Six Silver Bullets – Tricky Ways to Kill the Top Decks

With Nationals coming very soon (Canadians only have a few more days!) we’re all scrambling to find some techs to beat the top contenders. With the big decks fairly thought out at this point, teching your deck to beat the upper echelons of the metagame seems like a reasonable idea.

Before you read this and load up with every tech in this article, however, I will note one thing: don’t disrupt your main strategy. This is a very uncertain format, and a lot of people will be playing decks besides Magneboar, Donchamp, and Speed Stage 1s. Make sure the main strategy of your deck is still consistent, so that your matchup specific techs don’t weigh you down and make you lose to something else.

The term “Silver Bullet” in TCGs refers to a card that can drastically alters a specific matchup, and can generally be played in small counts. For example, the combination of Solrock and Lunatone, even in singles, is a silver bullet to healing decks.

This article will load your gun with six silver bullets against the biggest metagame decks – if used well, they should help you get that edge you need.

1. Pidgeot TM

Intended Target: Magneboar, Donchamp, “Speedy Stage 1s”, Zekrom, High Retreat Pokémon

Used In: Decks with Typhlosion, Magneboar, Decks with Double Colourless Energy, Anything

A good headwind will slow anyone down.

Pidgeot is the bane of almost everything, to some degree; increasing attack costs by 2 while dealing 20 damage. While only useful to stall Donphan, against other Pokémon it can slowly wear them down…but the true gem in Pidgeot has nothing to do with its ability to stall.

Pidgeot makes opponents over-invest energy to attack it, or spend resources switching away from it. Machamp Prime needs four damaged Pokémon on its bench to 1HKO it with “Champ Buster”, so even after a Fighting Tag, Pidgeot is probably safe to start blasting “Headwind” into Machamp, making its attacks cost five and six energy, respectively.

Once so much energy is stuck on one of your opponent’s Pokémon, Knock it Out to make it very difficult for their deck to recover – most of the targeted decks either have tight energy budgets (Magneboar, Zekrom) or low energy in the deck altogether, meaning some well placed Pidgeot fun can spell game over quickly.

Pidgeot’s free Retreat Cost only makes bringing the pain easier, as it can be quickly retreated into another attacker once your opponent has the (likely massive) amount of energy needed to attack.

Beware anything that can hit for 120 damage or more, and consider switching out before they reach “critical mass” and actually attack; if Pidgeot lives to fight another day, the game can resume on the next attacker, eventually running your opponent’s ability to attack down to nothing.

Typhlosion Prime makes an excellent partner for Pidgeot, as Pidgeot can retreat for free into Typhlosion, which can remove energy from the defending Pokémon, further contributing to the energy hate theme of the deck. Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND, Magnezone Prime, and Emboar 19 make excellent partners as well, as they can quickly jump in and Knock Out the overloaded defending Pokémon.

A final note on energy denial is that Pidgeotto TM, the only Pidgeotto in the format, has an attack for 3 colourless energy that flips two coins, and discards an energy from the defending Pokémon for each heads. This can be an excellent contributor to your deck’s War on Energy, which continues to give Pidgeot excellent power as a mirror-match tech for Magneboar decks that also helps against Donchamp.

2. Lost Remover

Used Against: DonChamp, Water Decks, Speed Stage 1s, Rescue Energy

Used In: Everything with Junk Arm




Lost Remover

Lost Remover is an amazing tech in this format, as almost every deck in the metagame is playing some form of special energy or another. Double Colorless Energy helps power Machamp, Zoroark, Cinccino, Samurott, Blastoise, Emboar, Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND, Gyarados, and many other potentially playable cards, and Lost Remover just hurls it into the Lost Zone, without any flips, tricks, or requirements.

It also works on special D Energy, which will be commonly played to fuel Zoroark, Tyranitar, and Mandibuzz. Special Metals and Rescue Energy are likely to see less play, but add to the list of viable targets for Lost Remover in random matchups.

The real good reason for Lost Remover, however, is not an energy card at all, but a Trainer: Junk Arm. Junk Arm lets you discard two cards to recover a Trainer from your discard, allowing Junk Arm to be discarded to cards like Professor Juniper (or other Junk Arm) when not needed, then recovered again when its time has come.

It also allows you to run a single Lost Remover, and be able to use it multiple times when needed. Most of the decks that run special energy also run very low energy counts, making even one removal a potentially game changing hit to their offence – two or three will often completely cripple them. This card is a very simple, yet effective, silver bullet.

3. Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND

Used Against: MagneBoar, Anything

Used In: Blastzel, Feraligatr Decks

Kyogre&Groudon LEGEND
When the going gets tough, the tough mill you to death.

Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND is a very hefty card. Like all other Legends, it requires both halves in hand to put into play, and has a monstrous attack cost. Like most, it also gives away 2 Prizes when Knocked Out – so what offsets all of these drawbacks to make it a viable tech? The answer is the Kyogre attack, “Mega Tidal Wave”.

For two W Energy and two colourless, “Mega Tidal Wave” discards the top five cards of your opponent’s deck, and deals 30 damage to your opponent’s bench for each energy discarded.

While the damage is unreliable, the key to using Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND is to use it to discard enough of your opponent’s deck to make them do one of two things: stop drawing cards, or lose the game.

In many games, players will draw their deck down to a very low number of remaining cards, maximizing the resources they have to win the game, while giving them five or six turns to take their remaining prizes.

Because every “Mega Tidal Wave” mills five cards, a late KGL can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by discarding the last cards of your opponent’s deck, giving them too little time to finish the game. Such a dramatic play will require the use of cards such as Blastoise UL or Feraligatr Prime to quickly move or attach W Energy to KGL, so that it can attack before the opponent can find a response.

If used early on, 5-10 cards of mill is likely to be enough to get them to reconsider playing a Juniper, or using Magnetic Draw, wondering if another Legend (or other mill card like Magmortar) will come into play. Earlier in the game, it is also more likely (especially against Magneboar) to find energy cards, allowing it to deal considerable damage to their benched Pokémon, making the job of taking 6 Prizes potentially easier, letting it play a role in matchups where milling is unlikely to win the game.

4. Vileplume UD

Used Against: Anything

Used In: Anything with Few Trainers

Warning: Poison, Use with Caution, Follow all Directions. Do not smoke.

Vileplume is a silver bullet to much of the format right now, but it is an inconsistent card that can provide more trouble than it solves, because of how much many decks rely on Trainers. Decks that rely more on Supporters and Pokémon to create their ideal board position will benefit most from Vileplume, as it will slow most decks down heavily.

It is especially useful against evolution based decks, as Stage 2 Pokémon primarily evolve via the Trainer card Rare Candy, rather than through the appropriate Stage 1.

While this strategy is mostly needed to keep pace with other opponents, against Vileplume it is a tremendous liability, making Trainer lock a silver bullet against such decks.

Donk decks and other “speed” decks also suffer against Trainer lock, though their early game setup must be countered through other means – Trainer lock generally stops their recovery and combat tricks, such as Switch, PlusPower, and Pokémon Reversal.

With these cards out of the game, your main attackers should generally have an easier time winning, as long as your strategy is less dependent on Trainers than your opponent’s. Be careful – Trainer lock can just as easily work against you when used as a tech.

5. Jirachi UL

Used Against: Stage 2 Pokémon

Used In: Anything with P Energy

A little star of hate.

Evolution is a very common thing in this format; only three basic Pokémon and one Legend are commonly used toattack in this format, and only one deck (Zekrom donk) contains no evolutions at all, making Jirachi a potentially powerful tech.

Factoring in the prevalence of Rare Candy, and devolution from a Stage 2 down to a Basic can be a tremendous setback for an opponent, who now has to look for another Candy or Stage 1 to bring his big Pokémon back into play.

With only 60 HP, Jirachi is an easy revenge prize if the opponent still has an attacker, but it is often worth giving up the prize if one (or even multiple) of your opponent’s Stage 2 Pokémon can be taken out of the game.

Jirachi can also be used as an energy acceleration card in decks that run basic Psychic energy, but do not assume his Poké-Power limits him to such decks. Manually attaching a Rainbow Energy to Jirachi can be a worthwhile move, giving it utility in decks that may not otherwise be able to fuel him.

Still, pulling P Energy out of the discard pile with Stardust Song can be universally helpful, not only to load Jirachi, but to energize other Pokémon through the use of Shaymin UL (a tech that I will not cover due to its inability to actually kill things, but one that belongs in quite many decks).

Jirachi is mostly a dead card against speed decks with Stage 1 Pokémon, but not completely; in many cases, Yanmega, Cinccino, and other low retreat attackers will run back to the bench if they can’t be Knocked Out in one hit; devolving them to their low-HP basic form may be a quick prize. Overall, I think in a deck that can load it with energy, at least one Jirachi should be an auto-include.

6. Bellsprout, Drowzee, Liepard, and Muk

Used Against: Magneboar, Trainer Lock

Used In: Various

If the anime is to be believed, he totally knows kung fu, too.

These cards are all being lumped together, because they all fit the same purpose: dragging things up from thebench. Each one has its own purpose, however, and the choice of which one to use depends entirely on the target you are teching against, and the support the deck offers.

Being able to have a flip-less, searchable Pokémon Reversal is often worth the cost of an energy (none of these cost more than one) and the use of an attack, to drag up and destroy a key Pokémon on your opponent’s side, much in the same way Blaziken FB’s “Luring Flame” attack did in the previous format.

Bellsprout is by far the easiest of the four to bring into play, being a basic Pokémon with a single colourless attack to drag a Pokémon up from the bench, and a Retreat Cost of 1 to allow that same energy to be spent getting your attacker back out to punish the dragged-up Bench-sitter.

Its downsides are everything else, however; its 40 hp, 20 damage attack, fire weakness, and no resistance are all underwhelming. Being a grass type does help, however, as it becomes searchable by Sunflora’s “Sunshine Grace” Poké-Power. In pure grass decks, this is likely the way to go, though evolving it is usually a waste of deck space.

pokebeach.comDrowzee is next on the list, and another strong choice; like Jirachi UL, it is a Pokémon that only has a purpose in the few decks with Psychic energy, but past that, it is an entirely better Bellsprout. For a single P Energy, it drags up a Bench-sitter and puts it to sleep (an improvement over Bellsprout), though its other attack is equally useless.

It still keeps a 1 Retreat Cost, and has a much better 60 HP, and no weakness to a common type. Its final improvement over the little weed is that its evolution, Hypno, can actually be useful as a disruption card in its own right.

From the bench, Hypno’s Poké-Power lets you flip a coin each turn; if heads, the defending Pokémon is sent to sleep, giving you a total of a 25% chance of no attack each turn.

While 25% might not seem like much, even one missed attack may be enough to pay back the slot spent to evolve your Drowzee tech, giving your deck even more versatility. Another note is that the Sleep status disables Magnezone Prime’s “Magnetic Draw”, further disrupting opponents with both of these techs.

Liepard is possibly the most offensively oriented of these techs, though its immediate downsides of being a Stage 1 Pokémon and having a Fighting weakness are quite obvious. Its first attack, Taunt, for a single colourless energy, serves the same purpose as Bellsprout’s, dragging a Pokémon up from the bench with no other effect. Its second attack, however, deals only 30 for 2 colourless energy, but 30 more if it has any Darkness energy attached.

With a Special Dark and anything, this attack can deal a fairly inexpensive 70, making it potentially good in decks running Dark Pokémon. The problem with using Liepard in such decks is that in most cases, Dark decks have no interest in dragging things up from the bench, being content to spread damage to them with Tyranitar Prime, and snipe them with Mandibuzz and Weavile. For this reason, Liepard is likely the most useless of the three.
If you’re the guy who always buys the biggest size, here’s your extra jumbo big gulp of disruption.

Muk is the elephant in the room. 100 HP is the heftiest these luring Pokémon get (did I mention I missed BlazikenFB LV.X too?), and its luring attack is by far the most disruptive, inflicting both the Poison and Confusion conditions.

This combination will ruin most attacking Pokémon, and slowly drain down their Hit Points even if another attack is not readily available. Like Drowzee, it should be noted that Muk’s special conditions prevent “Magnetic Draw” – making it an ideal Pokémon to use to drag up an annoying Magnezone Prime and prevent it from drawing cards.

It can also lock other annoying Poké-Powers more reliably than Drowzee (as these conditions do not go away on their own), such as “Rain Dance” (Feraligatr Prime), and “Roast Reveal” (Ninetales HS). It also has the most usable second attack; for one psychic (needed for the first attack as well) and 2 colourless, it deals 50 damage, and 30 more if the defending Pokémon is affected by a special condition (which it likely is if you’re using the second attack).

Its weakness is also an advantage, sharing a Psychic weakness with Drowzee. Its great drawback, however, is its whopping 3 Retreat Cost, and dependence on P Energy; using Muk requires the most deck commitment of the four, though the benefits it gives are arguably worth the investment.

The Duds

In this final section I will discuss cards that did not make the cut to be the six biggest silver bullets in the HS-on Modified format, and why they may be poor choices for Nationals.

Ampharos Prime

Intended Target: Magneboar, Fire

This should really drop 2 counters…

Ampharos Prime is bad, guys; while on paper it seems like a nice tech for decks that attach a lot of energy, like Emboar and Feraligatr decks, it fails simply because the damage will be spread too thin to be much help.

In decks looking to hit “magic numbers”, such as Reshiram, it still has some value (putting 2 counters on a Magne zone Prime enables a 1HKO with “Blue Flare”, but it is far from a silver bullet to the format, because it will never KO anything on its own, and honestly, as a Stage 2 for putting counters on things, Kingdra Prime is usually flat out better.

Lanturn Prime

Intended Target: Donphan

Lanturn Prime is the next bad Prime on the dud list; as a Donphan counter it looks excellent on paper, using Lightning energy (Donphan’s normal target), but being able to transform into a Water Pokémon, dealing hits for weakness instead of against his resistance.

For a Lightning and a Double Colourless, it’s a 1HKO, but there is a simple problem: Lanturn Prime is a Stage 1 Pokémon that requires 3 energy to attack, has 110 HP, and is weak to Fighting. Donphan Prime is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokémon that requires only a single energy, and can hit for a base 60 damage.

Lanturn Prime is only a useful card when they cannot return the KO with another Fighting attacker, which in decks running Donphan is a rare case; elephants tend to stampede by the time you load up a Lanturn.

Umbreon Prime

Intended Target: Magneboar, Donchamp

Umbreon Prime almost made this list, and I feel terrible calling it a dud. In this very random format, a lot of main attackers will still have Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies, and it makes an excellent late-game tech – don’t cut it just because it’s here! What it isn’t, however, is a silver bullet to just about anything, because of how little damage it deals, and how common Pokémon Reversal is in the format.

Its likely best use is very late game against Donchamp or Magneboar, where they are low enough on resources that they may not be able to bring up a counter for it before they deck out. Beware of players abusing the clock in such cases, however, as if you’re in such a position, they likely have a prize lead and can win if the game goes to time. Play quickly, and ensure your opponent keeps a timely pace – if not, call a judge!


One last bit of hate, does what it says on the tin.

Silver bullets only work if you can aim; ensure these cards work well with the deck you have designed and testedfor Nationals, and these cards will help your run to top cut.

They may also be well used as a “hate deck” for the metagame, but such deck designs are difficult to build in such an uncertain environment – be careful not to build something that loses to too many unpredicted rogues; a few is acceptable, especially if they are poor choices, but if Leafeon or Reshiphlosion becomes an auto-loss, it may be a bad idea.

Final Notes on Nationals

I’d just like to put out a very, very angry notice to people who cheat: don’t. Relative to other things you could be ruining by defrauding people of their time and effort, there is little to gain, and Pokémon is a game that has always tried to convey a spirit of honesty and fair play.

Given how flippy the format is, keep your eyes open for loaded dice – they are suspected to be especially popular for players using Pokémon Reversal and Cleffa.

Whether or not a good player is going to cheat is yet to be seen, but on the local level, my experiences show that it is not just bad players who cheat; cheaters can and do win local events, Battle Roads, and possibly even larger tournaments, without getting caught.

These kinds of savvy cheaters are rare in Pokémon, however; most of them are too focused on their cheats to play a clean game.

If an opponent seems distracted, and their luck is getting suspicious, call a judge. If they don’t get a chance to observe the potential cheater for a considerable amount of time, there will be no penalty beyond a caution (at best) given, and the cheater will continue to steal otherwise winnable games from innocent players.

This applies equally to stallers, deck stackers, players with loaded dice, and team players – when in doubt, call a judge, and never be intimidated by another player’s reputation if you think he or she is cheating. Let the judge make the call.

Reader Interactions

23 replies

  1. Anonymous

    Are good players who cheat really good player? Or are thay bad players how cheat to get ahead?… haha

    Good Article man and interesting techs

  2. David Wiken

    Nice article, man – definitely some interesting techs here. Although, techs are gonna be a lot more important post-release of Emerging Powers. Dying to see if we get any of the sweet Red Collection cards:)

  3. Joshua Pikka

    Amazing article, didn’t even think about half of these.  The idea of splashing in a 1 bellsprout is pretty ingenious. 


  4. Steven Nilsen

    Great analysis there Aaron!  I’ve been a big proponent of Drowzee/Hypno, when it seems useful.  I think you summed up its advantages nicely.  Lefeon players… try it!  In fact, any non-dark deck should try it.

    I’ll try KGL based on your suggestions, for sure.

    Jirachi should be in every psychic deck except, maybe, Lostgar.  Like any deck running psychic e for Mew, not that they all do!

  5. Joe Humphries

    Hey, good article, 

    one point and its a fairly pedantic one, but drowzee doesn’t keep 1 retreat cost, even looking at the picture you included shows it has two :) 

  6. Colin Peterik

    Krookodile is another interesting tech that works off a DCE to shut off Lost Burn, Flare Destroy, etc…

  7. Charles Schmidt

    Another thing to mention about hypno is how effectively it pairs with babies. Babies provide 50% invulnerabilty. Paired with an additional 25% from Hypno that is fairly reliable odds to slow down many decks. Since Hypno flips before you choose your attack you often get to choose walling with a baby or risking a main attacker. Also Hypno’s odds are marginally better than 25% because the opponent’s active may remain asleep from a previous Sleep Pendulum (Heads – Tails -Tails – Tails). It pairs well with free retreat attackers such as Gengar and Yanmega. 

  8. Charles Schmidt

    Another thing to mention about hypno is how effectively it pairs with babies. Babies provide 50% invulnerabilty. Paired with an additional 25% from Hypno that is fairly reliable odds to slow down many decks. Since Hypno flips before you choose your attack you often get to choose walling with a baby or risking a main attacker. Also Hypno’s odds are marginally better than 25% because the opponent’s active may remain asleep from a previous Sleep Pendulum (Heads – Tails -Tails – Tails). It pairs well with free retreat attackers such as Gengar and Yanmega. 

    • Edgar F  → Charles

      Hypno targets the defending pokemon, not yours. Why would you want to make them invulnerable unless you’re sniping around their baby – in which case wouldn’t you rather something else active?

  9. Martin Garcia

    Good call on the pidgeot, i had tought about it but ended up discarding the idea due to consistency reasons and weakness to magnezone, who isnt as much affected thanks to emboar.
    Still this was just theorymon, so it may be worth testing.

  10. tim h

    Despite running only 1, I really think that bellsprout isn’t worth the risk of starting with him. It’s like getting unown q donked… but unown q was far more useful.

  11. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Classy article.

    Combines rogue ideas with metagame awareness, which isn’t as common as it should be.

    The stuff about cheating made for a downbeat ending, but I guess you have your reasons for that.

  12. Anonymous

    honestly my buddy’s lanturn deck is pretty good, i wouldn’t knock that thing.

  13. ricky turrietta

    does anybody actually pay attention to the actual readings of these cards there are so many mistakes nowadays obviously drowsee has a 2 retreat cost man get it right

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