This article is going to sway slightly from a traditional block of writing by incorporating aspects of video to enhance the learning aspect of this piece.
I’m going to approach this as a series of articles in the run up to Worlds, hopefully giving some insight into the strategy behind two or three of the most popular deck choices at the moment. This will not only help you with how to play your own list, but will aid you in figuring out what may be going on in your opponent’s head when playing against them. So, if you like what you read, hear and see over the next 30 minutes or so, please let me know in the comments below, click +1 and I will carry on this planned series.
What made me decide to do something like this was the fact that there are a lot of deck analysis articles out there for pretty much any deck you are looking for, but not many will give you the tools and advice you need to actually play the deck. These videos are designed to put the viewer in a ‘player’s point-of-view’ in different scenarios that occur during games, hopefully covering most of the basics when playing the deck.
I will go over why you should make the choices made in the videos along with a little bit about planning ahead to cater for what your opponent seems to be planning against you.
Overall, this article is designed to help you play the deck by looking into the various strategies you can find within and how to play them at certain points during the game. So sit back, relax and I hope you enjoy :)
First, I’ll go over the list I’m going to be referring to for the whole article and will be playing when it comes to the videos. It may not be the perfect list, but in my testing it has proven to set up fairly quickly each game with the ability to topple a lot of decks in the current format, only to be strengthened through further releases.
|Pokémon – 181 Manaphy UL
1 Tyrogue HS/CL
4 Reshiram BLW
2 Vulpix CL
2 Ninetales HS/CL
3 Cyndaquil HS
2 Quilava HS
3 Typhlosion Prime
|Trainers – 284 Pokémon Collector4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Professor Juniper
1 Engineer’s Adjustments
4 Pokémon Communication
2 Rare Candy
4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Reversal
|Energy – 1412 R
2 Double Colourless
I think the list is fairly vanilla, but there isn’t a whole load you can do to the deck to make it ‘your own’ unless you want to sacrifice consistency. The draw supporters are probably where you can go for your personal favorite, as all of the above in different numbers work pretty well and just depend on your playing style.
I don’t want to turn this into an analysis article, but there are a few different choices that I would consider making after playing this list for a while now.
Is Double Colourless Needed? I’m not really sure on the answer to this at the moment. Right now, I would happily take out the DCE to add some more Fire in there just because I’m not using it enough to warrant the inclusion. It works in Zekrom because you can move that energy around, but with this, I don’t find myself attaching it to use ‘Outrage’.
When I’m in a position to use Outrage, I usually have enough Fire energy available to go aheaed and use instead. A nice use is having Double Colourless to just attach and retreat in a single turn, with the ability to ‘Afterburner’ more energy on, but I never seem to have it at the right time or rarely need it.
Defender – I tried this out in the first version of the list I initially built and was really unimpressed by it to be honest. In certain situations it does work well, but I find myself never using it or drawing it early game where it’s practically useless unless you’re in that funny situation where you attach it to a lone Tyrogue to save the donk.
Upon Catcher’s Release – You are definitely going to need to swap out those Reversals for Catchers as soon as they are released since it will give this deck a huge boost in consistency in the attacking department. A good game for this deck is hitting most of your Reversals whether it’s to KO an attacker being prepared for a comeback or just to get round an annoying sleeping baby. This deck will gain a really nice boost from this card since it effectively makes your Reversals a heads every time.
Revive – Most lists I’ve seen don’t have this, but I don’t see a good enough reason not to. It gives you a 5th Reshiram if needed and can assure that you keep on the offensive if you have no other way to search out another Reshiram after suffering a KO.
It takes quite a few resources for the top tier decks to topple a couple of Reshirams, so when they keep on coming back, the opponent will begin to run out of steam. Definitely try this out if you haven’t already to make use of those huge Basics at your disposal.
Those are pretty much all the possible changes I would or have already made to the list I’m using for this article, so let’s get on to how to play this thing.
The Early Game
This stage of the game is actually one of the deck’s strong points when it comes to surviving donks. Having just one Basic with 30HP (if you even decide to run Tyrogue) means that you aren’t susceptible to the first turn loss, especially if you start with one of those beefy Reshirams you have at your disposal.
However, this is probably the only strong thing about the deck’s early game. It has a fairly mediocre set up speed until it can get that Ninetales out, which is where it starts to kick it up a notch. Not having that Vulpix turn one or two can put you at a severe disadvantage for the first few turns and put you behind in that crucial prize exchange, especially if going second.
Your ideal start is the same as every other deck, turn one Pokémon Collector. This can grab you Vulpix, Cyndaquil and either Reshiram or Manaphy depending on what you are currently holding. Having Manaphy as a free retreat start is very nice, since it gives you the option of retreating early on and if it gets KO’d after using ‘Deep Sea Swirl’ you’ll have that extra energy in the discard pile for later anyway.
If you can only manage to get Cyndaquil onto the bench turn one, that really isn’t a bad thing. As long as you have the resources to get energy into the discard pile, of the many that you have available, you should still be able to get ‘Blue Flare’ going if Tyhplosion Prime hits the field shortly after the first turn.
This gives you some prize-taking ability through your attacker while you begin to get that draw power set up for the duration of the game. This is actually shown in the video below since I managed to get a turn 2 Typhlosion but no Ninetales, however I still managed to take 2 Prizes by the end of my third turn showing how the deck can still be played well even without that Ninetales out.
If you don’t have that turn one Collector, which happens surprisingly often even though you run 4, then using Communication for that Vulpix is a good idea or just refreshing your hand to try and get something going will have to be your last resort. I can’t stress enough how crucial that turn 2 or 3 (at a push) Ninetales is to how difficult your game is going to be. However, the game isn’t lost if you don’t get that Ninetales, as I will show you later.
Getting Reshirams on the field early on isn’t necessary since they are easily searchable and powered up quickly, but one in the starting position taking early damage could set you up for a nice ‘Outrage’ KO to get you started.
I can’t go over every starting hand, but that should be what you are aiming for when presented with your initial seven cards. If all else fails and you just draw nothing, you will be in a tough position to get much going without good top decks, but this can happen with any deck, not just this one.
I’ve found that the bane of this deck is a turn one Judge. Having your hand cut down when going second really can hurt the chances of a good final outcome if you can’t get that Ninetales going. Manually attaching those energy won’t get you anywhere fast and will cause you to lose out eventually.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this but make your build as consistent as possible to make sure you draw those draw supporters from a Judge at any time in the game and with Yanmega around, this will happen more often than you first expect.
Enough words now and onto a small piece of video showing you how to deal with different early game decisions. Roll the video!
‘The Initial Turns’
As you saw in the video, you can still have a decent first few turns even without the Ninetales going down on the second turn. I was able to take 2 Prizes to the opponent’s none, putting me in a great position for the rest of the game, especially since I managed to take out one of the Zoruas which posed to be a potential threat for the mid-late game.
If you don’t get a great starting hand, as was shown when I had been ‘Judged’, there are still a few options that you can stretch to get that KO, if you keep track of what’s in your discard pile and make full use of the resources in your hand. You will find the discard pile to be a very key part of the next few videos and I would suggest that you check it pretty much every turn to confirm what you’ve already used and what you can reuse in the current turn. This is especially important in the mid-late game more than these early stages, so I’ll talk about that a bit later.
pokemon-paradijs.comOverall, the deck managed to use its resources effectively to get KOs turn after turn, all be it with a nice Reversal heads. If that wasn’t a heads, the KO wouldn’t have happened and a more interesting game would have occurred. They would have had access to both Zoroarks later on as well as being able to put more damage onto Reshiram if Tyrogue woke up.
This kind of situation does make you want to include one or two Pokémon Circulator instead of the Reversals so that you can definitely get that sleeping Baby out of the way, but being able to choose what you want to KO does make that difference making it a tough list choice to make.
So overall, you’re early game actions really need to focus on getting that Cyndaquil and/or Ninetales on the bench which can be done through Pokémon Collector, or through other means as shown in the video above.
Once you have those resources there and on your bench, maybe with an attacker ready to go as well, we should be moving onto the next phase of the game.
This is where the deck really picks up if Ninetales is out. Drawing those extra cards on top of your pretty high draw supporter count ensures that you will have the means to get Typhlosion onto the bench along with a Reshiram ready to hit for 120 as soon as it hits the Active Spot. But what are the steps you should take from here? Let’s have a look.
pokebeach.comNinetales should be one of your main concerns when getting set up and if there isn’t at least a Vulpix on the bench after a few turns, you could be in for a rough time.
The draw power Ninetales gives with ‘Roast Reveal’ is much quicker than other sources of draw, namely Magnezone, which further suggests that you need to get it on the field ASAP, even more so in any matchups involving Magnezone itself. It gives you a lot more options during the game when you use it after using something like Professor Juniper or PONT to keep your resources coming and stay attacking every turn.
What Ninetales also helps with is keeping a large hand size. Yanmega is a very popular card right now and needs Judge or Copycat to keep the hand sizes the same, if they can’t do it any other way. When veering into the later parts of the mid-game, make sure you check their usage of both Supporters to see whether you can keep your own hand size fairly high and make sure they can’t attack with Yanmega the following turn.
This proves to be a very effective strategy when implemented at the right time, just be wary of them ‘Copycat-ing’ a large hand to try and keep up.
As you saw just then, Ninetales really does help this deck to get out of some not so great hands and gives the deck more options during a turn after drawing those extra cards. In that particular scenario, we were able to see how well Professor Juniper and ‘Roast Reveal’ worked together to draw up to 10 cards in a single turn, turning a difficult hand into one that has many options. This also shows how high you can keep your hand count when playing against Yanmega in the later stages of the game.
Making Use of 2 Typhlosions
‘Making Use of 2 Typhlosions’
pokebeach.comThis scenario presents us with the ideal set-up to have when this deck hits the mid-game. Having two Typhlosions really allows you to think ahead a couple of turns and get those energy on the field to prepare yourself for what your opponent is going to attempt.
The Ninetales isn’t quite there yet, but having access to both ‘Afterburners’ makes sure that you can stay on the offensive while using your shuffle-draw supporters to keep as consistent as possible, trying to get that Ninetales out.
What I find is that getting that turn 2 Typhlosion isn’t too much of an issue when you have access to Rare Candy either in your hand or through the discard pile and setting up a second one through standard evolution allows you to focus on keeping those energy coming while you get that second one slowly built up.
Succeeding in doing this allows you to make those more complex choices into where to attach energy when the second Typhlosion finally hits the field. In this particular scenario, I was able to prepare for the Zoroark threat next turn, anticipating a return KO the turn after so that I can make the KO on Zoroark the following turn to tip the field back in my favor.
While we are on the subject of Typhlosion, let me just take the chance to mention that it isn’t that bad of an attacker when used correctly. Pokémon such as Zoroark that abuse Double Colourless Energy can be the perfect target of ‘Flare Destroy’. Since the attack discards both an energy attached to Typhlosion and the Defending Pokémon, it can be really useful to leave the opponent in a tricky spot.
The attack isn’t too bad to set up in a single turn either if you have the means to, or you can predict if the attack will be needed in a couple of turn’s time and power it up in the background. I just thought I’d mention it since it is a legit way to stall the opponent and prevent them from taking a prize from you during their next turn. When the situation arises, definitely try it out in testing, you may be surprised how effective it can be.
Overall, during the mid game, you really need to have that Ninetales on the field, or at least a couple of Typhlosions. Having the Ninetales will keep you up to speed with your opponent while Typhlosion makes sure that you are making full use of all your energy available. Using both of these in conjunction with each other really keeps the deck rolling smoothly, so if it hasn’t happened by the time you’ve passed the mid-game, you’re in for a rough ride.
Clearing up Late-Game
The late game is where the deck can really make full use of all of its resources to get some really creative KOs through the use of ‘Outrage’ or ‘Blue Flare’ when the opportunity is there.
Having damage slowly racking up on your attackers means that you’ll be using Outrage more often here, with the ability to add to your own damage output via the damage counters of ‘Afterburner’ and PlusPower. These two combined makes sure that you can stretch enough to get those crucial last KOs.
The two following strategies are the main ones you will be implementing at this stage in the game, combining them at times to get the most out of each turn.
Art of the Arm
pokegym.netJunk Arm is, in my opinion, one of the most useful cards in the format at the moment, but it only fits in a certain number of decks in high numbers, this being one of them. It is such a useful asset to the deck in the late game since it gives you more uses of the trainers you’ve used earlier on in the game such as Pokémon Reversal, PlusPower and even Rare Candy at times.
Choosing cards to discard with the card’s effect also gets easier in the late game since cards like Pokémon Collector and Baby Pokémon become next to useless, so they are made more useful when using this card.
Junk Arm allows you to pull of a lot more complex moves in this stage of the game since you are thinking about damage you can add on, Pokémon you can evolve quickly and your opponent is going to have a tough time keeping track of all your available resources, especially in these crucial last moments. Let’s have a look at Junk Arm in action to take the last prize of a game.
‘Art of the Arm’
This video shows how you can use cards that have already been utilized again to stay as offensive as possible and bring 2HKOs into 1HKOs fairly easily.
Another nice thing to note at the moment is that Pokémon Reversal is chained well with this card at any stage in the game. If you are holding a Junk Arm and desperately need to drag something up to put your opponent in a rough position, definitely think about chaining your Reversals to get it. You can do this two or even three times in a row to get the heads you need, since you run such a high amount of both and won’t be wasting too many resources for this stage of the game.
In the first video, there was also use for Junk Arm then when paired with an early Professor Juniper play. I was able to get rid of some unhelpful resources at the time to draw more cards and then utilize what I had discarded when they were needed. The Rare Candy wasn’t doing anything sitting in the hand with no Pokémon, but when I drew into the appropriate Pokémon after using Juniper, I was still able to make full use of it with Junk Arm.
These are just a few ways you can use Junk Arm in any stage of the game, but it gets more useful as the game goes on. The best advice I can give is one I keep repeating in this article, keep checking your discard pile. This means that you’ll be able to work out your more complex moves in advance, making sure that you have a plan for whatever your opponent decides to do on their turn.
I’m going to call this one of the more ‘advanced’ strategies the deck uses since it can be planned turns in advance and takes time to get used to. Although it’s a little more complex since you make full use of it while keeping track of resources in your discard pile at the same time.
Again, we come back to making full use of the discard pile and using the general skill in Pokémon of predicting your opponent’s next move. This comes in really handy when attempting to utilize ‘Outrage’ in the last few turns of the game since you can go in depth and work out how many Afterburner damage counters you need and decide whether you need to fish out those PlusPowers or not.
This video was a much simpler version of what I was talking about above, but it really goes to show that even if you can’t get ‘Blue Flare’ going, you can still hit around the same damage output after utilizing everything at your disposal.
I find this one of the more fun parts of the deck’s strategy since it can encourage you to make challenging decisions and pull off some really nice moves during the game. It gives you the advantage if you can pull something out of the bag that your opponent really wasn’t expecting. This element of surprise is a great aspect of the deck that works against opponent’s that don’t have a full playing experience with the deck. Keeping this element of surprise is much easier if you notice your opponent isn’t taking much notice of your discard pile during the game and you should take full advantage of this.
Outrage is much more powerful than you first expect in a deck that can hit for 120 fairly easily early on. Make sure you concentrate on getting this late game attack down to a tee and learn to use the discard pile to full effect when attempting to outplay the opponent.
That’s pretty much all of the basic strategy I can give you when playing this deck. All that’s left to do now is to go and play them yourself, but only after I’ve touched upon how well I think this deck will perform at Worlds.
Reshiram/Typhlosion for Worlds?
This deck has been getting a lot more hype than before Nationals as a top contender and I feel for good reason. The deck has strong early, mid and late game presence, as shown above, and features built in draw power that other decks are lacking to stay as consistent as possible.
I feel this is one of the top 3 decks out there that could take the title for Worlds, since it has two main factors against the rest of the predicted field:
- Reshiram weakens Kingdra considerably
- Reshiram has great matchups against anything with Yanmega involved
With Reshiram being such a bulky basic, Yanmega really is going to have a tough time to get those early prizes, which is what it does best at the moment. Cyndaquil sits comfortably at 60HP meaning that it won’t be KO’d straight away with the help of ‘Spray Splash’, giving you that turn you need to evolve normally and keep your bench looking healthy. Vulpix does only have 50HP, but that is fairly average right now and will be evolved into a 90HP Bench-sitter, making it much less vulnerable to Yanmega snipes.
pokebeach.comDecks involving Magnezone are without a doubt going to be played at Worlds, but they need to Lost Zone 3 energy in order to get a single KO on a Reshiram, making it very difficult for them to keep on the offensive while you keep presenting them with Reshirams to get past. This deck also has a quicker form of draw power, meaning it can potentially outspeed Magnezone, so I feel it has a very nice matchup against the three Pokémon to beat this year so far, Yanmega, Kingdra and Magnezone.
There is also a third factor which could cause this deck to rise in numbers:
3. It’s a cheap deck to build
Aside from the more costly staples such as Pokémon Collector, this deck is really inexpensive to build for how powerful it is. The main attacker and support lines are available as tin promos, making them really cheap to buy as singles, so all you would really need to get hold of are the Ninetales, which are very deck specific, also making them cheaper.
With the caliber of skill players have going into Worlds, I’m not sure how much of an impact price will have on decks, but I believe it will be a contributing factor to the popularity, if not at Worlds, then in the future.
I personally wouldn’t be surprised if any of these builds do well at Worlds since it has very nice matchups across the board and can pack a real punch through all stages of the game. Definitely test against this deck as I’m sure it will be a force to contend with if you are competing at Worlds.
Reshiram/Typhlosion is a really solid deck choice for any upcoming tournament and a really good choice for Worlds. A deck that can hit hard relatively quickly, has built in draw power and is only going to get stronger with the coming of the new set (Pokémon Catcher ;)).
Thanks for reading and watching this article and I hope it helped you to understand some of the key strategies behind playing this particular deck. If you liked this style of article then please comment below and if you want more information on building the deck rather than playing it, then please go and visit ‘The Testing Zone’ over at www.pokemandan.co.uk for all you need to know.