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Marc Lutz

ECC Preparations: Houndoom EX

Marc Lutz talks about his recent testing results with a straightforward Houndoom EX deck.

01/21/2016 by Marc Lutz

Hey guys, it's me again with another short article. This time I'm talking about a pretty cool deck I've been testing in one of my ECC testing sessions on twitch. It's not necessarily the most common deck out there, but I think it's a decent choice if you're still looking for something to play. Without further ado, let's get right into the article!

As you can see, this is not the mill Houndoom deck you might have expected; it is simply a straightforward Houndoom-EX deck. The regular Houndoom-EX is not that spectacular in this deck. I mean, sure, you can use its Melting Horn attack to get rid of some of your opponent's cards, but most of the time you will Mega Evolve it immediately. However, it’s okay to have a one-Energy attack so you can attack on turn one if you're going second instead of just passing the turn, and if you're lucky enough to get rid of some important cards like Double Colorless Energy, it is a great outcome. Also, its second attack is not that impressive as we already have Blacksmith as our main source of Energy acceleration.

Grand Flame is not the most amazing attack, but it can still be used to get cheap knockouts on smaller things, especially Joltik and Pumpkaboo in Night March decks. Also this deck can technically run on Basic Energy only so that the promo Jirachi can't beat you on its own unlike those special Energy only decks like Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX.

Even though it does look quite simple it actually does have a few tricks of its own. The gameplan is generally very obvious, you get your Mega Houndoom-EX ready and start knocking out Pokémon-EX with Inferno Fang as it does exactly 180 damage if you have a Muscle Band attached. However since you most likely need to use Houndoom Spirit Link in order not to lose too much tempo we need to be a little more creative about the tool situation. That's why we have Tool Retriever in this deck. It allows us to pick up 2 Pokémon tools attached to our Pokémon. This way we can remove the Spirit Link and attach the Muscle Bands when necessary.

 

This is also great in combination with the Entei from Ancient Origins which has the Ancient Trait Ability to have two Pokémon tools attached to it at the same time. So you just get your Entei and attach Muscle Bands or even Spirit Links to it and pick them up at the right time with Tool Retriever. For the most part this deck is really consistent because we can get both the regular Houndoom-EX and the Mega Houndoom-EX with Hoopa-EX along with a Shaymin-EX which gets us even more draw. The only thing we cannot get from Hoopa-EX is the Entei, but we also have four Ultra Balls in this deck so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Other than the Ancient Trait, Entei also has two great attacks. Remember that both of these can be fueled with Blacksmith so four Energy is not that expensive. Its first attack Flame Screen is great against decks which deal less damage but rely on their effects such as Seismitoad-EX. Entei does have Water Weakness, but you can mitigate some damage with Flame Screen and Parallel City if you have it active. Heat Tackle simply does a ton of damage with a small backfire potential. 130 is a fine number as it is enough to OHKO something like a Crobat or if you land a Grand Flame from the regular Houndoom-EX you can also set up KO's on most Pokémon-EX. This also helps you against Giratina-EX in case you have a Prized Hex Maniac which can come in handy if you're unlucky enough to get into that position.

 

The Supporter line up in this deck is really interesting as it is much different from most decks we see nowadays. We have the obligatory four copies of Professor Sycamore as it is pretty much the only viable draw card we have in the format. Other than that we have a Judge in this deck which is quite neat at the start of the game and an AZ to pick up either a damaged Houndoom-EX or a Shaymin in case we need some more draw. Hex Maniac is really important in this deck as it not only disrupts opposing strategies that rely on Abilities, but it also allows us to actually deal damage to Giratina-EX which we otherwise could not. We also have a copy of Teammates in this deck which is really interesting because it allows us to search our deck for missing combo pieces such as Burning Energy which is great in combination with Mega Houndoom-EX's Inferno Fang attack. Teammates can also pull a copy of Pokémon Catcher and play it during the same turn, just in case you need to do something fancy.

In terms of additional Item cards there's a ton of stuff that contributes to the deck's consistency, such as max numbers of Trainers’ Mail, VS Seeker, Battle Compressor and Ultra Ball. Trainers’ Mail is obviously a great card as it lets you go through your deck without actually discarding important pieces. Battle Compressor is great in multiple ways, not only does it provide access to single Supporters via VS Seeker, but it also enables your Blacksmith in the early game. Ultra Ball is always a great card, you can just use it to search for Hoopa-EX and get everything you need including the Mega Houndoom-EX. We also have a copy of Float Stone on here just so your opponent can't stall with Lysandre on Hoopa-EX or Entei because they have such a heavy Retreat cost.

 

An interesting addition to this deck is Pokémon Catcher. Usually Lysandre is much stronger than the 50% chance on an Item as it is also re-usable with VS Seeker, however in this deck there is a really cool combo with Pokémon Catcher. You can use the Pokémon Catcher and if you're lucky enough to flip heads you can then play Blacksmith in the same turn to get two Energy attached to your Mega Houndoom-EX and attack immediately. This is not relevant if you're already ahead on the board, but it is pretty good to get back into the game if you had a bad opening for some reason.

Other than that both of these cards also work excellent on their own, you can obviously use Blacksmith to charge up a fire attacker in one turn if you don't have any Energy in play or in your hand. It's also not necessarily dead in the early game because you can just get some Energy into the discard pile with Battle Compressor. Pokémon Catcher on the other hand brings some more variance to the game, but since it is only an Item it doesn't matter that much if you lose the coin flip because you generally get a full hand with Professor Sycamore anyways.

The Stadium card of choice in this deck is Parallel City. Of course we could've also played Scorching Earth as it fits in this deck, but with only 6 regular fire Energy and the chance to help your opponent with it I felt it wasn't worth it. Parallel City is a pretty interesting card as it is the only one of its kind. When you play it you have to choose which side each player will face and then apply the effect. Obviously we want the bottom half of the card apply for the opponent as it would otherwise reduce the damage output of our main attacker. It reduces the damage done by the opposing grass, fire and Water type Pokémon. This includes Vespiquen, Seismitoad-EX, Articuno and sometimes other Houndoom-EX or Entei. Sometimes you might have the chance to prevent some knock outs, especially against Vespiquen. The other effect is similar to the old Giant Stump, but only for one player. This can be used to discard damage Pokémon in order to prevent your opponent some easy Prizes, especially against decks that run Crobat. Other than that it is obviously a Item card we can use to get rid of your opponent's Item card, which is probably the most important aspect of this card.

If you want to see this deck in action feel free to check out my VODs on YouTube and twitch. I got some entertaining matches in and I would like to hear your feedback about it. I also played some other decks regarding the ECC in a few weeks on my channel if you're looking for some more ideas.

Twitch
Youtube

I feel like this deck has some decent match ups. It can definitely win against Vespiquen and most fighting decks including Crobat stuff, because you can just OHKO most of their attackers and the 210 HP from the Mega Houndoom-EX is nothing to laugh at. Also Parallel City reduces the damage output from Vespiquen so you might prevent some knock outs if it is timed well. This deck has some problems with other decks that run mega evolutions because you can't simply OHKO them with Inferno Fang, however you could try to include a thin Crobat line in this deck to take care of that problem. A list including Crobat could probably look something like this. 

The Crobat line also heavily improves your match up against Night March which is huge as you otherwise would be in trouble winning that. One of its best match ups is probably Sceptile-EX, even though this deck hasn't seen much play lately, it does have a few great matchups out there so it is not that bad to counter that, just in case you face it in the early rounds or whenever.

Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX is by far the deck's worst match up. You can't play your Item cards most of the time, Houndoom-EX is Weak to Seismitoad-EX and you need Hex Maniac at all times to deal damage to Giratina-EX with Mega Houndoom-EX. However I think it's not that important to tech your deck against certain match ups in this format, but rather to rely on a simple strategy and build your deck really consistent. That way you will win more games because you get a decent start instead of losing games to bad opening hands because your deck is full of techs against certain match ups. Remember, consistency is king!

All in all I still think this is a decent deck for the ECC as it will people catch off guard for sure, especially since they mostly know Houndoom-EX as a mill deck and might apply the wrong game plan from the beginning. Other than that is also a pretty fun deck for other tournaments, let me know if you like it in the comments.

Also I'd like to give a shoutout to Andrew Mahoe for the decklist, it's a really great one!

If you have any questions regarding this deck feel free to ask them in the comments and I'll gladly answer them and as always thank you for reading my articles and I will see you next time!

- Marc Lutz

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