Blastoise was my starter Pokemon when I first played Pokemon Blue over 20 years ago, and it is my favourite Pokemon from Gen 1. When I saw the Pokemon Go Blastoise back in June of last year, I fell in love all over again and knew I wanted to include it in my water deck. I have been playing the Vitality Spring Blastoise since it was released, and I think it's an insanely good card, both as an energy accelerator and as an attacker. In this article, I am going to take a closer look at the decklist that I managed to go undefeated with in the most recent CardBoard Warriors EU Webcam tournament.
The general gameplan is to use Blastois's Vitality Spring ability as soon as turn two (or three) to set up multiple strong attackers and trade them favourably against my opponent's Pokemon by taking a one hit KO every turn but not getting one hit KOed in return. In the mid- to late-game, Frosmoth allows me to set up additional attackers quickly so I don't miss a knockout. The general bulkiness of Wailord and Blastoise allows me to play Lost City as my main stadium. A well-timed knockout on a vital Pokemon that can not be recovered often ruins the gameplan of my opponents and leaves them dead in the water. In addition, it is very easy to trade knockouts favourably since my attackers are usually OHKOing my opponents Pokemon but very rarely get OHKOed in return (especially with Pot Helmet). And even if my opponent manages to keep up in knockouts, the fact that Splash Energy allows me to take a knocked-out Pokemon back into my hand even with Lost City in play on top of running four capable attackers in the first place makes my opponents run out of viable attackers long before I do.
Since it is vital to set up fast and properly, I am running Gloria, Brigette, Ball Guy, and Irida. Even though most of the time either Gloria or Brigette (sometimes even both) end up as dead cards in my hand in the late game, cutting either one is a bad idea. I found that an overwhelming majority of my losses come from not setting up fast or well enough rather than from having a dead card in my hand later in the game. This choice also maximises the chance of getting the Alolan Vulpix out and in the active spot, which pretty much guarantees a proper set up by getting Drizzile and a piece of my attacker line-up out of the deck for free. With Drizzile, I want to get Irida to get Rare Candy and Blastoise for a Vitality Spring turn two. I wait to set up the Frosmoth until later in the game, both because I usually don't have the resources to do so early and to protect it from an untimely knockout. I play Frosmoth over Baxcalibur because it takes up one less card in my deck, and I have to evolve it only once.
Everyone knows and loves Wailord. He's huge, he's handsome, and he hits like a truck. The Pokemon that are capable of one hit KOing Wailord can be counted on one hand, and the Pokemon that can survive an attack from Wailord are even fewer. With the Blastoise being able to accelerate special energy into play, it is rather difficult not to fulfil the condition of Wailord's Special Wave attack. A Pokemon that not so many know is White Kyurem. While 130 HP on a basic is not that special, what sets Kyurem apart from most basic attackers is his capability to hit for 160 damage. This is enough to knock out pretty much every basic or stage one Pokemon in the format, and thanks to the Blastoise, it is not difficult to get a fire energy attached to Kyurem. This is one of my favourite Pokemon to recover late in the game because it can be set up in one turn with the help of Frosmoth if I manage to save one of the two fire energies or recover the basic energy with the Superior Energy Retrieval. The fact that Kyurem is weak against Metal makes it the prime attacker in the Lightning matchup. Blastoise is an insanely strong Hydro Pump attacker; in fact, it has the strongest Hydro Pump in the format (unless you attach 9 energy to Wailord VIV), featuring the same numbers as Lapras VMAX. Dealing 210 damage for only four energy is brutal, and with the ability to scale even higher, Blastoise is capable of OHKOing Wailord SIT with a Pot Helmet or even Torterra with a Pot Helmet and Kricketune in play. Inteleon is the last attacker in this line-up. And even though the raw damage output is a lot less impressive than what Wailord or Blastoise are capable of, Inteleon is a fantastic attacker in its own right. Being able to attack for only [W][C] is great, and the fact that it deals 20 damage to a benched Pokemon lets it take double knockouts or fix the math for the other attackers quite frequently. Since I mostly use it to attack in the late game, dealing 120 damage to the active is often enough damage to take out left-over support Pokemon.
Attaching the energy correctly with Blastoise might just be the most difficult part of this deck. After using Vitality Spring, there is often only one energy left in the deck. This means I have to have the order of my attackers pretty much figured out by turn two. Besides figuring out which attacker and which energy cards are prized, some questions I usually ask myself are: Which attacker do I want to recycle with Splash Energy? Can I keep a fire energy in my deck to easily set up Kyurem in the late game? What recovery cards do I have available, and how do I distribute my Pokemon and energies between them to string attackers efficiently? Is there an important effect of an attack that I need to block with Wash Energy? Most of the time, I get two attackers set up completely or only one energy attachment away. That one energy attachment is usually because I put the Recycle Energy onto the active (most of the time, Vulpix). No matter if it gets knocked out or if I retreat it, I get the energy back and can pick between two attackers to take the first knockout with.
Initially, I cut Starmie for Superior Energy Retrieval because I greedily wanted an additional slot in my deck, but what I assumed would be a mediocre compromise turned out to be a huge improvement for the deck. Superior Energy Retrieval has (mostly) the same impact in the game because I still get to discard two cards to recover four basic energies, and only very rarely did I get to recover more with Starmie before it got gusted or I was in a 'win more' game state. Superior Energy Retrieval has the advantage that it doesn't need to evolve, it can't get gusted and knocked out before it has done its job, I can get it with Shady Dealings or Irida and I get to recover all the energy at once. But most important of all is not needing the bench space in the mid- to late game. I can't emphasise enough how big of a difference that makes. Parallel City often was game over since you have to keep Frosmoth and Starmie, and discarding Octillery is very risky. This would leave me with only one attacker that might even get knocked out that turn. Without Starmie on the bench, I get to keep an additional attacker, giving me a chance to retaliate without having to spend additional resources. I also get to set up a second attacker without having to give up any of my support Pokemon if my active gets knocked out.
Obviously, getting to pick two cards out of my deck is better than one. But getting to recover an energy, especially the basic fire energy, comes in clutch very often. Losing the ability to recover the basic fire energy more than once by taking Starmie out of the deck was the only noticeable disadvantage of that cut, but Raihan fixes that issue.
This is pretty much a meta call. I started with the Weakness Guard Energy because I play against Metal a lot, and it helped with White Kyurem's weakness since he is the only Pokemon capable of attacking Ingot Swing Melmetal without needing Hex Maniac. Since Lost Zone Psychic is very popular right now, I switched it to Wash Energy. It also makes the energy attachment a bit easier since now there are only two energies in the deck that can't provide [W].
I played these Sobble and Remoraid recently to see how Keep Calling feels in case I prize the Vulpix or otherwise brick the set up. But I think the 70 HP on the other Sobble make it a lot better against Lost Zone Psychic, and then the Ion Pool Remoraid is the better choice even if discarding a Stadium with an attack happens pretty rarely. Having to leave your Sobble in the active with Drizzile being such an important Pokemon just feels really bad.
I think Hisui Basculin is not good (at least in this deck). Attacking with Basculin in one turn and with Vulpix the next creates a turn where I don't evolve my Pokemon, and my evolutions get into play at the same time they would if I only used Vulpix. I would much rather run the risk of my opponent getting hand disruption in time to shuffle my Pokemon back into my deck than waisting a bench space and offering an easy knockout.
It's a blank card, why would I play that? On a more serious note, I prefer the Evosoda because I know exactly what I get and I can play around the disadvantage it has with Shady Dealings (at least to an extent). But getting a Timer Ball and needing it to get Wailord just to miss it 25% of the time often loses me the game, and there is nothing I can do about it.
Now this is just a bad card. In any water deck. This card buys me time to set up, sure. But the only reason I need that time is because I have this Articuno active instead of Alolan Vulpix getting me the Pokemon I actually want. So the issue it tries to fix is only introduced because I played it in the first place. The attack is also really bad. Doing 70 is not enough to get a KO, and softening up a Pokemon is not needed if I have Wailord and Blastoise. And then I have to move the energies to the bench? Getting stuck in the active on purpose? Thank goodness Articuno is buying me some time to dig for a switch card. /rant This is obviously (a bit) hyperbolic, but I really think that this card is not good and introduces more problems than it solves.
The biggest weakness this deck has is not one particular matchup, but rather any opponent playing Marnie or Iono on their second turn to put the Pokemon I just got with Vulpix back on the bottom of my deck. It is even worse if they do it more than once.
Match-up-wise, the toughest one is Ability Lock because it stops the deck from setting up. Luckily, Blastoise only needs one turn to put all the energy into play, but getting the gust effect in time can be hard.
Turbo Dark can be another tricky one. They are able to knock out whatever basic is in the active after my first turn, so leaving the Vulpix in the active when going first is dangerous, and they usually get to hit into whatever is active the turn Vitality Spring gets used. Knowing that, I can pick my Pokemon a bit differently and usually sacrifice Kyurem or Snom because they aren't essential early on and are easy to recover later.
I had quite some trouble dealing with spread decks in the past, but getting some reps in against them made me feel a lot more confident, and I think there is no matchup that is a hard loss for this deck. Most decks are just not equipped to deal with a well-timed Lost City or just fold to a quick Wailord with a backup attacker.