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Sebastian  P.

Maturin reaches a Breakpoint

Breakpoint hits the Expanded format, are you able to solve the puzzle and stay ahead of the meta ?

01/29/2016 by Sebastian P.

See the Turtle of Enormous Girth

On his shell he holds the Earth.

His thought is slow, but always kind.

He holds us all within his mind






It has been a long time since my last article here on, partly due to a lack of motivation and partly due to a lack of interesting topics, as I hadn't got much time to play outside the online client as of lately.

Nevertheless the new set Breakpoint brings us not only a long awaited western release of the gorgeous FA Skyla artwork by Megumi Mizutani, but also a lot of new tools for the upcoming Winter Regional Championships .

Today I want to talk about one specific archetype and the impact that Breakpoint will have on it. If you haven't already guessed by the title, or the poem from Stephan King's “The Dark Tower” saga, today we will take a look at good old Archies Blastoise, the deck that took Jacob Van Wagner to the first place in the Masters Division at Worlds last year.


A short history lesson


Let begin our journey in the year 1998, when the Pokemon TCG was officially released in Europe and the US. As with any new TCG, the initial set is bound to be broken as hell, as the right fine tuning in terms of power level on certain cards hadn't been established yet.

How broken the set was you may ask ? Well, just take a look at perhaps the most dominant deck that the game has ever seen, Turbo Raindance.


Yes, you are playing a deck that does not only run 4 Computer Search alongside 4 Item Finder, but also the most absurd draw engine in the game and on top of that one of the very few Pokemon in the starting set that was able to bypass the “only 1 Energy per turn” rule, thus being able to OHKO anything on it's path from the second turn onwards.


Let's skip ahead to 4th February of 2015. Primal Clash hits the shelf and brings with it two very interesting Trainer cards, Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Archie's Ace in the Hole, that actually encourage you to get rid of your entire hand, in order to bring back any Fighting / Water Pokemon from your discard pile back into play.

During this point of time Blastoise was a non factor in the game, because you had to run the deck with a rare candy set-up, which was poor to say the least, as you made yourself vulnerable to both Seismitoad EX, as well as Genesect EX and other archetypes.

With Archie's Ace in the Hole it was now for the first time since the rotation of Broken Time Space possible to get out a Blastoise on your first turn, powering up your Pokemon before your opponent even gets a chance to react.

The early builds of the archetype weren't that successful, as getting the combo out on turn one was was still a gamble, because you were forced to rely on cards such as Maintenance, in order to reduce your hand size.


Worlds 2015


The first time the archetype really made a big impact on the Expanded scene was at Worlds last year. With the help of Trainers Mail, as well as Shaymin-EX to refill the hand after the initial Ace in the Hole, Van Wagner ran through his competition, resulting in one of the most one sided finals ever. He proved not only how powerful the archetype was, but also how seemingly effortless you could pull of the combo on the first turn with an insanely high success rate, as well as the overall resistance to hate, given that you only need a single turn to set everything in motion.


Autumn Regional Championships and the present day


From that point on the deck was a top contender in the Expanded format, piloted by a majority of the well know names of the PTCG scene to various top 8 results alongside the Regional Championships, as well as City Championships.

During the months the original deck list ventured into new grounds, utilizing Black Kyurem EX, alongside the reprinted Fisherman

Will the deck remain on top, or will other contenders, such as Vespiqueen or Yveltal reign supreme ? Does Breakpoint even add anything of significantvalue to the deck list ?

Let's find out.




Solving the Puzzle


Building a solid list for the archetype should always focus on three major aspects.


1. Consistency


Obviously we want to minimize useless cards and optimize a way to get our Blastoise onto the bench on the first turn with almost 100%. Thanks to lord RNGesus we will never reach a hundred, as the deck is simply forced to run certain cards that kinda contradict with the idea to get down to a single card on the first turn, they main culprit for this is usually our pool of Basic Energy, as they can clunk up the hand from time to time, without a proper way to get rid of them, bare playing Juniper and thus wasting the turn.


2. Resistance


You would think that one or even two fully powered up Pokemon-EX / Basic Pokemon on turn one would be enough to ensure any win, however we aren't in the year 1998 anymore and surprisingly our opponents can hit with almost the same amount of force, especially considering Weakness, as well as attacks such as Evil Ball.

Hence in an optimal world we want to spread our attackers on multiple weaknesses, in order to avoid a certain blowout against popular archetypes. Relying on non-EX attacker in order to get ahead in the prize trade falls also under this category.

We furthermore need a way to get around popular tools to block our combo, such as Wobbuffet or Garbodor, as well as Trevenant, Seismitoad-Ex, Vileplume and Exxeguttor.


3. Versatility and offence


This ties in to the second agenda. For the most part we will be on the driving seat, asking the questions, rather than searching for the solution, yet sometimes we'll be forced into the passive role as well, hence we need a list that is versatile enough to get our of harms way with ease.

Furthermore we want to attack quick and hard, because we are playing against the clock in each match, as every missed opportunity to get an OHKO against our opponent results in another turn where they can search for an answer. Unlike other archetypes, Blastoise gets gradually worse the longer the match continues.


Now that we got those three points covered, let take a look at the cards Breakpoint has to offer.

While the set has a strong emphasis on water Pokemon, neither Gyarados, nor Manaphy, nor Palkia are much use to the deck, the same is true for Splash Energy. However, there is one card that will never the less make a big impact on the scene: Puzzle of Time.




Personally I believe that Puzzle of Time is hands down the best card we've seen since Shaymin-EX.

Bringing back a mechanic we've seen last time in the Diamond & Pearl series with cards such as Poke Blower+, Puzzle of Time will undoubtedly shape up the meta game for both Standard and Expanded.

Archie's Blastoise seems to be the perfect fit for the card, because Puzzle of Time brings everything the deck needs and in return also gets the necessary tools to unleash its full potential.


Puzzle of Time, in a nutshell, is a condition based computer search for two cards from your discard pile. Obviously there is more to it, as you need to get two copies of the card in your hand, as well as the right cards in your discard pile, but luckily that is the point where the archetype shines the brightest, because utilizing your discard pile is the core concept of the deck. Having access to four copies of Battle Compressor, alongside Trainers Mail, Acro Bike and so forth is more than enough material to fuel both the discard pile, as well as digging for the second copy of Puzzle of Time.

The card furthermore isn't dead if you play it as a stand-alone. Sure, the effect is worse than Pokedex and nobody plays this card, yet in combination with Acro Bike you at least get some sort of benefit out of it and remember, our initial plan is to trim the hand down to one card anyway, hence playing a trainer card that you can just toss away for free is actually quite beneficial.

Once you are in the combo the full power of Puzzle of Time comes into play. One of the major problem of the archetype in the past was the fact that you sometimes had to waste crucial resources in order to get the combo going. With Puzzle of Time you can play the first turn a bit more carefree, as you'll always have access to those discarded cards later on.

Being carefree does however not mean that you can play the deck on autopilot, quite the contrary, as Puzzle of Time leads to a whole new level of interesting scenarios that highly reward strategic play and planning ahead of times, as well as a good overview over the meta game.


All about that tech


As I said in the last paragraph, Puzzle of Time allows us to play a variety of tech cards, catered towards the expected meta game. Keep in mind that Puzzle of Time can pick up another copy of Puzzle of Time from the discard pile, which means that you get the chance to pick up 3 cards in almost every game ( play copy 1 prior to the combo, copy 2+3 get back card 1 and copy 1, copy 1+4 get back card 2+3), hence we have to make every hit count.


But what does “tech” actually refers to ?

To put it simple, in most TCGs the term “tech” in a decklist usually refers to a set of cards specific catered towards countering a certain strategy / archetype.

Still to cryptic for you ? Well, just imagine a world where Toad decks are the predominant archetype. In order to beat them with a higher consistency rating you want to “tech” certain cards into your deck list, that would usually not be in your archetype. Xerosic would come to mind, secondary grass attackers, or simply a higher count of Energy, all of those would be your little “tech”, to give you an edge in the match-up.


As mentioned earlier, we want to be as resistant to potential hate as possible, without sacrificing to much space in our deck. Given that we'll get to use Puzzle of Time about 3 times in most scenarios, one has to limit himself on those tech cards to a certain degree.


But why is Puzzle of Time so important, can't I simply draw those cards naturally ?


In theory you can always draw any card at any given moment, but if you plan on running certain

1-offs in your deck, than you better make sure to include a way to get them at the right moment in time, which is once again the moment where the versatility of Battle Compressor + Puzzle of Time comes into play, as you can grab anything with them to compensate for any situation.


Tech N9ne


Alright, now we'll take a glimpse at 9 cards / card combinations that have the potential to bring the deck to the next level.

Why only 9 you might ask ? Well simply to have an excuse to put a Tech N9ne video in the article, simple as that ;).


1. Delinquent + Red Card


Delinquent on its own serves as a nice way to disrupt our opponent, as well as a re-usable way to win the Stadium war. Combined with Red Card the new supporter finally turns into a full blown monster and while tearing our opponent down to one had card might actually sound better than it is in reality, you always have to keep in mind that at the time we play the mini combo ( which should be turn 2 in the best cases) we are already on the offensive, thus slowing our opponent down is actually quite beneficial.

Nothing to fancy and certainly not the best archetype for this little interaction (I'm looking at you Toad), but never the less a solid tool to give us an edge in almost any match-up.


2. Fighting Fury Belt

Our best bet against Vespiqueen and Co is to win the prize trade via Articuno, hence we don't want to lose him in a trade against the pesky bee, should they lack the Lysandre to snipe one of our benched Pokemon. While Fighting Fury Belt provides us with a solid 160 HP attacker, as well as a decent damage boost on top.


3. Trick Coin

Another little time for our good buddy Articuno, to ensure we get good Prize trades with him, thanks to his trait. Especially useful when a single Muscle Band isn't enough to boost the damage ( considering the risk of three tails in a row.


4. Weakness Policy

Another card to combat Vespiqueen, denying them the potential snipe against Keldeo and Blastoise.

Best suited in combination with either Trick Coin or Assault Vest, strengthening both or offence and defence likewise.


5. Enhanced Hammer

The second card on this list that we can not play on turn one ( if we are on the play that is). Never the less a single Hammer can sometimes buy enough time to win the game, or force our opponent into bad decisions for his turn ( i.e. wast a supporter to dig for another DCE, instead of using Lysadnre, etc.).

Note though that with the addition of Puzzle of Time most decks that utilize the discard pile will have access to those DCE's rather easily.


6. Red Card + Ghetsis

Another disruptive combo, especially in today's meta, dominated by a vast number of trainer cards, which won't decree after the release of Breakpoint ( or after any new set for that matter).

Red Card isn't a must have for this, but with more emphasis on VS Seeker and other cards (cough Puzzle of Time, cough), instead of playing a great amount of draw supporters, this combination can just be as deadly as Delinquent + Red Card.

Ghetsis is furthermore pretty bad-ass in the mirror match, up to a point where it can be more beneficial to skip the initial combo in favour Ghetsis.


7. Tool Scrapper

The amount of tools floating around in the game are enormous, thus having a re-usable answer for them isn't to bad. Add in cards like Garbodor and we have a compelling argument.


8. Kecleon

Another nice tool for the mirror, as well as the biggest nightmare for any Mewtwo based deck. Being weak to your own type kinda sucks, but that the price you pay for being a genetically altered version of a floating pink blob.


9. Raikou

We conclude the list with a fairly odd pick. Raikou serves two purposes: Having a reliable non-EX attacker to OHKO Shaymin EX, as well as providing a solid counter against Yveltal.

Running him in a list with Black Kyurem EX is advised, as you need 1 Lightning energy + Muscle Band to bring Yveltal in range of an OHKO.

While the deck might not had the worst time against Yveltal I want to remind you that Breakpoint also features a nifty Trainer card called “Max Elixir”, which will undoubtedly give birth to a lot of explosive starts and Yveltal is just one of many archetypes that can benefit from it.


So let's sum everything up real quick.


With the addition of Puzzle of Time you increase your chances of a turn 1 combo, as well as adding the ability to tech certain cards into your deck list in order to cover bad match-ups, or to simply give you an edge against your opponent.

Doing so however requires a certain knowledge about the expected meta game, as well as a lot of fine-tuning, both while building the deck, as well as playing it.

Having access to a virtual Computer Search for two cards is never the less an incredible strong option that you should most definitely check out and be prepared to play against.


At the end let's take a quick glimpse at two possible ways to incorporate Puzzle of Time into the deck-list. Note that these lists haven't really been tested and should thus be viewed as “work in progress”, yet I hope you can take some inspiration from them never the less.



As you can see the first deck focuses more on a swift offence, utilizing Black Kyurem as an easy tool to get efficient OHKOs, as well as Raikou to provide a check against Yveltal, Shaymin, etc.

The deck further uses Enhanced Hammer as a tool to fight / slow down Vespiqueen, as well as the new Fighting Fury Belt tool to survive certain attacks and thus get ahead in the prize trade.

The second version focuses more on a control style of play, utilizing the already mentioned disruptive combo of Red Card and Delinquent, alongside Enhanced Hammer and Kecleon, as well as Fighting Fury Belt. Note that the deck doesn't run Stadiums on it's own, thus maximizing the damage of Delinquent, yet also running the risk of not being able to play the card at all.

I hope you enjoyed my new article and I wish all of you good luck for your release events, should you have the chance to attend any of those :).


See ya next time, when I'll either write about the sealed pre-release event in Duesseldorf, or about the potential return of the king, Genesect-EX in the Expanded format.

Till then, cheers.



On his back all vows are made;

He sees the truth but mayn't aid.

He loves the land and loves the sea,

And even loves a child like me.


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