Hey everyone! After a really disappointing run in Hartford (4-4 drop -> BBQ), I’m really excited to look towards this weekend’s Expanded event in Daytona Beach. In fact, all of my CP this season come from Expanded tournaments, so I feel unusually confident.
Originally, I planned to talk about a few of the top decks from Fort Wayne, but after the Bilbao Special Event from this past weekend, I think it’s safe to say that Turbo Turtonator is the hottest deck in Expanded right now. I have a bit of experience with the deck after piloting it to a Top 4 finish at my last League Cup, so I figured that this article would be better spent as an in depth look at the deck.
Curious on how to play the deck? Worried about playing against it this weekend? Let’s talk lists. Let’s talk techs. Let’s talk matchups. Let’s get to work.
Right now, there are two publicly available and successful lists to consider for Turbo Turtonator. The first is Sam Chen’s 2nd place list from Fort Wayne, crafted in part by Rahul Reddy, Franco Takahashi, and Michael Slutsky. This was also the exact list that I played at my League Cup and the one that I have experience with.
The second is Nico Alabas’s 1st place list from the Bilbao Special Event, which features some very “European” changes. I’ll include them both below for convenience.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 32
Energy – 16
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 29
Energy – 17
There aren’t any fundamental differences in these lists as far as how they execute their overall gameplans, but they do prioritize different ideas for how a deck should be crafted.
As I alluded to earlier, Nico’s list has a very European feel with a lot of the “fluff” from Sam’s list cut out in favor of more consistency cards. We’ve seen this trend develop throughout most of the 2016-2017 season, with players like the Schulz brothers and Tord Reklev playing very standard decks with much higher counts of draw Supporters and Tapu Lele than most American players would play.
I agree with a lot of Nico’s changes, especially beefing up the Tapu Lele, Guzma, and Kiawe counts. However, I think the price for these additions (0 Muscle Band, 0 Battle Compressor) may be a bit too high. I also don’t particularly like the 2nd copy of Ho-Oh (and I’m not sure you need the 1st one either) or the cut to a single Volcanion. The 2nd Ho-Oh makes sense to hit for 180 easily since he cut Muscle Band, but only 1 Volcanion will make your Night March matchup considerably worse.
Nico also added a 17th Fire Energy which seems insane but really isn’t that strange. You typically only need Fire Energy, once you get past the first few turns, to keep your deck functioning. You need one to attach every turn, you often need one to Steam Up with, and you probably want another to use with Scorched Earth. They also find their way to the discard pile incredibly quickly, so I can see the logic behind adding onto the 16 that Sam played. However, I think adding any past 16 is a luxury, and I’ll even be trying the deck with 15 to see if I notice any real difference.
Looking back at Sam’s list, the biggest difference that I haven’t discussed yet are the Supporter counts. 3 Blacksmith felt pretty perfect to me. You typically only need to use 2-4 in any game (especially if you get a Nitro Tank GX off), so with VS Seeker you have more than enough, and 3 should alleviate any prizing concerns. I used Colress a ton, especially against Turbo Darkrai, so I’m not sure I’d want to cut it. The lone copy of Acerola helped me one single time, but it was just a “nice to have” kind of card in that situation, and I could have played differently and still easily won that game. However, I acknowledge how good it can be against Trevenant and Necrozma, so I’m hesitant to cut it.
As you can tell, I’m pretty happy with almost every card in Sam’s list but I do acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Here’s the list I’ll be testing out in the coming days, a bit of a hybrid between the two lists:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 32
Energy – 16
As I test, I’ll be looking for situations where I would want a Ho-Oh or the Colress, but I’m not sure they’ll come up. Both cards seem to be “nice to have,” especially when compared to the rest of the list. Other cards in the deck should help to take over their jobs. However, if either proves to be a notable absence, I’ll probably try cutting a Sycamore for the Colress and/or a Volcanion-EX for a Ho-Oh.
My 61st card right now is the Acerola, so I’ll have to grind out a few games with and without it against Trevenant and Necrozma/Garbodor variants. My gut tells me that I don’t need the Acerola, especially as I think you can play around the spread by not benching too many EX/GXs. I also want to try AZ to see if that is roughly as good as Acerola. The difference is that AZ can help in the Night March matchup (among others), picking up the Shaymin or Tapu Lele you had to bench to find your Karen or other crucial card in the midgame.
Even though we’ve seen a bunch of different options for the deck, there are still a few more that could find their way into the deck. In addition, you could up the counts of many key cards such as Field Blower, Muscle Band, or Battle Compressor to up your utility, damage output, or consistency respectively. Here are some of the other cards I’ve considered for the deck:
This would simply be insurance against dead draws off of late game Ns. You usually take an even number of prizes, so you have a good number of outs to the game winning Blacksmith or Guzma through Ultra Ball as well as VS Seeker. Oranguru would just add onto Scorched Earth to give you more ways to find the game winning supporter. It could also enable you to play more aggressively when targeting 1 prize attackers, knowing that you can replenish your hand off of an N to 1 and still hit Ultra Ball to win.
While I’m not sure I want to fit a line of any size into this list, a Salazzle-GX would be an incredibly good finisher in this deck. A single Blacksmith can power up an attacker to do anywhere from 200-270 in the late game, giving you a knockout for fewer cards than would be necessary to do the same amount of damage with your other attackers. A 1-1 line might be able to fit in, but I think it would be at the expense of at least one Energy.
I’ve considered adding a Lysandre to supplement the Guzma in the deck as a second gust effect. It’s especially useful if you can just load energy on a Turtonator early, so you don’t have to dig for Float Stone to retreat back into it. I’ve found that early aggression like this can lead to a “check-mate” type of board state where you use Nitro Tank in the mid game, charging up enough attackers to close out the game regardless of your opponent’s actions. Since you have Lele, Battle Compressor, and Computer Search to find the supporter you need, supplemented by draw from Shaymin and Scorched Earth, there’s a decent chance you can find the one you need if you play a Lysandre/Guzma split.
Both of these tools have some merits and could be played in place of Muscle Band. I suppose an argument could be made for playing a split of any of the 3, but it would be too difficult to find the one you need in the matchups you need it. Fighting Fury Belt would be extremely helpful against Night March, forcing them to find even more ways to discard Night Marchers after a Karen, or a Field Blower. Eventually, they run out of ways to do that. This still also gives you a way to OHKO a Joltik with both Volcanion and Turtonator. The extra bump in HP would also help against many decks like Turbo Dark.
Choice Band could also help against Turbo Dark, depending on how the metagame shifts. It combos well with your attackers to let you OHKO a Pokémon with an Fighting Fury Belt attached, helping Turtonator and Volcanion both reach 220 with 1 less Steam Up. Personally, I find myself running out of bench space in many games, so Choice Band lets me play a bit more aggressively in that respect.
This would likely be in place of a Shaymin or Tapu Lele, and could probably go in place of the 3rd Lele in any lists. It just ensures that you have an out to one late in the game, either letting you shuffle a discarded one in to use Ultra Ball for or just picking it up on the turn you need it. Even though Lele and Shaymin’s 1 retreat costs don’t make them terrible starters in a deck like this, it would still be better to decrease their counts where necessary to take liabilities off of the board.
I’ve actually found this to be a relatively decent matchup, as you trade very well with Night Marchers through Turtonator’s Shell Trap. You also have Volcanion to OHKO them while building up a board. Once you have enough energy to attack, you can Karen them while still trading well enough to pressure them. If you can Karen 2-3 times, and maybe follow it up with an N, you can definitely pull this out.
The game gets scary when you have to over extend and bench a Shaymin to get a key Karen or knockout. From there, a double Puzzle of Time can usually spell doom, grabbing a few of the pieces to pull off the Joltik + DCE + Battle Compressor + Guzma combo to win the game. Usually, they have to use too many Puzzle and Compressor in the mid game to respond to your Karen to even reliably pull this off. Plus, their deck will contain a very high number of Night Marchers and other Pokémon at this point, lessening their likelihood to draw what they need.
This matchup seems incredibly easy going first and still pretty doable when going second. If you go first and pull off a Kiawe or Blacksmith, you have enough energy on the board to completely outpace them in terms of board state, and you just need attackers and energy to keep equal with their set up. They require at least 4 attacks to KO a Turtonator, while you can easily take 3+ knockouts in this time even when you don’t draw Blacksmith. One good use of Nitro Tank GX should put you in the “checkmate” position I mentioned earlier.
The one way that they have to win is through Necrozma. If you aren’t careful to play around it, they could power up 3 Trevenant BREAK to spread 30 to 3 GX/EX Pokémon, then Necrozma + DCE + Dimension Valley wins the game. This can be avoided by keeping your board clear of these 2 prize liabilities when you can and playing them down before getting benched, but sometimes you don’t have that luxury. AZ and Acerola could buy you enough time to come back from a bad early game as well.
For most Turbo Darkrai lists, I think the matchup is pretty solidly in Turtonator’s favor, but only slightly. You can OHKO them with a Turtonator, Blacksmith, Fire, and Muscle Band/Volcanion + Steam Up. They need 9 energy on board, or 8 plus a Fighting Fury Belt, or 7 plus a Choice Band. It’s much easier for you to do this on demand than it is for them. If they miss a beat, you can often set up the “check-mate” situation through Nitro Tank where you have enough energy on the board to OHKO anything, no matter what they do on their turns. This is where I’ve gotten the most use out of Ho-Oh.
This strategy can be disrupted somewhat by any Turbo Darkrai lists that are playing Fighting Fury Belt as you now need 2 Steam Up or a Choice Band and a Steam Up to OHKO any Darkrai with your Turtonator. Typically in this situation, I just swing into the Darkrai for 180 and hope to draw into the Field Blower later. This is where a 2nd Blower would come in handy.
I’m lumping these together since the matchup comes down to the different attackers they play and many are mixing and matching among them.
Espeon-GX is pretty annoying with Psybeam to confuse you, and they usually just OHKO you if you miss the flip to attack. Even if you hit enough Guzma in the right situations, or can load up attackers to retreat (with or without Float Stone), it’s hard to KO Espeon while they Ability lock you. This is one place where I’d want Ho-Oh. Acerola might actually put the nail in the coffin without it, especially with only 1 Field Blower.
Drampa is a pretty bad attacker with only 180 HP and capping at 180 damage. However, it could find its way to a KO on a Turtonator when combined with a Tapu Koko spread. Even so, they have a much harder time finding the energy to attack than you do, so you should win the exchange.
I think the scariest Garb variant for Turtonator to deal with is a Necrozma focused one. Similarly to Trevenant, they can spread to your whole board, then finish you off in 3 turns, but this time with Trashalanche or Tool Drop. However, even if you play around the Necrozma (which they can surprise you with out of nowhere thanks to Dimension Valley), they can still out trade you with Tool Drop and Trashalanche. You just can’t miss a beat against them, and if they build up to an OHKO with Trashalanche, you’re probably done for.
This is a pretty easy matchup, as you OHKO Golisopod, or can just trade well with Shell Trap when you need to use draw supporters to set up your board or dig for Guzma/VS Seeker. Some lists use Seismitoad as an attacker, but you OHKO them with relative ease, especially if you have a Ho-Oh.
There are a few basic principles for this deck’s matchups. You typically are too consistent and low maintenance to be out-traded by anything that trades on an even prize trade, and you can pressure things that take a few turns to set up, even if they out-trade you once they set up. Your bad matchups come where your opponent disrupts you to stop you from taking prizes, as you’re pretty susceptible to any locking elements, as is typical of an aggro deck like this. The reason that I like Turtonator so much is that the meta currently is unkind to many of the lock decks, so you can prey on the other aggro decks as I outlined.
I’ve been pretty set on playing Turtonator for Daytona for a few weeks, but Nico’s win in Bilbao might influence the metagame to a point where I want to counter it. Archie’s Ace in the Hole + Empoleon DEX might be one decent way to get that done, and could theoretically fit into a number of decks.
See ya soon,
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