Greetings! This article is a story of the Cubone that could, and did, finish with a 6-3 record at U.S. Nationals just short of top cut. I know as you are reading this you are more than likely reacting the same way my opponents did – Cubone?! Yes, Cubone. Well, not so much Cubone as Marowak, although Cubone did end up winning a match. The idea of this deck is for Marowak to provide a potential 1HKO on a Darkrai EX.
pokemon-paradijs.comSome people may disregard Marowak as inferior because it is a Stage 1, has 90 HP, and more than likely will be Knocked Out if it doesn’t hit the magical two heads. This is not the case. The majority of decks are currently set up to include at least one Pokémon-EX in almost every deck. This is to this deck’s advantage (which I affectionately call ZapWak).
A common pattern that I realized when EXs became popular was that players had to see the game as a 3 Prize game instead of six. There were so many EXs played that even if you Knocked Out a non-Pokémon-EX, you would still have to Knock Out three EXs for the win. Sometimes it was critical to get the Eelektrik or Smeargle Knock Out, even at the expense of having to Knock Out at least two if not three EXs.
Consequently, the attacker would be left alone to build up Energy, which in the case with the more popular decks including Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX, or Darkrai EX, was not a good thing. When this was realized I decided to start experimenting with non-Pokémon-EX.
The idea of Marowak came to me when I removed Tornadus EX from my deck. I needed something that was super effective against Darkrai EX, had a limited amount of Energy, could tech in F Energy if needed, and could not be an EX. I began searching legal card lists for anything that fit this criteria. Marowak not only met this criteria, it far exceeded my expectations. Even using an Eviolite on a Darkrai EX would not save it from Bonemerang, whether it be a one or two turn Knock Out.
The best parts about Cubone and Marowak were that they required no F Energy and were Level Ball searchable. Additionally, their low Energy requirement meant loading up a Zapdos after attaching for a Marowak would not be impossible. I couldn’t have been happier with this find.
Before I begin to talk about the finer points of this deck, here is the decklist that I took to U.S. Nationals:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 28
Energy – 13
A Brief History
pokemon-paradijs.comI began testing this deck months ago, with mixed results. I did not end up using Cubone/Marowak until a few weeks before U.S. Nationals. However, I had been using Zapdos since its release and found it to be an excellent Pokémon that became better with increased use of Tornadus EX. I fondly remember Knocking Out a Mewtwo EX at Ohio States this year in one turn through flipping four heads using Thundering Hurricane, much to the chagrin of my opponent. This was a rare occurrence and one not to be expected again in the future.
Part of this deck’s advantage was the surprise factor. Previously some people had been experimenting with Cubone as a shield with Marowaks in the discard pile. This allowed for a super Cubone that took 20 less damage for each Marowak in the discard pile – a potential ‘120 HP’ Cubone. Fortunately for me, this caused my opponents to disregard Cubone and instead to go for either Tynamo or Eelektrik.
Because Marowak only required one Double Colorless Energy, if it was not Knocked Out on the first turn I was able to use Pokémon Catcher for their Darkrai EX and potentially Knock it Out on turn two via Bonemerang (60× the number of heads flipped with two coins).
Sure it was unfortunate that I had to spend time to reset my Tynamos or Eelektriks, but if I could at least swing and hit the Darkrai EX with one heads for 120 damage, I was still in good shape.
The main theme of this deck was to stream Marowaks. The idea was to have a Marowak set up by turn two and another by turn three, which was not too difficult due to Eelektrik. Another interesting part of this deck was where it is unnecessary to have two Eelektriks set up unless you had the bench space. The bench could get very crowded when running Smeargle, Victini, two Cubones, and an Eelektrik. If you had a Zapdos turn one, you began with one less place on your bench as Zapdos was frequently used in later game play.
The important thing was to adapt to your situation and set up the necessary amount of Eels accordingly. Additionally, a Tynamo on the bench provided for a one Retreat Cost, and in a pinch, could stall the game while you set up again, conditional on landing one of two heads for paralysis (which would happen 75% of the time due to reflipping).
One of the other important factors was accepting the fact that Marowaks were going to be Knocked Out. The goal was to swing and hit Darkrai EX for at least 120 damage and be able to come back and finish it off on the next turn – taking 2 Prizes to their one and allowing your active attacker to remain alive. For U.S. Nationals I played with the idea of 1-shotting their Darkrai EX.
pokemon-paradijs.comEven if I had one heads on the first flip, I chose to reflip, allowing for a potential Knock Out. There is only a 25% chance of getting two tails, and even if the active Marowak was Knocked Out, I usually had a second ready to go, a Tynamo to Paralyze, or a Smeargle to try to search for another Marowak. I did not play against any Zekrom-EXs at U.S. Nationals, but the idea would be the same due to Fighting Weakness.
For regular Zekrom it would be important to start using Pokémon Catcher for their Eelektriks or even Tynamos, disabling their energy engine, and then finishing by taking out whatever else was weak to Marowak on the field.
The second main attacker to this deck was Zapdos. Originally I despised starting with Zapdos and would do everything I could to retreat it into Smeargle or Tynamo (or on the rare chance when my opponent started with a Tynamo, a Cubone).
However, when I played against Eel-based engines it worked out rather nicely in my favor if they were unable to set up both Tynamos on turn two. I could then snipe whatever Tynamo they benched for 50 damage and a prize.The theory was that you might as well be dishing damage while you set up a Marowak.
There are many Pokémon that I have tried at various times and found them to be insufficient for this deck. The list is as follows: Raikou-EX, Tornadus EX, Minun, Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND, Zekrom, Zekrom-EX, Thundurus, and Tornadus.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis Pokémon seemed like the ideal addition to this deck as it could paralyze and do damage with good odds. It put L Energy into the discard and could snipe for 100 damage. With Victini, the odds of getting at least one heads were 75% due to Victini’s Ability, Victory Star.
- Double Tails: 1/4 – 25%
- One Heads: 2/4 – 50%
- Two Heads: 1/4 – 25%
- At least one heads: 3/4 – 75%
The drawback of course, was that this Pokémon was an EX and because of the 2 Prize price, it would undermine the backbone of this deck – to have no EXs.
Because this deck did not run Skyarrow Bridge, the first attack was only decent, not amazing. The coin flip for the second attack, Power Blast, was useful as it gave the user a sort of choice whether to reflip or not depending on if the Energy was to be kept or discarded. Again, due to the high prize cost of being an EX it was unnecessary to this deck.
Originally I began to make this deck with the idea to spread damage and then finish with Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND and potentially a Shaymin EX. Raikou-EX was also included in this deck as it allowed damage to be placed on the board without Knocking Out the damaged Pokémon. Unfortunately this deck was too slow to start, and was somewhat tricky when I wanted to set up Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND.
First of all, after running Zekrom-EX/Eels at Ohio States, I quickly realized that I would not be using Zekrom-EX at all and would prefer to set up a Mewtwo EX or a Tornadus EX instead. Additionally, the Fighting Weakness that comes with Zekrom is poor against the now prevalent Fighting deck variations.
For Tornadus and Thundurus I found that both of these may be potential candidates for starters. However, the Pokémon count in this deck was already high and I couldn’t really take on any more Pokémon using up the bench space. To get either of these as a consistent starter I would have to run at least 3-4, and even then this deck could not afford to have that many spaces taken.
Finally, they are not Level Ball searchable and would be difficult to start with if one of them is not in your opening hand.
pokemon-paradijs.comAs stated before, the main idea of this deck is to 1-shot Darkrai EX’s and Tornadus EXs. A PlusPower is not necessary – you either do or you don’t Knock Out the opposing Pokémon. There are some occasions, such as Sableye or Zekrom that a PlusPower would be awesome to have. As long as you are Knocking Out the EX’s, it really isn’t necessary in this deck, although it would make a nice addition if something could be removed.
Things in this deck are meant to be Knocked Out, especially when providing room for benching other Pokémon. These Pokémon are not EX’s and do not have to be saved. The only thing you would want to retreat is Mewtwo EX or Eelektrik, and Mewtwo EX should not be played unless it is a finishing or near finishing move. Eelektrik cannot be assisted by Skyarrow Bridge.
It is nice when your opponent plays this as it allows for the free Smeargle retreat, but is not necessary for this deck. Instead, Dynamotor a L Energy onto Smeargle and reattach it when you retreat to whichever Pokémon you wish.
Pokémon & Trainer Inclusions
The Defender Mistake
One of my biggest mistakes in hindsight was to include two Lost Remover instead of two Defender. Yes, Defender. The current decks most played are not prime targets for discarding Double Colorless Energies or Special D Energies. Unless you use Defender. In fact, Defender will save not only a Marowak but also an Eelektrik.
Think about it – Darkrai EX does 90 damage and 30 damage to a benched Pokémon. If you use Defender and your opponent does not have two Special D Energies attached or a Dark Claw, Marowak will not be Knocked Out.
Additionally, if it is attached to an Eelektrik it will not be Knocked Out. Zapdos against a Terrakion? Resistant to fighting type and would lower the damage down to 50. With an Eviolite? 30 damage for a Retaliate or Land Crush attack. Zapdos could last through at least two if not three attacks if Defender and/or Eviolite are used. Lastly, Tornadus EX’s Power Blast would make Marowak a 2-shot instead of one.
I included one Eviolite for two reasons. The first and more important is to attach it to Victini. When attached to Victini against Darkrai EX, the opponent is forced to spend a Pokémon Catcher on Victini in order to Knock it Out. Otherwise Victini would take six turns to Knock Out with the +30 of Night Spear attack to a benched Pokémon. I also used Eviolite on Zapdos when necessary, although more times than not it was attached to Victini.
You may be asking – I thought you said you weren’t supposed to include any EXs?! As with every deck, without a Mewtwo EX, you more than likely will not have a good matchup. Mewtwo EX is in here merely for the counter, and also as a surprise win if you only have one or 2 Prizes left to take. If you drop Mewtwo EX mid game and it is Knocked Out you are defeating the purpose of this deck- to only have your opponent take 1 Prize card at a time.
U.S. Nationals Report
xxchrno666xx.deviantart.comTo be honest, I almost did not run this deck. I had only included the Marowaks two or three weeks prior, and didn’t even have my cards arrive on time to play with them (I had to borrow from a friend). I was nervous to run a rogue deck at my first Nationals, as I had only been playing for a year and knew that it was not something commonly done. This wasn’t a deck that someone had mentioned – in fact, no one had. No one had a deck that resembled this one at all.
I took a lot of laughs and jabs at my Cubones throughout the entire tournament, with most of them being playful. Time and time again matches would start casually enough, my opponent would ask to read Cubone, sit back, Pokémon Catcher a Tynamo (or sometimes a Victini) and continue on. Most times I had a Marowak ready by turn two, they would ask to read it, and then their expressions would change somewhat when reading Bonemerang, particularly with Darkrai EX.
What is great about this deck is the odds are in your favor. One heads 75% of the time for 120 damage from a Stage 1? A 68.75% chance of 1-shotting a Tornadus EX with Zapdos’s attack Thundering Hurricane (plus another round of flips if it fails the first time)? Yes, it is flippy. But it is mathematically stable in the flips, hitting for 100-120 damage per turn when matched up for weakness at least. The chances are certainly in your favor, even if you somehow flip two tails the first time with Marowak.
The hardest decision I had to make was when playing against Darkrai EX. If I flipped one heads, should I keep it or try for the 1HKO? Ultimately I decided to go for the 1HKO anyway, and usually had at least 1 heads (75% chance) on the second set of flips.
pokemon-paradijs.comMore times than not I needed to use Level Ball. Even against Tornadus EX based decks it was typically more important to use Marowak first as opposed to Zapdos. Zapdos takes time to set up and would eventually be in your hand later in the game. Ultra Ball would be nice, but it would usually use most of the cards in your hand to play. Or another case – use them for Junk Arm where discarding any more cards would be a mistake. Dual Ball and/or Junk Arm takes care of the critical Mewtwo EX/Zapdos searches when necessary.
Unfortunately my U.S. Nationals run ended without me making top cut. I had at least three opponents drop over the course of the tournament. Even when I was winning late rounds my table numbers were still increasing. I faced at least one player that was going to Worlds already and decided to drop after I was his third loss. This of course was discouraging, but I guess that is just how the tournament is structured.
One particular match stood out to me. I had my opponent down to a Mewtwo EX with a Double Colorless Energy attached. I used Portrait via Smeargle and saw that he only had three Energies in his hand. I benched my Mewtwo EX, knowing that I could win the game if I drew an Energy. I used Professor Juniper with a deck no larger than 20 cards thick.
I did not draw into any Energy but was not dismayed as I knew he was unable to Knock Out my Pokémon. He top decked a Pokémon Catcher for the game win. I later found out I still had at least 5 Energy in my deck and by dumb luck did not draw into one. This would haunt me as I went 6-3 and did not end up making top cut.
pokemon-paradijs.comI feel that even after this article you may be skeptical of whether or not this deck works well. Any match that I lost at U.S. Nationals was not an easy loss. The matches went to turns most times. I recommend playing against or with this deck a few times before you pass judgment. It is not a simple deck to play – you have to know when to play critical cards or sacrifice certain Pokémon in order to take the next turn prize, or even the turn after that.
The great strength in this deck is that your opponent is forced to choose (via Pokémon Catcher) what to Knock Out first. This deck is an absolute blast to play with, and I have no regrets about taking it to U.S. Nationals.
If anyone has any questions, comments, or anything else, feel free to contact me. This is my first attempt at writing an article for SixPrizes, so please bear with me as I learn the mechanics behind submitting articles to the site.