On the morning of Limitless Qualifier #4, I woke up and started to mentally prepare myself for a tournament run that could mean my fourth second-stage placement in a row and possibly earning my invite to the Limitless Invitational. For me there was a lot on the line, and my anxiety was naturally pretty high. I was talking to my teammates in order to get myself to calm down while I waited for the first round to be posted when someone informed me that new cards for our upcoming set, Darkness Ablaze, had been revealed. Naturally, everyone started debating the viability of the new Vs and VMAXs, and how they might hold up in a theoretical future metagame. The attention of many people was captivated by Eternatus VMAX, and people started conversation over its place in this speculative meta. However, another card piqued my interest far more than any other card revealed. While everyone else was distracted with Eternatus, I was fixated on a widely overlooked pre-evolution: Gothita.
Gothita has the attack Fortune Eye, which, for a single P Energy, allows you to look at the top 5 cards of your opponent’s deck and reorder them as you please. This is unbelievably good and could be the saving grace for post-rotation Cinccino Control that I had been looking for. I was ecstatic.
As soon as I saw Gothita, I immediately started drafting a list. It not only excited me, but also gave me something to work on and get my mind off a stressful tournament, especially after a loss. Throughout the day, I slowly pieced together a list. Eventually, I finished a very rough draft and put it aside to focus on the tournament; I needed to win 4/4 of my next rounds to make Phase 2 once more. After finishing my final Limitless run, having just barely whiffed the invite, I continued to work on my Gothita list. Initially, I was trying to make Excadrill UNM work with it. There were obvious issues with the concept, as Excadrill not only took up too much space, but also required a F Energy in order to use its Rototiller attack. This meant that I would need to find room in an already extremely space-tight list and run two different types of Energy. I contemplated Aurora Energy, but I wanted to be able to reap the full benefits of Ordinary Rod, and run basic Energy. I pondered over my conundrum when I had an epiphany: Drilbur CEC.
When crafting an Excadrill list, the optimal Drilbur to run is obviously the Drilbur printed in Cosmic Eclipse, as it has Rototiller as well, but it only shuffles in 1 card instead of 4. On paper, in a more traditional Control build, that’s relevant because you are trying to lock your opponent’s hand with Chip-Chip Ice Axe and you can easily maintain the lock with Drilbur, recycling a Chip-Chip Ice Axe to cover the next turn, when you can evolve into Excadrill and start aggressively accelerating your win condition. However, Drilbur on its own is oddly versatile, as its Rototiller attack only costs a single C Energy.
Applying this back to Gothita, the biggest question was explicitly apparent: “Is one card enough?” Could Drilbur actually hold up a Control deck by retrieving a single resource per turn? The answer was a very surprising and very resounding “Yes.” Drilbur and Gothita individually are both slightly underwhelming in that Gothita needs a partner that can recycle resources in order to carry out its strategy throughout a long, drawn-out game. Drilbur needs a way to reliably fix the opponent’s topdeck, while also retrieving Bellelba & Brycen-Man to accelerate its win condition and discard the good cards that you don’t want your opponent having access to. However, Gothita and Drilbur are very synergistic in that they cover each other’s weaknesses. Gothita can rig 5 cards in any way it wants (meaning that multiple turns can be covered), while Drilbur can retrieve much-needed resources on turns where another Fortune Eye isn’t necessary. Together, as long as you can reliably pivot between them, they can maintain a complete hand lock and stop the opponent from finishing the game.
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