Although Empoleon was released a few months ago in Dark Explorers, it never really established itself as a Tier 1 deck in most players eyes. Although Empoleon boasted a pretty hefty 140HP whilst giving up just one prize, and had an inbuilt draw engine, it seemed to struggle against any Zekrom based decks which could easily knock an Empoleon out with one attack (Terrakion helped to manage Darkrai EX). This led to it seeing relatively little play, especially within National Championships where players opted for a more stronger deck choice.
Going into a Black and White format, I reconsidered that thinking. A wider variety of decks should mean that the liability against Zekrom is less than a problem, and Empoleon has several advantages over Garchomp such as a higher damage output at the beginning of the game, a lack of reliance on setting up Altaria on the bench, and of course it’s ability helping to draw through the deck at a much quicker rate. Although I originally tested the deck with Terrakion, Fighting energy and Energy Switch, I found the deck very lacklustre.
It was hard to consistently set up quickly, and the added inconsistency meant the deck could suddenly stop working at any point during a game. Even in matchups where Terrakion helped, it wasn’t always easy to draw into a Terrakion, Fighting energy and Energy Switch when needed, as well as having an energy attached to another Pokemon to move over. Instead, I changed several cards in my list to focus purely on a quick swarm of Empoleons to hopefully overwhelm the opponent, and added some Trainer cards to deal with any EX Pokemon.
Here is my current list:
4 Piplup DEX
2 Prinplup DEX
4 Empoleon DEX
2 Roselia DE
2 Roserade DE
4 Emolga DE
10 Water Energy
3 Professor Juniper
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Level Ball
2 Pokemon Communication
2 Super Rod
3 Max Potion
2 Tool Scrapper
Deck List Explanation
It’s pretty obvious what this deck is based around – setting up at least one Empoleon by the second turn, and as many more soon afterwards. Once you get that first Empoleon in play, it’s likely that you can take a prize that turn, while setting up more is important to draw enough cards, as the deck only runs nine Supporter cards and no Random Receiver. Emolga is the ideal opener as it can search out two Basic Pokemon and put them onto your bench, and the two Switch in the deck still give you the opportunity to use Call for Family on the first turn, even if you open with a Piplup or Roselia. Along with four Level Ball, you should have no problem filling your bench quickly, and you’ll find Emolga’s free retreat cost useful later in the game, as you can send it out after one of your Pokemon has been knocked out.
Roserade is another Pokemon that can help to fill the bench, while being a consistency booster at the same time. After evolving into Roserade, you can use it’s ability to search out any card from your deck. It might be a Rare Candy, a key Pokemon Catcher or a Supporter card if you have none in hand. It’s a really useful ability to have, and Roserade’s 90HP means it can be searched out with a Level Ball as well.
Moving onto the Trainers and Supporters, and you’ll notice the deck doesn’t run a lot of Supporter cards, compared to other decks. This is due to the fact that Empoleon is a draw engine in itself, and so less Supporter cards are needed. Two Super Rod means that a knocked out Empoleon can be shuffled straight back in the deck to be drawn into, and helps a lot in continually setting them up, or shuffling in multiple Piplups if the opponent has knocked them out before you could evolve them. I decided to add Tool Scrapper in over Pluspower, as rather than adding 10 damage to your attacks, you can discard any Eviolites in play and deal 20 more damage, or even more if they don’t attach another Eviolite on the following turn. It makes EX Pokemon a lot more easier to deal with, and is also useful if you come across decks relying on EXP Share for their energy acceleration.
Max Potion is the card that really makes this deck for me. Empoleon’s 140HP means that most Pokemon will struggle to knock it out in one attack, even EX Pokemon. There are a few exceptions, such as Zekrom or a Garchomp with two Altaria on the bench, but you can always just discard the Max Potions with Dual Draw in those situations. However, against most other Pokemon, you can simply play a Max Potion to heal any damage on Empoleon, attach another Water energy from your hand and carry on attacking as normal.
It means that the opponent might have to attack three times to take just one prize card, and with the rotation of Junk Arm, it isn’t easy for them to play a Pokemon Catcher on a benched target such as Emolga so consistently. The ten Water energy that this deck plays means it can deal with the discard of those energy, and if needbe, you can just shuffle some back in with a Super Rod anyway. Along with Tool Scrapper, Max Potion makes any EX Pokemon a lot more bearable, and ensures that you often come out on top of the prize trade.
I think that against the majority of decks, Empoleon is a really strong choice. Your opponent needs to attack several times to draw just one Prize card, and it can be a long and frustrating game for them to win. Although the opponent’s ability to limit Empoleon’s damage by not playing many Pokemon onto their field is a problem, it still creates a problem for them when they can’t play their deck as they would normally like to. It’s important to quickly evolve any Piplup on the bench as they’re easy prize cards for the opponent, but I’ve found between the draw of your Supporters and Empoleon, finding those Rare Candies is never a big problem.
My main worry is when playing against a deck that can easily knock out an Empoleon in one attack. Not only does it render any Max Potion useless, but it’s also difficult to continually replace an Empoleon every turn, and continue to apply pressure to the opponent. I don’t feel Garchomp is too much of an issue as they’ll need two energy on their active Pokemon, and have two Altaria set up on the bench which are easy Pokemon Catcher targets.
Instead, the main threat to this deck is Zekrom/Eelektrik, which is a complete autoloss provided the opponent plays enough Zekrom and plays smartly by limiting their bench. I feel that the popularity of Zekrom/Eelektrik in Battle Roads could be a deciding factor in whether Empoleon is a good choice, but I’m not entirely sure how much play it will see. It’s easy to build and still a very viable deck choice, but I think a lot of people may be bored with the deck, and want to try something new. In addition, the release of Darkrai EX as a tin promo will make it a lot more accessible to players who didn’t own a playset before, and encourage them to play that as their Battle Roads deck choice.
Either way, if you’re just looking for something fun and different to play while the wait for the new season to start goes on, I’d definitely recommend giving Empoleon a whirl!