Everyone who has been around the TCG block in recent history knows about Eelektrik NVI. Numerous decks have spawned from the incredibly efficient Energy acceleration that Dynamotor offers. Its inception was around a time just before Pokémon-EX were released. For many players today, a game without Pokémon-EX may be hard to imagine.
Aside from Pokémon-EX being absent from the format, the fact that the card pool consisted of HeartGold & SoulSilver and on provided us with Pokémon Prime. Many Primes had a leg up on the “normal” cards in the format, but still only provided 1 Prize card if they were Knocked Out. To balance this, many of the strong ones still had to evolve. Among the strongest of these were Donphan, Electrode, and Magnezone, to name a few. Primes were a huge part of the format and numerous decks revolved around them.
Like any deck’s debut into a format, there are supportive cards that may make a card viable as well as cards that pose obstacles. Eelektrik was no different. Donphan Prime was a great card at the time due to its ability to be a tank as well as dish out fast, high amounts of damage for one F Energy. In case you haven’t noticed, our slippery friend doesn’t take too fondly to strong Fighting types (especially those with a Resistance to Lightning). By the same token, other Primes were around to facilitate Eelektrik’s success. Magnezone Prime and, for a short period, Lanturn Prime, were huge players in the early success of the deck.
“Magnets, how do they work?”
Magnezone Prime had an incredible Poké-Power, Magnetic Draw, which allowed the player to draw their hand up to 6 cards. Electrode PLF and Delphox XY both have Abilities of this same type, but neither one of them have the same raw power that made Magnezone Prime so scary. Lost Burn, which required one Lightning and one C Energy, pumped out 50 damage for every Energy card you banish from any of your Pokémon into the Lost Zone. This still sounds pretty strong by today’s standards; imagine it in a format without these behemoth 180-HP Pokémon-EX. Lost Burn could quickly make waste of the other popular Pokémon in the format – especially with an army of Eelektrik supporting it with Energy from the discard pile to burn off.
“Yellow Fish, Blue Fish”
Another partner for Eelektrik was primarily chosen for a meta full of the Water-Weak Donphan Prime (and to a lesser extent, Typhlosion Prime and Reshiram BLW). Lanturn Prime was able to take advantage of the Lightning acceleration of Dynamotor, while also having the ability to switch from prey to predator when facing down moisture-fearing foes. Underwater Dive was Lanturn’s Poké-Power that allowed it to become Water type for the remainder of your turn. Its attack, Power Spark, also did more damage depending on the amount of Energy attached to all of your Pokémon: a natural fit for a deck that attaches multiple Energy per turn. This allowed Lanturn to be an effective attacker against many things, whether it was able to exploit Weaknesses or not.
However, Eel decks weren’t without their weaknesses. Alongside Donphan Prime, Terrakion NVI was birthed in the same set. An effective foil to our electric hero, Terrakion NVI provided quick, effective, and at times, blindsiding answers to most of the main attackers that became partners for Eelektrik. Zekrom BLW, Magnezone Prime, and Lanturn Prime, all bit the dust in one hit from Terrakion.
One particularly familiar (and fun) deck that could pose a threat to Magnezone was based on Electrode Prime and multiple different attackers like Terrakion. There have been other Electrode cards in the past that could blow up for Energy acceleration, but Electrode Prime was one of the best. By choosing to Knock Out your Electrode, you could reveal the top 7 cards of your deck and attach any Energy you find there to your Pokémon in any way you like. This was not limited to basic Energy – these decks almost always played Rainbow Energy in order to power up the attacker best suited for the current opponent.
Twins was an extremely effective card here as well, since you could blow up an Electrode, power up multiple attackers, and then Twins into the last pieces of your combo for that turn. Since Twins could only be used if you were down on Prizes, Electrode was a perfect way to temporarily go under to ensure that you came out on top.
While Primes were a large part of the format, they weren’t the only cards seeing play. There were many other factors to consider when building an Eels deck back then as compared to how you may build it now.
Level Ball has been a staple for the deck for as long as most people will remember. However, there was a span of time when Level Ball was not released yet. A viable alternative was Dual Ball. Having a chance at searching for two Basics with one card was great – especially when its utility was padded by Junk Arm. Another difference was the actual inclusion of Junk Arm itself. Because you could potentially reuse any of your Trainer cards, you did not have to max out your counts as often. This could save lots of room in a list and allow the deck to prepare for a wider variety of opposition, as well as fit in the necessary evolution lines for the deck.
Pokémon Collector was an alternate route to take when building a list. Collector’s effect has since been unrivaled. Pokémon Fan Club is similar, but being able to search for that extra Basic Pokémon makes a huge difference. It was a perfect Supporter for the first turn of the game in order to grab a couple of Tynamos and also to make sure you begin building up a Magnezone by searching Magnemite.
Below is an example of what a very basic Eelektrik list might have looked like:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 29
Energy – 13
Obviously, there is a lot of fat to trim from this list, so it makes for a good starting point. Even so, you may notice some key differences in some of the counts in this list.
The most glaring difference is the presence of not one, but two Magnetons. Magneton was needed for one simple reason: Vileplume UD. Vileplume was a very influential part of the format, offering a lock on all Trainer cards in the game. Against a deck playing Vileplume, your Rare Candies become useless. If you were unable to get out a Magnezone, you took a huge hit to your consistency because you aren’t able to Magnetic Draw. Magnezone also serves as your main attacker, so being under Trainer lock from Vileplume without Magnetons could spell disaster.
Also having access to Cleffa made using Pokémon Collector on the first turn that much stronger. It was common to play a Collector, grab a combination of Magnemite, Tynamo, and a Cleffa. You were able to begin setting up your basics and cap off your turn with an Eeeeeeek!
Like I mentioned earlier, part of the reason Eels were so versatile were because of the numerous attackers that could be paired with it: Magnezone Prime, Lanturn Prime, Zekrom BLW, Thundurus EPO, and others. Magnezone was certainly not the only good way to play the deck.
Overall, Eelektrik was a game-breaking card. So many viable partners gave it the flexibility to compete in multiple metagames and emerge victorious. However, there were plenty of adversaries to deal with. Some were hard counters, and some presented less-conventional ways to win (or lose) the game.
It would be odd to talk about this format without mentioning the bane of many players’ existence around this time. Durant NVI was an addition to the game whose sole purpose was to win the game by literally Devouring the opponent’s deck. Any deck could fall prey to the consistent trashing of their valuable resources. I can’t count the number of times I heard sour grapes stories from players “barely losing” a game because a Durant Devoured their last Rare Candy, their last Pokémon Catcher, or their last Junk Arm.
Especially with such cards as Crushing Hammer, Eviolite, and Special M Energy to facilitate Durant’s endless hunger, our favorite insect became a real threat. At times, it didn’t matter how smooth your deck ran or how finely tuned your specific card counts were. Through a combination of chance and quick-and-easy setup for the Durant player, games were easily ended because someone couldn’t recover from critical resources being discarded very early in the game.
Throughout the difficulties Eelektrik may have encountered, it usually found a way to make it to the top. Skilled players crafted the deck to handle hard and soft threats when played correctly, and the card has remained relevant even in our current Expanded format. The Energy acceleration provided by a Stage 1 is just too good to be forgotten, whether it basks in the limelight or waits around the corner for its chance to retake the format by force. I venture to say that it’s only a matter of time before enough people dismiss Eelektrik for it to sneak back and surprise everyone!
Thank you all for reading. I hope to continue to provide articles for you all. If you have any questions or comments, please head on over to the forums and drop a message. I would be happy to discuss these topics and more with the community. Until next time, stay rare!