Reshiram Emboar (ReshiBoar) Nationals Deck Analysis

by Ed ~ July 18th, 2011.

Alright, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I did not do well at Nationals. Well, I didn’t do terribly. My record was positive (5-4). One of those “wins” was a BYE, so I was actually even on the day. If I had won my final match, I’d have been in the top cut. All that makes it sound better than I felt like I did, though. This isn’t about Nationals so much as it is about my deck, though. If you want to read more about my Nats experience, you can do that here, here, or even here.

First of all, I’d like to point out that I think that there really is (at the moment) multiple ways to build a Reshiram deck. To me, any deck that focuses on using Reshiram as the main attacker can be lumped together. The main 2 Reshiram decks now are Reshiram/Emboar and Reshiram/Typhlosion. Both decks strive to achieve the same main goal, but they go about it slightly differently.

When I built my deck, I was of the opinion that Typhlosion was unnecessary, and I was concerned that there would be many others running Reshiram, Zekrom, or Zoroark. Therefore, I did not want to put extra damage on my own Reshiram (which would make it easily OneHitKO-able by anyone that could do 120 damage). Ultimately, the Nationals field did not feature so many Reshiram or Zekrom based decks, so Typhlosion’s damage placement wasn’t as big of a concern as I first thought it might be.

Let’s jump right into the deck I ran at Nationals.

Pokemon Trainers Supporters Energy
4 Reshiram 4 Energy Retrieval 4 Prof. Juniper 11 Fire Energy
4 Junk Arm 4 PONT
3 Tepig – Promo 4 Dual Ball
2 Pignite – 17 3 Rare Candy
3 Emboar – 20 3 Plus Power
3 Poke Communication
3 Cleffa 1 Poke Circulator
1 Tyrogue 1 Revive
2 Switch
16 Pokemon 25 Trainers 8 Supporters 11 Energy

Things you should immediately notice are:

  • The lack of non-draw supporters
  • The smallish ammount of energy (for a deck that discards 2 energy per turn)
  • The higher trainer count
  • The seeming lack of non-Reshiram attackers

I knew that the deck needed to get an Emboar and 3 energy ASAP. From then on, it needed to recover energy at a rate of 2 per turn. To achieve this, I opted for a heavy line of draw supporters coupled with a heavy trainer-based energy retrieval (interestingly enough in the form of the card named Energy Retrieval). I really wanted to fit in Pokemon Reversal, because I thought my matchup against decks with larger Pokemon (like MagneBoar, DonChamp, Zekrom, etc.) needed those paired with PlusPower. Again, this was a bit of a misconception, since most of the better decks were actually running smaller Pokemon. Anyway, I did test Reversal, but it was at the cost of consistency. Just before the tourney, I went back to more Cleffa and less offense in the hopes of returning to consistent. Well, it helped, but not enough. Let’s get back to analyzing the list, though.

You might think that Emboar is there to get Blue Flare set up right away. While that is good, it’s not the important part. Ultimately Emboar is there to keep Blue Flare powered up turn after turn. People suggested that I play more Rare Candy for the quick setup, but the speed is not the main issue. Getting Emboar set up on turn 3 is fine. In fact, if he’s set up by turn 4, it’s generally just as good. You can power Blue Flare manually by turn 3. It’s turn 4 where you need Emboar’s ability to re-power Blue Flare. Sure, we all realize that powering a turn 2 Blue Flare is awesome, but it’s not consistent enough to bank on and build around (since you need to draw into a Rare Candy and have no way to search it).

In your setup, you’re hoping to start with a free retreater (Cleffa or Tyrogue) to give you the most options. If you don’t have one of those, hopefully you have a Tepig, because it can be easily retreated on the first turn. Once you start the game, you will want to use Cleffa’s Eeeek to get you set up for the following turn. On turn 1, you want to get basics ready for evolution. If you don’t have a Cleffa, you need to get it. Then, your main concern is benching a Tepig and Eeeeking. You’d also like to have a Reshiram to attach energy to, but that’s secondary. So, turn 1, get Cleffa and Tepig out and then Eeeeeeeeek (unless your hand is important for the next turn, then you’ll want to Mischievous Punch if possible). In the following turn(s) do whatever you can to set up Emboar (like Communication, Rare Candy, Juniper, PONT, etc.).

Once Emboar is set up, you need to draw as many cards as possible to keep the Blue Flare from dying down. You do not want to rely on Cleffa for this, as it kills your attack for the turn. You need to lean on your Professor pals Juniper and Oak for this. The combination of Energy Retrieval, Junk Arm (often for Energy Retrieval), and Inferno Fandango keep your hand depleted. Oak and Juniper fix that very effectively. Once you set up, you Inferno Fandango and Blue Flare. When your hand gets empty, you Juniper or Oak for a new one. It’s simple yet effective.

All of the Pokemon in this deck CAN attack, but Reshiram is the only one you usually want attacking. Emboar can attack in a pinch, but he’s not going to do much damage. However, in certain situations, Emboar can be a better attacker than Reshiram. If the opponent has Pokemon that Reshiram can’t OHKO or that Emboar easily CAN ohko, then you might consider using Emboar to attack. Emboar doesn’t require you to discard energy to attack, but realistically his attack kinda sucks, so let’s not worry about it any more. If you can’t OHKO something with Blue Flare, you’ll usually need just a bit more damage. An Outrage followed by a Blue Flare can often get the job done. If you are worried that Reshiram might get KO’d between Outrage and Blue Flare, you can use Tyrogue to do 30 (hopefully sleep then wake up for your next turn) and finish the job with Blue Flare. Cleffa can obviously attack, too, but not for damage. Again, usually stick with Reshiram and only use the other guys in a pinch.

Energy Retrieval is your best friend here. Blue Flare discards 2 fire energy from Reshiram. Energy Retrieval gets them back to your hand. Emboar gets them back onto Reshiram. Often, you’ll need Junk Arm to get the Energy Retrieval, so don’t waste Junk Arms early unless you need to (like if you’re going to Juniper it away anyway).

I think all of the trainers should be pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll quickly cover the ones I haven’t touched on yet. Dual Ball is a choice that many people are opting for over the Pokemon Collector nowadays. In this deck, I think Dual is superior to Collector. The deck really relies on the draw supporters to keep its hand size up. If you play any other supporter, you can be jeopardizing this engine. Also, the deck only has 11 basics, and after turn 1 or 2, you don’t usually need to search out basics. Dual Ball is usually sufficient for this. You often only need 1 specific basic at the start of the game, and Dual Ball can usually get it. With 4 Junk Arm, you will sometimes need to retrieve an early Dual Ball to get set up before a Juniper or PONT, but again one heads on the first turn or two is generally fine. More is just icing.

Plus Power is very important for matchups where Blue Flare can’t one-shot the defending Pokemon. It also comes in very handy to add damage to Outrage or Mischievous Punch so that you don’t need to Blue Flare for all KOs. It pairs very nicely with Junk Arm now that Plus Power’s text got changed to not attach to your Pokemon.

Pokemon Circulator might seem like an odd choice, but it’s important whenever your opponent is walling with a sleeping baby or a tank Pokemon. Reversal can be better, but it’s too flippy for a one-of. If you like Reversal run a bunch of them. Otherwise, run 1 Circulator. You can always Junk Arm it. Junk Arming Reversal can be very annoying, because you lose 3 cards (Junk Arm plus 2 others) to get a card that may ultimately do nothing when you flip tails. When Pokemon Catcher comes out, just run those instead.

Revive isn’t a real important card, but it comes in very handy at times. With Junk Arm, I feel comfortable running a single Revive. It is this deck’s ONLY way to recover lost Pokemon. Note that any non-basic Pokemon that get into the discard pile are lost forever. Some people will be uncomfortable with this. That’s why there are 3 AbilityBoar in the list.

I think that Switch is the last trainer left to discuss. It’s very important for 2 things. The first is waking up your own babies. Often you Eeeeeeeeeek on the first turn or two and then want to attack. Well, if your baby has narcolepsy, he’ll ruin the fun for the rest of the family. Just Switch him and keep trucking. The other main circumstance where Switch is necessary is when Emboar gets brought up. Sometimes you might do this on purpose, but it usually happens when an opponent plays a Reversal. If you have a Switch ready, usually their Reversal is rendered useless, and you can keep rolling. You can Fandango 4 energy onto Emboar to attack or retreat, but that’s usually a waste of energy.

The final thing I want to cover is the 11 fire energy. My original list ran 10 Fire Energy and 2 Energy Search. Many people think Energy Search is a crazy inclusion for a deck that runs only 1 type of energy, but I don’t think so. Energy Search brings 2 main things to the table. First of all, it thins your deck so that future draws are more likely to be useful. Second, it is Junk Armable. If you get off an early Energy Search, you can always get another Energy with a Junk Arm. I actually liked that setup a bit better, but this configuration gave me one more slot to fit in another card. You MIGHT be able to get away with 10 energy, but then you have to be very careful. You discard so many energy with this deck, and you need a constant stream of them. Prizing too many or getting a bunch lost for any other reason (lost zone, an unexpected KO, etc.) can be detrimental.

Now, if you read my other writeups, you’ll know that I changed my deck and played it in the main side event. I made some poor deck and play choices (mainly because I didn’t care) and went down in down in a blaze of, well whatever the opposite of glory is. I decided that I ought to try the Ninetales that everyone kept suggesting (and I kept resisting). In fact, before the tourney, Omar and I had a bit of a thing going on. Whenever we’d talk about my deck, he’d mention Ninetales. I’d follow up by cussing him out telling him to shut up about the Ninetales. I had an unnatural desire to play the deck without Ninetales, and I think that was my main downfall for the main event.

Here’s the deck I played in the side event. It was horrible. Some of the choices were just screwy, but I did concede to trying the Ninetales. That’s where the deck shone, and I was able to chalk up my dead-last finish in the side event to a learning experience.

Pokemon Trainers Supporters Energy
4 Reshiram 3 Energy Retrieval 3 Prof. Juniper 10 Fire Energy
4 Junk Arm 3 PONT
3 Tepig – Promo 4 Dual Ball 3 Judge
3 Pignite – 17 3 Plus Power 1 Fisherman
3 Emboar – 20 3 Poke Communication
4 Poke Reversal
1 Vulpix 2 Switch
1 Ninetales
1 Cleffa
1 Tyrogue
17 Pokemon 23 Trainers 10 Supporters 10 Energy

The stupidest thing I did here. Well, no, I did a couple equally as stupid things. How about one of the stupidest things I did was to run Judge. I thought the side event might have more “fun” decks in it, so I decided to mess with people by adding Reversal and Judge. Reversal got almost no heads for me in the side event, which was okay. Judge, however, just sucked. Getting only 4 cards from my supporter play was abysmal. The screwing with the opponent factor was almost non-existant.

The next dumb thing I did was to pair the inclusion of Ninetales with the exclusion of energy. I added in a card that requires the deck to discard MORE energy, and then I removed an energy to make room for stupid stuff (like Judge). The deck had no late game. It cam very close to winning many matches, but it came even closer to losing them.

The takeaway was that, while I completely botched the overall deck, I learned how good Ninetales can be. The deck set up SO much better. Oh, also notice that I didn’t run any Rare Candy. I’m not sure that I need it anymore. The deck can swap Pignites for Candies, but I think Pignite adds consistency. Candy adds the ability to be Junk Armed (where Pignite can’t be retrieved). Pignite also adds more Pokemon so that you can more effectively Communication. Early builds of the deck had too few Pokemon and Communication was often useless.

Here’s how I’d probably run the deck now. In fact, I have been testing a similar build. It has with only 1-1 Ninetales, but I’m concerned that prizing either piece would be pretty detrimental. Also, Catcher is quite nice with this deck. The build I’m currently playing has Gust Of Wind in it just to test. Gust/Catcher makes the deck work better. Opponents may try to bring up your Emboar (or maybe Ninetales), but then Catcher makes Emboar a useful attacker, since you can often bring up something that Emboar can KO.

Pokemon Trainers Supporters Energy
4 Reshiram 3 Energy Retrieval 3 Prof. Juniper 12 Fire Energy
4 Junk Arm 3 PONT
3 Tepig – Promo 4 Dual Ball 2 Fisherman
3 Pignite – 17 3 Plus Power
3 Emboar – 20 3 Poke Communication
2 Switch
2 Vulpix
2 Ninetales
2 Poke Circulator
1 Tyrogue 1 Revive
18 Pokemon 22 Trainers 8 Supporters 12 Energy

So there it is. Do with it what you will. I think this deck can be a strong play even in the Post-Catcher era. Catcher can pose problems for setting up Emboar, so you may consider moving to a 3-1-3 Emboar line with more Rare Candy. Notice that I am running 0 Candy, now. You could even get away with a 2-1-2 Emboar line and run something to retrieve lost Emboar from the discard pile. Ultimately, you’ll want to run Catcher of your own, and I think you can make room for it. Circulator is the obvious card to cut for Catcher. I think you’ll want at least 3 Catcher, so you can find another card to cut. 1-1 Ninetales with a single Cleffa can be good. Tyrogue may be expendable if people move away from babies, but the free retreat, 30 damage, and sleep all come in handy at times. Give it some testing and see what you think. Learn from my mistakes if you can.

Category: Deck Discussion | Tags: ,