TAndrewTesting: Gothitelle/Reuniclus

by TAndrewT ~ September 6th, 2011.

Christina Ricci as Gothitelle

For Pokémon players, Labor Day week means the beginning of a new competitive season and preparing for Battle Roads. (And not wearing white pants, if you have any.) We now know that the Battle Roads season will start on September 17th, in just under two weeks (!), so it’s a great time to start thinking about what you’ll bring to BRs that first weekend.

As a bit of personal introduction, I’ve been playing Pokémon TCG for just a year, and 2010’s Fall Battle Roads was my very first tournament. In fact, my very first tournament opponent was Radu Ciocan, who posted an OHKO article on MewPlume just last month. (Yes, I lost that first game.) Since then, I’ve been splitting my Pokémon time between playing, judging, and volunteering at league and tournaments. With that short a resumé, I’m not sure how OHKO’ers will feel about my authority on Pokémon strategy or about my very first article on this site. The new format rotation has completely changed the competitive landscape and made us all take fresh looks at many new deck concepts, so even if you’ve played for years longer than I have, I hope this article contains some new perspective you can use in your upcoming Battle Roads play.

The Emerging Powers set gave us a brand new deck archetype—Gothitelle/Reuniclus—and this article will explore that deck. The real focus of the deck is Gothitelle, a Stage 2 cross between Christina Ricci and Mary Poppins. Gothitelle has an Ability, “Magic Room”, which prevents your opponent from playing Trainer-Items, but not you. Although this may sound like an unfair upgrade to Vileplume’s item-lock, Gothitelle’s Ability comes with a catch: she has to be active for the Ability to take effect. Now, with 130HP and a convenient weakness to Psychic (not a popular type in the current format), Gothitelle can certainly hold her own in the active spot. But her attack, Madkinesis, costs three colorless energy, and does just 30 damage, plus 20 damage for each Psychic energy attached to Gothitelle. Ideally, all three of the required energy will be Psychic, so that Gothitelle will initially do 90 for 3—okay, but not great, and attaching all those energies one-by-one will take time.

It’s Reuniclus, Gothitelle’s partner in the deck, that will provide you that time. Like Gothitelle, Reuniclus is also a Psychic-type Stage 2 Pokémon, but he has only 90HP and no attack to speak of. Reuniclus is used primarily for his Ability, “Damage Swap”, that allows you to transfer damage from any Pokémon to any other Pokémon. Sounds useful in any situation, but because Reuniclus can be brought active by Pokémon Catcher and OHKO’d so easily, in practice the only decks that can use him are item-locking decks that contain either Vileplume or Gothitelle. In a Gothitelle deck, Reuniclus makes it so that an active Gothitelle can survive hit after hit, as long as all of the hits are 120 damage or less. All of that damage is Swapped to bench-sitters, gradually building up until you have the chance to heal it.

The List

Gothitelle decks are built with two main challenges in mind: (1) setting up and powering two Stage 2 Pokémon against an opponent who will be moving much faster than you; and (2) healing accumulated damage from the bench. Here’s my current testing build:

4-2-3 Gothitelle
3-1-2 Reuniclus
1-1 Blissey
1 Zekrom
1 Pichu
1 Cleffa

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins
3 Cheren/Sage’s Training/Professor Juniper
2 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Seeker
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Junk Arm
1 Tropical Beach

9 Psychic Energy
3 Double Colorless Energy

Ross Cawthon’s World Championship runner-up deck showed how an item-locking, healing deck can work, and this list is similar to his in many ways. A couple of comments on the components:

4 Twins. Solosis (30HP) and Gothita (60HP) are weak, and so it’s likely that at least one will be sniped or Catchered while you struggle to evolve them. You’ll probably be behind in prizes early. The Twins engine takes advantage of this, ensuring that you are able to grab Gothitelle and a Rare Candy (or any other two similarly critical cards) the turn after. There will even be situations where you’ll be tied in prizes, and you will Damage Swap to KO your own benched Pokémon so you can use a Twins in your hand. Don’t be afraid to do this—Pokémon are very forgiving.

1 Pichu, 1 Cleffa. One way of getting as many Basics evolved as you can is to drop a whole benchful of them on turn 1. Pichu is great for this. Its Playground attack lets you search your deck for as many basics as you like and put them all on the bench. The downside is that your opponent also gets to fill their bench, and after you, so they get to respond to whatever you put down. As a result, Pichu is only sometimes your best starter. If your opening hand already has a couple of basics and a Pokémon Collector in it, you’re probably better off putting all of that down with Cleffa active instead, and Eeeeeking for a new hand that will help you evolve on turn 2. The same is true if your opponent’s start looks like a disaster; no sense in helping him get his own Basics out by playing Pichu.

1 Tropical Beach. Tropical Beach is the Worlds 2011 Promo card, a Stadium that allows you to end your turn by drawing cards until you have 7 in your hand, instead of attacking. For most decks, giving up your attack in exchange for a few cards would be a non-starter. But with this deck, you’ll spend many of your turns with an underpowered Gothitelle active, unable to attack, and you might as well use those turns to draw. “But,” you say, “I didn’t attend Worlds 2011, and I don’t have the $70 I’d need to buy this card on EBay. Is it really important?” Ummm, yes. I’ve tested with and without, and not running it means you’ll end many of your turns mid-game with an awfully small hand, relying on your top-deck draw to do anything. Just be glad I didn’t recommend running two.

4 Pokémon Collector. Staple, right? Well, in this deck, if you grab all the benched Basics you need with Pichu, then maybe you don’t even need Collector. Sure enough, I’ve tested builds that jettison Collector entirely, but for me this Supporter still plays one critical role: getting Pichu. So I play 4.

Cheren/Sage’s Training/Juniper. Your choice, depending on playstyle. Juniper certainly allows for the fastest initial Gothitelle. But, because that Gothitelle will need lots of energy to attack effectively, I often find it useful to conserve resources and focus on powering the second Gothitelle on the bench. Juniper (and to a lesser extent, Sage’s) work against this by forcing you to discard critical cards early. I currently run 3 Cheren, but have tested the others, and I see their merits.

1-1 Blissey, 2 Seeker. The healing engine I use. Blissey’s Power, Blissful Nurse, heals all Pokémon with damage and then discards energy attached to those Pokémon. With Reuniclus, it’s easy to make sure that only Pokémon with no energy attached are damaged. I typically wait until the Gothitelle lock is set before playing Chansey. Once she’s in place, Chansey can also soak up to 80HP of damage, and then heal herself when evolved to Blissey. If you need to use Blissey again, you can Seeker her up, but you probably won’t need to. I’ve tested Max Potions in place of Blissey, and I think they make sense in a speedier (Juniper- and Junk Arm-heavy) build, but if you’re looking to avoid early discards, I recommend Blissey with some combination of Sage’s Training and Cheren.

1 Zekrom (or 1 Reshiram). Easy to get out, soaks up damage on the bench, and then when he’s almost KO’d, Seeker or heal him back to full strength. Zekrom can also be used to take the last prize with Outrage, but not earlier—you don’t want to break the lock if you can help it.


The matchups for this deck are extremely hot-or-cold. If your opponent’s deck can’t do more than 120 damage per turn when item-locked, the matchup is a fairly easy win. In my testing, that includes Reshiram-Typhlosion, Zekrom, Stage 1 Rush, and Donphans and Dragons (as long as you’re careful with the Dragons—don’t let them Outrage for 140!). Against these decks, you’ll fall behind in prizes at the beginning, but you’ll sweep in the end.

On the other hand, decks that hit you for more than 120 damage are a problem. If your Yanmega/Magnezone opponent runs enough Magnetons, Professor Elm’s New Theory, and Rescue Energy to keep evolving Magnezones through your lock, you will have troubles. Some Gothitelle players run Jirachi/Shaymin as a counter to this, both as a means of accelerating energy onto new Gothitelles and as a way of KO’ing multiple hurt Magnezones at once via Time Hollow. I’ve tested this, and not only is Jirachi an easy revenge KO for your opponent, but the gap in the item-lock that results from attacking with Jirachi gives your opponent the chance to use all of those Items they’ve been keeping in their hand the whole game. It’s also tough to find room for both Jirachi and Shaymin on this deck’s already crowded bench. So Magnezone decks definitely present a challenge.

And then, Mew/Vileplume/Jumpluff/Muk is a total loss for this deck. All of Mew’s tools work against Gothitelle: Mew hits for weakness, and OHKO’s Gothitelle if Jumpluff is Lost Zoned; Mew is much easier to set up and power; Muk’s Sludge Drag can be used to pull Reuniclus active and to break the item-lock; and Vileplume keeps you from using Rare Candy to evolve Gothitelles quickly. Unless your Mew opponent starts terribly, feel free to scoop at any time.

The Final Word

It’s not clear whether Gothitelle will be a major force in the upcoming Battle Roads. The deck has a couple of auto-losses, and in general that isn’t a great approach to competitive tournaments. In addition, because the deck falls behind early, you’ll need to learn to play fast to leave yourself enough time in the 30+3 format to catch up. But the deck isn’t difficult to play, and your opponents may not have tested against this deck a lot, which will put surprise on your side.

Gothitelle also hasn’t been combined much with other cards. She makes for an extremely effective early-game wall, and could give other, slow-setup Pokémon the time they need to build up on your bench. I think we don’t know what the future holds for Gothitelle, but I invite you all to toss out ideas in the Comments section below.

In any case, I wish you all best of luck in the upcoming Battle Roads tournaments!

Category: Deck Discussion | Tags: ,