One of the goals that Gym Leader Joel sets out to accomplish in writing deck articles for the Fincastle Pokemon Gym is to tie the article to some sort of pop culture theme. Gym Leader Joel has spent the better part of the last 40 years immersed in “pop culture”, which is admittedly a broad category. To him, that includes everything from the old Toho Godzilla movies, to anime movies and series, both old and current, to TV series and commercials, to every type of music he has been able to get his hands on. His goals in writing in this fashion are two-fold. One, he tries to make the article differ from the standard, “Here is your deck list” and “Here is how it did in the last tournament” format that flood pokemon TCG sites. Two, he hopes that some of these themes may put you onto something cool that you might have missed over the years (or in many cases, before your time). Today’s deck, the 3rd in this series, ties into one of the greatest animated shows that never took off the way it should have thanks to some poor decision-making from the Cartoon Network.
The name, Genndy Tartakovsky, is not exactly a household name. However, “Dextor’s Laboratory”, “Samurai Jack” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (the series of shorts that bridged the gap from the Episode II movie to the opening scene of Episode III) might at least ring a bell or two. The one that you might have missed was his 2010-11 series, “Sym-Bionic Titan”, a nice play on the word “symbiotic”. The show was a bit of a throwback to classics like “Voltron” or “Speed Racer”, with a little “Godzilla” mixed in. The strength of the show was the weaving of the concept of a “giant robot vs space monsters” into the background of a high school drama. The lead characters, Ilana (a princess hiding on earth from war on her home planet), Lance and Octus (a soldier and robot assigned to guard her), all were equipped with battle armor that could combine to form the gigantic, Spartan-esque robot, Sym-Bionic Titan. Titan was tasked with dispatching the seemingly endless stream of Godzilla-sized alien monsters sent to earth to find and kill Ilana.
The show, which Cartoon Network killed after 20 episodes because there were no toys or other revenue generating merchandise tied to the series, pulled our family in as fans after 1 episode. The series hit on everything from street racing, to suburban living, to high school dating and popularity angst, to espionage within a royal family, all the while pleasing fans like Gym Leader Joel with epic monster battles, including one set to “Space Age Love Song” from 80’s icon, A Flock of Seagulls. A quick look at the Titan should reveal where we’re taking this as far as the pokemon TCG goes. The Black & White series introduced pokemon’s own titan, Golurk, to both the TCG and VG. We love the concept of the character, Golurk, but unfortunately, it has never found much of a home in either the TCG or VG.
The Golurk released in Ancient Origins (35/98) was the 1st card version of this titan that seemed viable for competitive play. However, the heavy energy requirement of its “Superpower” attack, handicapped the card in this special energy/item lock format. Gym Leader Joel has thrown Golurk into multiple decks, including Bronzong/metal decks, “Eeveelutions” decks, Yveltal EX decks, to name a few, all in attempts to accelerate energy onto the iron giant. The list you are about to see is one that came from an evening where Gym Leader Joel worked with variants of M Manectric EX and every Stage 1 that seemed feasible to pair with it. Webster defines “symbiotic” as “the intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship”. Turned out, the pairing of M Manectric EX and Golurk fit that definition to a tee, as they seem about as dissimilar as any 2 cards in the game, but benefit each other nicely.
- 4 – Manectric EX (PHF 23 & 113)
- 3 – M Manectric EX (PHF 24 & 120)
- 3 – Golett (FFI 42)
- 3 – Golurk (AOR 35)
- 1 – Shaymin EX (ROS 106)
- 3 – Battle Compressor
- 3 – Dimension Valley
- 3 – Float Stone
- 1 – Lysandre
- 4 – Manectric Spirit Link
- 3 – Professor Sycamore
- 1 – Rough Seas
- 3 – Shauna
- 1 – Super Rod
- 4 – Trainers’ Mail
- 4 – Ultra Ball
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 2 – Double Colorless Energy
- 2 – Flash Energy
- 8 – Lightning Energy
Let’s look at Golurk 1st, as it boasts a few features that we had not seen on a pokemon card prior to its release. For a Stage 1, Golurk has a little of everything. It has both and “Ancient Trait” and an Ability. The ancient trait, “Theta Stop” prevents Golurk from being affected by abilities from your opponent’s pokemon. This means it takes no “bite” damage from the Crobat line, can’t be poisoned by Ariados or put to sleep by Hypno and, most importantly, can’t have its own ability, “Double Type”, shut off by Garbodor. Speaking of that ability, “Double Type” allows Golurk, a Psychic type, to also be a Fighting type, meaning that it can benefit from support cards like “Strong Energy”, “Fighting Stadium” and “Focus Sash”. This additional typing also brings into play a mechanic we’ve never seen before. Golurk’s attack, “Superpower” gives you the option of doing 40 more damage (in addition to the base 80 damage), in exchange for doing 20 damage to yourself. However, because of its Fighting-type resistance, the self-damage is negated because Golurk is also a Fighting-type. Follow all of that? The only ways that we know of to shut off Golurk’s ability are the Supporter “Hex Maniac” and the effect of Greninja’s attack, “Shadow Stitching”. In the event that one of those 2 things happened, Golurk would damage itself, as during that turn, he would only be a Psychic-type.
The reason we think Golurk fits so well in this list is that he is the perfect counter to Gallade (BKT 84), Yveltal EX and Seismitoad EX’s counter to M Manectric EX. Whether you chose to do the extra damage or not with “Superpower” (which we hope the above paragraph illustrates is a choice of no consequence), Golurk 1-hits Gallade, a task the M Manectric EX cannot do on its own. Thanks to the “Dimension Valley” stadiums, Golurk’s heavy attack cost gets a little lighter, as the stadium cuts the cost to 3 energy. Since “Superpower” only requires Colorless energy, you don’t have to work anything into the list but Lightning energy. We like the mix shown above, but you could easily switch that to all basic Lightning energy, if you so choose. One option that we considered but did not do in this list, was to work in a small line (no more than 1-1 or 2-2) of Jolteon (AOR 26/98), which would turn Golurk into a Lightning type (in addition to the 2 types it already sports), allowing it to use “Flash” energy, which would eliminate Golurk’s weakness. We feel pretty comfortable with the list as it is, letting M Manectric EX cover Golurk’s weakness to Darkness-types.
Speaking of being comfortable with the list… Gym Leader Joel has piloted “Titan” to a 16-1 record in the PTCGO, winning 2 online tournaments with it. He tried on several occasions to get either of younger leaders, Logan and Georgia, play “Titan” during the City Championship series. Golurk’s Psychic typing would have given them easy advantages over both Lucario EX and M Mewtwo EX, while the Fighting typing would have easily swung games against opposing M Manectric EX variant in their favor. Neither leader seemed interested, so it never saw play. Gym Leader Joel had the list on hand to play multiple times, but ended up judging at several events and manning our store at the last event that he could have played in, the North Carolina State Championships.
Perhaps at a glance, the symbiotic relationship between M Manectric EX and Golurk does not jump out at you. Gym Leader Joel’s experience with “Titan” can best be described as “consistent”, which is a word most seasoned players like to hear. Like most Manectric decks, you take a quick KO or 2 with your opening “Mega”, all the while charging Golurk on the bench with energy from the discard pile (put there with “Battle Compressor”). Once you fall back behind your 1st iron giant, it’s usually pretty easy to get a 2nd Golurk going before you lose the 1st one. If you don’t close a game out with a barrage of “Titans”, you should be able to finish the same way you started. In the TV show, the Titan packed everything from missiles to giant swords and axes, to just straight up hand-to-hand combat. Nothing super complicated in the TCG version… the key is seeing which of the 3 types in your arsenal might give you the best advantage and pursuing that advantage from the opening coin flip.
The current meta game seems to have shifted away from “Titan”, but we would not rule it out of any match-up. While we feel this deck could have easily put a few City Championship and League Challenges under its belt, it niche may be narrow at the moment. We suggest throwing into on online play-test list, at least, as it may be “rogue” enough to cause problems for those who mainly test against “March”, Vespiquen, Trevenant and “Toad”. If nothing else, letting Golurk hit the field for a round or two gives it some well-deserved playing time for the Titan that Pokemon, for whatever reason, seems to keep on the bench. Hope you enjoyed the read… check back towards the end of the week for at least one more Spring Spotlight. See you at the Gym!