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Vs. System

Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



- XY BREAKthrough

Date Reviewed:
January 8, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary


Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page



...I mean, Octillery...cause that's part of the name...see it's a portma- 

So Octillery here is...well, definitely NOT an offensive force of nature. I mean, come on, Hug is a 3-for-40 - A 3-FOR-40?! No, I don't care that it can keep the opponent's Pokemon from retreating, there is NO REASON to settle for a 3-for-40 attack! Okay, a 2-for-30, that's fine, we've seen Quaking Punch dominate a format, but 3-for-40 - especially of (W)(W)(C) - is a BIG NOPE!! 

Already Octillery is looking bad, but don't lose faith! There is one positive to Octillery: the Ability Abyssal Hand. With it, you can (once per turn) draw cards until you have 5 cards in hand. Yep, this is an instant refresh to your hand! Immediately, I think of using Octillery with Archie's - empty your hand, play Archie's, bring out Octillery and draw 5, play out more of your hand, use Octillery to recover, and then strike back - you could potentially get up to 10 cards in one turn this way, which is an entire 1/6th of your deck!! 

And since this is an Ability that can activate on every turn, it can do wonders for any deck that wants a big hand - and I'm not just talking Water decks, although Primal Kyogre would appreciate that. You can pretty much push for an Octillery/Archie's combo in any deck! All you need is a single copy of each to work - maybe a little Battle Compressor and VS Seeker to get them into the discard pile and utilize them even faster! Your opponents will tremble before your CONSISTENT MIGHT!! 

...though maybe running a Remoraid for safety couldn't hurt. 

Needless to say, Octillery is useful for the draw power, and any deck that wants a little more should consider having him around a little bit. 


Standard: 3.5/5 (draw power is a great part of this game, and while he requires at least one other card to be put into play, you can make it work even more to your advantage!) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (nobody's gonna say no to more draw power...save for...decks that don't have room for it) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (OF COURSE you wanna run him!) 

Arora Notealus: Octillery is a silly Pokemon with a silly name, but he's still gonna be reliable for ya! 

Weekend Thought: Aside from ending this week on a high note, what do you think of this week's cards? Are coin flips a good balancing mechanic to the game, or do they just hinder otherwise capable competitive cards? Do you think one of these other Pokemon deserves an EX sometime? I mean it makes sense why Glalie got one, given the Mega mechanic, but maybe there's another one that could use the EX love? Or maybe you've got some other Pokemon in mind?


We close this week with Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162).  Being a Water-Type is pretty good; telling you upfront you’ll rarely (if ever) want to attack with this card anyway and in fact will be trying to hide it on your Bench, so the important part is access to Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Dive Ball.  This is a Stage 1, so while it isn’t as fast, easy, or space efficient as a Basic to get into play it isn’t too hard.  With Archie’s Ace in the Hole, it can be as fast as a Basic to hit the field, but that takes a lot of effort, possibly more than Evolving manually (depends upon what your opponent is doing).  The 90 HP means it is a OHKO outside of opponent’s with incomplete set-ups or relying on something like Seismitoad-EX and its Quaking Punch (an attack that is more about the effect than the damage).  The mixed blessing is that means the Grass Weakness will seldom matter because this is already likely in OHKO range.  Lack of Resistance is typical an only would have probably only mattered if it was to something like Water, due to the aforementioned Seismitoad-EX and… wait, video game Water-Types are Resistant to (taking half damage from) Water- and Ice-Type attacks, the two Types that compose the TCG Water-Type?  Guess the designers don’t want Water Resistance back in the TCG.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is functionally average, by which I mean it is low enough you’ll often be able to afford it (both up front and in terms of recovering from the resource loss) but should try to avoid paying it (either at all or at full price) if you can. 

Octillery has an Ability and an attack.  I already stated this card isn’t truly for attacking so I’m covering that first just to get it out of the way.  “Hug” has a fun name and decent effect as it prevents the Defending Pokémon from retreating during your opponent’s next turn but it requires [WWC] to use and only hits for 40 damage.  It is closer to useful than it looks because what it needs to help it out, it has a method of indirectly supplying: the Ability.  “Abyssal Hand” (also a nice name) allows you to draw until you have five cards in hand.  With the number of cards either player can and often are using that will leave your hand low, this should mean at least an extra card or two per turn.  How does this help the attack?  Like I said it doesn’t but if the Energy cost and/or damage on Hug was just a bit better, you might be able to justify a small attacker that strands the Active up front to 2HKO or 3HKO it while spamming Energy removal (and other forms of disruption) at the opponent, with said cards supplied through Abyssal Hand.  Hug is not up to snuff though, so only take that route if a different attacker you are also running is compatible with it. 

Octillery can enter play directly via Archie’s Ace in the Hole, but if you decide to use core gameplay mechanics you’ll need to Evolve from Remoraid, which means your options are BW: Plasma Blast 18/101, XY: BREAKthrough 31/162, and XY: BREAKthrough 32/162.  All are Basic, Water-Type Pokémon with 60 HP, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Traits, and no Abilities.  BW: Plasma Blast 18/101 is only legal for Expanded play, has a [L] Weakness and a single attack (Bubble Beam) for [WW], which hits for 20 damage and if you get “heads” on a required coin flip inflicts Paralysis on the opponent’s Active (“tails” still means you do 20 damage, just no Special Condition).  XY: BREAKthrough 31/162 and XY: BREAKthrough 32/162 both are Grass Weak with two attacks which even follow the same price structure of [C] for the first and [WC] for the second.  XY: BREAKthrough 31/162 has “Wild River” for its first attack and has you switch itself with one of your Benched Pokémon, while the second attack is “Water Gun” for a vanilla 20 damage.  XY: BREAKthrough 32/162 can use “Ion Pool” for its first attack to discard a Stadium in play while it has the same attack (Water Gun) to hit for 20.  If you don’t decide to just use Archie’s Ace in the Hole I would go with XY: BREAKthrough 32/162 as discarding Stadium cards is fairly useful right now, even though Remoraid will probably be KOed.  If you are just concerned with survival, XY: BREAKthrough 31/162 is probably the best bet, at least as long as your opponent cannot force it back into the Active slot and you have something else you are willing to (potentially) sacrifice in its place. 

There is one other Octillery as well, BW: Plasma Blast 19/101.  It has the same Typing, HP and lack of Resistance as today’s Octillery but with Lightning Weakness, a Retreat Cost of [C], no Ancient Trait, no Ability but two attacks and it is a Team Plasma Pokémon.  It doesn’t do much with its Team Plasma nature as its first attack (Sharpshooting) requires [W] and its second (Bubble Beam) requires [WW], so no taking advantage of Colress Machine and Plasma Energy.  Sharpshooting simply does 30 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon which isn’t too bad for a single Energy but if you’re hitting the Bench you won’t be able to take advantage of another key piece of Team Plasma support, Deoxys-EX; its Ability “Power Connect” is still used in some contemporary decks (albeit leftovers from when Team Plasma dominated the metagame) to boost the damage Team Plasma Pokémon do to the Active Pokémon.  Bubble Beam does what it did for Remoraid only hitting for 40 damage instead of 20.  That wouldn’t be too terrible for a supporting attack but Sharpshooting is also a supporting attack; even together they aren’t enough to justify using this card, even as a one-of alongside the other Octillery. 

Octillery is has been showing up in decks since its release and shows up in a decent amount of competitive decks in a supporting role.  As it only became legal for organized play November 25, 2015 (if I remembered the rules and did the math correctly), I lack the information to determine if it is still rising in popularity or has already peaked, but personally I already went through the initial “That looks great!”, “Wait, probably not…” and am in the “Maybe I overestimated it at first glance and underestimated it on the second look?” stage.  Yeah that third stage is a mouthful but otherwise accurately named.  Especially if your deck is using Archie’s Ace in the Hole to get Octillery into play, you likely already have a build that can shrink your own hand as needed.  Attach that to an otherwise solid deck and you can pretty quickly get a solid enough draw off of this card that your opponent now has a tough choice: risk you overwhelming him or her with card advantage and focus on your main attacker or burn a Lysandre (of available!) to take out Octillery and hope this doesn’t give you enough time with the resources already on hand to set up another attacker or two so that you don’t need Octillery anyway. 

This isn’t a new situation for the TCG and I don’t have to go back to “ancient” history for examples.  Electrode (BW: Plasma Freeze 33/116) has a similar Ability (Magnetic Draw) that earned it a spot in a few successful decklists.  It was tried in more than a few decks though and while the details are hazy, even the decks where it experienced success either didn’t become overly big or it was optional (Electrode-less versions proved as good or better).  More recently we saw Slurpuff (XY: Phantom Forces 69/119) function as Ability based, Bench-sitting draw power and sees a little successful competitive play, though there is a bit of controversy about that according to the notes on results of recent City Championships you can find here.  The vast majority of decks right now are using Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) for Ability-based draw power and it is still the overall better options.  While Shaymin-EX can only use its Ability when you Bench it from your hand, that is pretty easy to do right now.  Reusing it happens, though it requires other cards or attacking with Shaymin-EX.  By now most of us that have access to Shaymin-EX know how to include multiples and get some solid draw off of its “Setup” Ability with certain decks proficient at spamming the effect. 

So can Octillery replace Shaymin-EX?  Another ambiguous answer: yes and no.  If you can’t get your hands on Shaymin-EX at all, then it may be your best alternative but the cards are definitely different enough that you cannot just swap one in for the other and expect to do as well or better with the alternative.  Octillery specifically requires a deck built to get it into play; I’ve seen some Evolving into it from Remoraid but that has simply been on the PTCGO.  I don’t know if the people using it and making top cut in City Championships are Evolving into it as well as relying on Archie’s Ace in the Hole, or just the latter.  Maybe I’m way off and Evolving normally (or with Wally) is the preferred method, but what I usually see working on the PTCGO is Archie’s Ace in the Hole using the usual Items (Acro Bike, Battle Compressor, Trainers’ Mail, Ultra Ball, and VS Seeker) to rip through the deck and hand until you can use Archie’s Ace in the Hole to get Octillery to the field.  Some decks already run all of that and thus probably could sneak in an Octillery (maybe even two) and at most have to run an extra Archie’s Ace in the Hole, but most are not running all of those cards.  Shaymin-EX does work reasonably well with most of those, so actually you could shift from an Octillery backed built to a Shaymin-EX backed build without too much adjusting… at least in terms of deck list.  The two cards still play differently even though both are about supplementary draw power. 

I also see people running the two together; Shaymin-EX is there for when something goes wrong with Octillery or just so you can have a single big turn.  Considering it is just a Basic that isn’t too intimidating with only deck and Bench space issues making it not the obvious choice for those with both cards.  Seems like some are even trying to mix Octillery with Gallade (XY: BREAKthrough 84/162), which sounds rather harrowing. Still having both a means of rearranging the top five cards of your deck and a method to draw up to all five of those cards could be quite useful.  I assume someone is at least testing Octillery alongside Swampert (XY: Primal Clash 36/160); same basic premise except Archie’s Ace in the Hole works for both, but you don’t get to also use “Sensitive Blade” (the attack on Gallade), which is part of why Gallade has been doing well.  Note that all of these potential combo partners are also potential rivals, just like Shaymin-EX. 

Give Octillery a go in either Expanded or Standard play, especially if you just can’t afford to run Shaymin-EX.  In Limited only skip Octillery if you pull something like a solid Basic Pokémon-EX to run as your only Pokémon (ensuring you open with said Basic).  Octillery will be quite valuable in Limited play otherwise, but remember that while draw power is more precious since it is so much less common here, you won’t have the same tricks to thin your hand and optimize Abyssal Hand. 


Standard: 3.5/5 

Expanded: 3.5/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Summary: Assuming everything else remained the same but Octillery had arrived before Shaymin-EX, we’d probably have had a period where every deck was giving relying on Abyssal Hand.  The above scores are general; though you’ll need to build your deck to accommodate Octillery in order to use it properly, pretty much everything benefits from that added draw power.  It just doesn’t strike me as being overall better than Shaymin-EX, because simplicity (sadly) trumps reusability.  Octillery isn’t binder-fodder though; some decks can use it better or just use both! 

Since I didn’t even tell the rest of the crew, I’d better mention that Octillery missed out tying for 10th place in our XY: BREAKthrough Top 10 by one point.  If you recall, 9th and 10th place on that list were tied in voting points.  Really wish Octillery had made the list instead of one of those two.  Octillery actually did make the individual Top 10 lists of both myself and aroramage as our 10th place picks; we just had several different cards further up that crowded it out!

Emma Starr

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