Hey what’s up everybody and welcome to another edition of The Expert Belt! After a long hiatus, I guess I’m back for some more Expert Belt articles. With the new year, comes a new set, and with the recent Ultra Prism set, we got some new goodies to add into the mix.
In our current Standard format which always consist of big bulky GX Pokemon, we tend to forget the love of non-GX based decks. With that, let’s head into our featured card this time for The Expert Belt, Empoleon from Ultra Prism!
Empoleon is a 160 HP Stage 2 Water type Pokémon. It evolves from Prinplup. Its attacks are as follows,
[W][C] Total Command: 20× damage. This attack does 20 damage for each Benched Pokémon (both yours and your opponent’s).
[W][W][C] Whirlpool: 90 damage. Discard an Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon.
It has a [L]ightning Weakness, no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of 2.
It is illustrated by nagimiso and it is card numbered 34 of 156 in the Ultra Prism set.
With our Standard format of always filling up the Bench with T1 Brigette, Empoleon stands out with its Total Command attack, benefiting off from your opponent’s Bench Pokemon. With Total Command you will be able to hit up to 200 damage, that is if both yours and your opponent’s Bench is full (both have 5 Bench Pokémon). Even if its just 5 of your Bench Pokémon, you are already hitting a minimum of 100 damage, 2 shot-ing most GX Pokemon.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantages of Empoleon is quite straight-forward. It has an above-average 160 HP for a non-GX Pokémon, along with a average cost of 1 [W]ater and 1 [C]olorless Energy to use it’s Total Command attack. [L]ightning Weakness is currently good as not many Lightning focused decks are around at the moment of writing. Add to that the HP for its Basic, Piplup which has a staggering 70 HP. Empoleon’s second attack Whirlpool can discard an Energy card from your opponent’s Active Pokémon, which can come in handy with a meta-game full of Special Energies.
Now for the disadvantages, Empoleon is a Stage 2 Pokemon, thus streaming your attackers consistently can be slightly difficult. Your opponent will be able to play around Total Command by limiting his or her Bench, thus limiting your damage output. Next, your are susceptible to Bench limiting cards like the Parallel City stadium card, Cyrus Prism Star and Sudowoodo (with Roadblock). Lastly, Empoleon has 2 Retreat Cost, although it is not a whole lot, it can hamper your resources going further into the game.
With the Abyssal Hand ability, you are able to draw more cards to help streamline your Empoleon out to command to victory! Plus its a Stage 1 Pokemon, thus, setting Octillery up is much more easier. Octillery has however a fragile 90 HP, so make sure you utilize it as much as possible before it gets targeted down!
One of, if not the best card in our current format, Zoroark GX is able to utilize his Trade ability to discard an unwanted card for 2 more cards from your deck. Also works as a backup attacker as Riotous Beating’s costs is just 2 [C]olorless Energy!
Alolan Vulpix (from Guardians Rising)
The preferred starter for most Stage 2 decks and Empoleon is no exception. Able to use Beacon (without any Energy!) and grab 2 Pokémon from the deck is still strong and forces most opponents to N.
The best Turn 1 start for most decks is the same for Empoleon decks. Getting out your core cards such as Piplup, Remoraid/Zorua or even Alolan Vulpix can be crucial to help setup your deck quickly.
Pretty much straight-forward usage to help speed-up your Stage 2 based deck. Rare Candy allows you to skip the Stage 1 Evolution and get an Empoleon down as early as Turn 2.
One of the essential cards to maintain the consistency of Empoleon is Aqua Patch. Able to charge up a Benched Empoleon with one [W]ater Energy to help setup your next attack if your Active Empoleon gets Knocked Out this turn.
The core recovery card for your command fleet. Extremely flexible options for different situations. Do note to play at least 2 in your deck!
The only stadium if you are ever gonna play one for Empoleon is Brooklet Hill. Searching out Piplup or Remoraid or Alolan Vulpix out from your deck for free! Some Empoleon decks do not run Brigette, thus running higher counts of Brooklet Hill to help setup their board.
One of the most overlooked cards is Counter Energy for Empoleon decks. Empoleon is a setup deck and thus will always fall behind to fast/aggressive decks that will Knock Out your Active Pokemon during Turn 2. However, with just one Counter Energy attached to an Empoleon, you are able to use Total Command to strike back at your opponent (assuming you get Rare Candy into Empoleon Turn 2). Do note however, it will only provide 1 [C]olorless Energy when you are ahead or even on Prize Cards (lucky Total Command’s energy cost is 1 [W] and 1 [C], so you can just attach 1 Water Energy and continue attacking).
This over-muscular mosquito from the Alola region is one of your annoying foes. It’s 1 Energy Jet Punch attack can severely damage your Basic Pokemon. Although Piplup with 70 HP on the Bench might survive long enough to turn into Prinpulp or Empoleon, can’t say much for your Remoraid or Zorua (or even Zoroark GX!). It also hits the magic 160 damage with it’s second attack, Knuckle Impact. Do watch out for this threat to your Empoleon fleet!
Although the hype of Glaceon GX is dying down, it is still a somewhat threat to your start-up, especially if your opponent goes first and gets a Turn 1 Glaceon GX. With that, you are unable to use Tapu Lele GX to get Brigette out to setup your ideal board. It’s Frost Bullet attack also damages your Bench Pokemon, so do watch out for that! If you are running the Zoroark variant, you are some-what in a bad match-up compared to the Octillery variant, because you are unable to use Zoroark GX’s Trade ability when Glaceon GX is in the Active position.
Not to say the card beats Empoleon decks, the concept of Sylveon GX decks are just atrocious to play against. Sylveon GX players would also not Bench any Pokemon as well. Plus you are playing an Empoleon deck that requires setup to begin with. However, if you can pull an unpredicted mighty Whirlpool off to discard their Energy, perhaps you might have a chance?
Miraculous Shine devolves your Empoleon, and other Pokemon on your Bench, now if Empoleon evolved via Rare Candy before this, you are probably in some trouble especially if your Basic Pokemon has been damaged beyond it’s HP (thus, Knocking them out). Watch out for its combo with the Po Town stadium card!
This stadium card is the bane of your Empoleon decks. The blue side of Parallel City limits your Bench to just 3 Pokemon. Thus, limiting your damage output and perhaps discarding 1-2 Support Pokemon (Octillery/Zoroark GX). Then, if you manage to “Field Blower” the stadium away, you would have to dig your support Pokémon (via Rescue Stretcher etc) out again from the discard pile and set them up again, ahhh, the hassle.
Your whole deck concept involves evolving your Pokémon. Po Town hurts Pokémon that is evolving. Po Town is painful. Watch out for its combo with Espeon EX!
Cyrus Prism Star
Although not seen much in the current meta-game, Cyrus Prism Star can seriously set back an Empoleon deck behind. However, if an Empoleon deck that is set-up gets Cyrus-ed, they would usually choose 1 Empoleon and 1 Support Pokémon (Octillery/Zoroark GX). As Cyrus Prism Star effect states you shuffle the other Pokémon back into the deck it is not as damaging as Parallel City (as Parallel City discards the extra Pokémon).
Currently the best “floater” in the game as it has no Retreat Cost. Also able to utilize Counter Energy and use Flying Flip to help setup some damage for future Knock Outs from your Empoleon. Plus, if you are facing a mirror match (against Empoleon), you can use Counter Energy and one Water Energy to attack with Electric Ball, KO-ing a full HP Empoleon (as it is weak to Lightning).
Keldeo (From Shining Legends)
Both attacks somewhat are decent for an Empoleon deck. Bail Out will be able to rescue one [W]ater Pokémon from your discard, Resolute Blade does a max of 120 damage. However, a Retreat Cost of 2 hampers this tech card as you do not want to start with Keldeo and get stuck in the Active position Turn 1 (Piplup, Remoraid, Zorua, Tapu Lele GX all have 1 Retreat Cost to retreat to the preferred Alolan Vulpix Turn 1). Plus, your opponent is ‘already” playing against an Empoleon, which he or she will limit his or her Bench, thus negating a lot of damage from Keldeo.
Tapu Fini GX
Usually Empoleon players would avoid attacking with GX/EX based Pokémon as Empoleon forces your opponent to take prizes one by one. However, Tapu Fini’s GX attack, Tapu Storm GX, does slow down aggressive decks (like a fully powered Buzzwole GX or Ho-Oh GX) and set them back a bit allowing you a bit more time to setup your command fleet. Hydro Shot is an alternative finishing attack if you attacked with an Empoleon and not OHKO-ing it, allowing Hydro Shot to KO it when that target retreats to the Bench. Do use Hydro Shot as a last resort as it discards 2 [W]ater Energy, limiting your resources for your future attacking Empoleon.
Puzzle of Time
Seen in many Zoroark GX decks today, Puzzle of Time provides some late game clutch plays for getting any 2 cards from your discard pile. Anything from a late game Guzma, Counter Energy, Aqua Patch, Choice Band or even Rescue Stretcher.
An extremely clutch card to turn back the tide of the game. However, it is redundant when both players are still at same prizes. Great when you have 2 prizes and your opponent is at 1 prize 🙂
Captivating Poke’ Puff
This card allows you to force your opponent to bench Basic Pokémon from their hand. More Bench Pokémon, more damage. However, it is inconsistent because you will never know what’s in your opponent’s hand (unless of course they used Alolan Vulpix’s Beacon attack last turn).
Smart opponents will always Bench enough Pokemon for you to be just short of OHKO-ing them. Use Professor Kukui at the right time (with Choice Band too!) and BAM! Drawing 2 cards is decent too.
Personally I’m pretty fond of Empoleon. Love the concept of the card and the deck can definitely be better in the future. One prize attacker focused decks are not popular besides Greninja and Empoleon’s Ultra Prism counter-part, Garchomp/Lucario. In Expanded, the deck can utilize Sky Field along with Zoroark GX plus Shaymin EX to ramp up your damage. Exeggcute from Plasma Freeze, (with the Propagation ability) too can be used to fill up your Bench or discarded via Zoroark GX’s Trade Ability, technically for free!
And that’s all folks. Thanks for reading this edition of The Expert Belt. Do hope everybody get to test out the Ultra Prism set before the upcoming leagues begins! With that, Darren signing off!
*All graphics belong to their original owners and no copyright infringement intended.