As our kids have grown older and their responsibilities have increased, we have trimmed the fat, in the parlance of our times, as to the amount of extracurricular activity they stay involved in. Rec league sports were fun when they were little, but the charm wore off as the routine of oversized teams, nowhere to practice and saturation of opposing coaches, parents and officials in need of therapy increased each year. We don’t have delusions of our kids becoming pro athletes and have never filled their heads with that nonsense. Robotics, despite the program being abandoned by Botetourt County, still proves to be a valuable endeavor as you don’t have to look far to see the demands from the growth of the tech industries in our area and nationwide, so they both are immersed in the new 4H backed team. Both kids still enjoy the pursuit of individual goals in golf (Logan) and dance (Georgia). The longest running activity in both of their lives (and ours) is Pokemon. While the format does change frequently, the game overall has not. They can easily drift in and out of the game competitively as their interest and time allows. The thing that keeps us involved, in this Gym Leader’s opinion at least, is character.
Character, as it relates to pokemon, has two definitions to us. Whether you are competitive or not, a player can always exhibit good character by making new friends, teaching others to play and improve, trading needed cards with others and by being gracious both in victory and defeat. That’s the first definition. The second is as follows. Some players can be a real character, on both ends of the good/bad spectrum. Those we met through sports don’t seem to offer a lot of variety, unless you enjoy listening to people complain (we don’t). The same cannot be said of those we’ve met through pokemon. By far, the most memorable people we’ve encountered in the last 10 years have been those we’ve met through this game. Now, we said all of that so that we can tell you a little more about Eddie R.
Eddie joined the Gym in 2016. If we could look into the future and see where Eddie’s path takes him, we would be as likely to believe that one day we might be voting for him for president, as we would that we might be reading about how his research or invention changed/saved the world. We’d be equally apt to believe that, one day, we might be waiting in line outside of his sold out comedy show. Needless to say, Eddie is quite the character. Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe are an accomplished pair of scholars, planners and thinkers. Yet, we still get hit with some very complicated and creative logic from Eddie each Sunday that often leaves us trying to shift gears and keep up with his mind. Eddie is capable of being a very competitive Junior in the TCG or the VGC, or both if he so chooses. However, as of yet, that doesn’t seem to be his thing. Eddie seems to prefer the social side of the league to the competitive side, which is fine by us. We still see flashes of his competitive creativity from time to time, which is the basis for this two article series.
A few weeks ago, Eddie was showing us a deck that he made at home and it immediately grabbed Gym Leader Joel’s interest. As we focus on the format with Georgia and Logan, is becomes very easy to overlook many cards from recent sets. Eddie had two concepts going in this deck, that Joel quickly identified as good ideas for two separate decks. As many 7 year olds do, Eddie was trying to get too many things into one deck. However, he had some clear strategies in mind. We did not have the extra cards that day to help him make the decks, so we returned home to hash the ideas out on the TCG online game. The first deck, which we will look at today, is pretty cool.
Jack The Gripper
- 4 – Duskull (BUS 51)
- 1 – Dusclops – (BUS 52)
- 4 – Dusknoir – (BUS 53)
- 1 – Hoopa (STS 51)
- 3 – Zorua (BKT 89)
- 3 – Zoroark (BKT 91)
- 1 – Oranguru (SUM 113)
- 2 – Buddy-Buddy Rescue
- 2 – Choice Band
- 1 – Field Blower
- 2 – Float Stone
- 2 – Great Ball
- 2 – Nest Ball
- 3 – Ultra Ball
- 3 – Lillie
- 4 – N
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 2 – Guzma
- 4 – Rare Candy
- 1 – Special Charge
- 1 – Super Rod
- 6 – Psychic Energy
- 4 – Double Colorless Energy
The core of Eddie’s concept is not unfamiliar to those who follow the TCG competitively. Past versions of Zoroark decks have tinkered with the inclusion of the item card, “Captivating Poke Puff”, as forcing your opponent to bench pokemon they don’t want to can hurt their strategy while strengthening the attack, “Mind Jack”. The item card never saw a lot of play as it often missed its targets when played at the wrong time and took up needed room in 60 card lists. Eddie paired the “Puff” strategy with the new Dusknoir from Burning Shadows, which sports a slightly more powerful version of “Mind Jack” than Zoroark. Eddie knew that Dusknoir’s ability, “Dark Invitation”, had the same effect (better actually) as a “Puff”. What he was missing is that the ability erased the need for a card like “Puff”. What was needed was a way to force pokemon into your opponent’s hand.
We found that this was accomplished in testing by two methods. The first is the old, reliable Supporter card, “N”. Dusknoir’s ability is stack-able, meaning that you can use it from each Dusknoir you have in play once each turn. So, you can use it once to scout your opponent’s hand, grab anything there and bench it, then play an “N”, forcing them into a new hand, which you can again scout and repeat. When we said earlier that this ability is better than “Puff” it is because the ability, in addition to forcing opposing pokemon onto the bench, also places 3 damage counters on them, weakening them for future attacks. The second method is the Item card, “Buddy-Buddy Rescue”. “BBR” requires each player to put a pokemon from their discard pile into their hand. The out for your opponent is that BBR does not specify “Basic Pokemon”, so they can get an evolution, which is not subject to Dusknoir’s ability. However, a lot of decks are still 100% “Big Basics”, which means everything is a target. One thing almost everyone plays is Tapu Lele GX. It’s almost too evil to mention, but Joel envisions a scenario where you force your opponent to bench the same Tapu Lele GX three times and win by knocking out that same Lele three times. Mwahahaha… sorry.
Dusknoir’s attack is not too bad for only a Psychic and a Double Colorless energy. If you can fill someone’s bench, it hits for 180 damage (210 with a “Choice Band” against EX and GX). Being a Stage 2 pokemon, we figured that it needed a little support. The Zoroark line seems to fit nicely, as it’s “Mind Jack” attack relies on the same strategy. Both are strong attackers, forcing your opponent to pick their poison of who they attack. While Dusknoir is weak to Psychic types, Zoroark resists them. Zoroark, with a “Float Stone” attached, gives you protection from someone using a “Guzma” or “Catcher” to trap something in the Active spot, as it can use its “Stand In” ability then retreat for free. We originally wanted to include a Zoroark BREAK, as its “Foul Play” attack is amazing, especially now with GX moves that it can copy. However, Darkness energy seemed to clutter the list unnecessarily, so we scrapped that idea.
We wanted to include a Basic pokemon that complimented the deck, so we added Hoopa (STS 51). We thought that “Hyperspace Punch” could help wear down targets or finish off a big HP GX that retreated with high damage. Its second attack, “Portal Strike”, would be better if it had the same cost as Dusknoir, but is not a terrible option. The deck runs enough Psychic energy to use it, but it should not be the focus of any game. Zoroark also can reset the effect of not being able to use “Portal Strike” on the next turn by using “Stand In” and then retreating. At a bare minimum, Hoopa provides high HP fodder to take a hit or two while you set up your main guys. Gym Leader Logan probably is correct in pointing out that a promo Tapu Koko is a better option.
As you can see, there is no Tapu Lele GX in this list. Remember, this list was built with Eddie in mind, so it is void of cards that cost $65 a piece. There was not room for Octillery, so we added the lone copy of Oranguru for a little extra draw power. The energy count seemed a bit low when we first built the deck, but with the “Super Rod” and “Special Charge”, it plays like there is much more than 10 energy.
That’s the deck in a nutshell. “Jack The Gripper” is probably not destined to make finals at this year’s Worlds. However, what started as helping Eddie make a fun deck surprised us and turned into a quite interesting deck. You could shift the cards in this list to include many of the format “staples” and perhaps make it even more competitive. We were pleasantly surprised by it and have played it a bit online with varied success. Our games have ranged from only a couple where we could not get set up, to wins over Espeon GX, Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu GX, Volcanion, Lapras GX and Gardevoir GX. We don’t always understand if players concede when they start losing to something they’ve never seen, or concede in hopes of finding a certain match-up they desire, but we’ve had several games where opponents have conceded rather quickly to “The Gripper”.
Make this deck online and try it out. We hope that you’ll agree that it is a pretty cool idea. If that’s the case, then thank Eddie. We would’ve never tried it without him!
See you this Sunday at the Gym!