After two articles titled “The Lurkers of Tier 2” and “The Top of Tier 1,” SixPrizes clearly needed a
Tier 3 Tier 4 deck article. But what to write it on? Well, originally I was actually going to write this article for my blog “TCG with Hats.” But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like writing a full, comprehensive article. So… what Tier 4 deck could be so deserving, as to have an honorary “I am clearly Tier 4, and that isn’t going to change” article written about it?
And… well… there was only one deck that really stood out in my mind. What deck archetype has been consistently Tier 4 (or worse) in the past… forever?
You know it, we all love it, let’s hear it for Emboar! (Sorry, MagneBoar.)
Emboar has been stuck in the lowest tiers for ages. There’s nothing really wrong with the idea of an Emboar deck. I mean, Emboar’s Inferno Fandango Ability is the exact same as Blastoise’s Deluge.
The only difference is the partners they have, and to some extent their typing. Emboar may be inherently weak to Water decks, which seems like a disadvantageous type to have. But Emboar’s Fire Energy acceleration gives it quite a big toolbox to use.
Emboar doesn’t have a perfect partner like Keldeo-EX, but let’s see what Emboar does have to work with…
Deck #1 – Pure Emboar
What I mean by “Pure” Emboar is an Emboar variant running only Fire as its basic Energy. Emboar accelerates Fire Energy, so running as many Fires as possible and not diluting your Energy line should give you the best consistency. Not necessarily the best deck, but certainly the one that sets up the most consistently.
Well… what’s the basic Fire-type toolbox we have to work with?
Reshiram. It hits for 120 and discards 2 Energies. With PlasmaKlang around, Reshiram would work to 1HKO everything in their deck. It’s true! And Reshiram certainly is effective against Mewtwo EX, since it discards its Energy as it attacks.
But… well… Reshiram isn’t really necessary for any of that. Emboar 1HKO’s Klinklangs with ease, and Zekrom has long since been abandoned in Eels due to 120 being somewhat ineffective. Zekrom has found some use again, but only as a non-EX attacker to deal with decks like PlasmaKlang!
And well… Mewtwo is somewhat on its way out. Still a very good card! But Mewtwo has always been his own worst enemy. So Reshiram really has nothing to contribute…
Victini is most certainly the most Energy-efficient attacker any Emboar deck has access to. Two Energy, 100 damage. Simple. You just need to fill your bench. That’s where things get tricky. I mean, anything in Emboar has a big retreat cost, and anything you bench quickly becomes Catcher bait.
And that’s fine as long as you have ways to deal with it! Blastoise has Keldeo, Eelektrik has Energy acceleration (and Keldeo… and SAB), Darkrai has Dark Cloak.
Emboar? Nada. Just Switch. And if you have to fill your whole bench, that means it’s even more likely that that something on your bench won’t want to be the Active Pokémon. Most of the time that’s Emboar anyway… so it’s more an inherent weakness of the deck than a real problem with Victini.
Victini, might be worth it.
Vanilla damage, low HP, high-cost attacks, 2 Retreat. Not to be overly dismissive, but Moltres NXD is a pretty inferior option to anything else on this list.
Probably the best partner Emboar could ask for. Entei offers alternate Energy acceleration and recovery all in one attack! Entei is a big, 180 HP EX with a respectable 90 damage attack. That’s a 2HKO against anything.
Entei is literally good enough by itself (with Mewtwo) that it was its own competent deck back in HS-DEX, which saw a fair bit of success (to everyone’s surprise). The only element that was particularly important is healing. Entei’s Energy recovery and acceleration pair quite nicely with cards like Max Potion and Super Scoop Up. If Entei were to use Emboar for acceleration, you would be hard pressed to find any room for healing cards.
Nonetheless, a great card to have. You could say one of Emboar’s greatest advantages over Blastoise is that, with Entei-EX included, the deck isn’t dead in the water (pardon the pun) without its Stage 2 accelerator.
That 150 damage attack is the most important reason to considering Reshiram-EX. For 4 Energy, Reshiram-EX can 1HKO an opposing Blastoise, or say… Hydreigon. Unfortunately, that 150 damage falls short of 1HKO’ing anything else that’s important.
So… obviously if you could figure out a way to bump Reshiram up to the 180 damage it needs for unconditional 1HKO’s, you’d be good! And what’s that!? LaserBank deals an additional 30 damage!?
No. You’re not allowed. It’ll take up too much room. (Feel free to try, but Emboar really doesn’t have room for 4 Lasers and a couple extra Stadiums.)
No, the best way to try and deal that extra damage is probably with Registeel-EX. Triple Laser can clean up Reshiram-EX’s mess, even if Reshiram-EX was KO’d already. If Reshiram-EX could deal a full 180 by itself, I’d be more interested in it as an attacker. But as it is, I’d probably look to other attackers for support.
A new Fire-type EX for Emboar to play with! Moltres isn’t particularly good… but if you were looking for positives in Moltres-EX, there are a couple.
Moltres-EX only has 1 retreat cost. This can clash with the heavy retreats that other Emboar-deck cards have, but at least Moltres is easy to retreat. Moltres-EX can also discard Energies attached to the Defending Pokémon, and deal respectable damage if you’re already running Plasma Energy.
Still… it probably won’t make the cut.
Turbo Energize might be an interesting addition to the deck. I certainly wouldn’t disregard Victini-EX immediately. But as long as we’re using Emboar, Victini-EX is just a low HP EX with an underwhelming main attack.
I don’t think Victini-EX is worth just having access to Energy Turbo. And Computer Search is really the ideal ACE SPEC for the deck. If you wanted to use Victory Piece, you don’t really need to be using Emboar.
There are plenty of better ways to focus a deck around Victini-EX.
The “Any-Build” Attackers
Lugia needs Energy acceleration, Emboar offers Energy acceleration! And unlike Blastoise, Emboar works as a natural PlasmaKlang counter, meaning there’s a reason to use Lugia with Emboar over Blastoise!
I don’t really need to explain Lugia; just know it could very well get the nod. Two Prizes per KO works pretty darned well against some decks. Lugia also makes a decent target for Grand Flame’s Acceleration. Entei-EX hits for 90, Lugia gets Energy, Lugia finishes things off for an extra Prize.
Bada bing, bada boom.
Normally I’d make a sarcastic comment about how bad Mewtwo EX is and that I don’t understand why anyone would play it. But right now, I’m genuinely not sure if Mewtwo EX is an effective use of space in many decks. Mewtwo’s best purpose has been countering itself, which required everyone to run their own Mewtwos.
But RayEels can use Rayquaza EX, Blastoise can use Black Kyurem EX, and Darkrai resists Mewtwo just as it always did. With LaserBank, Mewtwo also falls into easier KO range against Darkrai.
Though Mewtwo should definitely be considered, the Psychic cat is no longer a definite inclusion in decks.
Wanna be Blastoise? Well you can’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that almost everything in this deck has a massive Retreat cost. Keldeo EX’s retreat of only 2 makes it a searchable, endless way to Retreat an Emboar for only 2 Energy.
Keldeo EX also makes a good target for Grand Flame’s Energy acceleration. A particularly good target considering the Energy Grand Flame uses is recycled, not attached. That sort of acceleration and recovery can let Keldeo retreat somewhat endlessly like in Eelektrik. Not only that, but Eels’ Energy acceleration is restricted by the number of Eelektriks in play.
That’s not true for Emboar, meaning you can Fandango onto a Keldeo-EX, which can retreat into an Entei-EX, who can be charged up fully all in the same turn. And after discarding 2 of the 5 Energies attached that turn, you can get one back.
As a weak argument, Keldeo-EX can also hit Landorus-EX for Weakness, and serve as a clutch attacker in a pinch. Keldeo-EX’s 50 damage would set up Lugia EX for 2HKO’s just the same against 170 HP EX’s anyway.
Either way, for a Pure Emboar deck, not concerned about trying to cover its techs, I’d say the most promising archetype would be something along the lines of:
Pokémon – 14
2 Lugia EX
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
The biggest question revolving around any proposed Emboar deck is… “Why is this any different from before?” Well… I suppose in order to answer that question, I’ll need to ask another question.
“What does Emboar have to contend with currently?”
Darkrai, Blastoise, RayEels, Big Basics, PlasmaKlang, Garbodor, and then decks like Ho-Oh and Hydreigon.
So… what can this deck attempt to do to beat all of the above? Well… against Darkrai EX your Emboar isn’t KO’d by magic numbers, you trade 2HKO’s, and you have Lugia to do it with. The plan is really to just use Lugia to win the Prize trade, since you trade somewhat evenly by using Entei-EX. With Lugia in tow, your opponent can’t even use Sableye to trade a “true” 7th Prize.
What about Blastoise? Once again, Lugia EX is the hero. That said, you’re still kinda screwed. The only hope is you outspeed them and can prevent their setup.
As I mentioned, Reshiram-EX is not a bad way to easily 1HKO a Blastoise. Mewtwo EX can help to respond to Keldeo-EX’s as well (though it somewhat requires you to be facing a set-up Keldeo first). And a fully charged Keldeo-EX will still run through Emboar in a jiffy.
You can win the Blastoise matchup, but the way is to not play this build of Emboar. There are other variants out there! If you settle for a pure build, be prepared to lose the Blastoise matchup.
Against RayEels, you can once again use Lugia EX to cheat in the Prize trade. Unfortunately… once again… this variant lacks 1HKO power. And that is the primary reason it can’t beat Blastoise. For the same reason, it can’t really beat RayEels. You could use any of the non-EX attackers to set up Lugia for KO’s on Rayquaza EX. But there is another variant for Emboar to beat RayEels, but this isn’t really the way to do it.
I think at this point… hopefully it’s obvious that this isn’t the Emboar variant to play. If you can’t 1HKO, you can’t really hope to win against decks that can. Darkrai gets to cheat with snipe damage, and Landorus does the same except it’s even faster. Pure Emboar… has neither of those things.
Deck #2 – WetBoar
If you opt to tech Water Energies into your deck, Emboar picks up a few new tools. Can these tools cover for any of Emboar’s flaws?
White Kyurem BCR
Little White Kyurem is a bit of an underwhelming non-EX attacker. 4 Energy to do 80 damage with a coin flip for an additional 40. That means if you miss the coin flip, White Kyurem BCR fails to 1HKO even the Dragon-weak EX’s.
Without the power to even do that… there’s not much reason to use White Kyurem BCR.
Dragon Claw for 90 Damage for 4 Energies. That’s the important part of Druddigon PLS. Druddigon can 1HKO opposing Black Kyurem EX and Rayquaza EX. Being a non-EX attacker, if you can trade Druddigon PLS’ for Dragon-weak EX’s, once again you can get ahead in the prize trade.
As an attacker against anything that’s not a Dragon, Druddigon PLS does almost nothing. Still, if it can let you have a chance at beating RayEels, it’d be worth it right!
White Kyurem EX is like a better Reshiram-EX. Unconditional 150 Damage, except it can actually KO Rayquaza EX and Black Kyurem EX. This means you gain a tool for the Blastoise matchup, being able to 1HKO an opposing Blastoise!
That still isn’t a very good plan though… Keldeo can 1HKO you nonetheless, and you’re still left without a 1HKO against Keldeo. Though White Kyurem EX’s Ice Burn does Burn alongside that 150 Damage, which can 1HKO a Keldeo-EX 50% of the time.
If you wanted to ditch Computer Search, Crystal Edge can let White Kyurem EX attack for 200 Damage unconditionally. Certainly something to consider. But consistency is king when building a Stage 2 deck in the current format.
Still, if you do tech in Water Energies, White Kyurem-EX BCR is probably making the cut.
There’s one other White Kyurem EX worth mentioning! But there’s not much to say about it. 60 vanilla damage, or 100+ 10 for each Damage Counter on White Kyurem EX PLS.
There is one decent use for this White Kyurem EX. It makes a very strong card against Darkrai EX. Simply put, Darkrai EX can’t 1HKO White Kyurem EX. Thus the two can trade 2HKO’s. Except… White Kyurem-EX PLS can instead, use the Damage it took and KO another Darkrai instead, leaving only the one that it damaged the prior turn alive. And that Darkrai can be KO’d by a follow-up attacker.
Thus White Kyurem-EX PLS can let you get one turn ahead in the Prize trade against Darkrai EX. And White Kyurem-EX PLS is still just as effective (actually moreso, since it doesn’t discard energy) at 1HKO’ing Rayquaza EX and Black Kyurem EX compared to White Kyurem-EX BCR.
So actually… White Kyurem-EX PLS deserves some serious consideration. It may not have the chance to 1HKO a Keldeo-EX thanks to Burn damage, but it helps against every other main attacker in the Tier 1 decks.
Keldeo also can’t afford to 2HKO it. Though it’s certainly not impossible, I know from playing even Energy-heavy lists of Blastoise/Keldeo, that getting 7 Energy on a Keldeo-EX is not the easiest thing to do spontaneously.
The other positive of teching Water Energies into the deck is that Keldeo-EX can become more effective against Landorus-EX decks. If you manage to attach two Water Energies to Keldeo-EX, you’ll be 1HKO’ing Landorus-EX no problem.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
So… “Why is this any different from before?”
Again, this list has been focused more on consistency. Unfortunately I’ve added Crystal Edge and lost Computer Search, but I’ve increased the Supporter Count to help compensate. That, and a Crystal Edge’d White Kyurem-EX BCR is as good as a Black Kyurem-EX PLS, if not better! Which essentially gives you your easy-out to Darkrai EX and Big Basic decks.
But those matchups were already decent. Has this deck managed to fix the Blastoise matchup or the RayEels matchup?
Well… against Blastoise, the majority of your attackers are no longer weak to Keldeo-EX. And all your White Kyurem EX’s force that 7th Energy to be attached to Keldeo if they want to 1HKO you with it. If not, they’ll be using Black Kyurem EX, which is right up your alley.
If they’ve resorted to Black Kyurem EX in an effort to keep up, White Kyurem-EX PLS + N can let you score 2 1HKO’s on opposing Black Kyurem EX’s. White Kyurem-EX BCR can also threaten Keldeo-EX using Burn Damage for a 50% chance at KO. As long as they can’t return KO you (due to N), then you at least have a shot at KO’ing.
If only there was a good way to add snipe damage to the deck… Registeel EX comes to mind again. Teching Registeel EX in place of White Kyurem EX PLS, or an Entei EX would give you a way to keep clear of damaging N’s too. Focusing on White Kyurem EX BCR instead could also make Registeel EX quite powerful.
The only problem is this means you aren’t really KO’ing anything immediately. If you leave your opponent time to Max Potion, you’re just asking to lose out on your 2HKO’s.
Overall, the deck sounds like it has found some answers. But unfortunately, relying on Crystal Edge and the flip for Burn to provide 1HKO’s isn’t the safest way to focus on 1HKO’s. How else might the deck solve these problems?
Deck #3 – ThunderBoar
So… teching Lightning Energy into an Emboar deck. What could you POSSIBLY be thinking Crawdaunt?
Little Ray is RayBoar’s way of beating RayEels and Black Kyurem EX. For LRC, Little Ray 1HKO’s those big bad Dragon EX’s, and gives you an advantage in the Prize EXchange. The 3 Energy attack cost Little Ray has is a bit easier to hit than Druddigon PLS’s Dragon Claw.
Little Ray also has that additional 10 HP, which puts it out of Dark Claw KO range. Though Hypnotoxic will still let Darkrai 1HKO little Ray.
So… what do you pair with Little Ray?
Big Ray of course! Yeah… we’re just talking about RayBoar here. But Rayquaza EX can 1HKO anything. Thus… it’s a really obvious inclusion in the deck. 1HKO’s are an answer to any problem. White Kyurem EX can’t really replace Rayquaza EX in this fashion. But only having to discard 2 Energies instead of 3 to hit for its big damage works better alongside hand-based acceleration.
So… RayBoar eh? I think the best way to approach building a modern RayBoar is to take the strengths of a Pure Emboar build, and improve upon them with the inclusion of Rayquazas.
Pokémon – 14
3 Rayquaza EX
Trainers – 32
Energy – 14
So… “Why is this any different from before?”
Well… it’s not really. Nothing much has changed from the RayBoar of before. The important inclusion that I don’t see people making is 2 Keldeo-EX to provide cheaper retreats. I think people feel like Keldeo-EX isn’t worth including, since you might as well be running Blastoise.
That’s not the right way to look at things though! Keldeo-EX is important to all decks in the current format thanks to Rush In. And for Emboar, even moreso due to his fat Retreat cost.
I guess the important thing to note about RayBoar is that it isn’t really a bad deck. Honestly, I’d say it’s bordering on Tier 2 quality. It’s just “inferior” to RayEels, since Eelektrik is more efficient as an Energy accelerator and functions well with discarded Energy.
The one thing I think is an important inclusion is that one Entei-EX, but I’m really not sure about it. Entei offers the deck some additional Energy recovery, which helps against Garbodor, and to maintain momentum mid-game. Two would be great. But without healing, Entei is underwhelming, and still weak to Keldeo.
Alternatively… another Rayquaza DRV might be stronger as a way to deal with RayEels. If you just trade non-EX attackers for EX attackers, you might be able to overcome the bulky nature of a Stage 2 deck. There’s no better way to win the Prize trade than to KO EX’s with non-EX’s after all! So 2 Rayquaza DRV may in fact be the play.
I’d say it has to do with your metagame more than anything (after all, aside from RayEels Rayquaza DRV does very little for the deck).
Aside from that, my main tip in trying out this deck (if you’re so bold) is to not bench 2 Keldeos (even if there are two in all my lists). You only need one, don’t think otherwise. The 2nd Keldeo is just there to prevent Prize problems. It also ensures that if they target and KO your Keldeo, you’re not left without the option to bench another. Though there are always exceptions to rules.
Though using RayBoar may seem like an inferior Black Kyurem EX/Blastoise build, there is an important reason as to why I’ve bothered to write this article at all.
Blastoise is being targeted. There’s Garbodor, PlasmaKlang and RayEels now that all do a good job countering the deck. RayBoar can use Entei-EX to offer some help against Garbodor, though you may still want to tech a Tool Scrapper. Emboar itself decimates PlasmaKlang. And RayBoar at least certainly doesn’t have a worse matchup against RayEels than Blastoise/Keldeo does.
Though Blastoise/Keldeo can just use a monster Keldeo to sweep through at an opportune time, which RayBoar can’t. Like I said though, teching the extra Little Ray could give it the push it needs.
The last positive Emboar has to offer is that wondrous 150 HP. Darkrai is acting all high-and-mighty with its Dark Claw + LaserBank combo to 1HKO 140 HP Pokémon. And then there’s Emboar, just sitting there, laughing at the nightmare! Alongside Rayquaza EX, Emboar can 1HKO Darkrai EX’s with ease. Especially now that Dark Claw is the “in” Tool (and with good reason, don’t get me wrong).
So I guess… in conclusion… Emboar… might… actually do something. Even if it’s somewhat anti-meta. If you predict the metagame correctly and tech appropriately, RayBoar seems to have all the answers it needs.
I suppose my last word of caution is my wording there: “Seems.” I haven’t done near enough testing with the deck to feel confident supporting it. But if PlasmaKlang turns out to be a real threat, RayBoar could be a great metagame answer.