The Worlds 2006 (HL–HP) format is heralded as the best of the retro formats by many- for the diversity of viable decks, unique card effects not seen before or since, and the amount of creative plays made available to skilled players at all times thanks to the unprecedented consistency of cards like Pidgeot RG or Magcargo DX 20. While the format is known for its incredible diversity, some decks are still more prominent than others- if a single deck is the face of the Worlds 2006 format, it would be LBS, both an incredibly popular deck at the time, and one which is still very successful- Chip Richey was the single undefeated player at the NAIC 2018 Worlds 2006 format tournament with it. A deck which I think preys on LBS, and is less popular than it should be today, is BombTar.
A quick note about myself before diving right in- I’m an off and on player from Seattle, and though I would hardly call my Junior division glory days a time that I was very competitive, I made my start in Organized Play in the Summer of 2006 when I was nine years old, five-digit POP ID and all. I haven’t played in a sanctioned event since Worlds 2018, but I’ve probably been playing more Pokémon than ever in the last year and a half thanks to my love of playing old formats. Just because I have been playing casually does not mean I have abandoned the goals of self improvement and chasing victory that have made the Pokémon TCG something with such a lasting appeal to me, and old formats have given me an outlet to really sharpen my play into a razor’s edge by mastering a format that doesn’t change rather than keeping up with trends and new card releases to try and play or beat the new flavor of the month.
I’ve played through a lot of formats, some better than others, but the truest constants I can figure are that Pokémon players will always complain about whatever is in front of them, and that at the end of the day, Pokémon is Pokémon. I remember playing SP decks and listening to people talk about how much better the original ex era was, much in the same way that today people (many of whom didn’t even play at the time) wax poetic about the SP era. I’m not necessarily here to stand up and say “back in my day…” to anyone who cares to listen; no matter how much I love to complain, I do love all kinds of Pokémon, be it Standard, Expanded, 2010, 2006, 2004, or even 2012.
With this said, I think the Worlds 2006 offers a depth of gameplay and deckbuilding that is for the most part unmatched elsewhere, and playing it offers a window into just how deep the game of Pokémon truly is. This is not to personally guarantee that luck will not play a role in your games or that there will be no turn 1 or 2 victories, but the format does produce a lot more of the sort of games where your path to victory is a nebulous one, and it is a format where being able to get the most out of every single one of your cards will reward you much more than today’s game does.
Seeing success at Worlds 2006, and at 2006 format tournaments since, is Dark Tyranitar/Electrode ex- called POW! Block when it got second at Worlds 2005, but more commonly known as BombTar today. Not an incredibly popular deck during much of the 2006 season, BombTar came back with a vengeance in 2006, when Sebastian Crema played it to an 8-0 result in the Swiss rounds of Worlds, before losing in the Top 32. As Sebastian and Mike Fouchet say in their tournament reports, the big innovation behind this comeback was the addition of Lunatone and Solrock from EX Legend Maker, shutting off other decks’ powerful consistency engines like the aforementioned Pidgeot and Magcargo- when combined with Electrode ex’s ability to Rocket’s Admin. opponents low early, and to disrupt with Pow! Hand Extension, BombTar would leave an opponent staring down a fully-loaded Dark Tyranitar and without the tools to deal with it.
Sebastian Crema, 8-1 at 2006 World Championships:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 26
Energy – 15
2 Holon FF
The deck has a straightforward enough strategy- discard Energy with Magmar to help set up, then blow up Electrode ex to attach the Energy to a Tyranitar and turn on Pow! and Scramble Energy, then play a Rocket’s Admin. to limit the opponent’s ability to deal with the Tyranitar. When you don’t open Magmar, Lunatone is also a pretty good starting Pokémon, as the deck features a suite of 1- and 2-of Trainer cards to Moon Guidance for, although Moon Guidance will generally want to be getting a Holon Transceiver (effectively ‘cheating’ the no Supporter restriction.) Fouchet’s list also includes Jirachi from EX Deoxys, getting another set up option in Wishing Star.
Some number of Larvitar will be necessary for evolving into Dark Tyranitar, your main attacker. Sharing the same Hit Points, Weakness, and Retreat Cost as every other legal Larvitar, the deck plays the fire type Delta Species Larvitar because the deck plays fire, but not fighting, energy cards, so in a pinch you could use Rising Lunge, but the other Larvitar options can do at best Colorless for a vanilla 10, which this one can also do. Because this Larvitar is a Delta Species Pokémon, discarding one to Holon Adventurer will let you draw 4 cards instead of the usual 3, and having one in play will let you draw a card if you start Holon’s Castform and might allow you to take advantage of your opponents’ Holon Ruins if they play it. You’ll see some lists play 1 copy of the EX Team Rocket Returns Larvitar, but I don’t see any upside to doing so, and would recommend you stick to only Larvitar DS.
2 Dark Pupitar TRR41
There are 2 different Dark Pupitar, and both are actually viable. Sebastian plays the one with 80 HP and 2 retreat, rather than the one with 70 HP and 1 retreat- I recommend anyone looking to build this deck do the same. While it may be tempting to spread with Explosive Evolution, basically a mini Spinning Tail, as well as set up your Dark Tyranitar, relying on a coin flip really kills the card. The 80 HP version has Dark Streak, which could buy you some time in a tight spot, or cut off an opponent’s access to Jirachi in the early game, and Rock Tumble (usable with a Scramble Energy) can chip quite hard at a Fighting weak Pokémon, especially when combined with Special D Energy. Something cute to do against MewTric is to leave back an unevolved Pupitar, because Tyranitar’s resistance to Mew ex might cause your opponent to attack with Manectric ex, and if they do your Pupitar can come up and get an easy Knock Out with just a Scramble if the Manectric ex already has damage on it from a Spinning Tail, or a Scramble and a Special Dark straight up. In the mirror match, where you normally struggle to hit non-ex Pokémon like Dark Tyranitar for large numbers, Pupitar might be able to take out a Tyranitar even with FF and Fire both attached if you can Pow! one of the energy off to give them weakness again.
3 Dark Tyranitar TRR19
Both this and the other (Sand Damage) Dark Tyranitar have proven themselves as very powerful threats, in both 2005 and again in 2006, but when somebody talks about BombTar, they’re referring to the Spinning Tail one. Dark Tyranitar’s 120 HP may seem tiny by today’s standards, but was a difficult number to do with a single attack, and even outclassed many of the popular ex Pokémon of the time- doing 120 in this format is a lot of work for a single prize. All three of Dark Tyranitar’s attacks are very strong, and none are as prohibitively expensive as they seem thanks to Scramble Energy and Extra Energy Bomb- setting up three fully loaded Tyranitar in a single game isn’t unusual. Your game plan usually revolves around either Knocking Out 3 Pokémon-EX with a single Grind or Bite Off, trading 2 for 1 to offset the prize disadvantage of Electrode, or winning via Spinning Tail, taking a bunch of prizes at once, letting you keep your Scramble and Pow!s turned on all game and drawing the full 6 from your Rocket’s Admin., until you take several prizes at once. Make sure to remember that while Special Darkness doesn’t increase your damage to the bench, it still increases your Spinning Tail damage to the Active- keeping this in mind while playing your Pow!s can help you avoid awkward spots where you Knock Out some, but not all, of your opponent’s board, or take out priority targets a turn earlier without having to stop using Spinning Tail on the rest of your opponent’s Pokémon. Don’t forget that Tyranitar’s small Retreat Cost can let you retreat for a single Scramble, but be mindful that sometimes you would rather discard other energy to get back with an Electrode.
While Dark Tyranitar hits like a truck, it can be hard to do 150 damage outright to some of the larger ex Pokémon, specifically Blastoise ex, which you will generally prioritize taking out of play as soon as possible, even above Pidgeot. Don’t be afraid of only doing 130 or 140 though- combining your Spinning Tail knockout with a Rocket’s Admin. should be effective at keeping your opponent off another Blastoise ex, or they will have to knock their own Blastoise out with Energy Rain damage to get it out of the active if they do not have a switching card. On these Pokémon large enough that you will need to Bite Off and Spinning Tail to Knock Out, it is usually, but not always, better to Bite Off first if presented with the option- you risk losing your Pow! to an opposing Admin, and Spinning Tail is easier to power up on a backup Tyranitar if your first Tyranitar goes down, since it can be used for a single Scramble Energy.
There are three different legal Voltorbs which all saw play at the time in various decks, but the Legend Maker one is the best here- this deck would prefer to discard the energy paying the Retreat Cost, removing much of the benefit of the EX Firered & Leafgreen Voltorb, and without Zapdos ex RG, the payoff of the Recharge Voltorb is much smaller. While preferable not to start Voltorb at all, opening with the Thunder Wave one at least gives you the opportunity to stop an opponent’s Jirachi from using Wishing Star, or to buy a turn in a desperate situation. I usually try not to evolve Voltorb the ‘fair’ way by putting one onto my bench and waiting a turn, preferring to Swoop! and evolve right away, not exposing my Voltorb to being picked off.
Electrode ex RG1072
Electrode is in this deck entirely for Extra Energy Bomb (Though it is technically possible to use Crush and Burn with the singleton basic Lightning) and is really the foundation of the whole deck. Aside from attaching five energy, which don’t even have to be basic, Electrode (perhaps more importantly) forces your opponent to take 2 Prizes, making sure your Pow! and Scramble are turned on whether or not your opponent tries to play around them. Electrode makes BombTar’s matchup against other Scramble or Pow! reliant decks virtually unlosable, especially in combination with Spinning Tail, an attack that while powerful, will keep you behind on prizes for much of the game. While you will usually only Extra Energy Bomb once in a game, be mindful of games where a second is useful or even necessary.
The most important thing to remember is that Extra Energy Bomb is much, much worse when not combined with a Rocket’s Admin.- leaving your opponent with a large hand, along with the 2 cards they draw from their prizes, will usually leave them with the tools to deal with your Tyranitar. While this is not a rule written in stone, it is almost always better to wait a turn to blow up your Electrode if you have to search for it with Professor Elm’s Training Method, though it might be better not to evolve into it right away, fearing Pokémon Reversal or Steelix ex. Also, don’t be afraid to Extra Energy Bomb for only 2 or 3 energy if you otherwise have everything else ready to go- as long as you hit your energy attachments throughout the game and keep your Scramble Energy turned on, DCC or DDCCC are nowhere near as unattainable as they seem with only manual attachments, especially in matchups that have to attack a single Tyranitar multiple times. Tip: If your Electrode ex has an energy on it for some reason, that same energy can be attached when using Extra Energy Bomb.
2 Magmar TRR44
BombTar is a deck with a lot of essential pieces, which you generally need to have all at once- having an Electrode EX without a Rocket’s Admin. or Pow! or Dark Tyranitar in play isn’t much good, and drawing 4 cards once or twice is usually enough to brute force your way into being able to do everything at once on the turn you blow up. The deck may seem like it has an energy count too low to support reliably using Dump and Draw for the full 4, but Holon Lass will usually keep you well stocked, and the cards you draw with Dump and Draw tend to feed you the resources for more. Magmar even only has a Retreat Cost of 1, so you can retreat it for another energy in the discard when you’re finally ready to blow up. Flame Tail is technically a usable attack, especially considering Electrode’s acceleration, and does Knock Out Jirachi thanks to weakness, but this has never been something which has come up as close to my best option in a given game- if you don’t have a better attacker than Magmar ready, you should probably keep using Magmar to draw until you do.
Lunatone is mostly in the deck for its Poké Body- with Lunatone and Solrock both in play, an opponent loses the ability to use Colorless and Fire type (Non-ex) Poké Powers- most notably Pidgeot RG and Magcargo DX, but also role players like Aipom UF and Porygon2 DS. Lunatone’s Moon Guidance attack is also pretty good, being able to help you set up. Using Moon Guidance 2 or 3 times isn’t very unusual. 2 Lunatone is also nice since it lets you bench your second if LBS uses Steelix ex to take it out, or so that you can Swoop! one of your Lunatone without completely cutting yourself off of the lock.
Mostly here to sit on your bench and shut off Colorless powers when combined with Lunatone, but Call for Family sets you up pretty well for a Turn 2 Moon Guidance at the very least.
Rayquaza * DX1071
Holy Star is an attack which will generally either do nothing or win the game outright. The ability to take 6 Prizes at once is an alluring one, and Electrode EX makes it at least possible (though unlikely, as Scramble can’t be attached to it.) Even when not for the full 6 Prizes, doing something like Knocking Out a Lugia ex and 100 to a Blastoise ex should set you up pretty well to end the game quickly afterward. While a Retreat Cost of 2 is not something this deck wants to see, at least it can be discarded with a Swoop! Teleporter into a useful starter.
Holon’s Castform HP441
Holon’s Castform functions mostly as a searchable “energy,” as you can get it with a Holon Mentor, and if you happen to start it you can at least use Delta Draw and get a card from each of your Larvitar. Be disciplined with this, as you can’t use Holy Star if you have already played your Castform, and you can’t get it back with Electrode. The good news is that when you do want to Holy Star, you can get both Rayquaza * and Holon’s Castform with a single Holon Mentor.
Holon Transceiver functions much like a VS Seeker except instead of being dead in your opening hand, it is at its best. 4 Transceiver essentially gives you 6 outs to a Turn 1 Holon Mentor, but can also be useful supporters once you have your basics out. Play four and never look back.
Funtctioning similarly to Brigette or Pokémon Collector, a turn 1 Mentor is what you hope to do every game. Mentor is also pretty good throughout the game, letting you fuel Electrode by discarding an energy, or just thin your deck by discarding a dead card and taking basics out of it, making your top decks better as well as making it less likely you draw bad cards off a Rocket’s Admin. 3 or even possibly 4 Mentor might be worth playing, but missing a turn 1 Mentor effect is not the game losing play it is today, and you have enough ways to draw into one or a Transceiver out of your deck that it is worth being conservative with the deck’s limited room.
An early Lass is obviously powerful- looking at the full 12 will almost always yield at least a couple of energy, setting you up to both hit your attachments and fuel Dump and Draw, but don’t forget about using Holon Lass in the middle of the game- when you really need a Heal Energy or to pair a Fire and FF, a Lass for 7 or 8 is much better than digging with Adventurer.
A single copy of Holon Adventurer makes sure that your Holon Transceiver is never dead, even after you have all the basic Pokémon and Energy cards you could want. Many decks play either Holon Adventurer or Holon Scientist for this purpose in 2006- because the deck’s goal is to Admin an opponent down low, Adventurer gets the edge in BombTar.
Admin is a card whose power is made apparent by the fact that it is played in almost every deck in the format, but it really shines in here because of Electrode ex- these are more Ace Trainer than N in here, though firing one off on Turn 1 and giving both players 6 cards is perfectly fine if you miss Mentor. Often in the early game it is better to not play a supporter if Admin is your only option and you are hitting your attachments and attacking with Lunatone or Magmar anyway- it is a key piece of your main combo, and keeping one in hand is very important.
Counter Catcher and then some, Pow! combined with Electrode lets you pick off high priority threats while you Admin your opponent down to 3 or 4 cards, or just stick something bulky active while you spinning tail. The other mode on Pow! is very good too- if your opponent has Scramble or Double Rainbow Energy, you can move it onto a basic and discard it, functioning like an Enhanced Hammer. If you have 2 Pow! in your hand, you could move an energy onto the Pokémon you want to Knock Out, then use the other to pull it active and Knock it Out. Try to be a little disciplined with these, but 3 copies should mean you’ll get a couple to play with.
This deck usually needs a few turns to sit back and get set up, and Elm lets you get either your Tyranitar pieces or your Electrode pieces so you can be ready to go as soon as you have everything. Just make sure to wait a turn if you grab an Electrode with this so you can Admin your opponent at the same time.
2 might seem like a weird number for Rare Candy, but it actually makes sense here- usually it is fine to spend the extra turn using Elm to get Pupitar, and relying too much on Rare Candy means you have to worry about games where you have one but not the other of Tyranitar and Rare Candy then playing an Admin and having to start over. You also can Moon Guidance to search for a Rare Candy when you want one.
For those of you who started playing in the last decade, Rare Candy is a much better card before the release of Black and White- it can take a basic to stage 1 or stage 2, and also can be played on a basic the turn it comes into play, even on turn 1.
Swoop! has a lot of utility- it lets you get Magmar with an energy active on it on turn 1 even if you don’t start it, solving the problem of needing to attach to your active on turn 1, attach again to Magmar on turn 2, and have energy left over for Dump and Draw, and is a lifesaver if you’re unfortunate enough to open something as unwieldy as Rayquaza *. Swoop! also lets you get around the first turn restriction which prevents the player that goes first from playing a supporter- you can’t Mentor for Magmar on turn 1, but you can Swoop! for one, and attack with it right away. Perhaps where Swoop! shines most is using it to put a Voltorb in play and evolving it straight away, keeping it safe from something like Pokémon Reversal. Make sure to be mindful when taking basics out of your deck, as leaving yourself without a Voltorb or Larvitar to Swoop! into can be potentially game losing. Don’t be afraid of putting extra random basics, like the second Lunatone or Magmar into play if you have enough energy on your only Tyranitar, as these could soak up attachments and turn into Larvitar later; just be cautious if your opponent is playing a deck with Steven’s Advice not to let them have Draw 6 supporters in their deck when you are trying to Admin them to a low hand size.
Mostly here to grab with Lunatone, though perfectly fine when you just draw it incidentally. It searches for Dark Pupitar or Dark Tyranitar. Worth including 1 for sure.
An easier to get way to remove weakness than Fire + FF, especially considering it can be searched for with Moon Guidance. Helps your Tyranitar be resilient against fighting types like Regirock ex HL, Nidoqueen RG, Exeggutor HP, or even Dark Pupitar in mirror.
1 Ancient Technical Machine – Rock
Ancient Technical Machine – Rock turns any of your evolved, non-ex (Dark Pupitar or Dark Tyranitar) into an Espeon-EX BKT for one turn. You only get one, but a well timed Stone Generator can be a game winning play. While there is the obvious use of devolving Pokémon with enough damage on them to Knock Out their lower stages, a Rock after an opponent has played all their Rare Candy can leave them unable to put more attackers into play.
Tip: Don’t be Mike Fouchet’s round 4 opponent: remember that Technical Machines don’t count as tool cards, and you can attach both at the same time.
Functionally identical to Rescue Stretcher today, Pokémon Retriever has quite a bit of utility and is rarely a dead card, so 1 is certainly worth including. The main hurdle BombTar has to clear is setting up a third Tyranitar, and being able to get back whichever piece you need is quite good. The shuffle mode can also let you put Voltorb back into your deck if you have to Swoop! into it.
4 Darkness Energy – Special
Special Dark is important partially to fuel the colored parts of Tyranitar’s attack costs, but also has the added benefit of increasing Dark Pupitar or Dark Tyranitar’s damage to the active by 10. This means that attaching a Special Dark is effectively a +20 for Grind or when used on Dark Pupitar to hit for Fighting weakness, and the 10 extra to the active can be surprisingly relevant with Spinning Tail or Bite Off, especially in multiples- 130 to a 150 HP ex like Steelix ex or Blastoise ex means a knockout with a single Spinning Tail tick, and 30 or 40 with Spinning Tail can be very strong when combined with the selective targeting offered by Pow!. Unlike the typed Special Energy printed in the XY sets, Special Darkness can be attached to any type of Pokémon, so feel free to use it to retreat something or to use Dump and Draw or Moon Guidance.
Scramble is essentially a triple rainbow at all times in this deck once you’re attacking. Pumping 30 damage into a Grind or being able to Spinning Tail for a single attachment is obviously incredibly powerful. The only real drawback to speak of is that you can’t attach Scramble to basics, which means you can’t use them to retreat into or attack with Magmar/Lunatone early. You can still discard them to Holon Supporters or Dump and Draw though, so this is only really a problem if Scramble are your only energy in hand.
Less powerful without Jirachi DX, but Heal still offers incidental value and can be attached to anything. If your Tyranitar gets paralyzed by a Bubble or stays asleep after a Sleep Song, you’ll be happy to have one of these.
Attaching an FF with a Fire is less hard than it sounds thanks to Holon Lass and Electrode ex, and when removing weakness doesn’t matter, FF still provides an energy. Since FF has no restrictions for being attached, you’ll almost never be hurt for playing it. Playing a basic fighting to get the other effect wouldn’t really do anything in this deck, so it doesn’t.
2 Fire Energy
1 Lightning Energy
The New List
While many approach playing old formats with a desire to experience an ‘authentic’ experience of the time and will stop their deckbuilding here, one of the most engaging parts of playing these decks to me is the ability to endlessly refine the decklists- while I am not calling Sebastian’s list bad by any means, it is quite far from where I have ended up with the deck after playing with it for a while. I’ve made a number of changes trying to streamline the deck- some of which I even discussed with Sebastian, who offered his experience playing the deck and hindsight. The basic strategy of the deck hasn’t really changed at all, but I believe that this is a list which more reliably, and often more quickly, assembles the combo:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 24
Energy – 16
2 Holon FF
Jirachi DX (0->2)+2
I favor Jirachi as a starter in this deck over Lunatone or Magmar because Wishing Star can be used on the same turn that you blow up your Electrode and go off. Bombtar needs to have a lot of pieces in its hand at once, and I find that having to attack with Magmar or Lunatone is too easily disrupted by an opponent playing a Rocket’s Admin. getting rid of your new card(s) before you can play them, whereas Jirachi lets you play cards right away, making the deck a turn faster and less susceptible to opposing Rocket’s Admin. While Jirachi cannot directly fuel Electrode quite as efficiently as Magmar, I play 2 Jirachi so that I can use Wishing Star with one, then attach a Heal Energy to wake up, then use the Heal Energy to retreat into a second Jirachi. You can get a Jirachi out of the active on your combo turn with either Heal + Retreat, or by using a Swoop! to trade your Jirachi for a Voltorb and then evolving out of the status and blowing up the Electrode. Jirachi is also more reliable to use on Turn 1, because if you don’t start it you can still retreat and use Wishing Star right away, unlike Lunatone or Magmar which would need 2 attachments to retreat and attack. Just try to remember when using Wishing Star that you are not necessarily always looking for cards you can play right away, but also trying to get your hand to such that you have everything you need for your “Boom Turn.” The main drawback here is Jirachi being vulnerable to Girafarig LM, but playing 1 Lunatone is an okay enough hedge for this. I think I am closer to playing 3 Jirachi than 1- this card is a must include in my opinion, and is better in multiples.
+1 Larvitar, +1 Dark Pupitar (3->4, 2->3)
I opted to thicken up the Tyranitar line- I find a fourth Larvitar makes Swoop!ing one early much less painful, and when you don’t need the fourth it can be cashed in for the full 4 with Holon Adventurer. 3 Pupitar comes with trimming the count of Elm’s- it made more sense to just play an extra copy of the things I would often get with it than the heavy count, because I would have awkward turns where I had to Elm for the last piece and be slowed down a whole turn waiting to go off and Admin, leaving me vulnerable to opposing Rocket’s Admin. A 4-3-3 line with 2 Rare Candy sticks out as unusual, but the deck really isn’t trying to get a Dark Tyranitar out on turn 1 or turn 2 like other stage 2 decks.
Electrode ex (2->3)+1
I was often playing Elm to get Electrode ex then needing to wait a turn to use it, and would usually just wish the Elm was another Electrode ex. While a 2-3 line may seem unintuitive, the deck has many more ways to search for Voltorb than Electrode thanks to Mentor and Swoop!, and I can always discard extra Electrodes to Holon Supporters.
Lapras LM (0->1)+1
Lapras’ Support Navigation is another out to a turn 1 Mentor, makes it much easier to follow up a turn 1 Mentor with a Turn 2 Holon Lass or Elm, can get an Admin when you want to go off, and has the late game utility of keeping your Mentor useful. You can also make cute plays discarding Lapras with Swoop!, then using Retriever to play it again. 2 retreat is rough, but not as rough as it would be relying on Magmar, and if you’re unfortunate enough to open it, at least sometimes you’ll draw a Swoop! to trade it in for a Jirachi. I have been very impressed with Lapras, and recommend you at least try it.
-2 Magmar (2->0)
I’ve found Magmar to be unimpressive as it is very difficult to use on turn 1 compared to Jirachi, requiring an attachment to retreat as well as an attachment to attack, while Jirachi only needs the attachment to retreat. 1 Magmar is something I could see returning to in a Mewtric heavy metagame, but I am otherwise not missing the card very much.
-1 Lunatone (2->1)
While Lunatone’s primary use is the body, 2 Lunatone seemed justified by a combination of being prized less often and Moon Guidance being a perfectly fine play. With this said, a lot of the utility of 2 Lunatone in a deck like Dragtrode is lost in this one as there are no counter stadiums for Giant Stump- you can’t just play a Desert Ruins and bench your second Lunatone like Dragtrode can, though it is still good against a Steelix ex sniping specifically Lunatone. The way the 2006 metagame has developed, 1 (or more! I play 3 copies in my LBS list) Space Center has become the unquestioned norm in LBS, and a savvy LBS player will be aware of the possibility of 2 Lunatone and make sure to snipe the Solrock instead. With this in mind, I think of Lunatone and Solrock as quite a bit more fragile than the hard lock they once represented, but absolutely still worth playing, and so I kept 1 Lunatone. Just make sure to not play them down before you have to in matchups where the lock is important to maintain.
Rayquaza * (1->0)-1
This should come as a bit of good news for those of you unwilling to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a single card. Ultimately Rayquaza proved a little bit too cute and very difficult to actually put together. It also loses quite a bit of power when it isn’t a surprise- an opponent respecting Rayquaza * won’t make it quite as easy as taking 6 Prizes at once. This when combined with the unwieldy 2 retreat made this a pretty easy cut.
Holon’s Castform (1->0)-1
While not a bad opener, a lone Castform is something I would prefer not to see. Given that maxing out on Heal Energy is so powerful with double Jirachi, and Heal being an actual energy card for Holon Lass or Electrode, I found this cut to be a painless one, though if you choose to keep Rayquaza * you shouldn’t cut Castform.
Holon Lass (2->1)-1
Without a reliance on Magmar, Holon Lass is no longer an essential part of the deck’s plan- it isn’t unusual for me to not play one in the early game, and so it isn’t as devastating to prize the single copy. Lass is still worth playing, especially since it can get Heal Energy to let you use both of your Jirachi, but it is by no means something you must play in every single game. While 2 Holon Lass is nice, I think deck space is better served elsewhere, especially given the decks ability to recur a single copy with Transceiver.
Rocket’s Admin. (3->4)+1
A card that you MUST draw every game, and would like to see in multiples- it is much better to draw 2 or even 3 copies of Admin than 0, so maxing out the count felt like a no brainer. Combined with Lapras, Admin is very rarely the choke on being able to go off anymore.
While I kept 1 to be able to get with Lapras, I generally found the card to be too slow, and just played more copies of the evolution cards I would get with it instead. It might be worth playing 2, but this is a change I’ve been very happy with.
Swoop! Teleporter (2->3)+1
The combo of Jirachi + Swoop! is so powerful that this bump felt pretty natural. Swoop! also lets you get around the rule preventing the player going first from playing a Supporter card and lets you search for a Jirachi and start using Wishing Star right away without a Mentor. Most often I am using Swoop! to turn a sleeping Jirachi into a Voltorb, which I then evolve when I am ready to blow up, making a Swoop! more or less another one of the pieces I am trying to make sure I have every game, so the higher count feels earned. This is another change I’ve been pretty happy with, though I have not wanted to try taking the next step and play the full 4.
Protective Orb (1->0)-1
I don’t respect RaiEggs as much as players going into Worlds 2006 probably did fresh off its dominance of US Nationals. Having tested the matchup quite a bit, I find it still very favorable without the Orb, and I think that Fire + FF is not that difficult to get together when I need it.
Heal Energy (2->4)+2
The Jirachi + Heal + Jirachi engine is what makes this list tick, and maxing out on Heal lets me do it as reliably as possible. Using only one Wishing Star is by no means bad, but getting to use two per turn goes so far in getting all of your combo pieces as soon as possible.
-1 Lightning Energy (1->0)
Without Rayquaza *, the only use left for the single lightning was Electrode ex’s Crush and Burn. Attacking with Electrode is pretty foolish because you really want to make your opponent Knock Out non-ex Pokémon, and if you have enough energy in play to be taking your last prize with Crush and Burn, you would probably win with Grind or Bite Off anyway.
The description of the usage of many of the cards in the deck fall into two rough categories: cards in the deck that help you find your pieces, or that are the pieces themselves. Bombtar plays quite a bit differently than most decks you’ll find in the history of the Pokémon TCG. Many of your early turns may look as though nothing is really happening- Wishing Star, attach, pass. Your early game is more or less singly focused on getting 1 or 2 Dark Tyranitar out, discarding some energy, and being ready to blow up your Electrode ex and play a Rocket’s Admin., and often a Pow!, all at once- the “Boom Turn”. Running in and using Grind for 30 or 40 as soon as you have your Tyranitar set up is foolhardy and counter to what the deck is trying to do. Just trying to get Tyranitars out and attacking as soon as possible will usually result in defeat- setting up Tyranitars tends to be more resource intensive than most decks setting up attackers capable of dealing with one, and what causes Bombtar to lose is running out of attackers more often than it is the opponent taking the sixth prize. Only start attacking with Tyranitar when you feel pretty confident your Tyranitar will get more than 1 attack off before it goes down. I can’t stress enough how important patience is for correctly piloting the deck- a big Dark Tyranitar is one of the most powerful threats you can present in 2006, and you should try not to deploy it until you can do so with some degree of protection between hand disruption, the LunaSol lock, and energy removal or gusting from Pow!.
As always, there are exceptions. Sometimes you will lose if you sit there doing nothing for too long, and you will have to take a leap of faith and try to draw the Dark Tyranitar or Pow! off the Admin, or even just blow up and Pow! something with a high Retreat Cost and hope you can stick it active for a turn while you keep trying to set up. You will lose some percentage of games when you can’t assemble the combo quickly enough- Pokémon has variance. But don’t give away the games you could have won easily because you were impatient.
Ultimately, having the right list does not matter if you are playing the wrong deck. And while there are no wrong decks in casual exploration of the format, I do believe that there are decks that are better than others, even in a format as celebrated for its diversity as 2006. In a format where decks do so many different things, a big positive for BombTar is that it is largely a deck that ignores what the opponent is doing.
Dark Tyranitar is one of the most powerful and versatile attackers available, and the deck shuts down hard any deck reliant on Pow! or Scramble Energy. While much of the rest of the format revolves around either playing Pidgeot or beating Pidgeot, Tyranitar more or less sidesteps this all and presents something which many decks are simply not equipped to deal with profitably.
Combining this with the incredible disruption afforded by Electrode and Pow! + LunaSol + Admin., BombTar is a real monster of a deck. I would confidently take BombTar into a 2006 format tournament today, as the deck manages to prey simultaneously on ex reliant decks like LBS and Dragtrode by trading 2 for 1 on prizes, the lock decks singly focused on shutting down a Pidgeot that you don’t play or looping a Pow! which you can shut down, and the ‘fair’ non-ex decks which usually rely on being able to use their own Scramble Energy. The main matchup which I feel BombTar has a problem with is the slightly unfavorable MetaNite, which differs from other non-ex decks in its aggressiveness, putting you behind in a 1 for 1 exchange because of your reliance on blowing up an Electrode.
This is not to say that BombTar should beat every deck 100% of the time, but I think given its positioning BombTar has a real but unacknowledged claim to being the best deck in the format.
I am not claiming that this is the perfect list, but it is one I have found to be quite a bit more powerful than the original. The popular approach to old format deckbuilding is one that I fiercely oppose, the clinging to ‘historical’ lists rather than leveraging the benefits of hindsight and iterative improvement. Something that I really encourage is to experiment with the list on your own and figure out how you can make it better tuned for whatever sort of 2006 format ‘metagame’ you expect. With 2006 format tournaments happening more often either locally, at some regionals, and at NAIC and Worlds, hopefully we can all experience the continued evolution of the format and push our deckbuilding skill to the limits.
The Worlds 2006 format may be prohibitively expensive for many, but the old format community is a generous and friendly one, with decks being easy to borrow, and proxies being by no means frowned upon. If you have always wanted to try an old format, find some other lists (try Dragtrode, LBS, or Yuta Komatsuda’s MetaNite) and use a website like Proxycroak to try them out with your friends. There are also a lot of resources for old format players, like the Facebook group Snowpoint Temple, or even just Twitter, which are very newcomer friendly.