Fighting Water with Fire!
Marc Lutz talks about a less common deck these days: Flareon-EX!
05/06/2016 by Marc Lutz
Hey guys and fellow seekers of truth, it's Marc Lutz again with another article. This time around I'm talking about a really interesting and innovative deck which has seen pretty much no play at all in the competitive scene, but a good friend of mine managed to get a Top 4 spot at regionals with it so here we go. On today's menu is Flareon-EX from the Generations expansion. Sounds odd, right? I mean, why would you play Flareon-EX when the metagame is full of Greninja and Seismitoad-EX? Well let's talk about this cutie and start with the article right away!
First let's break down Flareon-EX, shall we? Flareon-EX has 170 HP as a Basic Pokémon-EX which goes up to 210 with the addition of Fighting Fury Belt. The extra 10 HP above 200 is really important because that way because that way Night March needs extra damage to OHKO it, Yveltal-EX requires some more resources to get a clean knock out on it and the most important thing is that Greninja can't OHKO it under Hex Maniac. With Muscle Band and the extra 20 damage from returning an Energy Greninja does 200 damage against Flareon-EX which is just out of range. In general 210 HP is just a really solid number so Flareon-EX should be able to take some hits if you're not facing Mega Rayquaza-EX or Night March with an insane opener.
Flareon-EX's ability Flash Fire comes in handy quite often. Being able to move an Energy from anywhere on the board to Flareon-EX once a turn is basically a free Energy Switch every turn. This is really good in combination with cards like AZ and of course the Malamar-EX we also play in this deck. If you have multiple Flareon-EX on your Bench you can just move back around 2 Energy every time before you play AZ and keep them in play. The synergy with Malamar-EX is also insane with this ability. It generally means that it doesn't matter where you attach your Energy for the turn because you can move them around anyways which is great if you play Sycamore before you actually have the Flareon-EX in play.
So the deal with Malamar-EX is that you can attach an Energy to it every turn and make your opponent's active Pokémon fall asleep and then you just move the Energy to Flareon-EX afterwards. This sleep condition is huge against decks that don't play Zoroark like Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX or Mega Mewtwo-EX. If they lose the coin flip and can't attack that turn you gain a huge advantage because they would have to use an AZ to attack that turn which doesn't let them play another supporter for that turn. Also if you're going first and you get the Energy attachment to Malamar-EX it gives you a 50% chance to 'attack on turn 1' basically because they skip their attack and then you can attack. Overall this is just a great card in this deck for that reason.
Flareon-EX's Blaze Ball attack is very similar to that of Keldeo-EX except for the color and that you don't have Blastoise. It does 50 damage plus an additional 20 damage for each fire Energy attached to Flareon-EX. So the Basic damage output with that attack for the 3 Energy it costs is 110. The important thing here is that you can set up a Blaze Ball in one turn out of nowhere with Blacksmith. Technically you could attach 2 Energy with Blacksmith, one from your hand and then another one with the Flash Fire ability to get up to 130 damage already which is enough to OHKO a regular Greninja. With Fighting Fury Belt attached the attack deals a consistent 120 damage which is enough to 2HKO any Pokémon-EX in the game and then you can just adjust the damage so that you get clean knock outs on anything that is not an-EX.
If you manage to let your Flareon-EX live and somewhat undamaged for one turn after knocking out something like a Shaymin-EX you can easily get an OHKO on 180HP Pokémon-EXs by just playing another Blacksmith. Muscle Band is great in this deck as it helps you reach certain numbers more easily. For example you can use Blacksmith, the Energy attachment for the turn and Muscle Band to deal 130 damage out of nowhere which then deals with a lot of Pokémon in the current format including the non-BREAK Greninja and the regular Yveltal. Other than that the odd numbers help you to get clean knock outs on things like Giratina-EX, Yveltal-EX and Manectric-EX. What's really cool about this card is that you sometimes happen to play against Sceptile-EX in tournaments because they want to counter Greninja decks and then you get a free win basically!
Flareon EX/Malamar EX
- 4x Flareon EX
- 1x Malamar EX
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 1x Entei
- 1x Dedenne
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 2x Blacksmith
- 2x Professor Sycamore
- 1x Skyla
- 1x Giovanni's Scheme
- 1x Judge
- 1x AZ
- 1x Delinquent
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 2x Float Stone
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 1x Muscle Band
- 1x Enhanced Hammer
- 1x Professor's Letter
- 2x Faded Town
- 1x Parallel City
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Startling Megaphone
- 10x Fire Energy
So here's the decklist. Let's take a look at the general gameplan of this deck. Generally you want to be super-fast with this deck, looking at the list we see that there are a lot of cards that help you accelerate your game. With Trainer's Mail, Battle Compressor and Ultra Balls you should be able to set up a perfect turn 1 most of the time. Battle Compressor has synergies with this deck because it not only helps you get supporters in your discard pile for VS Seeker, but you can also get some fire Energy in your discard pile as well for Blacksmith. It also lets you discard some of the tech options in this deck in match ups where you don't want to draw them to make your late-game draws more consistent. Generally you don't need much for this deck to start running, a single Ultra Ball on Hoopa-EX almost always guarantees you a perfect setup. That's why Skyla is so good in this deck because if you don't have the Ultra Ball in your opening hand you can just do something like Battle Compressor for Skyla and then get her back with VS Seeker to get the Ultra Ball. That way this deck runs super smoothly.
So what you want to do depends whether or not you're going first or not. Going first you don't necessarily have to play Blacksmith because you can't attack anyways. What you want to do is get Hoopa-EX as it helps you setup a decent board so well. With Hoopa-EX you can search your deck for Flareon-EX, Malamar-EX and Shaymin-EX to then refill your hand. You also want to get an Energy attached to Malamar-EX to get the free sleep condition which is super impactful on turn 1 if they lose the coin flip. On top of that you have some disruptive options with Judge or Hex Maniac afterwards to make their first turn even more awkward. If you're going second your gameplan is much more straightforward. You just want to set up the same board with Hoopa-EX if possible but also get three Energy attached to Flareon-EX with Blacksmith to start attacking immediately. This way you can set up the knock out on a bigger-EX the turn afterwards to get a Prize lead as early as possible or you just knock out a non-EX like Yveltal or even Frogadier. Or you just play against Sceptile-EX and take two Prizes on turn one.
Another really cool feature about this deck is the stadium line up. Parallel City Gym is great in this deck because it lets you discard unnecessary cards like Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX from the board after you used their ability. Also the other effect which reduces the damage of water type Pokémon in specific really helps a lot because then Greninja and especially Seismitoad-EX deal way less damage. That means even if Greninja players use Startling Megaphone to discard your Fighting Fury Belt they still can't OHKO your Flareon-EX as their damage caps at 160 under Hex Maniac of course. It also reduces the damage dealt by Seismitoad-EX 40 to 60 depending on Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt or even less if they have none of those attached. It also reduces the damage by grass type Pokémon which is not that relevant against Sceptile-EX, but it does come on handy against Vespiquen decks very often. In the mirror match of course this card is the boss.
We also have 2 copies of Faded Town in this list which is a decent card in this deck. Generally the deal with Mega Evolutions is that they have a lot of HP and deal massive amounts of damage like Mega Mewtwo-EX and Mega Rayquaza-EX. Being able to get some chip damage on them really helps you getting clean knock outs later. I don't think the Mega Rayquaza-EX matchup is winnable even with Faded Town, but it definitely helps against Mega Mewtwo-EX and makes that matchup more enjoyable. This card is also decent against Mega Manectric-EX decks as you can use it to remove their Rough Seas from play so you should be able to get a 2HKO on those almost guaranteed. And you need a counter stadium against most decks anyways so it's not bad to have those. I thought about including the obvious Scorched Earth in this deck, but in the end it doesn't have that much of an impact and after discarding some Energy with Battle Compressor you really don't want to discard many more fire Energy during that game because you want to have them for Malamar-EX almost every turn.
This deck also has a cool little feature with the tech Delinquent. It has a lot of different synergies with the deck, for example you can use it to get rid of your Parallel City Gym to get some space on your Bench again for additional Shaymin-EXs or other tech cards. But the most important thing about this card is that it lets you win games when you can catch your opponent off guard. Delinquent isn't a really established cards in the metagame and a lot of players just play down their hand with only a few cards left because they think they can just play another Sycamore or Shaymin-EX during their next turn and be good. Especially against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX and Greninja while they don't have Octillery in play this can be really crucial. If you can make them discard their entire hand and they don't topdeck a good card immediately afterwards you've pretty much won the game. It also lets you make use of your stadium cards in matchups where you don't need them. It's just a really cool card in general, I like it a lot.
The last two cards I would like to mention are the non-EX tech options we have. Dedenne and Entei. Both are really good in what they're trying to do here and you don't lose much when they're knocked out because your opponent would still have to knock out 3-EXs after knocking out either Dedenne or Entei. So let's go with Dedenne first.
Dedenne fits in this deck really well as it helps in certain matchups which otherwise wouldn't be that great. The most obvious thing here is that it easily knocks out Yveltal-EX after it dealt with your Flareon-EX. You only need the opponent's Yveltal-EX to have 4-5 Energy attached to get an OHKO on it with Startling Megaphone or Muscle Band/Fighting Fury Belt depending on what the board looks like. But it also helps against a lot of other decks, for example you can use it against Mega Mewtwo-EX if they go all out with Psychic Infinity and setup knock outs with Flareon-EX. Just watch out for the Shrine of Memories/Damage Swap combo. It also sets up knock outs on Mega Rayquaza-EX which is one of this deck's worst matchups. Other than that it can take Prize against Night March most of the time which is quite neat.
The other non-EX tech choice we have in this deck is the Entei without the ancient trait. It's a decent attacker which is supported by Blacksmith. Against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX it is easier to attack with this guy more consistently as it doesn't require that many Energy cards and you should be able to get something in 2HKO range with it most of the time. It also deals great damage against decks that use Sky Field like Mega Rayquaza-EX. 160 damage for just a Blacksmith is really good and it helps you set up a knock out on Mega Rayquaza-EX while giving your opponent basically no advantage by killing it. Like Dedenne it can also deal with Night Marchers as a non-EX which is the way you can win this matchup. Don't use its Burning Roar attack as it says 'discard 4 useful item cards from the top of your deck' most of the time and even if you hit like one fire Energy card it's definitely not worth discarding three other cards just for that.
Both of these tech cards fit the deck in a really unique way and I like the way they play out in certain matchups. Of course there are also some other non-EX tech choices you can make for this deck such as the promo Jirachi which helps a lot in the Giratina-EX/Seismitoad-EX matchup and maybe also against Night March. However I figured with that much Greninja decks being around and Jirachi being useless in that matchup it's probably better not to play it. However it is still an option to keep in mind.
The "Problem" with Greninja
So what's the deal with the Greninja matchup? I mean shouldn't we lose almost anytime against Greninja? In theory it does up to 200 damage for a single Energy and then they can just finish off our Flareon-EX with Water Shuriken or Giant Water Shuriken, right? However in reality these games are much closer than you might think, which is the most interesting thing about this deck in my opinion. I would not go as far and say that this is a favorable matchup, but it's definitely close to 50-50. Depending on whether or not they go first Greninja games usually look the same most of the time. They try to attack with Frogadier’s Water Duplicates attack as early as possible using cards like Wally or Evosoda, set up a Bench filled with Frogadier which can then be evolved into Greninja and start attacking with Moonlight Slash or Shadow Stitching for a single Energy. That means even with a perfect start Greninja is only able to attack like two or sometimes three turns later unless they run Rare Candy.
So that means while they attack with Frogadier you can already start taking Prizes with Blaze Ball on them pretty easily as they only have 70 HP. Generally you should be able to get a 2 or 3 cards Prize lead before they can even attack which puts you both on somewhat of an even ground as you have to draw all 6 Prizes by knocking out non-EX Pokémon and they draw 2 Prize cards at a time. However since you start knocking out their Frogadier before they can evolve they can't get unlimited Greninja into play without using Sacred Ash and getting them back. The idea is to use Blacksmith on turn 1 so you can attack immediately, then something like a Judge to disrupt them a little bit on their second turn and once they have Greninja in play you need to use Hex Maniac almost every turn so they can't use Giant Water Shuriken. If they don't have literally everything it should be pretty much impossible for them to get an OHKO on your Flareon-EX on turn 2 since they don't run Shaymin-EX and their deck has less card draw in general. Some Greninja decks even cut Octillery which makes it even more unlikely for them to draw into everything.
What's really interesting in this matchup is that once they evolve into Greninja BREAK you can use Malamar-EX's Hyper Hypnosis ability to let that guy fall asleep and then if they flip tails you've pretty much won the game as it's a free knock out if they can't get out of the lock which is only possible with AZ most of the time. But even then they return an entire Greninja line to their hand which slows them down even more.
The way you lose this matchup is if you don't have a good opener and miss the attack on turn 1 and then they start using Shadow Stitching the turn afterwards. Shadow Stitching might not be enough to OHKO Flareon-EX, but it definitely sets you back a lot because you can't use your abilities which all of your Pokémon-EX tend to have. It also sets up a knock out with Moonlight Slash the turn after no matter what. You also have to watch out for Ace Trainers because most of the time you will take the first Prize on one of their Frogadier and then they're able to play Ace Trainer which ruin your following turn if you don't draw anything good. So it's important to do as many things on turn 1 as possible like discarding useless cards with Battle Compressors and having enough outs left in your deck to draw additional cards. Since Greninja decks don't run Shaymin-EX most of the time they don't have that many cards in hand passing their turn 1 as they usually play some Dive Balls and attach an Energy so it is actually possible to discard their entire hand with Delinquent in that matchup if you're lucky enough. However they will still have a lot of outs to draw into Greninja next turn so make sure to get that Fighting Fury Belt into play as soon as possible!
So overall this is actually a surprisingly even matchup. Most Greninja players will probably underestimate this matchup which gives you a huge edge as they feel super comfortable going into that matchup when it's actually not an autowin.
There are some other matchups I would like to mention briefly as I think they will occur more often going into any standard tournament. There are some 'autowin' matchups out there like Sceptile-EX and metal decks which I don't mention because it should be obvious what you have to do there. Also you can OHKO Wailord-EX with 10 Fire Energy attached if you're into fancy stuff. Let's get back on track and start with an old classic!
This is a really cool matchup in my opinion. There is no clear favorite to win that matchup, but it is very board centric which I like a lot. Both decks follow the same goal as they want to play some Battle Compressors on turn 1 to setup their discard pile for other plays. While the Yveltal player wants to use Oblivion Wing early in the game to setup knock outs and additional attackers at the same time you as the Flareon-EX player want to get early knockouts on their Yveltal. Most Yveltal decks nowadays only play one copy of Yveltal-EX which is their way to knock out your Flareon-EX. After they do that you can easily take back those Prizes with Dedenne as Yveltal-EX needs at least 4 if not 5 Energy to get a knock out on your Flareon-EX. What's important in this matchup is to keep in mind that Zoroark deals a ton of damage if you have your Bench filled so you should either not put as many Pokémon into play if possible or use Parallel City Gym immediately to get rid of the extra ones. It's just super important that they can't get a knock out on your Flareon-EX with Zoroark. What's also interesting here is that it's sometimes better not to play Malamar-EX because they can Stand In / retreat with Zoroark anyways and Malamar-EX is just an easy target for Gallade to pick up some Prizes. This matchup goes back and forth a lot and most of the time you can't really see who's gonna win until the game is actually decided.
In this matchup a lot of things can go either really wrong or really good. Generally Malamar-EX is key in winning this matchup. If you manage to make them fall asleep a couple turns in a row eventually they should remain asleep and also not have an out like Super Scoop Up or AZ to attack with Quacking Punch again. Also it is really important to do a lot of things on turn 1 and set up a hand with some supporters because you're not gonna play those items anytime soon after they start hitting you in the face with Quacking Punch. However if you get a good opener with Parallel City Gym and a Blaze Ball going on it should be possible to win that matchup, but with a ton of item cards being in your deck it's also very likely that you lose to Quacking Punch and the sheer amount of disruption Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX has. I would say Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX is slightly favorited in this matchup, but flipping some coins with Malamar-EX can definitely turn the tables.
This is by far the worst nightmare for Flareon-EX. Rayquaza-EX has everything you need to stomp Flareon-EX into the ground: it’s super-fast, very consistent, and OHKOs Flareon-EX no matter what. On the other side Flareon-EX can't really deal with Mega Rayquaza-EX very well and you also can't just knock out Flareon because you cannot play Blacksmith and Lysandre on the same turn. There are some ways that help you in this matchup like Hex Maniac on turn 1 which prevents them from using both Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX which is really good, but then again you can't play Blacksmith on the same turn and you slow down yourself as well. Important cards in this matchup are Parallel City Gym because you can make them discard 5 Pokémon from their Bench if they go down from Sky Field's 8 to a diminishing 3. In that case you would reduce your own damage output by 20 as well but it's not really that important because you have to go for 2HKOs anyways. Also Faded Town can be good in this matchup as it deals consistent damage to Mega Rayquaza-EX. However they almost always play 4 copies of Sky Field so they should be able to setup a bigger Bench again as they also run Sacred Ash and Puzzle of Time so they should never run out of Pokémon to play. You can also try to play Hex Maniac into Delinquent if you manage to get them down to a low hand size, but in general this matchup is pretty bad. But you can give it a try!
Another very weird matchup. Similar to Mega Rayquaza the games should favor the Night March player as it's quite easy for them to get knock outs on your Flareon-EX. However you actually have 2 non-EX attackers that can deal with 2 Night Marchers and also some disruption. For example a turn 1 Hex Maniac in combination with a Malamar-EX flip can really set them back and also if you have a Fighting Fury Belt attached to Flareon-EX they might miss the knock out there. Another thing which can come in handy here is Delinquent. If you can discard their Dimensional Valley often enough they might not be able to attack for a turn and then you can win from there. Keep in mind that they also have Puzzle of Times to get back their key cards. Overall this is a very unfavorable matchup but there are some ways in which you can win it.
Mega Manectric Variants
The last matchup I would like to mention here is Mega Manectric. There are some versions out there, but generally they run the same core. Mega Manectric uses its Turbo Bolt attack to set up additional attackers on their Bench. What's important here is that there's no way for any Manectric-EX to get an OHKO on your Flareon-EX. And since they have to evolve it first you should be able to get the first attack down and then get a lead in the 2HKO battle. You also have Faded Town to deal chip damage on their Benched Mega Manectric-EXs so that you can eventually OHKO those as well. Keep in mind that they play Rough Seas and can heal back up but that only gives you a Delinquent target or you just play another Faded Town. I think this is a very favorable matchup for Flareon-EX. The one thing that might make you lose the game is Jolteon-EX if they can get you in a dire spot with it, but then you also have Malamar-EX to get you out of that situation.
Overall I think this is a really cool deck, it might not be the most competitive one but having a good list along with a solid strategy lets you win games with Flareon-EX as well. Again I'd like to mention that it is amazing how you can win against Greninja with this deck which shows how interesting the metagame is at the moment. So if you want to have fun with a rogue deck at some events you might want to give this a try, it's a decent deck.
Also if you have any questions regarding this deck feel free to ask them in the comment section and I will gladly answer them. As always I hope you liked the article and I will see you next time!
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