Today the Fincastle Gym is continuing is look at Worlds potentials that we’ve tested over the last several weeks. The deck that we’ll look at today is one that is only in the mix thanks to the early release of Steam Siege. Much like “The Badger” from our last article, this deck scored well in our categories used to evaluate deck potential. Its consistency and speed are both pretty amazing. Its recovery may be the best of any deck we’ve tested. Its hitting power is also impressive, as it can often hit for 90 to 100+ damage for a single energy cost. As much as we like this one, we again look at this deck and struggle to answer the question, “Why not play this deck at Worlds?” Let’s look a little deeper for the answer.
As fans of both film and anime, the Fincastle Gym Leaders have seem many inclusions of “Steampunk” design in the shows and movies we watch. From everything in the film, “Steamboy”, to the Fire Nation war machines in the “Last Airbender” series, we’ve seen some pretty cool iterations of the genre. Regarding pokemon in general (and the focus of this article), we have been seeing images of the mythical pokemon Volcanion since shortly after the release of the XY video game, when hackers unlocked images of the beast, long before its intended release. With the passage of time, we’ve picked up info here and there about its typing and function. Finally, with the release of Steam Siege, TCG players received both an regular and EX version of Volcanion. From the early sneak-peeks, to the TCG release, we could not help but see a little “Steampunk” in Volcanion’s design. With its pipe-like arms that seem to double as cannons, its sharp edges and its multiple steam vents scattered across its body, Volcanion, whether intended or not, is very steampunk. However… despite its impressive appearance, there is something about Volcanion, standing there with its arms over its head in a pretty little loop, that make the “I’m a little teapot” song break loose in Gym Leader Joel’s head whenever he looks at Volcanion. Soooo, with that in mind, let’s look at “Steampunk Teapot” and then get into why Worlds just does not seem like its time.
- 4 – Volcanion (STS 25)
- 4 – Volcanion EX (STS 26)
- 2 – Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
- 3 – Professor Sycamore
- 1 – Lysandre
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 3 – Ultra Ball
- 2 – Heavy Ball
- 4 – Trainers’ Mail
- 2 – N
- 3 – Fighting Fury Belt
- 1 – Hex Maniac
- 1 – Pokemon Ranger
- 1 – Escape Rope
- 2 – Energy Retrieval
- 2 – Fisherman
- 2 – Blacksmith
- 2 – Professor’s Letter
- 1 – Startling Megaphone
- 2 – Switch
- 2 – Scorched Earth
- 12 – Fire Energy
When we first looked at Volcanion EX, our initial thought, which was surely shared by many other players, was that it would make Entei unstoppable. We started with a basic Entei/Charizard EX list, swapped the Charizard line for Volcanion EX and then started testing from there. In its own right, it proved to be a pretty good combo (emphasis on “good”, as it was tough to get a 1st-turn “Flame Screen” attack with any energy left for Volcanion’s “Steam Up” ability). The high “Blacksmith” count seemed to make the list a little clunky, as the strategy of “tanking” an Entei did not seem to blend very well with taking advantage of Volcanion’s ability to add damage. As Joel tinkered with this list, he added a regular Volcanion and stumbled onto what we think is a better combo.
Joel opened a test game with the regular Volcanion and 2 of the EX’s, tossed 2 Fire Energy with the abilities, attached a “Fury Belt” and hit with “Power Heater” for 90 damage, reattaching the 2 Fire and, in the process, turning the lights on deep in the caverns of Joel’s brain, where the “teapot” song was apparently clouding his vision. Much like his experience w/the “Badger” deck and adding “Revitalizer” cards to it, Joel changed the count of the regular Volcanion from 1 copy to the eventual maximum of 4. As those numbers increased, the need for “Blacksmith” dwindled. What Joel kept on seeing the need for was a way to get Fire Energy cards in his hand. While the counts in our list are, of course, open to player preference, we found the 2-2 count of “Energy Retrieval” and “Fisherman” to be a pretty good balance. We ran the count of Volcanion EX to 4 as well, treating it like the old Plasma Deoxys EX (except this version can add so much more damage).
The regular Volcanion (we’re not calling it “Baby” Volcanion, we hate that label… how about “Junior” instead) and its steam boosted “Power Heater” attack is the core attacker of “Teapot”. The consistent 90-120 damage from the 130 HP (170 w/Belt) is amazing. Junior’s 2nd attack, “Steam Artillery”, which can be easily powered with “Blacksmith”, can hit 190-200 damage with a little help from the EX’s ability.
The only problem that we had to work out is the effect of “Power Heater” and its required attachments from the discard pile to benched pokemon. The discard pile is “public”, so you can’t fail a search through it… meaning that if there is energy is present, you have to attach it. What we found was necessary to manage this was to attack with the EX from time to time. “Volcanic Heat” does a solid 130 damage with the unfortunate caveat of a “This Pokemon can’t attack on your next turn” effect. The effect can be voided if you play “Pokemon Ranger” on your next turn. If that is not an option, simply pay the retreat cost of 3 energy and switch back to Junior. This places at least 3 energy back in the discard, available to be recovered for a “Steam Up” or reattached with “Power Heater”.
“Teapot” tested very well against “Night March”. As a matter of fact, it almost played like a “March” mirror match, meaning the outcome often came down to who attacked 1st. The high damage output allowed it to trade well with all of the EX and Mega decks like, Darkrai, Giratina, Zygarde, Manectric and Rayquaza. We steered away from this one mainly because of 1 card, Seismitoad EX. We honestly don’t know how much “Toad” to expect, but whether it is a lot or a little, we are not losing any more games to that freaking card.
One thing we at the Gym have always wondered is that if card designers, more specifically, those who assign the weakness value to a new card, have any knowledge of the character as its exists in the video game. Do they spin the “wheel o’ weakness”, throw darts at a chart, or is there an ulterior motive? Why make Volcanion weak to Water-types when the VG version is weak to Rock, Ground and Lightning types? By rights, the card should probably be weak to “Fighting” (the TCG catch-all for Ground, Rock and Fighting). The unfortunate Water weakness leaves this deck open to obliteration by “Water Box” decks and Greninja BREAK decks.
“Teapot” is fairly item-heavy, meaning that it does struggle against Trevenant and Vileplume. However, hitting Vespiquen for weakness seems like it should even that match-up (one we have not tested enough to say one way or another). If you wanted to twist this list into something that could give Trevenant fits, shift this list to include 3-4 “Rough Seas” stadiums (as the dual type EX can heal off “Silent Fear” damage time after time). Item lock decks don’t scare us off with this deck as much as ability lock decks do. Garbodor, Greninja, Wobbuffet, “Silent Lab”… these are all crippling to a deck that relies so heavily the “Steam Up” ability. In testing, we’ve muddled our way through some games against Garbodor lists, but it becomes a grind-it-out kind of game where you have to rely on the EX’s attack and Junior’s “Steam Artillery” attack heavily.
As far as Worlds goes, “Steampunk Teapot” (pretty sweet band name… if anyone’s looking) scores very high in all of our categories. It’s the potential match-up review that makes this deck a little too risky for our tastes. We love the deck. As much as we wanted Volcanion EX to work with Entei (Gym Leader Georgia’s favorite ‘mon), it just seems to function better for us as listed above. Once Worlds passes and the new Standard format kicks in, “Teapot” should be able to keep on cooking w/water. The loss of “Blacksmith” is one of the only hits the list takes, and although we haven’t tested that way, it should function just fine without it. The loss of “Startling Megaphone” is probably a more painful loss. When “Megaphone” and “Xerosic” rotate, there will not be a way to remove tools from Garbodor, leaving any deck dependent on abilities in hot water. Hopefully a future set will bring another anti-tool card. If not, you’ll just have to catch Garbodor and knock it out.
We hope you enjoyed the look at this deck. It’s not our intention to assault your mind with subliminal messages with this array of annoying song references. However, if you brain is still haunted by “Badger, Badger, Badger, Mushroom, Mushroom”, then maybe a few rounds of “teapot” will ease you pain. See you tomorrow at the Mob!