Before the Big Day: A Look at Blastoise and Tips to Being Successful at Nationals

Hey guys! Orrin here with some thoughts about Nationals I’d like to share. This article will give you an explanation as to why Blastoise has had incredible amounts of success as of late. I will share my personal list and matchup analysis in case any of you are looking for ways to improve your own Blastoise list. Toward the end I will give my thoughts on how to perform your best at Nationals.

Why is Blastoise so good?

blastoise wartortle squirtle
Blastoise loves tropical beach vacations!

There are many ways to answer this question, but in short this can be put into 3 words; powerful, consistent, and simple. All three of these are characteristics you want in a deck, except for maybe the simple trait. This deck usually claims victory by Black Kyurem EX steamrolling through your opponent’s Pokémon until they have nothing left.

What are the issues with running Blastoise?

Its main issue is that it’s a set up deck. Most of your games hinge on whether you hit the Rare Candy/Blastoise early enough to get rolling. Other issues are not drawing into Squirtles early enough, Blastoise being KO’d midgame, or if your opponent N’s you to 1.

How should I expect this deck to treat me if I run it at Nationals?

The deck works just as nicely in the top cut as it does in Swiss rounds. It has a nice variety of matchups ranging from good to bad. Fortunately, most of your good matchups, like Plasma and Darkrai, will be well represented. This deck is definitely one of my top choices for Nationals.

Building Blastoise

I cannot stress enough that consistency comes first when building Blastoise. When running a deck that hinges on whether or not it will set up, it is important to dedicate as much space in the list as possible that focus on getting up Blastoise. Especially for a tournament as large as Nationals, you should always pick consistency over tech.

Here is my list:

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS
2 Keldeo-EX
1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla

3 Colress
2 N


4 Rare Candy
3 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
1 Energy Retrieval
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Computer Search


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 W
3 L

The Pokémon

black kyurem ex plasma storm pls
My main attacker.

My Pokémon lines are probably as standard as you could get, but one option is to cut a Kyurem for a Keldeo. I do not like this, mainly because I do not think you need 3 Keldeo for any reason, nor would I feel safe with running only 2 of the main attacker in the deck. The only reason I could think of doing this is to improve your Gothitelle matchup, but I wouldn’t waste my time on that. Two Keldeo is already enough to compete with Gothitelle, and it won’t see much play anyway.

I guess I should also mention Mr. Mime. This card will heavily boost your Plasma and Darkrai matchups. Preventing that extra 30 builds up over time. And it also means that they can’t soften a Blastoise for an easy catcher Prize; they have to catcher up the Blastoise and deliver the full 140 in order to get the KO.

The Supporters

The 4-4 line of Juniper and Skyla is a must. The amount of N and Colress you play is up to you. I love Colress in this deck, but then again I am taking an early game risk. I would, however, recommend that you have a total of at least 15 drawing outs in the deck (not including your ACE SPEC).

The Items

The biggest standout here is the inclusion of Energy Retrieval. This little 1-of has gotten me out of numerous situations where I couldn’t use a Superior Energy Retrieval. Most times, you don’t even need to get out full 4 Energy from the discard to get the KO.

If there was room for a 61st card in here, it would have to be Max Potion. There will be a lot of scenarios where you would like to heal damage off a Pokémon. I recommend that you try to fit in a single copy in your deck.

Most Common Matchups

You will be facing these decks multiple times throughout your Nationals experience. These matchups are the most important.

Vs. Darkrai: 60-40
Your most common matchups are where Mime shines.

This matchup you get set up almost every time. And, since Darkrai needs a lot of cards in their hand to 1HKO a Blastoise, you usually Knock Out all of their Energy in play and take the win. The ways Darkrai usually wins is either they do get the combo in order to 1HKO your Blastoise or they N you to 1 and hope you draw dead.

Vs. Plasma: 55-45

This is a closer match up than Darkrai. Plasma stands a better chance because they can 1HKO your Blastoise much easier and their main attacker (Kyurem PLF) is a non-EX. The reason why this is slightly in the Blastoise player’s favor is because Plasma has weaker Energy acceleration than Darkrai as well as being terrible late game.

Normally all you have to do is KO 2 Kyurems in a row and get them in an Energy drought scenario where you are given some free turns to get more Prizes. If you can drag this game out long enough, you usually come out on top.

Vs. Mirror: 50-50

This matchup is all luck. Basically whoever gets the first Black Ballista off usually wins. But a few things you can do to give yourself in edge is bench multiple Squirtles, in case they decide to Ballista your Blastoise, you can always have a Squirtle on the bench ready to evolve.

Less Common Matchups

There is a good chance that you will run into these decks at least once.

Vs. PlasmaKlang: 30-70

klinklang plasma storm pls
You won’t be steeling too many games against Klinklang.

This isn’t too good. Your only hope is to pile 8 Energies onto a Blastoise and 1HKO a PlasmaKlang. Fortunately, this deck won’t be played as much due to its terrible Darkrai matchup.

Vs. RayEels 40-60

The advantage they have is that they can expend fewer resources to get off a 1HKO on Black Kyurem, resulting in a faster set up on their behalf. If you get off the first EX KO, you win.

Vs. Gothitelle 60-40

If you get out a Blastoise before the lock goes online, your odds of winning this matchup greatly improve. If not, then manually charging up a Keldeo is another option. Getting rid of their Gothitelle is the main priority.

Uncommon Matchups

Don’t worry about these match ups too much, because there is a little to no chance you will encounter them at nationals.

Vs. Snorlax: 80-20

Blastoise as a whole destroys the idea of the deck, you just drop your Keldeo and 1HKO their Snorlax while they can only hit you for 30 each turn with Laser. The only chance they have is if you draw completely dead for almost the entire game. But remember, the odds of you being paired up against this deck are very slim. Not a lot of people will want to play it because it has a lot of terrible matchups, including Blastoise.

Vs. Flareon PLF/Cofagrigus PLF 56: 45-55

I gotta say, they have the slight upper hand here. They have 1HKO potential on your EXs with a non-EX. The best way to approach this matchup is to attack with Keldeo and kill any Eevee or Flareon they have in play.

Final Words on Blastoise

In my opinion, Blastoise is probably the best deck you could play going into Nationals. This deck is in an environment where it is easy to 1HKO your opponent while it is hard for them to respond. This deck Knocks Out attackers so easily to the point that its opponents don’t have enough Energy on the board to respond. In general, this deck just works so smoothly together, and as a combo these cards are very powerful.

Tips for Nationals

ash ketchum
Sweet dreams.

An important thing that many players forget is to be relaxed. I know a lot of people that stay up all night Thursday night because they are too stressed about the tournament. Staying up all night leads to little sleep which greatly affects your performance.

The cure to all of this is to find something that can get you in a relaxed mood. Music, food, TV, and books are all options to getting you relaxed, unless you watch a scary movie.

Ideally I would set a curfew for somewhere around 10:00 PM Thursday. That way you’ll get plenty of rest. Then I would recommend waking up at 7:00 AM Friday to give you time to get ready. From there you should get a healthy breakfast and be at the convention center by anywhere between 8:00 and 8:30 AM.

I would always recommend a watch. They are very useful when the clock is about to end, giving you an advantage by being able to plan your turns in such a way that time is called on your opponent’s turn. In top cut, they can be used to help determine whether you want to scoop a game or not. Also, be sure that you don’t set your watch to stopwatch mode. You could get in trouble with the judges for that.

Editor’s Note: I am not sure about the legality of using timekeeping devices. Read the official ruling on electronic devices (section 9). It says no electronic devices, which I assume includes all types of watches that run on batteries (both analog and digital), but the Tournament Organizer may deem them allowable at their digression. Maybe an hourglass or sundial would be ok…

When you go into round one it is very important that you are feeling confident. Being nervous uses up the energy in your brain when that energy could have been spent on making the best decisions in your matches.

The most important thing is to have fun, remember that luck is a factor in this game, and don’t get mad at yourself for losing off of luck. That’s just the nature of the game.


I’ll be signing off here. I hope you guys and gals liked my article. I may or may not be writing again this year, depending on what free time I have been to work with. High school soccer is eating up most of my summer days as of late.

Good luck to everyone attending US Nationals!


Reader Interactions

17 replies

  1. theo Seeds

    As for the whole watch thing, I was wearing one at NorCal Regionals. It became somewhat of an issue before a top cut match, but the judges deemed it allowable because “either player may wear one, so it’s completely fair”. You should be fine should you decide to wear one.

  2. Caleb

    I’m not sure sundials will work inside the Indianapolis Convention Center…

  3. jet9855

    +1 for the cool blastiose pic at the beach where did you get it?

  4. poet larsen

    Ive had several judges say I can’t use ANY type of timing device because it would give me an unfair advantage knowing the time. Now if both players had it, then I think it would be okay

  5. poet larsen

    I think the problem with running a low count of Keldeo in your deck will make it so that lasers will hurt you a lot more. With few Keldeo in the deck a simple catcher-laser on the Keldeo can make it hard for you to get out of the damage without needing another keldeo or having to use energies to retreat. The Black Kyurem version is also really susceptible to a late game N. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been behind in prizes, I N them, and I come back due to them not being able to continuously use Black Kyurem

  6. Edgar Hideki Shinagawa

    I’ve been playing Blastoise since BCR, but started to study lists when it was release at Japan.

    I disagree with 3 copies of Blastoise. Many things can OHKO it in the current format and usually you have to setup 2 Blastoise on the course of the game. I’m ok with 3 just if I have Super Rod.

    The high count of Black Kyurem is an interesting aproach, but, as many people said, it’s very susceptible to a late game N AND you have to hit the SER turn after turn. 2 copies is enough, IMO.

    I like to use one Kyurem PLF and one Float Stone, just to have an option to a non-EX attacker. Not sure about this yet.

    For the support counts, I really HATE colress early game. I just use one copy, lowering chances of hit it on the beginning of the game. As the ACE SPEC, I preffer Dowsing over CS, just because chances of hit it on late game is higher than early.

    But I liked the idea of Mr. Mime. I’ll try to fit it in my list.

    • Orrin Wilson  → Edgar

      Here’s a few points about you comment I made. hope they help :)

      I can see why you 3 copies of blastiose can be a little scary. but why not just run a 4th blastiose? its easier to get out and helps with the early blastiose set up.
      I did mention that another route you could take is to cut a black kyurem for a keldeo. my reasoning behind this it with only 2 kyurem, you have a 20% chance of prizing one of them which is one in 5 games. so at nationals you will be playing at least 2 to 3 swiss rounds of only having one black kyurem to work with in early and mid game.
      being N’ed to 1 isn’t that big of a deal in this format because most blastiose play 3 to 4 beach nowadays.
      the kyurem idea sounds interesting but in my opinion float stone is a little redundant considering that you already play 2 keldeo.
      yeah, early game colress is a pain. its not a bad thing if you take it out, its just that in mid-late game you will be able to draw monstrous amounts of cards.

      • Edgar Hideki Shinagawa  → Orrin

        The float stone, in theory, acts as two water energy, since you don’t have to pay the retreat cost of Keldeo EX. But I agree its little redundant.

        About the Black Kyurem EX, I use only 2, because I really avoid to attack with it early game, unless necessary. I do preffer get 2 ~3 prizes with Secret Sword, saving energies for late game Black Balista. Playing that way, 2 copies is enough, because, even you prize one, you might get it from prizes, unless you very unluck. But it’s just my playstyle, other ppl just preffer to Black Balista 3 times in a row.

  7. Davide Conte

    You forgot Garbodor… You need Tool Scrapper+Dowsing machine or it will destroy you

    • Orrin Wilson  → Davide

      oops lol. for garbodor is either 50-50 or slightly unfavorable for you without the scrapper. their main attackers are generally cobalion and landorus which are both pretty bad cards for this formats standards, and in my opinion a manually charged up keldeo is just as threatening. with or without tool scrapper all you need to do is get up 1 manual keldeo and KO the garbodor they have in play(usually only 1 is in play by turn 3). from there you get out blastiose and do your thing.
      on another note, very few people will want to play this deck because it has an uphill battle against plasma variants, which they’re bound to run into multiple times, and tool scrapper isn’t that good against any other match up.

      • Steve  → Orrin

        Playing 1 to 2 Tool Scrapper used to be a necessity for this deck due to Garbodor, but Garbodor won’t see as much play due to the reduction of Landorus EX and Mewtwo EX. I’d much rather have a 3rd Pokémon Catcher and just KO the Garbodor using Keldeo EX.

  8. Hunter Berry

    Awesome article. I won’t be going to nationals, but it is still great to get more opinion on Blastiose. Keep up the good work!

  9. Brandon Jones

    What happens if your opponent gets a Gothitelle before you get a Blastoise? Sure you can just kill the Goth but that will take a long time without a Blastoise set up. I think it should have 1 Warturtle.

  10. Collin Ehret

    its interesting to think back how this deck didnt really show up at nats compared to how everyone thought it would do.

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