Hello Trainers! I want to share a very special deck tech from an incredible gym leader. Maggara wrote this article to share on the website after his run to the Top 8 with it in the inaugural CardBoard Warriors Gym Leader Challenge 1K event. He has run this deck for a while and consistently placed at or near the top with it. In my opinion, this is truly the most creative deck I have ever seen in Gym Leader Challenge.
Today I want to share my insight about my favorite deck which can navigate its route to victory in multiple ways, not just by being faster in the race to six prizes! Its gameplay and strategy varies immensely depending on the matchup or even ingame situation. Without further ado, I present to you: Death by a Thousand Licks.
The birth of the deck is all thanks to Lickilicky. Its attack ”Licks Go Crazy” has it all; some (90) damage, discarding an energy, discarding a random card from the opponent's hand and discarding the top card from their deck for CCC. While it can get OHKOs on some Pokémon, most GLC attackers have high enough HP to withstand one or even two Licks which is why it isn't usually run in a traditional attacking Colorless deck. The distruption part of the Licks can be a huge nuisance to many GLC decks, so building a deck around it should work somehow.
In comes Persian with its attack ”Make 'Em Pay”. It does 20 damage for C and if your opponent has 4 or more cards, you can look at your opponent's hand and discard cards until they have 4 cards left. Choosing which cards to discard is extremely strong as you might be able to discard their only perfect card for next turn and thus crumpling their gameplan. Having Persian or even Meowth in play might force your opponent to make suboptimal plays, trimming their hands towards 4 cards if they don't want to risk paying the price. Your opponent trimming less useful cards also benefits Lickilicky as you're more likely to discard important cards randomly if they have less cards in hand.
Combine Lickilicky and Persian with some expandeds banned cards to get the synergy to a silly level. Your opponent is wary of Persian and plays down to 4 cards? Delinquent + Licks Go Crazy can get rid of their whole hand. Add in a Reset Stamp in late game and watch them hope for that top deck Colress. This almost feels like cheating.
Speaking of cheating, let me introduce you to a starter that definitely feels like you're cheating. Talonflames ability ”Gale Wings” let's you play it as your active Pokémon when you're setting up even as a stage 2 Pokémon. It's attack ”Aero Blitz” does 40 damage and let's you search your deck for any two cards for C. Incredibly strong starter that let's you set up your board and get early KOs on those pesky Feebas. Even if your opponent happens to draw into their N or Marnie, they have only a couple chances to use them, and that means you don't have to worry about them later on once you have everything you need in your hand.
Death by a Thousand Licks also features other attackers like Aerodactyl, Kangaskhan and Snorlax. Sometimes you just can't prevent your opponent from setting up a strong attacker which you have to deal with instantly, and the most efficient way to get rid off its energies is to knock it out. Your other option is having hammers and Team Flare Grunt ready in hand. Hammers don't usually change the course of game on their own but combined with some Licks many decks struggle to keep up with energy attachments. Discarding the opponent’s energies is often underestimated, and depending on the game you might want to chase their manual attached energies on hyper carries like Guzzlord, Kyogre or Raikou instead of knocking out a some insignificant Pokémon they try to feed you. That way you can ensure getting a KO the next time you swing at them and you prevent taking an unnecessary prize lead, shutting off your Counter Catcher and Counter Gain. Other cards are mostly there to add consistency to your gameplan. Bunnelby can act as a finisher in the late game or recover some key cards from your discard pile.
Almost always in Pokémon Trading Card Game the player who first draws all of the six prizes wins the game. You can also win by your opponent’s deck running out of cards. A softer win condition can be achieved by making sure your opponent can't take six prizes at all. This generally happens if they run out of energies to attack with, or if you can trap some nearly useless Pokémon in active and they've already used (or you've managed to discard) their switching cards. Even if they have some outs in the deck they can get punished hard by Lickilicky or Bunnelby while they hope to find the right top deck.
Generally this deck wants to set up their draw engine as soon as possible. Set up Cinccino over Pidgeotto if you have the choice. Most of the time you want to go with starting hand though, e.g. if you already have Lickilicky and energies in hand, grabbing Lickitung over Minccino can be crucial. A lot depends also on your opponent and their situation. For example, if you are the starting player against Grass or Water, grabbing a Meowth can pay off well if they try to set up a huge turn two with Alolan Vulpix or Zarude. You also have to keep in mind what your opponent can do during following turns since you don't want to put resources towards a future attacker just for it to get knocked out the next turn.
With a Talonflame start you have to be mindful of what your opponent can and wants to do. Searching for any two cards is always great but during your first turns, when you don't have Cinccino up yet, you have to be careful which supporter you want to grab to use next turn. E.g. do you search for Cinccino + Boss to KO Feebas or Winona + Recycle energy to get your full setup up as soon as possible. Using Talonflame to set up your other attackers (especially Aerodactyl) is advantageous and can end the game fast in your favor.
Getting your energies (especially Recycle Energy if you're limited in energies) in play is also important as the deck has only a few ways to access them and doesn't run many. Don't be too afraid to attach a DCE to Snorlax if you start with them and haven't prized too many. You can sometimes snowball the game out of control by swinging with Kangaskhan or Snorlax during early turns.
At this point of the game, decks have a few support Pokémon already in play and some of the heavier attackers begin to enter the field. While most decks focus on getting knockouts as soon as possible and setting up the next attacker to follow, this deck usually can't keep up in the straight up fight (and shouldn't). Just focusing on getting slightly ahead will often leave you dead in the water when you run out of steam. Other decks usually have better attackers for taking KOs and more resources dedicated towards them. By leading you also shut off your comeback cards and enable your opponent’s.
Instead you want to be as efficient as possible and focus on the highest threaths and controlling your opponent. Many opportunities arise during a game where you can use Licklilicky and Delinquent to get rid of their hand or use Persian to discard a couple important cards. The one thing this deck does well is taking a breather in the middle of combat. Combine Persian with a gust play to discard their switches and draws to buy a couple turns. You can always try to hide behind a doll or Snorlax while Snack Searching with Munchlax to get ready for that inevitable threat.
You must try to deny certain attackers like Guzzlord, Kyogre or Raikou as much as possible. If they manage to unleash their attack, you must do everything possible to ensure it doesn't happen twice. KOing them works, and denying energies is also a great option. Combine Lickilicky with some other energy denial to watch an awkward Kyogre with two water energies sit at the active spot. As a Hail Mary you can try to use Persian or Snorlax with a gust to buy some turns before you can set up a KO on the threat.
At this point you can start to outline your most likely route to victory. What is the prize score? What do you and your opponent have in play? How many cards your opponent has in their deck? What cards do they still have access to? What cards do you have access to?
Usually you want to double down in the area that has gone well for you this game. If you've discarded most of their energies, try to loop some more hammers in to play and go after the remaining energies in play with Lickilicky or other attackers. Try to trap something with Snorlax if they've run out of gusts and switches. If they're close to a deck out, you can try to just waste their time and make it as hard as possible to draw their last prizes. You can also try to use Bunnelby to finish faster, however it can be very risky if they're holding some kind of recovery and you miscalculate. Sometimes you can enter in a situation where your best play is to use Bunnelby to mill their cards hoping their only out(s) (energy/switch) get discarded.
Still the most common way of winning the game is taking prizes. Most of the games tend to go quite the distance and you've likely burned some of their resources along the way. Taking those into account (and having some luck with them) can reveal the correct route to taking six prizes first. And remember, you might discard your opponents three most crucial cards left in play every time you let the Licks Go Crazy.
But wait, how can the deck win games then? If you just discard their hand and don't control their deck, they can always top deck Colress. Many decks also have draw engines that will draw them new cards if you don't shut down their abilities somehow. Other decks also have better attackers.
The answer is by being as efficient as possible while making it harder for opponent to take their prizes. Aerodactyl with one energy can OHKO almost any Pokémon with all its attached cards. Kangaskhan is great revenge attacker with access to Powerful Energy and Counter Gain. Persian can singlehandedly swing the game by discarding some key cards at crucial points. Lickilicky essentially discards 3 cards of opponents entire deck of resources while sometimes leaving their attackers unable to attack and knocking most them in two hits. Finally, Munchlax and Bunnelby can return your resources to your deck while Bunnelby can also act as a finisher in the race to deck out. That top deck Colress also gets them 6-10 cards closer to a deck out.
Other reason for the decks success is the format. Most Gym Leader Challenge decks are extremely fragile as singleton decks. Decks have some cards to recover their key resources but they have hard time coping if both of those cards get suddenly discarded. Discarding random cards from deck or hand are surprisingly likely to distrupt your opponent since every single card (besides energies) in the deck is unique and some cards, like evolution lines, don't really function without others. In fact, more complex decks are affected way more as is evident winrates in certain matchups. For example you barely have to touch the energies of a Dragon deck for them to crumple if they don't get a fast Dragonite up. On the other hand facing a Grass deck with a normal start is almost unplayable. Certain decks are also designed to burn through their decks to achieve prizes and wins faster. With a little help, they might not be able to draw all prizes before their last card though.
One thing that matters a lot playing this deck is whether you and your opponent know perfectly what cards each player is running in their deck. Not knowing the exact counts of energies, switches and other key cards can be a hindrance, though with some decks you can get quite good guesses. On the other hand your opponent doesn't know what you're running so you can get quite creative and try to catch your opponent by surprise. Try not to run too many situational cards though otherwise they end just as ”Make Do” fodder. Here are some suggestions.
Surprise your opponent with Lickilicky or Persian from hand.
Get Aerodactyl instantly to play with the aid of Pidgeotto. Combine with Cyllene to get Aerodactyl to play straight from discard.
Use ”Spin Storm” to get rid of an unstoppable attacker. With ”Whirlwind” you can gust their only viable attacker to bench and try to trap something else with Galar Mine. You can also use Pidgeot to avoid giving an easy or last prize to a spread deck.
Use Aipoms ”Yank Out” as easier and faster Persians ”Make 'Em Pay”. Ambipom can win you games if your flips are on point.
Draw / recover Pokémons while also giving more discards to Persian.
Scoop up your Pokémon to avoid knockouts and reuse your Pot Helmet to tank even more with Snorlax.
You can also run different counts of energies and other consistency cards to see what fits your style best. Some of the more uncommon supporters like Mallow and Steven's Resolve work well also in this deck.
Besides the complexity of decks energies and setups, many matchups depend on the support they have available. Energy acceleration and searching abilities for Pokémon, trainers or supporters make it extremely hard to control your opponents plays. Ability locks, sniping and spread are also difficult opponents to face.
Below are the matchups from worst to best (In my opinion) with some key pieces to help navigate them.
The hardest matchup since Grass decks set up fast and reliably and can accelerate energies from their deck. Their support Pokémon also hit very hard if needed, unless you are facing a Eldegoss/Cherrim build. I've added Avery and Parallel City mainly for this matchup but they are not enough if you can't combine them with gusting a useless Pokémon to active.
Please let me know, if anyone can figure out a strategy how to beat Grass decks consistently.
Fire used to be a decent matchup before Pokémon Go sets Charizard. Now combined with their other support Pokémon they can stream in decent and efficient attackers which this deck has a hard time keeping up with.
Psychic depends a lot on the list their playing. Spread and Wobbuffet give this deck a lot of trouble and more special energy focused lists are better for you.
Water has a lot of control of their gameplay with many searches. Limiting it with Persian helps the matchup a ton. Unanswered Amazing Kyogre or Wailord can end the game in their favor fast.
Games against Raindance decks end more often in a deck out situations rather than taking prizes.
Dark has some powerful Pokémon but a huge drop off after the most played ones. This results in nearly identical lists with only some significant changes in energies and trainers which you can use to your advantage. Games against Dark usually come down to Guzzlord going off or controlling it and denying its energies.
Metal has access to many tanky hitters and also some energy recovery. Good thing they lack in draw so you can focus on that.
Lightning can run fast and hot but tends to burn out fast. It can get a turn one donk like Dark. Those two decks are the only decks you might want to go 2nd if you are scared of the KO.
Games against Lightning often in combination of them deckking out and not being able to get energies to attack without Zapdos.
Fighting can get KOs and be far in the lead. Coming back from behind is easiest against Fighting as they lack in support Pokémon and draw.
Attacking Colorless relies almost entirely on special energies so denying them is crucial. Control on the other hand doesn't like to be controlled and doesn't provide any KO threaths so Lickilicky and Persian can reign free.
Against attacking Colorless:
Dragon tends to run a complex energy package which can easily be exploited. Their games run pretty smoothly if they can get a fast Dragonite up.
This decklist was used to achieve a Top8 position in CardBoard Warriors GLC 1K Tournament. In the end Zenos Grass deck took the win in the playoffs. Nevertheless I was happy how the deck performed with 5-2-1 final score.
##Pokémon - 14
##Trainers - 39
##Energy - 7