The Type-Rainbow of the Pokémon TCG: An Introduction to the Decks of Black & White-on

pokemon.wikia.comGrass, Fire, Water, Lightning, Psychic, Fighting, Colorless, Darkness, Metal, and now Dragon: the type-Rainbow of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses and everyone has a favorite type (even though Grass is definitely the best of the bunch).

I constantly hear players asking for help on how to build a strong type-specific deck on the message boards and at leagues. They want a strong Fire deck or a winning Psychic deck. Although a lot of these players are generally newer, they are on to something that many experienced players may not think to consider — Darkness Pokémon generally work well with other Darkness Pokémon, Lightning Pokémon generally work well with other Lightning Pokémon, etc. Why is this so? There are two reasons.

1. Pokémon generally require the same types of Energy to attack as other Pokémon with the same type. Thus, a deck with all Grass Pokémon will only have to fit in Grass Energy in order to attack. However, a deck with Grass and Water Pokémon attackers will need to find ways to provide both Grass and Water Energy for their attack requirements. Cards like Prism and Blend Energy help decks combine types. However, these cards have restrictions too. As a result, consideration for types will become more important in the upcoming Black and White-on (BLW-on) format.

2. Pokémon generally have Attacks and Abilities that work better with Pokémon of the same type. For example, all the Energy acceleration and manipulation Abilities work on Energy corresponding to the type of the Pokémon with that Ability (Eelektrik-Dynamotor, Emboar-Inferno Fandango, etc.). Also attacks like Zoroark NXD’s Brutal Bash and Serperior BLW 5’s Leaf Storm work better with Darkness and Grass Pokémon, respectively.

The smaller the card pool, the more true this observation (Pokémon with the same type generally work better together) becomes. Why is this? Let’s look at two cases. You should note that most of the discussion throughout this entire article is being held in the world of generalities and may not always be true in any given format or when considering any specific card.

Case 1: Small Card Pool

pokemon-paradijs.comIn this case, we only have one set available to us for play (so around 100 cards in the pool). It is less likely that we have cards like Blend Energy or Prism Energy, so it would be harder to combine types. It is also less likely that we have cards like Darkrai EX and Victini NVI 14 which work wonders for all types of Pokémon (Dark Cloak and Victory Star work well with all 10).

Due to reasons #1 and #2 listed above, it is more likely that Pokémon with shared types will make for stronger decks. Here lies the point of this case — in any given format, even one with 100 cards, #1 and #2 will always hold.

Case 2: Large Card Pool

In this case, we have two sets available to us for play (so around 200 cards in the pool). In this case, it is more likely that we have cards like Blend Energy, Prism Energy, Darkrai EX and Victini available to us simply because we have more cards in the pool. We will always have #1 and #2 but, with a larger card pool, the odds for these kinds of type diversifying cards are higher.

So what is the point of all this? Here it is! Since we are moving away from a format with ten sets to a format with six sets (moving from Case 2 to Case 1), the probability that a type specific deck will be the best deck will (most likely) increase! Furthermore, since we are getting an entirely new type in Dragons Exalted, an article of this nature seems most appropriate.

Now let me give you a framework for what to expect in this article. There will be ten sections — one for each type. In each section, I will discuss the following three things…

  1. The Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Type
  2. The “Best” Deck Each Type Has to Offer in BLW-on
  3. How This Deck Will Handle the Expected Metagame

So, yes, there will be ten decklists: each one corresponding to a different type. Without further ado, let us get started with the first type: Water.

Water

pokemon-paradijs.comOver the past few years, Lightning decks have been very popular (Luxray G LV.X, Magnezone Prime, Zekrom BLW etc.). You would think that Water decks would have had a tough time competing. However, that has not been the case. This year we saw a fair amount of Vanilluxe NVI. Last year we saw Kingdra Prime decks here and there. In the SP format, we had Gyarados SF and Palkia G LV.X. All of these decks were used even though Lightning was rampant.

Why is this? Well, for one, Water Pokémon do not all share the same weakness. Some are weak to Lightning while some are weak to Grass or Metal. If Vanilluxe were weak to Lightning, Vanilluxe/Vileplume/Victini (VVV) may not have been very playable this format.

Another reason that Water is such a successful type is because Water Pokémon generally have no restrictions on the types of Attacks, Powers and Abilities they can be given. Water Pokémon can accelerate Energy, spread damage, inflict status conditions, attack for low amounts of Energy, etc. Water is perhaps the most versatile type when it comes to what they can do in games.

Although Water Pokémon can do just about anything, they generally aren’t able to do their jobs as well as Pokémon of other types. For example, they do not usually hit as hard as Lightning or Fire Pokémon. Another major problem with Water Pokémon is that, oftentimes, the good Water Pokémon have no synergy with one another. Clearly both Empoleon and Kyurem NVI are strong cards.

Unfortunately, they have nothing in common aside from the Water Energy requirement. One hits for a high amount of damage for a low amount of Energy and one spreads damage. There is no reason to put Empoleon and Kyurem together!

So looking through the Water Pokémon available to us in BLW-on, it was pretty obvious that Empoleon is the strongest of the bunch. Vanilluxe does not seem nearly as good without Vileplume and Kyurem NVI/Kyurem EX/Kyogre EX have no Water Pokémon to accelerate Energy; making them largely useless (except in decks featuring Klinklang BLW or the new Hydreigon).

Here is my current Empoleon list!

Pokémon – 17

4 Piplup DEX
3 Prinplup DEX
4 Empoleon DEX
2 Mew-EX
3 Virizion NVI
1 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 31

4 N
4 Cheren
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Rare Candy

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Pokémon Communication
2 Level Ball
2 Switch
2 Giant Cape/Enhanced Hammer/Tool Scrapper
2 Max Potion

1 Super Rod

Energy – 12

8 W
4 Prism

My definition of a type-specific deck is not very concrete. I just expect a lot of Water Pokémon to be in any deck I deem to be a Water deck. It should be noted that most of my decks include Pokémon of differing types. There are quite a few Pokémon in this format that work well in any type of deck. However, Water Pokémon will have the most prominent role in my Water deck, Grass Pokémon will have the most prominent role in my Grass deck, etc.

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* I had some difficulty picking what Pokémon to include with Empoleon. Obviously you need quite a few in order to maximize the damage of Attack Command. I do not like Terrakion because I would probably have to play 4 Switch and other Terrakion-necessary cards (a higher amount of Fighting Energy, Exp. Share etc.). These things would clunk up my deck and reduce consistency.

Even with all these Terrakion-necessary cards, I imagine myself being stuck with a useless, active Terrakion far more often than I would like to be. A combination of Virizion/Mew-EX/Sableye seems to be the strongest due to the increased consistency and versatility.

* I did not want to play Professor Juniper or Bianca. N and Cheren are much better with Empoleon. Professor Juniper is a very dangerous play in decks with Stage 2’s due to having to occasionally discard Evolutions early game in order to get set up. There is already quite a bit of discarding involved with Diving Draw, so Juniper does not seem worth it.

Bianca is not a good choice either because after Diving Draw a few times, your hand size usually gets larger than 6 cards. This means you will draw absolutely nothing with Bianca. Thus, I am left with N and Cheren.

* The 2 cards devoted to Big Cloak/Enhanced Hammer/Tool Scrapper are up in the air. I am not sure which will be the best for BLW-on. Big Cloak is useful in putting Mew-EX out of 1HKO range from a Mewtwo EX with 2 Energy. Big Cloak also puts Empoleon out of 1HKO range from a Hydreigon. Enhanced Hammer is obviously useful against all decks that run Special Energy.

I am not sure how useful Tool Scrapper will be… but I can imagine some situations where I would want it. Anway, the decision between these 3 cards will largely depend on how the metagame shapes up over the next few months.

So, how will this do against the metagame? Aside from a hard matchup with Eelektrik based decks, it should be pretty strong. Empoleon hits for a lot of damage and has built in consistency. Even its harder matchups can be won by simply out speeding the opponent. Due to Diving Draw, Empoleon can take great advantage of well-timed N’s and is almost invulnerable to opposing, late game N’s.

I strongly recommend testing out Empoleon variants. Although the Lightning matchup is tough, it is still winnable. Empoleon can easily take some Battle Road wins and perhaps even a Regionals!

Grass

pokemon.wikia.comAh, my favorite type! Strong Grass Pokémon usually have interesting Powers or Abilities. These Powers or Abilities generally heal, disrupt, provide consistency or manipulate Energy. Their attacks are usually below average; so it is up to the Abilities or Powers to facilitate a win for the typical Grass deck. Unfortunately, the inferior Grass attacks are usually too weak to form a deck around.

It has been a while since a strong Grass deck was part of the metagame. Perhaps the last really strong Grass deck was the Jumpluff HS deck used back in the SP format. Sure Grass Pokémon have had roles in some strong decks lately (Accelgor DEX, Vileplume UD, Celebi Prime and Yanmega Prime, for example)… but the decks these cards were a part of could hardly be considered Grass decks.

So, can a Grass deck find a place in the top tiers for BLW-on? Perhaps it can! Here is the best Grass deck these six sets have to offer!

Pokémon – 16

4 Snivy BW06

1 Servine BLW 3

1 Servine BLW 4
4 Serperior BLW 6
4 Sableye DEX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX

Trainers – 31

4 N
3 Bianca

2 Cheren
3 Random Receiver

 

4 Rare Candy

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Dark Patch
3 Level Ball
3 Ultra Ball
2 Eviolite/Giant Cape
1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

6 D

4 Blend GRPD
3 G

The basic strategy of the deck is to use Sableye to help get multiple Serperiors into play while powering up Darkrai EX. If you can attach an Eviolite to a Darkrai EX and get two Serperiors in play, all attacks are basically doing 60 less to Darkrai EX. He can live a long time if you can get multiple Serperiors into play. Against Fighting decks, you can use Serperior as the attacker in order to take advantage of the Grass weakness on most Fighting Pokémon and prevent the easy knock outs on your Darkrai EX’s.

(Note: The new Beautifly from Dragons Exalted could perhaps make for a strong deck. Putting three Energy from the deck into play for the cost of a Grass Energy is quite strong. I am a bit skeptical of Beautifly, however. 120 HP is a bit low and there really isn’t a Pokémon screaming “combo me with Beautifly” — maybe Ho-Oh EX, I guesss? So, for now, Serperior takes the crown)

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* I am still very much in the process of getting the list right. I am pretty sure that I don’t want to play Professor Juniper in here for the same reason I did not want to play her in my Empoleon deck. A mix of N, Cheren and Bianca seems optimal. I am still not sure if the count on these is correct. Three Random Receiver is probably a very good number considering you can reuse with Junk Hunt.

* I am a little bit torn between Eviolite and Big Cloak. The original list had Big Cloak because I could also attach them to Serperior. However, testing has shown that I rarely ever attached the Big Cloaks to Serperiors — they always ended up on the Darkrai EX’s. Obviously Eviolite is serperior (errr, superior) to Big Cloak when on a Basic, so I am going to continue my testing with Eviolite.

* The Energy count may need to be changed a little bit. I might want to drop a Grass and/or a Blend in order to up the Darkness count. More Darkness Energy mean more opportunities for Dark Patch abuse. However, I do want to keep enough energy for Serperior’s attack, Leaf Tornado. More testing needs to be done to figure this one out!

The biggest challenge this deck faces is opposing Pokémon Catchers. If the opponent is able to draw them early and score cheap prizes on early Snivys and Servines, it will be a very tough game. Furthermore, if the opponent is able to get the Pokémon Catchers necessary to score knock outs on benched Pokémon that are in the process of being healed by Royal Heal, the deck is failing.

pokemon-paradijs.comIf the Serperiors are not able to prevent knock outs on the Darkrai EX’s, then you are running 15-20 useless cards and investing in-game resources to fruitless bearing trees (or snakes… but I really try to pretend that Serperior is not a snake — I am not a fan of them). It is crucial that multiple Serperiors are gotten into play and that they provide effective healing while in play.

I am still not certain how strong this deck will be. It has become harder to play multiple Pokémon Catcher over the course of the game due to the ban of Junk Arm. However, if the opponent is able to draw into them when they are needed, it will be hard for Serperior/Darkrai EX to win. Decks that run Sableye have a strong advantage over this simply because they can use more Pokémon Catchers over the course of the game (due to Junk Hunt).

I suspect these types of decks will be relatively popular due to the hype associated with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX’s performance in Japan and the relative ease of modifying current Darkrai EX/Sableye lists to BLW-on lists (this deck remains largely intact after the rotation). As a result, it saddens me to say that Serperior/Darkrai EX will most likely not be the strongest choice for Fall Battle Roads or Fall Regionals unless the format turns out differently that expected.

All I want is to be able to play a winning Grass deck! Is that so much to ask?!

Fire

BulbapediaWith Fire, we complete the Rock-Paper-Scissors of the starter Pokémon available in each generation. I never picked Charmander or Cyndaquil when I played the video games (I stopped playing the video games after Gold & Silver). I just like Grass and Water Pokémon a lot more than Fire.

In the card game, the strongest Fire Pokémon manipulate Energy and have very high damage attacks. The typical Fire deck consists of an Energy accelerator and an attacker that discards Fire Energy with their attack. Back in the day there was Typhlosion NG and Blaine’s Arcanine along with Entei and Magcargo (both from Neo Revelation). Then there was Blaziken from RS with Blaziken EX or Rayquaza EX and Typhlosion MT with Magmortar SW (my favorite Fire Pokémon card ever printed, by the way).

Now there is Emboar and Reshiram BLW + other friends. This is probably the best Fire deck we have available to us right now (although Ho-Oh EX might be able to make for a pretty strong deck). I do not believe Quad Entei-EX is very strong for many reasons. The two most important of these include the loss of Junk Arm and the release of Sigilyph in Dragons Exalted.

The Quad decks are a lot worse without the ability to reuse important Items and there is no way Quad Entei-EX would ever be able to beat a deck with Sigilyph. You would have to add cards like Reshiram or Bouffalant or some other non-EX and that would just completely ruin the consistency of the deck.

Emboar was part of the deck that won Worlds last year, so he must be good, right? Although he wasn’t used at all in the 2011-2012 season, I think he will be much better in the 2012-2013 season! Here is a place to start.

Pokémon – 14

4 Tepig BW07
2 Pignite BLW 17
2 Emboar BLW 20
2 Registeel-EX
2 Reshiram BLW
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 32

3 N
3 Professor Juniper
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Super Scoop Up

3 Rare Candy
3 Ultra Ball
3 Heavy Ball
3 Switch
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Super Rod

Energy – 14

10 R
4 Double Colorless

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* The original list included the other Emboar (commonly known as Bad Boar) and Entei-EX. They seemed pretty strong since I could search for them with Heavy Ball and they obviously have some good attacks. However, testing showed that they were practically useless. I always would have rather attacked with Registeel-EX, Reshiram or Mewtwo EX.

I would perhaps consider putting 1 copy of Bad Boar back in… I could see some uses for him. But, for now, he is not making the cut. If you’re going to try this deck out, you should consider adding him in and deciding for yourself whether you like him or not.

* In most of my games, I always wanted to begin my attacking with Registeel-EX. He is so incredibly good against all decks- especially set up decks. A second turn Triple Laster is just devastating. Registeel-EX can set up KOs on EX’s for your Reshirams and prevent Eelektrik-based decks from using lots of Dynamotors over the course of the game. Registeel-EX is easily searchable with either Heavy Ball or Ultra Ball. You don’t even need Emboar in play to be able to use Triple Laser on the second turn! He is just too good!

* I like Professor Juniper in this deck because, unlike the Empoleon and Serperior decks, you only need to get one Stage 2 out. Therefore, discarding an Emboar, Rare Candy or Tepig with Professor Juniper really isn’t so bad. I’m also opting to run 2 Super Rod, so early discards with Professor Juniper won’t be as hurtful later on in the game.

* Super Scoop Up is disgusting with Emboar and Registeel-EX. This card really adds a great deal of strength and versatility to the deck. Other than Terrakion-EX, Emboar is probably the best Pokémon to use with Super Scoop Up.

I have actually been pretty surprised with how strong this deck is. I did not expect it to perform as well as it has been. If there was a Tepig with a 3 Retreat Cost, Emboar would be much stronger. Unfortunately, the fattest Tepig only has a 2 Retreat Cost.

Registeel-EX is ridiculous against anything that runs Evolutions. If you can get a turn two Triple Laser, you’re likely going to win (especially if you went first). I strongly encourage you guys to test Emboar out. He may have what it takes to win a Regionals!

Lightning

BulbapediaI am guessing the past three lists will seem pretty “new and refreshing” to you guys. This Lightning deck will be neither of those things, unfortunately. It was really good last format and it will be really good this format too.

Lightning has been very strong over the past several years. There was Luxray G LV.X then Magnezone Prime and then Zekrom BLW. As long as Eelektrik is legal, Lightning will be a very strong type.

Strong Lightning Pokémon are pretty similar to strong Fire Pokémon. There is usually some Energy accelerator and then a big hitter that uses all that energy to do massive amounts of damage. However, Lightning Pokémon usually have more “tricks” than Fire Pokémon. Some good examples would be Dark Ampharos, Manectric ex, Luxray G LV.X and Zebstrika NXD.

So, here is my current Zekrom/Eelektrik (Zeels) deck for the BLW-on format.

Pokémon – 14

4 Tynamo NVI 38
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Zekrom BLW
1 Raikou-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Tornadus-EX DEX
1 Thundurus EPO

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 PlusPower

3 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
3 Switch
2 Eviolite
1 Super Rod

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

9 L
4 Double Colorless

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* Thundurus has largely replaced Smeargle as the “ideal” starter for the deck. He is really quite strong due to the fundamental shift of decks. Since Evolutions are becoming far more popular than they were, Thundurus can grab some really “good prizes” early on. Earnings these prizes is extra sweet because Thundurus can prevent the opponent from getting set up by Knocking Out evolving Basics and Stage 1’s. I am considering dropping the Tornadus EX or some other card (maybe a PlusPower) for the 2nd Thundurus — he is just that good.

* Raikou-EX is certainly stronger this format… but I am still not sure if he deserves a spot in the list. He might perform better if I can somehow fit some Max Potion into the deck. Something to consider when building your on Zeels!

* I haven’t tried out Registeel-EX or Rayquaza EX in here… but they could be quite good (particularly Registeel-EX). I’d have to make some fundamental changes to the deck if I wanted to include Rayquaza EX (i.e. changing the Energy around a bit). I will probably try these guys out in the weeks leading up to Battle Roads.

That is really all I have to say about Zeels and Lightning Pokémon. If you want to read more about Zeels, there are plenty of great 6P articles that have lots to say about the deck.

Zeels will definitely take some Battle Road wins and probably a Regional win or two. Test with it and against it!

Metal

BulbapediaAlong with Darkness, Metal has been the “newest” type in the Pokémon TCG since its release in Neo Genesis back in 2000 (Metal and Dark were not among the original seven types released back in Base Set). No new types have been released since 2000. Twelve years later and we are finally getting a new type: Dragon! I will come back to this new type in a bit.

Metal Pokémon have, historically, been known for their strong defensive capabilities. Their Attacks will often reduce damage done to them. In combination with Special M Energy, Metal Pokémon can live for a very long time.

Over the years, there have been some very strong Metal Pokémon. The original Steelix from Neo Genesis was combined with lots of different Pokémon. The Scizor from Aquapolis was also pretty popular. In fact, he was the primary attacker in the deck that won the Fan Appreciation Tournament back in 2003. More recently we had a string of really powerful Metagross, all of the Delta Pokémon (they were half metal type) and Dialga G LV.X. Of course, we can’t forget about Klinklang — he won U.S. Nationals after all.

Back in the day, Special M Energy was significantly stronger since attacks generally did less damage than they do now. As attacks have increased in damage, the benefit of Special M Energy has decreased somewhat. Assuming they don’t reprint Special M Energy in any upcoming set, Metal Pokémon will not have that extra benefit that other types have not been able to enjoy these past twelve years.

Will losing Special M Energy significantly hurt Metal Pokémon? Probably not. Like I said, the benefit of Special M Energy is significantly less than it used to be. As a result, losing Special M Energy will not hurt Metal Pokémon that much.

I am very confident that the strongest Metal deck will involve Klinklang. Although we lose quite a few things that helped him win Nationals this year (Junk Arm, Rainbow Energy and Special M Energy to some extent), he still has a lot going for him! Here is my current list.

Pokémon – 14

4 Klink DEX
2 Klang DEX
3 Klinklang BLW
2 Registeel-EX
2 Groudon-EX DEX
1 Kyogre-EX DEX

Trainers – 33

4 N
4 Bianca
3 Cheren

1 Random Receiver

 

4 Heavy Ball
4 Max Potion
4 Switch
3 Rare Candy
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Eviolite
1 Ultra Ball
1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

5 M

4 Blend WLFM
4 Prism

[Note: I have not tested Durant at all in BLW-on. I very much doubt a Durant deck could be made competitive without the help of Pokémon Collector, Junk Arm, Twins and other things that will be lost with the rotation. However, Durant may make a comeback at some point in the near future — depending on what cards are printed in the upcoming sets.]

Notes on the List

Bulbapedia* Registeel-EX is just as good in here as he is in the Emboar deck. He can attack earlier in the Emboar deck but he can lost longer in this version. I have yet to use Registeel-EX’s second attack, Protect Charge, but the Klinklang deck can make use of it if needed.

* Klinklang and the new Hydreigon are very similar in nature. The primary difference between the two decks can be expressed through observing which Blend Energy each deck will run. The Hydreigon will run Blend Energy GRPD which will more easily allow for tech Shaymin EX’s and Sigilyphs. The Klinklang deck runs Blend Energy WLFM which will allow more easily allow for tech Groudon and Kyogre EX’s.

Of course, you could play any of these four Pokémon in the other deck… but you will only be able to attack with them using Prism Energy if you are unable to run the appropriate Blend Energy for the Pokémon.

Although the Hydreigon deck will be able to take advantage of Dark Patch, Dark Cloak on Darkrai EX and Sableye’s Junk Hunt; this deck has perhaps better tech options (Groudon EX and Kyogre EX are probably stronger than Shaymin EX and Sigilyph) and can use Heavy Ball to search out any Pokémon in the deck.

* I am a bit unsure about the 2 Eviolite. If Tool Scrapper gains in popularity, it is quite possible that this card will lose much of its strength. I will probably try the deck without the Eviolite and fill these spots with the 3rd Pokémon Catcher and one of the other Klinklangs (I am still not sure which one I like the most- what are your thoughts on this?).

Although, Klinklang loses a lot with the loss of Rainbow Energy and Junk Arm, he is still quite powerful. I can definitely see Klinklang performing well at Battle Roads and perhaps Regionals. It is unclear to me whether I will like this or the Hydreigon deck more (I have yet to test with the Hydreigon deck very much). I am a big fan of Heavy Ball and Registeel-EX in Klinklang. However, the support for Darkness type Pokémon is pretty disgusting right now. So we shall see!

Fighting

BulbapediaI know there is a very special place in Adam’s heart for Fighting Pokémon — particularly Nidoqueen. Most of the Fighting decks that have been good have been responses or counters to the metagame. We had the secret Magma deck in 2004 that used Magma’s Groudon as the attacker. Later on we had Medicham and Hariyama EX lock decks. Then came Nidoqueen RG in the Queendom deck. More recently we had Machamp SF that gave SP decks some issues. Now we have Terrakion and a plethora of other Fighting Pokémon that are generally good against the two major types: Lightning and Darkness.

Pretty much all of these decks were used because they somehow had a strict advantage over the popular decks of their times. Obviously some of them have been very successful at countering the metagame. So, can we make a deck in this format that could perhaps share in that success? Most likely! Here is what I have so far.

[Note: I want to thank my friend Damon Welch for showing me this deck. I was originally testing Excadrill/Terrakion-EX… but this is much stronger. Apparently it has done well in Japan or something? Regardless, I didn‘t know anything about this deck until Damon showed it to me — so I am him the credit for this one.]

Pokémon – 10

3 Terrakion-EX
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Bouffalant DRX
1 Landorus NVI

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N
3 Bianca
2 Cheren

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Super Scoop Up
3 Switch
3 Exp. Share
2 Ultra Ball
2 Heavy Ball
2 Tool Scrapper
2 Potion
2 Eviolite

1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 F
4 Double Colorless

Notes on the List

Bulbapedia* Currently, one of the main issues with Fighting Pokémon is picking the Fighting Pokémon to include in your lists. There are quite a good ones right now: Terrakion NVI, Terrakion-EX, Landorus NVI, Groudon EX, Excadrill DEX and eventually that new Landorus-EX! I decided to include the first three. The Landorus seems pretty situational; so he may not make the final cut. I still think a deck featuring Excadrill could be pretty good…I just haven’t gotten the list right yet.

* Although I rarely ever get to take advantage of the Energy attachment effect of Terrakion-EX’s attack, he is still a very strong attacker. If you are able to attach an extra Energy or two with the attack, you are definitely setting yourself up for victory. You should note that Terrakion-EX combos especially well with Super Scoop Up.

* Potion is actually proving to be very strong. Potion can often make your Terrakions live an extra turn. I might try and fit in another. Depending on how the metagame shapes up, I also might try to fit in 2 Enhanced Hammer.

* I have yet to make great use of Bouffalant. He is also pretty situational. However, I think he will have lots of uses against decks that I have yet to test this deck with.

* The biggest problem I am facing with this deck is being stuck with a useless active Pokémon as a result of an opposing Pokémon Catcher or opening with a Pokémon that is not useful against the opposing deck. I might try to max out on Switch and Super Scoop Up to help remedy this issue. As with all of these decks, I still need to do a lot of testing before I can put forth “finalized lists.” These lists are just what I have right now and will hopefully help you begin your BLW-on testing!

If Lightning and Darkness type decks continue to dominate, Fighting will definitely have a place in the BLW-on metagame. Terrakion-EX gives a nice boost to the type and so will Landorus-EX when he is released later this year. Make sure you try out lots of different combinations of Fighting Pokémon to find out which combination is the best!

Darkness

pokemon-paradijs.com

Pokémon really wanted to make Darkness a strong type with the release of Dark Explorers — and they succeeded! Darkrai EX; along with the support of Sableye, Dark Patch and Dark Claw (to some extent); is perhaps the strongest Pokémon we have available for use in both the HS and BLW-on formats. So yes, Darkness is a very strong type right now.

There have been some very successful Darkness decks over the years. The original Sneasel and Murkrow from Neo Genesis were both very strong. In fact, Sneasel was so powerful that he was banned (one of the few cards to have made the ban list without being rotated). Of course, we cannot forget the Darkness Pokémon released in Team Magma vs Team Aqua and Team Rocket Returns — all of the Magma Pokémon, Dark Ampharos, Dark Dragonite, Dark Electrode, Dark Tyranitar etc. There have been a lot of strong Tyranitars over the years, in fact. More recently we had Stormfront Sableye. Sableye was the primary reason we had a midseason rotation last year.

So what does the strongest Darkness deck look like for BLW-on? From what I can tell, there are two contenders: Darkrai EX/Sableye (commonly known as Hammertime) and Darkrai EX/Hydreigon. While Hammertime has a better early game and is more disruptive, Darkrai EX/Hydreigon has a stronger mid to end game.

Unless a Darkrai EX/Hydreigon deck is able to successfully include some interesting techs, Hammertime probably has a better Fighting matchup. If it is able to get a lightning fast start, Hammertime will likely be able to beat most of the decks out there.

pokemon-paradijs.comHowever, the Crushing Hammers make Hammertime pretty flippy. A fair amount of games can and will be lost simply because you flip 10 (or some other high amount) tails on Crushing Hammer in a row. Also, it is harder to reuse Crushing Hammer in BLW-on due to the loss of Junk Arm. Now, you must draw into two Crushing Hammer instead of one Crushing Hammer and one Junk Arm (or the second Crushing Hammer) in order to keep Energy off the opponent’s field.

At this point, I am not claiming that Hammertime is definitely better than Darkrai EX/Hydreigon nor that Darakai EX/Hydreigon is better than Hammertime. I am simply saying that both are very strong and both should be tested.

For this article, I decided to write about Hammertime for two reasons. The first is that most people are shifting their “Darkness focus” on the new Hydreigon because it is new and because it has done so well in Japan. We are, erroneously, forgetting to consider some of the decks that have been available to us.

The second reason is that the Klinklang deck I have been testing is very similar to the Hydreigon. The lessons learned in testing Klinklang will help inform the building of a Hydreigon deck. If I were to test both the Klinklang and Hydreigon decks, there would be a significant amount of overlap in the type of knowledge. So here is what I have so far!

Pokémon – 7

4 Sableye DEX
3 Darkrai-EX DEX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
2 Bianca
3 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
4 Crushing Hammer
4 Dark Patch
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Max Potion
2 Switch
2 Energy Switch
2 Eviolite
1 Dark Claw
1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

13 D

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* Sableye is most definitely the strongest starting Pokémon we have available to us in BLW-on (sorry Emolga). Sableye cannot fit into every deck, of course. This just means that decks that can take advantage of Sableye have an advantage over the decks that cannot.

* In regard to Pokémon inclusion, this list is pretty simplistic. Although I have not felt the need for a Mewtwo EX (or any other tech), it might be worthwhile to consider 1 or 2 additional Pokémon. Other than Mewtwo EX, I could perhaps see a use for Tornadus EX, Shaymin EX or Sigilyph (the last two would mean I would have to add Blend Energy GRPD which wouldn‘t be too big of a deal). I have not tested out Darkrai EX/Terrakion in this format. When including Terrakion, you have to include so many other cards — Fighting Energy, Switch, Tool Scrapper etc. It just does not seem worth it.

* I am still not so sure on the Switch and Energy Switch. I have used them a bit, but not as often as I thought I would be. I am going to keep them in for a bit more and if they continue to prove to be underwhelming, I might try something else (not sure what though…thoughts?).

* This deck, like all others, has gotten a bit slower with the loss of Smeargle and Junk Arm. However, this list can still get Turn 2 Night Spear on a semi-regular basis.

Darkrai EX in any capacity will be really strong in BLW-on. The question is what deck to use him in: Hammertime or Hydreigon? I am confident that both decks are pretty strong choices and it will be up to you to decide which one is most suited for your play style and metagame. Darkrai EX will definitely take some Battle Road wins and probably a Regional win or two.

Psychic

BulbapediaThere have always been strong Psychic Pokémon and there always will be. I do not know why, but Psychic Pokémon always seem to get preferential treatment. I am not even going to bother listing all the strong Psychic Pokémon that have been used over the years — there are just too many.

Currently, there are a lot of Psychic Pokémon that have promise. I think Gothitelle EPO 47, Chandelure NVI, Reuniclus BLW, Gardevoir NXD, Musharna NXD and Mew-EX are all pretty good (Gothitelle and Mew-EX are probably the best). However, I do not believe these six Psychic Pokémon are quite as strong as Psychic Pokémon normally tend to be.

Of course Mewtwo EX is an exception to this observation, but we cannot base a very strong deck solely around him. Although Mewtwo EX played a prominent role in 3 of the Top 4 decks at U.S. Nationals, he had lots of support (other attackers and Energy accelerators). He will likely continue to play a supporting role in other decks.

It is quite possible that cards from the upcoming sets will be able to make at least some of these six Psychic Pokémon really shine but, for now, I think the best Psychic deck that can be made is the following.

Pokémon – 24

4 Gothita EPO 43
1 Gothorita EPO 45

1 Gothorita EPO 46
4 Gothitelle EPO 47
3 Shelmet NVI
2 Accelgor DEX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Munna BLW
2 Musharna NXD
3 Mew-EX

Trainers – 24

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Cheren
1 Random Receiver

 

4 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball
3 Pokémon Communication
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Super Rod

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless
4 Blend GRPD
4 D

By now, I am sure you have all heard about the Accelgor deck that performed well at U.S. Nationals. This is an updated list for the new format. It is, unfortunately, not as strong due to the loss of Vileplume. Now we must play Gothitelle in order to keep the opponent from playing Switch. This also means that we cannot switch into something like Chandelure after using Deck and Cover which means it will be harder to keep the lock going.

Inevitably, once an opposing Pokémon is Knocked Out, your Gothitelle will be attacked by the new Pokémon the opponent sends up. Not only does this deck have to worry about getting the Pokémon to use Deck and Cover every turn, it also has to make sure there is a Gothitelle ready to send up. This can be tricky if the opponent is able to swing into the Gothitelles at multiple points in the game.

Notes on the List

youtube.com* I originally had some interesting techs in here (like Shaymin EX and Sableye) but they were immediately cut once I began to test and realize I needed to thicken the Gothitelle line. On any given turn you must make sure you have a Gothitelle with a Darkness Energy and a Mew-EX or Accelgor ready to use Deck and Cover.

* I would really like to have another Pokémon Catcher (I might try cutting a Blend or Darkness for this). Unfortunately, testing this deck takes a while simply because the games can last for a very long time. As a result, I was not able to test this deck as much as the other decks. So, this decklist is most certainly still in the process of being perfected.

* I am still unsure about the Supporter line. I have been using Bianca instead of Cheren, but I often have too large of a hand to use Bianca. So, I am going to try out Cheren for now.

This deck is very fun but also very stressful. Games take a long time and you will be behind about 3 Prizes before you are able to get the lock going (if it gets going at all). This deck is not nearly as strong as its Nationals counterpart and I think it will have a hard time performing well in larger tournaments. Raikou-EX will likely become a staple in Eelektrik variants. He can easily snipe the benched Accelgor preventing the cycle of Mew-EX’s that are using Deck and Cover.

Item lock is very strong however, especially now that all the Pokémon searching cards are Items. If you are able to get a very early Gothitelle and build up your bench behind her, you have a very good shot at winning the game.

Although I do not expect it to place highly at Regionals, I would recommend testing this deck out because there is some potential and it will likely have some presence at tournaments over the next few months.

Colorless

BulbapediaColorless is a very interesting type. Colorless Pokémon are able to use any kind of energy to use their Attacks. This allows them to easily fit into any type of deck! Colorless Pokémon are also able to more easily take advantage of Double Colorless Energy since their attacks only require C Energy.

Back in the day of Wizards of the Coast, Colorless Pokémon were very strong Attackers. Chansey BS, Clefable JU, Wiggltuff JU and Ditto FO were some of the most popular Pokémon because they could easily take advantage of special Energy cards such as Double Colorless Energy and Recycle Energy.

Under the ownership of Nintendo, attacking Colorless Pokémon have not been as prevalent. The ones that have been used are usually supporting Pokémon (such as Pidgeot RG) or 1-of techs (such as Latios/Latias/Rayquaza *). Only a few popular decks come to mind that heavily relied upon Colorless Attackers. The Attackers they used were Blissey MT, Garchomp C LV.X and Flygon RR. Of course a few other Colorless attackers had their moments (Exploud HL and Regigigas LV.X, to name a few), they just weren’t as prevalent as the three just listed.

Lately, there has been a steady increase in the popularity of Colorless Attackers. We now have Tornadus EPO, Tornadus EX and Regigigas-EX. Will the popularity of Colorless Pokémon continue to increase? Here is the best the type has to offer!

Pokémon – 12

3 Tornadus-EX DEX
3 Chansey DEX 80
3 Blissey DEX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
1 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N
2 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Dark Patch
4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Ultra Ball
3 Heavy Ball

3 Potion
2 Eviolite
1 Super Rod

 

2 Pokémon Center
2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

8 D

4 Double Colorless

I think a lot of players see potential in Blissey but do not really know how to make use of that potential. I think this list maximizes the usefulness of Soft Boiled while also trying to decrease the problems associated with Blissey’s three Retreat Cost. I decided to put Tornadus EX/Blissey with Darkness support because Darkrai EX is a great attacker and he also alleviates the issue of Blissey’s large Retreat Cost.

The basic strategy is to begin the attack with Tornadus EX (unless against an Lightning deck) and clean up with Darkrai EX (unless against a Fighting deck). You use Blissey, Potion and Pokémon Center to keep your EX’s attacking for as long as possible. It is hard to pick off Chanseys and Blisseys because they have high amounts of health (100 and 130, respectively). So the opponent will generally not try and take them out unless they’re using a lot of Fighting Pokémon.

Notes on the List

pokemon-paradijs.com* I really do not have too much to say about the list — the deck is pretty simple. I am still in the process of getting the trainers right. The Potions have been useful but perhaps things like Enhanced Hammer or Switch would be more helpful. I’d also like to get another Eviolite in here.

* I am actually quite happy that there are two useful Stadiums available for this deck. Not only do these Stadiums provide a benefit to my field, they also increase the odds of doing 60 on the first turn with Tornadus EX. I am not sure if a 2/2 split is best- I might want 3 Skyarrow and 1 Pokémon Center. More testing is needed.

The problems associated with this deck are very reminiscent of the ones experienced by Serperior and Hammertime. If the Blisseys fail to prevent knock outs on my EX’s, then they are wasted space. This is analogous to the role of Serperior in the deck under the Grass section. Blissey can also fail to heal as a result of the flipping too many tails. This is analogous to the role of Crushing Hammer in Hammertime. If I don’t get a fair amount of Heads, then both Blissey and Crushing Hammer are wasted space.

I am still not certain if these problems are significant or not. Most players (myself included) hesitate to play decks that rely too heavily on coin flips. I am not sure if this deck relies too heavily upon Soft Boiled or not. I will hopefully find that out with some more play testing!

If the problems with Soft Boiled are not that significant, then this deck could prove to be quite good. I can definitely see it taking some Battle Roads and even placing highly at Regionals! I encourage you to test it out.

Dragon

BulbapediaAh, the newest type to the scene! Obviously I can say nothing about the history of Dragon Pokémon in the TCG because there is no history- they aren’t even released yet! However, I can give some idea of what Dragon Pokémon will be like when they are released in August.

I am very happy to see a new type — I think it is very refreshing for the game. I was a bit disappointed that they did not actually release a Dragon type Energy card. Perhaps that is to come? I hope so. For now, Dragon Pokémon require a mixture of other Energy types in order to attack. The Blend Energies that will be released in Dragons Exalted will help to provide the Energy necessary to attack in Dragon decks.

The strongest Dragon Pokémon in the new set are Garchomp, Hydreigon, Rayquaza EX and Altaria. I already talked about Hydreigon a bit and I think Rayquaza EX will only be used in Eelktrik decks. So, that leaves us with Garchomp/Altaria for the Dragon section!

Here is what I have so far. It is almost identical to Andy’s list. Like he said in his article about the deck, the list is very tight. As a result, most lists will be very similar to one another.

Pokémon – 21

4 Gible DRX 87
4 Gabite DRX 89
4 Garchomp DRX 90
4 Swablu DRX 104
3 Altaria DRX
2 Emolga DRX

Trainers – 27

4 N
3 Bianca/Cheren
3 Professor Juniper
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Level Ball

3 Rare Candy
3 Switch
3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Super Rod

Energy – 12

8 F
4 Blend WLFM

Notes on the List

Bulbapedia* My original list had 2 Max Potion. It seemed to combo well with Garchomp. However, testing showed that it was not very useful. I rarely ever wanted to use them and, when I did want them, I couldn’t draw into them. Those 2 spots are better suited for other things.

* I am not sure whether I like Bianca or Cheren more in here. I have been using Bianca but, like with some of the other decks, my hand size was often too large for her to be of any help. I am going to try Cheren for a while and see how I like him.

* 2 Super Rod is (most likely) necessary. The opponent will try to pick off the Altarias and it is imperative that you keep at least 1-2 in play for the deck to function properly. The 2 Super Rod will help you keep Altarias out of the discard pile and in your deck or hand. Also, I have had to Juniper away a lot of important Pokémon in some of the earlier turns of my games. Super Rod is very helpful when I am forced to do this.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this deck right now. I have been largely underwhelmed with its performance, however. The deck does have a pretty strong mid-game presence. Unfortunately, this is over shadowed by its poor opening and end game presence.

It is quite possible that my sample size is too low. In other words, I may not have played enough games with the deck to be able to form a meaningful opinion about it. This is certainly true with most of the decks that I have written about in this article. When writing about ten completely different decks, you cannot devote a large amount of time to any one of the them.

I will continue to test with the deck because a lot of strong players are saying it is really good. You should test with it too because it will definitely be played at Battle Roads. If it performs well at these events, then Garchomp/Altaria will likely have a relatively large presence at Regionals.

And that completes the type-Rainbow of the Pokémon TCG!

In Conclusion

etsy.comMy overall intention for this article was to take a very big step back and look at everything the new format has to offer. I hope that, in taking this big step, I have not failed to address the things that you guys consider most important. The point of this article was to briefly introduce myself and the reader to a significant amount of the strong decks available to us in the new format- not to delve too deeply into any one deck.

In writing this article, I was forced to test out things that I would probably not have tested otherwise. I certainly would not have tried the Emboar, Serperior or Tornadus EX decks. Even though Serperior may not be that strong (depending on how the format changes in the coming months), Emboar and Tornadus EX both have a lot of promise.

At this point, I do not think I have the knowledge or experience to rank the ten decks in order of viability. However, I will say that Zeels, Klinklang, Hammertime and Empoleon are the ones I was most pleased with. I am very eager to hear what everyone has to say about these ten decks and what their favorites are!

I really do hope that you were able to find a pot of gold at some point along the type-Rainbow of the Pokémon TCG! Give this article a +1 if the pot you found was particularly large!

~Colin

If you are particularly interested in Rainbows, then you will be happy to hear that, as of today, the Celadon City Gym (Pokémon TCG blog and distributor of the Rainbow Badge) has been online for exactly one month! I want to thank Adam and everyone else who has stopped by for their support and advice. I am so very happy with how things have been going and I am just so appreciative. Thank you so much!


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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