BulbapediaIt’s been awhile since we’ve had a teacher deck article, and at this point, almost everything from last format is invalid. There is no substitute for some cards, and it’s always better to learn with current-format cards for an inevitable first tournament. So if you’ve got some leftover junk rares from buying EP boosters for those PTCGO codes or just any spare cards at all, here’s a deck to look at.
The Petilil CotD I did previously reminded me of the Lilligant from Emerging Powers, and a Gloom CotD by Celebi’ showed us what Gloom UD does before we evolve it, if it ever even hits the field thanks to Rare Candy. Special Conditions can be fun when not on the receiving end of it, and they’re a great way to show new players how seemingly-small things like Poison or Confusion can change a game’s entire outcome.
Disclaimer: I in no way intend to make Lilligant seem useless or meant only for kids, as it is a decent deck when paired with the right rares. It’s also useful for teaching new players Special Conditions and coin flips, and a watered-down version can be made with cheaper cards.
Pokémon – 17
2 Gloom UD
3 Musharna BLW
Trainers – 29
4 Emcee’s Chatter
Energy – 14
This is a basic list, something you might decide to change depending on age and how well you think the person learning can reason. Cards that can be substituted or just plain replaced will be marked as such. (A more advanced and more expensive list is below; combine the two as you see fit.) If the person learning is a young child, there are a few things you’ll want to be sure of and things you want to hammer in multiple times before handing them this deck.
1. That they can flip a coin or roll a dice. This deck is very reliant on flipping heads to cause a status effect, and if they can’t make those deciding flips, this is a bad choice.
2. That they have something for Burn/Poison markers. This is required by Pokémon TCG rules, but too often do people ignore this. If your deck is causing the conditions, it’s common courtesy to provide markers in case your opponent doesn’t have them.
pokemon-paradijs.com3. That they know what statuses can be inflicted at one time. Burn and Poison can always be there, because they can have markers. Confusion, Sleep, and Paralysis can only be there one at a time due to the cards only being able to be turned in one direction.
4. That they know which direction the card faces for each Status.
5. That they know what effects are caused by each Special Condition, and what causes each Special Condition to end.
It’s harder than I thought to find exact information on what each Condition does, and almost all information (even on Bulbapedia and Pokémon’s official site) is about the VGC. A lot that is about the TCG is confusing or wrong. Instead of searching around online, here’s a quick guide if you’re unsure before you tell anybody what they do. (For a nice interactive Flash version, there are two in the PTCGO tutorials. However, while accurate and official, it’s not the most convenient of sources.)
Burn is indicated by a Burn Marker, which is defined by no official rules. You can use anything from the official cardboard Burn Markers, to fancy red half-marbles sold online, to a scrap of notebook paper with the letter “B” written on it. The only rule is that it has to be clear; putting one of your damage counter die on the bottom of the card doesn’t count.
Between every turn, a player with a Burned Pokémon flips a coin. If heads, nothing happens. If tails, that Pokémon takes 20 damage. A Pokémon KO’d by Burn damage doesn’t count as “Knocked Out by damage from an attack.” It ends when the Pokémon retreats, faints, or by effect of some cards.
Poison is indicated by a Poison marker, much like Burn. The same rule about clear markers applies, although your marble will be green or your paper will say “P.” You can’t just agree to remember that it’s Poisoned without marking it at all.
Between every turn, a Poisoned Pokémon takes 10 damage. No coin flips, just 10 damage. A Pokémon KO’d by Poison damage doesn’t count as “Knocked Out by damage from an attack.” It ends when the Pokémon retreats, faints, or by effect of some cards.
pokemon-paradijs.comParalysis is indicated by turning the card so that the picture faces toward the right side. It must be clearly turned all the way, not at a 40-degree angle or something “almost turned.”
A Pokémon who is Paralyzed can’t attack or retreat that turn. It ends at the end of that player’s turn, by effect of some cards, or if the Pokémon is pulled back to the Bench.
Confusion is indicated by turning the card upside down. This is the easiest to remember of the three which require a turned card.
A Pokémon who is Confused can attack, but they must flip a coin before every attack. If heads, the attack proceeds as follows. If tails, the attack fails and that Pokémon gets three damage counters placed onto it, even if that attack wouldn’t cause damage ordinarily. A Pokémon KO’d by Confusion self-damage doesn’t count as “Knocked Out by damage from an attack.” The Condition ends by effects of some cards, or when the Pokémon retreats to the bench.
Sleep is indicated by turning the card so that the picture faces toward the left side. The opposite of Paralysis, but you still have to make sure that it’s turned clearly in this direction.
A Sleeping Pokémon can’t attack or retreat as long as they’re asleep. Between turns, flip a coin; if heads, that Pokémon wakes up, but if tails, it stays Asleep. The Condition ends when heads is flipped in this manner, by effect of some cards, or if the Pokémon is pulled back to the bench.
pokemon-paradijs.comThese aren’t Special Conditions, but they’re cards that need to be brought up when discussing them. Above, when I said something ends “by effects of some cards,” these may not be the only two, but they’re the most notable in the current format. I’ll give a brief description of what and why to clear up anything for new players.
Full Heal is the most obvious when reading every card. It’s simple: play this card, and the Pokémon is cured of all Special Conditions. While useful against a Status deck, this card is actually pretty useless, and if anybody has it in a deck, they’re advised to remove it immediately. If your opponent doesn’t rely on them – most decks – then it’s a dead-draw every time.
Switch doesn’t sound like it’s the best at removing conditions, but it’s both useful and versatile. Retreating a Pokémon to the bench ends every Condition, as you may have noticed. So whether your Pokémon has a high Retreat Cost, or if opponent used an attack that prevents retreat, or if your Pokémon is Paralyzed/Asleep, this ends everything safely.
The Actual Strategy
Now that all of that’s out of the way, we can look at the deck. Rather than a strategy, this contains explanations. It’s too basic to have a clear one-two-three synergetic strategy, so instead, it’s focused on swarming attackers that can inflict Special Conditions as the only “strategy”.
Lilligant – The main focus of the deck due to its reliability in always causing some sort of Condition, and the low attack cost. Heads is meant to be the better option, causing Paralysis and Poison. Tails doesn’t hurt in a rare occasion where it causes Confusion. For a younger child, make sure they know that Bemusing Aroma is far more important than Cut here. And not to use it unless they can guarantee a kill with it before Lilligant gets KO’d and loses those three Energy.
Petilil – While the Emerging Powers one is used here, this can be substituted with any of the three. This one is used specifically because its first attack can cause Paralysis if you flip heads, keeping in with the theme of the deck.
Gloom – A card that normally only stays visible for one turn if it’s lucky, Gloom has a rather unique attack. For GC, if it does 30 damage and tells you to flip a coin. If heads, you pick a Special Condition to inflict your opponent with. While other cards may be better at dishing out Status, this one gives them the option of deciding what to make their opponent deal with, and is an obvious introduction to Vileplume. (Do not use Vileplume in a beginner’s list.)
Oddish – The only Oddish in format, and therefore our only choice. It has 40 HP, which is why there are three of these but only two Gloom. If not for that low HP, it would be a decent starter. For one G Energy, flip a coin, and if heads, search your deck for any Grass Pokémon and put it in your hand. This can get you something like a Gloom or Lilligant attacking by the second turn.
Musharna – This card was overlooked by Masters for a reason, but I’ve heard of kids using it because of its potential and easy accessibility. It’s very straightforward: use Hypnotic Ray, and if the opponent stays Asleep, use Dream Eater. Remind young children that Sleep isn’t compatible with Lilligant causing Confusion. (This line can easily be replaced with Muk UD.)
Munna – There’s a McDonald’s promo version of this, but it’s also really bad. Its only attack, Yawn, does the same thing as Munna BW’s Hypnosis. Also Munna is a mini version of Musharna, but make it clear to young children that even though Hypnosis can be used with a G Energy, they should only ever put P Energy on Munna.
Energy Search – This is in here only because you’re attacking with multiple types. When making the deck more advanced, this should be one of the first cards to go. If you don’t take it out before handing the deck to anyone, explain to players of all ages that this card should never be used unless building a donk deck, and it’s only there to teach Energy costs. (I recommend leaving it in for very young players, as it is a card that gives them a bit of a safety net.)
Pokémon Communication – Have a Pokémon in your hand but you need a different one? Even if you’re new, just reading the card text should tell you why we need this. It a huge staple, so make sure you introduce all new players to this.
Switch – This card has a high count again, because of the safety net it provides a young player. Discarding too many Energy is something that I, personally, had a problem with when playing as a kid who had just learned how good retreating could be. (Also because this list doesn’t have Junk Arm, and only one Switch with no option to get it back won’t help them.)
Poké Ball – Yet another card that is there for young players. It’s not very good, so tell any player who might get this that they should never use it under any circumstance. There are far better cards for searching out Pokémon. (Can be replaced by Great Ball, Xtransceiver, Pokégear 3.0, or any other search card, if you wish. This is also another one that can be replaced for Junk Arm.)
Pokémon Reversal – Flip a coin, and if heads, you get Pokémon Catcher. If your opponent is setting something up or has a necessary support Pokémon on the Bench, they can drag it up with this. (For younger players who have a hard time making decisions, it can be used with Pokémon Circulator instead. This is a substitute for Pokémon Catcher, and it’s up to you if you want to loan spare Catchers to a new player.)
Dual Ball – A Trainer that can help you set up Basics as soon as possible, with a little coin flip luck. This is usually the card we give to people when we don’t want to give up some Collectors. (Collector can be used if you wish. Also may be substituted with Elgyem NV 55, Stantler UL, or Pichu HS to teach starter Pokémon.)
Rocky Helmet – One of two Tools in format right now, but we can’t even use Eviolite here. Most of the Pokémon in this deck have low HP, but this deck’s focus is Special Conditions, an alternate way to cause damage to an opponent. Against a Confused opponent, they may flip heads and attack, but with this Tool, they’ll take 20 damage no matter the outcome of the coin flip.
Flower Shop Lady – Recovery is something else necessary to teach. Whether your recovery comes from a Poké-Power/Poké-Body/Ability, a Trainer, or a Supporter, you should keep something on hand for those rough spots. (Can be switched with Super Rod, but FSL really is recommended here.)
Professor Oak’s New Theory – Another staple to teach everyone coming into the game. Shuffle-draw is important, and this is arguably one of the best cards to teach it with. (Can be switched for Copycat, Judge, or N depending on availability or what you believe works.)
Emcee’s Chatter – Along with shuffle-draw, straight-draw is something else we like to use. Emcee’s Chatter is used here partially to keep in theme with coin flips and showing how risky they are, and partially because it’s something that a lot of us have too many of lying around. Tell a player who isn’t using an optimal draw card which choices are best. (Can be substituted for Bill, Cheerleader’s Cheer, Team Rocket’s Trickery, Bianca, or Cheren depending on availability.)
About the draw Supporter options, discard-draw is not something you should give somebody who’s brand new, regardless of age and how good the cards are. Knowing how to effectively play Juniper or what cards to discard with Sage’s Training isn’t something that’s common knowledge in your very first match. Give them some time before you show them how to discard to your advantage.
Energy counts – Most attackers in this deck have a low Energy cost, but this deck has high Energy and two Energy Search. When upgrading the deck, this is also something to be cut down; don’t spend so much time waiting on that upgrade that they become comfortable with it. Let them know that in most multi-type decks, the Energy counts are rarely even as they are here. (Feel free to fiddle around with this before handing it off.)
So there’s a nice start for somebody just getting their feet wet and still deciding on what they want. Once they become comfortable with the above deck, they may decide that they like the swarm of Special Conditions. If so, this is a good time to introduce Trainer lock, as most decks play Switch and can negate all efforts of stacking extra damage. This may be where impatient children decide to drop the idea, as using only Supporters slows down turns considerably, and leads to more decision-making than if you could play a Trainer with the same effect.
Pokémon – 23
2 Gloom UD
2 Grimer UD
2 Muk UD
2 Houndour UD 54
Trainers – 26
Energy – 11
Several of these cards were on the above list, and they will not have their descriptions repeated. But with the list looking quite different now that Vileplume is being tossed into the mix, we still have some explanations to go over.
Vileplume – The card that’s changing almost everything in here. Trainer lock can be difficult for a beginner to grasp, so wait until they know how to play without help before taking out a good percentage of cards. This prevents your opponent from Switching out of any Conditions, meaning they either take the extra damage, or they discard Energy to retreat. Pretty much a staple in Status Effect decks.
Muk – Leave this on the Bench for use after a Lilligant is KO’d. Stack enough Energy onto it so that it can use Pester, and add even more injury to injury now that Lilligant should have the Defending Pokémon Confused or Poisoned. If your opponent has something on the bench that is disrupting you or helping them too much, Sludge Drag is a viable option and also powers up Pester. (Can be replaced with Musharna line from the above list if so desired.)
Grimer – This card is bland, unremarkable, and makes me wish we had another Grimer in format. I hold a stance that this Grimer has the worst attacks printed, especially in regard to the Muk we’re using. Some of the others may require coin flips, but at least they do something more useful than making a Retreat Cost just one Energy higher. Hope that you start with something better, like Petilil.
Victini – Like Vileplume, this Pokémon stays on the bench all game. If you want Lilligant to be at its maximum effectiveness, you can’t put it in fate’s hands. Victini lets you take control of things with the Victory Star Ability. Any time you attack with a Pokémon that requires a coin flip, which you should be doing often, you can reflip once and try again for that heads. Emphasize that this Ability does not stack, and you can only flip for attacks, not Trainers or Poké-Powers. (Can be put into the beginner’s list, but was left out due to price and want value.)
Houndoom Prime – Yet another Pokémon that teaches Bench-sitting. You want Houndoom for its Poké-Power, Fire Breath. Get heads on a coin flip, and the Defending Pokémon is Burned without you having to waste an attack. Unlike Victini, you can use this twice in one turn if you have two of them on the Bench.
Houndour – The Houndour picked here is my preference, but unless you put in D Energy, then it doesn’t matter at all. All Houndour in format have the same type, HP, Retreat Cost, Weakness, and Resistance. (If you do add D Energy, this is the one I recommend, but otherwise, it doesn’t matter at all.)
Pokémon Communication & Rare Candy – These two are lumped together as they have the same purpose. This is a Trainer lock deck, so it may be odd to see Trainers in it if you haven’t played before. These two cards are only used to get Vileplume out as early as possible. You don’t set up Lilligant and then evolve Vileplume two turns later. You get out Vileplume as your number one priority.
Sage’s Training – If they’re good enough for Trainer lock with Candy and Communication, they may be good enough for discard-draw. This is both for discarding dead Candy and Communication, and also for speeding through the deck to get the cards they need. Use your best judgment and replace with other draw cards if they struggle.
Twins – There’s a good chance you’ll fall behind on prizes, when your Pokémon have such low HP. With Twins, you can fall behind a little, throw statuses at your opponent to weaken them without actually KOing them while you set up, and Twins gets you the cards you need to wreck.
Pokémon Collector – Cannot be substituted for Dual Ball if they use this. If you don’t have spare Collectors or don’t want to loan them out, you can proxy while they learn. If they want to get into competitive, encourage they get their own set of staple cards as early as possible.
Professor Elm’s Training Method – A substitute for Communication once the lock is up. If you’re not behind on prizes and can’t use Twins, then this is the card to use to get out evolutions. (This card is entirely optional and based on personal preference; take it out if you want to make room for something else.)
Cheren – I did include Cheren under straight-draw earlier, but this is just showing up as the better alternative. Other straight-draw can be used here in its place. (TRT should not be used here, as your opponent will only discard Trainers from their hand.)
Cards that Could Have Been Included but Weren’t
Hypno HS – A cheaper alternative to Houndoom Prime, but less effective. A Pokémon can’t be Paralyzed, Confused, and Asleep at the same time, so you won’t always find the opportunity to use it. But as something to teach with where you don’t want to loan out a couple Primes, this works.
Leafeon UD – Not always convenient to get into the Active Spot against a Defending Pokémon that’s still packed with Conditions, but it’s similar to Muk and its Pester attack. For any one Energy, deal 50 damage per the amount of Special Conditions on the Defending Pokémon. This means that if you left the Defending Pokémon Poisoned and Confused, 100 damage for one Energy. (Pair this with Eevee UD 48, “Call for Family,” for best results.)
Rainbow Energy – Another way to attack with Houndoom, but this one also lets you attack with Lilligant and Muk without searching out a different Energy type. The catch is that it brings your low HP down further when used. Add between two and four if you go this route.
What to do Once They’ve Mastered It
Inevitably, anybody using this deck will start to get good at it. As they learn the rules, they’ll want move on to more effective decks, maybe go to a tournament or two and see what it’s like. They’ll ask what decks they can use. Instead of telling them to make their own, deck, give them ideas and point them in the right direction, lest you have to explain why you broke apart their Scolipede/Conkeldurr/Victini/Virizion list.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe most obvious evolution of this deck is a full Lilligant/Victini/Yanmega/Vileplume. Yanmega has dropped in price enough (thank you Prime Challenge boxes) that even a child may be able to get it between trading and allowance money. The strategy itself isn’t much different than the above, and it sits comfortably in an arguable tier two.
One similar deck that got a bit of hype when it was announced was VVV, a combination of Vanilluxe, Vileplume, and Victini. It uses Vileplume to block Trainers and Victini to reflip for a Special Condition, but it stalls rather than using a Condition to add damage.
Another similar deck is Leaferade, Leafeon/Roserade/Houndoom/Vileplume. It works similar to this deck without coin flips to attack, and its Energy drops mean more. Putting a Grass or P Energy onto Roserade UL gives the Defending Pokémon a Special Condition, and Leafeon abuses that by using its cheap-costing attack to hit hard.
Any other suggestions on decks that are similar? Thoughts on Special Condition-swarming decks? Leave them in the comments, and happy teaching.