Rising from the Ashes

The Return of Ho-Oh
ho-oh drawingthesafarizone.tumblr.com
Back from the ashes.

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 herd u liek flipz.”

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.

The Original

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

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Terrakion NVI

2 Bouffalant DRX

1 Sigilyph DRX

1 Landorus-EX

1 Tornadus EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Bianca

2 Cheren


4 Energy Switch

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Ultra Ball

3 Switch

3 Eviolite

2 PlusPower

1 Super Scoop Up

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

Energy – 13

4 Double Colorless

4 F

2 P

1 G

1 L

1 M

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.


Ho-Oh EX

ho-oh ex dragons exalted drx 22pokemon-paradijs.com
It wouldn’t be a Ho-Oh deck without Ho-Oh!

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.

Mewtwo EX

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 DEX

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.

Terrakion NVI

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.

Bouffalant DRX

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 LTR

Cobalion LT91pokebeach.com
Or, the “Plasma Presser.”

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.

Sigilyph DRX

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.

Genesect EX

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.

The Update

Here’s the decklist that I have been testing so far:

Pokémon – 14

2 Ho-Oh EX

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Sigilyph DRX

2 Terrakion BCR

2 Bouffalant DRX

1 Tornadus-EX DEX

1 Cobalion LTR

1 Genesect EX

0 Cobalion-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Bianca

2 Colress

2 Random Receiver


4 Energy Switch

4 Ultra Ball

3 Switch

2 Energy Search

2 Tool Scrapper

2 Eviolite

1 Float Stone

1 Computer Search


0 Tropical Beach

Energy – 15

4 Double Colorlress

2 Plasma

3 F

2 G

2 P

1 M

1 L

This list is similar to Pooka’s, but with a couple adjustments.

Card Explanations

2 Colress

Works well with your 14 Basic Pokémon.

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.

1 Computer Search

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.

3 Switch, 1 Float Stone

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.

2 Energy Search

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.

2 Tool Scrapper

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.

2 Eviolite

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.

0 Tropical Beach

You really should be playing a few Skyla to consider a 1-of Beach.

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!

Reader Interactions

23 replies

  1. Mark Hanson

    Genesect is an interesting and sound addition to the deck, I can give you that. But what about other Grass types that might vie for that spot? Virizion EX protects the deck from Lasers and provides early Energy accel. And Tropius PLB has Energy Press which is easier to charge up against Blastoise/Keldeo. Have you tried either and settled on Genesect? Or was Genesect the first thing you tested, and liked? Just curious.

    • Andrew Zavala  → Mark

      Yeah, Genesect EX was the first thing I tested specifically because I wanted another attacker and a guaranteed Catcher all-in-one. I haven’t tested Virizion or Tropius. Virizion is awesome with Laser protection, I’ll give it that, but it cannot OHKO a Keldeo or Blastoise, and its energy acceleration would be mediocre with such few Grass energy. Tropius also cannot OHKO a 3-energy Keldeo, but what I think I would like Tropius for is when the opponent attaches a lot of energies to Blastoise get around Sigilyph. So, from my testing, I like Genesect EX, but any of these alternative Grass attackers have their pros and cons and could find a place in the deck.

  2. Red

    Question for the author, did you consider Victini EX to power up Ho-oh EX, and if so, why didn’t you include it?

    • Andrew Zavala  → Red

      I didn’t actually. I guess I kind of wrote it off after the rule change since its not nearly as effective if you can’t use Turbo Energize Turn 1. Also, Ho-oh is its own energy acceleration once its in the discard pile, so I don’t think it would really need Victini. Then again, I haven’t tested it, so feel free to try it out and let me know how it does :)

  3. James

    Nice article. Gives me an option for a deck that doesn’t run tropical beach. It also is not that expensive.

        • Matthew King  → James

          Beach would be pretty much useless as a one-of with the current list, you would want to be playing probably 4 Skyla in order to play a Tropical Beach (and honestly I would probably play 2 if I was going to use Beach) because its main use in this deck is going to be first turn as if you play it you want to get it out ASAP consistently to take advantage.

          I think Tropical Beach would be a fairly nice option for the deck to have but it probably isn’t worth getting a Beach for that kind of price (unless of course you are going to be using it for other decks as well) because the deck probably is only marginally worse without it, and you can probably take an advantage of an opponents Beach if need be as a large proportion of the meta-game requires the use of Tropical Beach (Blastoise, VirGen etc.)

  4. Obro

    So is 1 Cobalion and 1 metal energy going to beat a kyurem deck?
    I really like Ho-Oh variants, but this seems like a major flaw.

    • Andrew Zavala  → Obro

      Its just nice to have an alternative attacker other than Mewtwo to deal with Kyurem. I tried having 2 Cobalion/Cobalion EX in the list at first, but they really don’t help all that much in any other matchup. Like I said in the article, they are there to make your Plasma matchup less unfavorable. Overall, consistency is what will win you the match, not adding a bunch more Cobalions to deal with one matchup.

      • Obro  → Andrew

        ‘Overall, consistency is what will win you the [most games], not adding a bunch more Cobalions to deal with one matchup.’
        Which is why I’m surprised to see that you even bothered playing 1 Cobalion, 1 Genesect and 1 lightning energy.
        Sure, they might improve surdent matchups, but even with these inclusions, blastoise and kyurem variants are still bad matchups.
        Genesect might OHKO a Keldeo if you can set it up when needed, but Keldeo won’t be such a crucial threat unless it has 6+ energies, in which case Mewtwo should be able to get the job done.
        And the lightning energy might open up for the opportunity to deal 120 dmg with Ho-Oh, but the only time where it is really useful to attack with Ho-Oh is when you attack Virizion/Genesect, and then 4 different basics would be enough.
        I’d rather focus on streaming Bouffalant and Mewtwo, since they can help a lot in most matchups.

  5. apokemontrader

    escape rope could be another consideration or switch, especially because there’s no trainer based ‘catchering’

    • Joseph Lee  → apokemontrader

      I thought about that as well… except why does it need a Trainer based form of Active/Bench disruption? I mean, over the Red Signal option? If Red Signal actually works, it is only an issue when he absolutely can’t spare an Energy attachment (and if that becomes a major issue, Genesect EX shouldn’t be included at all)… and against effects that block Abilities, which is mostly (exclusively? I don’t recall anything else off the top of my head) Garbodor… which Tool Scrapper takes care of unless it is backed by Trainer lock (which usually will just require raw attack power to handle).

      • John  → James

        I feel as though this list tries to do too many things and ends up doing none of them. Now I am aware that ho-oh, more than any other deck is individualized for a players needs but the genesect concept is not all that strong. I think with ho-oh you just aim at countering whatever your opponent does and I would try enhanced hammers before I would use cobalion as they have more uses in a non- plasma matchup

  6. christophguitars

    I recommend Victini EX as well! Though it’s a bit of a liability at times, it works well with Ho-oh in that it can accelerate different energies onto it and packs a solid punch against other EX when it needs to (though its first attack is its primary use).

    • Gerardo Del Toro  → christophguitars

      The thing is, why is that necessary? It just gives the deck more problems.

      In order to add Victini-EX, you need to add more Fire Energy in order to even pull off Turbo Energize (and Victory Piece has no place in this deck), which is doable, I suppose, but unnecessary. Ho-Oh-EX + Energy Switch is already your form of energy acceleration.

      Why do you want to put Ho-Oh-EX in harms way? A major reason Ho-Oh can succeed is because of the errata change to Catcher. Putting it harms way just to hit for 100 after spending a turn with Turbo Energize just pull off that attack seems a bit much.

      • christophguitars  → Gerardo

        I suppose the way I run Ho-oh is different than this deck. This deck, in my opinion, is far too focused on utilizing the many types of energy as opposed to just attaching them/getting them in the discard. Though cards like Terrakion, Sigilyph and Genesect EX are good, they simply take focus away from the main thread of the deck. I prefer focus on cards like Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX and Bouffalant EX because they can attack early on and with any energy.
        Therein lies why Victini EX works for me. It may be weak, but by running four/five fire energy and at least one of each other type (along with four DCE). As a lead, it can have powered up two of the other attackers (or Ho-oh) with different energy for only one R. It has an obvious flaw in that a turn 2 Keldeo EX or Kyurem will tear it to shreds, however.

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