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GLC Water Deck - Hydro Jet

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Accoblubber @CardboardWar_ Thursday, May 30, 2024

Hydro Jet

Water is one of those types that just seems to get all the love from the card creators. Home to some of the strongest draw, search, and acceleration abilities in the format, it’s no wonder that it has remained one of the top types in Gym Leader Challenge since the format’s inception. While water boasts the largest card pool in the format, for a long time many of its viable attackers required a support Pokemon powerful enough to accelerate a large amount of energies onto the board to be playable. As a big fan of low cost attackers at the time, I didn’t mesh with this style of play, and so I tried my best to build around the few low cost attackers that water did have. But alas, there just wasn’t enough support at the time for it to be viable. This has changed as more low cost attackers were slowly introduced into the format over time, and now it is a style of play that can match up with the best that water has to offer!

Just Keep Swinging (Swimming)

The main strategy of this deck is to leverage its cheap attackers to overwhelm the opponent by attacking before they can set up. While all of the main attackers of this deck have the potential to take knockouts turn 2, it is important to keep their various conditions and drawbacks in mind when choosing which one to open with. As a rule of thumb, always use the attacker with the least conditions for a given situation.

TEF Palafin is one of the most oppressive opening attackers in the format. It can one shot every big basic in the format for a single energy, while also being difficult to revenge kill with its above-average HP. Palafin is the strongest opener for this deck, and should be the first attacker you try to set up every game when a piece of the evolution line isn’t prized.

While not as easy to attack with as Palafin, Golduck and Barraskewda are still strong openers in their own right. Requiring only a single energy to attack, their only limiting factor is the amount of energies you have in hand. This is rarely an issue given the amount of outs to energies this deck runs, and can even prove beneficial to the deck by loading the discard pile with energies quickly for Basculegion. Golduck’s Double Jet attack gives you the option of discarding less energy for less damage, and while this can be beneficial for knocking out pre-evolutions for less of a commitment, its damage cap of 120 makes it an inferior opener to Barraskewda. Even if you see your opponent open with a pre-evolution, there is no guarantee that they won’t retreat to a big basic, so Barraskewda is always the safer bet over Golduck.

Froslass is the panic button for this deck. Being able to do up to 140 damage for a single energy, regardless of what your board or hand looks like, makes it an extremely potent way of dealing with an attacker that is pressuring you. The 140 damage cap is significant as well, as when paired with any of the deck’s damage mods, it allows you to one shot stage 2 attackers. Make sure to keep the recoil in mind since it can really burn you if the opponent takes advantage of it. One of the biggest examples is the opponent gusting up a different attacker to force Froslass to knock itself out to deal with the active, leaving you down two attackers.

The Basculegion line performs a lot of roles for this deck. It helps you set up, can pick off pre-evolutions early game, and lets you nuke a wall while also recycling your energies. As such, it is a very important evolution line and recovery target that you will be using in almost every game. Most of the time Hisuian Basculin will be knocked out after using Gather the Crew to set up your board, so keeping track of Nessa and using it at the right time to prepare Hisuian Basculin to evolve is key.

Eh, I’ll Deal With That Later (or Never)

Due to the relatively low damage output of this deck, tanky pokemon can be difficult to deal with. This is where Phione comes in. Whirlpool Suction is a powerful ability that allows you to force knockouts by pushing tanks out of the active, forcing your opponent to promote their weaker benched pokemon. This allows you to keep a constant stream of knockouts, regardless of what your opponent has in the active spot. Phione puts itself on the bottom of the deck every time it uses Whirlpool Suction as well, so you can keep using the ability as long as you have ways to grab Phione from the deck.

Accurate, Like a Sniper

The insane search power of the Inteleon line gives you a lot of control over the game. It is the most important evolution line in the deck, allowing you to find the cards needed to keep streaming knockouts and mess with your opponent. Because of how reliant this deck is on Shady Dealings, planning a turn ahead and having an intimate knowledge of the uses of the various trainer cards in this deck is crucial. So let’s go through a brief rundown of the notable trainer cards in this deck.

  • Professor Kukui: With how important it is for this deck to keep tempo, there is no worse feeling than missing a one-shot. Professor Kukui provides redundancy for Muscle Band’s damage boost, increasing every attacker’s damage output to more relevant numbers (120→140 for big basics, 130→150 for bigger basics and stage 1s, 140→160 for stage 2s).

  • Rosa: The sheer number of cards Rosa grabs, combined with the low attack costs of this deck, allows you to set up powerful plays beyond finding the attack for turn. If your hand is dead, you can find an evolution and energy for your attack this turn, while also grabbing a draw supporter for the next turn. Or you can grab inteleon in addition to the trainer and energy to set up a powerful Shady Dealings combo. 

  • Nessa: Nessa acts as a tutoring card for the discard pile. It can guarantee an attacker for next turn, attachment for turn, or be used to satisfy Golduck and Barraskewda’s attack costs in a pinch. Because it is the only recovery card in the deck, it is important to be mindful of discarding Nessa. It is ok to do so in a pinch, or if the opponent isn’t putting on a lot of pressure, but this usually means that you will need to reserve the VS Seeker for Nessa.

  • Hex Maniac: Hex Maniac is a powerful card that lets you take decisive turns, break through annoying abilities, and mount a comeback by preventing your opponent from attacking. 

  • Lost City: Basics with over 140 HP are very difficult for this deck to deal with. While one-shotting them the first time is a relatively simple task, this becomes increasingly difficult to do as the opponent continuously puts them back into play and your resources are exhausted. Lost City circumvents this issue by allowing you to remove these threats from the game for good. Shady Dealings makes it extremely easy to access Lost City when necessary. Some decks crumble after a key support Pokemon or attacker is lost zoned, so it is sometimes worth evolving Drizzle early so that you can use Inteleon to grab gust and Lost City at the perfect moment.

  • Max Potion: While the primary use of Max Potion is to mitigate the recoil that Palafin and Froslass receive, it can also serve as a tool to recover from a slow start. Most decks that are fast enough to take a prize before this deck do so at the sacrifice of overall damage output. This leads to scenarios where Palafin can tank a hit. Max Potion allows you to capitalize on these situations by denying the opponent knockouts, allowing you to catch up on the prize race.

  • Scoop Up Net: Because of how early this deck uses Shady Dealings, it is possible to run out of steam in the event that the opponent knocks out Octillery. In these situations, Scoop Up Net provides invaluable utility by allowing you to reuse the Inteleon line. It also serves a similar role as Max Potion, providing another method of healing Palafin and Froslass.

These are the most important Balls in this deck, as they guarantee you access to Shady Dealings. As a result, while they are certainly useful as outs to basic Pokemon, it is sometimes prudent to hold on to them in order to have more outs to Shady Dealings later in the game. It is generally best to do this when you already have two attackers (or their pre-evolutions) in play or predict that you will need a specific trainer the following turn.


With all the specific card search this deck runs, there are so many different plays you can make and ways to express skill. It’s been a blast trying to optimize my piloting of this deck. Thanks for giving this a read! If you are looking for a different way to play water, consider giving this deck a shot!