Build Your Own Counter-Box — Counter Energy Experimentations

Scramble Energy was a staple in formats past. It gave non-EX decks a tool with which to compete and come from behind, as they required more setup. While non-EX/GX decks are still competitive in the Standard format these days, they have been lacking the come-from-behind potential of many moons ago. Now enter Counter Energy, the hero these decks have been searching for! It can provide a “rainbow” of Energy, two at a time, to any non-EX/GX Pokemon you have out as long as you are behind on Prizes. This is pretty amazing and if you employ the correct opening strategy, you can mount huge comebacks.

I’ve been messing around with this idea since I first saw whispers of it online, especially after I saw support for the build from other top players like Phinnegan Lynch and Travis Nunlist. I think the biggest go-to partner with this card is with some of the most vanilla cards in the game like Zoroark and Zoroark-GX. They do big damage and only take a Double Colorless Energy; pretty sweet for a deck that needs to rely on coming from behind and sometimes needs something to buy time and do some moderate work while you’re waiting.

After kind of concluding that the frisky fox was the best base to build the deck around, I found it was time to create a toolbox of attackers to surround it with. I scrolled through the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online on my collection using the “Basic Pokemon” and “two Energy cost” filters to find potential suitors (looking for “colored” Energy cost attackers, not Double Colorless ones). I came up with the following list of options:

  • Absol
    • Doom News is a solid attack in the late game when your opponent can’t find a way to switch out their Active Pokemon
  • Cobalion
  • Keldeo
  • Mimikyu
    • Solid attacker all-around which would normally be unusable without two specific Energy attachments
  • Pancham
    • Good against Fighting-weak Pokemon with a Choice Band attached and no damage counters on it
  • Passimian
    • Second attack is strong if you have a Tool card in hand and a Choice Band attached but might be hard to pull off
  • Shaymin
    • Grass-weak Pokemon will run and hide and probably the best way to deal solid damage for a Counter Energy
  • Spiritomb (and the unreleased Tapu Lele Promo)
    • Spooky way to move damage counters around on your opponent’s Pokemon, can come out of nowhere after a few Flying Flip uses
  • Stunfisk
    • Strong revenge attacker like Shaymin
  • Sudowoodo
    • Copy attacks, similar to Mimikyu, good Drampa-GX counter
  • Wobbuffet
    • Supplemental attacker after already doing some damage to a Pokemon, probably a little underwhelming

When compiling this list, I excluded any Pokemon that was incapable of doing at least 60 damage for one attachment; even with a Choice Band, those Pokemon would not be able to take the OHKOs that you’re looking to achieve on many popular Pokemon. Aside from that, they are generally quite weak HP-wise, which makes them inferior to even a solid attack from something like Energy Drive from Tapu Lele-GX.

Now on my list of options. There are essentially two directions that a deck like this can be built. One is using Tapu Koko and its Flying Flip attack to spread damage and then clean things up with Spiritomb, or to use a toolbox of Energy types to counter each and every matchup you may face. I prefer the latter, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on today. Here’s where you can come in with your own creativity. Which version of the deck do you personally prefer? That’s for you to decide; I like the non-Spiritomb versions.

Quizzical Gameplay

Playing this deck is tough; I struggled using it the first few games I played it in. There are a few ways to open up a game. First, Tapu Koko is your ideal starter. While Flying Flip doesn’t pressure an opponent very much with damage, it forces him or her to do something about it. Basically, Flying Flip can’t continue forever, or all of your opponent’s Pokemon will be Knocked Out! Ideally, Tapu Koko will be your first Knocked Out Pokemon. You will now have fewer Prizes remaining than your opponent, and be able to use Counter Energy.

There are other ways to get to this point too, of course, perhaps opting to soften up your opponent’s Pokemon with Zoroark and Mind Jack, or just sacrificing something. Sometimes giving up a Prize isn’t always the optimal play, though; some of it depends on the matchup. When facing a deck like Garbodor, you’re already going to have an advantage. Garbodor decks require a larger Bench, so Mind Jack should make quick work of them. If your opponent opts to limit his or her Bench, then Riotous Beating with Zoroark-GX can take one-hit Knock Outs on your opponent’s Garbodor if you have a full Bench. Playing from behind is more crucial in matchups where you have a clear type advantage with your tech Pokemon. A good example of this is in the Gardevoir-GX matchup when you’re looking to use Cobalion.

Sometimes you’re going to want to opt to use a Pokemon that gives up two Prizes so that you can get “two turns of using Counter Energy”. Say you start with Drampa-GX and do a few things, but do not take a Knock Out of your own; now your opponent KOs it. You shove up Mimikyu and take a Knock Out with it, making it an even game on Prizes. Now your opponent is forced to take out Mimikyu, and your opponent now has three Prizes, whereas you have four. Things like this are very important to be aware of when trying to use a Counter Energy deck. Tech attackers are what make the deck viable, and consistently using them is especially important.

Making It Fit

So how does this all get shoved into one deck? It’s actually pretty simple as you’ll see in this 50 card skeleton list:

Pokemon (13)

2x Zoroark (BKT #91)1x Zoroark-GX (SHL #53)1x Zoroark BREAK (BKT #92)3x Zorua (BKT #89)2x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)1x Tapu Koko (PRSM #SM31)1x Mimikyu (GUR #58)1x Drampa-GX (GUR #115)1x Cobalion (STS #74)

Trainers (25)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (FAC #105)3x Guzma (BUS #115)1x Brigette (BKT #134)4x Ultra Ball (SHL #68)3x Choice Band (GUR #121)2x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)

Energy (12)

4x Counter Energy (CRI #100)4x Rainbow Energy (SM #137)4x Double Colorless Energy (SHL #69)

Free Space – 10

A decent-sized Zoroark line needs to be included in each and every one of these lists, since it’s your main attacker. Without it, you’d never be able to do significant damage when you’re not trailing on Prizes in a game, which would be a serious problem. A couple Tapu Lele-GX should be in every deck, and as already mentioned Tapu Koko needs to be in this deck. Mimikyu, Drampa-GX and Cobalion are the must-have tech attackers that I think you need, since they have the most utility in every matchup. Other ones are debatable, but the aforementioned three Pokemon are crucial to success. Everything else is a little more self-explanatory, and Special Charge and my Energy lineup are crucial. I like Rainbow Energy in here because it gives you ways to inflict your Bench with damage to power up Drampa-GX and even can allow you to use some tech attackers without Counter Energy being online. Below you’ll get a chance to see my entire list…


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