The Fincastle Pokemon Gym’s final Spring Spotlight connects us back to the Gym Leaders’ first years involved with the TCG. As those who were deep into the format at the time were squaring off with Luxray GL Level X/Garchomp C Level X (better known as “Luxchomp”) and Mewtwo Level X, we were still buying a pack here and there and learning how to build decent decks. We went to our first Nationals that year (2010) and despite not being serious contenders, showed our flare for this game and potential (that we did probably not yet recognize) to do great things. Logan claimed a winning record, missing a top 32 spot by one loss with a Gyarados(SF)/Blastoise(PLT) deck that he created. Joel, while finishing under .500 (4-5), realized that he was on to something, as despite being far from the top tables, he drew several crowds of spectators who gathered to see what he was playing.
Gym Leader Joel had created one of the only decks at that time that could 1-hit anything, and in the process of doing so, found his 1st favorite pokemon character (that still is his favorite today). Joel’s deck centered around Golem (19/99) from the Platinum: Arceus set. Partnered with Bronzong (13/100) from DP: Stormfront and Arceus’s Spiritomb (32/99), Joel would set up Golem, dig out energy with Bronzong and attack for whatever damage was necessary to earn the KO, as he could dictate how much damage Golem did using its “Tumble Down” attack. The deck was a little slow, but he made some amazing comeback wins and lost some very close games with it. Since that time, Joel is always awaiting the next Golem to be printed, hoping it has enough potential to play.
Apparently the people at Pokemon hate Golem.
Joel had to wait for 18 sets of cards, from November of 2009 until May of 2014 to see his next Golem, printed in the Furious Fists expansion. That Golem ranked right up there somewhere between the live action “Last Airbender” movie and Y2K in terms of not quite living up to expectations. However, as EX cards continued to roll out, many of which were based on “base set” era characters, Joel held out hope that Golem might get a little “EX” treatment. In fact, he declared that if Pokemon printed a Golem EX, that he would make a deck with it, no matter how bad it was. Pokemon delivered, printing Golem EX in Generations, and yes, it was pretty bad. Giving it a ridiculous energy cost (3 Fighting + 1 Colorless) to hit for 180 damage (not bad) while doing 60 damage to yourself (bad) did not put this card on anyone’s “must have” list.
So, Joel bought 4 of them and went to work, looking for a way to unleash Golem‘s inner Boulder (here comes the tie in). Any of you that suffered through the film mentioned above know the pain we felt watching one of the best animated franchises of our lives, “Avatar, The Last Airbender”, get turned into one of, if not the worst film we have ever sat through. The American animated Nickelodeon series, airing from 2005-2007, was amazing. From laugh-out-loud episodes like “Nightmares and Daydreams”, to ones that were downright horrifying like “The Puppetmaster”, the show kept us riveted all the way to the end. So much so, that even now, we rank it among our favorite Japanese Anime, like “Deathnote”, “Attack On Titan”, “Fate/Zero” and “Tokyo Ghoul” (albeit, a little tamer than our Japanese favorites).
One of the highlights of the Avatar series came early in the 2nd season. “The Blind Bandit” episode was an epic tribute to the classic days of WWF wrestling, as the main characters visited an “Earthbending” tournament, “Earth Rumble 6” to be exact, which was populated with characters paying tribute to wrestlers of old, like the “Iron Sheik”, “Andre the Giant” and “Randy Macho Man Savage”. The latter, dubbed “The Boulder”, had Savage pegged, from his voice to his 3rd-person references to himself. You may have conflicted feeling about centering a deck around such an atrocious EX like the new Golem. We have to agree with The Boulder when he says, “The Boulder’s over his conflicted feelings and now he’s ready to bury you in a rock-alanche!”
- 3 – Golem EX (GEN 46)
- 3 – Landorus (FFI 58)
- 1 – Hawlucha (FFI 63)
- 1 – Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
- 3 – Korrina
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 1 – Lysandre
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 4 – Ultra Ball
- 4 – Trainers’ Mail
- 4 – Max Elixir
- 3 – Protection Cube
- 2 – Fighting Fury Belt
- 2 – Switch
- 1 – Escape Rope
- 1 – Professor’s Letter
- 1 – Sacred Ash
- 1 – Startling Megaphone
- 3 – Scorched Earth
- 4 – Strong Energy
- 10 – Fighting Energy
The strategy of The Boulder is not much different from the animated character. Run straight at your opponent and smash them. This list is centered around accelerating energy to Golem as quickly as possible, in a similar fashion to that used in our last article “Liberace”. Using the combination of “Max Elixir” and Landorus’s “Shout of Power” attack, we often power up the Golem as early as turn 2. It does not matter what you are playing against when you start swinging for 180 damage (or more with “Strong Energy”) on turn 2. If you don’t run the table with the 1st Golem, it usually lasts long enough to give you enough time to ready a 2nd one on the bench before the 1st one goes down. If you can keep the pressure on for multiple turns, meaning attack with “Megaton Fall” for 3 or 4 consecutive turns, The Boulder says, “You may be big, but you ain’t bad… The Boulder’s gonna win this in a landslide!”
The key to keeping Golem afloat is avoiding that nasty side effect of “Megaton Fall”, 60 damage to yourself. The supporter card, “Korrina” is the key to this task. Golem EX needs the tool card “Protection Cube” attached to protect it from self-damage. Sometimes you draw it on its own or hit it with a “Trainers’ Mail”. When you don’t, “Korrina” lets you search out the tool, which saves Golem from its horrible printing.
As we said earlier, energy acceleration in The Boulder works much like process we use on Kyurem EX in our last deck article. You try to combine energy attachments from your hand with those from an attack, namely “Shout of Power”, which attaches 1 from the discard pile to a benched pokemon. Our method in this list for getting energy in the discard pile is the combination of “Ultra Ball” and the “Scorched Earth” stadiums. In concert with these methods, “Max Elixir” usually rounds out the energy cost. “Elixir” works well in this list, as we play 10 basic energy, making them relatively easy to hit.
The biggest disadvantage that The Boulder has in comparison with the Kyurem deck is the ability to retreat. Manaphy EX makes retreating in the water deck an easy problem to work around. The Boulder needs a little help, so we added the 2 “Switch” and 1 “Escape Rope” cards, which are both searchable with “Korrina”. The only reason we included a copy of Hawlucha is so that you have a free-retreater to send up while you power up Golem. Hawlucha and “Rope” can also force your opponent to switch into something that was hiding from Golem EX on the bench, like an EX attacker or a Shaymin EX. It’s hard to imagine that 180-220 damage is not enough nowadays, but the 40 HP boost from an opponent’s “Fighting Fury Belt” can allow an EX to survive a hit from Golem. We included a single copy of “Startling Megaphone” to deal with that. 1 copy of this card is usually enough if you time it right, although a 2nd copy often seems like it may be necessary. On the flip side, the 2 “Belt” cards in our list make Landorus a little tougher to take out at 160 HP.
Gym Leader Joel has had this list together since the Generations release. Fates Collide provided some nice Fighting-type support, mainly in the form of the 2 Carbink cards and their “Break” evolution. They seem like obvious substitutes from the Landorus and Hawlucha, but we have not had a chance to test them yet. The only advantages that we see to Landorus are that you can use “Shout of Power” on your 1st turn (if you go second) and that it can provide more HP than Carbink. The “Safeguard” ability on Carbink coupled with the fact that its “Diamond Gift” attack attaches 2 energy cards at a time makes it a better option than Landorus. “Diamond Gift” also can re-attach “Strong Energy” from the discard pile. It seems like the obvious upgrade to The Boulder, but would likely require a little re-design in the list.
Despite the card hate that pokemon gives this portly Megaton boulder, Golem remains Gym Leader Joel’s favorite. Is The Boulder competitive? In a world without Vespiquen/Vileplume… sure. The Grass weakness and the instant item lock from V/VP takes away everything that make The Boulder roll. Joel would love to show up at Nationals with this deck and let it eat. However, we know that Vespiquen will be a popular choice for those that don’t want to lose to Night March. If he thought he could even match his last Golem run at Nationals of 4-5, he’d give it a go, as it would be a fun deck to play. However, with Joel’s luck at Nats, he likely draw V/VP for the 1st 4 or 5 rounds and just be forced to sit there and watch, which is one of the lovely features of this format (come on rotation….). We’re sure there will be a pick up tournament or 2 with The Boulder’s name on it. Depending on what happens with this year’s rotation, The Boulder may have a place soon. We are over our conflicted feelings about this sketchy card and know, if nothing else, Golem EX could surely grab a spot as a late-game hitter in a Fighting-type deck.
The Bolder wraps up our Spring Spotlight series. We at the Gym know that the decks that we featured won’t be World Championship contenders. We like to do the series as a reminder that there is a world outside of the “must-play” deck sites and that sometimes is nice to just play this kids game for fun. We have always enjoyed the creative side of the TCG and we hope you have enjoyed a look into our online collection. At last check, we have 364 decks together in the PTCGO, spanning both the Expanded and Standard formats. We could post a deck a week for quite some time and never run out of material. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to do so. We try to pick some of our favorites to share with you. Thanks for reading! Check back soon to see what’s next up in Fincastle. Until then, see you at the Gym!