Last weekend I was at a Standard League Cup having a good time, when I saw someone next to me who didn’t seem to be having one. The reason for this was because he was unable to attack every turn while his opponent was getting back things from the discard pile. Wondering if he managed to sneak a Sableye/Garbodor deck into a Standard event, I looked at what was across the field, but the colors on the field just didn’t match the usual dark and psychic that you’d see with Sableye/Garbodor. Instead, there was a bunch of red and yellow…
I was looking at Sander W., playing a really interesting Heatmor/Raichu/Victini deck. Sander is known in our area for liking decks that stall, disrupt and mill in order to win through deckout, rather than winning the old fashioned way via prizes, and more often than not it works out for him. In the past he’s played decks like Wailord EX and Sylveon GX/Garbodor, and this seems to be his current preference.
Out of respect for his creativity (and a bit of laziness on my part) I haven’t asked for his list and instead played around with the deck online, building and rebuilding my own version of it. It’s surprisingly effective!
Here’s my take on it:
Pokémon – 13
4 Heatmor BUS 24
2 Victini GRI 10
4 Pikachu GEN 129
3 Raichu BUS 41
Trainer Cards – 43
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Team Rocket’s Handiwork
2 Team Flare Grunt
2 Rescue Stretcher
4 Devolution Spray
4 Nest Ball
4 Puzzle of Time
1 Special Charge
4 Ultra Ball
3 Field Blower
3 Float Stone
1 Enhanced Hammer
Energy – 4
4 Double Colorless Energy
The goal of the deck is to use Raichu’s Evoshock every turn to repeatedly paralyze the opponent while running them out of cards in their deck.
To do this, you keep evolving Raichu then devolving it with Devolution Spray, which you then get back with Heatmor’s Odor Sleuth. Heatmor is like a really janky version of Sableye and Bunnelby, where it can get back anything you want at the cost of Double Colorless Energy…and some coin flips. Odor Sleuth lets you get back 1 card from the discard for every heads you flip out of two, so in a vacuum it will usually get you one card. 25% of the time you’ll even get two, and then the other 25% of the time you’ll get none…but that’s where “Fliptini” comes in. Whenever you get double tails, you should use Victory Star to refip and give yourself another shot.
As long as you only reflip when you get double tails, there’s only a 1 out of 16 chance that you’ll get nothing back. This is still going to happen more often than you’d like because you have to use this attack so many times throughout a game, but that’s just how it is.
While you’re keeping your opponent paralyzed you’ll also get rid of your opponent’s deck using Team Rocket’s Handiwork, introducing even more flips into the games. For every heads with Handiwork you’ll run them down 2 more cards. If you had to mill your opponent with these alone you’d probably not have a good time, but your opponent might also try to dig through their deck a bit to find energy to attack and ways to get out of paralysis.
The most common way for your opponent to break out of paralysis is going to be Guzma. Most decks right now play four, so you should always try to be prepared for a Guzma on one of your benched Pokémon. So unlike with a deck like Sableye where you’re constantly replacing the thing you were attacking with, you need to worry about your benchsitters like Pikachu, Raichu and Victini. Usually I found my opponents tried to go after Victini unless I only had one unevolved Pikachu out, which is why you should try to always have at least 2 but preferably 3 Pikachu on your bench. Victini is fairly easy to replace instantaneously if it goes down since there’s 2 in the list as well as 2 Rescue Stretcher and 4 Puzzle of Time. Even if you don’t have it, it’s only necessary if you flip double tails, so you can get away with not having it a lot of the time, just not in the long term.
There’s some energy disruption in the deck as well in 2 Team Flare Grunt and 1 Enhanced Hammer. These cards aren’t really necessary since you don’t really care how much energy your opponent has into play as long as they’re paralyzed, but it can be a nice way to force them to play a draw supporter or get something stuck active that can’t attack. Your supporter use for the turn usually isn’t in high contest so if you aren’t able to Rocket’s Handiwork it can be nice to play a Flare Grunt to force them to play more cards.
For a deck with so many flips it’s surprisingly consistent and will keep your opponents in a tight lock for a lot of the game.
That said it does have a few weaknesses:
Very slow to win. You can’t win a fast game. In a best out of 1, you have to play your turns crazy fast or your opponent can (legally) stall you into a draw if they figure out they can’t win. I saw Sander say Evoshock, Devo Spray, Odor Sleuth and flip the necessary coins at lightning speed in the Swiss rounds. In a best of three, you will only be able to finish one game, so you better make it one you can win.
Not finding Double Colorless. You only play 4 and sometimes they’re a bit tricky to find. You could play Energy Loto to make up for this a bit, replacing some of the energy discards or even a Guzma.
Lone Pikachu gets KO’d. Usually you should devolve all your Raichu before the end of your turn to maximize the number of Pikachu in play, but sometimes an N by your opponent will leave you no options but to evolve your second to last Pikachu, and then your opponent KOs the last one and you have no way of using Evoshock that turn.
Bad prizes. This deck doesn’t take any prizes, so if something ridiculous is prized (both Victini or 2 Pikachu, for instance) you can’t do anything about it.
That said it’s still quite a menace in its own way. Automatic paralysis and the ability to recycle resources almost infinitely is nothing to shake a stick at. If all your opponent plays to get out of Evoshock is Guzma, especially if they play less than four, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble since they do have to take six prizes and this deck tends not to give up more than one for free.
Please do try this deck out to see if it’s for you, even if only for a couple of fun games. Just not against me.