Double Trouble with Archie & Maxie
Want to play Archie's/Maxie's turn 1 in Standard? Then this article is for you!
03/19/2016 by Miner751
Hi everyone, I’m a new writer for 60Cards! I plan on writing articles about various budget/rogue decks or, perhaps more accurately, those decks that you want to play because they look like immense fun or appear to have high potential, but you will probably opt not to take to a tournament because sanity will (hopefully) kick in. I will write these articles whenever I have the time to. For this article, I will be looking at trying to set up Archie’s Ace in the Hole/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick on turn 1, as consistently as possible, and for the Standard format.
Table of contents
Since this article is based around Archie’s and Maxie’s, let’s start by taking a look at the cards.
Archie’s Ace in the Hole is a Supporter which can only be played if:
- it is the only card in your hand,
- there is at least one Water Pokémon in your Discard Pile (of any Stage excluding Break*)
- and you have a spare spot on your Bench.
*Break Pokémon are not a valid target as they lack Weakness, Resistance and Retreat. They are Pokémon, albeit just “incomplete”.
If all of these conditions are met, you place one of your non-Break Water Pokémon onto your bench, and then you draw 5 cards.
Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick is the same, except for Fighting Pokémon.
Clearly this is quite a strong Supporter –you get to play a Pokémon and not have to worry about pre-evolutions. The fresh hand is a nice, but it is really just a bonus as the real reason to play this card is for the Pokémon revival effect. The problem with these Supporters, however, is meeting their playing conditions. Have a Bench spot free isn’t too hard, but the more challenging bit is getting a Pokémon in your Discard Pile and having Archie/Maxie as the only card in your hand, especially if this is your first turn. In Expanded, there is a massive card pool and hence, unsurprisingly, there are more options for discarding Pokémon, hand size manipulation, searching for Supporters, etc. Standard is a lot more restricted with its card pool, and thus it is quite a challenge to successfully pull off Archie/Maxie. By being a challenge, however, makes it much more rewarding for when you do manage to play Archie/Maxie, especially turn 1.
Hopefully after reading this article you will have a better understanding as to how to pull off Archie/Maxie effectively, as well as gaining a few ideas as to which Pokémon to use in these decks.
The easiest way to demonstrate the Archie/Maxie engine is with a list, so without further ado:
Archie's Milk Run
- 4x Miltank
- 3x Manectric EX
- 3x Empoleon
- 1x Dunsparce
- 2x Archie's Ace in the Hole
- 1x Professor Sycamore
- 1x Lysandre
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 4x Acro Bike
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Reserve Ticket
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Maintenance
- 1x Escape Rope
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Super Rod
- 1x Town Map
- 2x Max Elixir
- 4x Fighting Fury Belt
- 7x Lightning Energy
Now you’ll probably be a bit alarmed by this list, I mean, almost two thirds of the deck are Items, there are only 4 Supporters, there is a Dunsparce, etc. But I assure you, there is a good reason for everything. Well, maybe not so much the Dunsparce… let me elaborate.
I’ll start off with the Supporters since there aren’t many of them. 2 Archie’s might not seem much, especially since they are the centre of the deck, but there are a number of ways of getting them into your hand. 4 copies is generally overkill, 3 is bearable and 1 is just outright dangerous because if it is in your Prized Cards, you’re screwed. There’s a Professor Sycamore because it is an incredibly powerful Supporter, and it is an alternative in the case that you are unable to pull off an Archie’s (e.g. full bench or can’t shrink your hand enough). Furthermore, since it gets 7 cards off the top of your deck, as opposed to Archie’s 5, it gives you better reach into your deck if you are trying to draw into a specific card (e.g. an Energy). There is also a copy of Lysandre since he is quite handy in pulling up one of your opponent’s Pokémon that is ready to be slammed and, hopefully, KOed.
One of the reasons why we can get away with a low number of Supporters is because we have 4 VS Seeker. This Item returns a Supporter from your Discard Pile to your hand. Basically, it means that we effectively have 8 Supporters. The benefit of having VS Seekers over actual Supporters is that VS Seeker can potentially be any Supporter in your deck. For example, one game you might want to use Archie’s 6 times, but another you might want to use Archie’s 4 times and Lysande 3 times. In effect, VS Seeker allows your Supporter line-up to be a bit more flexible than having actual Supporter cards. There are a couple of downsides, however. First, you must have the Supporter you wish to use in your Discard Pile, but this is not too hard to do with this deck. Second, VS Seekers are pricey (they’re close to US$10 at the moment) so if you are struggling to get 4, you could always switch them for actual Supporters (perhaps another Archie’s).
Battle Compressor is almost mandatory for pulling off an Archie’s as it lets you discard 1-3 cards from your deck. Naturally, you will want to discard the Empoleons, but sometimes it pays to discard an Archie’s if there isn’t one already in your Discard Pile (since we can get it back with VS Seeker). After you have removed all the Empoleons from the deck, Battle Compressor becomes a bit of a dead card. Most of the cards in the deck are still useful, so we do not want to discard them. You could discard Sycamore and/or Lysandre so then you can retrieve them with VS Seeker, otherwise the other Battle Compressors and maybe one or two of the Pokémon will be your best options. Nonetheless, we still play 4 copies of Battle Compressor since it is almost imperative that we draw one on the first turn.
Like VS seeker and Battle Compressor, Acro Bike and Trainers’ Mail are staples to Archie/Maxie decks. These two cards help dig into your deck. Acro Bike lets you look at the top two cards of your deck and put one in your hand, and the other in your Discard Pile. Whilst Acro Bike does give you a bit of choice with what you draw, sometime it will make you cringe when you have to decide between two important cards. Trainers’ Mail is a bit more conservative. It lets you look at the top 4 cards of your deck, and then you may add a Trainer there (if any) into your hand. Since we have so many Trainers, you will usually get a choice between 2-3 different Trainers. Another thing to note is that you do not have to take a Trainer. This may be useful when you are trying to manipulate your hand size. The Reserved Tickets in this deck combo nicely with Trainers’ Mail and Acro Bike. If you flip heads with the Ticket, you can put any card you like on top of your deck. You will then be able to “draw” into it with Acro Bike or, if it is a Trainer, with Trainers’ Mail too. Battle Compressor and Archie’s are usually good targets for this combo. Outside of this combination, Reserve Ticket is good for setting up your draw next turn, or making sure you draw a certain card off Archie’s/Sycamore (e.g. an Energy).
When you are trying to remove every card from your hand except for Archie’s, you will quite likely come across “unplayable” cards. For example, you can only play one Energy per turn. If you have 2 in your hand, then one of them will not be able to be played this turn and, hence, you would not be able to play Archie’s. Another example is Empoleon, which you cannot do anything with since we do not play its pre-evolutions. However, this is where Ultra Ball and Maintenance come in. Ultra Ball discards two cards from you hand and lets you search your deck for a Pokémon whereas Maintenance shuffles two cards from your hand back into your deck and then you draw a card. In both cases, you can get rid of 2 “unplayable” cards from your hand. Whilst discarding with Ultra Ball may seem harsh, it is a way of ditching Empoleon from your hand. We also have playsets of most cards, so losing one copy of a card is usually not a major loss. Maintenance is more conservative, since the 2 cards go back into your deck, however, you get a random card from your deck in return – this could be one of the cards you just put back into your deck, or maybe another “unplayable” card. I would much rather Maintenance have just put the cards on the bottom of your deck – especially since then it would combo nicely with Reserved Ticket – but, atlas, the card designers did not see it fit to do it that way.
Escape Rope and Float Stone are there so we have a way of getting Empoleon out of the Active spot if it somehow makes it way there. Having said that, it is perfectly fine to use these “switching” cards in other scenarios too. Super Rod is there for recovery. Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to have a card that may force us to return Empoleons from our Discard Pile to our deck, we often discard a number of other Pokémon or Energies along the way and so we’ll often need a way to reuse them. Town Map is just a nice “drop anytime” card that will flip all our Prize Cards over. This allows us to select what we want when we take a KO – perhaps a card to help pull off an Archie’s on the following turn. Max Elixir is a way of providing Energy acceleration for Manectric EXes second attack, but is also an indirect (and chancey) means of getting an Energy off Trainers’ Mail. Finally, we have Fighting Fury Belt which is a Pokémon Tool that improves the survivability of the Basic Pokémon (i.e. all of our attackers) it is attached to. Sometimes I wish that I had the +20 damage from Muscle Band instead of FFB’s +10, but the +40HP makes quite a difference.
Moving onto the Pokémon, Empoleon is our target for Archie’s. While it is in play, it makes all of our Basic Pokémon deal +20 damage. This Ability stacks too, so if we have 2 out, that’s +40 damage. Due to deck size and Bench constraints, I usually only get to play Archie’s 2-3 times each game, so 3 Empoleons is an ample amount.
Miltank is our main attacker for this deck. If a Stage 2 is in play (i.e. Empoleon) it does 80 damage for a single Energy! And this is before we take into account Empoleon’s Ability and FFB. Unless you have an abysmal start, you should be able to get an Empoleon into play on the first or second turn; so the “having a Stage 2 in play” condition is not too hard to meet (and I would kind of hope so since the deck is built around trying to get a Stage 2 out ASAP :P ). Unfortunately, we do not have enough additional damage effects for Miltank to OHKO the standard EX, but 2HKOing EXes has always been its thing anyway. Since we have FFB now, it is harder for EXes to OHKO Miltank; so it is quite likely that we’ll trade 1 for 1, except that Miltank is a non-EX so we’ll end up better on the prize trade. Miltank fares fairly well against non-EXes too, mainly because all you need to do is slap on a Basic Energy and it can potentially hit for OHKO blows (assuming you have at least an Empoleon out).
Manectric EX is our secondary/backup attacker. I chose it since its first attack, Overrun, does 20 damage to your opponent’s Active and 20 to one of their Benched Pokémon, all for one Energy. This splash damage will help set up future KOs. The other reason I picked Manectric EX was because it could hit 120 damage for 2 Energies, but your opponent’s Active Pokémon needs to have a Pokémon Tool attached to it, otherwise it deals 60 damage instead. In the case that your opponent’s Active is an EX with a Pokémon Tool, Manectric EX will likely be able to KO it when you take into account Empoleon’s Ability, FFB and Overrun damage.
Ever since I teched a Dunsparce BCR into my Night March early last year, almost every deck that I’ve built has included a Dunsparce. Why did I originally tech that Dunsparce? It had a couple of nice utility attacks, but the main reason is that it has Free Retreat. Free Retreat allows Dunsparce to be a pivot – whenever a Pokémon of mine is KOed, I promote it Active. Since I don’t always know who I want to have attack for that turn (perhaps I’m hoping to draw into a Lysandre or the attacker itself), Dunsparce gives me the option to play out the cards in my hand before having to make the decision (i.e. by retreating Dunsparce). Since the Boundaries Crossed Dunsparce has rotated, I have opted to use the Roaring Skies one (with its clutch mill attack :P).
Energies are just nice and simple – there’s 7 Lightning Energies. I choose Lighting since that’s what Manectric EX needs and, realistically, we don’t want to be attacking with Empoleon, so there’s no need for Water. I used to have 6 Energies in my original build, but switched it to 7 Energies when I was playing a Landorus FFI build and did not change the count in future revisions. 7 seems to work fine.
From the Archie’s perspect, I believe the deck is successful. I haven’t counted, but the general feel is that I could get a turn 1 Empoleon around 80% of the time. The other 20ish% was usually turn 2, however, some hands were just horrible and took me until turn 3 or 4 to final pull Empoleon out. After playing the first Archie’s, the subsequent Archie’s seemed easier to pull off – so I usually played Archie’s 2-3 turns in a row, which is (unsurprisingly) quite fun to do. :)
Like I mentioned earlier, you will realistically only play 2-3 Archie’s per game. One problem is the Bench space – an easy way to remove Basic Pokémon from your hand is to just drop them onto your Bench. Between Fighting Fury Belt and the naturally high HP of Manectric, the Basic Pokémon in this deck have a bit of staying power. Whilst the Stadium Skyfield could alleviate this issue by bumping the maximum Bench size of both players to 8, the more pressing issue is the deck size. Somewhat surprisingly, pulling off Archie’s takes a toll on the deck. From the two times that I played Archie’s 4 times (my opponents Lysandre KOed Empoleon), one of them I had no cards in my deck, and the other time I had 2-3 cards (I think). Basically, if you cannot win on the turn of the 4th Archie’s, or on the subsequent turn, then you’ll likely lose by decking out. For the most part, though, you should be able to win with only playing 2-3 Archie’s.
Whilst I’m happy with the Archie’s side of things, I’m still not completely satisfied with the Pokémon line-up. I guess this might be because all the deck does is raw damage. Mind you, Night March (which I played for most of last season) does the same, however, the vast majority of its attacks are KO blows, whereas Miltank will usually just 2HKO Pokémon. Miltank is more durable than a Night Marcher, however, the fact that it takes longer to take KOs gives your opponent time to respond (e.g. by healing or powering up an attacker). The only sort of “trick” this deck runs is Lysandre, otherwise, it is just plain and pure damage.
Manectric EX was meant to be able to “mix things up” with its splash damage and potential OHKO blows, but in practice, it hasn’t been as effective as I would have liked. Smart players avoid dropping Pokémon tools (where possible) when they see a Manectric EX, which causes Manectric EX to have a more costly and weaker attack than Miltank. There’s always the option to Overrun, however, late game it is a weak attack (in comparison to what the opponent will be throwing at you).
For completeness, here’s a brief overview of matchups. Item lock (namely Seismitoad EX ad Trevenant XY) are unideal matchups for you since almost 2/3 of the deck is Items. If you get an Empoleon and a Miltank going before the Item lock starts, you have a chance, but once you lose Miltank or its Energy, you’ll have a hard time drawing into another one. For Night March, it’ll come down to who can stream attackers better, and if either player gets an EX KO (i.e. their Shaymin EX or your Manectric EX). Greninja is also a nasty matchup when they set up. There’s not too much you can do when they stop your Abilities, have more HP than you and also deal more damage. There shouldn’t be too much of a problem with other decks – just keep attacking and use Manectric EX and/or Lysandre to take sneaky KOs here and there.
Anyway, if you want something fun to take to League or use on PTCGO, I recommend giving this deck a go (or your own variant of it). Pulling off Archie’s is great fun, and you’ll be surprised how well the deck flows even though there are only 3 draw Supporters and no Shaymin EX. :)
I imagine I’ll cop a bit if I don’t show something of a Maxie deck too (sorry, I can’t help it, I am a (Alpha) Sapphire fan after all :P) so here’s a Maxie’s deck. The core of the deck is the same as the Archie’s one, just that the Pokémon and Type related cards have been switched.
Maxie's Somersault Press
- 3x Machamp
- 2x Hawlucha
- 2x Landorus
- 3x Lucario EX
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 4x Acro Bike
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Reserve Ticket
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Maintenance
- 1x Escape Rope
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Super Rod
- 1x Town Map
- 4x Fighting Fury Belt
- 1x Fighting Stadium
- 1x Scorched Earth
- 2x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick
- 1x Professor Sycamore
- 1x Lysandre
- 4x Fighting Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
Machamp is like Empoleon, except that its Ability gives +20 damage for Fighting Pokémon. Unlike the Archie’s deck, this deck has the Energies to allow the Stage 2 to attack, although the attack costs a bit so I doubt you’ll use it often. Hawlucha has Free Retreat and its base damage is 60 for one Fighting Energy, provided the target is an EX. Landorus provides Basic Energy recovery and acceleration for a Fighting Energy, and it can hit hard too if you manage to power it up to its 3 Energy attack. Lucario EX is one of the few Pokémon with 3 attacks; each one dealing more damage than the lower cost one.
I went for one each of the Stadiums since this means you will have an almost guaranteed chance of being able to play them down (assuming your opponent does not have the same one in play, or if Ninetales PRC is out, etc). They’re both situational, though. Fighting Stadium lets your Fighting Pokémon deal +20 damage, but only if your opponent’s Active Pokémon is a Pokémon-EX. Scorched Earth is another means of removing a Basic Fighting Energy from your hand, in exchange for drawing 2 cards. Unfortunately, we don’t run many Basic Fighting Energies as there are 4 Strong Energies. Strong Energy is a Special Energy that counts as a Fighting Energy and the Pokémon it is attached to deals +20 damage. The catch is that it is only for Fighting Pokémon… but that’s not a problem here.
This deck does offer more flexibility in terms of attacks than the Archie’s deck. Most of them, however, cost too much Energy. Even with Landorus, it will be tough to achieve. The potential to score OHKOs on EXes is there, though, which is something. Personally, I prefer the Archie’s deck since it is more reliable, but feel free to try this one out too!
- What order do you play Acro Bike and Trainers’ Mail if you have both of them in your hand? Well, it depends on what you are after. If you’re after a Trainer (e.g. Battle Compressor), play the Acro Bike first and then the Trainers’ Mail as this allows you to dig 6 cards deep. If, however, you are after a Pokémon or Energy, play the Trainers’ Mail first and take a Trainer (if there is one) as this will thin your deck by one card (it all counts!).
- As mentioned earlier, use Battle Compressor to discard an Archie’s or Maxie’s when there is not one in your Discard Pile, and you don’t have one in your hand. This will enable you to play your VS Seekers, hence improving your chances of getting an Archie’s/Maxie’s into your hand.
- You can “fail search” with Ultra Ball or Mail. That is, you do not have to take a Pokémon (Trainer), even if there is one in your deck (top 4 cards). This may come in handy when you are manipulating your hand size for Archie’s/Maxie’s.
- If you have two Ultra balls in hand, you can use the second Ultra Ball to discard the Pokémon you searched for with the first Ultra Ball. This is another way to get your Archie’s/Maxie’s target into the discard pile, but may also help with hand size manipulation.
- You can Maintenance your Archie’s/Maxie’s target and then Battle Compressor it.
- If worse comes to worse, you can attach Fighting Fury Belt to a non-Basic Pokémon.
- If your deck has Fighting/Water Basic Pokémon (such as the Maxie deck above), you may use Maxie’s/ Archie’s on it to return it back to the field. It is a bit of a shame to go through all the effort of pulling off an Archie’s/Maxie’s just to revive just a Basic Pokémon, but if the need arises, you are perfectly allowed to do it.
- If you are playing Miltank, it’s usually better to go second. You don’t need to evolve and you don’t need an “extra” turn to energise a Pokémon; so why not put 80+ damage on the board on your first turn?
- The core of the deck takes up a lot of space, so your attackers need to be pretty lightweight. That is, they should ideally be Basic and attack with 1 or 2 Energies.
Below are a few ideas for the Pokémon side of things for Archie’s/Maxie’s decks. The “Partners” section is mainly for an Archie’s Empoleon deck, but that doesn’t mean that the Pokémon mentioned will not have uses elsewhere. I should point out that, aside from Latios EX, I haven’t actually tested any of the Pokémon below, so I can’t guarantee that they will work. All I’m doing to providing a bit of theorymon to give you some ideas, and perhaps motivation, for other Archie’s/Maxie’s decks.
Latios EX has an attack that can be used on the very first turn of the game; as in the turn which one would normally not be allowed to attack in. For a Psychic Energy, Fast Raid hits for 40 damage. Add in a Muscle Band and Empoleon and you can swing for 80 before your opponent even has a chance to do anything. If your opponent opens with a Pumpkaboo or a Phantump, you can take a quick KO and put them on the back foot right from the get-go. You could even bench them on the very first turn! Now if your opponent starts with a Basic with more HP such as Yveltal XY or an EX, you won’t get a KO, but it is unlikely that they will like taking a solid hit before even having a turn. The problem with Latios EX is that Fast Raid is usually too weak in the later stages of the game, and it’s second attack has too high of an Energy cost. You could run Double Dragon Energies to help alleviate this burden, but they can only be attached to Dragons; so if you have non-Dragons in your deck (e.g. Miltank) you’ll probably have Energy problems with them instead now.
Seismitoad EX is hated that much I probably don’t need to introduce, but in case you don’t know, it does 30 damage and Item lock, with two Colourless Energies being the attack cost. Usually Seismitoad EX is paired with disruption cards to prevent the opponent from doing much, however, as seen by the Crobat PHF variants, it is possible to have an aggressive Toad deck that keeps the pressure on with damage. Could Empoleon fill Golbat/Crobat’s role? Maybe. Over the course of the game, 2 Empoleons will usually add more damage to the field than the Bats, however, the Bats can specifically target Pokémon, which may be more worthwhile than pure damage. It’s also worth noting that Toad’s second attack + FFB/Muscle Band + 2 Empoleons will hit for 180/190 – enough to OHKO almost all EXes.
Yveltal XY and Yveltal EX have recently been paired with Maxie’s and Gallade BKT, but perhaps they could find a new friend in Empoleon? For one Dark Energy, Yveltal does 30 damage and attaches a Dark Energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon. Naturally, a perfect target is Yveltal EX who does 20 plus 20 more for each Energy attached to it. Note that this is Energy and not Energy cards, so a Double Colourless Energy will count as +40 damage. So if you have 5 Energies on Yveltal EX plus the usual FFB/Muscle Band and 2 Empoleons, you can OHKO most EXes. Since running both DCE and Dark will likely cause deck space issues, I think Darkrai EX BKP will be better for this strategy since it really only needs Dark Energies. For two Colourless Energies Darkrai EX does 20 plus 20 more for each Dark Energy attached to your Pokémon. Another bonus is that when Darkrai EX goes down, you will ideally only lose 2 Energies as the others should be on your Benched Pokémon (as opposed to the case with Yveltal EX who will probably be holding all of your Energies). I forgot to mention above that Yveltal also gets the Empoleon boost, so its Oblivion Wing can hit much more than just the usual 30 damage (and it also has a reasonable second attack).
Generally speaking, the targets for Archie’s/Maxie’s should be Mega Pokémon or Stage 2s. Not that there is anything wrong with Stage 1s, it’s just that you would normally be better off trying to use Wally turn 1 rather than Archie’s/Maxie’s for them. Personally, I want my Archie’s/Maxie’s targets to have a lasting effect on the game, that is, they have a “continuous” Ability or one which you can use every turn. You can grab attackers too, but since you will probably only get 3 into play each game, they need to offer a substantial amount of value.
First up are some drawing/consistency Pokémon – Swampert PRC, Gallade BKT, and Octilliery BKT. Swampert’s Ability is exactly like Reserved Ticket, but without the coin flip. Gallade’s Ability reorders the top 5 cards of your deck and Octilliery lets you draw until you have 5 cards in your hand. Consistency isn’t a major problem with full blown Archie’s/Maxie’s decks, so I would not recommend you use, say, only Swampert as your only Archie’s target. Having it as a one-off alongside 2 other Archie’s target does sound reasonable, though. Swampert and Gallade are also nice in the fact that they can make reasonable attackers too, if you ever get forced into attacking with them.
Some Mega Pokémon are yet to have a Spirit Link, so playing them through Archie’s/Maxie’s is a way to get them into play without ending your turn. M Lucario EX is one such Mega Pokémon. For 3 Fighting Energies, it deals 140 and discards an Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon. This extra effect is usually wasted though because M Lucario EX will normally OHKO Pokémon when damage modifiers like Muscle Band, Fighting Stadium and Strong Energy are taken into account. Furthermore, M Lucario EX has access to Landorus and Mega Turbo for Energy acceleration.
M Blastoise EX (XY) is similar to M Lucario EX in that it lacks a Spirit Link, but has access to a Basic Pokémon that can accelerate Water Energies cheaply – Lapras XY – and also can utilise Mega Turbo. The attack plan, however, is different. M Blastoise EX does 120 damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon, and 30 to two of their Benched Pokémon. Assuming your opponent is playing 170HP EXes, the idea is to give M Blastoise EX a Muscle Band and hit the Active for 140 and hit 2 Benched EXes for 30 each. Next turn, play Lysandre on one of the 30 damaged Pokémon and hit it for 140 and the now Benched 140 damaged Pokémon for 30. This should net you 2 KOs (and 4 Prizes). If you opponent doesn’t have 170 HP EXes, you’ll have to improvise. :P
Primal Kyogre EX and Primal Groudon EX are very much like M Blastoise EX and M Lucario EX respectively. The Primals have higher HP and Ancient Traits, however their attacks are variable and more costly. For 3 Waters and a Colourless, Primal Kyogre does 150 to the Active and 30 to each of your opponent’s Benched EXes. You also have to move two Energy attached to Primal Kyogre to one of your Benched Pokémon; preferably another attacker. Primal Kyogre’s Alpha Growth Ancient Trait allows you to attach two Energies from your hand at once to it, which helps with recovering from the Energy moving. You can do a Lysandre play with Primal Kyogre’s damage output (like with M Blastoise) if your opponent has EXes. If your opponent doesn’t have EXes, then you are highly likely to OHKO your opponent’s Active. Another thing to note is that Primal Kyogre won’t have a Spirit Link attached to it, which means you can attach whatever Pokémon Tool you want to it.
Primal Groudon EX’s attack requires 3 Fighting Energies and a Coloulress Energy to deal 100 damage, but if you discard a Stadium in play, it deals 100 more damage. It also has the Omega Barrier Ancient Trait, which means that your opponent’s Trainers (excluding Stadiums and Pokémon Tools) don’t affect it). This basically means you can leave it on your Bench and attach an Energy to it per turn, and your opponent cannot pull it up with Lysandre, or discard Energies off it with Hammers. Primal Groudon is usually paired with Wobbuffet PF, who blocks your opponent’s Abilities while it is your Active Pokémon. A problem with this deck is if your opponent Lysandres up a Groudon EX before you have gotten the Primal into play. Not only does it “shut down” Wobbuffet, you’re stuck with a Groudon Active. Playing Primal Groudon through Maxie’s removes both of these issues, but you may be tight on space to fit in enough Energies and Stadiums.
Personally, I think Primal Kyogre and Primal Groundon require too many resources to be able to work in a consistent Archie’s/Maxie’s environment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth trying (I have been wrong before). Now onto some Stage 2s.
Greninja XY has an Ability which, once pre turn, lets you discard a Water Energy from your hand to put 3 damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokémon. Once you get Greninja out, it can help with setting up subsequent Archie’s plays as it is a means of removing a Water Energy from your hand, but at the same time, its presence demands that you play Energy retrieving cards (such as Energy Retrieval and Fisherman) and these could clog up your hand. You could also play Professor’s Letter which grabs you up to 2 Basic Energies from your deck. This card is pretty neat from a hand manipulation standpoint too as it can make you hand size decrease by 1, stay constant or increase by 1, all depending on how many Basic Energies you do (or don’t) grab. If you think that you can, and will, use Greninja’s Ability for, on average, at least 2 out of every 3 turns, then it is worth playing over Empoleon. In both scenarios, you will put an extra 60 damage on the board, however, the difference is that Greninja gives you a bit more flexibility in where you want the damage placed. Personally, I think playing some combination of Greninja and Empoleon is the way to go – that way you can pick the right Pokémon to put into play for the right matchup/scenario.
Rhyperior (PRC 77/160) is a somewhat like the opposite of Empoleon – its Ability makes your Pokémon take 10 less damage from your opponent’s Pokémons attacks (after Weakness and Resistance). It also shares the same Ancient Trait as Primal Ground EX, Omega Barrier, so once you get it onto the field, your opponent cannot do anything to it with their Trainers; most notably Lysandre and Hex Maniac. Since there are so many scenarios to take into account, I don’t know how many cases the -10 damage will be relevant, but it could make a nice one-off in your Maxie’s line-up.
Finally, we have Garchomp BKP. Unlike the other Stage 2s shown here, Garchomp is here as a (support) attacker. For a single Fighting Energy it hits for 60 and attaches an Energy from your Discard pile to any of your Pokémon. Note that this is substantially better than Landorus – more damage, capable of attaching Special Energies (e.g. Strong Energy) and can attach to itself too. Its second attack requires 2 Fighting Energies and does 80 + 80 more if the opponent’s Active Pokémon is an EX. Given one +20 damage modifier (Muscle Band, Strong Energy, etc.), Garchomp can OHKO the standard EX. Whilst this attack is much more efficient at KOing EXes than M Lucario EX, Garchomp does struggle against high HP non-EXes like Entei (AOR 15/98), Yveltal XY and Gallade BKP.
So if you’re happy with getting a turn 1 Archie about 80% of the time in Standard, then my work here is done. If you’re not happy, would you consider lowering your expectations? :P In all seriousness, it is next to impossible to get something happening with 100% consistency. With a deck like 4x Lucario EX and 56 Fighting Energies, you would be 100% guaranteed to be able to use Missile Jab (Lucario’s one Energy attack) on your first attacking turn, however, you’ll have a small chance of drawing into another Lucario EX. Not to mention that you don’t have access to damage modifiers and other such things. Basically, what I’m trying to get at here is that you cannot have a good deck that will do what you want 100% of the time. Even 90% is stretching it at most times. At the end of the day, all you can do is make your deck as consistent as possible; and if that is not enough to satisfy you, then you might have to consider changing decks.
With regards to the Pokémon line-up, I’m not sure what a good one is yet. Of the two decks I presented, I believe the Archie’s one is better. Personally, though, I don’t feel like the Pokémon selection in that deck is the best – Manectric EX is not pulling its weight like I hoped it would. I will probably try a Miltank/Greninja/Empoleon build next, although playing Archie’s M Blastoise EX or Maxie’s M Lucario EX does sound like fun so I might end up trying one of them first.
If you have made it through my ramblings, then thank you for reading and I hope gained something from it :)
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