The Changing Face of Stage 1 Decks + a Deck List.

by Pikkdogs ~ September 28th, 2011.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs and his extra dimensionary sidekick Pedro here with kind of  strategy/deck article for you.  Pedro, would you be kind enough to introduce the article?

Why I would be happy to.  Stage 1 decks can be traced to U.S. Nationals 2011.  Kyle “Pooka” Suceveich, among others, did very well with a deck that featured Donphan Prime, Zoroark, and Yanmega Prime.  While Pikkdogs did not do so well with Donphan/Samurott.

What does that have to do with the article?

Nothing, I just thought I would mention it while we were on the topic.  As I was saying, the deck was refered to as Stage 1 Rush, because  every important  Pokemon was a stage 1 Pokemon.  It also emphasized the fact that this deck was both hard hitting and fast since it didn’t have to use Rare Candy, or just rely on puny basic Pokemon.  The deck itself was very fast and could counter almost any deck.  It is almost like a tool box in that it has so many options on what it wants to run.

Fast forward to the end of the summer when Emerging Powers came out.  With the new set came new changes to the stage 1 rush deck.  Cincinno BW became more popular because it could attack for 100 damage for only one energy.  Another Pokemon that recieved play was Tornadus, because it could be a decent attacker and a great Donphan counter.  The other Pokemon that saw play in this deck was Mew Prime, it could “See Off” a Jumpluff and then be a great Gothitelle counter. 

Thank You Pedro.  But these changes left the deck with many variants.  And not all the decks relied on stage 1’s any more!  Mew and Tornadus are both basics.  With all these changes how are we supposed to know what to run?  Well to settle this we will look at each of the Pokemon and how they impact the game.  Then at the end of the article I will give you the list that I am working with right now, and give you some pointers for running stage 1.

Since you do it so well?

Well, not exactly, but I don’t see anyone else writing this article, so they gotta settle for me.

I see that “settling” is very popular around here.

You’re telling me.  Anyway, lets look at those Pokemon.

The Pokemon

Donphan Prime

Basics– It is a 120 HP Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon.  It’s “Exoskeleton” Pokebody reduces all damage done to him by 20.  The attack that is used the most is “Earthquake”.  This attack does 60 damage for 1 fighting energy, and does 10 damage to each of your own benched Pokemon.

What it’s good against– Donphan Prime has always been a great Pokemon since the rotation occured in early July.  That is because a lot of good Pokemon are weak to fighting, like Zoroark, Magnezone Prime, Zekrom, and Cincinno.  If you are playing any deck that relies on a lightning attack, Donphan Prime is a great option.  It can single handidly give you a victory against any Magnezone or Zekrom deck.

It is not only a good attacker, but it is fast and hard to knock out.  Any deck with Donphan Prime should be able to get a prize on turn 2.  It is also very hard to get a knockout on Donphan Prime.  The Poke-Body makes it so your opponent would have to do 140 damage at once to knock it out.  And if they do not make the 140 damage mark, you can just use Max Potion to heal all the damage counters and start again.

What it’s not so good against– One knock on Donphan is that limits your starter choices.  What I mean by that is if you want to include Cleffa in your deck either as a starter or hand refresher, you will probably knock it out with “Earthquake” on your 4th turn.

Another bad thing about Donphan Prime is that it can be stuck active.  If you don’t really want to attack with Donphan but have it out, your opponent can use Pokemon Catcher to make it active and you will have a hard time paying the 4 retreat cost.  

Donphan Prime also isn’t great against Pokemon like Reshiram and Gohtitelle.  Since Donphan Prime basically maxes out at 60 damage, you will need a Plus Power to even get a 2HKO with Donphan.  Gothitelle is a whole nother problem, because Donphan will never be able to get the 130 damage that you need for a knock out without trainers.  So if your opponent sets up a Gothitelle all your Donphans are basically dead cards.

Donphan can also be easily countered with Tornadus and Yanmega Prime, if you don’t also run either Zekrom or Ruins of Alph.  Ruins of Alph will negate the resistance that these two Pokemon have, and Zekrom will be able to OHKO both Pokemon for only a DCE if you have 4 damage counter on it.

Usefulness– On the whole I would think that Donphan Prime should be in most Stage 1 Rush Decks.  Unless your metagame is full of Gothitelle and Donphan counters, I think Donphan will be a great play.

Zoroark BW

Basics– Zoroark is a 100 HP Stage 1 Dark Pokemon.  The attack that most stage 1 rush decks use is the “Foul Play” attack.  This attack lets you copy any attack of the defending Pokmeon, and use that attack as Zoroark’s own.  What is great about this is that it sometimes lets you avoid some bad effects of the attack.  Like if you were to copy Reshiram’s “Blue Flare” attack, you would not need to discard the customary 2 fire energies, unless Zoroark has them attached.

What it’s good against– Zoroark is a versatile Pokemon that can be used for many things in many different situations, but it is most frequently used as a Reshiram or Zekrom counter.  Usually this deck has a hard time of doing enough damage to knock out these dragons, but Zoroark can copy either “Blue Flare” or “Bolt Strike” and get a OHKO on them for just a Plus Power and a DCE.

One cool thing that can be done with Zoroark is that if you don’t plan on using him too often, you can put him in the Lost Zone with Mew Prime’s attack, and then have Mew use Zoroark’s attack.  This will cut down on the number of cards you need to dedicate to Zoroark, and will give you more room for other techs.  But this should only be done if you don’t plan on seeing Zekrom or Reshiram too often.

What it’s not so good against– Zoroark is not so good against a lot of things.  It has weakness to Donphan, so it won’t even be put on the bench in a Donphan matchup.  It also is not good against Mew Prime, unless it has the neccessary energy attached it will not be able to copy attacks of any Pokemon in the Lost Zone.

Another weakness of Zoroark is that it takes up a lot of space.  If you want to use Zoroark you need to run a 3-3 line and 4 DCE, that is 10 slots taken up in your deck (unless you already run DCE for something else like Cincinno).

Usefulness– This will be a metagame choice.  If you expect to see a lot of Zekroms or Reshirams, then you need to commit to Zororark.  But if you are able to play without Zoroark, your deck may be better off.  It is still a great Pokemon that is very useful.

Yanmega Prime

Basics– This is the so called best card in the game.  It is a 110 HP stage 1 Grass Pokemon.  It’s “Insight” Poke-Body allows you to not have to pay for the cost of an attack, as long as you have the same hand size as your opponent.  It’s first attack, called  “Linear Attack”, lets you snipe for 40.  While its second second attack, “Sonic Boom”, does 70 damage.  The basics aren’t over whelming, but when combined with cards like Judge, Yanmega becomes a very fast and disruptive card.

What it’s good against– Yanmega is known as a good all around attacker.  It doesn’t really have a speciality but it is basically good at almost everything.

A jack of all trades and a master of none?

Exactly Pedro.  It is good at sniping Pokemon like Oddish and Sunkern, but it is also good against fully evolved Pokemon like Donphan Prime.  I would say most Stage 1 decks should use Yanmega Prime.

What it’s not so good against– The Zekrom matchup is a problem as is the Magnezone matchup.  If it gets hit for weakness it can go down really easy.

It can also struggle against decks that run something like Ninetales, because it would be difficult to match your opponent’s hand size without relying on supporters.

Another strike against Yanmega is that it is very expensive.  Playing Yanmega might be cost prohibitive to some people, so they may not play it because they cannot get their hands on one.

Are you using the phrase “cost prohibitive” correctly?

I don’t know

Usefulness– Yanmega is very useful in every Stage 1 Deck.  It is nice to have a 3-3 line in every deck, it is a card that has the versatility to win almost every matchup and is a great partner to Donphan Prime.

Cincinno BW

Basics– Cincinno is a stage 1 Pokemon with 90 HP.  It’s attack “Do the Wave” does 20 damage for every Pokemon you have on your bench for just one DCE.  This means that you should be able to do 100 damage for just 1 or 2 energies.  And doing triple digit damage very quickly is what Stage 1 decks are all about.

What it’s good against– Like Yanmega Prime it also is a jack of all trades.  It doesn’t really have one use,but it is good against a lot of different things.  It should be able to knock out anything if it first got a “Linear Attack” from a Yanmega Prime.

It is especially good if your opponet is trying to get damage counters on Zekrom so that they can knock out Yanmega Prime.  You can just pull up the Zekrom that has 3 damage counters on it with Pokemon Catcher, and then knock it out with “Do the Wave”.

It is also a good Yanmega Prime counter.  All it needs to do to knock out Yanmega Prime is one Plus Power.  Although it doesn’t really have a speciality, it just a good, fast, and consistent attacker.

What it’s not so good against– The main weakness here is Donphan Prime, which can OHKO it for just 1 energy.  If you see your opponent playing Donphan, don’t put a Mincinno down because it will just get knocked out.

Cincinno is also not that great against Reshiboar.  Since Emboar doesn’t place any damage counters, it will be hard to get to the magic number of 130.  If your opponent is playing Typholosion instead, it mgiht get a little easier but not with Emboar.  In fact, Cincinno does struggle a little against the big tanks.

Usefulness-  All in all Cincinno is very useful.  It is a very versatile card that can do a lot of things.  It can knock out most Pokemon with the help of Plus Powers, and is very fast and easy to get out.  It would be a good addition to most stage 1 decks.

Tornadus EP 

Basics– Torandus is a 110 HP basic Pokemon.

Hey wait, this is supposed to be an article about Stage 1 Rush.  How come you are putting basic Pokemon here.

Well, while I won’t speak to how certain variations change a deck, I think you are taking the Stage 1 thing too literally.   “Hot Pockets” aren’t actually warm pouches off fabric are they?   No they are a bunch of crap rolled into some stale bread.  What I am trying to say is that the name “Stage 1 Rush” does not define the deck, but it describes it.  And there are still some Stage 1’s in those decks.

Kind of like how there is still like 1 music video a day on MTV, so they can still call themselves Music Television?

Exactly…..kind of.  Anyway, who cares let’s talk about the attacks of Tornadus.  The one that makes a difference is the second one, called “Hurricane”.  This attack does 80 damage for CCC.  The effect of this attack moves a basic energy from Tornadus, if there is one.

What it’s good against– Although Tornadus can be used to attack other things, Tornadus is included to almost exclusivley counter Donphan.  Since Donphan Prime runs over Cincinno, Zoroark, and Mew Prime; you need something to counter it.  Tornadus has a fighting resistance, so Donphan Prime can only hit it for 40 damage.  That means Torandus can do 60 damage to Donphan, and 2HKO it without being knocked out itself.

Although Tornadus is not a perfect counter to Donphan, it’s a lot better than not having a counter at all.

What it’s not so good against– If you don’t expect to see a lot of Donphan at your tournament, than don’t ever run Tornadus.  Sure Tornadus isn’t bad against other things, but it is basically just a Donphan counter.  If Donphan is not big in your area than there are other good things to run.

Usefulness-  Yes it is not the best card overall, but if you expect to see Donphan Prime, Tornadus is your only shot.

Mew Prime 

Basics– Mew Prime is a basic Psychic Pokemon with 60 HP.  It’s “Lost Link” Poke-body lets you use any attack of any Pokemon in either Lost Zone.  Its one attack, “See Off””, lets you search your deck for a Pokemon and put it into the Lost Zone.  In the context of this article, Mew will be used only as a way to use Jumpluff’s “Mass Attack” or Cincinno’s “Do the Wave.”

What it’s good against-  Although you can use Mew against other things like Mew Lock, by far the most popular use would be to counter Gothitelle.  No Pokemon that is used in Stage 1 Rush stands a chance against Gothitelle.  No other Pokemon can hit it for weakness, or hit it for 130 damage.  So the idea is to attack with Mew Prime, who can hit Gothitelle for weakness.  You either see off an attacker, like Cincinno, or you “See Off” a special tech like Jumpluff.  That way you will be able to knock out a Gothitelle.

What it’s not so good against– Well, the only reason that you would play Mew is so that you will have a chance against Gothitelle.  So if you don’t plan to see Gothitelle, you do not need to add Mew.  However, if you don’t play Mew, you will be almost auto-loss to Gothitelle.

One bad thing about Mew is that it will take at least 3 (probably more like 5) or so spots in your deck.  So if you do play Mew your consistency will suffer, and it could all be for not if you don’t play any Gothitelle.

Usefulness– Well it is not a very versatile choice for this deck, but it is a great counter.  If you think you will play Gothitelle, you almost have to run Mew.  However, if you don’t think you will see Gothitelle, your deck will be better for it.

So what’s the play?

That is the question.  Stage 1 Rush has proved to be nothing more than a fancy tool box.  This deck is good because it is a direct counter to a lot of decks out there.  There are a lot of options to choose from, so how does one choose from all these great options?  Well, your metagame will be the biggest determining factor.  If you expect to see Donphan and Gothitelle you will build your deck one way, but if you expect to see Magnezone and Reshiram you will build your deck another way.

The important thing to do is to scout out your metagame.  Of course there will be all kinds of different decks at a tournament, it is important to know what is most popular and what the best players in your area are playing.  If you have a decent idea about what people are playing, you will be better equipped to change your deck to counter the other decks.

The important cards to keep in your mind are Yanmega Prime, Donphan Prime, and Cincinno.  They are just overall good cards and would be great in any deck you play.  No they do not need to be in every Stage 1 Rush Deck, but should always be kept in mind.

Pikkdog’s Current List

I am only providing this list as something to test with.  Again, this list is not very good and is not tournament worthy, I just want to give you guys an example of what I am talking about.  I did throw this together about a week ago to test against, and didn’t really fix it that much.  So it still needs work, but this is an example of what a basic deck might look like.  This particular deck is teched out for a Donphan and Gothitelle heavy format.


  • 3-Mincinno EP- the best Mincinno, but if you have to use BW it’s okay.
  • 3-Cincinno BW
  • 3-Yanma
  • 3-Yanmega Prime
  • 2-Mew Prime
  • 1-Zoroark BW-in this build it is only used to be “See’ed Off”
  • 2-Tornadus
  • 1-Cleffa Cl


  • 1-Revive
  • 4-Pokemon Catcher
  • 4-Junk Arm
  • 4-Pokemon Communication
  • 4-Pokemon Collector
  • 1-Professor Elm’s Training Method
  • 2-Copy Cat
  • 4-Judge
  • 4-Professor Juniper
  • 2-Plus Power


  • 4-Psychic Energy
  • 4-Rescue Energy
  • 4-Double Colorless Energy

The Big Ending

Well, the title for this section sure sets up some unrealistic expectaitons.  There will be an ending, but it probably won’t be big.  So, what will our ending be tonight Pedro?

Well, tonight we will end by looking at a picture of Launchpad McQuack from Duck Tales.

Why would we do that?  That is really random and has nothing to do with Pokemon.

You mean it won’t help anybody become a better player.


Well then it will fit in with the rest of this article then.

Well I can’t argue with that.  Show the picture.

Category: Card Discussion, Deck Discussion | Tags: