Today we are going to look at our 2nd budget deck of our “Bargain Bin” series. As we pointed out last time, when new cards are released, some deck combos are strikingly obvious to experienced TCG players. These instant decks (just add water) are usually the 1st to flood the flooded arena of “pay to keep reading” websites and the more accessible YouTube channels, as they both are always digging for content for their readers and viewers. “Instant decks” are often those that receive a lot of hype when a set is released, usually bound to fade away into the shadows of the deck establishment. Today’s deck is one of those “instant decks”. However, this is one that we would caution you to not write off too quickly. We’ve tested this one and we like it a lot. And, to beat the band, it just happens to fall nicely into our budget category.
A card or set of cards that jumps out as an obvious deck combination is not a bad thing. Whether it is something recent like Mega Rayquaza or Darkrai/Hypno, or something from way back like Reshiram/Typhlosion or Serperior/Reuniclus, Pokemon releases cards with intended combinations in mind. Sometimes they come all in one set and sometimes you are given the combo over 2 consecutive sets. The order of the decks mentioned above is no accident. The former 2 are decks that proved to be very competitive, as the Reshiram deck was the most played deck at the 2011 Worlds and Rayquaza has grabbed top spots at event after event, despite the fact that it is perhaps the most countered deck we have ever witnessed. Both the Darkrai and Serperior decks received plenty of hype, but have never seen the success their designers surely envisioned. The following should illustrate how obvious today’s deck was to us and to many others.
I picked up Gym Leader Logan one afternoon and on our 8-10 minute car ride home, he said that we should try a deck with the new Golduck. Over my years in this game, I (Gym Leader Joel) have seen many printings of different Golduck cards. Many of the cards seemed, at the time, to have potential. With attacks like “Aquafall”, “Water Slide”, “Amnesia/Encore” and “Derail” (feel free to look these up on your own if you want a more complete history of the duck), Golduck has always been on the verge of being playable. So, when Logan said this, my immediate response was, “yeah, maybe as a tech in something.” Despite the fact that I obtained 3 or 4 ducks at Sun & Moon pre-releases, I honestly never looked at them. Logan continued on, explaining what it did and adding that if you mixed this with the Evolutions Starmie, that you could just keep feeding the monkey, in the parlance of our times, and try to 2-shot everything. I added, “Forget trying to 2-shot stuff, just play ‘Bursting Balloon’ and you get 180 damage for 1 energy.” Logan immediately followed with the idea of adding Octillery (should sound familiar if you read our last one), playing “Dive Ball” and keeping it EX-free. So, in our 8 minute drive, we worked out almost the entire deck.
I searched “Sun & Moon Golduck deck” when we got home and found what I expected… that we were not the only ones that saw this one. The bonus in that was that we did not have to hash out counts of hardly anything in the deck. We saw a few cards difference between the versions, so we built it in the PTCGO and quickly worked it out to our liking.
- 4 – Psyduck (SUM 28)
- 4 – Golduck (SUM 29)
- 2 – Staryu (EVO 30)
- 2 – Starmie (EVO 31)
- 2 – Remoraid (BKT 32)
- 2 – Octillery (BKT 33)
- 1 – Teammates
- 1 – Fisherman
- 2 – Lysandre
- 3 – N
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 4 – Dive Ball
- 2 – Level Ball
- 4 – Trainers’ Mail
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 3 – Bursting Balloon
- 2 – Float Stone
- 1 – Professor’s Letter
- 2 – Super Rod
- 1 – Energy Retrieval
- 2 – Silent Lab
- 7 – Water Energy
- 1 – Splash Energy
If you want a humorous video tutorial to pilot this deck, look up Tiny Tunes Adventures – The Potty Years. As Plucky learns the wonderment of flushing the potty, this funny animated short lays out an exact blueprint of how the deck works… “Water go down the hole… water go down the hole.” And then, of course, “Water came back!”
The latest version of Golduck finally crosses that boundary from staying on the verge of play-ability to being a sound centerpiece for a deck. It has everything that a low HP pokemon needs to be competitive. Golduck has 2 1-energy attacks and a free retreat cost, which is an excellent trade for only sporting 90 HP. Its 1st attack doesn’t merit mention, but its 2nd attack, “Double Jet” is outstanding. For a cost of 1 Water energy, “Double Jet” allows you to discard up to 2 Water energy from your hand for a total of 60 damage for each one. So, if you only have 1 energy in your hand, you deal 60 damage, 2 energy, you deal 120 damage. Water go down the hole. At 1st glance you may think that there is not enough energy in this list to sustain this. That is the beauty of this deck. Once you discard the 1st 2 energy, that is all you need for the rest of the game.
This is where Starmie comes into play. Whether card designers had this deck pegged as a home for Starmie, or intended it as a plug-in for Volcanion decks, we can’t say. It works great in both decks. Starmie‘s ability, “Space Beacon”, requires you to discard a card from your hand in order to retrieve 2 Basic energy cards from your discard pile. Water came back! Unfortunately, Starmie doesn’t offer much in the attack department. It has a retreat cost of 1, which is not terrible considering that you can get back multiple energies each turn. Starmie‘s ability is subject to being shut off by Garbodor. If that happens, you will need to spend a turn using “Lysandre” to catch and KO Garbodor. From our time messing around with this deck, we have found that you can go a turn or 2 without abilities, but you need them for the deck to keep going.
Speaking of abilities… Octillery is the engine that keeps this deck running. I’d say that we covered the merits and use of Octillery fairly thoroughly in our last article. As important as it is in the Raikou deck, Octillery is even more vital in this list. The constant pressure from Golduck and the overall speed of the deck is what can allow this one to beat other “better” decks. The “Abyssal Hand” ability helps you draw through your deck and keep a constant stream of attacking ducks. Every pokemon in this deck is searchable with both “Dive Ball” and “Level Ball”. We use the first 2 turns to ensure that we get Octillery in play. Once that is done, everything else always seems to just fall into place. Octillery is the only pokemon in “Plucky” handicapped with a heavy retreat cost. Ewwwwww. Not to worry. Just be careful when setting up and save the “Float Stone” Tool cards for this lovely character. The last thing you want to have happen is for someone to stall your onslaught by catching your Octillery and trapping in the Active spot for a few turns.
One thing that we neglected to mention last time when laying out the pros and cons of Octillery is its synergy with the Supporter card “N”. As a reminder, “N” forces both player to shuffle their hands into deck and then draw a card for each of their remaining prize cards. As games progress and your opponent takes more of his/her prize cards, “N” becomes more crippling for your opponent. For example, if they are down to 2 prize cards left, “N” forces them into a 2 card hand. The same goes for you… except Octillery provides the perfect out. You can play whatever you get after playing “N”, then use “Abyssal Hand” to refresh your hand and keep going.
There are a few other Trainer cards that are worth explaining, especially to those who might be newer to the TCG. “Bursting Balloon” is a Tool card that you attach to 1 of your pokemon. However, unlike all the other Tools in the game at the moment, “Balloon” only stays attached for 1 turn, then it is discarded. If you opponent damages you with an attack while “Balloon” is attached to your Active pokemon, they take 6 damage counters. When combined with Golduck‘s attack (120 damage), that reaches that perfect 180 damage mark that is a KO on almost every EX.
“Teammates” is another strong Supporter in this deck. “Teammates” allows you (after 1 of your pokemon is knocked out) to search any 2 cards from your deck. If you are struggling to set up, this can help you easily break free from that bad start. You will notice that there are 2 copies of “Super Rod”. Since everything in this deck has such low HP, it is inevitable that your pokemon are going to end up in the discard pile. The 2-count of “Rod” allows you to put up to 6 of them back (or less if you choose energy… just remember that you always want 2 energy in the Discard). Then with your built-in draw power, you can dig the same pokemon back out, keeping that steady stream of Golduck alive.
Our only reservations about cards in this list and the others we looked at are the “Splash Energy” and the Stadium of choice. We see the potential strength of the “Splash Energy”, as it allows you to return the pokemon that it was attached to back to your hand, thereby saving 1 each of your Psyduck/Golduck, which does help keep the ducks streaming. However, so many decks play “Enhanced Hammer” or other means that allow your opponent to discard Special energy cards. Not being able to attack for a turn because of this could cause you to lose your advantage over your opponent’s deck. Our personal choice in this list would just be to run 8 Basic water energy. We left the “Splash” on the list so that you could see it as an option. The Stadium card choice seems to be the area left open to player preference. This list uses 2 “Silent Lab”, which could be swapped any of at least 3 other stadiums. We could make arguments for “Faded Town” (2 damage counters on Megas between turns), “Team Aqua’s Secret Base” (increase the retreat cost for all pokemon in play, making it more likely to trap something for a 2-hit) or “Skyfield” (bench size increased for 5 to 8 pokemon). We’re not sure that any of these give Golduck any great advantage. We actually thought about not using a stadium card, until we were recently reminded of how crippling “Parallel City” can be, as either side of the 2-sided stadium hurt Golduck. Whatever you choose, this deck needs a couple of counter stadiums to replace opposing ones.
In terms of cost, Plucky is perhaps the most inexpensive deck that could win you games at events. The previous deck we reviewed, while cheaper than most, had a few pricey options. The featured attacker Raikou, cost $12-$15 for a set of 4, which is not bad and a lone copy of Pikachu EX, also about $13 at the moment. There are no such issue in this deck. A 4-4 set of Psyduck/Golduck might set you back $3, and that is not factoring in any copies that you already own. Still, the most expensive cards are the set of “VS Seeker”. “VS Seeker” could be replaced by something else, but if you want to play competitively, we suggest that you get 4 copies of the card. Even if you build 4 or 5 decks for yourself, you can move your copies of VS Seeker to the deck that you plan to play that day. As for your other decks, we suggest printing out proxy versions of “VS Seeker” (and any other cards that you don’t have) so that you can still practice with your other decks. We print out our proxies at Bebes Search and then place them over another card in a sleeve. We found this to be very helpful for testing at home or at league. We have yet to find anyone who minded proxies being used in fun games at league. At any rate, we estimate this deck to total about $75, again under the assumption that you had to buy every card listed. We put it together out of our extras at no additional cost.
Plucky Duck is definitely a deck that we suggest building. It is a great back-up deck, a great 1st deck for new players, a great entry into competitive play for younglings and parents alike. Anyone can sit down and grind their way through this list and get positive results. However, in the hands of an experienced player, Golduck provides a powerful, non-EX option to consider for their meta.
We will host our Lexington league on Monday 3/6/17 at the regular time. We will be back in Fincastle on 3/12/17 for a League Challenge and regular league play at the Gym. Check back in a few days for our next look at budget deck ideas. Until then, see you at the Gym!