Deck Building 101...Or is it 404?

Discussion in 'Cards: Strategy and Rulings Discussion' started by SuperWooper, Mar 31, 2004.

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  1. SuperWooper

    SuperWooper New Member

    I wasn't sure where this went: which forum, so here it is. It helps to build decks, but I thought it more of a strat article. I'm kinda writing a book on building a deck (not really), like Brian Brokaw did waaaaaay back when. Here it is, anyway, move it if it needs to be.


    BUILDING, BRAINSTORMING, BATTLING®©™
    By SuperWooper®©™


    Let’s get right down to it, the only way to win tournaments is to build tournament-worthy decks. That’s why I’ve written this: to help the reader understand the fine line between getting sixty cards together and saying, “Let’s battle!” and actually going through the complex process of creating a tournament-worthy pokemon TCG deck.
    I really don’t enjoy playing people who don’t think about their deck before putting it together. They just choose two types, throw in the energies and trainers and say, “I’m done!” That’s not a deck, it’s a bunch of cards, and I’ll stomp it into the ground it in battle. A good trainer takes months upon months of building, brainstorming, and battling to make their deck near perfect.
    Rookies to the game often make good decks, but can’t utilize them properly. I’ll cover this in detail, too. To be a great player, you’ll need to be able to build good decks, and use them to their maximum potential. I’ve encountered very few good players. Ultimately, a good player can do the above two things: build and battle flawlessly. Once you reach the professional levels, it’s one mistake and you’re out. One energy in the wrong place and the game is over. One trainer played at the incorrect time and you’re outta there! The higher levels of the game are harsh and unforgiving, and only good players can withstand this atmosphere and continue on playing and winning until they reach the top. So read on if you think you’re ready to become a good player.




    CHAPTER 1: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

    Every good player was a beginner once. Before anyone becomes good, first they have to want to be good. And if you want to be good, you have to start somewhere, so let’s start here, by learning to build a deck. Before you choose your trainers, your pokemon, or even your types, you must learn how you build a deck.
    First of all, it must be sixty cards. Well, that was easy. Moving on.
    Next, you must have sufficient knowledge about the pokemon TCG. This was the main reason for my delayed jump into the competitive card game, because I started playing without even knowing how to play. And so I was delayed for a year or so and had to learn, under the apprenticeship of several leading players on things such as how to play the game and exploit my opponent’s weaknesses and learn strategies and when to play certain cards, and other important things.
    So in case you don’t already know, there are three ways to win in the Pokemon card game, and here they are:

    -Gather your last prize card
    -Defeat your opponent’s last in play pokemon
    -Force your opponent to be unable to draw a card at the beginning of their turn

    And, consequentially, there are three ways to lose:

    -Allow your opponent to gather their last prize card
    -Allow your last in play pokemon to be knocked out
    -Not have any cards in your deck at the beginning of your turn

    The object is to accomplish one of the first three before you accomplish one of the second three. If you can do this, then you win. If you cannot, then you lose. Before you choose your pokemon, or even types, you must choose one of the above three. Choose in what manner you would like to see your opponent defeated, then build a deck around that theme. This is the whole idea of the term “theme”. In the card game, it means, “Way in which you desire to win”. Unless of course you desire to lose!

    Luckily, these three objectives fall into two simple categories: Pokemon destruction, and Deck destruction. Gathering your last prize card and defeating your opponent’s last in play pokemon don’t require different deck setups, contrary to popular belief. They only require you to destroy your opponent’s pokemon, hence the term, Pokemon Destruction. Let’s take a look at this in the next chapter.
    CHAPTER 2: POKEMON DESTRUCTION

    So you want to destroy the opposition using brute force? Then read on. In Pokemon Destruction, you knock out your opponent’s last pokemon, or gather your last prize card. (Usually there are six prizes) To knock out a pokemon on your opponent’s side of the field, they must acquire more damage then they can take by looking at their HP, written at the upper right hand corner of the card. When the damage they have on them is equal to or greater than that number, the monster is knocked out and sent to the discard pile. The other player takes a prize because one of their opponent’s pokemon was knocked out. Take six prizes and you win. And of course if you have no more pokemon in play then you lose, so knocking out the opponent’s last pokemon will also give you a win. Usually the second is achieved before the first in an average game, but there are exceptions. We’ll get into that later.
    First you need to know that there are two subcategories within this category: Heavy Evolution, and Speedy Delivery. Both require heavy deck manipulation, so we’ll cover that first, as it is essential to both types of decks:

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    DECK MANIPULATION

    Deck manipulation comes in the form of trainers and pokemon. Basically, to sum it up quickly, deck manipulation is the ability to find what you need, when you need it, and fast! Some pokemon, like holographic Delcatty, use pokemon powers to draw cards, and others, like Jungle Kangaskhan, use attacks to help draw cards. Others, like Aquapolis Kangaskhan, allow you to rearrange the order of your deck. Ruby and Sapphire Linoone lets you put any two cards into your hand with Seek Out, which is probably the best non damaging attack in the game. But most deck manipulation comes in the form of trainer cards. Computer Search is probably the best form of deck manipulation ever in the pokemon TCG, because you can put any card directly into your hand at the cost of two cards. Even though two must be discarded, four computer search in a deck virtually ups the number of every card in the deck by four, since when you draw Computer Search, you can instantly search for any card in your deck. Oracle lets you put two cards on top of your deck, so it’s like a double computer search, but you must wait to draw the cards. This holds true unless you play Bill, which simply states: draw 2 cards. This is probably one of the best cards ever because of its sheer flawlessness: THERE IS NO REASON YOU SHOULDN’T PLAY FOUR BILL IN EVERY DECK! There is no downside to Bill at all, whatsoever! Draw 2 cards. That’s it! And of course, Professor Oak, an old favorite, lets you discard your hand to draw seven new cards. Seven new cards is incredible! A whole new hand full of new options. “To Oak, or not to Oak,” is the most important question in unlimited pokemon play. More often than not, however, Professor Oak should be played: better things are sure to come. However, make sure you have used every card in your hand that would be beneficial to you before you Oak away your hand.

    In general, Deck Manipulation is used in every deck, but stressed more in Pokemon Destruction decks. Some great Deck Manipulation cards are:

    -Jungle Kangaskhan
    -Holographic Delcatty
    -R&S Linoone
    -Genesis Cleffa
    -Computer Search
    -Bill
    -Copycat
    -Professor Oak
    -Oracle
    -Professor Oak's Research
    -TV Reporter
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    The above aspect of gameplay is very very important to both Heavy Evolution Decks and Speedy Delivery decks, but it is virtually the only aspect that they both share. Other than the need for deck manipulation and the common goal of destroying opponent’s pokemon, the two decks are completely different, so let’s dive into Heavy Evolution decks first: the more popular of the two in today’s format.

    CHAPTER 2-1: HEAVY EVOLUTION

    The type of deck used most commonly in today’s format is the above one, because of the abundance of highly damaging moves and game-breaking pokemon powers. These decks go for the long drawn-out game to destroy the opponent since they need to evolve from their weaker stages to utilize their awesome powers. These decks need deck manipulation to get out the highest stage evolution card quickly, and power it up fast, then set up an environment in which it can best attack or use its power to help other supporting monsters attack, while your evolution sits nice and safe on the bench. I’ll look at some evolution decks that rule today in the Eon format, meaning only E-reader cards are allowed in tournaments.


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    Blaziken: This card’s power let’s its controller attach one extra fire energy card from your discard to a benched pokemon. This card is used often with Delcatty, because Delcatty can discard an energy to draw three cards, then Blaziken can get it right back. It’s also used with Expedition Ninetales and Aquapolis Exeggutor, which both do lots of damage by discarding energy, which Blaziken can get right back for them. But the most powerful Blaziken combo is the BAR deck, standing for Blaziken/Ampharos/Rayquaza EX. Rayquaza EX does loads of energy with plenty of fire energy, and Expedition Ampharos can use its power to send it right up to him at the active position, so Rayquaza doesn’t need to be benched. Then Blaziken gets all the energy back after Rayquaza discards it, Ampharos sends it up to him, and Rayquaza EX attacks. The deck does roughly 120-160 damage every turn, and is almost unstoppable if put together correctly.

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    Gardevoir, in combination with Gardevoir EX, simply destroy most decks they come across, using a combination of boost energy, and Gardevoir’s power, Psy Shadow, allowing you to search for a psychic energy in your deck and attach it to any one of the controller’s pokemon. Gardevoir is usually combined with Wobbuffet to counter it’s weakness: itself!


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    Aggron EX/Wailord
    Aggron EX is usually run with Aqupolis Furret, which can search the deck for special energy cards through the use of its power. Wailord are included for weakness to fire the Aggron so inconveniently possesses. This deck uses Aggron EX to attack and Wailord as the backup. Lot’s of healing cards are put in to make the pokemon last longer, and boost energies are run because both pokemon need lots of energies to attack.


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    Ampharos EX
    This pokemon is probably the weakest attacker of the four I’ve listed, but has the strongest disruptive power. Every time the opponent attaches an energy, put a damage counter on the pokemon the energy was attached to. This card is often combined with Cradily, who will force the opponent to attack since the active pokemon can’t retreat, and damage them further. However, the deck is very difficult to run and should only be used after much consideration and playtesting. It’s worth it though.

    These aren’t the only decks, but they are the most popular. Each deck includes cards like Copycat or Oracle to draw or find the cards you need, but controlling your side of the field isn’t the only thing you need to do to win with a Heavy Evolution deck. You need to find the cards quickly, sure, but what if the cards aren’t there? This brings up the second aspect of Heavy Evolution decks:

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    MONSTER DISTRIBUTION

    Usually these decks run a couple of evolution lines, so you’ll need to evenly distribute the cards. Most decks will run Delcatty/Linoone as their colorless, then one or two others, like Blaziken and Ampharos, Aggron and Wailord, Gardevoir. Some players may choose not to use Linoone or Delcatty and go with searching cards like Oracle. But holographic cards are hard to come by, and many players are tempted to think, “Well, I have four Oracle, and I’m playing Linoone. Even if I only put in one Aggron EX, I’ll be able to find it.” This isn’t good, because there’s a one in ten chance that card is in your prizes. Putting in two makes the chances of keeping at least one out of your prizes better. This means you’ll almost always have at least one in your deck to use. But what if you don’t draw your Oracle or your Linoone? Then having three would be a better idea. Three means one in every twenty cards, and that means a 1/3 chance of that Aggron showing up in your opening hand. Four of the basic, three of the stage one, and three of the stage two is recommended. Include cards like Dunsparce and Wynaut, letting you search your deck for the pokemon you need, and Supporters like Pokemon Fan Club, and Professor Elm’s Training Method. Again, that’s 4:3:3. This is the general ratio in today’s format. Remember never to use Wally’s Training. It is a huge huge huge no-no. Professor Elm’s Training Method is a much better card, so leave Wally’s Training in your binder!!!

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    So you’ve chosen your pokemon, huh? Got a good idea of how many you’ll need for each evolution line? Okay. Now you’ve got control of your side of the board, and you think you can get your pokemon set up quickly? Good. Let’s move on to the other side of the board. Pokemon, unlike most TCG’s, doesn’t let you do anything on your opponent’s turn. But you can mess them up on your turn! Trainers, pokemon, and even some energy cards let you foil your opponent’s plans. Let’s check them out now:





    DISRUPTION

    This aspect of Heavy Evolution is very important. Since the odds are that your opponent will be using Heavy Evolution as well, you must disrupt them so you have the upper hand. Cards that disrupt the opponent’s hand, like Impostor Professor Oak’s Revenge, Desert Shaman, and Team Rocket’s Evil Deeds, all belong in decks like these. In some ways, Gold Berry can be considered a disruptive card. Playing it at just the right moment is devastation for your opponent, giving you another full turn of attacking and then later, possibly retreating. In the same way, Super Scoop Up can rob your opponent of a KO they wanted so badly. Of course, the three most disruptive cards in the game are all trainers, and they are Energy Removal, Super Energy Removal, and Gust of Wind. And of course, none are E-reader cards, so none are allowed in tournaments. However, if you don’t plan on playing Eon, these cards should be in every single deck you own. Pokemon Destruction or Deck Destruction, who cares? These cards are simply the best at foiling the opponent’s plans. Genesis Noctowl lets you shuffle trainers back into the opponent’s deck with it’s power, and Skyridge Crobat does the same but with pokemon. Dragons Absol and Skarmory both can discard cards from the opponent’s hand if they have more than five. And of course, Erika’s Victreebel gives you a gust of wind card every turn with it’s power. Every turn you flip a coin, and if you flip it heads, then you get to gust of wind any pokemon to the active spot. The mother of all Disruptive pokemon powers. All of the above are great additions to any deck, but fit evolution decks especially well. Disruption’s cousin, Denial, will be covered in a few pages. Denial is more powerful, usually, because it stops the opponent from even putting cards into play, with just a few minor exceptions. But hey, Pokemon is full of exceptions, so just ignore them!

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    Okay, now. You’ve got Disruption, Monster Distribution, and Deck Manipulation. The three D’s. Now get out there and playtest your deck. Battle against other players, then fix your deck according to your strengths and weaknesses. Fix it, battle it some more, and fix it again. Going through this process makes your deck better, and makes you a more experienced and overall better player. Build, brainstorm, battle, build, brainstorm, battle. It’s that easy. But now we’re taking a look at Speedy Delivery Decks, or as some know them better: BEAT DOWN!!!

    CHAPTER 2-2: SPEEDY DELIVERY (BEAT DOWN!)

    Before we begin, I just want to clear up one little fact that many people can’t quite grasp: Beat Down decks don’t always have to include only basic pokemon. They can have evolutions, just not many. They should be focused on the basic pokemon, more commonly referred to as the BBB (Big Bad Basics) , or pokemon that make use of the big bad basics. The most commonly used evolution is Beat Down decks is Jungle Wigglytuff, but I’m getting ahead of myself, here. First of all, this type of deck uses three D’s, just like Heavy Evolution. They use Deck Manipulation, Denial, and Dependance. These three D’s make the Beat-Down the quickest and most simple to play deck out of all three types of decks.
    But first, a look at the classic types of Beat-Down decks:

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    TurboTuff:
    There are some arguments about this deck being a Speedy Delivery, since it uses evolution cards. It is probably the most popular of them all though. A full bench can produce a second turn 60 damaging “Do The Wave” attack. But then along came Sneasel and made Wigglytuff obsolete. However, Wigglytuff still has tremendous power in the unlimited environment and many people play it. Wiggly is usually accompanied by Scyther, Mewtwo, Magmar, and other basic 70 HP pokemon with cheap, quick attacks for when Wigglytuff’s time is up. Wigglytuff decks require a huge amount of deck manipulation to get Wiggly out second turn, but is still fairly easy to play, and great for beginners.






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    Trapper Deck
    The goal of the trap deck is to reduce your opponent’s hand to nothing. Plenty of disruption is used, as you can see from the above three cards, and denial as well, which I’ll cover later. The goal is to reduce the opponent’s hand to 4 cards by first using Impostor Oak’s Revenge. Then either Lass their trainers away or TRT their cards away. In doing so your opponent will be stranded and have nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, waiting for you to attack. Trainers are what make any competitive pokemon TCG deck click, and when you get rid of them, your opponent can’t do much of anything put lay down a few pokemon, drop an energy, and say, “Your turn”.

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    Erika’s V-bel/krow
    The goal of this deck is to use Erika’s Victreebel’s power, Fragrance Trap, to lure out any pokemon of the controller’s choosing, like an automatic Gust Of Wind, and locking it in place with Murkrow’s Mean Look attack. Some decks play Slowking or Dark Vileplume to stop switch and warp point trainers, but v-bel is most commonly used and is most reliable overall, especially because of its very good attack efficiency, which we will get to later still.

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    ***
    These pokemon are often played in Haymaker, Sponge, or Potpourri decks, all terms meaning basic pokemon with cheap attacks and high amounts of HP. Ditto is included because of his ability to use virtually any attack for only two double colorless energy. Scyther is most useful because of it’s colorless energy requirements. Several other pokemon could be recognized here, but these are the best of the best. The new EX versions of Scyther, Mewtwo, Electabuzz, Magmar and Hitmonchan don’t come close to the level of Beat Down that these six reach. However, in all of pokemon card history, there has never been a better beat down card than:



    *
    Sneasel: The 140 damage turn two beating machine! With two darkness energies to give him a twenty damage power boost, and a full bench to back him up, Sneasel instantly became the most feared card in the game when released in the Neo Genesis set. Everyone used Sneasel, and I mean everyone. Everyone to the point where the card was banned only a month after its release in the United States. Instantly taking over the entire pokemon world with no weakness and no retreat cost and a resistance to Movie Mewtwo to boot, not to mention an average of 80 turn two with a full bench when using its “Beat Up” attack. If you play an unlimited Speedy Delivery Deck, you need to play this card. Really. Get it now! It’s only downside: it’s ten short of the magic number: 70.
    Now that we’ve reviewed the different kinds of Speedy Delivery, it’s time for you to make your own. Unfortunately, in today’s Eon environment, the EX pokemon are the best available Haymakers, but their two prize rule is their gigantic downfall, and the prime reason that very few good players use Beat Down decks in E-reader on tournaments. A few cards worthy of mention in today’s format include Sandstorm Lunatone, Solrock, Zangoose and Ruby and Sapphire Mewtwo EX. Others, like Dragons Absol, are worth considering, but fall short in the end. We’ve already been over Deck Manipulation, so let’s go onto:

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    DEPENDENCE

    Dependence is undesirable, yet undeniable in pokemon. It is not, “What does this card do?”, but “Can I use this card to it’s maximum potential with minimal aid?”. Most dependence comes in the form of energy. Beat Downs are famous for slipping around energy dependence, though it is something to consider in both forms of Pokemon Destruction. Haymakers, however, tend to lean toward pokemon that do good amounts of damage for small amounts of energy. For example:

    Fire (R) Water (W) Psychic (P) Lightning (L) Grass (G) Fighting (F) Darkness (D) Metal (M) = 20 dam.
    Colorless (C) = 10 dam.

    Let’s consider Base set Hitmonchan, shown two pages above. Its first attack, Jab, does 20 damage for one fighting energy. This is extremely cost effective, as shown by the above chart. Now look at Jungle Scyther, also shown two pages above. Its second attack, Slash, does 30 damage for three colorless energy, meaning three of any type of energy will do thirty damage. As long as its has three energy, it can Slash. This too, is very cost effective. Dependence in the form of energy is hard to get around, but recently attacks have been getting more and more efficient, as shown below.

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    Crawdaunt’s Guillotine attack does fifty damage, sixty with its poke-body, Power Pinchers. Sixty for WCC is incredible, possibly the most cost-effective move in existence. Even with it’s power shut off, it still does fifty when forty is average. Crawdaunt is a great pokemon, but falls short because, although 60 is a lot for WCC, it’s a small amount of damage in today’s format, where most decks do usually 80-100 damage per turn. So Guillotine is effiecient, but not powerful.

    Look for pokemon who have cost-effective attacks, and are less energy dependent than others. This may make some of your previous choices seem less appealing than before, but dependence, especially in the form of energy, is not something to be taken lightly. You don’t want dependence, but it usually shows up somewhere in your deck. Choosing cards that can function to their maximum potential without other cards helping them are important parts of every deck, so cut your dependence to a minimum, and continue building your Beat Down deck.

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    The third and final, but certainly not the least of the three D’s, is Denial. This gives Beat Down decks the other part of their speed. For a deck to be fast you must not only stock up on deck manipulation, to increase your own speed, but deny your opponent what they need, to decrease their speed, so you can control both sides of the board. So pay close attention to Denial: it may be the most important of the three!
    DENIAL

    Much like disruption, but actually very different at the same time. Usually disruption has to do with cards that are already on the field. There are some exceptions, such as cards that don’t deny your opponent anything, forcing them into the diruption category, but usually denial is the aspect of the game that stops the cards from even making it to the field, or stops the card from coming, “Into Play”. Trainer denial is especially key in Beat Down, so here we go!
    The most famous of all trainer denying cards is the holographic Neo Genesis Slowking. His power, Mind Games, is almost unstoppable, and as such is the case, everyone playing Beat Down plays at least three Slowking. The more in play at a time, the harder it is for the opponent to play trainers. Let’s take a look at Slowking right now:

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    This power makes it very hard to play trainers, as does Dark Vileplume and Chaos Gym, a stadium card with text similar to that of Slowking’s power, must if the coin flip is tails, you may use the trainer that just failed. The power of using your opponent’s trainers against them! Of course Stadium Cards work for both players, so you must be wary of the drawback when it is your turn. Other denial may come in the form of healing, as healing cards, like Gold Berry, can be classified as both disruption and denial. However, most people believe that they deny the opponent their prize more then disrupt them.

    There you have it: Pokemon Destruction summed up in a nice little box, with a pretty ribbon and wrapping paper. Get out there and get the cards you need to build you very own Pokemon TCG deck. If you work hard enough, you can become a giant at the game. Good luck!

    All material within is the sole property of SuperWooper®©™.

    You probably didn't bother to read the whole thing, but whatever. I'll probably to the Deck Destruction section later. I'm getting to it.

    I started this like a year ago. Weird that I'm putting it up now. All the asteriks are where scans of cards once were, but I'm sure all of you know what the cards look like.

    Chao,

    Wooper
     

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