Going Rogue: TCG Strategies that look cool but don't work

By Deck Knight.
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The wonderful thing about the Pokemon Trading Card Game is there are so many cards that it seems like you can create a new ultimate devastating combination sure to blow your opponent's mind. It is only when you begin to play that you realize however epic any end setup may be, actually getting there before you are down 3 prizes is substantially harder to pull off than in theoryTCG.

Here are a few fun decks I've been experimenting with and why they do/don't work. I will also go over some of the concepts in them that do work, just not with these cards in the background. For some background, many of these cards were released in the newest set: HS Triumphant.

Light Fire Deck


Keep a low bench footprint and do massive damage for cheap energy.

Key Cards

Blaziken FB Lv. X, Houndoom LA, Crobat G


Houndoom Prime, Black Belt


Don't get me wrong, this deck was pretty good at piling up massive damage quickly. However, its greatest problem was a lack of longevity. Houndoom LA has pretty poor HP for a Stage 1, and Blaziken FB can't be leveled up on the turn it is played. Crobat G was also a double-edged sword, since while it put on the damage counter necessary for Burning Sensation's Burn effect, it also increased your bench size. You could bring it back with Poke-turn, but again in the interim, it made it harder to abuse the Revenge Fang Poke-Body.

The greatest flaw comes in the mid-game. In early-game, your opponent doesn't know what you're planning with Blaziken FB and Houndour, so they usually fill out their bench with Azelf and Uxie to get their strategy set up. When mid-game comes, however, they can simply sacrifice them or use Uxie's Psychic Restore to free up bench space. As quickly as the deck operates, other decks can recover about as swiftly as Blaziken FB Lv. X or Houndoom can knock them down. Most opponents are not foolish enough to attack such generally fragile big hitters with an Expert Belt attacker, although if they do, Black Belt can net a big windfall. Unfortunately, Black Belt does require you to be losing at the time.

Absol / Metagross:


Use Eye of Disaster with Gravitation and Miasma Valley to instantly KO any basic with 60HP or less upon placement.

Key Cards

Absol Prime, Metagross SV, Miasma Valley


TM TS-2 Devolutor, Metagross LA, Metagross UL


While a lack of focus from having multiple Metagross of different kinds probably didn't help, the worst aspect of this deck was its glacial speed and fickle energy requirements. Metagross's attacks are hard to power, and even as Stage 2s, without the impact of Gravitation they have only so-so HP. There is almost no way to set it up quickly enough to get the aggregate effect of all three key cards, and to have Absol Prime active when you do.

Moreover, the fact that Gravitation applies to your own Pokemon as well as your opponent's makes the deck even more fragile than it otherwise would be, and its general lack of swift offense lets it down on that front. Absol/Metagross is one of those concepts that looks like a riot on paper but comes to a crashing halt against the shores of MD-On's speedy offensive format.

Core Combinations

While the listed decks above have their issues, there are a few core drawing combinations that are quite effective with the release of HS Triumphant. Here is a small sampling:

Jirachi RR + Twins

Recovery is this combination's middle name. When Jirachi is knocked out it can search for any card, and when you are down on Prizes you may use Twins. Moreover, Jirachi has free retreat and an attack called Detour that lets it duplicate supporters. Even in a terrible scenario where you should lose two Jirachi and be down two prizes, you will have been able to get any 6 cards from your deck and not have shown any of them to your opponent.

Uxie or Azelf + Seeker

Seeker is Super Scoop Up's superior replacement. With it, you can play your Uxie or Azelf and simply pick them up later. Depending on your opponent's deck and how their bench is laid out you could also seriously mess with their strategy, although be warned they can pick up their own Uxie or Azelf as well.

Bronzong SF + Engineer's Adjustments

This one is a little older and a little harder to pull off because Bronzong is a Stage 1 Pokemon, but is nonetheless very effective. MD-On has a very poor draw engine for energy with the cycling out of Roseanne's Research, leaving Cyrus' Conspiracy as the only Supporter capable of getting energy into your hand. Bronzong SF removes any energy problems that your deck might have, and additionally operates very well with Engineer's Adjustments. Because it can search for 2 energies at a time, you can be assured you get to place an energy on your turn and still be able to pay for Engineer's Adjustments requirements. Perhaps most unique thing is that Bronzong is also a fairly capable clutch attacker if you can keep your hand about the same size as your opponent, as its Strange Spin will do 60 + Confusion for PC.


The TCG in the MD-On is a cutthroat world of archetypes ready and waiting to crush every last ounce of creativity and free expression out of the struggling young trainer's spongy skull. LuxChomp and DialgaChomp still crush the hopes and dreams of many fascinating ideas inspired by the rogue player. But worry not, the Pokemon TCG is also about having fun and learning from your experiences the hard way. Get out there, enjoy the new set HS Triumphant, and be prepared for the next huge metagame shift as Pokemon Black and White series cards wash over Japan in the near future.

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