Excadrill – Unified Minds

Date Reviewed:  April 19, 2021

Ratings Summary:

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

Reviews Below:

Otaku Avatar

Today we are not looking at a card from the latest set (SW – Battle Styles).  Instead, we’re looking at Excadrill (SM – Unified Minds 119/236), a card that is less than four months away from turning two years old… and likely rotating from the Standard Format.  This is a baseline Pokémon, and that’s all right; none of the drawbacks of Rule Box Pokémon, but none of the perks.  It is a Fighting type, which can be handy for exploiting Weakness: see many Colorless and Darkness types, and most Lightning Pokémon.  It means crashing into Resistance a bit more often as well, that’s still a trade in Excadrill’s favor.  Fighting types have some good-looking support but most of it hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Excadrill is a Stage 1 Pokémon, so it isn’t as easy to run as a Basic but it isn’t as challenging as a Stage 2.  Whether you need a 1-1 line, a 4-4 line, or something in between, it is pretty doable.  As a bonus, in Expanded you might even get away with running just a copy of this Excadrill, so long as you also run Ditto {*}.  120 HP is going to be OHKO’d quite reliably by most decks once they get going, but it is enough to soak many supporting attacks, or those focused more on effects than damage.  [G] Weakness is mostly only an issue if you run into Decidueye (SW – Darkness Ablaze 013/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH035; Shining Fates 008/072, SV003/SV122).  No Resistance is the worst, but also the norm, so not really a problem.  A Retreat Cost of [CC] is neither good nor bad.

Excadrill knows two attacks.  “Rototiller” costs [F] and has you shuffle four cards from your discard pile into your deck.  You’re recycling one more card than with the “Resource Management” attack found on Oranguru (SM – Ultra Prism 114/156).  You need a specific Energy to do it, though, and for both better and worse, the cards aren’t bottom-decked but just shuffled back in.  The card’s other attack is “Slash”, priced at [FCC] and doing 90 damage.  Not good, but if your deck can meet its cost with relative ease, at least you can (via Weakness) OHKO Crobat V and Dedenne-GX.  It is also enough to follow up bigger attackers to finish something off… at least, some of the time.

I confess, I thought Rototiller was a poor attack until Tord Reklev tear opponents up with it at the Players Cup III European Regionals.  No, Tord didn’t take first, but he managed a still impressive 4th-Place finish.  I normally don’t just post deck lists, but there is an error on the in the list offered by the official Results page.  They list Reshiram & Charizard-GX but it is actually Lucario & Melmetal-GX.  In the list below, I have corrected this.  I think it was a simple input error: they’re from the same set, but the former is card 20/214 while the latter is 120/214.

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

Pokémon – 23

2 Excadrill UNM 119
1 Excadrill CEC 115
2 Drilbur CEC 114
3 Cinccino SSH 147
3 Minccino SSH 145
2 Jirachi TEU 99
2 Silvally-GX CEC 184
2 Type: Null UNM 183
2 Weezing HIF 29
2 Zacian V SSH 138
1 Lucario & Melmetal-GX UNB 120
1 Mew UNB 76

Trainer Cards – 30

3 Jessie & James HIF 58
2 Bird Keeper DAA 159
2 Boss’s Orders (Giovanni) RCL 154
2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
1 Sonia RCL 167
1 Team Yell Grunt SSH 184
2 Galar Mine RCL 160
1 Wondrous Labyrinth ◇ TEU 158
4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
3 Chip-Chip Ice Axe UNB 165
3 Reset Stamp UNM 206
2 Lillie’s Poké Doll CEC 197
2 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
1 Pal Pad SSH 172
1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165

Energy – 7

4 Capture Energy RCL 171
3 Fighting Energy Energy 6

Total Cards – 60

****** Deck List Generated by Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******

I won’t run through every single card, but highlight some key picks.  The general strategy is stall/control with a probable hand lock.  It isn’t a true hand lock because the other player still draws at the start of their turn and can play any cards from hand they still have, but the goal is a total hand crush via Jessie & James, augmented further by Weezing (Hidden Fates 29/68).  If you can pull off the full Jessie & James with a double Weezing discard on your end, your opponent will have to discard four cards from their hand.  Chip-Chip Ice Axe gives you a decent amount of control over your opponent’s next card, and the deck runs four with the capacity to recycle them.

Cinccino (Sword & Shield 147/202; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH009; Shining Fates SV094/SV122), Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161) and Silvally-GX (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 184/236, 227/236, 262/236) all provide non-Supporter draw and search, which is important because this deck only runs two Bird Keeper and one Sonia for draw and search Supporters.  The strategy calls for saving your Supporter for disruption.  Though you have Capture Energy and Pokémon Communication for the rest of your Pokémon search.  Cinccino is also important because it can let you control your deck size.  Why does that matter?

Let’s look at the other relevant cards in the Excadrill line.  Drilbur (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 114/236) also knows Rototiller, but its version costs [C] and only recycles one card.  This isn’t enough to sustain the deck’s strategy, but it is the best option; may as well recycle one if you can’t do anything better.  The deck only runs two of it, perhaps because there’s enough Pokémon recycling (two Ordinary Rod on top of Rototiller) to get away with it.  There’s one copy of Excadrill (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 115/236, 246/236), and its purpose is two-fold.  Both of its attacks only cost [F].  “Eleventh Hour Tackle” does 30 damage, plus 150 if you have three or fewer cards left in your deck.  “Drill Bazooka” does 120 and discards the top four cards from your deck. 

While your focus is locking your opponent’s hand, that won’t win you the game if your opponent can keep attacking and taking KO’s.  If you cannot keep them Energy poor so they cannot attack well (or at all), or if you can take the win easier through brute force, then this other Excadrill steps in to do the job.  There’s an additional benefit to its second attack as well, when leading into Rototiller and/or Eleventh Hour Tackle; deck thinning.  Rototiller should let you recycle your most important cards, so go ahead and discard with Drill Bazooka.  When your deck is low enough, you gain a stronger offense with Eleventh Hour Tackle, but also make it easier to draw into the exact same cards you just recycled last turn.

If you’re like me, you still need to see the deck in action, and piloted by someone who knows how to use it, like Tord.  Good thing you can do just that here!  If you do, you’ll see the deck often gives up multiple Prizes before succeeding in the lock.  You want your opponent to use up their outs to the lock, so this may even be a requirement.  With everything it runs, though, you might be down to one last Prize, but you can initiate your lock and then your opponent never can take it.  I don’t know if this deck would work well in Expanded; it seems like it should at least be functional… but we may have better options for control.  The big concern is that some of its best support (Jessie & James) are Banned.


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 3/5

Excadrill is vital to the hand-lock deck it in which it was featured, but it isn’t a powerhouse in its own right.  Indeed, I used to think it was filler, or worse, bait to tempt folks into trying to find a use for its Rototiller attack.  Turns out it wasn’t bait, but buried treasure.  Still, it isn’t about raw strength, even raw recycling strength, so it receives a solid three-out-of-five.

ove more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews.  If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email.  We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc.   😉Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive.  We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!