Blastoise or Emboar?

One of the more interesting debates to come out of the XY-on rule change format is that of what is the better deck: Blastoise or Emboar?

Both decks are very similar. They have unlimited Energy attachments thanks to Blastoise’s Deluge Ability and Emboar’s Inferno Fandago Ability, which allow them to power up attackers out of nowhere. Both rely on a variety of OHKO attacks, from Black Kyurem EX’s Black Ballista attack, to attacks that scale in damage such as Keldeo EX’s Secret Sword and Rayquaza EX’s Dragon Burst.

While the deck’s are very similar, the types of Energy they run changes the types of attackers they are able to play effectively, which alters how the decks play out.


Blastoise has been a deck that has been in the midst of Tier 1 ever since it and Keldeo EX were released together in Boundaries Crossed last November. The deck has gone through some alterations, going from a deck that ran just Keldeo EX and maybe Mewtwo EX, focusing on building massive Secret Sword attacks, to a deck that could just OHKO everything with Black Kyurem EX with the aide of Superior Energy Retrieval, and at the same time, some players went back to the aggressive Keldeo EX version of the deck.

I think in this format, both versions of the deck are viable, so which one you play will largely be a matter of preference and meta game.

Here is the list I came up for with the deck:

Pokemon – 12

3 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo EX
1 Suicune PLB
1 Voltorb PLF
1 Electrode PLF
1 Mr. Mime

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy
3 Superior Energy Retrieval
1 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod
1 Scoop Up Cycone

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 17

17 Water

This list focuses largely on building giant Keldeo EX’s throughout. I found with such a large Energy Count, and breezing through my deck with Electrode I could build up giant Keldeo EX’s on demand. Best of all, with Superior Energy Retrieval, Max Potion, and Scoop Up Cyclone, I could play some major healing tricks against anything that couldn’t OHKO my Keldeo EX’s, making them even more threatening.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to pilot this exact list at a tournament. I have given it to a few Seniors, who have done quite well with the deck, picking up 2 League Challenge 1sts, a Cities 1st, and a Cities 2nd with the list.

The day I played Blastoise, I knew I wouldn’t have access to three copy of Tropical Beach, and replacing the 3rd copy with another card led to a series of poor decisions. At league the week before, I threw in a Black Kyurem EX in place of the Tropical Beach, and then took out two Water Energy for a Lightning and Energy Search, giving me access to Black Ballista.

Now, the single Energy and Energy search works extremely well for teching in an attacker. With Superior Energy Retrieval, you can just discard it early and bring it back when it’s needed. The problem is it messed with the flow of the deck. I think the list can work just fine with those changes, but I didn’t put in enough testing with it to know when to properly switch to Black Ballista. This led to games, such as a Blastoise mirror in which I would have won if I just kept my foot on the pedal with Keldeo EX, but lost because I switched to Black Ballista mid game. Black Ballista also opens you up to the catcher play on Blastoise, something that isn’t possible when your opponent has a six Energy Keldeo staring menacingly at them.

The single copy of Suicune is really good in the deck. You can wall behind it while you set up stronger attackers, slowing the game down to more of the pace that Blastoise wants to play at. It can additionally be thrown up late game just to shift the opponent into an odd prize exchange.

One thing to note, is that Latias EX has been seeing play in some areas, so it might be worth putting in some type of attacker without an Ability to give you an out to that.


At one of my City Championships this previous weekend, I ended up playing Emboar. It seemed like a solid play, as Virizion/Genesect won the previous day, and there weren’t too many poor matchups for the deck in the meta game.

Here is the list that I played:

Pokemon – 12

3 Tepig LTR
3 Emboar LTR
3 Rayquaza EX
1 Reshiram LTR
1 Zekrom PLF
1 Mr. Mime

Trainers – 

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla

1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
3 Float Stone
3 Tool Scrapper
1 Pokemon Catcher
1 Super Rod

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

3 Lightning
9 Fire

I think this is a pretty standard list for the deck. I chose to play Computer Search as my Ace Spec in the deck because I was frustrated with how inconsistent Blastoise could be when you played anything else in getting a quick setup. Blastoise can kind of get away with it by playing a Suicine to hide behind, but Emboar doesn’t have that option.

The other noteworthy inclusion was a single copy of Pokemon Catcher. I felt that it was a card that I didn’t want to make a core part of my strategy, but something that could be absolutely game changing if I were to flip heads on it when it found its way into my hand.

Here is how my tournament played out:

Round 1 – Blastoise

I opted not to play Rayquaza DRX, as Blastoise/Emboar have had almost zero presence in our meta game thus far, but here I found myself playing against it in the very first round. I think Rayquaza EX has the better end of the exchange against Black Kyurem EX, as it only needs three Energy for the OHKO compared to Black Kyurem EX’s four. Additionally, it takes four Energy to knock out Keldeo EX, compared to Six Energy for Keldeo EX to do the same.

I went first in this matchup, and got a turn 2 Emboar, and Dragon Burst his Black Kyurem EX for my first two prizes. From there, he still didn’t have Blastoise out, and I was going to be able to really drive the nail in the coffin early. He promotes a Squirtle, but I have Pokemon Catcher in hand, hit heads and bring up his benched Keldeo EX. I play a Superior Energy Retrieval to bring back the two Fire I discarded and play a Professor Juniper and…whiff a Fire Energy, so I’m just forced to Beach. Kind of sucks to whiff 7 Energy on what was a dwindling deck at that point, but it happens.

Fortunately, I was always ahead in the prize exchange and was able to get the win through that.

Win 1-0

Round 2 – Virizion/Genesect

I go first, starting Reshiram, and get a turn two Emboar, and Blue Flare a couple of Grass EX’s before my opponent scoops a few turns into the game. Virizion/Genesect just has no way of dealing with a quick to setup Emboar deck.

Win 2-0

Round 3  – Darkrai

I start a lone Mr. Mime and get Laser/Virbank donked, not drawing a Supporter or Ultra Ball. My opponent also used Ghetsis on turn one, putting four cards back into my deck, making it even more unlikely I’d get the one draw I needed to not lose instantly.

Loss 2-1

Round 4 – Big Basics/Garbodor

I get a kind of funky opening hand, but work on playing it down on turn one to ensure I can get something going. I attach a Float Stone to my Tepig, Tool Scrapper it. This probably made my opponent relieved somewhat since he was playing Garbodor, but I had some extra Tool Scrappers to spare. From there, I Skyla’d for my Computer Search, got rid of two Fire, and searched out Tropical Beach and used it for the turn to rebuild my hand with more usable cards.

I got a turn 2 Emboar, and used a Tool Scrapper to take off a tool from his Garbodor at one point. During the turns I had Abilities, I built up two Rayquaza EX’s so I had a response if I were to get Ability locked again.

I got down to just two prizes left, and had Pokemon Catcher in hand, and went for the win with Dragon Burst on an EX, but flipped tails so I had to deal with his Bouffalant with my Reshiram, which was fine. From there, it was just a waiting game of getting the Energy to retreat to Dragon Burst for my final prize.

Win 3-1

Round 5 – Darkrai/Garbodor

Before the game my opponent agreed to scoop because I was downpaired for this round. This was actually the second round in a row that I was downpaired, and downpaired into Garbodor no less.

This was very frustrating, as the decks left in my win bracket were fairly favorable matchups for me – Virizion EX and Darkrai decks that I already played…but of the pool I hadn’t played a Ho-Oh deck with a 1-1 Garbodor tech as an afterthought, a Tool Drop deck (3 Tool Scrappers and non-EX attackers are great against that), and Virizion/Genesect.

In this match, I got turn 2 Emboar, but had weird hands that forced me to discard too many Tool Scrapper at one time to try to stay in the game, so he was able to win the actual match something like 6-3 on prizes.

Kind of a Win 4-1

I ended up bubbling at 5th, as being downpaired two rounds shot my resistance. I don’t feel too bad for getting scooped to in the final round, and feel my deck stood up representative to the field that day. It was unfortunate being repeatedly downpaired into Garbodor decks, when I made the meta prediction that other decks would force the Garbodor decks lower in the standings, but then never get to play them as I constantly got downpaired.

It’s kind of crazy that you can play a Regional Champion from last season, the 1st/2nd seed after Swiss (and in the final placings for that matter) and still have bad resistance just because TOM decides to downpair you two turns in a row. I seriously think there is something wrong with TOM’s randomization for downpairs, as it seems to routinely target a single player with a mass of downpairs, even at larger events like Regionals where it should be statistically unlikely.

If I had made cut as fourth seed, the remaining cut would have been Virizion/Genesect, Darkrai, and Plasma, none of which are poor matchups for the deck, so overall I still think it was the right call for the day.

Attack Options for Blastoise/Emboar

Lastly, I just want to give a look at various attacking options for each deck. The array of attackers available to each deck is really what sets the two decks apart.

Keldeo EX – It’s Secret Sword attack gives you the option to deal massive amounts of damage while keeping the Energy on the field, which in turn protects your Blastoise from being brought Active and knocked out setting your deck back. Its Rush In Ability allows you to save some deck space on Switching cards, and also gives you Laser protection.

Black Kyurem EX – Black Ballista does 200 damage, which knocks out pretty much everything.

Rayquaza EX – Its Dragon Burst attack does 180 for the same amount of Energy, but also gives you the option to do more damage, which theoretically can let you OHKO stuff that Black Ballista can’t as a result of Aspertia City Gym or Umbreon shenanigans (which are very rare, so likely a non-factor). Unlike Black Kyurem EX, you can’t stack Energy onto a single Rayquaza EX for back to back OHKO attacks.

Black Kyurem BCR – Your non-EX Dragon counter for Blastoise decks, hitting for a solid 100 damage, knocking out any Dragon EX in the game.

Rayquaza DRX – Emboar’s equivalent to Black Kyurem BCR, doing 90 damage for one less Energy.

Suicine PLB – Gives Blastoise decks a safeguard option.

Reshiram LTR – Non-EX Fire attacker that does 120 damage. Great for eliminating Safeguard and 120 or less HP non-EX attackers, and good counter to Virizion/Genesect.

Reshiram PLF – An alternate to Reshiram LTR, doing a base of 80 but keeping all of the Energy on the field. Can be boasted to 120 attack damage if you have a Zekrom on your bench.

Zekrom PLF – This is an Empoleon and Lugia EX counter that can be fit into both decks, as both decks play Lightning Energy. Does a base of 80 damage, good to knock out Empoleon, but can do 120 in Emboar thanks to Reshiram.

Latias EX – A fringe card that can be fit into Emboar decks to give it a strong edge in a variety of matchups against decks that rely largely on Ability based attackers. You need to fit in a Psychic to make it work, which can throw consistency in an already tight deck off a little bit.

Kyurem EX – This card can be used in both decks actually, as its Outrage attack takes just Colorless Energy. In Blastoise, it has a second attack that does 150 that can only be used with Water Energy. The appeal of this card would be to give Blastoise decks a non-Grass weak attacker, but its damage output just falls short of what you really want out of it in most instances.

There are a slew of other attackers that can of course be fit in. Kyurem PLF, White Kyurem EX, etc., but all of these don’t really mesh well with the decks. White Kyurem EX is the most interesting to me, as its Outrage like attack’s base damage is 100 damage, so it can put on heavy damage as is, and if they hit into it ever, it will be able to knockout an EX. Unfortunately, it does need one Water Energy for that attack to work, which can again throw off the consistency of Emboar some, but it might be the answer for that solid attacker in Emboar that doesn’t discard Energy. Reshiram EX is also an option, but 150 damage is in that nowhere’s land of damage for the most part, and the 50 damage possible recoil can just set it up to be in KO range.

Last, there is also Blastoise and Emboar, neither of which you want to attack with too often. Blastoise is a better attacker, because it’ll usually be swinging for 100, enough to 2HKO an EX or OHKO anything that is Water weak. Emboar, on the other hand, maxes out at 80 damage, so it finds itself in that nowhere land of damage you don’t want to be in.


Both decks are incredibly strong decks, as any decks that can power up an attacker out of nowhere and OHKO anything will always be strong in some way or another.

I’ve found Blastoise decks to be better against Garbodor decks as it has strong attackers that keep their Energy when they attack.

Emboar, because of its type, bolsters a stronger Virizion/Genesect matchup, and with stronger non-EX attackers, it can usually better deal with a non-EX prize exchange.

Really, which deck to choose will be largely based on the meta for an area. Both decks are good, but one may be better than the other depending on what other decks are seeing heavy play.

One last word of caution is Stadium count. In areas where Frozen City is popular, you really wnat to maximize your Tropical Beach count to fight out the Stadium war as stacking massive damage just for attaching Energy is almost a surefire way to lose games.

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