A Look At The Format – Part 1 – Blastoise/Keldeo EX

bkWith the 2nd round of Regionals completed, the format has definitely taken shape.  However, with the approach of the next release, Plasma Storm, there will surely be a shift towards certain decks, especially with the new “Team Plasma” mechanic that will accompany the new set.  That being said, the format at the moment is a healthy one.  By healthy, we mean that there are lots of different decks that perform well and no one deck that dominates all others.  The right deck in the hands of a skilled player can beat anything else on a given day.  The freedom to play what you want and do well with it definitely makes the game more enjoyable for everyone.  With that in mind, we will look at several of the top decks at the moment.  It is impossible to cover them all, but we hope this will shed a little light on the competitive side of Pokemon for those who are newer to the game.

The first deck that we will look at is Blastoise/Keldeo EX.  We chose this one first, because at the recent VA Regionals, it was the most played of all the decks that we saw.  We feel it is played so much because it is very straight forward and easy for players of all levels to play.  Is it the best?  That is a hard question to answer.  The results say, “no”.  Several of these decks made the top cut and 1 made it to the top 4 of the Masters Division.  However, it was absent from the finals of both the Masters and Seniors.  A quick look at other Regionals show that it did take the top spot at other venues.  Again, we feel these results are more indicative of the players and not the decks.  We guess you’ll have to draw your own conclusions.  Lets looks at the deck.

Here’s a pretty standard list:

  • 4 – Squirtle
  • 3 – Blastoise
  • 3 – Keldeo EX
  • 2 – Mewtwo EX
  • 4 – Professor Juniper
  • 4 – N
  • 3 – Skyla
  • 3 – Bianca
  • 4 – Rare Candy
  • 4 – Pokemon Catcher
  • 1 – Computer Search
  • 4 – Ultra Ball
  • 4 – Energy Retrieval
  • 1 – Tropical Beach
  • 1 – Tool Scrapper
  • 1 – Super Rod
  • 2 – Eviolite
  • 12 – Water Energy

What we have seen for sure is that there are lots of ways to build this deck.  This is a pretty basic build.  We say “pretty basic” because of 1 card… “Tropical Beach”.  This card is touted as a MUST in this deck.  The catch… these cards were only given to staff and competitors at the 2011 and 2012 World Championships.  Unless you made it to either event, you have to turn to EBAY or other card vendors to track one down.  If you want one, how about $110-$150 a piece!  Yeah.  There are a lot of staff members from the 2 events that have definitely cashed in on their copies, because there were a lot a them in decks this past weekend.  Is the card worth it?  It is good, but probably not THAT good.  The benefit comes from getting it on first turn and using it to fill your hand after exhausting everything else, increasing the chances of getting that 2nd turn Blastoise and allowing you to attack with Keldeo EX on that 2nd turn.  A good build can achieve this with or without the “beach”.  Using the “beach” often prompts your opponent to play a “N”.  If he/she does, you have still end up with a 6 card hand for your next turn.  Later in games were the prize count is low, ‘N” can devastate your next turn by leaving you with sometimes only 1 0r 2 cards.  “Beach” gives you an out if you are stuck with a small/bad hand.

There are lots of different ways to “tech” out the deck.  Many decks add Bouffalant (DRX) to deal with opposing EX’s.  Some people add the regular Keldeo (47/149 BCR) to knock out opposing Sigilpyh (the anti-EX one), while some just turn to Blastoise to take care of that threat.  Some players are more comfortable have the Stage 1 Wartortle in the build, while some rely on hitting Blastoise and “Rare Candy” when needed.  Pretty much anything that uses water energy (or colorless) can fit into this deck.

If you like coin flips, you might replace the “Eviolite”s, “Super Rod” and/or an “Energy Retrieval” or 2 for a 4 card line of “Super Scoop Up” (SSU).  With the SSU, you return Keldeo to your hand with all energy, thus removing the damage from it.  From there, you simply bench the same one again, reattach however much energy you choose with Blastoise‘s ability, then use Keldeo EX‘s “Rush In” ability to move it back to the active spot.  Hitting heads on the SSU card can completely crush whatever advantage your opponent had.  On the other hand, flipping tails on the SSU when you rely on that to stay in the game can cost you severely, especially if you chose SSU over “Energy Retrieval.”  You may lose vital energy cards that you cannot get back when needed.

Another option in the build is to alter the “Ultra Ball” line.  Often when setting up in the opening 2 turns, you may have too many vital cards to throw away with Ultra Ball.  Some prefer a mix of “Level” and “Heavy Ball”, while some like using Ultra to get whatever they need.  This choice really depends on the build and your style of play.  The danger in more aggressive builds with Ultra and a heavy line of Juniper is the possibility of decking out.  The payoff, however, is a 2nd turn Keldeo EX attacking for over 110 damage, which often may be all you need for the game.

Now let’s look at major threats to the deck.  The most obvious is Garbodor.  Its ability “Garbotoxin” shuts off all other abilities when a tool card is attached to it.  No abilities in Blastoise/Keldeo means you are shut down completely.  This makes at least 1 “Tool Scrapper” an absolute necessity.  The Scrapper can allow you to free yourself from the lock just long enough to load up a Keldeo and go to town.  The other major threat to Keldeo decks is the time-tested Mewtwo EX.  It is a strong counter to Keldeo because of Keldeo EX‘s high energy requirement.  Just remember, playing your Mewtwo down will usually spark the back and forth Mewtwo war, as Mewtwo EX remains its own best counter.  Shaymin EX is a good counter to Blastoise and Keldeo because of their shared Grass-type weakness, but the danger in playing Shaymin EX is either starting with it or playing it down before you should.  It is 1 of the most fragile EX’s and is easy “catcher bait”.  It would not be difficult to build a deck to simply counter Blastoise/Keldeo.  The drawback to doing so would be how the same deck would perform against other decks.

We could go on about this deck for a while, but we simply wanted to give you a look at it and some insight to some different ways of playing it.  Keep in mind that as Mewtwo, Darkrai and Rayquaza EX came out in promo tins, Keldeo EX will come out in February (with White & Black Kyurem EX).  When this happens, Blastoise/Keldeo will be a very affordable deck to build, as the tin will give you the EX and you can dig extra Blastoise out of the Boundaries Crossed starter deck.

Check back in a day or two and we will look at another one of the big guns, Zekrom/Rayquaza/Eels.  The weather seems to be clearing up, so we will definitely have league as normal this Sunday.  See you at the Gym!

 

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