Challenge: Addressing Weaknesses

by Ed ~ December 19th, 2011.

While yesterday’s tournament went better than expected, I am still left feeling that we’re lacking something. Actually, I must say that I was fairly pleased with how well the deck worked, but in some ways that just leaves me feeling like it could actually be a contender (probably not top tier) if given the chance. There are some glaring holes that need to be filled to make this a real threat.

Let’s go over the main weaknesses and discuss some ways they could be strengthened. Then I’ll list some specific cards I think would bring the deck to the next level. First, here’s the list I played.

 14 Pokemon  15 Trainers  11 Supporters/Stadiums  20 Energy
3 Tynamo NVI 39 2 Poke Communication 1 Copycat 20 Lightning
3 Eelektrik NVI 40 2 Junk Arm 4 Prof Oak New Theory
2 Pikachu HS 78 4 Dual Ball 2 Professor Juniper
1 Pikachu HSP 3 4 Pokeball 4 Engineer’s Adjustments
3 Raichu Prime 1 Moomoo Milk
1 Manaphy UL 3 1 Max Potion
1 Thundurus 1 Rocky Helmet

Problem: Utter Lack Of Recovery

I guess you could argue that Eelektrik itself is a form of recovery (energy recovery), but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Pokemon recovery. What happens when the opponent gets a KO? Well, if they get a KO, the strategy is to pop up a new Raichu and attack for 120. Sure, that sounds good, and it’s amazingly doable, assuming the Pokemon that they KO’d wasn’t an Eelektrik. If it was a Raichu or Thundurus, then just attack again. Well, that is, unless they just KO’d your 3rd Raichu or you prized a Pikachu/Raichu.

Here’s the thing. If any of these happen, you’re hosed:

  • You prize a Tynamo or Eelektrik and the opponent KO’s 1 Tynamo/Eelektrik.
  • You prize a Pikachu, or Raichu and the opponent KO’s 2 Pikachus/Raichus.
  • Your opponent KO’s 2 Eelektrik/Tynamo.
  • Your opponent KO’s 3 Raichu/Pikachu and all you have left is Thundurus.
  • Your opponent gets to the point where they can one-shot Raichu/Thundurus.
  • Your opponent catchers up Tynamo/Eelektrik for easy KOs.

In my opinion, the first thing the deck needs is 1 more Tynamo. The next thing would probably be the 4th Eelektrik or some recovery trainers/supporters. The recovery stuff I’m thinking of is anything that can grab Pokemon from the discard pile.

Following those, I think 1 more Thundurus/Zekrom/Tornadus sort of guy would help. It just needs another attacker that can also double as a wall early game.

Problem: Mucho Mulligans

While I feel like I had good luck with matchups, I feel like I had bad luck with flips (which we’ll get to later) and mulligans. The deck has 8 basics. My rule of thumb is 12, but that in no way means that I think a deck needs 12. That’s just my starting point, and it can go up and down from there. The further it is below 12, the worse the mulliganing will be. My daughter’s deck plays only 8, and it works well for her. I do not believe that the mulligans hurt me yesterday, but I do think it was a bit excessive. I think I mulliganed 5 times in tourney play and in my only “fun” game, I mulliganed 5 times.

All this combined with the recovery discussion above just reinforces the need for another couple basics. 1 Tynamo and 1 of some highish HP that can attack relatively hard ought to do it. Another option would be another starter guy or maybe a 4th Pikachu. Even something like Virizion could be used as a starter here.

Problem: Tail Troubles

With 4 Dual Ball and 4 Pokeball, the deck is very flippy. I almost said it’s flip-dependent, but in reality, it can often get by with flipping just 1 head out of 2 Dual Ball. Unfortunately, sometimes even that is too much to ask for. In the game that I got donked, I flipped 7 straight tails on my first turn leaving me with a lone Tynamo. I needed just 1 head (out of 7) to retrieve a Manaphy or Thundurus to get me through the next set of turns.

To be honest, I really don’t mind the whole idea of 4 Dual Ball combined with a lot of draw supporters. I usually can get what I need without burning the turns supporter. It’s the 4 Pokeball on top of those 4 Dual Ball that creates the problem. Having 8 flippy trainers is tough.

Well, in some ways, this one is simple. The real solution is to use search cards that aren’t flip-dependent. Unfortunately, this is tough, because the main card here would be Pokemon Collector, and that’s not realistic for this challenge.

Pokemon Communication (which I’m already running 2 of) is a good no-flip way to get evolutions, but it requires that you have something to put back. With my low Pokemon count and the fact that I need most of them in play, the chances of me having a “donor” Pokemon at the right time is a bit low. However, if I ran more Pokemon, then maybe it would be a better solution.

Great Ball is one that’s pretty interesting. I think it’s probably better than Pokeball, but it’s hard to say without actually testing it. Maybe I’ll proxy them over Pokeball and try it that way.

Even Professor Elm’s Training Method could be an improvement. However, I think I would still prefer keeping the search trainer-based and keeping the supporter drops for hand refresh.

Problem: Damage Deficiency

This one is pretty simple. Sometimes 120 damage falls short. Often, 130, 140, or even 150 are the numbers necessary to KO the opposing Pokemon. Let’s just say we need more damage.

Again, this is so simple that I don’t want to dwell on it too much. Plus Power is the format’s obvious damage adder. I don’t know if it fits into the deck, because it’s a bit situational. Black Belt is also one that seems to fall short in testing, so it hasn’t made its way into the decklist even though it’s in the card pool.

Rocky Helmet (of which I already run 1) is, however, proving very useful. It also doubles as a snipe deterrent. I often find that I need to bench some extra energy, but I don’t want to put it on someone that they’ll just drag up and KO. If I have the Helmet, then I feel better about it. I can bench a Pikachu, Dynamotor energy to it, drop a Helmet on him, and just dare them to KO it (assuming I have an active Raichu already).

Problem: Wall Woes and Snipe Shortcomings

Without any way to bench an opposing wall or snipe a benched basic you know will evolve, the deck will never amount to anything more than side-show status. In one otherwise winnable match yesterday, the opponent used Cleffa 5+ times (if I recall correctly) and slept through my turn. This left me with NO attack option other than Thundurus’ Charge to thin the deck. A similar situation would arise if I had gone against something resistant to electric.

A similar issue is the lack of snipe ability. If the opponent has a benched basic that I know will evolve, I have no ability to KO it before the inevitable happens. The only upside of this is that most good decks are built assuming the opponent has Catcher, and therefore play as if I could KO it anyway. In a weird way, this slightly diminishes the need for Catcher.

I do have 2 Pokemon Reversal in the card pool, but I had deemed them unworthy of inclusion. In retrospect, I think that Reversal is better than Moomoo Milk, but neither are good as a 1-of. The real solution has to lie elsewhere.

So, if Catcher is unavailable (as I have to assume it is), what other options are there? Pokemon Circulator is the next obvious choice for getting around the sleeping baby wall problem. It’s not flippy, and it can come in handy in several situations. As a 1-of, it’s not bad, and it can be Junk Armed if needed. To me, it’s obviously better than Moomoo Milk here, so that would be an easy inlucsion.

After Catcher/Reversal/Circulator, we need to brainstorm for novel ways to deal. Ideas could include stuff like Snubbul who lets your opponent choose a Pokemon to bring up. However, I can’t see that being too useful. Bellsprout has a Inviting Scent attack, but he’s only 40HP. I don’t think we need another tiny basic.

Carnivine would be a contender here, as his 80HP could make for a fair early-game wall. Unfortunately his 2 retreat is harmful to the strategy. Drifloon and Drowzee both have similar attacks, but Drowzee’s requires psy energy and Drifloon’s is flippy.

But we’re not done brainstorming here. What if we didn’t need to Gust something up? What if we could just attack the bench? Elekid immediately comes to mind. He’s a basic that has a free attack. He has a free retreat. He can wall by sleeping. Unfortunately, he only does 20 to the bench, and he only has 30HP. I’d still be willing to give him a try, though.

Lickitung is a 90HP colorless Pokemon that can do 30 to the bench, but he’s got a 2 retreat. Rotom is very interesting. It’s a 60HP basic that can attack for 1, retreat for 1, and can help with prizing problems. I don’t know if he’s out of reach for this challenge or not. He’s a rare, but I don’t think he’s particularly sought after. His main drawback is that he’s very situational. His attack is only useful if the Pokemon you want to snipe has some energy built up.

Problem Solving Pool Additions

I think that’s enough weakness discussion. Let’s get to the list of cards that I think could really step this deck up. Afterward, I’d love to hear your thoughts about what I missed. I’ll very roughly order this from what I think is more important to what is of low importance, but keep in mind that it’s not really ordered and it’s not really a checklist of what I need. It’s more for discussion.

  • Super Rod (or maybe Flower Shop Lady)
  • Tynamo (can only use 1 more)
  • Thundurus (or maybe Zekrom/Tornadus/Virizion)
  • Great Ball (I’m thinking it’s better than Pokeball)
  • Pokemon Communication (assuming I get more Pokemon, then this is better than Pokeball or Great Ball)
  • Rocky Helmet (this has already proven useful, but 1 or 2 more may be better)
  • Rotom (or maybe Pokemon Catcher [for that dreamer in me] or Elekid)
  • Eelektrik (a 4th one could be useful)
  • Pikachu/Raichu (barring any other Pokemon, another set of Raichu could prove useful)

So, I don’t have room for all that stuff in the decklist, but I’d be very happy to try any of it out. Please leave a comment as to what you think should be in the list.

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