During a fun event we organized in August, a variant with Riptide Feraligtar took first place. Everyone was surprised to see a different style of water deck. Afterwards, the word WaterStorm has started to flying around more and more in Tricky Gym’s Discord, but the idea of the archetype isn’t that recent and has been under construction for months. When I was looking through tournament results from the analytics page, I found the first deck lists in December. The archetype was waiting for the right card to complete it, and then Hisuian Basculegion was released, the perfect engine for the deck. Hisuian Basculegion makes possible a final loop where Gyarados, Kyogre and Starmie can flow and attack back to back for a lot of damage and multiple KOs. The philosophy and construction of the deck is “the bare necessities”, “I want less but the essential” and the essential in water we know is great: consistency and accuracy. “I’ll play what I need when I need it”. This is Water in GLC.
The list has every good card at its disposal to abuse this concept starting from Brooklet Hill, a stadium that allows you to bench for free a basic Pokemon from the deck that usually means Basculin or Articuno to move it active if you already have a good follow. Hisuian Basculin, for no energy cost with his attack Gather the Crew, can bench two basic Pokémon from the deck allowing a clean setup going second. There are many possibilities to do it since there is a lot of Pokémon search in the list and, except Kyogre, all Pokémon have a 1* retreat cost. The next two definitely don't need chatters or introductions: Shady Dealings Drizzile and Inteleon will do the usual dirty work for our accuracy with the mindset of thinning the deck properly for our attackers. Octillery is the king of the abyss refilling the hand till 5. We saw with the analytics that its win rate is a few points more impactful even than the frogs above. At one point he will be the final push after a strong “Upstream spirit” from Basculegion, a no energy cost attack that will shuffle back into the deck every energy discarded hitting the active for 20x each energy and almost always ensuring a KO. It will be satisfying to have saved a Research for after that, draw into 7 energies, deluge 7 energies onto a Starmie and Abyssal Hand to draw 5 more energies. Probably game, right?
Articuno is considered a good starter, in fact the Blizzard Veil ability is really strong early in the game to power up a Kyogre, Starmie or Inteleon preventing Guzma and Boss’s Order. Like this you’re not totally depending on Deluge however, when they suddenly find a way to play around Articuno via Escape Rope or Silent Lab you are not in an ideal situation. Articuno could stick in the active spot early for several turns, try to make the most of it. Charge Starmie till you’re ready to kill multiple important support Pokémon on the opponent's field. If you saved enough good cards, thinned the deck well and there’s still some energy in the deck we can Aqua Storm with Kyogre hitting 2 or 3 energies for 100 or 150 damage to two benched Pokémon. Sometimes just 1 early is not that bad, and we can clean up later with Starmie on 120/130/160 hp Pokémon, but don’t get mad if you not hit anything, sounds crazy but sometimes it happens. Choose well the Basculegion target, let him take a big knock out.
If we have still some prizes to take, Gyarados with his Distilled Blast can come immediately afterwards for 240 damage to the active with a clean deck, otherwise recovering Kyogre will allow you to hit for 250 on 2 opponent’s benched Pokémon with good probability, as well another crazy Starmie planned with a Research and previous good timings on Brock or Nessa to recover it if we already lost it. This is just a sequence, but we can risk a Kyogre early too if your opponent’s bench is weak. Irida needs no comments. Nessa is so handy to recover our Pokémons and sometimes energies and build our hand and combos. She could come in clutch sometimes even early in the game paired with Battle Compressor, that usually is key for thinning cards you don’t need in that specific match. Not to be forgotten, Ball Guy: 3 balls grabbing 3 Pokémons, taking out of the deck 6 then, and thanks to the combination of Drizzile/Inteleon, Dive Ball, Ultra ball and Level ball we will have a super strong turn evolving Blastoise and Octillery for an explosive play even early in the game or out of nowhere. Crasher Wake is awesome early in the setup and very strong too late in the game for saving the last good cards by unlucky discards and thinning for a better Kyogre or Gyarados. With all those energies we increase his consistency, I love it. It’s a free Teammates without the knock out requirement. Peony has almost the same early and late job as Crasher Wake. Archie is a way to speed up our plays or in case of emergency for bad prizes or early gusts on Blastoise. It’s mainly for Blastoise because he’s our only raindancer. It’s for sure easier to Archie’s early in the game and when we already have Blastoise on the field, since you can ideally charge your energies till you have that last card, but when he’s in the discard pile in the mid-late game with Ultra Ball and Quick Ball already used, it will not be that easy and we will have to plan an Articuno strategy to setup it again. Remember in this case that Gyarados attacks for one and Basculegion for free and the second attack sometimes helps soften up some math for Starmie.
Another strongest defense to save Blastoise is set up multiple threats and shift the attention elsewhere, the opponent has more targets and we will make it harder for him to choose. The most important cards for all of these ideas becomes our recovery cards: Nessa and Brock’s Grits, Pal Pad and Vs Seeker in case we lost or used the first ones. Always have a third eye on your recovery cards and your board, in case we lose Blastoise we need to have a hand with options to reset it, especially in the final turns Deluge is needed for the final great flood. We have Wally in case to accelerate the process or candy. In order to keep the water cycle flowing, we need Nessa and Brock’s Grit and since we can’t recover items, this makes Pal Pad and Vs Seeker even more precious. We can discard early Brock with a Peony for example, but Pal Pad would be an awful loss, imagine both. If we have a Research to play during the first turns we will never want to lose Rods without taking value, instead we can lose supporters like Nessa and Brock's Grit and recover those later when we need it more. The keystones of the cycle are for sure Basculegion and Blastoise. Keep those around. We need a clear vision and good predictions in every single game: your opponent’s board state and discard pile situation (Boss/ Guzma, Vs Seeker, resources and options in general). Basculegion’s Upstream Spirit is really the piece the archetype needed. Being able to play with less bricking cards like Energy Recycler or rods and trasform it into an attack is really scary and gives a bit of space to the deck for some techs. Why for example Hex Maniac instead of Silent Lab? We can pass even through Machoke with it and it’s recoverable with Vs Seeker and Pal Pad, comes in clutch vs. Dragapult and sometimes can give you a turn to better develop your board. Silent Lab is not tutorable and we have to run Lusamine in case of that. So, for the rule that the deck wants less, the decision took place in the final thoughts and refinements. For the same reason, the stadium with more values that takes less space is Chaotic Swell, having it means staying safe and asking your opponent to have more answers to deal with Manaphy and Articuno. They could Hex Maniac to bypass your bench barrier, but actually except this same list and maybe some Amazing Lighting lists there’s no strategies relevant like this in Gym Leader Challenge. Lost city will need a Field Blower too in this way, same for Parallel City. We can’t avoid Avery besides playing properly and sometimes I found it helpful to discard a powered up Kyogre for a better Basculegion.
Multiple threats is key in most of my decks. Peonia has saved me in a lot of situations, and I prefer it to Gladion since I can do it twice in some cases. I love it too with a clogged hand where discarding Pal Pad, Vs Seeker or key cards would be bad. Conserve them in the prizes and don’t shuffle with Hisuian Basculegion or at least use it before and remember what to grab when you need it most. With Pokègear we have a way to find a good supporter early or after Pal Pad at the end of the deck it will grab exactly what you need, maybe just the Research for the last push or Brock’s Grit to refill energies for Kyogre. It is however a burnable card in case it's required. No N? No Marnie? No Colress, no Cynthia but Tate and Liza? No Float Stone? You must be crazy. Well, those are all missing cards we don’t miss. The only card I really feel sometimes I miss is a disruption/draw like Marnie or N, but at the same time it will be shuffling my hand and the plays I ordered accurately. Between the two I will always go for N. Float stone is hard to save from being discarded and from the opponent’s Field Blower. Blastoise can do the work all by himself, retreating a Pokémon is ok since it boosts Basculegion, and in extreme cases we have Tate and Liza and Guzma to switch. Trust me, I ended a lot of games with the last KO taken by a giant turtle with 10 or more energies. Have you ever thought that Blastoise’s Hydro Pump would be considered strong?
Water is such a strong type and with this list we have another way to play water differently, someone would call it “less consistent”, but for me it is good enough to have fun and win in the way I like. I can’t explain exactly how to play it besides talking about it with pros and cons, how to plan an Archie’s if you prized the key pieces (like I usually do) or the right time to play that or the other. Every game is different, every hand is different, sometimes I Archie's turn 1, and this is the magic of GLC for me, mixing total randomness for the nature of the format with free creative in a large card pool to interact with the best synergies you can find. Like this list makes the strategy an archetype.
##Pokémon - 17
##Trainer Cards - 27
##Energy - 16
Total Cards - 60
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