Kenny’s Wisdom: Baby, Baby, Baby Oh!

Big ups if you understand the reference in the title! ;)

zimbio.comI just thought I’d take some time today to talk about something that I don’t think has been discussed at length yet: Baby Pokémon and the role they play in this format. If this isn’t something you’re interested in, never fear, because I’ll be moving onto a few more topics soon enough, I just thought that with almost every competitive deck playing at least some babies, they warranted some discussion.

I’ll skip most of the stuff you already know — Tyrogue, Cleffa, and Elekid are good. We’ve all heard that, that’s been obvious for quite some time, and I don’t want to flood this article with information you’ve already heard a million times.

Instead, I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach and break the discussion down into a few different categories. These are all based off of e-mails I’ve received from readers in the past few weeks, so even if this information isn’t new to you or you disagree with it, trust that there’s someone out there for whom this information is valuable.

I’ll also be focusing some of my next few articles on questions readers have submitted to me, but we’ll get to that later. Kind of pressed for time right now, so I’m gonna jump right into it…

Question #1: Is Cleffa actually good?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes.

pokebeach.comNot much more to say about this, honestly. I’ve gotten quite a few e-mails from people who just don’t believe in Cleffa or can’t see why it’s playable. To them, all I can say is find lists that run Cleffa and test them against your lists that don’t, and see what happens. Be honest in these testing matches and be clear about your evaluations and I think you’ll see that Cleffa is a resource that most decks need direly.

Draw power, especially Pokémon-based draw power is extremely limited right now, and most of what we do have (Ninetales, Magnezone) are either evolutions that take up precious space, or require the use of certain types of energies. Cleffa is a Colorless basic with free retreat and that doesn’t take any sort of energy to do anything. Seems good.

Question #2: Will Tyrogue see play?

An alternative wording to this question is probably something like “Should I be worried about Tyrogue”, and again, the answer is yes. Tyrogue is the sickest counter to Cleffa, mainly because it has all of the same properties as Cleffa: It can protect itself, has free retreat, is a basic, and requires no energy.

Having a guaranteed 1HKO, and a fairly high probability of a donk is just too good to omit right now. You should be playing with Tyrogue in your lists, and you should be anticipating Tyrogue every single round. Which leads us to our next question…

Question #3: How many Tyrogues should I run?

pokebeach.comA few weeks ago I would’ve snap answered this question with “1” and stuck to that pretty adamantly. Now though, I’m not so sure. Although I still think 1 will be fine for must decks and is the minimum amount you should include, I have been testing decks that run 2/2 Cleffa/Tyrogue (more on the low number of Cleffa in a minute), and it’s been working out pretty handy.

I don’t feel that I have enough experience with those kind of lines to really give a “strict” answer, but for now I would say that 1 is probably the play, but 2 is also a decent idea that you should test as much as you can.

In the end, maybe 2 is too much and will just give you too many dead cards late game, but then again perhaps it’s something most people aren’t prepared for and will win you infinite rounds. For now, I can’t say.

Question #4: How can I reduce my dependency on Cleffa?

With Tyrogue being such a huge factor, this is a question that my teammates and I have been asking ourselves. We’ve broken it down to a pretty simple answer: Consistency. If you’re afraid of Tyrogue (rightly so) and just the fact that having too may 30 HP basics in your deck can spell trouble, then you’re going to have to try and max out consistency in every other place, to make up for the cutting of Cleffas.

Now this isn’t to say that you should completely abandon Cleffa, not at all. In fact, I think most decks need 3-4, leaning toward 3, although some decks can go all the way down to 1-2. So don’t go taking all of the Cleffas out of your deck like they’re nothing, just try to improve your deck in other areas so that you’ll need to use Cleffa less and less.

I would recommend cutting to 3 and seeing how it works, and then cutting to 2/2 Cleffa Tyrogue and seeing how your deck operates from there.

If you have to play 4 though, then so be it. It is a liability, but sometimes it’s okay to accept that, just because Cleffa is such a good card. The key here is to just test your heart out and make decisions based on real results.

Question #5: Are any other babies playable?

pokebeach.comThe only other baby I see as being truly a force in the metagame as it stands now is Elekid. I’m not sure if this has been discussed elsewhere, but Elekid is a pretty underrated card in my mind. No, it doesn’t draw you cards like Cleffa or have as much raw power as Tyrogue, but I think Elekid has one main purpose: To set up KOs.

In decks like ReshiBoar, or Yanmega variants, Elekid can be a sick play as it allows you to snipe your opponents main attacker (whereas Tyrogue can only hit the active, meaning that unless you’re killing Cleffas, your attacks could turn out to be irrelevant) so that when they send it up, you’ll have the KO ready.

It also has the ability to stall your opponent out while sniping, particularly if you’re awesome at coin flips, which can be pretty handy.

In the end, Elekid is definitely the least of the big three babies, but it definitely has its place.

Question #6: How can I work around babies?

The short answer to this is “channel the spirit of David Cohen to allow your opponents babies to always wake up.”. If you’d rather not go the route of the voodoo magics though, there are a few ways you can deal with ’em.

The first is to put pressure on their babies early w/ Tyrogue and Elekid. If you have a passable hand and your opponent is Eeking, I’ve found it to be a decent strategy to send up a Tyrogue and just keep trying to KO the Cleffa, making your opponent sweat.

Remember, you can still attack into a Cleffa when it’s a sleep, therefore putting yourself to sleep and having a chance to wall your opponent. This also helps because worst case scenario, if you do wake up and your opponent KOs you, all you’ve lost is a Tyrogue/Elekid and not something that you may need later such as a Cleffa.

The other, more direct answer is to pack Pokémon Reversal and Pokémon Circulator into your decks. Reversal is obviously the most powerful card, but at the cost of a coin flip it may be wiser just to squeeze a Circulator or two in your list, depending on your deck.

I think Reversal is a near staple card in this format anyway, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make room for them. I’ve never tested Circulator personally, but from what I theorymon/have been told by people who have tested it, it’s a decent answer.

That’s all the major information about babies I’ve got to share. Hopefully that gives a sufficient rundown of why babies are so important in this format and how you can both utilize them and defend against them. Let me know via e-mail or in the comments if there’s something you’re not clear about

Moving onto our next subject, I thought I would share a rogue deck. Everyone and their mothers have been writing articles about MagneBoar, other Emboar variants, Donphan/Machamp and the like, and rightfully so, those decks are great. However, I’ve kind of been burned out on testing those decks, so I decided to go in a little bit of a different direction this week and test something that I originally wrote off as a joke… Kingdra/Mandibuzz. Here’s the list I’m working with…

Pokémon – 22 

3 Horsea UL
2 Seadra UL
3 Kingdra Prime
3 Vullaby BW
3 Mandibuzz BW
2 Zorua BW
2 Zoroark BW
2 Cleffa HS/CL
2 Tyrogue HS/CL

Trainers – 24 

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Energy Exchanger
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Professor Juniper
2 Professor Elm’s Training Method
1 Switch

Energy – 14 

3 W
4 Special D
3 D
4 Double Colorless

Let me first note that this list is still in its early testing stages. I’m confident in it, but I’m not sure about all of the different lines of things. I wouldn’t exactly call it a rough list or anything, but it’s definitely not completely optimized. With that being said, let me go over a few things…

Mandibuzz BWpokebeach.comThe first thing to put out there is that this deck gets crushed pretty hard by MagneBoar. Zone hits both of your main attackers for weakness, and although Zoroark can help vs. RDL, a good MagneBoar player shouldn’t have to even get RDL online to beat you. The matchup isn’t totally helpless, but I wouldn’t expect to win more than 25-30% of games vs. MagneBoar, and probably any Magnezone based deck.

On the flipside of that though, it has a positive DonChamp matchup, which is always good. It also in general has a pretty good time against decks that aren’t Magnezone, since you have a lot of damage floating around the board, both directly and with snipe. If you get lucky and don’t hit Magnezone variants (however rare that may be), you have a pretty decent time vs. the field.

Some explanations for unusual cards….

– I went with the 2 Cleffa and 2 Tyrogue because the deck already maxes out on consistency, so it doesn’t need the help of Cleffa as much as some others. The 2 Tyrogue are mainly there to get damage around early, and because the better your baby flips are, the more solid this deck will be in general. I know that relying on baby flips isn’t exactly what you wanna be doing, but hey, that’s kinda how this format works out. Elekid might also be a decent play instead of Tyrogue, haven’t gotten that deep into testing yet.

– The Energy Exchanger are quite amazing in here. You run a low(ish) energy count in general, especially with only 3 Water, so it’s great to be able to swap for whatever kind you need at that moment. I could easily see going down to 2 of these, but for now 3 works.– The lack of Junk Arm has hurt a little bit, but besides the Switch you don’t rely on too many trainers (No Reversals, no Retrievals, no PlusPowers) except for the aforementioned Exchangers. I’d like to be able to fit 2 or 3 in here though, just haven’t gotten around to tweaking things that much yet.

Those are the only things I think are odd about the deck, everything else pretty much matches what I’ve seen most people running for the past few months. Overall I think this deck would be a solid play if it weren’t for MagneBoar, and is definitely something that you should at least learn how to play against, since I expect it to show up at Nationals.

I’m also not completely positive that someone won’t make a version that’s so good vs. the field that it can afford to take the loss to Magnezone, but that does seem pretty unlikely.


I’m done with the main part of the article, so I’m just going to throw out some random thoughts here, as I usually do. No market watch segment this week, but it’ll be back!

– Thanks for all of you that voted me as writer of the month last month! I hope that you’ll vote for me again this month (as long as this article makes it in time >.<) (Editor’s note: Sorry I couldn’t get the article edited in time for June!), and for those of you that have Underground accounts, I’d really appreciate your vote.

Obviously all of the Underground writers are very skilled, but if you enjoyed my article, I’d be super appreciative to anyone who gives me a vote. Also, for those of you that aren’t UG subscribers, no matter how my UG career goes, I’ll always be writing free content, so don’t worry at all about that. :D

– Also, please check out my YouTube channel. Amelia Bottemiller and I have a ton of videos in the can, although editing problems have held us back for a bit. By the time this article gets published there should be a few new videos up, and there should be a steady stream for the next few weeks.

We just got a new $1k camera to do overhead recordings, so that should make people happy. For those of you who don’t like watching match videos, very shortly we’ll be doing more discussion/podcast type videos, so we’ve got a little something for everyone. Please take a moment to subscribe, I promise you won’t regret it!

– My next article will come out next week and will be a “Face of Modified” column for US Nationals, so for those of you who were looking for more competitive content, you have something to look forward to.

– Speaking of future articles, I want to start a Q and A series of articles, so if you have any questions about the format, myself as a player, any specific cards, or just anything you’ve ever wanted answered, please e-mail me at, and your question will be printed in a future article! I assume it’ll take a while to get enough questions for a full-blown piece, but rest assured, if you send in questions, they’ll be featured.

Until next time!


Reader Interactions

20 replies

  1. Anonymous

    Elekid is a great starter in Kingdra/Mandibuzz. It’s deadly if you go first and get a Mandibuzz out turn two.

    I’m just not a fan in playing babies though. My deck works fine as it as and they are free prizes for my opponent.
    If there is any way I could fit one though, I would add in Tyrogue for the Cleffa donks.

      • Tony  → Kenny

        Too much of a risk. Look at the decks that made top 8 in Canadia. Majority had some form of sniper in it, whether it is Yanmega, Madibuzz or Kingdra. Only way this baby deal is effective is if you have something tech’d to get it off the field as soon as it’s done it’s job.  Either way this is just a fad, soon as catcher is out babies are pointless, have fun with them for another month.

  2. Alex Hedge

    I’m glad that you are still writing non-UG articles too.

    Really good.

  3. David Griggs

    At first glance, you can probably drop 1 or 2 Rare Candy for some Junk Arm. Other then that I really don’t see much that you can drop. That’s painful. Maybe 1 Energy Exchanger. Maybe a Basic Dark. Maybe a Tyrogue. That’s just rough, but I would definitely fit in 3 Junk Arm somehow.

    Love the article overall and agree with pretty much everything.

      • Martin Garcia  → Kenny

        well, i have been playign kingdra for some time now, and i can ell that 4 candy are not needed, 3 is all you need.
        3 exchangers seem like too much, you have 2 slots there, and for the third one , i would cut  a basic dark, and/or one communication.
        Kingdra UL makes wonders in the magneboar match up, but you are going to need reversals with that.
        Another easy route to take is to add a smoochom, the lightnings are magnezones weak point.

        • Anonymous  → Martin

          i agree with the kingdra UL but would you keep the zoroark? i think he is weak and way too situational

        • Martin Garcia  → Anonymous

          While ia gree that zoroark is situational, when a card is good against almost any matchup i thibk it stops being situational to be an all roudner.

          What i mean is that even if zoroark is situational because it depends on your opponents attackers being strong to be actually usefull at all, this tends to be the case anyways (becouse decks with weak attackers are not a threat to kingdra in the first case) so he no longer becomes situacional, but rather an all round counter.
          So yes, i wouldnt cut him, if only to keep magneboars RDL and bad boar in check, and belive me, he does a lot more than just that.

  4. miguelvic23

    where are you pichu?? just kidding (but miss jumpluff doesn’t like this)

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