Hello everyone! Yet again, here I am on the front page of SixPrizes ready and eager to write another article. With US Nationals coming up in less than two weeks (and Canadian Nationals in just a few days), I have been quite busy with all of my friends playtesting and discussing various deck strategies. All of course in hopes of becoming the next National Champion. I’m sure you all know the feeling! So today, instead of a long-winded discussion about Pokémon theory or an aggressive novella on the state of the game, I will actually be providing you with some decklists to go try out yourself!
However, today I have decided to take a unique approach. Instead of focusing on several different variants of the same archetype as was done in Squeaky Marking’s latest article, I will address specific Pokémon that have been known to wander around from deck to deck seamlessly. These Pokémon take support from an already established core strategy, but bring to the table secondary win conditions that may prove more useful in the current metagame. Given the right time, the presence of these Pokémon in your deck alone are enough to take you from having a linear deck with only one dull intention, to a powerhouse deck ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice and take down the competition. So … what do I mean? Am I making all of this up? Of course not, let’s keep reading!
Introducing the Nomadic Pokémon
First, let’s define the term “nomad”:
noun: nomad; plural noun: nomads
1. A member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.
2. A person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.
See? You get the idea. Decks that have solidified their place in the metagame have nothing to worry about. Yvetal-EX, M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76, or Primal Groudon-EX aren’t going anywhere. They stay where they are, and other Trainers/Pokémon come to them to create new decks. In a sense, they’re the foundation of the town. Nomadic Pokémon can never hope to be this way, and must travel around finding a deck to call their home. In time, this home is no longer suitable and they must again move along to wherever they’re found useful.
The difference between what I would consider a “nomadic” Pokémon and a “tech” Pokémon is that tech Pokémon often have a shorter life span. As in, they aren’t seen in a given format for very long and are only included as a response to one (maybe two) other decks in the metagame. Whereas nomadic Pokémon are included in a deck alongside a handful of other cards to enrich the functionality of your deck as a whole against a wide variety of matchups you might face.
Despite the ability to come and go with ease into almost any deck of your choosing, these Pokémon still bring with them a number of cards that are essential in accompanying their successful strategies. You can’t accept a cat into your house without also bringing in some kitty litter and Friskies, you know? Just be careful, if you have to bring in more than say … 15 cards into your deck to accompany this Pokémon (especially a different type of Energy), it is no longer a nomad. Now it’s a separate but equal focus of your deck entirely.
Without further ado, on to our first Pokémon!
Drifblim BW64 (DRX)Balloon Boy:
Drifting aimlessly among the clouds, this ghostly blimp has been with us since its release in Dragons Exalted back in August of 2012, and it is still legal thanks to a reprinted Black & White Promo (BW64). What makes him so incredibly strong and versatile is his attack Shadow Steal, which for a mere one C Energy does 50 damage times the number of Special Energy cards in your opponent’s discard pile. Which is, to put it lightly, absolutely insane.
Throughout his career, Drifblim has made himself present in numerous decks. The first of which I can recall is his inclusion in the brand new archetype Virizion/Genesect after the release of Plasma Blast in August of 2013. Henry Prior made a big impact at the Klaczynski Open that year by placing in the Top 4 with that very deck. Fast forward to the rising popularity of Lysandre’s Trump Card (especially with Seismitoad-EX), Drifblim fell out of contention entirely. Or rather, he floated up into the stratosphere and no one could catch him. Why? Because as soon as you or your opponent played the Trump Card, all of the Special Energies were shuffled back in and Shadow Steal was back to doing zero damage. That happened far too often for Drifblim to be successful.
But hey! Lysandre’s Trump Card has been banned! The Drifblim descend from the heavens as the townspeople cry tears of joy. He’s back, and ready to steal everyone’s shadow. Assuming of course they play enough copies of Double Colorless Energy or the like.
Still, Drifblim in my opinion can never have a deck focused around him. Special Energy aren’t quite numerous enough to warrant, say, a 4-4 line. At a tournament, you would find yourself more than once playing against a deck with all basic Energy (such as M Manectric-EX) and … then what? Nothing pretty. That’s why he’s a nomad, joining forces with other already existing decks and bringing a new strategy into the mix.
So what does he bring with him? As Drifblim floats along, waiting for the time to descend into the ranks of a competitive 60-card decklist, surely he’s packed a bag full of Items and Supporters that he doesn’t compete without. I’ve gone ahead and listed a specific number of them to play, but of course this can be at your own personal discretion.
Simply put, if putting Special Energy in the discard pile makes you do more damage, put them there yourself. Not to mention, the concept of Energy removal has always been a very powerful one in the Pokémon TCG. Two Enhanced Hammer is enough to go the distance without taking up too much space, and a single copy of Xerosic allows for numerous strategic plays even under the lock of Quaking Punch or Forest’s Curse. These two cards are Drifblim’s best pals.
If you have the space in your deck and are truly committing to the Energy removal strategy, play these cards in your deck with Drifblim as well. On top of what’s listed above (and assuming you’re playing 3–4 VS Seeker), your opponent will be pulling their hair out trying to keep Energy in play just so they can attack. Meanwhile, Shadow Steal may start hitting for up to 150–200 damage.
- Dimensional Valley
- Psychic Energy
- Crawdaunt PRC
While it might be tempting to allow Drifblim to attack for zero Energy or even take advantage of his second attack, I would advise against it. Drifblim works best when he doesn’t interfere too much with the deck he finds himself in. Remember, he’s a nomad. In that regard, don’t get carried away with Energy removal by adding a 1-1 or 2-2 line of Crawdaunt PRC to your deck. Having decent amounts of the cards listed above will suffice.
Here are two decks that I have found are a perfect fit for our ominous nomad.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
They say the best offense is a good defense. So here’s a take on an already popular archetype, but more suited to welcome the addition of a 2-2 Drifblim line. The Muscle Bands, Hypnotoxic Lasers, and Virbank City Gyms have all been scrapped for equal copies of their more defensive and disruptive counterparts. You’ll notice that I have included all copies of the cards on my “necessary” and “optional” lists.
The goal of this deck is to play the long game. You sit patiently, chipping away at their HP, all the while attempting to deny your opponent Prizes through copious amounts of Energy removal and Hard Charm. I have included Dowsing Machine over Computer Search considering that you do not care much for a strong early lead. You would much rather, in this particular case, have the option to reuse your disruptive Trainers. Toward the end of the game, when time is sneaking up on you, Drifblim comes in and uses Shadow Steal for massive amounts of damage to grab the last few Prize cards you have remaining.
Although Shaymin-EX has more or less replaced Jirachi-EX in most decks, I have decided to do a split between the two. Jirachi-EX is still very good at grabbing those specific spooky Supporters like Xerosic or Team Flare Grunt, which are pivotal to the strategy of this deck.
There’s also one more Pokémon in here that doesn’t see much play at all — Sharpedo-EX. He made the cut in this defensive Yveltal deck thanks to not just one, but both of his attacks. His first, Hunt, let’s you drag up a Pokémon from your opponent’s Bench without the use of Lysandre and hit it for 30 damage. Not only can this get around Primal Groudon-EX’s Ω Barrier, but it also forces your opponent to burn extra Energy or any switching cards just to continue attacking with the Pokémon they had Active previously.
Sharpedo’s second attack, Jagged Fang, fits perfectly into the already existing strategy of Energy removal. Imagine a turn where you’re up against an opposing Lucario-EX that has attached two basic Fighting and one Strong Energy. You use Enhanced Hammer to discard the Strong, Team Flare Grunt to discard the first basic Fighting, before finally using Jagged Fang to discard the last. That’s not too bad at all, and certainly aids in the use of Shadow Steal later in the game. Our floating nomad is happy with his dark friends.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 39
Energy – 9
Here is a take on a Seismitoad-EX deck that my friends Travis Nunlist and Aaron Tarbell did extraordinarily well with during this season’s City Championships. We can see here that the offensive cards have returned, but included are still a few of the key cards necessary in making Drifblim feel at home.
Unlike a regular Seismitoad-EX deck that focuses on using Quaking Punch literally every single turn, this deck adds some diversity by making Manectric-EX an equally important attacker. The idea is to constantly keep your opponent on their toes by shifting gears between Item lock, Energy denial, heavy offense through Assault Laser, and (as Drifblim does best) cleaning up in the end with one or two clutch Shadow Steals. This deck thrives on having many options available, your opponent never quite knowing what to expect next.
I won’t get too much more into the intricacies, because I have yet to master the deck myself and I can’t do it enough justice. Though if you see me playing it at the National Championships, don’t be surprised. Drifblim lands peacefully on the toad’s damp back, waves hello to the electric dog with an affinity for Tools, and takes a nap. He’ll be here awhile.
Though Drifblim is a very good card, I wouldn’t necessarily be in a rush to go placing him in every deck you already have built. Not only do you first need to check to see if you have room for the 7–12 cards needed to include him, but you need to make sure that your deck could benefit from such an addition. For instance, a M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76 provides so much offense already that the inclusion of a small Drifblim line would be redundant.
Additionally, the format has to be in a pretty unique spot before Drifblim should even become a consideration. Right now we have a format that is saturated with multiple copies of Double Colorless Energy, Strong Energy, Double Dragon Energy, and even Rainbow Energy. This is why Drifblim, at least for me, is a card that I want to make sure receives a lot of attention. I feel that if he finds the perfect deck to call home, then that deck can go very far at coming tournaments.
Roaring Skies was fortunate enough to grace us with a (somewhat) reprint of a Pokémon that helped dominate the 2007 National and World Championships by being a key component in the deck that won both of these events. Appropriately, that Pokémon before was Absol ex. The difference? Although the ability Cursed Eyes is exactly the same, our new Absol isn’t an ex — which is great! The downside? Absol ROS’s attack is very, very terrible. Let’s ignore Mach Claw forever. It doesn’t exist.
So given his recent release, Absol has not yet had the chance to solidify himself as a Pokémon worth a spot in any current format deck. Although I believe Jason Klaczynski used a single copy in his Seismitoad-EX/Shaymin-EX deck to win Wisconsin Regionals just a few weeks ago, there’s just not an established history quite yet. What I do know is that Absol exemplifies the qualities of a nomadic Pokémon perfectly. Such as:
- No specific Energy required
- Very little footprint (hardly takes up any space)
- Low commitment
- Universally useful Ability
So what do I mean by these? The first is obvious. Absol doesn’t need to go in a Darkness deck just because he is a Darkness-type Pokémon. His Ability will work no matter which basic Energy your deck focuses around. This brings us to his footprint — or, how many spots in your deck you have to dedicate to make him useful. As it turns out, it’s not a lot at all! Given that Absol is simply a Basic Pokémon, you don’t even need to evolve him from anything before he does work. Additionally, Cursed Eyes (unlike Drifblim’s attack) doesn’t require a daunting prerequisite such as X amount of whatever in the discard pile/deck/etc. As long as your deck does any damage ever (and doesn’t exclusively 1HKO), you’ll get use out of Absol one way or the other.
Alright, let’s see what we have here. Surely Absol isn’t such a purebred nomad that he literally doesn’t need anything with him ever? I mean it must be hard to hold Items when you’re dashing effortlessly through the Hoenn landscape, but …
Oh man, really? Yup. I don’t think there are any Pokémon or Trainers that are necessary for the inclusion of Absol in your deck to be a fruitful one. He’s quite self-sustaining.
Again, if you have the space in your deck, these three cards could prove useful to a strategy involving Cursed Eyes. The first two are obvious — play Absol, pick him up, use him again! Genius. Sky Field is a bit different. Not only does this open up your Bench space quite a lot (making Absol’s footprint even less intrusive), but when the Sky Field is eventually replaced with your opponent’s Stadium or a different one of your own, you can just discard the Absol! With his Ability already used and the inability to pick himself up like Shaymin-EX ROS’s Sky Return, his job is done. He sleeps a peaceful sleep in your discard pile.
It is important to note that I wouldn’t go adding any of these cards to accompany Absol unless your deck already plays them, or could greatly benefit from their inclusion as well.
These cards might seem like the perfect fit for Absol and his cursed eyes, but I assure you they are not. Not only do these Pokémon take up too much space and are impossible to be nomadic alongside Absol, but they’re made mostly irrelevant by the damage your current deck should already be putting out naturally onto your opponent’s side of the field.
I include Crobat because of this — you may feel that a Raichu XY/Crobat PHF/Sky Field deck would be perfect for your Absol. Lots of damage all around, plenty of Bench space, Absol helps Raichu do more damage with Circle Circuit, etc. Surprisingly though, Absol isn’t necessary at all in my opinion. You already have so much freedom with your damage output thanks to Sneaky Bite and Surprise Bite being able to place damage counters wherever you choose. Absol in this scenario would just be … a corrected mistake. See what I’m saying? No need to Surprise Bite one Pokémon and then Cursed Eyes it to another a few turns later. A seasoned pro player should anticipate the correct Pokémon to place the damage counters on the first time around.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
At first glance, this looks like just another Bronzong list. And, well … you’re not wrong! This is a deck that I love, have been testing quite a lot recently, and would actually work perfectly fine without Absol. But to be frank, Bronzong is a deck that inherently needs and welcomes an Ability like Cursed Eyes in its ranks. The nomadic disaster cat has found his place amongst this list for two very good reasons.
First, this deck does a lot of damage, but not a lot of 1HKOing. Meaning, there will be plenty of standing damage to move around. Even though you may only use Cursed Eyes once, if activated at the correct time, you could surprise your opponent and seal the victory. Secondly, there are no Pokémon in a regular Bronzong list that do any Bench damage. It’s very annoying when you leave a Pokémon with 30 or less HP remaining, and they just take shelter on their Bench. The only way for me to finish the KO and claim my Prize(s) would be to Lysandre. Or … Cursed Eyes! Heck yeah.
Not to mention, I already play a single copy of AZ and Sky Field. These two cards are beneficial to the strategies already in place, and just so happen to benefit Absol as well when the time comes. Always make sure that the cards in your deck provide more than one use, or can help you against more than one deck. Always be as diverse as possible.
I won’t talk too much more about this list because we should all know by now what a Bronzong deck can do! If you don’t know, please read Erik Nance’s latest article. He’ll expertly take you through several different Pokémon types and all they have to offer. You’ll notice that my list is quite different than his. You can decide which one you like more (though you should know I like mine quite a lot). Absol hops onto the back of a Heatran, and although it’s almost too hot to the touch, he falls asleep. The baritone chimes of the three Bronzong can be heard nearby. Aegislash is cutting up some vegetables for dinner. This is nice.
After reading all of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were under the impression I put a single copy of Absol into every single deck I build. But I do not, and you shouldn’t either! Absol only fits into decks that need him. Again I will use the Rayquaza-EX ROS 76 example: Because you’re 1HKOing every Pokémon you go up against almost every turn, there’s no use for Cursed Eyes whatsoever. There’s just nothing to move around.
Even if there is damage to move with Absol turn after turn, you need to make sure that doing it once is enough for you. If not, don’t bother adding him to your deck either. I say “once” because you should only ever add one copy of Absol to any deck unless it is very focused around him for many good reasons; a deck which I have sadly yet to find.
But don’t let that get you down! Absol ROS has an amazing Ability that will be with us for quite some time to come. Keep your eyes open for an opportunity to use this nomadic pal. I guarantee he will continue to see play in decks earning many coveted top-placing finishes.
On the topic of nomadic Pokémon, it isn’t just about Drifblim or Absol. There are now, always have been, and always will be Pokémon that have the ability to come and go amongst many different competitive decks in many different standard legal formats. It’s up to you to recognize these Pokémon at just the right time, and take advantage of what they have to offer. Here are just few others that I can think of:
Using this advice, it is my hope that you will become and even better deck builder than before. Take some time to explore further options that might set you ahead of everyone else playing the same deck as you. More often than not, you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Thanks again you guys for taking the time out of your day to read this article! As a matter of fact, thank you for subscribing to SixPrizes Underground in the first place. It’s a very useful tool to advance your skills at this incredible game. Be sure to give a +1 to every article you read on this website if you do truly like it (you can even give one to me). And also, don’t be afraid to check out the coaching services that SixPrizes has to offer as well. It lends an excellent opportunity to get hands-on, one-on-one experience with many established professionals. That’s all I have for today … see you all at US Nationals! Come say hello!
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