Hey there SixPrizes! Today I’m going to be releasing the first of a small series of articles to come in the next few weeks. With a rotation looming and a new set coming out to boot, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the format. At the same time, there are a lot of unexplored strategies just waiting to be discovered. Many of them are likely going to flop, but there may just be a few hidden gems mixed in here or there.
If nothing more, one thing I’ve learned from the internet is that many heads are better than one. So despite these lists not having had much testing, I’m going to be releasing these first baby steps in the hopes that someone out there might just be inspired to explore these concepts as well.
Yes, this article series is going to be about rogue decks for BLW–DRX! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Pokémon – 22
3 Claydol DRX
Trainers – 28
Energy – 10
Yes… there are a couple copies of Hooligans Jim & Cas in there. This deck was inspired by the Persian HS/Weavile UD disruption decks that Esa and Charranitar posted back in June. The idea behind this deck is to use Baltoy’s “Reverse Spin” attack to shuffle your opponent’s hand back to 4 to start the game. Now… 4 isn’t an amazing number, especially considering that’s 5 with their draw.
But think about it this way, if you go first, you’re likely going to be reducing their hand to start the game. And if they go first, you’re disrupting their plans for next turn. Even if they only had 3 cards in hand, it’s likely that they’ve left themselves with a Supporter or some sort of out, so your disrupting that will often be annoying.
However, no deck could live off of shuffling back for 4. Surprisingly though, Baltoy isn’t included just for the first turn. Claydol DRX has an attack that can hit for 60+30 on the second turn for a coin flip. With Claydol’s typing, that’s a 1HKO on any Fighting-weak Pokémon. I’ve even toyed with the idea of including a Victini NVI 14 to make Claydol a more effective attacker.
Yes, Claydol is my supporting Fighting-type attacker. He can even 1HKO Tynamos and run to the bench to preserve him for later use when it counts more. This is an important trait considering Junk Arm will have rotated, and his 90 HP is a little frail. He also 1HKOs Thundurus EPO and can KO Zekrom BLW after a Bolt Strike. Tool Scrapper makes sure of that.
So why Empoleon? Well, Claydol needed support, and for the reasons I outlined above, he’s qualified to support Empoleon. But what does Empoleon do to support Claydol? Well, Empoleon’s Diving Draw ability is what lets you get around wasting 2 slots in your deck on the god-awful Hooligans Jim & Cas. However, if you do manage to shut down your opponent with Baltoy, a Hooligans flip could be a devastating blow. And with Empoleon, you can still feel like a real deck that draws cards and stuff.
What’s more is that Empoleon can also attack for only one Energy. Considering attachments will be a bit tight, it’s very nice to have a partner that can support you on the spot. Empoleon is an attacker that can stand on it’s own merit against Darkrai EX, giving Claydol added support and helping to even out an otherwise difficult matchup (due to Claydol’s frailty and flippiness).
Potential Techs and Other Baltoy Ideas
Some cards you could think of including in the decklist are Max Potion (synergy with Empoleon), additional Pokémon Catchers for consistency, a 3rd Switch again for consistency, a 2nd Super Rod again for consistency or that Victini NVI 14 that I was talking about, for Claydol flips. I don’t feel like I need to explain these techs, so I’ll go on to some other potential Baltoy ideas I had.
So this deck idea… I feel requires far too much of a “perfect start” to possibly work. But here’s the basic idea. First turn you Spin Attack your opponent to 4 cards. Second turn you evolve to Gothitelle EPO and use Claydol’s “Rapid Spin” to send him back to your bench, and voila! Your opponent starts with a dead hand and is Item locked. The hard part is figuring out what to do from here.
Presumably you managed to attach a P Energy to Gothitelle on the second turn, so some ideas for the deck could be to use Gardevoir to accelerate your Energy, or to just go for a DCE attachment and hit for 50. You can find more consistency through using Switch and just Rapid Spinning with Claydol until you can set up a bit better.
A deck utilizing a Stage 1 and two Stage 2s is asking a bit much though… But if you can get it working, I can see this idea doing some great things.
Zebstrika offers an alternate form of Item lock, so the idea is very similar to our Gothitelle one. The difference is that you can use Eelektriks to power up your Zebstrika, making the deck much more consistent. The important thing here would be to not get distracted and just make a bad ZekEels. You really need to focus on the aspect of disruption.
This deck is likely going to focus on taking cheap prizes, and potentially even using Hooligans Jim & Cas to kill your opponent’s hand even further, while you keep them under Item lock. Bench-draw support might be appreciated. I could even recommend Empoleon instead of something like Musharna NXD! Not joking… it’s just superior draw support.
Any clunkiness Empoleon might bring in can be remedied by the fact that you can discard a L Energy to draw 2 cards. Lightning, Fighting and Water even share the same Blend. Amazing. To be honest, if you do find it clunky, I might suggest dropping Baltoy for just a Zebstrika/Empoleon Eelektrik build instead. Sounds legitimate.
Honchkrow offers something different from Gothitelle and Zebstrika. Thanks to Dark Patch, Honchkrow can also be set up on turn 2, and combined with Hooligans Jim & Cas, can severely cripple an opponent’s hand, especially if a first turn Baltoy works out.
You could also combo this strategy with Sableye DEX and Hammers to really destroy your opponent’s setup. I can see the combo of all three being very annoying. Add Darkrai for free retreat, and a competent support attacker and you have a potent strategy on your hands.
I genuinely think that some sort of Baltoy strategy could work, especially with the loss of Junk Arm. I don’t see it being tier 1, but I do see it being a very fun Battle Roads deck, or just League/local tourney deck. Any of the above strategies all actually seem pretty reasonable, but only time and testing can really tell. Let’s move on to deck idea #2.
Pokémon – 15
4 Hippopotas NXD
3 Hippowdon NXD
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
Yes, Hippowdon. To be honest, Hippowdon has a lot going for him that is easy to ignore. He’s a 130 HP Stage 1 with the ability to attack by T2. He has a -20 Resistance to Lightning, which means he’s 3HKO’d by Thundurus barring any PlusPowers. This also makes ZekEels’ life a lot harder since Zekrom can’t just Bolt Strike over him. Not only that, on the second turn, he can 1HKO any of ZekEels’ electric attackers outside of the EX’s.
And finally, his attack works in perfect synergy with Tornadus’ Hurricane, as they both preserve Energy on the field. Combine this preservation with Exp. Share and you’ll find that your Energy does a good job of staying put.
This deck functions similarly to a Troll-type deck, or a Mono Terrakion list. Now, the deck is not without it’s fair share of problems. For one, I find using Super Scoop Up deplorable when not in combination with some way to try and re-flip later (like Sableye DEX or Excadrill DEX if you want a fighting-techable option). Furthermore, even though both Hippowdon and Terrakion-EX have attacks not affected by resistance, a Tornadus EX will still rain on your parade pretty hardcore (even without Eviolite).
Rather than talk much about how to operate the deck, since this one is a bit more of a basic “hit things until they die” deck, I’ll just talk about how you can go about trying to fix some of the problems I mentioned.
Potential Techs and Other Hippo Ideas
Hey… there was a Thundurus/Terrakion deck in this past Battle Roads that WON 2 BATTLE ROADS. Yeah, I’m not joking. Thundurus might seem random, but he does a lot to cover that darned Tornadus weakness. What’s more is that this opens up Eelektrik to accelerate Energy for your hippos, which allows for a more consistent game plan overall.
The fact that Charge works with only C cost is what makes this fusion of Fighting and Lightning possible, since the Energy lines would be a little mucked up otherwise (can’t use too many Blends since Eels need to accelerate).
Obviously you can also tech the standard ZekEels attackers, but overall, this deck might just subsist based off of Thundurus/Hippowdon/Mewtwo. We could even completely replace Tornadus and would replace the Energy lines though, along with a lot of the search, but the option is valid.
No, I’m not just being uninventive. Empoleon loves a good support attacker, and Hippowdon evens out the ZekEels matchup even better than Terrakion thanks to the ability to deal serious damage without needing a KO the prior turn. As I said, it’s darned hard to 1HKO Hippowdon as well, and you could keep the Terrakion NVI’s teched in anyway to provide an easier answer to set up against Darkrai. Large Cloak might be a fun idea in this deck to prevent Hydreigon from 1HKOing any of your attackers.
That, and I do think that any deck that can utilize Empoleon in the new format is going to really enjoy the support that Diving Draw brings. There’s no better feeling than having your deck at your fingertips. Empoleon also clears your hand of setup cards while still allowing you to draw effectively.
And thanks to the fact that Fighting and Water share a Blend Energy, it’s not too hard to fit Empoleon into your Energy lines. Especially when his attack only costs 1 Energy!
Tornadus EX and Tornadus EPO breed a different kind of deck. With Tornadus EX, it’s hard to ignore the power that comes from a potential T1 60 damage. But because of this, you’re going to need a Stadium. You don’t want to make that Stadium useless, so you might as well include something to take advantage of the Stadium. Bring in Aerodactyl DEX.
Yes I’m talking about using Twist Mountain, so sue me! Aerodactyl offers some tantalizing possibilities for Tornadus EX/Hippowdon. For one, Tornadus could hit on T1 for 70 damage, donking Emolga and anything weak that stands in its way. Aerodactyl’s support damage also gives Hippowdon the ability to hit pretty darned hard for just two energy cards. Two Aerodactyls will push Hippowdon’s 70 damage up to the 90 benchmark, capable of 1HKOing Darkrais and Raikous.
What really shines about this is the fact that you can be attacking with Hippowdon while powering up a Tornadus EX on the bench, since you don’t need to push for the 4th total Energy to hit your 90 damage output.
A similar deck once again performed decently well at this past Battle Roads dubbed “Aerostar,” which was Aerodactyl/Tornadus(/Sawk BLW). This deck’s strategy can’t 1HKO Tynamos first turn like Sawk BW can, but the fact that Sawk was an optional inclusion should suggest that the first turn attack is really not the focus of the deck. Hippowdon is just a Stage 1 Tornadus with more bulk. Now… I say “just,” but that does sound pretty appealing doesn’t it?
Considering his typing and damage output, as well as his attack’s brilliant energy conservation, Hippowdon is a sleeping giant in the current cardpool. If you were to analyze Hippowdon in a COTD, it would be pretty difficult to come up with too many faults outside of just saying he’s a Stage 1. I mean… Hippopotas even has 90 HP (well out of the range of an easy donk) and a first attack that snipes 20 for 1 energy to start the game. That 20 snipe could easily set up T2 KOs on a wide variety of Pokémon.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed this article! We’ve got over a month before we actually experience the BLW–DRX format first hand, so we might as well at least be having fun with it beforehand. As I’ve mentioned, these lists aren’t tested heavily against the metagame. I’ve more just refined them to the point that they are at least functional decks, which have a respectable shot at the metagame.
True testing at this point is pretty difficult to come up with since it’s mostly limited to within friend-groups. I know PlayTcg.me just updated with DRX scans, but there’ll be a while yet before the metagame is fully defined.
So throw down and have fun with some of the ideas I’ve posted here. Or, better yet, hopefully I’ve even inspired you to test out your own rogue deck/strategy! As I said, this’ll be the first in what I hope will become a series of rogue articles. So if you do want to see more, be sure to give this a +1!