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Tom's Bunker
Arcanine's Flame

Deck Fix #4 – “Giga-something…

Hello Pokemaniacs!  I have been living in Chaos Gym for the last three weeks – I am in the middle of moving from Germany to Seattle, while at the same time finishing up studies at the George C. Marshall Center for East European Studies.  Whew, what a mouthful!  Well, those of you who are still in school know how tough final exams can be, and I am right in the middle of mine.   I will leave here in December, and will catch back up with you all when I get to Seattle.  Enough about me, let’s get to the decks!

I fixed around 60 decks these last three weeks, and luckily had several players send me their Ampharos decks for tuning.   I think Ampharos is very playable in modified format, and so without further ado, let’s take a look at Ampharos…

First of all, how many really playable lightning pokemon are there?  I’ll bet most of you would say 2 – Electabuzz and Rocket’s Zapdos.  I’ll also bet that many of you have tried to make a deck out of Raichu, only to have it lose to Hitmonchan time after time.  Back in the days of Jungle, many of us tried to use base Zapdos – what a powerhouse – until the Clefable decks blew us away.  How do we use lightning and not get trounced?  Well, one of the first “theme decks” was one called “Zap”.  Remember that one?  It used Lightning and Psychic pokemon, and why not – most lightning pokemon are weak to fighting, and many fighting pokemon are weak to psychic, so if you match lightning and psychic, you can overcome lightning’s biggest threat – fighting.  


4 Mareep (Neo 1)
4 Flaaffy (Neo 3)
4 Ampharos (Neo 3)
3 Cleffa
3 Promo Mewtwo
3 Rocket’s Zapdos
2 Magby (Baby X) 

4 Gold Berry
4 Professor Elm
4 Misty’s Wrath
3 Bill’s Teleporter
8 Psychic
14 Lightning 

Before I get into my comments, I just want to thank the following 5 trainers who sent in Ampharos decks:

Peter (Redchamp)
Ignacio Sabat

I took ideas from all of your decks and threw in a few of my own.  As I go through the deck, I will talk about the choices these trainers made, and why I agree or disagree.  First of all, the colors.  I already told you why I picked psychic to complement lightning – look at weakness and resistance to choose complementary colors.  The same can be said about Magic the Gathering decks.  Three trainers chose mono lightning decks, with a couple of colorless guys or babies – mono decks run pretty fast – but are still very prone to fighting.  Another trainer used Scyther and Rocket’s Zapdos (good job - both resistant to fighting), but not modified format.   You could use darkness or fighting with this deck instead of the psychic, and I will explain in a while why you might want to do that.

Next lets look at the energy.  The five trainers used the following amounts of energy in their decks:

16 – 10L, 3 Recycle, 3 DCE

20 – 20L

15 – 13L, 2 DCE

24 – 22L, 2 Recycle

19 – 15L, 4 DCE

We are making a modified deck, so we can’t use the DCE.  One of my basic rules for deckbuilding is the 20-20-20 rule, and so we will stick close to 20 energy.  Since I am using 2 colors, and the helper color is psychic, I don’t need as many of them as my main color (lightning).  Also, you have to take a look at the energy requirements of the attacks you want to use.  Another good “energy rule of thumb” is to make sure that you have at least 4 times the amount of colored energy needed for the biggest attack in your deck.  In our deck, Ampharos has the biggest attack among lightning pokemon (3 lightning + 1 colorless which we don’t count here) and so we need to make sure we have at least 12 lightning energy in the deck (3 lightning x 4).  Check out your other decks, the ones that work really well, and see if you’ve been using this “rule” all along.  Then take a look at one of your decks that doesn’t work (but should work, in your opinion), and check out this “rule”.  Anyway, next we’ll look at the helper color, and compare the energy required to use Promo Mewtwo’s attack.  He needs 2 Psychic (and one colorless which we don’t count here), and so we need at least 8 psychic to make this deck work smoothly (2 psychic x 4).  That’s why I have 14 lightning and 8 psychic energy in this deck.  Voila! - Easy as pie.

OK, lets take a look at the pokemon next.  There is really no dispute between the 5 trainers as to which of the Ampharos line to use.  4 of 5 picked the Neo 1 Mareep (static electricity) and 4 of 5 picked the Neo3 Flaaffy.   I agree.  There was some dispute as to which Ampharos to use, and I would like to say that it really depends on your helper color.  For instance, if you want to attack the bench, you could add Murkrow  (lightning and darkness) or Hitmonlee (lightning and fighting) and then use the Neo 1 Ampharos (Gigaspark).  With this deck, we’ll use the Neo 3 Ampharos (Gigavolt).   This Ampharos also has another attack, one that will really give us an advantage – Attract Current.   If the Mareep doesn’t do the job (gathering lightning energy), or we want to get a benched Rocket’s Zapdos ready to go, or we want to get another benched Ampharos powered up, this attack can really give us the edge.  Once powered up, Gigavolt either does 60 damage, or 40 and paralyzes – awesome attack!  There is room in this deck for 2 babies of your choice (other than Cleffa) and so  I picked Magby (sputter), but you could just as easily pick Igglybuff, tyrogue, or Pichu – depending on the metagame in your area. 

Finally, lets look at the trainers.  I have kept mine pretty simple, concentrating on card drawing and some healing.  Both the promo Mewtwo and the Rocket’s Zapdos can take advantage of energy in the trash, so Misty’s Wrath is a great complement to this deck.  Plus, it will really help you get the Ampharos line moving.  Bill’s teleporter is a risky card, so if you would rather use Mary or even Erika, go ahead.   The 5 trainers who sent in their Ampharos decks used a total of 26 different trainer cards among them!  That means that everyone has an opinion as to which trainers work best in their deck, according to their playing style.  One guy had defender, another had Energy Flow, another had healing fields, and another had Super Potion – all cards I still have not played to this day!  That doesn’t mean those cards suck, or those trainers don’t know what they are doing.  It only means that there are lots of different playing styles, some more aggressive, and some more defensive, and you have to play cards that you are comfortable with in order to do your best. 

Remember some basic rules about deckbuilding:

1.      Come up with a theme based on a card or a combination of cards.

2.      Build the deck with the 20-20-20 format.

3.      Playtest it with your friends, against the most popular decks and themes.  Write down the cards that work and those that don’t work.

4.      Modify your deck based on playtesting (add more trainers, take away pokemon, change out energy, etc).

5.      Take it to a tournament and try it out.  After the tournament, go back to step 3 and tighten it up some more.

Best of luck to all of you who are going to San Diego next weekend for the STS.  I really wish I could be there with you.   Drop me a line and tell me how you did – I am very interested.  Don’t get upset if I don’t write back right away – remember that I am moving, and will be tied up for the next few weeks.  Finally, send me your thoughts on Crobat, and I’ll do a report on him next time.

Remember that losing is a part of the game.  Your job is not to make a deck that can’t lose (that is impossible), but to make a deck that has the greatest chance of winning, and then play it in an excellent way.   When you lose, congratulate your opponent on his victory, and think about your next battle.  Don’t get too wrapped up with ratings – I lost about 80 rating points over the last month because I went 5-2 two weeks in a row.  It’s a bummer, but that’s the way games go – you win some and you lose some.  Don’t let the loss of a few rating points turn you away from the game – It’s all about having fun!  In the meantime, keep building decksJ and rock on! is here to provide guidance to all Pokemon trainers out there.  Whether it's the Gameboy Game, N64 or the Trading Card Game, provides all the wisdom you desire. 

If you have cool game tips, a killer deck, or breaking news ... send them to us.  We'll post it on the site ... and give you all the credit.  


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