Challenge: Ember Spark

by Ed ~ November 26th, 2011.

In an attempt to “spark” your interest, I’m going to announce the preconstructed theme deck I plan to add to the card pool. My daughter, Ava, has offered to let us use her Ember Spark deck. Please understand that I do not want to base a deck around this. It’s not meant to be a basis for the deck I play.

Please don’t look at this and think, “He needs this Fire/Lightning Pokemon to go with that list.” If you want to send fire/lightning types, great, however I’d rather just trash all these Pokemon listed here and build something entirely from what you provide. I also need to make sure I have a tourney legal deck, and that’s the reason I’m adding this theme deck to the card pool. I have no allegiance to red or yellow at this point. It’s ultimately the donation-based card pool that will dictate which Pokemon will make the cut. If you want to help out with that send an email to or fill out the form over here.

When I discuss these cards in the Challenge, I will have a different perspective than I’d normally use for discussing tournament-viable cards. One main difference is that, in a tourney-ready deck, you would not choose a card that had an obvious “better.” For example, you wouldn’t play Pokemon Reversal over Pokemon Catcher. Catcher is clearly better. Most similar cards are less obvious, but players get into a consensus leader sort of mentality. For example, for draw supporters, most people would use PONT or Juniper over Bianca.

Who Wouldn't Pick Peyton? But Eli's not bad.

The point is that this does not make Reversal, Bianca, or any other cards with a better “bigger brother” bad cards. It just means that there’s generally a better choice available.

Well, when there’s not a better choice available, then the “not bad” choice becomes, well, not bad. It may even the best available.

That’s the way I will have to evaluate the cards in the Challenge. No longer are cards rated against the overall modified-legal pool. They’ll have to be evaluated on their general usefulness. Once the card pool is further along, then the cards can be weighed against each other.

So, let’s look at the cards in the “Ember Spark” deck. I can’t rightfully compare these against each other, but I can comment on their general usefulness in a yet-to-be-built deck.

Here’s the card list.










Typhlosion HS 32


Moomoo Milk






Quilava HS 49


Poke Communication


Prof Oak New Theory




Cyndaquil HS 61


Pokemon Reversal        


Arcanine HS 1




Growlithe HS 65            


Noctowl HS 8            


Hoothoot HS 66            


Flaaffy HS 42            


Mareep HS 73            


Pikachu HS 78            


The easiest pieces of this to include in any other deck are the trainers and supporters. Luckily, all are very usable.

Pokemon ReversalPokemon Communication is likely the cream of the crop here. It’s inclusion in most top-tier decks solidifies it’s position. I’d rate Switch similarly. Unless the resulting deck has many 0-1 retreaters, then Switch is very useful in a Catcher-heavy environment.

PONT and Copycat are both useful hand-refresh supporters. PONT is now very commonplace in tourney decks. Copycat is generally thought of as a slightly worse (albeit more situational) alternative, but both are quite playable.

Pokemon Reversal was once considered a good card before its undisputed (long lost and renamed) bigger brother Gust Of Wind Pokemon Catcher came sauntering back into town. It’s playable.

Moomoo Milk is the most questionable trainer/supporter in the list. To me, the bigger brother here is Potion. Potion now heals 3 counters with no flips. I’d rate that better than 2 50/50 chances at healing 3. However, if you like gambling, there’s always that chance of healing 6 (with the same probability of healing 0). So, I wouldn’t normally include Moomoo Milk, but it’s still very playable.

So, I have no problem including all of those trainers/supporters in the tourney deck. They all have good uses. I think the build of the rest of the deck needs many more trainers and supporters, which would require less energy and a more tuned group of Pokemon. But, let’s take a look at the monsters included here.

Cyndaquil/Quilava/Typhlosion: Typhlosion is the main one worth discussing here, since it’s the ultimate goal. The others are just there to assist him. Unfortunately, Typhlosion is another of those that’s got a bigger brother type. Reshiram has mostly the same attack and HP and is a basic. To me, that’s better. However, as a Pokemon, if Reshiram is good, then something with the same attack and HP ought to be playable. It just takes longer to set it up. So, the takeaway here, for me, is that Typhlosion is a good Pokemon, but rather unexciting. It’s passable in a pinch.

Growlithe/Arcanine: Growlithe is nothing exciting, but Arcanine is passable. It’s almost like a very poor man’s Donphan. It’s a Stage 1 with 110HP, an attack that does 50 for 2, and another that does 90 for 4. The 90 attack could be powered with DCE, so that gives it a minor boost. Again, comparing it to Donphan is fruitless but inevitable. It’s no Donphan, but it could still do 50 on turn 2 (Donphan would do 60 and hurt your own bench).

Hoothoot/Noctowl: Hoothoot is an interesting wall/stall sort of Pokemon. For 1, it can put the defender to sleep. That can go a long way toward helping you set up. If they don’t wake up, then you bought yourself another turn. Noctowl, however, is very interesting. It has both draw power and a (potentially) strong attack. Neither are awesome, but both are useful. You can draw an extra card each turn (which is stackable), which is definitely useful in a suboptimal deck. For 3 colorless (which means it’s possible to do on turn2 with DCE), you can do 80 (if your hand size matches the opponent’s). Cards like Copycat, Judge, N, and even Noctowl himself can help you achieve this. Add all this to the fact that he can be included into any deck, and it makes him very useful in the card pool.

Mareep/Flaaffy: Mareep is another interesting card, but it’s much less generally useful than Noctowl. For a single colorless, he can search your deck and attach up to 4 (assuming that your opponent isn’t playing Mareep) Lightning energy. Yeah, he’s a big risk to then just get KO’d the next turn, but at least you thinned your deck and put some energy in the discard (which can be useful for other things). If he doesn’t get KO’d, then you can evolve to Flaaffy. He’s interesting, because he can snipe for 20 (which is very useful in situations). His other attack can do 40 and Paralyze. If you hit heads, that’s excellent.

Finally, there’s Pikachu, which doesn’t excite me by itself. Essentially, without a Raichu, he’s just filler.

So, there it is. This is a good basis for trainers and supporters. The Pokemon are very unexciting. Paired with more Noctowl, the Hoothoot base could be nice. The Typhlosion line could prove useful (especially if I lucked into any Prime). The rest are mainly fill.

If you want to get involved with the Challenge, please email me at or fill out the form at on the Challenge Page.

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  • Anonymous

    Cool, we have a foundation. I think playing a 1-1 Noctowl line is good for drawing cards is good. Play all the TSS. I can probably send some Raichu as i’ve tried several times to use it and never succesfully have. 1-1 Arcanine is also an in if you play fire energy.

    • Ed

      Yeah, Noctowl is definitely usable as are all the TSS.  There are 3 different Raichu, all of which are interesting in some way with the Prime probably being the best.

  • Anonymous

    Ed, I think I’ve got some extra dual balls, some extra communications, definitely some extra copycats and some other draw supporters. I’ll try and get you those for cities. Is it ok, if, at worst case, I just give them to you AT the cities tournament?

    • Ed

      Great! Thanks!  If you can send them, I’ll be able to use them for sure.  Otherwise, I probably won’t fit them in for the first City Champ.  I don’t want to rely on anything that’s not already in the card pool.