Howdy 6P, what’s cooking? I’m back with another article and this time I will take a look at the deck I’ve spent the most time with since my outing with Klinklang at Cities. I’ve always loved Emboar, and no matter how much of a stigma the name ‘Reshiboar’ has on the web (6P especially), it still was the first deck I ever took to a Premier Event.
I did promise that I would take another look at ‘Jailbreak’ after my last article, but alas, the deck just didn’t feel right anymore (at least not yet; I might revisit PlasmaKlang soon). So I jumped onto the Emboar/Delphox hype train and rode it to Malaysian States, and came out with an abysmal 2-2-2 record. Here’s a quick recap of my rounds:
R1 vs. Clifton (Darkrai/Yveltal/Spiritomb) L (2-0)
R2 vs. Izmir (Darkrai/Yveltal/etc) L (2-0)
R3 vs. Isaac (Plasma Lugia) W (2-0)
R4 vs. Bryan (Darkrai/Garbodor) T (1-1)
R5 vs. Chen Ze Xuan (Virizion/Genesect) T (1-1, won Game 1, irreversible game state issue in Game 2)
R6 vs. Moses (Darkrai/Garbodor) W (2-0)
While I had quite a lowly result, I still would want to share with everyone my testing outcomes. Here’s the list I used:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 33
4 Super Energy Retrieval
Energy – 11
In a field of tonnes of VirGen, I was unfortunate to be paired with four Darkrai decks, the hardest being those with Yveltal-EX. I have to admit that I misplayed greatly in my Round 2 and Round 5 matches, both of which I should have easily won considering the starts I had, but there is no excuse for bad misplays.
My card choices clearly left me with enough room to maneuver against most decks that were seeing play that day (there were not many Trevenant, thankfully), but I guess avoiding misplays comes with experience which I have yet to accumulate this season.
Anyhow, the objective of me writing today is to share my testing results for Emboar, especially with the uncertain card counts it should run now that there is a Delphox for it to fiddle with. I’ll go over card choices one by one, and try to be as comprehensive as possible with each possible inclusion, as the space for this deck is already as tight as it can be.
First up, a skeleton list to get started:
Pokémon – 9
3 Tepig (LTR/BCR)
Trainers – 14
X Draw Supporters
4 Super Energy Retrieval
Energy – 10
This leaves us with around 20-30 spaces to work with on our choices. I’ll first go over the possible Pokémon inclusions. Do note that this article is aimed at the general audience, but I specifically try my best to provide a detailed guide for those who are much newer to the game, and want to understand a little more about decks such as Emboar (which they might not have the chance of knowing/playing due to the availability of Tropical Beach).
Tepig LTR & BCR
I personally prefer a 2/1 split of the LTR and BCR Tepigs, as having one with just a single Retreat Cost can be good at times. The only concern is that 60 makes a round number for many KO possibilities. The 4th Tepig isn’t considerably necessary, although as with all Stage 2 decks, getting two Basics out at the same time is still as crucial even with Catcher being nerfed.
I ran a Pignite in my States list because I was uncertain with the number of Item lock decks that will see play. In the end I think I could have done away with it, but that is considering the fact that I now know what matchups I faced. If Trevenant is big in your area, I would suggest not to play this deck, but if you feel like taking up the challenge, the Stage 1s will be needed.
4-0-4 seemed to be the line of choice for Stage 2 decks like Blastoise, but with Catcher being nerfed and the ‘no-attacking-going-first’ rule gives you that option to run a 3-0-3 line and still maintain a level of consistency. That said, I still would love to run 4-0-4 but the space constraints tipped me to prefer dropping the fourth Emboar (with the fourth Tepig reasoning having been covered above).
Ah, good ol’ Reshiram. A solid early to mid-game attacker, it also puts Virizion/Genesect decks in check. Outrage makes it a superb wall to hide behind while you set up, and trades well with EX and non-EX attackers, and the Energy investment is minimal.
My only concern with this card is that the 1-of space it occupies can go to better use, since Delphox in theory covers most of its bases already, and has an attack that doesn’t cap at 120. Still, being able to drop one of these greatly improves your board’s sustainability as anything that does not 1HKO it risks giving it a cheap high damage Outrage the next turn. I would personally run two if not for the presence of Delphox, and that goes a long way.
As it is been said time and time again, one would run this with the same reasoning as one would run Black Kyurem BCR in Blastoise: for the Emboar/Blastoise/other Dragon-centric deck trade-off. Beyond that, 90 for 3 Energy on a non-EX Basic is still decent, and takes care of Sigilyph. Suicune, on the other hand, makes you work on that extra 10 damage, and in this respect Blastoise has it easier.
Additionally, I find Baby Ray the go-to attacker in times where I just need to trade hits with non-EX attackers without spending too much resources on getting KOs. Even if I run a Reshiram LTR, the difference between 90 and 120 does not go too far in two-hit trades (not considering Weakness hits). However, at times it becomes a liability on the Bench if you happen to drop it into play in the wrong matchup, and it is not an effective damage wall as Reshiram is.
This is your big attacker. Run 3, minimum. I had 2 for the most part of my early testing and it was abysmal trying to get one up with another on the wings waiting to come in. Even if you fail in setting up anything else but an Emboar, having this in play is enough to buy you time in taking Prizes.
With Yveltal-EX in format, a recommendation that I have is to be sure when to drop Energy into play, because at any time a big Evil Ball and Catcher could spell doom for your position. Taking out your opponent’s EX is the priority at all times, but refrain from investing too much Energy on Dragon Bursts for non-EX attackers. My Round 2 at States epitomized this case: I spent too many Energy for too little Prizes, and ended up in me not having enough to close out both games.
When facing Garbodor decks, each time you are able to Fandango goes a long way in taking Prizes, but knowing when to Dragon Burst is crucial in itself. Nevertheless, this is your main asset against most of the meta at the moment, especially now that a certain Fairy variant in the vein of the old Hydreigon decks (with Max Potion) is tipped to become popular, negating field damage.
Now I’ll address the additional Stage 2 line that this deck is all about, and I’ll put the Pokémon together for an easier read. I did not have access to the XY02 Promo Fennekin (or similarly the Kalos Starter Set one) during States, and honestly did not realise it had 60 HP (thanks to Adam for pointing this option out). If I had the 60 HP version, I would have definitely played it.
Delphox XY’s Ability, Mystical Fire, is a blast from the past in the form of Magnezone Prime’s Poké-Power, Magnetic Draw, drawing comparison with the Magneboar deck of a few years ago. The differences between these two decks are the speed of the format it is/was in and the attacks that Magnezone and Delphox.
Simply put, Magnezone Prime had the capability to kill off most of everything it faced, while Delphox has to break a sweat to do so, and thus requires a stream of Rayquaza to do the job. Nevertheless, having an attack that has no damage cap is still rather useful, even if its just 20 damage per additional Energy.
The Evolution lines we can experiment with are 1-0-1, 2-0-2 and 2-1-2 (similar reasoning to having a Pignite). I currently favor the thicker, no-Stage 1 line but I would not be surprised if someone finds room to somehow fit in 3 Delphox; it is that great of a card. It makes your opponent think twice of N’ing both of you to low hand sizes, while you have the backup hand support.
Let’s face it, the format does not really have that many non-Trainer draw in the first place. Prior to XY, Electrode PLF was being run to give Emboar and Blastoise a way out from nasty Ns. In my testing, the only time that this deck just folds is when it has no way to refresh the hand (due to there not being any Delphox out), or simply being outsped. Setting up a Delphox almost always guarantees a strong mid- to late-game for the deck, and having two sitting on the Bench is less of a risk if you need to have it move into the Active for a few turns.
The big question here is this: which do you set up first: an Emboar, or a Delphox?
Here’s the deal: attacking turn after turn does not require a Delphox, but you do need Emboar. However, while taking Prizes in those turns, be wary if you have yet to get a Delphox, or even a Fennekin, in play. One N is all that is needed to completely derail your game.
You can go ahead and forego Delphox if you’ve thinned your deck well enough and taken a considerable lead, and the deck can still function well if you draw through your resources. The Fox just gives you a backup plan in the event that you do get dragged down by hand disruption, or just need that extra draw power for a big turn. It’s also a better attacker than Emboar (no way… really?).
A conclusion? Prioritize Emboar, but try not to neglect Delphox for too long.
Techs and One-ofs Galore
This little fella is just an added consistency booster. Sure, you’ll at times start with it, and it will lose you some games when it’s the target that gives the win away. But there is no doubt that Stellar Guidance is a great Ability and instantly turns your Ultra Ball and Level Ball into Supporters.
I do not think there is much to say regarding Jirachi that hasn’t already been said, but if you feel that the risk is too high to have a 2-Prize Bench-sitter, cut it for another Supporter.
While quite a few lists I’ve seen run this to compensate for the high amounts of discard one would need with 4 SERs and 4 Ultra Ball, I never really found it necessary if I am able to conserve resources efficiently. Starting with it is donk-scary and I personally feel it is a 61st or 62nd card than anything else. It could be more of a playstyle preference to have a discard resource every time you need to Ultra Ball or Retrieval, but know that at times you will eventually discard your entire hand with Junipers or just to thin for a Mystical Fire.
You run a Reshiram? Zekrom PLF comes to mind, for that easy KO on pesky Yveltal-EX. The only issue? It’s a return KO from another two-Energy Yveltal, and you lose 4 Energy in the process. I think we much rather use Dragon Burst on Pokémon-EX anyway. If Empoleon DEX ever makes a comeback, then this is a direct counter to that deck (and with Charizard being a thing next set, don’t be surprised to see penguins around town). Other than that, it’s a lackluster card.
Outclassed by Delphox now, but some might argue that it’s easier to get out a Stage 1 as compared to a Stage 2. That is definitely true, and it really comes down to whether you prefer the all-in-one aspect of Delphox, or you much rather just one Bench-sitter doing your draws for you. My personal take is that I never truly liked Electrode, as a 4-card Magnetic Draw isn’t as helpful mid-game as compared to (a now-addictive) 6-card Mystical Fire.
Now this one is a dilemma. Emboar does not have the security of Blastoise of not getting locked in the Active. So why not tech in a Keldeo-EX for Rush In? The issue that we have to be mindful is that there are two ways to get Keldeo out from the Active, and that is with Float Stones or just Energy. I am very much 50-50 at the moment, as I prefer not to run Tools in Emboar for the sole fact that Tool Scrapper is everywhere (a prediction accurate from States), but a two-Energy retreat is still manageable as compared to a four-Energy one.
I will need more testing to fully justify this card, but also consider that this deck already has quite a number of Bench-sitters, thus making even your board position pretty tight.
Theorymon Mention: Mewtwo-EX
A last-minute idea that came across my mind was using Mewtwo as an easy, low-Energy requirement attacker to trade blows with Yveltal, or just as a secondary attacker while you set up your board. I never got to do any testing with this, and is purely set in theory, but if you do have an opinion regarding Mewtwo-EX in Emboar, do comment below and let’s discuss further.
Scrutizing the Supporters
Moving on to the Supporters, you might notice that I have already set in stone Skyla as a must in this deck, and for reasons we already know. It grabs Tropical Beach, and we all know how essential that is on turn 1 ever since Blastoise made it big when Boundaries Crossed was released. Nothing new here folks.
What is bugging me right now is the draw Supporters that this decks needs.
I ran three Professor Juniper at States, and I felt it was a comfortable number. Four N is standard, and during the late game it really shines when you have a Delphox out, hurting your opponent but barely even touching you. The dilemma here now is to fill out the remaining spots with either Colress or something else.
That 1-off Colress cost me my Game 1 in Round 1, as that was the only Supporter I saw for the most part of the match. If it was a Shauna or even a Bianca, things would not have been as bad, but then I lose the sheer power of a late game Colress in my other rounds. It is a really big tradeoff that we have to work with, but I can conclusively say that the low-risk move would be to cut the Colress and go for a stable build that will always net you upward of 5 cards in the early game.
Running a high Skyla count gives you that out to Beach, and between them a stable number I prefer to run would be six to seven outs. As I had a limited supply of Tropical Beach at States, I only ran two, and thus I played a full count of Skyla for a decent number of outs. I truly think that two to three Tropical Beach is the optimum number here, as it provides decent probability of you drawing into one early on as well as giving enough weight in Stadium wars (especially when Emboar decks have very little space for Switch cards to get out of Virbank-powered Poison damage).
Onward to the Items
A standard four Ultra Ball is warranted, and just one Level Ball for the early search on your Basics. Heavy Ball isn’t as effective here as it is in Blastoise, as there is no other Pokémon it searches for except Emboar. If only Delphox had three or more Retreat Cost… It still isn’t a bad choice but I much rather that slot go to other tools the deck can utilize.
Definite 4-ofs, no questions asked. Candy gets your Stage 2s up, SERs give Rayquaza the fuel it hungers for each turn.
I ran two at States and three during testing. I knew I could not take the auto-loss to Garbodor with such a small number of rounds, and truly you will need three to really swing the matchup. I was inspired by Chris Silver’s winning list from Long Beach with my preference for three Scrappers, but just before the tournament I switched it out for the Jirachi-EX.
It didn’t matter as much as I started the tournament horribly, but looking at the abundance of Muscle Bands and Garbodor, either play a high count of this card or just forego it altogether. It is still a metagame call in this respect, and the tradeoff is ever-present considering you run three dead cards against decks that don’t play tools or just doesn’t let you play anything (Trevenant or Dragonite).
These cards are essential in Emboar for the sole reason for not having a Rush In Pokémon available to the deck (unless you opt to run Keldeo-EX). I already mentioned why I do not prefer Float Stone, as there will be Scrapper everywhere and it does not truly get you out of Status Condition locks.
Between the two I had in my deck, Escape Rope grew on me the more I played it, especially when it gives a win condition when the opponent is stalling with a non-EX wall and there are only Pokémon-EX on the Bench to Dragon Burst for the win. At times I would still rather a simple Switch to take Prizes off the Active, though.
It’s not as effective as SER, but I have been fiddling with playing one of these and having a Reshiram LTR, for that added early aggression. The only concern is space constraints.
If I hadn’t run any Scrapper, this was the definite inclusion. Dragon Burst, get hit for below 170 damage, Max Potion everything off, Retrieval and Fandango; rinse and repeat. Even taking off 50 damage from an Emerald Slash or spread damage from Night Spear/Megalo Cannon can be crucial. It doesn’t do much when large 1HKOs come into play, but at least it shores up matchups where spread damage or Poison does a tonne of work on your field (Kyurem PLF, Landorus-EX, Laser, Frozen City, etc).
As briefly talked about with Clifton, my Round 1 opponent, Catcher in Emboar is disgustingly good. Alas, I did not want to cut anything from my States list (or rather I did not know what to cut). I could see two being a nice number, and hitting either of them heads throughout a game can seal matches very early on. Off the top of my head, the only cards I could think of cutting would be the Tool Scrappers or the fourth Ultra Ball, and even then it’s already such a stretch.
Throughout the tournament and during testing, I found that I was pondering on one more counter Stadium to the Frozen City/Virbank City Gym that isn’t for some reason Tropical Beach. While I already did not have access to a third (not that I thought it was needed at the time anyway), the other reason was that my opponent was drawing dead after an N, and had dragged up something to stall the game while he draws out of his bad position. This is usually late in the game where both players are low on resources, and either I have to switch between my damaged attackers or manage the spread damage on my side of the field.
Skyarrow gets the switching between Rayquaza-EX work done easily, while Pokémon Center counters spread effectively. Both cards are just iffy on paper but I’ve only done some testing with Skyarrow Bridge to some positive results. I might be skewed to think both of these stadiums are effective due to my games and matchups at States, so do take this information with some care.
The two main contenders here are Dowsing Machine and Computer Search. Both have their uses but I lean slightly toward Dowsing nowadays, for the reason that it gives so much more versatility from the mid game onward. Something as simple as recycling a Supporter or just burning through your hand to get a fifth Super Energy Retrieval can and will win you games. It also acts as your third or fourth Tool Scrapper depending on how many you choose to run.
Lists have gone from seven to ten Fire and two to three Lightning. The 8/3 split seemed to work for me, and I could have gone 8/2 as well if I was more sure on my resource management.
All in all, I think I have gone through most of the deck’s possible card choices. If there are any that I might have missed, do point them out in the comments section.
Below is my current decklist:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
4 Super Energy Retrieval
Energy – 10
The current list is still in its infancy, and it resembles what actions I have taken after the tournament. I’ve cut the Pignite and included Reshiram instead. The two Tool Scrapper I listed down can be switched out for Pokémon Catcher, as and when you feel the meta moves away from Garbodor. Even so, I figure you might just take the loss that you have against it and greatly improve your other matchups.
Against Yveltal, I doubt there is much you can do if they run over you, except to time your Ns well and take advantage of 2-Prize Dragon Burst whenever you can.
Decks that run Bouffalant can be very annoying to deal with, and thus the reason why I re-included Reshiram in my list. Plasma decks with Lugia is where Catcher has a chance to shine: one heads and a KO on a charging Lugia can set your opponent back many turns.
Unfortunately, against Trevenant you come up short with options if you fail to get any Stage 2 up and running in time. The Stage 1s could make things better but I suggest not to play Emboar as long as you think that your meta is littered with Trevenant and/or Dragonite. Item lock is just a horrid matchup for a deck that can’t stream attacks without its Stage 2.
Against the up-and-coming Fairy deck, Max Potion is nullified since you take swift 1HKOs, but do be prepared to see a Dragon-type counter in their list. Similarly with Darkrai, decks with free retreat just makes damaging their attackers useless, so focus on taking knockouts at one go rather than having damage pile up on their field. If only they printed a Fire-type Raikou-EX…
The Charizard from Wild Blaze look really awesome both in art and with respects to the meta. I have not actually done any testing, but I really hope we have a Charizard that is playable. Off the top of my head I could see Emboar swapping out Rayquazas for Charizard, forming a full-fledged Fire lineup. Only time will tell.
Well, that’s all from me for now. I thank you for taking the time to read through these walls of texts, and I apologize beforehand for the long-winded nature of this article, and also if I missed out on any particular detail. To those that came up to me at States asking about “Jailbreak,” thanks; it really made my day a lot better. I’m headed back to Wollongong, NSW so hopefully there will be events nearby for me to attend and continue writing about.
Enjoy the bacon!