The third installment of my analysis of the HGSS-on metagame will be about Water. Those of you paying attention will have noticed that I’m determining the order of the types by analyzing the weakness of the type discussed in the previous article. I believe this is roughly their “official” order, so I’m going to keep it that way. At least until I’m stuck in an indefinite loop of analyzing Psychic Pokémon.
On our type chart, Water is right between two extremely hyped deck types. It has an advantage over Emboar and most of the things it fuels (most notably Reshiram), but it’s weak weak against Reshiram’s counterpart Zekrom, as well as one of Emboar’s favourite partners in crime: Magnezone.
Gyarados SF and Kingdra LA left a crater-sized gap of demand for strong and fast Water attackers, and currently, it seems there is no answer for this. Regardless, the type is one of variety and potential. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, but at least there will be a lot to talk about.
pokebeach.comWater has several Pokémon geared toward being your starter, trying to help you go through your deck more quickly to find what you need. The first one I’m going to discuss is Delibird, whose “Snowy Present” grants you an extra card every turn for every Water Energy you have on your field.
Sadly, Delibird has a problem that many other starters have: he has to compete with Cleffa and its enormous flexibility. Delibird will usually get you about three to six extra cards during his time in the Active spot, but in the same time Cleffa will get you two hand refreshes (on average).
In addition, Cleffa allows you to attach your first Energy to your main attacker since its attack does not require any, and functions as a free retreater. There is Delibird’s 70 HP to consider versus Cleffa’s 30, but “Sweet Sleeping Face” does one hell of a job making up for it.
Santa’s Fighting resistance is hardly useful since it has no hope of holding off your opponent’s Fighting attackers. The only one that would be even slightly intimidated is Tyrogue, and he ignores Resistances. “Hail” requires an extra Energy attachment that probably isn’t worth the scarce amount of spread.
A different approach is taken by Relicanth, perhaps one of the few gems in the dirt that is Call of Legends. For just C, you put a card from your hand into the Lost Zone, then draw three. This is much better than Delibird even if it were just for the Colorless cost.
However, Relicanth also has to cope with a pretty high 2 Retreat Cost when you really have no reason to attach more than one Energy to it, and that makes it quite a hassle to get out of the Active spot once you’re done drawing cards. Because of this, I would only recommend Relicanth in decks that profit from sending cards to their own Lost Zone, such as Lucario CL and Mew Prime.
pokebeach.comInstead of trying to go for straight draw, Manaphy tries to beat Cleffa at its own game. “Deep Sea Whirl” does basically the same as Eeeeeek, but gets you one less card and costs an Energy (any type you like though).
It has free retreat, and a cheap “Wave Splash” attack that can KO opposing babies with a single PlusPower, basically making Manaphy a mix of Tyrogue of Cleffa, though overall worse than both at their tasks. Like with Delibird, Sweet Sleeping Face provides stiff competition against Manaphy’s 30 HP advantage.
From what I can tell, the player base has largely expressed their preference for Cleffa over all other choices. Manaphy is definitely right behind Cleffa, but you know what they say about those who place second: they are only the best loser.
There’s also the Promo Lapras, which searches out a Supporter from your deck to put in your hand. The only reason I’m mentioning him is because I miss the Lapras from Great Encounters that basically goes Cyrus on your deck (searching a Pokémon Tool, a Supporter and an Energy), as well as Sableye’s “Impersonate” (never cared for “Overconfident”).
Mantine is the last starter I want to mention. “Group Swim” allows you to search your deck for a single Water Pokémon and put it in your hand. This can be a pretty good way to find the slightly harder-to-find Water types such as evolutions and LEGENDs in the absence of Bebe’s Search.
I find it interesting that the Water starters so far perfectly reflect the three ways of trying to get what you need in Pokémon: drawing cards, exchanging your hand, or searching. My preference is still with Manaphy and Cleffa out of these though, despite how useful Group Swim might seem.
Aside from the other arguments I made for Cleffa, there’s the fact that Snowy Present and Group Swim leave you wide open for a Judge and other forms of hand disruption to set you back to square one, whereas Eeeeeek and Deep Sea Whirl will bail you right out of them.
pokebeach.comIt just so happens that both other Pokémon that qualify for the supporting squad help you bypass the “one Energy attachment per turn” rule. The penultimate one is of course Feraligatr Prime, who carries the weight of Base Set Blastoise on his shoulders (quite a feat if you ask me) by wielding an almost exact reprint of the “Rain Dance” Power. As often as you like, you may attach Water Energy to one of your Pokémon…but only if that Pokémon is a Water-type.
You would think this kind of Power entering the format would have shaken up the format completely, but the fact is that he was almost entirely ignored after the initial hype flew over. Which is odd, when you consider how much of an impact Base Set Blastoise had on his format.
There are several reasons for this, and the most obvious one is that Feraligatr’s own attack, “Hydro Crunch”, was and still is very underwhelming. Dealing 60 for four Water Energy is unacceptable even with Rain Dance: it’s barely any better than Blastoise back then (who did 50 for the same cost, but his Hydro Pump had variable power), and both HP and attack damage have significantly increased since.
True, the side effect slightly boosts it, turning it into a 2HKO on about anything since the next attack will deal 120 damage on top of the 60 you had already done. But 2HKOs are simply unacceptable when we’re talking about a Stage 2 that requires four Energy.
Even the fact you could augment this damage with “doubled” Crobat G drops (since the Flash Bite itself did 10 damage, but it would also make Hydro Crunch do 10 more) during last format did not help.
So Feraligatr needed a real attacking partner, and while several candidates have applied for the position, most of them were sent home in both MD On and HGSS On, mostly due to issues related to speed. You see, while we can partner the rivalling Emboar with either Reshiram (who is a Basic that can deal 120 damage), or Magnezone (who provides draw support and deals infinite damage), we have never really found any equivalents for the Water side of things.
Magnezone/Feraligatr makes for an alright deck, but aside from having a built-in anti-Donphan tech, it just plays like a worse Magnezone/Emboar due to the Water acceleration being restricted on Feraligatr.
pokebeach.comBefore we go more in-depth about what Feraligatr can be paired with, let’s take a quick look at the other accelerator: Floatzel. It is kind of a “Feraligatr Light” in every sense of the word: less of everything, including things you’d rather have less of.
It takes up less space in your deck and takes less time to get out, because it’s a Stage 1. It also has free retreat against Feraligatr’s fairly massive 3. Its attack is about as underwhelming (WWC for 60), but the biggest difference is the Power.
“Water Acceleration” is every bit as complex as it is originally named (read: not at all): you get to attach an extra Water Energy every turn, as long as it’s to Floatzel. This heavily limits what you can use Floatzel for (compared to Feraligatr), since you have to find some way to get the Energy from him to something that can deal more than 60 damage.
There are some ways we already know about, such as Shaymin UL and Energy Switch, but I think you’re better off just using that space for fitting in Feraligatr or waiting until I’m going over main attackers…
Unlike Fire, there is no space-friendly, cheap, powerful Pokémon that obsoletes most of the Water card pool just yet, and there probably won’t be for a bit for time to come. With Feraligatr on the Bench, we can theoretically afford fairly costly attacks.
However, setting up both your main attacker and Feraligatr might take more time than you can afford, not to mention fetching the necessary Energy. So let’s leave aside the Energy heavy attackers for a moment and look at some Pokémon that can function without the alligator.
pokebeach.comAn old favourite from the previous format is Kingdra Prime. “Spray Splash” is a very useful and worthwhile Power that can do the same things Crobat G could with “Flash Bite”. You can use it to boost your damage rate to your opponent’s Active, perhaps by just enough so that you can finish them off this turn.
Or use it on something that has already been damaged severely, possibly taking 2 Prizes per turn. It makes for a marvellous baby killing machine too, and the best part is, all you have to do to utilize this is putting it on your Bench.
“Dragon Steam” is probably the most efficient attack left in the format, tied with Donphan Prime’s Earthquake: 60 for a single Energy is great. Last format, decks based around Kingdra could get away with using this as their main attack, combined with Spray Splash damage if needed.
The drawback of only doing 20 damage if your opponent had any Fire Pokémon barely mattered, as full-blown Fire decks were rarely played and Blaziken FB, while a potent tech, was not common enough to panic.
On a sidenote, I always found it amusing how Kingdra Prime’s power was cut to a third while Blaziken FB’s Vapor Kick’s power doubled if the two were to face each other. I thought Water Pokémon were supposed to have an advantage over Fire Pokémon?
In addition, Kingdra LA was around to do the same 60 for 1 Energy using Dragon Pump (in addition to doing some damage to their Bench), and could get rid of the few Fire Pokémon being played by itself. The fact that you could simply play 1 Kingdra LA and 3 Kingdra Prime to get rid of the few Fire threats out there made a Kingdra solo performance very viable, the extra spread damage and sheer speed offsetting its somewhat low damage cap.
But now we no longer have Kingdra LA, and Fire is more prolific than ever for other reasons more deeply analyzed in my last article. Kingdra UL can provide some comfort, although it is nowhere near as cheap. “Water Arrow” is an acceptable 30 damage snipe attack, though nothing to rely upon . “Stream Pump” does either 50 or 80 for WCC, depending on whether you are to bouncing that Double Colorless Energy you should be using with it back to your hand.
pokebeach.comKingdra UL is strong enough to KO Reshiram in one hit, but Reshiram only needs a single PlusPower for the return KO. Generally, you will only want to use one Kingdra UL at most, and recycling the same Kingdra UL is difficult: Flower Shop Lady is extremely slow to utilize, and Rescue Energy makes for a rather awkward and slow combination of Energy attachments for Stream Pump.
I’ve held off a Reshiram deck before using Kingdra UL, but I’m not confident that it would be able to do consistently. It also does nothing for decks that keep an Emboar, Ninetales, or other Fire Pokémon on their Bench, unless you are able to Pokémon Reversal it up for the KO.
Because of this, I believe Kingdra is best off combined with another attacker that provides more consistent damage output. One you might have heard of is Cincinno, which I have used quite a few times and have grown quite fond of. Cincinno is a Stage 1 that reaches a surprisingly high 100 damage for a single Double Colorless with Do the Wave as long as your Bench is full.
However, 100 damage is still quite a bit short of the 130 you need to KO most popular beefy attackers. Cincinno also has significant problems with Donphan Prime, which is light years away from being KO’d by Do The Wave because of its 120 HP and 20 damage reduction Poké-Body.
Kingdra Prime contributes to solving both of these problems. “Spray Splash” can act as a PlusPower every turn to allow Cincinno to reach the bench marks it needs, and it does 110 damage to Donphan Prime on its own just with Spray Splash and Dragon Steam. One more PlusPower or Spray Splash puts it out of its misery, making the match-up winnable.
Another, more unorthodox idea that I got with the help of an IRC friend of mine is Mamoswine. Chances are you completely skipped him over when you were looking over the Triumphant set to try to find a good card that wasn’t a Prime, Trainer, or Rescue Energy (and I don’t blame you), so you might as well look him up again if he’s not fresh on your mind.
pokebeach.comThe first thing about Mamoswine that deserves attention is that his 140 HP and complete lack of a weakness that matters might just allow him to escape the 1HKO fest we have come to expect this format.
The second thing is that his attacks are rather costly. With WCC for 40 and Sleep induction, Icy Wind is good for a bit of stalling at best, so try get Mamoswine to use Snowstorm as soon as you can. WWCC for 70 is pretty terrible, but it also does 20 damage to each of their Benched Pokémon with damage counters on it. It’s a pretty unfair condition given how much devotion is needed to get it out, but with Kingdra Prime’s Spray Splash you could be getting some rare spread Kos with this.
I’m not telling you to buy all the Mamoswines you can right now, but this could be a fun deck to try out in some leagues or Battle Roads to come. Kingdra Prime can deliver some earlygame offense, and if you bump into any Fire decks, Mamoswine can take over, killing their benched babies with Snowstorm.
Another way to spread damage in a Water deck would be Feraligatr (not the Prime). You might be familiar with Tyranitar SF’s “Spinning Tail”, and Feraligatr has exactly the same attack except a little weaker and a lot cheaper. For just WCC, you are dealing 20 to every one of their Pokémon.
It also has a rather bad but not completely unusable vanilla damage attack in Surf (80 for WWCC). This Feraligatr can be paired with the Prime to speed up his Energy attachment, as well as a pretty interesting attacking combo. You spread damage all over their field with Spinning Tail, and then proceed to finish off the remnants with Feraligatr’s “Hydro Crunch”.
I have not tested this idea and actually forgot about it when I started writing this article. It may very well work, since the lack of evolution acceleration almost guarantees you will be able to get a Spinning Tail off on any evolving attacker your opponent tries to play down while the spread Feraligatr is Active.
pokebeach.comThat just leaves Zekrom and Reshiram as threats, the former of which conveniently puts himself in Hydro Crunch KO range with Bolt Strike recoil, and the latter is just 10 HP from being 1HKO’d from a “naked” Hydro Crunch.
A flawless plan for villains across the world? Not really. Feraligatr Prime is not invincible even if he’s KOing something every turn with Hydro Crunch, and your opponent can even sneak in a healthy Pokémon while you are setting up your alligator army, or when the Hydro Crunching has started. Nonetheless, I find this deck idea very intriguing and plan to try it out for sure.
Remember how I said Victreebel really needed a hit-and-run attacker for a partner so we didn’t have to rely on “Acidic Drain” to do damage? I might have found one, but don’t get your hopes up. Octillery’s “Switch Cannon” does 30 damage to a Pokémon of your choice for just W, and then allows you to switch out Octillery for one of your Benched Pokémon.
I paired this with Pokémon Reversal, Victreebel, and Dodrio (Retreat Aid) so I could drag a Pokémon up, and snipe the Bench while the Active is trapped by Victreebel’s “Tangling Tendrills”. You can also let the Active take damage during the lock by using Acidic Drain once, so that slowly but surely, the Poison and Burn will take their toll on their Active. Hopefully they will die at the end of their turn as opposed to yours, so you can renew the trap without a retaliation attack.
It’s a lot of fun, but sadly easily ruined by Switch. It might also be tempting to trap an Emboar to give it 6 Retreat Cost, but even the “Inferno Fandango” Emboar can 1HKO Victreebel with its mediocre Heat Crash attack to end your combo. Other than a few baby kills, you are unlikely to get anything out of this. This format seems to be made for straight up damage dealing moreso than tanks, locks, and other more convoluted strategies. Which is a shame, as it adds a lot more depth to games.
But since “take 6 Prizes” is the name of the game, let’s see what we can do about that. Just like how Grass cards are usually about healing and Fire cards about discarding Energy, Water’s speciality seems to be those “Water Gun”-like attacks that do more damage if you attach more Energy. Black and White has the quintessential Water Gun Pokémon in Samurott (Shell Armor). “Hydro Pump” can be paid for with 3 Energies of any type, and does a solid 70 plus 10 more for every Water Energy you attach to it.
pokebeach.comSamurott has a very nice 140 HP and one of those “armor” Abilities that acts as a permanent Defender. This makes Samurott one of the, if not the most durable Pokémon we have in the format right now.
Chances are, if someone says something among the lines “this attack is going to KO everything, except Tyranitar, Wailord, and a couple of LEGENDs”, they forgot Samurott (I know I did when I wrote about Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND in my previous article).
It takes 160 damage to KO Samurott in one hit, and 90 to do it in two hits. Barring an exploitation of its Lightning weakness, you can count on Samurott to be around in the Active spot for a turn or two.
Now there are two main ways I’ve heard of that people use Samurott for. The first one is obviously pairing it with Feraligatr Prime to power up Hydro Pump as much as possible, essentially allowing it to do 100 damage for WWW. The second is to make use of its Colorless attacking cost to fit it into almost any deck, especially Double Colorless Energy.
This seems like an attractive option, since Samurott does fairly well against Donphan and Reshiram, both of which single-handedly ruin decks weak to their type. I’ve seen it being shoved into Zekrom, Grass decks, or being paired with Donphan to make for some kind of completely armoured deck.
Strangely enough, none of these ideas really appeal to me right now. Some of them I have disqualified through theorymon, while others took a bit of testing.
I used Samurott in a Meganium/Blissey deck until I realized Metapod takes up less space for essentially doing the same thing, but I’ll write that one off as a fluke. I have tried Donphan/Samurott, and I found the fact that Donphan’s Earthquake damaged Oshawott (and Cleffa) rather annoying. It is probably an alright anti-standard deck considering the wide spectrum of strong Pokémon weak to either Fighting or Water, but not my cup of tea.
Putting Samurott into a Zekrom deck is something I have not tried, but I think I am able to guess exactly what will happen if you do. I’m not going to explain how a Zekrom deck works since it’s been completely done to death, but if you want to see me talk more about Zekrom all you have to do is wait for my Lightning article to come out.
pokebeach.comBefore you add any techs to Zekrom, it’s a deck that only needs Basics and ways to search them out. Pretty much all other cards in the deck are devoted to Energy, hand refreshing, and ways to bounce Benched Pokémon. Which is necessary, because Zekrom needs all the speed and consistency it can get to properly exercise its early game power.
So what happens when we put Samurott in? Three to five slots have to go to the line itself (and that’s a thin line), then you will probably want Pokémon Communications and perhaps even a Professor Elm’s Training Method to find the pieces, Rare Candy to speed it up, etcetera. By my estimate, that’s about 10 “Zekrom” cards (cards that help you use Bolt Strike as soon as possible) for 10 “Samurott” cards that generally don’t speed up the main idea of your deck at all.
You’ve made a trade-off here: you do better versus decks with Donphan, which was a near auto-loss before, and probably better versus Reshiram as well. However, you have greatly reduced your chances of donking, or setting up a fast Zekrom, versus a “neutral” match-up such as Magnezone/Emboar or Tyranitar.
This reminds me of when people would put Regice, Unown DARK and Pokémon Collector in their Sabledonk builds to be able to get around Trainer lock. Better versus Spiritomb, but worse versus the rest of the field.
But since this is an article about Water Pokémon, I don’t want to get too deep into Samurott as a tech in Zekrom just yet. So what else can you do with Samurott? Naturally, you can pair him with Feraligatr Prime so you can attach WWW and beyond to it, aiming to maximize Hydro Pump’s damage to KO whatever you need. You need to set up two Stage 2 Pokémon for this, though, which as we all know is enough to slow down a deck beyond hope if it doesn’t have something amazing in return.
I don’t believe Feraligatr/Samurott has anything amazing to offer. You need five Water Energies to reach 120, which is about the minimum I would want from a Stage 2 Pokémon that requires this much set-up. As we all know by now, the magic number to reach is 130, and as tanky as Samurott is I don’t believe you will be able to put six Water Energy on it all that often.
In addition, I think we’ve reached the opposite end of the problem with using Samurott: whereas the decks where Samurott is used to do just 70 damage to help out Zekrom or some other Pokémon that’s afraid of Donphan or Reshiram ignore Samurott’s ability to do more than 70 with Water Energy, this one completely ignores the flexibility it offers with the completely Colorless attack cost.
So because I happen to like this Samurott fellow a lot, I will present you with the first Just My Type deck list.
|Pokémon – 17||Trainers – 29||Energy – 14|
I can imagine a couple of these cards looking a little off to you, and I certainly won’t blame you for taking them out in favour of others that suit your playstyle more. At first, this might look like a bad Samurott/Feraligatr list to you. However, playing it like one would be the real mistake. See, when I was testing Samurott/Feraligatr, I found myself only rarely ever needing Feraligatr.
For the most part, I was comfortable with Samurott the tank sitting in the Active spot, killing main attackers in two hits and weak fodder like unevolved Pokémon, babies, Mews, etc in one hit. Feraligatr did come in handy, but generally only lategame, for some kind of multi-attachment that would allow Hydro Pump to make a very specific KO, or just to get rid of all my Water Energy before I’d refresh my hand.
You might think I’m nuts for not running Flower Shop Lady with four copies of Professor Juniper. I just found this card way too slow to work with. I’d rather work in Rescue Energy and/or Energy Retrieval to recycle Pokémon and Energy than spend so many Supporter drops to get back a single line.
Four Professor Juniper, two PONT and 3 Cleffa allow me to cycle through the deck extremely quickly, generally being able to set up one Samurott after another to exchange 2HKOs, and 1HKOs lategame. Using extra Waters, PlusPower, and Junk Arm allows you to customize your damage output a little when necessary.
Don’t be afraid to Juniper away to your heart’s content as long as you make sure to shuffle crucial Totodile pieces back into your deck with Pokémon Communication. Everything else is generally immediately playable, available in multiple copies, or if neither, probably not crucial to your current match at all.
Bouffalant is merely an insurance policy against Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND, which nearly but not quite 1HKOs Samurott, as well as simply an extra Basic. I consider it the worst card in this list, and you can easily replace it if you so desire. The single Twins and Alph Litograph are personal preferences as well.
If you would take them out, I would recommend including extra copies of cards already in the deck rather than anything else. Fourth Rare Candy, Junk Arm, or perhaps a second Totodile would be my major recommendations.
In case you cannot tell, I’m a pretty huge fan of Samurott even though overall he is neither the most complex nor the best card in the format. He is a straight up damage disher and tank, but like almost any other Water he crumbles when faced with a Bolt Strike from Zekrom or a Lost Burn from Magnezone. You should give him a try.
pokebeach.comIt’s hard to match Samurott’s raw numbers, especially if you’re not also a Stage 2. Another Stage 2 that hasn’t failed to catch people’s attention is Blastoise. At first, “BlastGatr” (Blastoise/Feraligatr) was thought to be the end-all Blastoise deck, and it’s not very difficult to see why. Blastoise’s “Hydro Launcher” allows you to hit for 100 anywhere on your opponent’s field, for a steep cost of WWCC and having to return 2 Water Energy to your hand.
With just your once-per-turn attachment, you would never manage to do consecutive Hydro Launchers. In fact, you would probably have a hard time using the attack once to begin with.
But the speed problem is not completely solved even with Double Colorless Energy and Rain Dance. We still need two Stage 2 Pokémon out at the same time, both with large Retreat Costs. Since this is generally too much to ask, people began looking for alternatives…and found Floatzel.
Energy Acceleration pairs perfectly with Blastoise’s “Wash Out” power, allowing you to move Energy from Floatzel to your active Blastoise. Just one Floatzel is enough to launch consecutive Hydro Launchers.
The great thing about Blastoise is that he brings back the feeling of board control. You know, like when you are playing Luxchomp and you are able to attack any of your opponent’s Pokémon in play, killing their Basics before they have enough Energy or evolutions to get going. Of course, Blastoise is a whole lot slower than the pair of Level X’s, even the Floatzel version, but nonetheless I believe it is a viable deck.
I have quite a bit of experience testing Blastoise/Floatzel, including one horribly boring mirror match that started with sniping each other’s Floatzels and then turned into a sloooow Hydro Launcher exchange. One problem with Blastoise is that while a 100 damage snipe is terrific, 100 damage to their Active is pretty bad when you consider the attack’s cost.
If your opponent’s set-up is advanced far enough that he has his 120+ HP main attacker out, you’re going to have a hard time keeping up in the KO exchange unless he fails to keep his back-up out. Especially if they Judge away your Water Energy after you pick it up, which is a legit way of combating Blastoise. Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep accelerating Energy on your field and setting up multiple Floatzel and Blastoise as quick as you can.
And of course, be extra careful when you know your opponent plays Pokémon Reversal, as Floatzel dies easily. If you do manage to come out on top of the Active war with Blastoise, you will have an easy time getting rid of anything they try to set up with your 100 damage snipes.
The key difference, however, is that Torrent Blade can only be used on your opponent’s Benched Pokémon (unlike Hydro Launcher), which means that if you want to hit your opponent’s Active you are stuck with its second attack. “Bursting Inferno” doing 80 plus Burn for RCC isn’t bad per sé, but it requires you to run Fire or Rainbow Energy just to hit their Active.
I wasn’t completely against SEL in very early HGSS on, before Floatzel was discovered. A LEGEND is probably slightly easier to set up than a Stage 2 (taking everything into account), and Torrent Blade is cheaper than Hydro Launcher.
However, due to the lack of Wash Out, SEL can’t make use of the Floatzel acceleration, and I believe that’s the nail in its coffin. Added to its other disadvantages (much worse against their Active, weakness to Water, gives up an extra prize, can’t run as many copies as Blastoise), it’s back to the plastic nine-sleeve planet of Binderia for this one.
We really can’t have a Water article without talking about Wailord, the Pokémon that has been appearing in “this attack will KO everything except” lists as long as I can remember. That historically enormous HP has to be exploitable in some shape or form, right? The only Wailord we currently have in the format has 180 HP, and a Moomoo Milk-like attack for just CC.
You could never stay alive or take prizes with that alone, but it’s useful to stall until you have attached enough Energy (through Feraligatr or otherwise) to use “Swallow Up”. This is essentially an XL version of Sableye’s Overconfident, in that it either does pathetic damage when you have less health left than whatever is in front of you, or good damage when you have more. Wailord is looking quite good in the HP department, but in this case we are dealing with either 50 or 100 damage, which for the cost of WWWC isn’t very good.
pokebeach.comRegardless, the sheer durability of Wailord makes it worth considering for a fun deck that doesn’t mind having all its efforts to tank ruined by its Lightning weakness. Even without Expert Belt in the format, there are various ways left to keep Wailord’s HP high enough to deal the full 100: Reuniclus, Serperior, or Trainer-based healing with Potion, Moomoo Milk, Life Herb (each of them averaging 30 per use), and Junk Arm to re-use them.
As we’re going on and on, we’re running out of Pokémon that I would really recommend using. One interesting tech that I was requested to mention by someone I played against is Starmie. A long time ago, I played games with a bunch of friends using just cards from the HGSS set. One deck that managed to worm its way onto the list of “decks that were useable at all” (along with Donphan Prime and Jumpluff) was Delibird/Starmie/Feraligatr. It sounds very odd, but given that we were all lesser players back then, it worked.
Delibird and Feraligatr need no explanation anymore: if you can actually get Feraligatr in play while Delibird is still alive, you can expect to draw a bunch of cards with Snowy Present thanks to Rain Dance. But what made the deck work was Starmie’s “Cosmic Cyclone”, which is kind of like a more conservative Lost Burn.
You take Energy off Pokémon on the field, and shuffle them into the deck, then do 20 damage times the number of Energies you sent back. Starmie’s sheer speed and flexibility were great, since it’s a Stage 1 with free retreat and an attack that only costs W. Of course, occasionally it would have to retreat to allow Delibird to draw some cards again.
This strategy would never work nowadays for rather obvious reasons (needs a lot of things on the field, and it uses Delibird), but it’s part of my experience with (or rather against) Starmie and I thought it would be amusing to share. It’s a good example of creative deck building and interesting synergy you don’t see often nowadays because of the cutthroat nature of the game.
Now the person that requested me to mention this card is not the same person that used the above deck: he actually believed it would be used as a tech in Blastoise (I believe, correct me if I’m wrong if you’re out there). It could be a better way to “take over” the Active spot for Blastoise to start his sniping shenanigans without having to Hydro Launcher an attacking threat, wasting his fantastic flexibility once he’s set up. An interesting idea for sure, but as always I’ll remain sceptical until I’ve seen it in action.
To me, Starmie seems like he’s better off with Feraligatr than with Floatzel. It might be interesting to make it into its own deck, although it would probably inferior to the various other forms of Energy acceleration and usage we have (Magnezone being the chief of this department, with Tangrowth somewhere behind him trying to keep up and failing). This whole idea would be so much better if you could use Rain Dance to attach Energy onto the Promo Shuckle like you can do with Inferno Fandango, but sadly, you can’t.
pokebeach.comOne version of a “grinding” deck that I did take to work was Lanturn Prime. He’s technically not always a Water Pokémon, but I got away with RDL when talking about Fire Pokémon and he couldn’t hit a Bellsprout for super effective damage to save his life. So I think I can get away with mentioning a Pokémon that can spend some time as a Water Pokémon thanks to his “Deep Sea Dive” Power that turns him into a Water-type for the rest of your turn.
This power gives Lanturn actual type coverage, as he can hit all of Donphan, Reshiram and Water Pokémon for effective damage. His attack is perfect for this: “Powerful Spark” does 40 damage plus 10 for every Energy in play, and costs LCC. That includes those on Lanturn, so you might as well say that his minimum damage is 70, which is exactly enough to 1HKO both Donphan and Reshiram. He’s compatible with pretty much every form of Energy acceleration in the format: Double Colorless Energy, Rain Dance, Inferno Fandango, Pachirisu/Shaymin, Water Acceleration, and so on.
I’ve only tried it with Emboar and Promo Shuckle since it seemed like a neat idea, and obviously I ended up running into the problem that made Lanturn practically lower tier all along: 110 HP. This is really unacceptable for a main attacker that needs so much Energy to be powerful, as it puts him in easy KO range of about anything. The Fighting weakness does not help matters, as it gives him difficulty dealing with one of the few Pokémon that he would be able to slug it out against: Donphan.
I love Lanturn, I really do, but the reality is that he has too many problems to deal with. He is fun and versatile, and cute to boot, but aside from the above problems he is also overshadowed by both Magnezone and Samurott, each in their own ways.
There are a few Pokémon left that I don’t believe are necessarily good, but they deserve a little bit of space for having a special niche: they could serve as a tech against a rather prolific Pokémon: Donphan Prime.
When I first started theorizing to myself about HGSS On, I thought to myself: pretty much every cheap attacker without significant drawbacks is gone, except Donphan. So this is going to be a Donphan format. I was only partially right, but the fact remains that Donphan’s extremely quick Earthquake is feared by many, many contenders. The fact that Donphan is so sturdy makes him very hard to tech against, especially if you value your deck space.
pokebeach.comThere are two relatively small anti-Donphan techs that I feel I should include here if only for completeness sake. Both of these hit Donphan for double damage and are Fighting resistant. I am not saying these are good plays: merely ideas that I picked up that I believe you should toy with if you think they have potential for your (Fighting weak) deck.
I don’t think you need these in a deck such as Magnezone/Emboar: it has clearly shown it has other means of taking care of that Fighting weakness, not necessarily through type coverage but through the sheer force of Badboar’s Flare Blitz and RDL’s Ozone Buster.
The first tech is Swanna, the newcomer. Its “Aqua Ring” attack costs WC and will do 60 damage to Donphan after applying Water weakness and Exoskeleton, enough for a 2HKO. If you preceed it with “Feather Dance” (costs C), which works a bit like Jungle/Platinum Scyther’s “Swords Dance” (remember him?), it’s an 1HKO.
Since Aqua Ring forces you to switch Swanna with one of your (presumably vulnerable) Benched Pokémon, it might be best to use the Feather Dance build-up to your advantage. As I said, don’t put this in your Magnezone deck when you have better options available: consider a 1-1 or 2-2 line for the likes of Lanturn.
The other one is Red Gyarados, from HGSS. Its advantage over Swanna is that its intended attack does not require any kind of Energy: for just C and a coin flip, “Thrash” will do either 60 damage (heads) or 40 (tails), the latter resulting in Gyarados doing 20 damage to itself. The flippy nature makes it sound terrible, but consider that Gyarados has 130 HP to work with compared to Swanna’s 90. It takes Donphan 4 Earthquakes to get rid of a full health Gyarados (3 with PlusPower or Ruins of Alph), compared to 3 on Swanna (2 with PlusPower or Ruins of Alph).
The other side of the coin is that Gyarados has to evolve from the 30 HP Magikarp, whereas Swanna comes from the 60 HP Ducklett, and that Gyarados has a much harder time to get to the Bench when needed due to having 3 Retreat to Swanna’s 1, plus no switching mechanic in its attack.
These ideas have gone completely untested by me (I only have two hands, and I need both to play a game). The theorymon sounds a little fragile, but it might be enough to throw off the one-dimensional Donphan player.
Legendary for being bad
I am done with good or even useable Water Pokémon now. I’m just going to discuss the large amount of LEGEND Waters we have left because they are special and then it’s off to the final conclusions of this article.
Some of the LEGENDs are interesting, but none are really playable, so I’m not going to go over them in deep detail. Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND is my favourite, as Mega Tidal Wave (accelerated by Feraligatr, of course) allows you to mill through your opponent’s deck and deal some spread damage while you’re at it.
I had a joke deck involving Lugia LEGEND once, using just Mantine to search the pieces out and pretty much everything else in the deck was Energy used to ensure that “Ocean Grow” would hit at least four Energy and thus allow an instant Elemental Blast to literally 1HKO everything in the format. The fun part of Lugia LEGEND is that he’s only one Pokémon, which means only one weakness to exploit and only 1 Prize card to give up.
Palkia & Dialga LEGEND has a fun concept going on by adding prizes to your opponent’s field of play. Unfortunately, the HGSS on format “Sudden Deleted” everything that made it possible to win games on time with this baby. The “Super Conductivity” Magnezone that allowed you to recycle Metal Energy has been rotated out, and added in were two new legendaries Reshiram and Zekrom, both of which hit PDL for double damage. Raikou & Suicune LEGEND is just awful and if you are considering playing it over Zekrom you need to get yourself checked.
Water versus other types
As I alluded to in my opening paragraph, Water fits right between the most integral parts of the metagame. Where it has little trouble cleaning up one huge part of it (Donphan, Reshiram, Badboar), it falls apart versus the other half of what’s being played (Magnezone, Zekrom). The fact that the well-advertised BDIF plays a little bit of most of these makes Water a very mixed bag to base your deck around.
pokebeach.comGenerally speaking, I believe the cards reviewed above were more intriguing than game changing. If you ask me, Samurott is the way to go for a Water focus: it has the most durability out of all of them (takes the same amount of damage to 2HKO as Wailord), and enough damage output to put a dent in everything.
Kingdra is the second best Water Pokémon in the format right now, but more because of Spray Splash than Dragon Steam. Overall, I would not take a Water deck into an important tournament setting simply due to how prolific Magnezone is. Which is sad considering the poor guys just managed to overthrow Luxray GL’s tight grip on the format.
Although I don’t like to speculate about future metagames, chances are Beartic and Kyurem will be able to breathe some life into this type. Neither of them is Lightning weak and both of them bring relatively rare strategies to the table (lock and spread, respectively).
As always, I hope this article was a good read for you. Recently, I’ve made quite a few critical comments here and there about some things that I think could be improved in articles. Since it is in the best interest of my credibility not to look like a hypocrite, I always try to write exactly what I would like to read.
But since I’m not too great at mind reading, please do let me know what you think. You can reach me in the comments here, but I would also definitely recommend you hit me up on Hamachi if you’d like to talk or play. I host a network called Hoothoot (password is noctowl). I can also be found in #TCG on the SynIRC network, more instructions can be found here.
Hopefully I’ll see you there, or else just stay tuned for my next article.