A Synopsis on Supporter Counts

Hello 6P community! It’s been a while since I’ve written an article for this site. I’ve been rather busy, juggling graduate school and preparing for the Evolution Championship Series (for Super Smash Bros. Melee). I figure I’d write about something that I feel newer players have difficulty dealing with: Supporter counts for decks. For the more advanced players, much of what I am writing will seem trivial or naturally intuitive, so bear with me.

How many total Supporters should I play?

As I wrote in my previous article, here’s a table of probabilities for a turn 1 Supporter based on your total Supporters + Pokégear 3.0 (Random Receiver in today’s metagame).

Number of Supporters and Pokégear 3.0 Chances of Opening with a Supporter or Pokégear 3.0 in Hand
7 60.78%
8 66.06%
9 70.72%
10 74.82%
11 78.42%
12 81.56%
13 84.31%
14 86.70%
15 88.77%
16 90.55%
17 92.09%
18 93.41%

Generally speaking, a range of 11-15 Supporters is great depending on your deck. Decks that have heavy Tropical Beach counts or Pokémon draw engines will tend to play slightly less Supporters whereas other decks may run higher counts. Anything less than 11 and you’ll run into a dead-draw hand 1 out of 4 games. You’ll also risk fizzling out in the mid to late game situations by running too few Supporters.

Alternatively, playing more Supporters will give you more stability and consistency but can also lead to other issues as well. Drawing a new hand with a bunch of Supporters is problematic. This is because of the fact that you can only play 1 Supporter per turn. By playing too many, a larger percentage of your hands will be dead cards. However, having two Supporters in your hand is better than none.

What should my Supporters be?

For the BLW-on format, people frequently complained about the lack of great and consistent Supporters. Professor Oak’s New Theory and Pokémon Collector were both rotated, leaving a gaping hole, which made people frustrated in the past couple of years. However, I do think that now we have a decent pool of Supporters that can be used to make consistent decks.

1. Draw and Discard Supporters

A. Professor Juniper

“Discard your hand and draw 7 cards.”

professor-juniper-thunder-knuckle-bw8-55pokeca-japan.ocnk.bizThis is the only Supporter that I would view as a pure staple in that you should always be playing 4 in your deck. Deck engines are so fast in this metagame that you need to be able to cycle through your deck as quickly as possible to get the necessary cards to setup.

I know for some people there have been really terrible memories of opening a hand such as 3 Professor Juniper + 3 Pokémon Catcher that forces you discard valuable resources. However, keep in mind that this shouldn’t happen so frequently and the benefits of Professor Juniper outweigh those rare situations that may come up in a tournament.

Recommended Count: 4

2. Draw Supporters

A. Bianca

“Draw cards until you have 6 cards in your hand.”

For a while, deckbuilding consisted of whether you preferred Bianca or Cheren as your 9th-12th Supporter slots in your deck. The decision to add Bianca to your deck ultimately depends on your deck’s style. Decks that tend to be more aggressive with Ultra Ball, Computer Search, and other cycling cards (turbo decks, RayEels) will benefit from Bianca, netting a maximum of 6 cards. Decks that tend to conserve cards or build up hands (Empoleon) will be frustrated with using Bianca. Often times, Bianca is a dead card that will net 0-2 cards for your hand.

The one moment in which Bianca shines is when an opponent has N’d you into a small hand and you top-deck a Bianca.

Recommended Count: 0-2

B. Cheren

“Draw 3 cards.”

Cheren is the most vanilla of all Supporters. It’s a simple hand-grower. However, in today’s metagame, netting 3 cards does not cut it, when other Supporters will cycle through a deck much quicker.

As a substitute, if you think of using Cheren, 90% of the time Skyla is simply better, since getting a specific card is usually better than drawing 3 random cards. Having large hands is not a luxury in this format because your opponent will frequently counter with an N. However, Cheren does have its niche in Empoleon decks because of their great synergy.

Recommended Count: 0 (2-4 for Empoleon)

C. Ghetsis

“Your opponent reveals his or her hand and shuffles all Item cards found there into his or her deck. Then, draw a number of cards equal to the number of Item cards your opponent shuffled into his or her deck.”

Initially, Ghetsis received lots of hype when the translations were first released. People were citing that it was “broken” and was a “4-of” in every deck. After further testing, people realized that Ghetsis was not as good as originally thought. On average, Ghetsis would usually allow for you to draw 1-3 cards. Most people prefer to simply setting up with a Juniper, N, or Colress, as opposed to the minor draw and disruption that Ghetsis provides. However, I still think that Ghetsis may be a nice “61st” type of card in some decks.

The fact that Ghetsis allows for you to see your opponent’s entire hand is fascinating and highly undervalued. This can allow for you to plan the next couple of turns and arrange your board in a way to prevent KOs and make it difficult for your opponent.

In the late game, when your board is set and you have a sizeable hand, a well-timed Ghetsis can swing a game dramatically, preventing your opponent from getting a KO (shuffle back Catchers, Lasers, Switches, and other crucial cards). Alternatively, a well-timed Catcher on a or an Eel with a Ghetsis can stall for several turns.

Granted, this is not a card you attempt to spam every turn, but it’s a highly strategic card that can buy you time or prevent KOs in the mid to late game.

Recommended Count: 0-1

D. Team Plasma Grunt

“Discard a Team Plasma card from your hand. (If you can’t discard a Team Plasma card, you can’t play this card.) Draw 4 cards.”

An interesting card that I think may see some play with Team Plasma decks. There is some synergy here. You can discard a Plasma Energy, draw 4, and then use Thundurus EX’s attack to retrieve the Plasma Energy. I haven’t play tested enough with it, but I can see it being a 1-of in a Team Plasma deck.

Recommended Count: 0 (0-1 for Team Plasma decks)

3. Shuffle/Draw

A. N

“Each player shuffles his or her hand into his or her deck. Then, each player draws a card for each of his or her remaining Prize cards.”

Good old N. Once upon a time, I would have said that this was definitely a 4-of in every deck because of the lack of other draw Supporters. Now, N has competition with other Supporters such as Colress and Skyla. However, N remains a great Supporter throughout the entire game, usually drawing 6 in the beginning, disrupting your opponent in the middle of games, and winning games from behind at the end of games.

In certain decks, I do not see the need for 4, especially decks that take early leads such as Team Plasma decks. There are certain situations in which I have hated “N’ very much because of the fact that my opponent gets a free hand-refresh at the beginning of games.

I have seen some deviance in deck building and some people such as Ness played with zero in his deck at certain points of this season.

Recommended Count: 2-4

B. Colress

“Shuffle your hand into your deck. Then, draw a number of cards equal to the number of Benched Pokémon (both yours and your opponent’s).”

Initially, the reception for Colress was very poor. However, I believe times have changed. When Colress first came out, many decks didn’t really play with a large amount of Pokémon on the bench. Now, we have decks such as Team Plasma, Blastoise, Eels, and Garbador that tend to play with larger benches.

Colress is definitely a card I do not like to see in the beginning because it will usually net 1-3 cards, while having to shuffle your entire hand. In the late game, Colress becomes amazing and can frequently net anywhere from 5-10 cards depending on the deck you play. Having a large hand when you’re closing out a game is devastating against your opponent.

Recommended Count: 1-3

4. Other

A. Skyla

“Search your deck for a Trainer card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.”

This may come off as a “duh!”, but I believe Skyla is one of the best Supporters in the game, netting you the specific card that you may need to get the KO or win the game. In setup decks, Skyla is easily a 4-of stable. It can be used turn 1 to get a Tropical Beach for Blastoise and Klinklang decks. It can be used turn 2 to net the missing Rare Candy or Ultra Ball to get the early setup.

Decks that rely on heavy speed will probably not use Skyla as liberally, but it still has quite a niche in every deck allowing it to be the necessary Switch, Catcher, Laser, Stadium, or even Energy Search to make your deck properly function.

Recommended Count: 1-4 (More for setup decks, less for speed decks.)

B. Shadow Triad

“Put a Team Plasma card from your discard pile into your hand.”

Shadow Triad is a slightly overlooked card in my opinion. It sucks early game and it’s situational, but in longer games it can be the game saver, allowing for you to get anything from a Colress Machine to that Deoxys you may need to KO your opponent.

Recommended Count: 0-1

C. Random Receiver

“Reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal a Supporter card. Put it into your hand. Shuffle the other cards back into your deck.”

Although, it’s technically an Item, I feel like writing about Random Receiver. It hasn’t seen much love lately, but it has a niche in Darkrai decks because Sableye can Junk Hunt for it. One of the main uses for this card is when you want to increase the probability of a Juniper in a turbo type deck. Using Random Receiver instead of a card such as Colress or Bianca will net you a T1 Juniper much more frequently at the expense of having mid-late game consistency.

Recommended Count: 0-1 (4 for turbo decks)

Conclusion

In summary, here are some recommended Supporter Lines.

Big Basics/Team Plasma Decks

4 Professor Juniper
2-4 N
1-3 Colress
1-2 Skyla
1-2 Bianca

Setup Decks (Blastoise)

4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
2-4 N
1-3 Colress

There are other Supporters that are in the metagame (Hugh, Hooligans Jim & Cas, Cilan), which probably will not see too much play because of their lack of overall utility. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this article and let me know if you would like any statistical analysis to be done (ideas for another Pokémetrics!)

Reader Interactions

21 replies

    • thealphaturtle  → Sam

      The great thing about Bicycle is that it’s not a supporter which is what this article is about. It’s a draw item. In certain decks it is amazing. In others, not so much. But it’s not a supporter which is why it isn’t here

      • Joseph Lee  → thealphaturtle

        Which is the big mistake of the article; it is about “Supporters” when it should be about prominent draw/search cards. Consider that it already mentions Pokégear 3.0 and Random Receiver. When players count “Supporters”, they are mostly looking at their deck’s draw engine (because besides Skyla we don’t have a good search Supporter as in the past).

        When you have a “pseudo-Supporter”, a card you can play in place of (and usually in addition to) a Supporter, it becomes an important part of your deck. I realize this goes one step beyond the most basic… but we are already a half-step beyond that by including Random Receiver.

  1. Jack Stensrud

    And, what are your thoughts on Hugh? I don’t actually think that it’s really good, but it’s somewhat decent in a joke battle.

  2. Rogue Archetype

    Why is this called “a synopsis” ? Is there a much longer, more intricate, and unabridged version of a separate piece entitled: “Supporter Counts” ??
    Also, the article is a bit inconclusive. It fails to commit to a suggested engine with definitive counts. This should’ve been the BASIS of writing the piece in the first place; to offer a suggested composition of a core supporter core.

    That being said, I am aware that this person just wanted to be helpful and there is some good stuff in there. :)

    • Mark Hanson  → Rogue

      Synopsis starts with S. It’s shnazzy and alliterative.

      And there is no defined supporter count for every deck. The choice of Supporters (outside of 4 Juniper really) varies depending on the deck. Like… I only run 3 N in Blastoise, and many players run 2. But in most other decks I run 4 N. And that’s the next most staple supporter. There is no precise answer to a vague question.

    • poet larsen  → Rogue

      The problem is there really is no definitive count of supporters. It really comes to what your playstyle is. Some people will play 4 Juniper, 4 N, 2 Bianca, 1 Skyla/Colress/Cheren, and 2 RR, while others will play 4 Juniper, 4 N, and 4 RR. The author was not trying to say “This is the way to play your supporters,” they are simply giving possible suggestions and advice to a way you can run your supporters.

      • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → poet

        It’s nothing to do with ‘playstyle’.

        There isn’t a ‘style’ of play that makes 4 Receiver a better play than more draw Supporters, it depends on the deck.

        • poet larsen  → Jak

          I do think that style does have some affect on what people will play. Look at decklists on Sixprizes: some articles have a 4 N, 4 Juniper, 2 Bianca, 2 RR, etc. while other lists have the 4 RR that I talked about. I don’t think playstyle is everything, but it accounts for at least some, if not half, of the decisions people make on their decklist.

        • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → poet

          Yes, different decks use different combinations of Supporters and RR, but that is (or should be) because of how the deck functions.

          I don’t see (and no-one has been able to explain to me) how someone’s ‘style’ (whatever that is) should affect the decision to include 4 RR over more Supporters.

          Basically, I’m saying that the word ‘playstyle’ is meaningless in this context and is a lazy way of justifying choices while avoiding an explanation of why a certain card is better in a deck than an alternative.

        • poet larsen  → Jak

          What I mean by style is just the idea that, say, some people would prefer Cheren over Bianca. It might not be the best thing, but they chose it based off of what they themselves think, regardless of what they have seen.

  3. Dylan Lefavour

    Bicycle doesn’t deserve any love. I feel like you are too general here. Darkrai is a basic deck, but it has far different supporter counts than Plasma for example.

  4. Max Douglas

    Does your chart account for drawing a card at the start of your turn or is it only accounting for the 7 cards you draw at the start of the game?

    • untitled96  → Max

      I’m pretty sure it does account for the 8th card because (although I just taught myself how to do the math after seeing this question and am not positive I did it correctly) I get a 88.24992053482625324269176740799983594286710346878297% chance of drawing at least one Supporter in the first 7 cards, which is significantly lower than his 88.77%.

  5. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    People always get angst about how many Supporters to run and would really love someone to tell them the magic number that guarantees their deck will be consistent.

    Not happening though. The answer to ‘how many Supporters should I run?’ is ‘somewhere between 8 and 20. Now go away and playtest’.

  6. Joseph Lee

    While I liked the article overall, it feels… incomplete. There are two simple changes I would make:

    1) Include all Supporters, even the ones unlikely to get used. One might as well be thorough given how many that were covered were 0-1 spreads. While I don’t want to get too advanced, knowing what it might take to make Cilan worth a single does matter, especially when we’ve gotten cards that have comboed or would combo well with it in the past.

    2) I just would have included a category called “Pseudo-Supporters”. Why? Right now we’ve got two that see a good deal of play: Random Receiver and Bicycle. They are not true Supporters, but the former gets you one (and was covered in the article), while the latter can give you enough draw to fake it. Xtransceiver would be another, even though odds are low that any deck could use it well (though with Bicycle and Bianca, maybe in an extremely “turbo” deck…). Computer Search can be “exchanged” to get a Supporter (and still use it that turn) as well, so if you are running it, it pretty much should count towards this; one might prefer to save it for something else, but it does the job.

    The term Pseudo-Supporter (besides featuring the power of alliteration!) would also apply to another historical stand-in for Supporter usage, key Pokémon Powers and Poké-Powers. A few Abilities come close, but not close enough. I am thinking of those sweet non-attacking effects that could (for example) draw enough to rival a Supporter. Uxie (DP: Legends Awakened 43/146) is the postermon for such things… and while it was great when you got it off alongside a Supporter, for odds like the chart above it still should count as one.

    • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

      I’d add Computer Search (and Dowsing) to Pseudo-Supporters, as I certainly at least think about both as a potential draw out if necessary.

      • Joseph Lee  → Mark

        I did mention Computer Search, but I left out Dowsing Machine because it might not help on your first turn. In retrospect this was a double standard; Computer Search (like Random Receiver) can’t get you a Supporter when your deck is out of them (as the article even addresses).

        Is it sad that I am just happy we agree on a point?

  7. richard andre

    I disagree 4 N is a staple in all decks
    yes sometimes it is silly to refresh your oppnents hand but if someone gets a early lead in this format the only hope lies in N’s or black kyurem if you’re playing blastoise,,
    a supporter line should in my opinion look more like this:
    4 Junipers
    4N ( 2-3 for blastoise and darkrai)
    3 bianca/cheren
    2 skyla (3-4 for stage2 decks and 3 for garbodor)
    1 colres (or 2 if you want to play one less cheren/bianca)
    and if you are playing darkrai you can play 3 bicycles ! just drop one or 2 Ns and one skyla or bianca/cheren

  8. Robert Abel

    Only time Id say go less on Juniper though (I run 2, and actually do extremely well with that) is in setup decks where you lack many ways of getting your parts back, and/or you dont benefit from cards in discard /dont play through your hand quickly such as klinklang where Juniper only serves as a late game boost for that last push, since in stage 2 decks you cant normally throw Klinklang/blastoise/candy Back without super rod or throwing a (dowsing machine more discards)or a sabeleye in which is then in those decks taking up more needed room.

  9. IN

    I’m assuming you were using a Hypergeometric calculation to figure this out, so basically your saying 6 supporter 1 random receiver and so on?

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