Hello SixPrizes community, firelamp is back with more BLW-on deck analyses!
Spoiler Alert: Despite the title, this article isn’t about Magikarp. Sorry.
What’s the best way to run Empoleon? This is a question I found I was asking myself again and again when considering different partners for Empoleon in a BLW-on format. This article will hopefully give you a much better understanding of all the possible ways to slip Empoleon into your deck.
At a quick glance we can see that Empoleon is a Stage 2 Water Pokémon with 140 HP, a two Retreat Cost, and a Weakness to Lightning.
These base stats show why this Emperor Penguin wasn’t ruling the HGSS-DEX format. Empoleon is a Stage 2, and this format is incredibly fast, enough to make people afraid of using a possibly-slow setup deck. The other Achilles’ Flipper Empoleon has is its Weakness to Lightning. Zekrom/Eels is one of the best decks in the format, and will continue to stay Tier 1 with the addition of Rayquaza EX and Emolga DRE. This also made many people fear using Empoleon.
So why is Empoleon worth trying in the next format? The main reason is the format will considerably slow down. Without Dual Ball, Junk Arm, Collector, and Smeargle, the BLW-on format will be much more diverse and decks with Stage 2s, such as Empoleon, have a much better chance at success.
Pokemon ParadijsEmpoleon also has an extremely powerful Ability. Diving Draw lets you discard one card from your hand and draw two cards. This is very similar to Ninetales HS/CL, but you only draw two instead of three cards, and you can discard whatever you want. In a slower format, Diving Draw can give you a major a consistency booster, and gives you amazing recovery for N, a card that can and will decide the results of many games.
Finally its attack, Attack Command, does 10 damage times the number of Pokémon in play. For any die-hard Jumpluff HS fans, you’re in luck, since this penguin will be around for a few years. This attack is somewhat powerful, but nowhere close to Rayquaza EX’s brute strength, so why is it good?
Simple, this attack costs a single Water Energy. This means that you can abuse Max Potion to heal off any damage taken, and continue pecking your way to victory! A one-Energy attack also means you can pair Empoleon with other low-Energy-cost attackers to make up for Empoleon’s weaknesses.
Here’s a list that just focuses on Empoleon.
Pokémon – 14
4 Emolga DRE
Trainers – 36
Energy – 10
Starting off with the Pokémon, we have a 4-2-4 Empoleon line. You want to max out the number of Piplup DEX and Empoleon DEX to increase your chances of a T2 or T3 Empoleon. The two Prinplup DEX can be cut down depending on your play style, but I prefer two for the security that if I don’t get a Rare Candy and Empoleon on my second turn, I can evolve through Prinplup and get Empoleon by T3.
Emolga DRE is an amazing Pokémon to start a game with. For one Colorless Energy, Call for Family lets you search your deck for two Basic Pokémon and put them on your bench. This is very helpful for filling your bench to boost the power of Attack Command, and it will help to get out Piplup so you can evolve into Empoleon as soon as possible.
Four Juniper is used to help get as quick of a start as you can. In a deck with a Stage 2, this may seem like a bad option, but as long as you’re careful not to discard too many valuable resources, it works very well. It is important that you use Juniper early on in the game and not towards the end, otherwise, Juniper will cause you to deck out.
N is this deck’s MVS (Most Valuable Supporter), so you want to run maximum copies of it. N gives you shuffle support in the early game without discarding resources, but is especially good in the late game when you don’t want to deck yourself out. Using N to bring your opponent’s hand down to one card while you use Diving Draw a few times to replenish your hand makes this card a must-have in an Empoleon deck.
4 Rare Candy are necessary to get Empoleon out as quickly as possible.
Ultra Ball is one of the best searching engines for this deck. You can discard two cards from your hand, and search your deck for any Pokémon. Ultra Ball is also good of getting rid of useless resources later in the game, such as Rare Candy, when you are already set up.
Max Potion, in my opinion, is something that should be run in very high counts in an Empoleon deck. Max Potion heals off all of the damage you have taken, but you must discard any Energy that is attached. Since Empoleon’s attack only costs one Energy, you can heal any of the damage you have taken, and continue to attack without being KO’d. This card is also really good against Darkrai, since you can deny your opponent getting cheap prizes off your bench with Night Spear.
Switch isn’t as crucial in a deck that runs just Empoleon, but when you add in other techs with high retreat costs, this card is mandatory. Switch, however, can still be good early game so you can get off a T1 Call for Family and start setting up your bench.
PlusPower is a great inclusion. If the field is full, Empoleon can hit for 120 damage, one Pluspower away from getting a OHKO on Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem, and Terrakion. Pluspower just makes sure you’re at least getting 2HKOs on your opponent’s Pokémon, so the prize trade is in your favor.
Tool Scrapper is a Trainer card that lets you discard up to two Tool cards attached to either players’ Pokémon. Getting rid of your opponent’s Big Cloak and Eviolite will make it much easier for Empoleon to KO the Defending Pokémon.
Pokemon ParadijsSuper Rod is one of the best ways to recover Empoleon after it has been KOd. Diving Draw, Ultra Ball, and Juniper will also make you discard many cards throughout the game, so Super Rod gives you a way to recover them. Super Rod is also crucial in the late game to keep yourself from decking out.
Since Empoleon only needs one Energy to attack, roughly ten Energy in a straight Empoleon build should be enough.
Here are some the best partners for Empoleon.
This is probably the Pokémon that is most often paired with Empoleon, and for a good reason. Terrakion’s first attack, Retaliate, does 30 damage plus 60 damage if one of your Pokémon was KO’d during your opponent’s last turn. Having a Pokémon whose attack only costs one Fighting and a Colorless Energy and can OHKO a Darkrai EX (without Eviolite or Big Cloak) is too good to pass up.
Terrakion even OHKOs just about everything in a Zekrom/Eels deck, one of Empoleon’s worst matchups. Zekrom/Eels and Darkrai variants are some of the most popular decks in the format, and will continue to be seen in the BW-on format.
Here’s a list if you want to start testing Empoleon/Terrakion.
Pokémon – 16
4 Emolga DRE
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
Pokemon ParadijsThe only major changes I would make to a standard Empoleon list besides adding Terrakion is to add in some Exp. Share and Fighting Energy. Exp. Share is extremely helpful for powering up a Terrakion out of nowhere, and is good to use if your deck is running out of Energy.
Instead of Fighting Energy, you can also run Blend Energy WLFM, and this can be very helpful since it can be used for Empoleon and Terrakion to attack. The major downside, however, is that it can’t be retrieved through Super Rod.
What’s better than draw support? Even more draw support! Musharna NXD has an Ability, Forewarn, which allows you to look at the top two cards of your deck and choose one to put in your hand. Pair Musharna with Empoleon and you have the best recovery for N anyone could have ever asked for.
I also like Musharna because in the late-game, when you’re closer to decking out, you can still get draw support but without burning through your deck as quickly as when you use Diving Draw.
Be warned though, if you use Diving Draw and Forewarn too much, you deck will be gone before you know it.
This is the Empoleon/Musharna list I have made so far, but it’s a rogue in progress.
Pokémon – 19
4 Emolga DRE
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsThe only thing to mention here is that I included Pokémon Catcher in this list. Pokémon Catcher is obviously great in any of the Empoleon decks, I just have been focusing these list more on straight consistency with getting out Empoleon. Space can certainly be made for up to four Catcher if you wish for any of the lists mentioned in this article. I feel this deck doesn’t have to include four, but the choice is up to you.
I also included Terrakion to help against Zekrom/Eels and Darkrai variants.
This is the only Restored (Fossil) Pokémon in the format that even stands a chance of seeing competitive play. Its Ability, Ancient Scream, makes your Active Pokémon’s attacks do 10 more damage. Each Aerodactyl essentially makes Attack Command do +20 damage, Ancient Scream adds 10 and Attack Command already does 10 damage for each Pokémon in play.
Here’s what a BLW-on Empoleon/Aerodactyl list might look like.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
Pokemon ParadijsIf you’re able to get out a lot of Aerodactyl, this deck can be quite good, but this deck is quite inconsistent. There are two ways to get out Aerodactyl.
Option A is to use Old Amber Aerodactyl, which lets you search the top seven cards of your deck, and if you find an Aerodactyl, you can put in on the bench. It’s difficult to try to fish out an Aerodactyl out of seven cards, and some of your Aerodactyl could be prized.
Option B is to use Twist Mountain. Twist Mountain lets each player flip a coin, and if heads you can search your deck for a Restored Pokémon and put it on your bench. This is a much easier way to get Aerodactyl, but Twist Mountain relies on a coin flip, which further adds to this deck’s inconsistency.
You could flip four tails in a row (I’m sure many people have experienced this with VVV) and your Aerodactyl could be prized.
If you can swarm a bunch of Aerodactyl without them being Catcher KO’d, this deck can be fairly decent. Otherwise, I find this deck quite annoying.
I also included Virizion NVI instead of Emolga DRE because Emolga won’t be able to get Aerodactyl onto the bench, so Virizion gives you more draw support.
One of the problems with running an Accelgor deck is finding a way to constantly draw the Double Colorless Energy and Mew EX/Accelgor you need to keep the Deck and Cover lock. What Empoleon does is give this deck draw support to keep using Deck and Cover.
Before I explain anything else, here’s a deck list.
Pokémon – 20
3 Emolga DRE
1 Mew EX
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
Consistently using Deck and Cover, which is powered up through DCE, helps to put EXs in OHKO range for Empoleon. Mew EX serves as a Mewtwo EX counter and can be put in any Empoleon deck, and makes it easier to keep using Deck and Cover.
Here are some other cards that could fit into all of the different Empoleon builds, except Accelgor because you’re tighter for space.
Pokemon ParadijsThis was a card I definitely overlooked in my previous article, but I didn’t forget to mention it now. Unfortunately, Blend Energy WLFM doesn’t provide Grass Energy to use Revenge Blast, but if you’re using other attackers in your Empoleon deck that are going to be powered up with Prism Energy, Shaymin EX is a nice late-game finisher.
In my opinion, Blissey is a very underrated card, and I feel could see potential in an Empoleon deck. Blissey’s Ability, Softboiled, lets you flip a coin once per turn, and if heads, you can heal 30 damage from your Active Pokémon.
Unlike Ninetales DRE, Empoleon is fairly difficult to OHKO, unless you’re running Zekrom/Eels. This means you can use Softboiled a few times per turn to heal off any damage taken without having to remove any Energy attached to Empoleon.
The main problems with Blissey are that it will be Catchered quite a bit, and Softboiled relies on a coin flip, so it’s inconsistent.
To solve the Catcher problem, jut run 3-4 Switch, but the flipping is just something you have to deal with.
This is only a tech I would recommend running if your Empoleon list includes Mewtwo EX. The reason being is that Tornadus EX can be powered up the quickest through DCE, otherwise it will be a slow and painful process to use Power Blast.
Tornadus EX does help a good bit against Fighting decks, but this isn’t one of my favorite techs in an Empoleon deck.
One of the worst scenarios I can imagine is one of the few Pokémon that could OHKO Empoleon, Raquaza EX. If your opponent keeps using Dragon Burst for 180, it will be very hard to keep your Empoleon alive.
This is where Sigilyph comes in. It has an Ability, Safeguard, that prevents damage done to Sigilyph by EXs. This would give you time to recover and get your Empoleon back out as quickly as possible.
BulbapediaThis card could really help your Zekrom/Eels matchup. Stunfisk’s first attack Muddy Water, for a Fighting Energy, does 20 damage and 10 to one of your opponent’s benched Pokémon. Using Catcher, you could get cheap prizes off of any Tynamo, even the 40 HP ones, since Stunfisk hits them for weakness.
Its second attack, Rumble, does 40 damage for one more Colorless Energy, and prevents your opponent from retreating. Rumble hits Eelektrik for weakness, and is one Pluspower away from a OHKO.
Terrakion NVI works really well with Empoleon so Terrakion EX must be even better, right? Well, in my opinion it isn’t, but Terrakion EX is still a viable Darkrai and Zekrom/Eels counter.
Its first attack, Rock Tumble does 50 damage for a Fighting and a Colorless Energy, and isn’t affected by Resistance. Why use a Pokémon that can’t OHKO a Darkrai EX with a Fighting and a Colorless Energy and gives up two prizes when you can use Terrakion NVI, who can OHKO a Darkrai EX (without Eviolite) for the same attack cost?
Its second attack, Smash Pump, does 90 damage for one more Fighting Energy with the added effect of attaching two Basic Energy cards from your hand to your Benched Pokémon. The added affect is nice, but I would rather use Terrakion since it can hit for 90 for less Energy and doesn’t give up two prizes, but Terrakion EX is still a viable option.
This Pokémon won’t hit anything for Weakness due to its Colorless typing, but has an interesting attack that could work well with this deck.
Handspring does 10 damage times the number of cards in your hand for two Colorless Energy. Since Diving Draw will help you obtain massive hands, I thought Ambipom desrved a mention.
Milotic would be used for its first attack, Clear Search. This lets you search you deck for any three cards for only one Water Energy. Since Empoleon decks already run Water Energy, Milotic could be added as a consistency booster.
Another anti-EX card, Bouffalant’s attack Golden Break, does 60 damage plus 60 more damage if the Defending Pokémon is an EX, but it costs three Colorless Energy.
If your opponent is threatening to OHKO Empoleon with Rayquaza EX or Mewtwo EX, this card could help.
Plus, it has one of the best names for an Ability ever. It’s called Afro Guard.
Although this card is never used, it has a little potential with Empoleon. Great Ball lets you look at the top seven cards of your deck, pick a Pokémon you find, and put it into your hand. Since the Pokémon in Empoleon decks aren’t all searchable by Level Ball or Heavy Ball, Great Ball can be a nice alternative since the Pokémon you choose doesn’t have any specific requirements. It just has to be in the first seven cards of your deck.
Rescue Scarf is a Tool Card that lets you put the Pokémon it’s attached to back in your hand when it gets Knocked Out. This makes it much easier to recover Empoleon, but I feel isn’t necessary to run in an Empoleon deck.
This card, paired with Max Potion, can work quite nicely. If Empoleon takes any damage, you can Max Potion the damage off of it, and use Energy Retrieval to put the discarded Energy right back in your hand.
Here are my general thoughts about the matchups of Empoleon decks.
Pokemon ParadijsThis is definitely one of your worst matchups. Zekrom BLW, Thundurus EPO, Raikou EX, Zebstrika NXD, and Zekrom EX are all capable of OHKOing Empoleon. Adding Terrakion into your Empoleon build helps a good bit, but Zekrom/Eels has such good Energy acceleration that it’s still difficult to keep up with a constant stream of Zekrom when you only run two Terrakion and maybe a few Exp. Share.
Zekrom/Eels will also soon be able to tech Rayquaza EX into their builds, so your opponent even has the option to go aggro-Rayquaza EX OHKOing your Empoleon, and you won’t be able to get the OHKO back.
Darkrai EX/Hydreigon DRE
This is another tough matchup. Empoleon will be 2HKOing Darkrai EX at best, but when Hydreigon moves the Energy off of Darkrai EX, heals all of the damage with Max Potion, and continues to attack, Empoleon will be 2HKOd, while it will take a very long time to take out a Darkrai EX.
Garchomp DRE/Altaria DRE
I feel this matchup is fairly even because both decks use a 140 HP Stage 2 for a main attacker that will fight to get 2HKOs first. I think Garchomp/Altaria does have a slight advantage over Empoleon because if you run Blend WLFM, Garchomp can discard it through Mach Cut. Also, Garchomp can OHKO Empoleon if there are only two Altaria in play with Dragon Blade.
However, Empoleon has better recovery against N because of the draw engine, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.
This matchup can become quite difficult, if your opponent establishes the lock early in the game, since half of your deck will become worthless. However, Gothitelle is an easy 2HKO for Empoleon, and when taken out, makes this matchup much easier. Diving Draw can help you discard useless Trainers when the lock is established and can be used to benefit from a late-game N.
Against any sort of Emboar BLW 20 deck, Empoleon has good matchups since you can OHKO the Emboar, the deck’s Energy acceleration.
Empoleon hits Entei EX and Groudon EX for weakness, so Empoleon will have no problem taking care of these decks.
Pokemon ParadijsThese decks will be somewhat hard to beat because if Zoroark DEX has a Dark Claw attached, Zoroark can OHKO Empoleon with a few Pluspowers. Stage 1s are much easier to swarm than Stage 2s, so I feel Zoroark DEX may have an advantage. Empoleon can still OHKO Zororak, though, and Terrakion NVI can be included to greatly help this matchup.
The best way to counter Empoleon is choosing a deck such as Zekrom/Eels or Hydreigon/Darkrai that will be difficult for Empoleon to beat.
Another good way is to Catcher stall. Whenever you see your opponent drop a Terrakion, Catcher it up so they can’t get the Retailate KO and won’t be able to attack for a few turns.
If you wanted to tech something in specifically for this matchup, you could add a thin line of Bronzong NXD in your deck. It has an Ability that prevents damage from being healed from either player’s Pokémon, which will render Max Potion useless.
You could even use Garbodor DRE. Garbodor prevents any Abilities from working when it has a Tool Card attached. This isn’t very strong though, since it’s not hard for Empoleon to OHKO Garbodor, and they can run Tool Scrapper to stop Dust Toxin from taking effect.
Thanks for bearing with me all the way to the end of this lengthy article. Please comment, write suggestions, and leave a like, all of which would be extremely appreciated, and the best of luck to anyone competing at Grinders or Worlds.