Welcome back readers! It’s been a while since I wrote an article so I’m excited to be back at it. Unfortunately for me, my hiatus from writing also meant that I was on an extended break from playing in any events as well. The last major event that I played in was Roanoke Regionals last season and so far, this season I have only been able to attend one Expanded League Cup where I once again had to drop after starting out 3-1-1 due to other obligations. I would say that both the loss and the tie were due to misplays on my part and they both could have easily been wins if I had not been so rusty. With my hiatus now at an end, I can’t wait to dive right into the grind of this new season.
More importantly, though I want to share with all of you a pet deck of mine, Kingdra. While I will be the first to admit that Kingdra is not in any way a Tier 1 deck, I do find it immensely fun to play and I find that no matter whether I am winning or losing I am always having a good time when I am playing this deck. I am actually considering it for one of my upcoming Standard League Cups just because I know I will have a blast (I also don’t think it would be that bad of a call depending on what I’m expecting to see).
Table of Contents
I.The King himself
III.The Full Monty
THE KING HIMSELF
The possibility exists that Kingdra can be made into a force to be reckoned with if the right approach is taken in constructing it. Taking a quick look at Kingdra we can see that the card actually oozes with potential:
Kingdra- Water- HP140
Stage 2 Pokémon
[W] Brine: This attack does 90 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon that has any damage counters on it. (Don’t apply weakness and resistance for benched Pokémon)
[W] Tornado Shot: 90 Discard a [W] energy from this Pokémon. This attack does 30 damage to 1 of your opponent’s benched Pokémon (Don’t apply weakness and resistance for benched Pokémon)
I want to reflect on the fact that while Kingdra does have its downfalls there is still a ton of great stuff going on with this card.
- It’s a single prize attacker
- Both of its attacks only cost a single Water Energy
- It can take advantage of Splash Energy to recycle the decks main attacker
- A natural synergy exists between it and Espeon EX/ Necrozma GXGX
The Not So Great
- It suffers from the inherent inconsistency of a Stage 2 deck
- Its weakness to grass is unfortunate with the rise in Golisopod’s popularity
Obviously, Kingdra can’t get the job done entirely on its own so there are a few different partners that you can consider pairing it with.
Tapu Koko SM 30
The Tapu Koko promo helps this deck out in a few different ways. Generally speaking, this is the preferred starter for you. Its first attack Flying Flip helps to set up future knockouts on any bulky EX or GX Pokémon. The drawback to using Tapu Koko is that it requires you to include Double Colorless Energy. Without including Double Colorless Energy in the deck, you don’t really get to enjoy the full utility of Flying Flip. Its free retreat is also an important fact to note. Kingdra’s 140 HP is nice, but it is easily reached by almost every standard deck out there. Having a Tapu Koko on the bench to repeatedly promote after your Kingdra gets knocked out can be a huge boon for this deck.
Tapu Fini GXGX BUS 39
Tapu Fini GX is another partner that I’ve played around with in Kingdra. Fini’s first attack Aqua Ring provides it with a way to get out of the active while only committing a single energy so starting it isn’t detrimental. It has a decent second attack in Hydro Shot which has a base damage of 120 and with a Choice Band it can do 150 which pairs well with the splash damage from Kingdra’s Tornado Shot. The main reason that Tapu Fini fits well in this deck though is its GX attack Tapu Storm GX. For a single Water Energy, you shuffle your opponent’s active Pokémon and all cards attached to it back into their deck. A well-timed Tapu Storm GX can buy you the time you need to reestablish your bench and get your Kingdra’s back online to close out a game. It can also set your opponent back several turns if they over commit early in order to stop your onslaught of Kingdra’s. Being able to power up this GX attack in a single turn allows you to spring it on your opponent unannounced which is a huge bonus in my eyes.
Espeon EX BKP 52
Espeon’s inclusion is solely for its first attack, Miraculous Shine. For a single Colorless Energy, you devolve each of your opponent’s evolved Pokémon and put the highest stage evolution card into your opponent’s hand. This attack pairs amazingly well with the spread damage of both Kingdra and Tapu Koko. Miraculous Shine can lead to multiple prizes, but it can also be used to disrupt your opponent if they are also running a Stage 2 deck even if you don’t knock out the basic evolution form. If they haven’t evolved any of their Stage 2’s by using the Stage 1 and they don’t have any Rare Candy in hand, then you are able to take a strong control on the pace of the game.
Necrozma GX BUS 63
Necrozma’s GX attack Black Ray GX pairs extremely well with Kingdra’s ability to spread damage on your opponent’s field. Black Ray GX says, for three Colorless Energy, this attack does 100 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokémon EX and Pokémon GX. This damage isn’t affected by weakness or resistance. It is entirely possible to take all six prizes in one turn if you have mapped out your damage accordingly. Unfortunately, Necrozma GX suffers from the same drawback that Tapu Koko does, it requires you to include Double Colorless Energy in the deck. However, I think that being able to make use of Black Ray GX makes it worthwhile to include them.
Octillery BKT 33
If Kingdra is the hero of the deck, Octillery is the faithful sidekick that keeps it on the right path. Octillery’s ability Abyssal Hand is crucial to helping this deck set up consistently. With the loss of VS Seeker, a lot of players will be moving towards some sort of ability based draw engine in order to power their decks. There is a good reason for this trend. Having a built-in protection from N is nothing to turn your nose at, especially in a Stage 2 deck that has a lot of moving parts. Octillery is probably the MVP of this deck because it is the glue that holds everything together.
The Full Monty
Having explored the potential partners that we can pair Kingdra with I want to get into the list itself. There are a few different ways I think one could approach building this deck. Personally, I chose to include Double Colorless Energy to make use of some of the potential partners I listed above. However, I don’t think that taking a more straightforward and consistent approach without Double Colorless Energy would be wrong at all its just personal preference. With that said, here is the list I’ve been testing with some success:
- 4 Horsea BUS 29
- 2 Seadra BUS 30
- 4 Kingdra BUS
- 2 Tapu Koko SM31
- 1 Espeon EX BKP
- 3 Tapu Lele GX
- 2 Remoraid BKT 32
- 2 Octillery
- 1 Necrozoma GX
- 4 Professor Sycamore
- 4 N
- 2 Guzma
- 2 Brigette
- 4 Ultra Ball
- 4 Rare Candy
- 3 Choice Band
- 2 Max Potion
- 1 Super Rod
- 2 Brooklet Hill
- 3 Double Colorless Energy
- 2 Splash Energy
- 6 Water Energy
I have been debating on whether to play one copy or two of Brigette since I started playing this deck. I currently have my list at two, but even over the last couple of days, I have considered changing the second for a third Guzma. If you were to change it that’s what I would change it to. I will say that the turn one Brigette is always the goal if feasible. Generally, I aim to have at least two Horsea and a Remoraid on the bench with Tapu Koko active by the end of the turn.
2 Brooklet Hill
Brooklet Hill helps you establish your early game setup especially when you can’t get to Brigette or even when you can it helps take your setup that one extra step. Having Brooklet Hill in play late in the game can provide the opportunity to thin your deck out a little or even just be able to check your deck every turn to see what resources you have left available to you. While these may seem like minor actions that don’t mean much, they can really help you map out the final turns of your game.
2 Splash Energy
Splash Energy helps to smooth out the mid game when you start losing your main attackers. With Brooklet Hill in place to keep your bench filled with Horsea, you can continually recycle your main attackers. The fact that Splash Energy serves a dual purpose of both recovering pieces of your evolution line and fulfilling energy requirements, frees up space in the deck that would otherwise need to be dedicated to recovery.
2 Max Potion
Nothing sounds better to me than making my opponent work twice as hard to knock out my single prize attacker. Even better, because you usually discard the energy attached to Kingdra you lose nothing by playing Max Potion so it’s an ideal situation. For this reason, I think it is worth it to run two copies of Max Potion. I don’t recommend lowering the count to one because, at least with my luck, you would almost never have it when you need it.
At this point, I want to walk through a couple of the matchups that you might expect to see at upcoming tournaments. The Standard Format is still developing so I’m sure I won’t hit everything out there, but I will try to cover a small base of popular decks. I plan to focus more on the strategy and less on how winnable or unwinnable the matchup is as this is mainly meant to be a for fun deck for small local tournaments.
Golisopod GX itself is the main threat in this matchup because it hits Kingdra for weakness. The more turns you get to use Flying Flip while setting up, the better. If you can stack damage on your opponent’s Wimpods early it makes it much easier to traverse the later stages of the game. Wimpod has 70 HP so two Flying Flips and the thirty splash damage from Tornado Shot puts it in line to be knocked out from a Miraculous Shine from Espeon EX. Garbodor is mostly a non-factor against you as this deck can function with minimal item usage. Try to make full use of Brooklet Hill and Splash Energy so you can avoid using items as much as possible. Tapu Lele can serve as a decent attacker against Golisopod as Tapu Lele powered up with a Double Colorless Energy and a Choice Band alone can hit for 90 damage. More than likely at some point Necrozma’s Black Ray GX attack will be needed to close out the game against your opponent. Another extremely viable strategy is to just prioritize Black Ray GX and then the following turn use Miraculous Shine to knock out all of your opponent’s Wimpod. This is by far one of the tougher matchups that Kingdra has and it will require you to pull out all of the tricks this deck has to win.
This matchup is generally favorable, but it is not a runaway grand slam. Early pressure from a turn one Kiawe can manage to keep you on your toes for the duration of the match. Typically targeting Salazzle GX is the strategy as hitting it once with Kingdra combined with either a Flying Flip or splash damage from Tornado Shot will put a swift end to them. Your opponent will usually try to lead with Ho-Oh GX which is where the turn one Kiawe can be problematic if they hit it. Necrozma helps to set this matchup out of reach, once you can get off a Black Ray GX, everything on your opponent’s side of the field is a one-shot for Kingdra. You should have the advantage in the prize trade, as long as things don’t go horribly wrong you should be able to pull the win off.
Gardevoir proves to be another one of your tough matchups. You do have different options on how to approach that matchup, much like you would against Golisopod GX. I can’t understate enough just how devastating a Black Ray GX followed by a Miraculous Shine can be to your opponent. Working under the assumption that you won’t be able to pull off that combo every single time you would like to, there are other ways of approaching this matchup. Early pressure onto your opponent’s Ralts and Kirlia and even a quickly established Gardevoir makes things easier in your mid to late game so getting an early attacker going is crucial. Tapu Lele can actually be an effective attacker in this matchup since your opponent has to stack five energies on a Gardevoir GX to knock out a clean Kingdra. This allows you to deal upwards of 170 damage the following turn with a Tapu Lele with a Choice Band. Accounting for any early spread/ splash damage you were able to do should result in a one-hit knockout. This is a risky strategy because more than likely your Tapu Lele will just fall to your opponent’s next Gardevoir GX, but it might buy you the time you need.
This matchup more than any other can be awkward. On one hand, your opponent’s deck requires a lot of setup so you can prey on your opponent’s Beldum early with Tapu Koko. You also have the advantage of playing four N and three Tapu Lele in this deck so you stand a good chance of being able to negate your opponent’s Algorithm GX attack if they should attempt to use it. Once your opponent is able to make a couple of Metagross things will start to get interesting. Giga Hammer does 150 damage which is capable of taking out your Kingdra in one hit. However, your opponent needs to be able to retreat the active Metagross the following turn or they aren’t able to attack that turn. If you can prevent them from making multiple Metagross GX by targeting Beldum early you will be in a strong position. Keep in mind, Metagross GX likes to hit and retreat so it plays Max Potion since it can just reload with energy in a single turn. You need to keep consistent pressure on your opponent to find their Max Potions before you can knock out their big bulky Pokémon. Just like with any other evolution-based GX deck, the Necrozma/ Espeon combo can be especially strong. Overall, things can get sticky if you have a rough start, but your decks early pressure should make it possible to come out on top.
Vikavolt/ Tapu Bulu
Everything on your opponent’s side of the field has the potential to knock your Kingdra out in a single hit. On top of that, Tapu Bulu can heal itself if necessary. Any early spread damage you can get with your Tapu Koko will be invaluable because you want to be able to knock out all your opponent’s Grubbin in one shot with Miraculous Shine. You might not be able to accomplish this with Necrozma’s Black Ray GX because your opponent will usually have at least one non-GX Vikavolt on their side of the field. If they have two non-GX Vikavolt in play you might want to forgo using the Black Ray GX/ Miraculous Shine duo as it should be easy for them to simply re-evolve into one non-GX Vikavolt and a Vikavolt GX and get right back to what their game plan was. If you get off to a relatively good start, it is possible to trade evenly with this deck. I don’t find it nearly as hard of a matchup as Golisopod, with that said this is definitely not what I want to sit down against if I am looking for an easy win.
Of the matchups that you have the potential to get paired against I find this to be among your easier matchups. An early Espeon GX using Divide GX can cause you some trouble if you have a poorly established bench, but outside of this early pressure, there shouldn’t be too much difficulty to be had here. If your opponent attempts to stall you with Psybeam you can easily pay the one to retreat and then use a fresh attacker to continue spreading damage. The max your opponent should ever be hitting your Kingdra for with Espeon GX is 90, but more than likely they will be stuck hitting you for 60 which is a three shot against your Kingdra. Garbodor should cause you little to no issue as Trashalanche is something that this deck can easily operate around in the early going. I would just avoid using Necrozma GX at all unless it’s necessary because you don’t want to give your opponent the opportunity to even out the prize trade at any point if you don’t have to. However, if you do opt to use Necrozma GX wait until you have the necessary damage on board to take multiple knockouts.
As you can see, even though this is just a fun side deck that a few friends and I have been working on, a lot of time and testing has gone into developing this list. Sometimes the grind of a long Pokémon season can wear players down so it’s nice to have decks like these that are just enjoyable to play regardless of the results. I really hope that you enjoy playing this deck as much as I do. Cheers!!