Hello again DeadDrawReaders! It's Cody, and we're back with another Deck Lab. This week is none other than Archie's Blastoise! This deck was obviously very popular after it won Worlds last year, but it was being constantly shut down by cards in Expanded like Ghetsis and Vespiquen, and of course, Hex Maniac. This list is something I have been playing with for a while now and it's really been a lot of fun. Let's check it out!
This deck is all about being able to burn through a large chunk of your deck, getting tons or resources into the discard, including Blastoise, then using Archie's Ace in the Hole to get Blastoise back from the discard and onto the bench. So how do we want to do this? Let's dig into the list.
The Pokemon in the list are very straight forward, but all very important. Keldeo EX is your main attacker; Secret Sword is really strong when combined with Blastoise, because Secret Sword does 50 damage plus 20 for each Water energy attached to Keldeo EX, and it's really not hard to get 8+ Water attached in just one turn. Articuno is your non-EX attacker, and your wild card in many matchups. Articuno is mainly used for his attack "Tri Edge" which does a base damage of 20, but then you flip 3 coins and do 40 more damage for each heads. This doesn't sound spectacular, and it shouldn't, but Articuno has an ancient trait that allows him to take an additional prize card when he takes knock outs. Because of this, Articuno is who I usually try to get the Fighting Fury Belt onto for the off chance I ever get to use Tri Edge against a Shaymin EX, since 2 heads would be good for a 3-prize-KO (20+10+40+40).
Every other Pokemon in the deck is there to help us get Blastoise out on the first turn. This obviously means we are playing a couple Blastoise. Shaymin EX is to help draw cards to hit those combo-cards like Ultra Ball and Computer Search. Exeggcute is to negate the cost of those combo cards and line us up to have optimal number of cards in hand. Jirachi EX is an immediate out for Archies, via the Stellar Guidance ability. Then lastly, Unown. Unown was something we came up with actually about a year ago, when first turn Ghetsis was the play for almost every deck in Expanded that was not playing either Archie's or Maxie's. Ghetsis requires your opponent to reveal their hand, then they shuffle all item cards in their hand into their deck, and you get to draw the number of cards they just shuffled in. Needless to say, playing Blastoise and seeing a Ghetsis come down in the first turn is usually pretty awful news, but Unown can help mitigate some of that pain. Unown is also great as a card you can usually just play down to be able to play Archie's. You also may notice that this deck plays a ton of awful starting Pokemon. Having Unown in the deck makes you less likely to have to start something like Exeggcute or Jirachi EX, since Unown just needs a single energy attached to retreat, then use his Farewell Letter to keep digging.
The trainer cards are really what keeps the deck going. I've already mentioned how bad Ghetsis is against us on our opponent's first turn, but something that I would argue is worse is Trevenant. What we do have going for us against Trevenant is Rough Seas, which we can use to heal off most of the damage that Trevenant is able to do to us every turn, and if we get 2 Keldeo EX down and our stadium is able to stick for a couple turns, we are able to Rush-In in tandem, healing off all the damage Trevenant is doing to us. I was playing with Sky Field at one point, just to be able to play more Pokemon down, but I didn't care for it much. Then I tried Tropical Beach - play your hand down, almost get Archie's, play a Beach instead to draw into more combo-cards, but the problem is if you used Battle Compressors on your first turn, you're more likely to end up drawing into more energy or Superior Energy Retrieval, which are cards you just don't want when you're trying to get Blastoise out early.
Generally speaking, the Trainer cards are pretty self-explanatory after you see them. Trainer's Mail is to get Battle Compressor in order to throw away Blastoise so you can use Archie's Ace in the Hole. Once you play a few games, you really get the feel for how to keep consistently getting Blastoise out early every game.
As for other cards I tested but didn't mention already, there are definitely several. For Pokemon, Kyogre EX from Dark Explorers has an attack called "Dual Splash" for WWC that does 50 to any two of your opponent's Pokemon - this is great for taking care of Combee and some Eevee before they can evolve. Joltik and Mew would be great targets, too. I chose to not include this Kyogre because its utility outside of these few matchups is pretty minimal and, with Karen now being legal, I expect the meta to be much less built around these kind of decks. Next, Kyurem is another great attacking option because of its attack Frost Spear, which serves as a means to do bench damage. Anyone who has ever played against me knows that I really hate when I have no options for bench damage, and Kyurem is able to do that for me in this deck, but was ultimately cut to add some consistency cards.
As for trainer cards, I would say Acro Bike and Puzzle of Time. Puzzle of Time was especially good, since you can play it for no relevant effect and essentially just burn a card out of your hand. Puzzle was also nice for setting up top decks when you were only going to be able to use Set Up for a card because you could play the Puzzle, move something like Computer Search to the top, Set Up and draw it, and likely get Blastoise out of the deal. Puzzle of Time was eventually cut after being Ghetsis'd to death online several times, in favor of adding the Unown.
All that said, how does the list look? Anything seem strange? I really encourage anyone to play this deck if they wanna just go all out on their first turn. Also, This is actually a great deck to have a newer player learn how to play, because it really emphasizes how critical it is to play cards in a very deliberate order and to always have their turn mapped out before they just start playing cards for the sake of playing them.
As always, thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more great stuff coming from DeadDrawGaming and the DeckLab!