Damage Swap Tanking: Tyranitar/Reuniclus

The obvious idea when Reuniclus was first printed in the Black & White set was to pair it with a high HP Pokémon to create an unstoppable tank. Reuniclus’s Ability “Damage Swap” allows you to rearrange damage counters on your side of the field whenever and however you want.

Although many people dismissed the card as gimmicky, the idea seemed exciting to me. I ended up finding a partner for Reuniclus, taking the deck to Nationals, and finishing at a subpar 4-5.

It seems strange that I’d be writing about a deck that didn’t even finish with a positive record, but I think it’s at very least a clever idea worth sharing. I’m going to cover the deck idea, how it works, and what I learned from Nationals.

The Idea

pokebeach.comI’ve always wanted Tyranitar Prime to work, so that was one of the first combos that crossed my mind. There were two main problems with this idea: 1. Tyranitar is a stage two, so that meant two stage twos and no draw engine. 2. There was nowhere to put the swapped damage. Larvitar and Solosis can only soak up so much.

I really wanted to give this a shot, so I looked for ways around these issues. My first solution to problem one was Noctowl. Problem two was the tougher fix, but the perfect solution came in the form of a couple other freshly printed Black & White cards: Reshiram and Zekrom. Both of these fellas have massive HP and are painless to set up.

What’s more, they benefit from having damage on them and are a perfect fit in a deck that already runs Double Colorless Energy. They provide great back-up attacker options that don’t distract from the main idea of the deck at all, but even complement it.

At this point I was pretty excited about the idea. I built a rough list and started testing. I won a few of my first games with it, but it was a little difficult to set up and I often found myself nearing deck-out. I knew the idea had potential, but there was a little fixing to be done. I didn’t like Noctowl very much at all, so I took out the 2-2 Noctowl for an aggressive and consistent Trainer/Supporter engine.

How It Works

The deck works by getting a Tyranitar, Reuniclus, and Reshiram or Zekrom set up. Tyranitar is a 160 HP beast who can be 1HKO’d by few Pokémon. When your opponent (hopefully) fails to Knock Out Tyranitar in one shot, you use Reuniclus’s “Damage Swap” and move all the damage from Tyranitar to your benched Reshiram and/or Zekrom.

Now you have a fully healed Tyranitar in the Active Spot and a legendary beast on the bench able to Outrage for high damage. Reshiram helps as an attacking Pokémon without a Fighting weakness, and Zekrom is nice for hitting Pokémon with a Lightning weakness for easy high damage. If the bench damage becomes too much to spread, Super Scoop Up can quickly remove 120 damage from the field by scooping up a heavily damaged legendary.

The List

Pokémon – 173 Larvitar UL #50
2 Pupitar UL #38
3 Tyranitar Prime
2 Solosis BLW
1 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW
2 Reshiram BLW
2 Zekrom BLW

Trainers – 31

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Professor Juniper
4 Sage’s Training
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method
1 Flower Shop Lady

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Junk Arm
3 Super Scoop Up
2 Switch

Energy – 12

4 Special D
4 D
4 Double Colorless

This is the list I brought to Nationals. The 3-2-3 Tyranitar and 2-1-2 Reuniclus always worked well for me. The Larvitar and Pupitar used are obviously the ones with attacks for C Energy. Larvitar’s attack “Mountain Eater” discards the top card from your opponent’s deck and can occasionally cause significant disruption early on by discarding key cards. Pupitar’s “Boost Gas” Poké-Body came in handy a few times, giving it free retreat, and its “Rage” attack even got me a Magnezone Knock Out!

Tyranitar Primepokebeach.comTwo Reshiram and two Zekrom seemed the perfect amount (or at least a total of four was a perfect amount; I might have liked three Reshiram and one Zekrom to help my chances against the metaphorical and literal elephant in the room, Donphan, who gives Tyranitar a lot of trouble).

As I said previously, I maxed out consistency cards and played an aggressive Supporter engine. I played four Pokémon Collector, as it’s a terrific set up card and becomes painless Junk Arm material late game.

The choice of four Sage’s Training and two Professor Juniper made the deck brutal, especially with Tyranitar’s “Megaton Tail” discarding the top three cards of my deck, but to be able to get out fast enough and compete with naturally faster decks, I felt I had to take my chances.

Professor Oak’s New Theory was a great maxed out. Professor Elm’s Training Method was nice sometimes, but I’m honestly not sold on it, even as a 1-of. Flower Shop Lady has received mixed reviews, but I think it’s a great fit for this deck. A deck with so much discard needs some recovery, and it was always nice to have the option.

I think four Communication is a must in this format, as is four Rare Candy in any Stage 2 deck. I could see playing another Junk Arm, but I got by with two. Three Super Scoop Up were great for removing damage from the field. The two Switch were handy in a deck full of high Retreat Costs.

The energy count might seem a little low, but I didn’t seem to find myself in desperate need very often.

In Retrospect

pokebeach.comI felt pretty set on my list and was fairly confident with the deck, but I ended up going 4-5. What happened!?

One thing that might seem interesting is the play of no babies. Well… I regret every second of it. The biggest lesson I learned from Nationals is this: PLAY CLEFFA. At least two of my losses were me having “draw, pass” turns over and over while my opponent just set up and destroyed me. Eeeeeeeking (yep, counted the Es) would have pulled me so beautifully out of some miserable hands.

I chose to play no babies with the thought that I needed to get set up very quickly and that Cleffa would distract from the goal and slow me down. I thought my Supporter counts were high and aggressive enough that they could pull me out of anything. Not even close. I dismissed Cleffa, but it’s definitely the play.

The second lesson I learned is not to get stuck on an idea. This deck has a great time against Reshiram decks, which was why I initially thought it was such a good choice. Reshiram decks will almost never one-hit a Tyranitar, so it’s the ideal matchup. Cinccino was no problem, Zoroark was no problem, Kingdra/Mandibuzz was no problem, Zekrom was no problem…

As Nationals grew nearer, however, decks that Tyranitar has a much tougher time against got a lot of hype. Yanmega can Linear Attack a benched Solosis early on, ruining the whole strategy of the deck. Donphan also saw an increase in attention, and being able to hit Tyranitar for weakness kills the whole “no 1HKO” thing. I saw a few Reshiram decks at the tournament, but I saw none of the others I mentioned that were hyped early on.

If Nationals had happened a month earlier, I think Tyranitar/Reuniclus would have had a great time. But, I chose to ignore the changing metagame, and sticking with my list caused me a losing record.

The Future of the Deck

BulbapediaSadly, this article is more of a sharing of a cool idea that almost worked than me trying to sell this as a top tier deck. I don’t see Tyranitar/Reuniclus having another shot at relevancy any time soon, so I wish I would’ve had a better list (and luck!) and had performed better at Nationals.

Pokémon Catcher is being printed in the next set, Emerging Powers, and it will be the death of this deck. Pokémon Catcher is a renaming of the Base Set card Gust of Wind, and a Pokémon Reversal without the coin flip. It allows you to choose any Pokémon on your opponent’s bench and bring it to the active slot.

Playing Catcher, pulling up Reuniclus, and doing 90 damage will be terribly easy. Knocking Out Reuniclus will leave the deck with no synergy and little left to run on.

The deck has a few months left to live though, so I encourage you to have fun with it and try to perfect the idea! But don’t you dare make a list without Cleffa.

Reader Interactions

18 replies

  1. Anonymous

    i think serperior mgiht have been a better choice. even if your moving that damage palces there has to be someplace to put it. and putting them on the dragons just is asking for sniping form yanmega.

  2. Goodluckevan

    Regardless of how the deck did, the article is great – very informative, and very well-written. Great job Andrew!

  3. froggy25

    Pair this with Gothitelle and there you go.

    Screw Catcher.

      • froggy25  → Brandon

        Yup, it has to be active, but this isn’t a problem : 90 for 3 / 110 for 4, 130 HP, Max Potion and Pokémon Center to be released…

        • Matthew Riddle  → froggy25

          90 for 3 and 110 for 4 if you have all psychic energy attached to it. You can abuse DCE but you’re damage goes -40. it’s just too slow.

        • froggy25  → Matthew

          It’s not a problem after some playtests, your opponent just can’t do 130 in one attack without trainers, and he can’t use catcher, which mean you have the time to charge Gothitelle.

        • Matthew Riddle  → froggy25

          I wouldn’t outline what the opponent can and cannot do until the next set is released and all the cards are tested.

          Also, the opponent doesn’t have to one-shot Gothitelle. As long as they are KO’ing them in two or less turns, they are destroying them faster than you can set them up. Yanmega/Magnezone would seem pretty decent against Gothitelle with their reliance on poke-powers and supporters like Copycat/Judge.

  4. Travis Yeary

    I think Reuniclus is an amazing pokemon. Unfortunately, because the format is so limited (6 sets, and 1 promo set), I feel that Reuniclus hasn’t found the proper partner yet. It’ll happen, but Tyranitar needs to get rid of the damage, not just move it. Sniping Pokemon like Yanmega and Blastoise will completely ruin this strategy, and with Catcher being added, it will almost be like everyone has sniping ability. Weakness will also be a huge issue in any deck decision after the change to x2 weakness for everyone (which I really don’t like one bit)

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