It’s good to be back! I haven’t written an article for SixPrizes in over two years so having the chance to come back to the site and analyze the current goings-on of Pokémon sure feels great; I’m certainly excited to dive back into this part of the game. The hope of my article this week is to prepare everyone for this weekend’s Regional Championships in St. Louis. The introduction of Sun & Moon has certainly shaken things up so it’s time to put everything on the table and figure out what’s what.
Two cards I’d like to spend a little time discussing by themselves are Oranguru and Team Skull Grunt. At the first Regionals to include Sun & Moon, Oranguru saw some play and Skull Grunt was all but absent.
Oranguru is a card that definitely sticks out to anyone browsing through the set list of Sun & Moon. Bench-sitters that draw cards each turn have historically been a great way to spend a Bench spot; Delcatty RS 5, Claydol GE, and Porygon2 DS are a couple of examples. Oranguru’s Instruct is certainly fitting for a Basic incarnation of this type of Ability — three cards is right where it becomes hard to tell whether it’s worth the space in your list (and on your Bench).
It’s clear that Oranguru finds a home in some decks better than others. For example, decks like Bronzong/Solgaleo and Eels/Raikou don’t necessarily need to worry about a late-game N — they have their insurance built in. Then, there are decks that could really use an extra card or two per turn and have the means to do it. The first one that comes to mind is Yveltal/Archeops. Yveltal has a particularly high count of Item cards that are very easy to burn (Trainers’ Mail, Battle Compressor, Tools, etc.) which increases the likelihood of having fewer than three cards in hand at some point during the turn. Another great pair in the same deck is from Gallade’s Premonition. Gallade’s Ability effectively allows Oranguru to choose the best card from a set of five rather than drawing randomly. Even in general, because of Yveltal’s draw/attach/attack style, having a form of late-game N protection becomes important frequently.
Other decks that particularly complement Oranguru are Flareon and Rayquaza. Although they have admittedly less synergy with Oranguru than Yveltal does, both Flareon and Rayquaza require high Pokémon counts for their core strategies to work. In Rayquaza’s case, I would certainly look to include Oranguru as my Basic option for protection against Parallel Cities and even dry starts. Flareon is always looking for more Pokémon to throw to the discard. While Oranguru might not be great at finding its way to the discard like Unown and Klefki are, it’s all the same to Sycamore. The upside of Oranguru (in 95% of cases) is that it protects Flareon against N. With resources stretched so thin (Eevees, Flareons, Bees, DCEs, VS Seekers), Oranguru helps your chances of finding that last Evolution or DCE to win the game after an N.
Team Skull Grunt
One thing that stuck out to me when I first read Team Skull Grunt was the general magnitude of the effect. Discarding — not shuffling back — up to 2 of your opponent’s Energy can change the game immediately. Many decks play so few Energy that losing even a single one can cost them the game in the closing turns.
A concrete example of the power of manipulating your opponent’s resources is Takuya Yoneda’s 2016 Nationals winning Sceptile/Seismitoad deck (click to view). The most unusual aspect of this deck were the two copies of Delinquent. Initially, you wouldn’t think a Toad deck would play a card that forces an opponent to discard cards they can’t even play anyway. After playing the deck for a couple of weeks I realized that Delinquent was far more effective than it was redundant. In the final turns of the game, Delinquent creates a situation when your opponent finds him or herself in one of the following situations:
- They have no Trainers remaining because they’ve lost them all to Sycamore and Delinquent.
- They have so few cards in their hand as a result of N or Delinquent that even one more Delinquent means an empty hand.
- Between the cards in their deck and hand, there are simply no easy cards to dispose of without losing all win conditions.
Now, a straight Seismitoad deck could Quaking Punch the whole game and hope to hit Supporters/Energies/Pokémon on Delinquent but a Toad deck partnered with a strong alternative attacker could jump ship and start swinging for the fences. I see Team Skull Grunt as an addition or alternative to Delinquent in these types of Toad decks. Not only does it provide early-game value in preventing attacks against Toads but it provides late-game value by giving intel on your opponent’s hand and potentially stealing the last of their Energies. The bottom line is that the effect is too strong to be ignored when resources are stretched so thin these days, especially in an Expanded environment.
… and that will conclude the free preview of this Underground article.
Underground Members: Click here to log in and continue reading.
Other Users: View the registration page for more information if you are interested in joining Underground and reading the rest of this article.