From Fish to Fisherman: The Intricacies of Building Your Own Decks

I know a lot of people in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and so as a result, I am constantly exposed to considerable diversity: in play style; in metagaming; and in teching. However, one area that many Pokémon players tend to lack in is deck construction.

Their in-game talents may be unreal, and their ability to adapt to sudden changes is second to few, but they get flustered when you hand them a list of all the cards in HeartGold/SoulSilver-on and say, “Hey, you: build an Accelgor deck NOW!”

While we probably won’t need to be playing Accelgor NVI anytime soon, I will at least give you my advice on how not to be that person; that is, on how to build your own decks. I intend to cover as much of the spectrum as I can, ranging from basic (but oft-neglected) factoids to advanced discussion.

So whether you’re a netdecker who wants to get away from his evil ways, or a veteran interested in someone else’s perspective, then this article should be very useful.

Before Building: Stripping Away Misconceptions

This is intended to be a comprehensive workshop of sorts for deck builders, but before we move on, it is very important to address two crucial mistruths that are a little too common right now.

“I don’t have to build my own decks – I have someone else to do it for me!”

Obviously, I need to convince you that deck-building is a valuable tool before you express interest in doing it. In this day and age, with the advent of sites such as SixPrizes Underground, it may actually seem like a lost art: Why is it necessary to build decks when stock lists are everywhere? I’ll just use this great build I found online!

If that isn’t what you thought, then great! But if it is, then hold up for just a moment, and consider what you’re missing out on:

1. By not being able to build your own decks, you are effectively stunting your growth in one – possibly two – of the three major skill areas in Pokémon, which are: playing; deck constructing; metagaming.

The latter two skills are far less necessary to do well in tournaments than the first, but without them, your ability to adjust to rapid changes is vastly diminished.

For example, if you have been relying on an almost card-for-card copy of a ZPST list in order to do well, and then suddenly the metagame shifts against you with a swarm of Donphan Prime, what are you going to do: copy another list?

You could, but without at least some strong basis in constructing decks, you are throwing your hopes for your own future into somebody else’s hands. So unless you are supremely confident in the source of your materials, then that decision to net-deck again might come back to haunt you.

2. A growth in deck building abilities coincides with growth in other skill areas. If you have built decks from scratch, then making the last leap to prepare lists for different metagames becomes much easier. In addition, being able to build unusual, strange decks that work exercises your creative, non-lateral thinking, which in turn can augment your playing in scenarios that demand creative, non-lateral thought processes.

3. The better a deck builder you are, the more play-testing opportunities open up to you. Unless you have an extraordinary reputation or are just an absolutely enlightened player, then the truth is that play-testers do not have much to gain from unknowledgeable deck builders.

4. Stronger deck builders do better in alternative formats. At any one point, limited/unlimited/no-rares/Professor Cup/other alternate methods of play are “less significant” than 60 card modified. However, over the course of several years, the number of opportunities to play in less-explored formats will be great enough to make deck skills valuable.

5. Strong deck builders enjoy “the surprise factor” over opponents. When you are capable of building entirely new decks, or of making new engines/tweaks, you have the potential to win games due solely to a lack of intelligence on an opponent’s part. On the contrary, people without deck building skills are going to be less capable of creating these scenarios, leading to less of an advantage over high-tier competition.

“There is No Potential for Creativity in This Format”

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is something I completely disagree with. Although Pokémon Catcher, PlusPower, Junk Arm, and other “out” cards greatly diminish your options in HGSS-on, this is actually the healthiest the game has been in several months. Sure, the opening flip is brutal, but I am seeing the strangest decks all over the country top cut, make finals, and even win at rather respectable venues.

Maybe “creativity” means to be stuck playing an uninteresting engine, but there are a lot of options for techs, unique strategies, and more. Noble Victories alone gave us a “super Beartic” (Cobalion NVI), a very viable deck-out option (Durant NVI), and a card capable of unlimited HP (Conkeldurr NVI 64) – three cards that do not even begin to scratch the surface at what this format’s full potential might be.

So yes, building decks is a good idea; and yes, you actually can do neat things with this format guided by the opening flip. We have something to work with.

Deck Construction Foundations

When constructing a deck, there are three primary categories: building from scratch; revamping current decks; and cutting/pasting exchangeable elements (“plug-and-play”). Knowing how each of these processes work can speed up construction significantly, as well as direct your attention to some cool ideas that might not have been recognizable otherwise.

Building from Scratch

In a previous article of mine, “Lacks-Chomp,” I went through this process in decent detail. But since there’s more to share, let’s revisit that first point.

[If you would gain valued information or context out of reading that section of the article, then please do so.]

Step 1: Choose a Focus

– One major pitfall I warned you all about was overdoing things. At what point does a deck cross over from “good” to “overdone,” though?

As my Tyranitar/Umbreon/Houndooom/Honchkrow example in Lacks-Chomp implied, lists go sour quickly when they’re inconsistent. Knowing when a build approaches the “inconsistent” point demands several solitaire deals on PTCGO,, Apprentice, or any of the other big programs (which are, by the way, all great resources for this purpose).

In order to turn yourself in the right direction before accidentally overdoing things, try to set minimum counts on hard draw and hard search (meaning no Twins). This simply helps you stay aware of what makes your list run well, and keeps you from falling into a pit of techy nonsense.

That said, don’t be afraid to mix things up. Just remember that it’s all about balance!

For reference, the other four points were…

Step 2: Add to the Focus (if necessary)
Step 3: Implement your Consistency Engine
Step 4: Fine-tune it
Step 5: Evaluate

Please keep these in mind, since I will indirectly address them throughout the rest of this article. As the next two sections will reveal, though, most decks are not built from scratch, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this. Building a totally new deck is probably one of the hardest skills to master in Pokémon, so try not to worry too much if you can’t make magic out of mulch in a day.

Revamping Archetypes

pokemon-paradijs.comWhen you do not have to make a new deck, then usually, the foundation is built for you already: in the form of pre-existing archetypes. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this “construction,” since you’re basically taking reconfiguring an archetype; however, some changes can be much more revolutionary than others.

Usually, this occurs in the form of switching out engines. In the olden days, for instance, many of the popular Blaziken/Delcatty decks functioned due to the use of Oracle: a card that let you choose the top two cards of your deck, effectively breaking Delcatty for that era. Once Oracle rotated, players were desperate for a similar effect, and so they began to abandon Delcatty, and embrace Pidgeot RG: a card with an arguably better effect than either card. Since it was a stage two, it led to a very thorough “revamp” of the old archetype, and turned it into something with a very different feel.

A more modern example of the archetype revamp would be when Jason Klaczynski , Kyle Sucevich, and even a few people before them (e.g., a friend in Oklahoma who top cut Nationals last year) took Magnezone/Emboar, axed the Magnezone, and replaced it with Ninetales, a greater attack Emboar presence, and more Energy Retrieval. What these lists did was take the overall concept of Magneboar, and then “tighten” it with a Stage One consistency card.

Next Destinies is bound to revamp some archetypes: between Musharna and the Level/Heavy Ball cards, we are bound to see some interesting things come State/Provincial/Territorial Championships.

Plug-and-Play decks

pokemon-paradijs.comSo if it isn’t exactly a “new” deck from top to bottom, but it isn’t a moderately adjusted archetype, then what do we call it? Is there some sort of in-between?

As a matter of fact, there is.

We call them plug-and-play builds: decks that are new combinations of cards with new strategies, but are based off of a previous deck. This could amount to using the same Pokémon engine, the same trainer engine, or some crucial main attacker. Many of our bigger innovations these days happen through this method: the differences between the Yanmega, Emboar, Typhlosion, and Eelektrik versions of Magnezone Prime are all united by that one common “engine,” and most of the variants we know as “Stage Ones” are just based on the original versions.

A more direct, absolute version of this method is the various Truth variants (Vileplume UD/Reuniclus BLW) out right now. Shortly after Ross Cawthon’s major Worlds showing, we saw versions with a variety of Stage One attackers pop up, including Beartic EP 30. Later on with Noble Victories, lists similar to the one I’ve been playing became possible, and since the start of Cities, they’ve become reasonably popular decks.

Building decks through plug-and-play s is less creative than actually designing the framework yourself, but it is nevertheless a mainstay of deck construction. Look back at the Nationals and Worlds winners of years past in the Masters Division, and you’ll find that many of them exist due to this exact process.


The third point of building decks from scratch is the implementation of consistency engines. But as I alluded to earlier, this can be done to either shape the focus of a new deck or to revitalize an old one.

Unlike the other sections, which are pretty much new content, this is going to be more of an update of what I mentioned in Lacks-Chomp.

No Engine

pokemon-paradijs.comAh yes, the “answer a question with a negation” routine. Sometimes your only engine is just draw and search Trainers – nothing else. With no Claydol GE in MD-on, and seldom few solid draw options in HS-on, decks have been forced to try different things. What usually works best, though?

– An aggressive deck with no come-from-behind search such as Twins is well-served to run a minimum eight draw cards. The lines are a result of personal preferences, play style, and goals (i.e., quick deck thin versus repeated access to all resources), but I believe that this is the bare-bones number to work off of in order to keep a list consistent right now.

– A deck that runs Twins ought to run at least six draw cards.

Search has some similar guidelines to consider, both when building new decks and reshaping your old ones:

– A minimum six search cards in any list is essential. In decks without an engine, it would be well-advised to run a 7-8 count minimum. As Level Ball and Heavy Ball come out, you might need to seriously evaluate both Pokémon Communication’s count and presence.

– Some Pokémon are interchangeable with the Trainers. So if you run cards such as Elgyem NVI 55 or Pichu HS, then running, say, maximum Pokémon Collector might not be necessary.

So if there is any one principle to be gleamed out of this section, it’s that decks without engines need more draw and search – period! You simply need to keep up with the competitiveness of the various strategies out there, and without the proper consistency framework, this is going to be too difficult.

Draw Pokémon Engines

pokemon-paradijs.comObviously, these are just cards that progress your game through sheer draw power. While not as focused as search engines, they do display a bit more order than lists with no engine at all, and can actually maintain some serious momentum.

Due to some of these cards being “specialty” plays that fit only within a certain type of deck, draw engines have been shaky as best. Sure, many lists enjoy the reliability of Magnezone Prime, but its play is hard to justify without Rainbows or Lightnings, thereby forcing players who want good draw to run either of those.

By Next Destinies, this is pretty much what you have to choose from if you want a real Claydol/Uxie-esque option:

Presently, this is the lion’s share of what our format has to offer in this category, and little else comes close to as playable. Stay fully aware of each new possible draw card, though, and you might land on a solid deck with a unique option.

Search Pokémon Engines

pokemon-paradijs.comLastly, we have the search Pokémon: cards that make good decks better, and great setups even more incredible. Historically, the Pokémon Trading Card Game has enjoyed an excess of good search engine cards (Pidgeot RG, Magcargo DX, Nidoqueen d, etc), but this format has little to none. Of the one card there is (Sunflora HS), it is typecast into helping only Grass decks.

Like draw cards, you should always keep a lookout for good ones with nice Poké-Powers and Abilities. While our new set brings very little to us in the form of a new search engine, the Venusaur from Dark Rush (due likely to come out in May) has an Ability identical to Nidoqueen d, which brings a great deal of promise to decks that could not effectively set up in the past.

Post-Construction Tweaks

After building a foundation and settling on the right setup structure, we have some pretty serious things to consider after the fact. If the previous sections are the most difficult for newer or less experienced deck builders, then these are assuredly the toughest for experienced ones.

Accounting for Metagames

Metagames come and go, but your need to make wise plays against them does not. Once you have your idea formally constructed, this is where you learn how to make your list beat the field, and have a decent chance of winning tournaments.

This is where your teching ability needs to really shine, especially when working on decks with glaring flaws. Chris wrote a fantastic article last year that dealt heavily with the teching process, so I would strongly advise to check out what is said there. As far as my own take on the matter, it is all a matter of applicability and practicality: how useful your tech truly is, and how easy it is to use.

There’s a word used for techs that are neither applicable nor practical: “bad.” However, here are three distinct cases of techs that cover the other categories of tech quality:

Ditto TM (practical, but not applicable) – an easy-to-use, splashable, and all around versatile card, Ditto TM is notable for its very cool Poké-Body, as well as its potentially lethal combo with Seeker. What is there not to love about this rubbery critter?

Despite the fact that I loved this thing for all of its surprise factor elements, its ability to actually counter something is woefully inadequate. About the only cards it can truly disrupt are Cinccino BLW, Victini NVI 15, and Jumpluff HS, and about the only board situations it can wreck are painfully convoluted ones that rarely show up.

The shorthand for these techs is “theorymon”: anything that sounds good on paper, but has trouble actually being usable. Granted, that is a thin line, meaning Ditto could one day be this format’s savior. Nevertheless, that thin line – our metagame – governs just about every choice we make.

Krookodile EPO (applicable, but not practical) – In testing Ross variants during Battle Roads, one insane idea I had was to run a 3-3-3 line of Krookodile just so I could completely and utterly wipe out Yanmega/Magnezone. And believe it or not, my crazy plan actually worked.

The problem? I was running three Stage Two lines, had zero flexibility in my list, and was EXTREMELY vulnerable to the rest of the field. In short, any tech or splash idea that helps versus one deck, but hinders you versus everything else almost always needs to go into the trash. There are exceptions, but this is not one of them.

Bellsprout TM (both applicable and practical) – In countering Vileplume, Reuniclus, Dodrio UD, or anything else that could suffer fits thanks to a good Inviting Scent, Bellsprout is a respectably applicable card to our current metagame. Although it can lose to good energy drops and Shaymin UL Celebration Winds, it gives decks hopeless against Vileplume variants a surprisingly decent chance of winning…Especially if they run Rescue Energies!

What makes Bellsprout a shining example of what a good tech card is, though, is its practicality. 40 HP may scare some players away, but its primary attack is Colorless, and its Retreat Cost is tolerably low. Thus, it is a very reliable way to get the job done against unfavorable matchups.

In order to illustrate my point when applied to actual deck construction, let us use a pet project I’ve had for months: Serperior BLW 6. Granted, this card does not have bad numbers by any means:, as it enjoys a staggering 130 HP, an efficient attack, and a stellar Ability.

Its glaring weakness, however, is 1HKOs against many popular decks. Since our format is full of 1HKO attackers, this effectively makes “Serperior.dec” unplayable, even though I could likely auto-win against other archetypes with my silly idea.

But is it truly unplayable? Four Kyurem NVI could turn nearly every one of your bad matchups upside-down, and a 1-1-1 line of Leavanny NVI could turn around every Typhlosion game where a piece of the line isn’t prized. While the latter may not be so practical or applicable, I could see a strong argument that the Kyurem idea is both, thereby making Serperior of all things a semi (if not fully) legitimate deck.

Of course, you really just need to test everything for yourself to see if it truly works. Theorymon can only take you so far, but with enough trial and error, the “is Absurd Tech A better than Absurd Tech B?” question is much easier to answer.

It takes some guts and creativity to make strange decks work, but they can lead to some truly memorable games, as well as event finishes.

Incorporating Your Play Style

pokemon-paradijs.comHopefully, whatever you chose to build was a reflection of your play style in the first place. Often, though, a newly-finished work isn’t quite “yours” until you give it some finishing touches that really manifest your play style.

Just what is a play style? Well, that’s a very hard question to answer in just one section of one article, but ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Are you a more conservative (patient) or liberal (aggressive) player?
  • Do you feel comfortable playing a bunch of 50/50 matchups all day, or are you hungry for auto-wins?
  • Do you trend toward certain mechanics over others?
  • How linear do you like your decks – do you want a lot of ways to win, or just one?

Play style has a direct tie to how well you play your game: the more aligned a list is with your style, the more comfortable you will be; and the more comfortable you are (within reason), the better you will play. This is a greater truth for Juniors than it is for older players, but it holds up for everyone to at least some degree.

Knowing your “element” will also make that choice of N vs. PONT vs. Judge easier, and being fully aware of your style of play can help you decide on entire lines of supplemental attackers. Try not to go too far out of your way to accommodate to play style, but it deserves to be a guiding force in your final decisions, especially when you need a tie-breaking decision between competing choices.

Regular Revisions

Lastly, here are a couple extra points to keep in mind when revising your decklist:

1. Avoid arbitrariness whenever appropriate, and always have a reason! If a testing partner asks you why you run a certain count of a card, or why you even run a card to begin with, try to have a reasonable answer. “I run a tech Absol to beat Chandelure” or “I run a tech Absol to make Kyurem’s Glaciate stronger” are both much better answers than “I run a tech Absol because its holographic pattern is pretty,” or no answer at all.

We all play because we love the game, but we don’t play to lose, and every unreasoned choice in your decklist could be one step closer to not winning, or even top cutting.

2. Should you have an opportunity to correct your decklist mistakes in between events, post-tournament evaluation can be the best thing you could ask for. When determining what went right and what did not, always be sure to strip your ego away, and be very honest about what works/what does not work. Above all, keep an open mind; otherwise, your stubbornness will lead you to playing the same bad thing over and over again.

Sometimes you have to make some pretty drastic changes to maximize success in your next series. These include changing whole attacker lines, engines, or many of the other things discussed above…Then there’s our next topic.

Discarding Decks; or How to Kill Babies

(And by “babies,” we mean that list you just created – not human infants…)

What if your deck is beyond fixing? What if, despite all of your best efforts, you must switch decks?

If this is the case, then consider these three points: if any of them apply to what you’re currently testing and/or using in tournaments, then it might be time to retire them…

It is Unplayable in Your Metagame

Just as your tweaks are governed by the metagame, so too are your deck choices. Getting a feel for when the tides are turning against you (assuming they already haven’t) is challenging, but it is a sense of judgment you need to hone over time. Perhaps these generalizations can help you with this process:

– If your deck is susceptible to weakness, and you anticipate a significantly large number of decks that are of that type, then do not play it!!! That may sound like common sense, but over the years, I’ve witnessed several homers (a.k.a. fans) of Weakness-prone decks lose miserably just because they went and played straight Kyurem/Feraligatr in Cobalion-heavy areas, or Magmortar in Empoleon-heavy areas.

This logic is transferable to just about any susceptibility: lock-prone decks in lock-heavy areas; tank/stall decks in metagames in love with Magnezone Prime; and so on.

– When reflecting on past tournaments, use “The Luck Test” (® J.E. Kettler 2011) to determine the long-term playability of your deck. My measure for The Luck Test is basically how many of your wins on a given day were ultimately decided by good fortune on your part: bad hands of opponents, misplays on the opponent’s end, bad plays of yours that coincidentally worked out, unrealistically good/bad hands, and anything else that could qualify as a “lucky” win.

Don’t treat The Luck Test as all-encompassing, but rather give it a weighted value based on your win/loss record. For example, even if many of your wins in a tournament are significantly “lucky,” you probably do not want to abandon the deck you used if it netted a 10-0 undefeated record. Conversely, a 2-4 or 3-3 performance where at least one or two of your wins were a result of luck is a near-surefire sign that you need to drop whatever you’re using, and fast.

Once again, this is a judgment call: the better your judgment, the more likely you are to save yourself from a really bad deck choice. Don’t beat yourself over the head if you occasionally mess up badly, but always strive for the best.

As the cliché goes, “know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.”

It is Outclassed by Superior Choices

pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike the points before and after this one, “outclassed” is usually a clear-cut thing to determine. That awesome Swoobat EPO idea of yours looks a lot worse with Kyurem, doesn’t it?

What we really have to deal with are the decisions that are not nearly as clear-cut. So while Kyurem thoroughly outclasses Swoobat, does it necessarily outclass Tyranitar Prime? After all, Tyranitar serves a wholly unique purpose in the metagame, and enjoys some hard-hitting options that Kyurem never would. Likewise, are there situations when Typhlosion or Emboar outclass each other?

These can often fall into metagame territory, since this format allows for any one of those four decks to thrive in the right conditions. Kyurem is has a strong positioning for “best attacker in format,” but Tyranitar is one of the best dragon killers in the game right now; and Typhlosion, despite being a generally inferior energy accelerator in comparison to Emboar, is far more reliable, more able to attack, and is virtually immune to N drops.

This is where you need to really analyze the differences between cards. Many of the players who assumed that Gardevoir SW was inferior at power lock in comparison to Palkia G LV.X/Mesprit LA, for example, were very surprised to see Michael Pramawat score a convincing runner-up performance at the 2010 World Championships.

Unless the difference is almost completely blatant, such as the Swoobat example above, or the one between 90 HP Jumpluff HS and 140 HP Dark Rush Empoleon, then you should always look for the subtle dissimilarities that mean everything in this game.

It Rotated!

pokemon-paradijs.comIn general, it is not advisable to try to run a crippled version of your pet deck for the next format. Sure, some decks hold long-term success through all of their legal incarnations, such as Gardevoir/Gallade, but over the course of a multi-format deck’s existence, the odds are very high that it will not always have a solid infrastructure to justify its existence.

Plus, there’s always the threat of “it’s unplayable in the metagame” or “it’s outclassed” kicking in, so don’t be afraid to give up on your favorite deck for at least a while.

Additionally, this does not necessarily have to be a formal rotation; instead, it could just be a new set that really gives your deck trouble. Most non-Trainer lock variants of Kyurem (CoKE, Feraligatr, Six Corners, Donphan/Dragons) actually give many traditional Fire archetypes issues.

Thus, going back to the “metagame” point, it might be entirely justified to give up on your Emboar or Typhlosion list temporarily (although to be fair, intrepid players of both decks could skirt by Kyurem variants just fine with the right list choices, as well as the right setups).

Cities Update

Although I was not intending to discuss my recent tournament experiences in this article, I feel like they fit into the theme of “building decks” rather well, seeing as how this is my first really effective plug-and-play list in a long time (although to be fair, it’s more of a “from-scratch” at this point).

I will not be going into gory detail about my games, but when taken with my first two reports, it should give you an idea of how I approach the deck-building process, as well as shed light on my advice.

City Tournament #3

pokemon-paradijs.comSince the time frame between my musings and actual tournament was very thin (less than a week), I had to put each of my plans into consideration. So let’s get right back to where I was by the end of City #2 in “All about Cities”:

– Cobalion and Kyurem are good enough to combat Durant, so getting either out is critical to success in that matchup.

V-Create Victini, for all of its merits, is simply not as good as a Dragon due to its lower HP/prerequisite Fire. So in order to stop Cobalion mirror, as well as to have a Fire force, I opted to run a single Reshiram BLW.

(As it turned out, not running Victini worked in my favor against Durant, since Ditto Triumphant showed up as a counter-tech in both tournaments I attended.

– The Terrakion/Landorus split works, but only if you run enough Basic Energy for Abundant Harvest. In most of the Patience lists I’ve used thus far, I just don’t have the count to justify it, but in decks such as Electrode Prime variants that did well in the Florida marathon, this is actually a very sound route to go.

Blissey Prime is really not that good in a deck with so many 120-130 HP basics, and is more of a space hog than anything. Between Terrakions, Reshiram, Kyurem, and Cobalion, I have the potential to bounce over 500 damage to the bench – more than enough to win a full game.

That said, I settled on this list for my third City:

Pokémon – 22

3 Oddish UD
1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD

3 Solosis BLW
2 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW

2 Cobalion NVI
2 Terrakion NVI

2 Kyurem NVI
1 Reshiram BLW
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pichu HS

Trainers – 24

4 Sage’s Training
4 Twins
3 Pokémon Collector

2 Seeker
2 N
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory


4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy

Energy – 14

4 Special M
4 Rainbow
4 Double Colorless
1 W
1 M

Mark A. HicksThis list netted me my first City win of the season, garnering an 8-1 record against the following decks: 3-0 Chandelure; 0-1 Magnezone/Eelektrik; 1-0 Magnezone/Typhlosion; 2-0 Zekrom/Eelektrik; 1-0 Reshiram/Emboar; 1-0 Durant.

I still felt shaky about my Durant matchup, and I had a new fear in the form of Chandelure, so I again adjusted the deck to include a single Absol Prime. Between its Eye of Disaster Poké-Body, as well as a Vicious Claw capable of hitting for 1-shots on Durants/Chandelures, it is the perfect counter to both.

Even if they run Terrakion or Cobalion (respectively), its one retreat allows you to easily evacuate it in both matchups, and then switch into a more appropriate response.

My fourth version looked slightly different, but more or less the same:

Pokémon – 22

3 Oddish UD
1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD

3 Solosis BLW
2 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW
2 Terrakion NVI

2 Kyurem NVI
1 Cobalion NVI
1 Reshiram BLW
1 Absol Prime
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pichu HS

Trainers – 24

4 Sage’s Training
4 Twins
3 Pokémon Collector
2 N
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 Seeker


4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy


1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

4 Rainbow
4 Double Colorless
3 Special M
1 Special D
1 W
1 M

pokemon-paradijs.comThe Metal-for-Darkness might seem a bit out of place, but with the path this deck has taken, you usually only need a single metal to shield Cobalion from any non-Magnezone, non-Fire threat, and against those decks you simply just don’t need to attack with it. Plus, the Darkness lets you “out-math” opponents via Absol.

As for the second Seeker in exchange for a Tropical Beach, that was to give the deck a shade more consistency, seeing as how this deck has many turns where you simply pass.

This deck netted me a 6-1 showing: 1-1 against Tyram; 2-0 against Six Corners; 1-0 against Donphan/Dragons; and 1-0 against Chandelure (a game I would have actually lost had I not run the Absol).

The deck continues to evolve, even at this mature stage in development. Since I am preparing for the marathon as of writing this article, my intent is to give it a bit more Kyurem focus.

Clearly, this is a super techy list, but thanks to my “minimum draw/search” rule earlier the report, it has not gone overboard. It sets up just fine in nearly every game, but at the same time I have preserved my options.


With this article, I have covered an article on every major skill area in the game: playing, metagaming, and now deck building. Between the three articles referenced in today’s, you should now have:

Mark A. Hicks

A. an elaboration on the start-to-finish of a deck, from the first ideas to the last nails in the coffin;

B. a contrast between two veteran players’ trains of thought (one process-oriented and another tech-focused); and

C. an unusual deck’s evolution from prototype concept to matured City winner.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you guys have about the methods outlined here. Additionally, feedback is always valued.

Happy 2012, everyone!

-John K.

P.S. Since this is my final article for the year, I have one last question for you all: should I turn my articles into columns, or should I stick with the separate themes? I’ve considered a uniform change like that for a while, and I see advantages/disadvantages to either choice. But by and large, it just seems to be an aesthetic thing.

Still, “Kettler’s Cards” sounds kind of catchy…Hmmm…

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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