okay, you have to add one more Fisherman, or find room for Junk Arm, but both of these are good additions anyway.

        I addressed Pokémon Reversal. Even if you don’t have Ninetales, they will drag up your Ability Emboar and proceed to KO it (slowing you down tremendously) or snipe around it, or simply stall so they can set up against you. This forces you to dig for your Switch (which, again, is not supported by Junk Arm) and that’s inconvenient etc.

        • Mekkah  → samuel

          Probably some of the hand refreshing cards, and I’d thin down on Emboars.

          Here’s an old Reshiram list I was using before I realized how good RDL is that should indicate my preferences (roughly):

        • samuel roach  → Mekkah

          Emboar 19 is my RDL. Some players run 2-2 of him, which is what I’m doing with Emboar 19. I know it takes up a lot of space, but it does the same amount of damage, but you don’t get 2 prizes. They also don’t get 2 off of you either. If I had the money, I’d get at least 1 RDL. Having multiple Emboars is somewhat of a + though if they reversal up #20(with a Rescue Energy) and kill it,(when I have a Pignite, or Tepig on the bench) I can get it back to my hand, and play Rare Candy/evolve Pignite, and #20 is back out. Also keeping big beaters on the field causes problems for those big Pokemon Reshiram and a Plus Power can’t handle.

          I think I’ll take out 1, but I don’t know. I’m really liking Junk Arm though. Seems good.

  7. Kurt Rosales

    I have done testing with Typhlosion, Engineers, and Sages. Works great, as a draw engine and no need to worry about having Ninetales dragged up.

    • samuel roach  → Kurt

      Before I decided to take out Ninetales, I ran something similar to this. the goal was to set up Ninetales, and even if it was pulled up I still had good draw power. Plus, I didn’t need it every turn. Finding the right combination takes some work, but it’s doable. 

  8. Ed Mandy

    Ninetales is definitely not needed here.  However, I would run the list a bit differently, but that can be personal opinion (just as Ninetales is).  Nintales absolutely makes the Typhlosion version work.  With the Emboar version, I actually believe he’s a hindrance.

    • samuel roach  → Ed

      That’s what I found out about it. How would you run it, If you don’t mind me asking?

      • Ed Mandy  → samuel

        My style is more trainer-based.  I’d use the supporters for draw and the trainers for everything else.  I think you have too few basics for Collector to be real effective.  Try Dual Ball, and you’ll want Junk Arm too.  Also, I don’t think you need 4 Communication AND 2 Elm.

        • samuel roach  → Ed

          Actually, before I put this up, I was running more Dual Balls. I do agree that a more trainer based engine is the way to go. It’s a lot faster, and makes Juniper a lot better too.

        • Ed Mandy  → samuel

          I’m back to say that I was probably wrong.  While Ninetales is not a necessity, it is something that fire has that most decks can not take advantage of.  The format lacks consistency, and Ninetales helps add that.  It’s just a bit sad (to me) that I didn’t realize this until after my Nats experience.  I needed to test it more before writing it off as unnecessary.

          I plan to write up my list and some more explanation (on ) sometime soon.

  9. Michael Gottschalk

    Hey Amphy, I would just like to say “great first article”. I really found this article to be a bold topic to say the least.   There is an underlining signifigance to articles like this and I really just wanna offer my profound thanks to you for bringing up a topic that seemed to get more constructive criticism and less gratitude. I’ve found that most players stick to what works for them and topics such as these seem to cause a debate. Now to get to that underlining signifigance i mentioned. Well, I honestly feel that articles such as this one help exemplify the mass importance of the games core fundamentals and how limitless it truly is (to an extent) when it comes to the  current competitive format. I really enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to more of your articles in the future.  Take it easy man ~ PS   Loved the “Amphy out” thing at the end, lol

    • samuel roach  → Michael

      Thanks MIKE. I like making articles that really catch people’s eyes like this one. I’m always thinking the opposite of what everyone else is thinking, and I twist it and make it my own. Challenging the masses and their thoughts, is pretty fun for me. It keeps me busy, and I learn a great deal about the things I write as well.

      :lol: I want to start something new on 6 Prizes. I want to leave all that trouble on the Gym behind me. I know some people can’t forget what happened to them over there,  and that’s ok. Maybe with me doing stuff like this (writing articles) and putting up good content will change their minds shortly, but surely.

      Amphy out!! :lol:

  10. aura

    I use Ninetales, but I’ve learned not to use it unless I need a card (trying to get DCE/Rescue or after a Judge)

    • samuel roach  → aura

      that’s what usually happens to me. I ended up using it just when I needed it. and most of the time I was debating on weather I would draw into another fire energy so I can attack with Reshi.

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