Pokemon ParadijsWe’re living in strange times when you can get away with playing a deck that only runs 4 Pokémon. I can’t think of another period in this game’s history when such a deck existed, barring something gimmicky (and bad) like the infamous Mulligan Mewtwo from Unlimited. We’ve had decks with 4 attackers, sure – 4 Basics, 4 Evolutions – but never 4 Pokémon total.
Now we not only have quad decks in existence, but we have quad decks that can legitimately compete and even win tournaments. Blame (or celebrate, depending on your view) the power creep for giving us 180 HP Basics capable of standing alone in their own tank decks, or 130 HP Basics capable of swarming. The times have certainly changed.
In this article, I am going to be looking at 3 successful quad decks: Entei EX, Groudon EX, and Terrakion NVI. In this section, I am going to be addressing a few ‘general quad concepts’ that apply to all 3 decks, then I’ll move on and dissect each one individually in more detail.
One inherent benefit of running a quad deck is that you will always start with your desired opener since it is the only Pokémon in your deck. There is no chance to open with something undesirable (and donkable) like a lone Tynamo or Celebi Prime, or a strictly endgame card like Shaymin EX that can cost you the game simply by being in play too early, or a Mewtwo EX that immediately forces you into a premature Mewtwo war. You don’t have to worry about any variance whatsoever in regard to your opening Pokémon; you can always count on having a Terrakion or a Groudon or an Entei in your Active spot from the beginning.
This means you will never be in a bind solely because you failed to get your attacker into play. There are obviously all kinds of other ways you can end up in a bad spot – you may miss energy drops, fail to get another Pokémon into play when you need it, draw dead, and so forth – but you will never be able to blame a loss on opening with the wrong Pokémon. No non-quad deck can offer you that promise of starter consistency.
There is a price you pay for this, of course. Part of that price is accepting the likelihood of numerous mulligans. I don’t need to explain to you why mulligans are bad, but I will note that this is a particularly bad moment in our format to give your opponent extra cards at the outset of a game. That is because 2 of the biggest decks – Darkrai variants and CMT – are capable of going off and dealing huge damage on the first turn with the right combination of cards at their disposal, and the more cards you give your opponents to work with, the more likely the odds of hitting that needed Skyarrow Bridge or Dark Patch or DCE become.
Think of it like this: if you mulligan 7 times (which isn’t that rare when you only have 4 Basics), you tack a free Juniper onto your opponent’s opening hand, giving him access to 15 total cards (including his draw at the start of the turn).
If you happen to have the good fortune of going first after mulliganing a lot of times, N is a great card to play to scale your opponent’s massive hand back down to size. I like playing 3-4 N in quad decks partially for this reason. The card is also good for disruption, as always, whenever KOs do hit you.
Even though Entei and Groudon are tank decks that try to avoid giving up Prizes, you aren’t always going to be able to stop a KO, and N can punish the opponent for finally breaking through your tank barrier. With Terrakion, you expect to give up Prizes in an exchange that is meant to favor you, and N helps seal close games up.
You’ll notice that Entei, Groudon, and Terrakion each have a retreat cost of 3+, meaning all of them are fetched by Heavy Ball. That means you don’t have to run Dual Ball and risk getting double tails, or Pokémon Collector, which not only takes up your Supporter for the turn but also becomes dead very quickly in a deck that only runs 4 Pokémon.
The three quad decks that I will be discussing today are very weak against massive turn 1 assaults from the likes of Darkrai EX, Tornadus EX, Mewtwo EX, and so on. Yes, the HP of the 3 quad Pokémon renders donks virtually a non-issue, but being donked isn’t your concern – it is being hit for high damage before you get to even attach an energy. These quad decks all need time to amass energy on the field manually before they can truly begin to “roll”, and a huge attack on your opponent’s first turn basically says “you’re getting no time to set up at all.”
For example, say your Entei EX gets hit by a turn 1 Darkrai after you mulligan 5 times and give your opponent the Dual Ball, Junk Arm, Skyarrow Bridge, and 3 Dark energy he needed to access Night Spear. Entei EX now has 90 HP left going into your first turn. You could play a Max Potion and negate the damage, but that hurts you by forcing you to waste a valuable healing card.
If you can’t heal, you’re certainly not going to attach energy to it, because it will get KOed next turn. You now are forced to find a 2nd Entei immediately and begin powering it up on the Bench instead, conceding the KO of your first Entei. If you don’t get that 2nd Entei down, you get Benched out and lose.
Not missing an energy drop in the opening turns is also very important with all of these quad decks (and after the opening turns as well with Terrakion and sometimes Entei). You can’t afford to be any slower than you already are. Missing energy drops means missing attacks, and that is especially lethal since you have no way of catching up with something like Dynamotor/Rain Dance/Forest Breath/etc..
Quad decks play a LOT of Trainers because they have so much free space to work with. This high Trainer count is both a pro and a con of these decks – usually the former, but sometimes the latter. The pro is simple: more Trainers equal more consistency, more options, more tricks. You can play luxury cards that other decks can’t due to space constraints, such as extra Tools, or Crushing Hammer, or heal cards.
The con is a huge vulnerability to Item lock. Vileplume UD isn’t quite dead yet, and it ruins any quad deck almost automatically by barring a huge portion of the deck from play. You should take this into account before you decide to run quad-anything at a tournament.
Now let’s move from the general to the specific, and examine each of these 3 quad decks up close (and personal). First on the list is a big fiery dog.
On the surface, Entei seems bland or even bad – it has no ability to abuse DCE (and thus can’t attack on turn 1 or “out of nowhere”), it has a high retreat cost, and its big attack only does 90 damage without a game-breaking effect attached to it. The energy acceleration that Grand Flame does provide isn’t anything that Eelektrik in an Electric deck, or Typhlosion Prime in a Fire deck, can’t do better, right? So why bother with this card at all, let alone build a deck around nothing but it?
Before we go any further, here’s a sample list:
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
Energy – 13
BulbapediaThe strategy of the deck is to achieve 2HKOs with Grand Flame while powering up additional Enteis on the Bench twice as fast as normal (two attachments per turn due to the energy retrieval effect of Grand Flame). Then, when the Active Entei is heavily damaged, it can be either retreated or Switched back to the Bench, Max Potioned to full health, and recharged by the replacement Entei’s Grand Flame over the next few turns.
At heart, this is a tank deck, distinguished by the unusual (for a tank deck) ability to regenerate lost energy. That ability partners perfectly with Max Potion, any tank deck’s ultimate, most valuable weapon (assuming the deck is compatible with its discard requirement), and thus a seemingly average Pokémon is elevated into the competitive realms.
Before we get into an analysis of Entei’s main attack, I want to briefly talk about Fire Fang. You will probably find yourself only using this on turn 2 when you don’t yet have access to Grand Flame, but there are actually other situations where you may consider using it due to the automatic Burn that it inflicts.
For example, Burn can be effective if you’re trying to circumvent Exp. Share or Rescue Energy, or if you’re against another tank deck (the Burn will whittle the tank down over time). Even if you’re simply unable to use Grand Flame because of, say, a needed Max Potion limiting your energy presently on the field, you shouldn’t despair because that 30 is likely going to become at least 50 after 2 Burn flips, and 50 plus 90 is enough to OHKO all the big non-EXs in the metagame.
Fire Fang also conveniently OHKOs Klink DEX, Chikorita HS, Tynamo (with a PlusPower vs. the 40 HP ones), and Celebi Prime, and disables Smeargle UD from using Portrait or the odd Magnezone Prime from using Magnetic Draw.
Grand Flame doesn’t deal raw OHKO-level damage like Mewtwo EX, but it does do just enough to 2HKO any Pokémon in the format, barring Eviolite. Note that nothing in the format resists Fire, so Eviolite is the only thing you have to worry about affecting your damage in a negative way (Special Metal is irrelevant because Entei overkills Metal, no one runs Defender, Donphan’s Exoskeleton doesn’t prevent the 2HKO, etc.). It also does OHKO common supporting Pokémon such as Eelektrik and Smeargle (and Fire Fang OHKOs Celebi for one less energy).
For the purposes of achieving 2HKOs, 90 damage is perfect, and you just have to accept the 2HKO game when you run Entei. There is no way around it, but it isn’t as huge of a deal as you may think.
At this point in the format, the “EX vs. EX, 2HKO vs. 2HKO” war is common, so Entei’s lack of an OHKO option shouldn’t be looked at as a fatal flaw. It is actually a bit of a rarity to see “straight” OHKOs (unaffected by weakness, achieved against completely fresh Pokémon) dealt by anything other than Mewtwo and sometimes Darkrai (with Special Darks and Dark Patch) these days. Straight OHKOs against EXs are even rarer.
Mewtwo’s ubiquity in the metagame has just spoiled us and made us accustomed to the constant possibility of big, unavoidable one-hit knockouts. Sometimes we expect too much out of our Legendary Pokémon. Can’t we give Entei a break and let him get by on his unique tank-and-retrieve-energy approach?
We’ve seen energy acceleration in the form of discard-to-Bench all season, first from future Hall of Famer Typhlosion Prime and then with present metagame mainstay Eelektrik NVI. The difference with Entei is that it retrieves the energy with an attack. This can be both a pro and a con. The main pro is that Entei is self-sufficient – it does damage and retrieves energy for other Enteis at the same time – whereas Eelektrik and Typhlosion require partners to be effective. This self-sufficiency is what allows you to run Quad Entei in the first place.
The main con is that you can only accelerate energy once you have manually gotten 3 other energy into play on a single Pokémon, with a specific attack, whereas Typhlosion and Eelektrik can give you a primed attacker of your choice in an instant, regardless of how many energy you already have in play. There is also the disadvantage of only being able to get one energy out of the discard pile per turn with Entei, compared to the maximum of 4 with either Eelektrik or Typhlosion.
Keep in mind that you do want to be discarding Fire energy by turn 3 so that you can get the attachment effect from Grand Flame. If you aren’t building up Benched Enteis, you’re not setting yourself up for Max Potion abuse, and that will likely lead to a loss. This list isn’t running them, but I could see how a couple of Sage’s Training would be nice here to help facilitate the discarding, so consider testing that card out.
BulbapediaI am choosing to run a 2/2 split of Heavy Ball and Ultra Ball here, rather than 4 of the former, to further increase the ways this deck has of discarding energy. I don’t like less than 4 Basic search cards here due to the need to get another Entei on the Bench by turn 3 to charge.
Entei’s 180 HP and uncommon weakness keep it out of OHKO range in most circumstances. This is what opens the door for Max Potion to work its life-prolonging magic, hopefully allowing a single Entei to survive long enough to win numerous 2HKO wars against other EXs. Weakness is what keeps other would-be Max Potion abusers like Mewtwo, Raikou, and Zekrom ultimately unable to fully utilize their tank potential; Mewtwo counters itself, and the other 2 have to coexist in a format where Fighting is the counter-type de jour (especially Terrakion).
Entei gets off easy with his aversion to Water. Empoleon DEX isn’t popular right now in spite of minor “new set” hype, and the only other Water Pokémon to see any success or notable play at all is Kyurem EX, primarily in Klinklang BLW or Vileplume/Reuniclus BLW variants, neither of which are that popular. Both Empoleon and Kyurem EX are problematic due to their ability to OHKO/heavily damage Entei with relative ease, but again, they aren’t that common, so they aren’t death blows to the deck’s viability.
Potion and Max Potion are the real linchpins of this deck. Without them, Entei can’t expect to win many 2HKO wars. You do lose all of your energy on the restored Entei when you Max Potion, but Grand Flame has been preparing you for this by getting another Entei (or two, depending on how long you’ve been able to keep your Active alive) ready to take its place. That next Entei will then start putting the energy you ditched with Max Potion back onto the original Entei, and eventually you can repeat this process again.
Sometimes, your opponent will be dealing too much damage to you turn after turn to pull this off repeatedly. For example, you heal one Entei and then Grand Flame with another, but that’ll only put one energy total onto the Benched Entei because you had to attach for the turn to the Active. Your opponent hits you with a Dark Claw-holding Darkrai. You would seem to have no way of using Max Potion and then Grand Flame on your next turn.
Fortunately, there is a way for you to do just that, and it involves a card rarely seen in competitive play in spite of the fact that it has been legal in every single Modified format of the Nintendo era: Energy Switch.
1. You play [Pokémon] Switch to move the damaged Entei back and the fresh Entei with 1 energy forward.
2a. You play Energy Switch and move one energy over from the damaged Entei to the fresh one and then attach for the turn, giving it 3 total energy, or
3. Voila — you can now Max Potion the damaged Entei, and use Grand Flame with the other one. Lather, rinse, repeat steps 1-3 as needed.
Potion is great for allowing Entei to throw off damage calculations for your opponent and let you survive “one more turn”, allowing you additional time to set up for a full heal with Max Potion on your next and “last turn” with that Entei, which actually means that the original Potion is probably giving you 2-3 more turns than your opponent expected.
That may have been confusingly worded, so let me clarify. For example, against a Dark Clawed-Darkrai, an Eviolited Entei takes 90 total damage, meaning another hit from that Darkrai will cause a KO. If you drop a Potion, you go down to only 60 damage, which puts you safely out of Night Spear OHKO range (your opponent would need a combination of 3 Special Dark/PlusPower to deal the needed 120). Then, after you are hit by another Night Spear, you can Max Potion and negate all that damage. The Potion is what allowed you to survive long enough to use Max Potion, which is going to let you survive even longer.
That extra turn of survival that Potion gives you upfront is huge because it not only lets you do 90 more damage with Grand Flame, but it also lets you fetch another energy out of the discard for the Benched Entei that is soon going to be replacing your Active. This is important because you can run into trouble with your energy if you Max Potion before you can Grand Flame with the replacement Entei, and Potion gives you a turn to power up that replacement Entei in anticipation.
You may wonder why a tank deck that deals primarily in 2HKOs is bothering to run PlusPower. It’s here mainly to help achieve 2HKOs vs. Eviolited EXs (say you hit an EX without an Eviolite for 90, then it gets Eviolited, then you drop double-PlusPower and it is headed six feet under). It can also get you OHKOs on random things like Zoroark, Tornadus, and Thundurus which are naturally just barely out of KO range.
Pokemon ParadijsThe biggest threat to Entei, or nearly any tank for that matter, is Mewtwo EX. X Ball is one of those attacks I was talking about earlier that can deal so much damage turn after turn that you can’t Max Potion and Grand Flame at the same time often enough (and you won’t always draw into Switch and Energy Switch either for the alternative healing method; those cards eventually run out; etc.).
Even worse than having Max Potion overwhelmed is the fact that once Mewtwo gets 6 energy on it, it OHKOs Entei (assuming there are 3 Fire energy on the targeted dog). The final grim fact of the day here is that an Eviolited Mewtwo can withstand 3 Grand Flames.
Other decks have their own Mewtwos to immediately counter opposing Mewtwos, but Entei doesn’t. That means that the Mewtwo player has the opportunity to stack all those energy on Mewtwo without fear of losing them immediately to another cheap X Ball.
Lost Remover helps deal with Mewtwo somewhat, as does Crushing Hammer to a lesser extent if you choose to run it (lesser because it isn’t reliable, because its removal isn’t permanent, and because it only reduces X Ball by 20 damage instead of 40). You should stockpile these cards specifically for Mewtwo in any game where you know the opponent is going to be capable of generating huge X Balls (Eel, CMT, some Darkrai variants via Shaymin).
Entei wins by abusing Potion and Max Potion. If it is unable to do that for whatever reason, it will probably lose. Mewtwo and Water Pokémon are the biggest threats to it because they threaten Potion/Max Potion, but it has other enemies I didn’t go over such as Magnezone Prime (not common anymore, but still around; it OHKOs for 4 energy) and Eviolited Zekrom (difficult because it is a non-EX that 2HKOs you while you have to play your typical 2HKO game with it in a losing Prize trade).
The ability to OHKO numerous supporting Pokémon with Grand Flame is a plus, and can help you specifically in the Eel matchup. You overcome the heavy-hitters through endurance (via Potion and Max Potion), not huge damage, in a sort of “tortoise beats the hare” kind of way.
Entei also happens to be a nice counter to Klinklang or Meganium, if either of those has popped up in your area and is doing well, as it is one of the few Pokémon that can easily OHKO Klinklang/Meganium, plus it takes out Klink DEX/Chikorita with Fire Fang for good measure.
Let’s start off with a sample list:
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
Energy – 13
BulbapediaThis is another tank deck with a lot of similarities to Entei.
Unlike Man’s Best Friend (my new name for Entei), Groudon can’t afford to use Max Potion to keep it alive, which leaves Potion, Moomoo Milk, and Eviolite for healing and defense – which is enough to get you through most games. Super Scoop Up and Life Herb are two other options, but I dislike them both – each card lives or dies on one flip (as opposed to Moomoo Milk’s two flips), and Super Scoop Up resets 3 turns of energy attachments if it works, which can leave you without a way to use Giant Claw.
Groudon has a better type than Entei, hitting Dark and Lightning for double, and the same great weakness to the underplayed Water type. It is even more difficult to KO in this format than Entei, however, due to its Lightning resistance. That plus Eviolite plus type advantage gives Eel a terrible time and essentially limits the deck’s attackers to Mewtwo EX and Tornadus EX.
The only drawback Groudon has in its stats compared to Entei is that there are Pokémon, such as Tornadus EX, that resist it. This can turn 2HKOs into 3HKOs even without Eviolite, which is something Entei doesn’t have to worry about.
As I did before with Entei, I want to spend some time going over Groudon’s first attack before moving on to the harder stuff. Tromp is obviously meant to help you trigger Giant Claw’s +40 by spreading damage around your opponent’s field. To achieve this, you need to use Tromp twice, which may or may not be optimal; sometimes you’d be better off hitting with Giant Claw on turn 3, and sometimes you actually would benefit by softening everything up for OHKOs later on. It is going to require a judgment call on your part.
Although Giant Claw is obviously your main attack, sometimes you may find yourself in a strange situation where the Bench damage from Tromp can get you a KO (or even multiple KOs). For example, say you hit a fresh Tornadus EX for 60 with Giant Claw, followed by a second Giant Claw for 100 on the next turn, leaving it with 10 HP left. If Tornadus goes to the Bench, you can Tromp and put the final 10 on it.
You might even send the Tornadus to the Bench yourself with Catcher so that you don’t waste damage with an overkill 3rd Giant Claw and instead spread it around and possibly even buy yourself time/lock up a non-threat (such as Eelektrik).
When it is doing its max damage, Groudon has the highest damage output of the three quad stars by 30 (more if you factor Rocky Hemet into the equation; I’ll get to that card later), but it is still primarily a 2HKO attacker since a lot of the time you have to Giant Claw a Pokémon twice to take it down. The advantage Groudon’s higher damage output has is that it allows Groudon to fare better against Eviolite. Both Entei and Terrakion only hit for 70 against Eviolited Pokémon, which allows a number of EXs to turn 2HKOs into 3HKOs.
Pokemon ParadijsA lot of times, the non-quad player can even attach Eviolite after being hit once by the Entei or Terrakion and still force a 3rd attack; for example, an Entei hits Darkrai for 90, then Darkrai gets Eviolited and takes 70 from the next attack, leaving it with 20 HP and necessitating the 3rd Grand Flame. Groudon, on the other hand, forces the Eviolite to come down before it attacks. Otherwise, the target will take 80 and then 100, which is still 180 and a 2HKO.
I said I would get to Rocky Helmet, and now I will. The card offers another way to activate Giant Claw’s damage increase without using any set-up attack at all. With Rocky Helmet attached, any hit Groudon takes automatically primes the attacking Pokémon for a 120-damage Giant Claw.
This is obviously very convenient as it allows you to do 120 on a regular basis with your first hit, which coupled with the 20 from Helmet can get you a KO right there instead of on the next turn with a 2nd Giant Claw. That extra damage can also be extremely useful against Pokémon such as Tornadus EX that resist you, essentially negating their resistance and allowing you to get a 2HKO instead of a dreaded 3HKO.
The recoil damage from Helmet can sometimes be a deterrent to your opponent even attacking you; if the Defending Pokémon only has 10-20 HP left, your opponent now has to decide whether it is worth it to hit Groudon and then have his Active immediately get KOed, giving you a free attack on the next Pokémon to come up. Note: there are few things more disheartening in this game than dying by Rocky Helmet recoil only to have all that damage you died to deal get promptly healed off with a double-head Moomoo Milk and 2 Potion.
The drawback to Rocky Helmet is simply that you can’t play it and Eviolite at the same time, so if you choose to drop Rocky Helmet on a Groudon, you’re going to take 20 more damage yourself every time you get attacked. You have to sacrifice part of the tanking strategy upon which the deck is constructed for the sake of a greater offense, which can certainly be situationally worth it, but not always. You shouldn’t play Rocky Helmet without assessing whether you would be better off reducing damage or dealing more of it; it isn’t a simple “I drew it, therefore I will play it down right now” kind of thing.
Groudon is capable of operating without a Bench for a few turns, barring an extremely aggressive start from the opponent and assuming that you have access to a few healing cards. You don’t need to get another Groudon down to make the most out of Grand Claw, nor are you trying to swarm Groudon like Terrakion swarms bulls. I am only running 3 Heavy Ball here instead of 4 because of this lack of pressure on getting additional Groudon out right away.
The biggest strength of Groudon is its type. By now we all know how good Fighting is in this format, but I’ll just reiterate: as long as Groudon sets up and is able to execute the tank strategy, it mows down Darkrai as well as Zekrom and any of his close Lightning friends (Thundurus, Raikou EX, Zekrom EX). Zekrom and co. have to rely on Mewtwo and Tornadus to get the job done, which is a clear handicap, and Darkrai has to do the same – much less effectively, without the Eel support – or try to win via sheer, overwhelming speed combined with a prayer that the Groudon player whiffs on tanking cards (or flips on those cards) for the whole game, which isn’t likely.
The exception with Darkrai is the Sableye DEX/energy denial variant. That deck is actually a very bad matchup for Groudon due to Crushing Hammer’s ability to keep Groudon from ever attacking. Groudon needs 3 energy to Giant Claw, and it has no way of getting those energy into play other than good, old-fashioned manual attachment (and it also has no way of getting them back, once discarded).
Sableye’s Junk Hunt will ensure that Crushing Hammer is used repeatedly on every single turn until Groudon has no energy in play, at which point the Darkrai onslaught can begin. The only hope Groudon has against that deck is for Crushing Hammer to repeatedly whiff, but that is a sad and desperate hope to cling to.
I like Groudon’s position as an antimetagame deck; once set up, Eel and non-denial Darkrai lists are going to have trouble dealing with Giant Claw coupled with healing and energy denial. The deck has answers to a lot of the format, even including some of its counters. Giant Claw is a wrecking ball when streamed.
Although the healing here isn’t as immense as Entei’s due to the lack of Max Potion, it is easier to get damage off Groudon “for free” (meaning with no drawback). The issues Groudon has to overcome are its slowness and its vulnerability to Item lock and OHKOs, the same as Entei.
In my last article, I said that this deck was so simple that it was hard to write about, and – true to my observation – I subsequently only spent a few paragraphs talking about it. Considering that this article is devoted to quad decks, I am going to go more in-depth here than I did there, but the deck is still as simple and straightforward as it was then.
Here is a sample list:
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
Energy – 13
Pokemon ParadijsTerrakion isn’t like the other two quad decks in that it does not attempt to tank. Gone are the days when 130 HP was titanic and capable of tanking with the proper heal/defensive cards; in this era, even 180 HP Basics have to put effort into staying alive more than 2 turns. Due to the absolute need to run Exp. Share here, there isn’t even an opportunity to run Eviolite, making Terrakion even less of a tank candidate.
What Terrakion does do, once rolling, is generate a constant 90 damage assault while maintaining a swarm of furious bulls via Revive/Super Rod. It is completely different in approach from Entei and Groudon. The only two real similarities between those 2 decks and this one are the quad construction and the focus on winning the 2HKO battle.
Exp. Share is the key to the deck. Without it, Terrakion falls apart. With it, the deck can recycle its energy and replace KOed Terrakions with great fluidity.
The goal is to get an Active bull with 2-3 Fighting energy on it quickly, with the rest of the herd sitting on the Bench with Exp. Shares. That way, when the Active is KOed, it can send its energy to the Bench, one per Exp.’d Terrakion. One of them can then come up and Retaliate after being attached to for the turn. When it goes down, its energy will also go back to the Bench, and the process repeats. Revive and Junk Arm get back Terrakion and Exp. Share, respectively, to keep this cycle going for the duration of the game.
Although Terrakion is not a tank, it isn’t an easy KO, either. Most Pokémon are going to be 2HKOing it or will need PlusPower/Dark Claw/etc. to take it down in one blow. Like the other quad Pokémon, Terrakion thrives on the 2HKO, so being able to survive for 2 turns itself in a lot of situations is important.
Like Groudon, Terrakion’s greatest asset is its type. It can OHKO the same things Groudon can, generally with greater ease, as Terrakion doesn’t require any prior damage to be on Pokémon such as Darkrai EX or Raikou EX in order to OHKO them with either of its attacks.
One downside to Terrakion is that Retaliate, the main attack of the deck, is conditional and easy to avoid activating. All an opponent needs is a Catcher or a sniper/spreader to bypass a KO on a damaged Terrakion in favor of softening up another, which not only cuts off a big Retaliate but also spreads damage around to make KOs easier later on. Terrakion does have Land Crush available to deal the same amount of damage, but that costs 3 energy.
Pokemon ParadijsSince Terrakion isn’t a tank and won’t last long enough to allow for the constant manual attachment of 3 energy to each Terrakion, even with the help of Exp. Share, you can’t expect to always be able to Land Crush on turns when the opponent hasn’t just taken a KO.
Ironically, one of the cards which Terrakion is normally capable of annihilating due to type advantage is surprisingly able to hold its own here by playing around Retaliate, and that card is of course Darkrai EX. With the aid of either a Dark Claw or a Special Dark energy, Night Spear does enough damage to the Active Terrakion to put it in range for a KO on the Bench later on.
Meanwhile, the 30 snipe that goes on a Benched Terrakion puts it in range for a KO from Night Spear when it comes Active. Enter Pokémon Catcher, and the two Terrakion’s positions are switched. Now you can KO both in a single turn with a 2nd Night Spear. This strategy is more devastating if Darkrai goes off on turn 1, due to Terrakion’s slowness.
The matchup is even worse if the Darkrai variant is the energy denial kind, for the same reasons I addressed in the Groudon analysis: this deck needs to manually attach energy in order to attack, and it can’t ever do anything without 2 energy on the board (3, really, since a Retaliate for 30 isn’t much of a threat). Junk Hunt plus Crushing Hammer won’t allow those 2 or 3 energy to stick, thus Terrakion should never be able to attack.
That being said, non-denial Darkrai variants aren’t going to be able to prevent Retaliate forever, or they may not get the Night Spear off quick enough to keep you from actually going with Land Crush (for example, if you go first and attach and the opponent whiffs the turn 1 Night Spear, you can be using Land Crush by turn 3 while only suffering one Night Spear). If your opponent tries to use Catcher to keep Land Crush at bay, or otherwise to try and stall your set up, you have Switch to escape the Bench. This deck would be very vulnerable to disruptive Catchers if it weren’t for Switch, due to the need to have multiple 4-retreat Pokémon on the Bench at all times.
Speaking of the Bench, Terrakion does need to get its bulls into play immediately, and adorn them with Exp. Shares just as quickly. Otherwise, when the Actives gets KOed, the deck collapses and the energy flows to the discard pile instead of to the next attacker. That’s why I am running 4 Heavy Ball instead of 3, like I chose to do in Groudon. It’s more important here than there to get a quick Bench.
Pokemon ParadijsOne upside to Terrakion over the other quad decks – and most of the rest of the format – is that it isn’t an EX, so the opponent is going to have to KO six bulls (via Revive/Super Rod/Rescue Energy) in order to win – that, or Bench you out. You are never at risk of losing the game after 3 KOs, as any EX-based deck will be. The goal is to trade 2 prizes for 1 against EXs whenever possible, and 2HKOs for 2HKOs across the board.
Against non-EXs which aren’t OHKOed by Terrakion, you are banking on the opponent not being able to generate responses to KOs as fluidly as Terrakion does. That is generally how swarm decks work – by overcoming potentially bigger threats by the sheer volume of attackers. It might be strange to think of a quad deck as being a swarm deck, but remember that you are really dealing with 6 Terrakion here due to Revive/Super Rod, not just 4.
Mewtwo with Eviolite is once again not a pleasant sight for the Terrakion player, but fortunately X Ball isn’t going to be getting 2 Prizes for each OHKO it takes here. You do run the risk of losing 3 Terrakion to it though due to the reduction of Eviolite turning Retaliate into a 3HKO, and if that happens you are of course on the losing end of a Prize trade – exactly what the Mewtwo player was aiming for by initiating the battle. That’s a big reason why the deck runs PlusPower, like Entei. You want to 2HKO Mewtwo with a double-PlusPower drop and keep the Prize trade even whenever you see a Mewtwo with Eviolite come into play.
Like the other two quad decks, Terrakion runs Lost Remover to help against Mewtwo and, more specifically to this deck, Tornadus EX. Without Rocky Helmet, Tornadus’ resistance becomes a problem, even more so if Eviolite gets tossed into the mix. Lost Remover becomes a valuable way to stop Tornadus from attacking, and is particularly good when the opponent fails the Power Blast flip and has to discard a Basic energy from it, letting your Lost Remover send its energy count to 0. You could also run a Ruins of Alph or two to further assist you in dealing with resistance, and as a surprise counter to the numerous decks in the format that run Skyarrow Bridge.
The lone Rescue energy is a perfect 13th energy card that functions as a “pre-Revive.” It is better than Revive in some regards, such as working through Item lock and being proactive (you get it into play before you actually need to resurrect a Terrakion, and then you don’t have to rely on playing from the hand once you do need to bring the bull back; relying on playing from the hand is often dangerous in an N-dominated format).
Since it is the only non-Fighting energy card in the deck, it will never be a dead energy (by that I mean an energy that doesn’t let you Retaliate or Land Crush), which could occur if you ran 2 or more copies of it.
Terrakion may have been created primarily as a counter to Eels during States, but it can hold its own against a lot of the format on the strength of Terrakion’s swarming ability with Exp. Share, type advantage against key Pokémon, and sturdy HP.
Its worst matchups are Item lock decks, especially Accelgor DEX, since it naturally blocks Exp. Share by KOing fresh Terrakions with Poison with perfect timing (50 + 10 at end of turn = 60, +10 at end of opponent’s turn = 70, +50 + 10 after next attack = 130). It doesn’t suffer against decks capable of dealing OHKOs as much as the other 2 quad decks since it doesn’t tank and isn’t an EX.
I hope this article provided you with some relevant information or at least entertainment value, whether you have quad fever and want to run one of these decks, or were simply interested in learning a bit about this peculiar quad phenomenon in our metagame. We are certainly playing in a historic period.
Battle Roads are a perfect venue for testing something a bit off the beaten path, yet still potent, such as Groudon or Entei, and Terrakion has already proven that 4 angry bulls can go a long way. Good luck to everyone at this weekend’s Battle Roads, and as usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments in the forums.
… and that will conclude this unlocked Underground article.
(After 90 days we open up past UG content for public viewing to help preserve the history of the game. New articles are reserved for Underground members.)
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Users: Click here to view the registration page if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.