Hello, readers! Today I am here to share with you the Arcanine deck that I have been testing for the last few months.
Many of you may not know who I am, so before I get started, I am going to share a little background information about myself as a player. I have been playing Pokémon for ten years now, having attended my first Regional Championship as a Junior in 2009. My most notable accomplishment is a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships with Vileplume toolbox . I enjoy taking the time to think outside the box to help construct unique deck lists that either give a Meta deck an edge, or to construct an unorthodox deck that stands a good chance against the Meta overall.
My current project is an Arcanine archetype, which I will explore in this article.
The History of Arcanine:
The first time I saw Arcanine was when I was testing against the Reshiram & Charizard-GX deck that Azul, Michael Pramawat, Jimmy Pendarvis, and Daniel Altavilla piloted to successful finishes at the Madison Regional Championship . When I read it, I was instantly surprised at how powerful the card could be, and yet it wasn’t really recognized by many.
My admiration for Arcanine remained as just that until I started drafting deck ideas for the World Championship format. The rotation of Guzma, Zoroark, and Double Colorless Energy was certainly going to alter the game as we’d known it, just a couple months prior at the North American International Championship. Although Guzma was a card I considered to be too powerful, I still missed an adequate “Gust” effect that didn’t require playing two Custom Catchers simultaneously. In fact, I found it pretty clear that having the option to easily access a Gust effect would give certain decks an important edge in their playability over others.
The options that decks had to easily access Gust effects consisted of:
- PikaRom’s use of Volkner to grab a second copy of Custom Catcher.
- Green’s ReshiZard’s ability to outright search for two of any Trainer card with Green’s Exploration.
- Ninetales (TEU 16), which had significant potential due to the incredible engines that Fire decks can use.
- Naganadel-GX (UNM 160) due to its ability to steadily increase a players’ hand size for Custom Catcher.
The first thing that my mind was drawn to was Arcanine’s “Grand Flame” attack, which does a respectable 120 damage and accelerates two basic Fire Energy from the discard pile to a Benched Pokémon. I remembered that there was a Tool card called Buff Padding that was previously printed, which gave 50 additional HP to a Pokémon if that Pokémon had a Retreat Cost of exactly four. This is where the original Arcanine deck list was born.
In my mind, Arcanine seemed to be extremely powerful, capable of two-shotting many Tag Team GX Pokémon, while requiring the opponent to deal 190 damage to it just to take one prize card. It competed well with Malamar and was able to use Ninetales’ “Nine Temptations” Ability to repeatedly knock out Malamar while accelerating Energy onto new Pokémon. It could two-shot PikaRom while accelerating Energy with each attack. It seemed as though it would trade favorably into ReshiZard, it was sufficiently annoying for Blacephalon-GX to knock out, and it even had the option to use “Heat Tackle” to take a knockout in one hit.
Unfortunately, along with Guzma, almost all non-GX Pokémon search support left the format with the rotation. Arcanine was left with Pokémon Communication and Pokémon Fan Club as options to get not only several Basics into play, but also their evolutions. Obviously, this lead to a multitude of consistency issues.
I shared a rough list for the original deck idea with Frank Percic, Liam Williams, and my friend from across the pond, Yasin Balela. Yasin would eventually do a vast majority of the physical testing of the deck with his brother, Adam.
As soon as we started testing Arcanine, it became extremely clear that there were issues that we had to overcome. These ranged from needing Mew so that we didn’t get blown up by “Tag Bolt GX,” to testing Shrine with or without Mr. Mime TEU, to testing a Salazzle line as thick as 4-4 or as thin as 2-2, to attempting the 2-4 Salazzle line for the first time, to playing four Professor Elm, which can’t search for Growlithe instead of Fan Club, to testing a baby Blacephalon, to playing one or two Reset Stamp, and even playing 1-1 Slowking.
At the end of all this testing, we reached a huge dilemma: with adequate techs, the deck had the ability to be quite good against every Meta deck given it set up well. I really cannot adequately stress how terrifying it was to draw an opening hand with certain lists of this deck. Any moment you could draw your seven cards and stare down a hand consisting of Mew, five Fire Energy and a Brock’s Grit, and still have to wait five minutes for the round to start. Ultimately, Yasin opted to play a teched out version with 1-1 Slowking for Day 1 of the main event. He faced some consistency issues and I was afraid of dead drawing, so I opted to play two Acro Bike for the Open instead of the Slowking.
Despite there being zero Naganadel Quagsire decks in Day 1 of the main event, I had the misfortune of hitting two of them in my first four rounds of the Open. I managed to challenge both, but fell just short each time. Instead of spending the rest of the day and some of the next competing, I decided to drop at that point and enjoy the rest of the event.
I left the event with several important takeaways:
- The 18 Fire Energy Ability ReshiZard deck that many Limitless players piloted in the main event looked like it was quite good and could be implemented into Arcanine.
- Victini Prism Star is extremely powerful and can possibly be used as an attacker in Arcanine, which can somewhat-easily knock out a Tag Team GX in one hit, even if no Energy are attached to our Pokémon at the start of the turn.
- I often wished I had more Welders in deck, so playing a copy of Pal Pad could be very helpful.
- Arcanine didn’t seem that bad. Even though my day ended poorly, I felt like I could’ve done pretty well had I not played against two NagQuag.
Theme Deck Arcanine:
After I returned home to Oregon, I immediately started testing a new version of Arcanine with 18 Fire Energy and Victini Prism Star. I had to restart the deck’s calibration from scratch. The Salazzle line came into question as I focused more and more on using several Dedenne-GX each game. Did I play two Ninetales like Limitless? Or fit in more consistency by playing just one?
The most drastic part of the engine that I questioned was the inclusion of Pokégear 3.0. Pokégear had the potential to assist me in reaching for a specific Supporter on a turn, but I was repeatedly frustrated when I would play one or several Pokégear, especially on the first turn, and fail to see the Supporter that I wanted in the first seven cards. I decided to try removing it from the list and instead played four Pokémon Fan Club and two Professor Elm. Heavy Pokémon Fan Club added consistency with an option to grab one of the Dedenne-GX, as well as another Pokémon, and Professor Elm also acted as a very powerful first turn Supporter. I returned to the roots of playing 2-4 Salazzle.
The Final List:
I feel like this is fairly self-explanatory. Running the maximum amount of both Growlithe and Arcanine maximizes your odds of setting up Arcanine quickly, as well as increasing the odds of naturally drawing into them. It also provides some relief from poor prize cards. Prizing one or two Arcanine when the deck runs fewer than four copies is far more costly than playing four copies and prizing one or two.
In almost any scenario, Arcanine wishes to play Pokémon Fan Club, or Professor Elm on turn one to fetch its Basics. Because of the sheer importance of getting several Basics down on the first turn, the list plays a combination of six Fan Clubs and Elms to increase the odds of opening one. Salazzle is extremely important to establish early due to its “Roast Reveal” Ability, which allows you to quickly draw through much of your deck and discard Fire Energy to be attached to attackers using Arcanine’s “Grand Flame” attack. The inclusion of four Salazzle, despite playing only two Salandit, is due to the Pokémon search options that exist for Salandit relative to Salazzle. Salazzle can only be searched for using Pokémon Communication, otherwise it must be naturally drawn. Getting one or two Salazzle into play on the second turn can very easily translate into success for the rest of the game because of the sheer power of its “Roast Reveal” Ability, so maximizing the odds of drawing into them is optimal for the deck’s engine and consistency.
Dedenne-GX is an incredible consistency card, and it is searchable via Fan Club and Communication. Dedenne is often important for turn one consistency to draw cards in hopes of getting additional Basic Pokémon into play, or drawing into a set up Supporter, or even Welder. It is also often very good on turn two because it allows you to dig for an important evolution card, Energy, Welder, or even get Energy into the discard pile on a critical turn. Two Dedenne allows you to play two in a game if needed and increases the odds of drawing into them when it may be needed. It also reduces the risk of the deck losing due to prizing the sole copy of it.
Ninetales has an extremely powerful Ability that gives the deck an accessible Gust effect. Although this card is very important to the deck’s success at times, it is limited to a 1-1 line with a Ditto Prism Star because consistency is prioritized. Prizing or having to discard your one Ninetales is occasionally unavoidable and unfortunate, but early-game consistency is a far more common concern for the deck. Brock’s Grit is also available to recycle a fallen Vulpix or Ninetales if necessary.
Turtonator and Arcanine inherently have synergy. Arcanine does damage and attaches Fire Energy to other Pokémon, which applies significant pressure to high-HP Pokémon, especially Tag Team GXs. Turtonator can then use those Energy to one-shot or finish off a Pokémon. By simply attaching Energy to a Benched Pokémon, even one that is not Turtonator, and using “Grand Flame,” you can pressure your opponent with a potential 300-damage hit with “Explosive Jet” by using Welder and attaching another Energy the following turn. The damage potential of Turtonator can help you win fast games against GX-based decks. Heatran-GX is a very similar card to Turtonator that I have played in many Arcanine lists, but the rise of wall decks using Bronzong (TEU 101) requires this deck to play some sort of powerful attacker that isn’t a Fire type. Turtonator is one of the most accessible options for combatting Bronzong because it can be substituted for Heatran-GX and does not require taking out a different important card in the deck.
Victini Prism Star is really THE card that the Worlds Arcanine list did not realize it was missing. For a single Welder, Victini can easily knockout a Pokémon with 280-HP, AND shuffle every single Energy in your discard pile into your deck. Its “Infinity” attack either outright ends the game with a knockout on a Pokémon, or it shuffles the Energy necessary to close out the game into your already thin deck, nets some amount of prize cards, and makes you nearly Reset Stamp-proof. Victini can allow you a win against a Tag Team GX-based deck on only the fourth turn. First, you can use “Grand Flame” to set up a second Arcanine, then you can use “Heat Tackle” with that second Arcanine to take a knockout on a Tag Team GX. Using the power of “Roast Reveal,” Giant Hearth, Heat Factory, and Dedenne-GX, you can sometimes set up an “Infinity” for 280-damage on turn four, which may just end the game.
Mew is mostly for the PikaRom matchup. It protects you from powerful “Tag Bolt GX” plays. Mew is also a great opener in certain matchups, as it can use “Psypower” to place damage counters onto Poipole or Giratina, softening them up so that Arcanine’s “Grand Flame” can knock them out if necessary. It can also be very good against Blacephalon or the Naganadel toolbox deck that Xander Pero played for the D.C. Open because it can protect Benched Dedenne from easy knockouts with Naganadel-GX’s “Venom Shot” attack.
Ditto Prism Star is really versatile and strong in decks that play multiple Stage 1 Pokémon. Arcanine runs three different Stage 1 Pokémon and Ditto can evolve into any of them when they are needed. Ditto is also searchable using Professor Elm, which is really strong because Growlithe is not, so if you fail to draw a Growlithe turn one and you also play Elm, you can still get out an Arcanine turn two.
Welder is, in my opinion, the best Supporter card in the Standard Format. Energy acceleration is extremely powerful, and Welder happens to provide Energy acceleration and draw power to an Energy type that also has fantastic game support from other cards. After turn one, it is very possible that you will want to play Welder every turn for the remainder of the game. Welder is the reason why this deck is possible. Without it, “Grand Flame” would be impossible to establish. You want to draw into Welder and Fires to power up an Arcanine as quickly as possible, stream Welder midgame to maintain Energy tempo when using “Heat Tackle” for important knockouts, and have access to it on an important turn where you use Victini Prism Star or Turtonator.
Getting the Basics for the Stage 1s of this deck is integral to having any chance in a game. Pokémon Fan Club is an important search card for this deck because now we are unable to use newly rotated search cards such as Nest Ball or Ultra Ball. I have opted to run heavy Fan Club in this version of the deck instead of heavy Elm because this focuses on intentionally using Dedenne-GX far more than the Worlds version of the deck. Pokémon Fan Club can search for any of the Basics in the deck and provides important consistency in combination with Dedenne-GX.
Professor Elm is an interesting addition to the deck that many people may question. It can only search for Pokémon with 60 or less HP, so why would I play it in a deck whose main attacker evolves from a Pokémon with 80-HP? First, the deck cannot run more than four Fan Club; however, Elm is often a better Pokémon search card on the first turn than Fan Club is. With one or two Growlithe in play, or a Dedenne in hand, it is frequently better to be able to search out Ditto and two Salandit so that you can evolve into two Salazzle on turn two, than it is to just grab a Growlithe and a Salandit. Elm is also frequently great because you can grab two Basics and a Mew, which you can use to Pokémon Communication back into the deck for an important Dedenne-GX or evolution card.
Brock’s Grit is a card that I find to be necessary in this deck due to the insurance that it provides. When things go your way throughout an entire game, it is unlikely that you will have to consider playing Brock’s in many matchups, but in games where you encounter difficulties such as:
- Prizing Victini Prism Star
- Having to discard many Energy or Pokémon with a necessary “Dedechange”
- Having your Ninetales make its way into the discard via “Dedechange” or by being knocked out
- Having too few Fire Energy in deck to close out the game due to Energy mismanagement
- Needing to preemptively increase your outs to “Roast Reveal” going into a turn where the opponent is likely to play a Reset Stamp
In all of these situations, Brock’s Grit can easily be the difference between a win and a loss.
Pokémon Communication is by far the best Item-based Pokémon search that this deck has access to in the Standard Format. It is pretty self-explanatory why this deck plays the maximum amount of copies.
1 Pal Pad
Pal Pad’s main use is shuffling copies of Welder back into the deck mid-game. Welder is the most powerful Supporter in Arcanine, and the deck often wants access to more than four copies of it. Pal Pad also acts as insurance to Reset Stamp on a crucial turn, increasing your odds of drawing into it on an important turn where you may want to use Victini Prism Star the turn you play it, or on an important turn where you use Turtonator.
1 U-Turn Board
Energy tempo and conservation is integral to the success of this deck. A single copy of U-turn Board will almost always stick for the entire game after it is drawn (barring the use of a Faba on it). This can be extremely important when you are setting up an “Explosive Jet” for 300 against a Tag Team deck. You are frequently able to get three Energy attached to a Benched Pokémon during the set up turn using “Grand Flame,” or Welder and attaching an Energy from hand. U-turn Board allows you to pivot a Salazzle the following turn without a Retreat cost, and attach three more Energy using Welder and a normal attachment to reach that 300-damage attack with “Explosive Jet.” U-Turn Board also expands your options at the start of your turn because you can have access to a Pokémon with free retreat and do not have to blindly promote an Arcanine with four retreat at the beginning of the turn.
This deck’s entire engine is focused around using Fire Energy, and Giant Hearth lets you easily add them to your hand to use “Roast Reveal,” Welder, “Nine Temptations,” and more. I have tested a copy of Stadium Nav instead of the second Giant Hearth because it has the power to search for Heat Factory Prism Star in a crucial moment, but ultimately, I’ve found that having some additional Reset Stamp and Wondrous Labyrinth insurance via a second Giant Hearth is better.
1 Heat Factory Prism Star
Heat Factory is a powerful consistency card in Fire Energy-based decks. Heat Factory is frequently good on turn one or two in Arcanine because it allows you to dig a little bit deeper to grab either an Elm or Fan Club, a couple of important Basics or evolutions, or grab the needed Welder to start attacking.
18 Fire Energy
Limitless was definitely onto something when they played this at the World Championship. 18 Fire Energy is essentially the perfect amount for Victini to comfortably hit for a one-hit knockout on the Tag Team Pokémon in this format. Victini needs access to 16 Energy to knockout a Reshiram & Charizard-GX. Playing any less Energy than 18 puts you at risk of easily losing to some poor prize cards, or to not drawing into every Energy in your deck on a crucial turn. 18 Fire also increases your odds of drawing into them when they are needed for “Roast Reveal” or Welder.
Pokégear is somewhat of a high-risk, high-reward card in this sort of deck. After the first turn or two, it is clear that Pokégear is all but objectively better than the additional copies of Elm and Fan Club by a country mile, but this deck’s greatest concern is getting through the first turn or two unscathed. If you can draw into an Elm or Fan Club on turn one, you can usually play the rest of the game extremely consistently with Salazzle, and trade favorably until you win. I have played so many games with this deck where I essentially lost on the first turn of the game due to a failed Pokégear. Adversely, in the mid or late game, it is quite rare to lose due to not having access to Welder because the deck draws many cards nearly every single turn using “Roast Reveal,” Heat Factory, and “Dedechange.”
“Baby Blown”–Blacephalon UNB
I tested baby Blown in the engine that I piloted in the D.C. Open for quite some time. It offered a way to reach a knockout on any GX Pokémon even without having any Energy in play at the start of the turn. With four copies of Fire Crystal, the deck was capable of retrieving enough Energy cards to use “Fireball Circus” effectively. Despite running 18 Fire Energy in this engine, the omission of Fire Crystal is significant because the deck would rarely be able to amass five or six Energy in hand at the conclusion of your turn, in addition to those attached to Blacephalon. It would often be more attainable to take a knockout with Turtonator or Victini Prism Star.
Second Ninetales line
Ninetales is obviously very powerful due to its “Nine Temptations” Ability. I have tampered with the Ninetales line in testing, but for best of one tournament I have not been able to justify cutting other cards in favor of a thicker line because it does not add consistency. It is beneficial to establish a Ninetales early against decks like Malamar, or decks that run Wobbuffet LOT, which disrupts your Victini Prism Star plays. Luckily, Brock’s Grit is capable of recovering a knocked out or discarded Ninetales line. In certain Meta or Swiss formats, it may be worth it to consider and test a thicker line.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this deck aims to force the opponent into trading unfavorably into one-prize attackers, however Dedenne-GX is nearly always essential to this deck in the early turns. It is not particularly uncommon to need to play two Dedenne-GX in a single game, each of those not only giving the opponent an out to a two-prize knockout, but also occupying one of your precious Benched spots. While it can’t be used every game, Giovanni’s Exile is a possible out to discarding Dedenne-GX that you are forced to play, which removes the potential of a two-prize-knockout from your opponent and opens up a Benched spot.
Many people may consider Reset Stamp as an obvious inclusion in a deck like this. Unfortunately, the available amount of tech spots in this deck is incredibly limited. I prefer to maximize this deck’s consistency where I can, because most events that I play in are best of one, and this deck’s biggest issue by far is inconsistency. Reset Stamp is mostly valuable because it can lower an opponent’s odds of drawing two Custom Catcher in an important turn to steal the game, or lower their odds of drawing another combination of cards to win.
Lysandre Prism Star
Lysandre Prism Star is most powerful against Mewtwo & Mew-GX. The current World Champion, Henry Brand, recently included a copy of Lost Thunder Wobbuffet in his “Perfection” deck. Wobbuffet makes the matchup far more difficult because it can prevent Arcanine from using Ditto Prism Star for early support, or from having an easy way to finish the game with Victini Prism Star. Lysandre Prism Star can remove some of the most important attackers in their deck from play, such as Reshiram & Charizard-GX, Solgaleo-GX, Naganadel-GX, and Espeon & Deoxys-GX. Additionally, Lysandre Prism Star gets some playability bonus from its potential utility against Ability ReshiZard, Malamar, and Blacephalon.
Against most decks, Arcanine is the most vulnerable in the early turns of each game. It requires setting up multiple Stage 1 Pokémon, as well as drawing into a Welder combo on the second turn of the game. It is usually most important to prioritize setting up two Salazzle as quickly as possible, as well your first Arcanine. Salazzle is the key to this deck functioning for the entirety of the game. With two Salazzle in play, you can easily draw between six and nine cards per turn, increasing your hand size rather than replace and shuffling, or discarding it. Salazzle aids Arcanine in having sufficient Energy early to attach with “Grand Flame,” and Victini Prism Star with discarding enough Energy for a powerful “Infinity” attack.
It is important to have the opportunity to set up a single attacking Arcanine on turn two; this often pressures you into searching for two cards that are capable of evolving into Arcanine on turn one when you go second, because of the risk of having the only one be knocked out, which can cause enough of a loss in tempo to result in a loss of the game in certain cases.
Ninetales is very good and frequently allows Arcanine to close out games. Unfortunately, I find that searching for Vulpix, or evolving Ditto Prism Star into Ninetales is usually a luxury. If you naturally draw into a Basic or two you can get away with it, but it is usually more important to focus on having a sufficient stream of attackers and a consistent draw engine.
Against many Tag Team decks, the most ideal games are a breeze, where you are able to use “Grand Flame” onto a second Arcanine to use “Heat Tackle” with to finish off a Tag Team and end the game with a powerful Victini attack. Obviously, most games aren’t quite that easy and require significant thought into the best ways to commit Energy, whether that is to “Roast Reveal” or “Nine Temptations,” to an attachment for turn or Welder, or whether the correct commitment is even to just hold the Energy. You are often searching for the perfect harmony between having enough Energy in play to potentially pressure a Turtonator attack or a “Heat Tackle,” or having Energy that can be discarded and attached to Victini to perform a powerful “Infinity” attack to knock something out.
Usually, I find that one of the safest plays is the most optimal. Sometimes this involves the order that you use draw power in. For example, using Heat Factory’s effect before using “Roast Reveal,” before finally using Welder in case you don’t draw into Arcanine and waste Energy and a Welder on a Growlithe that is now going to be knocked out. Sometimes this involves going for guaranteed plays that are solid rather than potential plays that are stronger if they pay off. For example, playing eighteen Fire can make you feel entitled to drawing into them off of “Roast Reveal” or Welder when you have many in the deck, but sometimes you don’t, and the ramifications of making the greedy play can be large, and even cost you an important attachment or attack. If you need to draw cards but don’t want to greedily use Energy, it is sometimes good to play a Welder and attach just a single Energy to safely draw three, which may include Fires, but unless the potential of the play is amazing, it is often better to go with the safer decision.
Arcanine’s “Grand Flame” attack helps Turtonator apply significant pressure at almost any moment. Turtonator is capable of easily dishing out 300-damage if you use “Grand Flame” and attach from hand to a Benched Pokémon. 120 damage from “Grand Flame” can also soften up Tag Team GXs to be knocked out by Turtonator if it is better than a follow up “Heat Tackle.” In some cases, it is best to take a one-hit knockout on a Tag Team GX with Turtonator and then finish the game with a one-hit knockout from Victini. This can be the case against decks that heal a lot of damage, specifically Green’s ReshiZard, as it can be a close matchup. GardEon also plays healing, however, if you don’t allow them to permanently stick a Wondrous Labyrinth, then you can usually win very easily.
If you play this deck, I strongly recommend checking for important prize cards during your first search.
Despite running a whopping eighteen copies of Fire Energy, it is essential to know how many are in your prize cards at any moment in the game. Knowing how many Fires are in your prize cards can help you avoid greedy plays, use Victini optimally, and avoid overextending with Fire Energy and losing due to having an insufficient amount to close out a game, and more.
Personally, I find checking for important prize cards in any deck to be one of the most important things a player can do to gain an advantage over other competitors. I can never comprehend why it is done so sparingly. I bring a Pokémon notebook with many sheets of paper to every event that I play in and rip off about a 5” x 3” piece to take notes every round. If you didn’t know (and I deal with this relatively often from my opponents or misinformed Judges) your notes are NOT public knowledge to your opponent. A Judge may ask to read your notes and ensure that you are following the guidelines in the rules for them, but your opponent is NOT allowed guaranteed access to them by asking. Some people choose to commit their prizes to memory, but I think that in most circumstances it is far more worth committing it to writing so that you don’t forget, or physically cross your prizes as you draw them than it is to maybe save a few seconds in a game (and that is even a maybe as you can write them down as your opponent starts their next turn).
The most important prizes to check:
This deck essentially runs on Fire Energy. I find checking for copies of Fire Energy to be one of the most important decisions with this deck for several reasons:
- It gives you statistical information that can impact future plays with “Roast Reveal” or Welder.
- It helps you know the probability of taking an important Energy off of a prize card–potentially enabling a play that would otherwise be greedy or blind.
- It should influence the way you manage your Fire Energy. If you are blind to the number of Fire Energy you have access to, then the odds that you make a significant mistake are really high. It is quite likely that mismanaging your Fire Energy can make you more susceptible to Reset Stamp, or thin too many Fires, which may prevent you from having enough to use “Roast Reveal” AND have sufficient Energy to attach to Victini Prism Star for an important knockout on a Tag Team GX.
Ninetales can be used to swing a game in your favor by “Gusting” up a valuable Benched Pokémon that your opponent has in play. Since the deck prioritizes setting up Growlithe, Salandit, and Ditto Prism Star on the first turn, it is important for you to check if your Vulpix is in your prize cards because it can easily affect what you evolve Ditto Prism Star into if you have any flexibility.
Ninetales is the only “Gust” effect available to this deck. It is important to have information from the start of the game if this will be available or not. Knowing if this is prized may easily impact the way you approach the game; you may focus more on using attacks other than “Grand Flame” in order to take one-hit knockouts. Knowing this is in your prize cards early may also prevent you from searching for it mid-game in a moment where it is obviously important and giving your opponent valuable information that should be kept to yourself.
Knowing how many Growlithe are in your prize cards can affect your use of Brock’s Grit. If two copies are in the discard and you are looking for another with Pokémon Communication, you want to know if it is accessible in your deck prior to playing Communication. Prevent misplays by knowing the contents of your deck before making important decisions. Knowing how many Growlithe are prized may help most against other decks that attack with single-prize attackers, because you often need to stream the most number of Arcanine against those decks.
The reasons for checking for Arcanine copies include what I have written above with Growlithe. It is also important to check for Arcanine copies to prevent overreaching for one on the second turn of the game and getting punished. Sometimes, despite using “Dedechange,” one or two “Roast Reveal,” Heat Factory, and Welder, Arcanine and Pokémon Communication somehow evade you. Checking for Arcanine may help you realize when to consider cutting your losses if you can afford it before you play Welder for turn. It may be better to play safely and Welder onto a Benched Pokémon than it is to Welder onto an Active Growlithe, which may just get knocked out without an attack if you fail to draw into an Arcanine out from those final three cards.
Welder runs this deck. Hopefully, by now you have noticed the trend in checking your prize cards for the purpose of knowing the probability of drawing into certain cards. Sometimes, you have poor discards or prize cards, limiting the number of Welders available in deck. Playing at least one Welder is fundamentally essential to this deck working as it is essentially impossible to get three turns of manual Energy attachments onto your first Arcanine to use “Grand Flame.” Sometimes you are left with as little as a single copy of Welder in deck after a nasty, but necessary “Dedechange” in the early game. You should know the number of Welders available for you in deck so that you don’t lose to greedy plays, whiffs, and wasting that last copy. Knowing if a Welder is prized may also open up a play for you to make knowing your odds of drawing an important Welder off of your prize cards is high.
Welder is such a powerful Supporter that you want as many as possible to be in your deck at a given time. Pal Pad allows you to maximize the number of Welder in your deck throughout the game. Knowing if Pal Pad is prized is similar to knowing how many Welder are prized, but is often more tailored toward the later game. If it is in your prize cards, you may be low or out of Welder and need to adjust your play accordingly.
A slot for a tech:
If you add a specific tech, you should obviously know if it is available or not against a matchup it may help with.
Victini Prism Star:
Victini Prism Star acts as a potential way to knockout any Pokémon with a single use of Welder. Not only that, but it also is valuable Energy retrieval. Knowing if this is available should impact how you manage your Energy and consider using Brock’s Grit.
Ditto Prism Star:
You will probably inherently check for this on your first search because its Ability is so powerful with three different Stage 1 Pokémon in the deck.
Checking for Brock’s Grit is important to resource conservation. I always make sure I know my Energy recovery outs with this deck. If Victini Prism Star is prized but Brock’s is not, it may be important to use Brock’s to recycle Energy so you can close out a game or gain insurance from Reset Stamp. On the other hand, knowing Brock’s is prized may open up an earlier “Infinity” play for the sake of taking a quick knockout and recycling much Energy. Knowing Brock’s is prized may also influence which Pokémon you Communication back into the deck before a “Dedechange.”
Knowing if any Giant Hearth are prized gives you a look into the probability of drawing one of them when they’re important. It also lets you potentially conserve one against a deck like GardEon, which seeks to stick a Wondrous Labyrinth against you. If you know one of your Stadiums is prized you might want to play them a little more conservatively against GardEon, or another deck looking to stick an obnoxious Stadium.
Obviously, Dedenne-GX is an invaluable consistency card in this deck. You should always look for copies of Dedenne-GX in your deck on your first search. You can very easily lose to not realizing a second copy is prized.
Mew UNB (in some matchups):
Mew offers Benched damage protection for your Pokémon. In a format with few “Gust” effects, it is especially important to be able to protect two-prize Pokémon like Dedenne-GX from easy knockouts, or protect precious Pokémon like Ninetales. Knowing if Mew is available should play into your risk analysis for playing a Dedenne-GX against PikaRom and Naganadel-GX decks.
Turtonator is another powerful attacker in this deck. It is capable of dishing out a significant amount of damage the same turn it is Benched and can increase Victini’s damage potential the following turn. Knowing if Turtonator is available may easily influence your decision to use “Grand Flame” or “Heat Tackle” and where you attach Energy, or use Welder the turn prior.
I know that is a lot of cards, but after some practice it is feasible to obtain a lot of that information in a short amount of time, and for many of them it is most definitely worth the trouble.
I find Arcanine to be interesting, challenging, and fun to play. I think that is has some immense potential in this format and it is capable of being favorable against many of the decks in the format, and even contending against matchups that sound difficult, like NagQuag. I have found the engine discussed in this list to be generally consistent enough to my liking, but I am not here to pretend that I am confident it is perfect, or that is makes Arcanine some sort of “broken” archetype that is better than all the others. To this day, I am still attempting new engines and lists for Arcanine to hopefully discover something even better. I hope that after reading this far, you have at least learned something valuable about the deck, or playing the game in general. Many local players have expressed interest in this archetype, and I hope that beyond that, those of you who read this find it interesting and try this or something similar for yourself. There is quite a bit of intricacy in playing this deck, and I think it would be naive to claim that what I have provided in this article is everything you need to know about playing it. I encourage any of you who are interested in this deck to take time in every game you play with it to think a little deeper about each decision you make. People often forget that it’s the little decisions and considerations that can elevate you as a player; instead of blaming a loss on only poor luck, reflect on the game and think about what you could’ve done better, odds are there’s something you overlooked that you may improve on next time.
Currently, I am attempting other versions for this deck. If they prove themselves, I may be posting them on Twitter in the near future. So for those of you that are interested, stay tuned…