Hello again, SixPrizes! Cities is right around the corner with a few League Challenges here and there, and I could not be more excited. I believe that this truly is the best part of the season where rogue decks can really thrive and be tested more.
Anyway, I’m here today talking about an old deck that had a lot of success around last year’s City Championships but then kind of fell off of the map with the rotation of Energy Switch. Of course, I am talking about Ho-Oh and Friends.
Energy Switch has had a rebirth in Legendary Treasures, and with that, our fine, feathered friend has another chance to shine. I’m going to talk about some reasons that Ho-Oh can once again be viable, present a successful list from last format, and introduce some replacement cards that can be used to update the list for this format.
Why Ho-Oh Can Be Great Again
1. Energy Switch is back!
I shouldn’t have to explain why this is so key in Ho-Oh’s Rebirth; Energy Switch is the engine behind the deck with Ho-Oh bringing back three different Energy types from the discard pile and allowing them to be switched to any attacker that you need in any specific situation. It is a fantastic card, and Ho-Oh really appreciates it.
2. Virizion-EX is becoming more popular with it not being in just one archetype, but two.
We all know that Virizion-EX is a fantastic card: it stops Hypnotoxic Laser along with any Status Conditions at all, accelerates Energy incredibly well, and also hits for a decent amount of damage. It’s no wonder that this card is seeing a lot of play because… well, it’s just good!
From when it was first released, Virizion’s obvious partner was Genesect, but now Virizion/Mewtwo is seeing a lot of play in addition to winning a Regional Championship! But of course, every star card has its weaknesses. Specifically, its actual Weakness stated on the card: Fire-types. Ho-Oh can 1HKO Virizions or Genesects all day long with four different types of Energy on it.
Normally, this would be a pain to get attacking, but Ho-Oh’s Rebirth Ability allows it to come back from the discard pile with three different kinds of Energy already on it. This means that after a fully productive Rebirth, it is only one Energy attachment away from sweeping more Grass types.
3. Catcher has been reduced to a coin flip.
I am sure that you all know of the new rules by now, and seeing as it has been talked about to death on here, I won’t say anything about it other than that it was a major problem for Ho-Oh in the past. Once all of its Energy was switched off of it, it was a sitting duck on the bench, waiting for a Keldeo to come along and Catcher-KO it for two free Prize cards. Now, Ho-Oh is safe on the bench at least 50% more of the time.
I have personally taken out all the Catchers in my decks because I would rather dedicate more space to consistency that use a card that will only work half of the time. Ho-Oh will also be hurt from the loss of Pokémon Catcher, but there are other inclusions that I will talk about.
Ho-Oh can now be viable again and be a real big pain in the butt for any Virizion decks, especially those that run Genesect as well.
Let’s take a look at Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich’s Ho-Oh list that won four City Championships last year and see exactly what Ho-Oh has lost since the rotation.
Pokémon – 12
2 Ho-Oh EX
1 Tornadus EX
Trainers – 35
Energy – 13
This deck died simply because of one card that was rotated out between seasons. PlusPower and Super Scoop Up also rotated, but weren’t as crucial to the strategy. Fortunately, now that the engine of this deck has been reprinted, we can work with Ho-Oh again. Of course, this decklist still has to be modified to do well in our current format.
Now, bear in mind that this decklist was from the BLW–BCR era. It is missing any cards from Plasma Storm and onward, so I believe that there are some newer cards that can fit in the deck better than some of these older ones.
Since it has been nearly a year since the deck has seen much play, we have to update this list. Let’s first decide which Pokémon we are going to keep, remove, and add.
It’s the engine of the deck and an effective attacker against Grass-types named Virizion and Genesect. The deck is named after it, so I think not keeping it wouldn’t be too smart.
As Pooka said, this deck is pretty much a glorified Mewtwo deck. Mewtwo EX is a great attacker and has started to see more play in the recent weeks (get ready to see more Mewtwo wars…). It hurts some from not being able to attack the first turn, seeing its donking capability majorly reduced, but it is still the main attacker of the deck and for good reason.
Tornadus EX also takes a blow from the new rules. It cannot attack first turn when going first, which is what made it really good in the past. However, in my testing, I’ve found that it’s still nice to KO Squirtles and deal 100 with Power Blast.
This is one of my favorite cards in the deck. It has really good synergy with Energy Switch. If one of your Pokémon is Knocked Out, just plop down a Terrakion, attach, Energy Switch, and you’ll be swinging for 90 from out of nowhere. With the rise of Darkrai decks, this card is invaluable.
Unfortunately, this deck really does not 1HKO anything against Blastoise besides an Energy-heavy Keldeo. This is a problem against Black Kyurem-EX PLS because it can take Prizes turn after turn. Fortunately for us, Catcher is nerfed so the Blastoise player can’t as easily Catcher up three Pokémon-EX to win the game.
This is where Bouffalant comes in. It can hit a Black Kyurem for a substantial amount of damage while only giving up 1 Prize card. The opponent won’t have enough resources to keep using Black Ballista and will have to power up a Keldeo-EX.
Unfortunately, Hammerhead is not that good of an attack anymore with Mr. Mime increasing in popularity. Landorus is also a liability against Plasma and Blastoise, and though it helps against the Darkrai matchup, I feel that the Terrakion already helps enough. It also is hurt from the new first turn rules, so I just went ahead and took him out.
Cobalion is now dubbed the “Kyurem killer.” It is a non-EX attacker that can hit a Kyurem for Weakness on an already good attack in Energy Press for just two Energies. The rise of Plasma Haymaker decks also helped to see this deck off, but now with the first turn rules, the matchup should be at least slightly better.
Mewtwo is useful against Plasma, and so is Cobalion. With the help of Energy Switch, Cobalion can be plopped down and ready to go in one turn for a revenge KO on a pesky Kyurem.
Plasma is a difficult matchup for Ho-Oh and as such should be teched against to swing the game in its favor as much as possible. Cobalion-EX is another one of Kyurem’s worst nightmares. It can hit Kyurem for Weakness, dealing 60 damage and discarding a Special Energy. It helps to stall the Plasma player long enough for you to set up a good board position and get some Ho-Ohs in the discard. It’s a great one-Energy attacker against Kyurem that should be considered for a spot.
This card became ultimately better with the errata on Catcher. Now, the opponent can’t play around it so easily; they must have an answer to Sigilyph’s Safeguard Ability or else they are going to have a bad time. They need to use non-EX attackers to try and Safeguard themselves from the power of Sigilyph.
It is powered up with just a P Energy and a DCE, making it a really good Mewtwo counter against any Mewtwos that could give you trouble when you’re up against Virizion/Mewtwo or Big Basics. I feel that one of these cards is simply not enough and that two copies of this card should definitely be included in this format.
This is the card that seems very out of place, but actually does quite well in this deck. Genesect benefits a lot from Energy Switch and has nice synergy with Ho-Oh. It is surprisingly easy to get ready to attack and can punish any Keldeo-EXs that give us too much trouble. It can 1HKO Keldeo and Blastoise to help in Ho-Oh’s hardest matchup.
And since we are including Genesect anyway, we might as well take full advantage of its Ability, Red Signal. Instead of Pokémon Catchers, I added in some Plasma Energy without affecting the basic Energy count that is necessary in a Ho-Oh deck.
Sure, the Ability may use up your Energy attachment for the turn, but it acts a guaranteed Catcher effect which is too good to not utilize.
The Right ‘Mon for the Job
What I really like about Ho-Oh is its versatility. Let’s take a look at the different attackers we have now to deal with the different Pokémon in each matchup.
- Ho-Oh EX against Virizion-EX/Genesect EX
- Sigilyph DRX/Mewtwo EX against Mewtwo EX/Deoxys-EX
- Terrakion BCR against Darkrai EX
- Cobalion LTR/Cobalion-EX against Kyurem PLF
- Bouffalant DRX against Black Kyurem-EX PLS
- Genesect EX/Mewtwo EX against Keldeo-EX
Here’s the decklist that I have been testing so far:
Pokémon – 14
2 Ho-Oh EX
1 Genesect EX
Trainers – 31
Energy – 15
4 Double Colorlress
This list is similar to Pooka’s, but with a couple adjustments.
We have new Supporter cards to utilize since this deck was popular, so I took out two Cheren for two copies of Colress. This is a great card in this deck because with Ho-Oh’s Ability and the plethora of attackers, the Bench gets filled very easily allowing you to draw massive amounts of cards. I only included two in my list because it is very bad to have early game.
Ho-Oh decks tend to have a little bit of trouble with consistency, so Computer Search is still the overall best ACE SPEC to use in this list. I have tried out others like Dowsing Machine, Scramble Switch, and even Scoop Up Cyclone, but with the amount of DCE in the deck and the addition of Plasma Energy, Computer Search is the most useful.
Switch is a superior card to Float Stone in my opinion due to it being guaranteed, but I wanted to have a Pokémon with permanent free retreat (until Tool Scrapper comes along), so I included one count of Float Stone. Float Stone was not introduced until recently, and I think that this deck functions better on a mix of the two.
With all of the different attackers in this deck, it really helps to be able to search out which Energies you need to attack at the right time. I run 15 Energy, but I really don’t see the Plasma Energy as actual Energy cards, so much as replacement Catchers. This count can definitely be lowered to include something else like Tropical Beach if you have it.
Unfortunately, Garbodor is a thing and only gets even better with the rule change. It can shut off your Energy acceleration which is a big “No-Oh.” Anyway, two Tool Scrapper is pretty much a staple now, and that doesn’t change with this list.
I feel like this is such an underrated card right now, most likely because of Tool Scrapper. It still is a really great card to include if your deck runs a lot of Basic attackers. It is very helpful in Mewtwo wars and in general to prevent 2HKOs on your Pokémon-EX.
With the rule changes, Beaching becomes THE best thing to do on the first turn. Of course, as we all know though, it is incredibly expensive due to being a World Championship Promo card. Beach actually just got banned in Japan for their Battle Carnival tournament, so we’ll see how that is going to affect everyone else around the world. I am betting that there are going to be quite a few eBay listings popping up for a certain Tropical card.
I would love to include this in my decklist, and could see cutting an Energy or an Energy Search for it, but without Skyla, it isn’t very often that you’ll actually be able to use it first turn. I considered it though because there really is nothing else better that you could do on the first turn of the game than drawing a couple extra cards.
Since not everyone can afford it, I decided to not include it but leave it as an option that people should definitely take if they have the capability to do so.
This is going to wrap up my article for today – I hope you enjoyed it! I am excited to see Ho-Oh become viable again, just because I love its versatility and answers to each matchup. It isn’t really rogue, but does have anti-meta techs in mind.
Good luck to all of you at any upcoming League Challenges or City Championships! I know I am engaging in as much preparation as possible to try and get in the Top 100 ranking of Championship Points.
Thanks for reading!