[GUIDE] Is Octillery a Valid Shaymin Substitute?

Shiny Shinx

Short answer: no.

Long answer: Shaymin and Octillery fill a similar niche, but are still fundamentally different cards. Compare their relative strengths and weaknesses. Octillery has two main positives over Shaymin. It is reusable without the use of scooping cards such as AZ and SSU, and it only yields one Prize when it is, inevitably, teed up with Lysandre and smacked into the discard for a cheap and easy KO, which in a way, negates its reusability, since both tend to have relatively short stays on the field of play.

However, Octillery lacks severely in one key area: it isn't a Basic. The fact that Shaymin yields an extra card is nice, but isn't crucial. The fact that, without use of Wally (which results in you burning your Supporter for the turn, which also hurts your potential draw power on that turn since you can no longer use N/Sycamore), Octillery cannot be accessed on your first turn, which, ever since the heyday of the donk deck (around the time Platinum came out), has been by far the most important turn of the game, as it's the only point in the game when both players are about as equally vulnerable.

For certain decks (Flareon, Rayquaza, Night March) which are designed to hit hard on the first or second turn, that single turn without draw support effectively kills any chance they have of staying on schedule to hit first, which can be the difference between taking an early two Prize lead, and being down a Prize or two, as well as losing a significant amount of resources. As such, Octillery simply cannot be considered an option for any sort of speedy aggro deck, as the lack of early drawpower can be crippling, and in today's format, nearly every deck has to be fast in order to be successful, which Octillery does not provide.

The extra Prize given up by Shaymin is usually outweighed by the results of the cards it brings in. If Shaymin allows you to set up your big EX attacker a turn before your opponent's big EX attacker, that can be a swing of up to four Prizes (two taken by you, two that your opponent doesn't get to take), and a massive swing of momentum, with your opponent losing tools and Energy that could've been used to power up a secondary attacker. Considering that, risking giving up two Prizes is a cheap price.

Take the same hypothetical situation, except with Remoraid/Octillery instead of Shaymin. The turn you lack drawpower is a turn your opponent has to take advantage of the opening you kindly present them, allowing them a decent shot at setting up before you (especially if they run Shaymin). By the time you have Octillery up and running, it doesn't really matter how much draw support you have, since your big bad attacker has already been roasted and toasted, and your opponent is free to run amok and sweep your side of the board.

So, the question that everyone asks: Is Shaymin worth the money? It depends on your ambition. Do you want to play in tournaments? Do you want to try to gather as many of the big Points as possible? If so, Shaymin is a must. If you're confident enough in your ability as a deckbuilder and player, the price of a pair or trio of Shaymin is nothing compared to the potential results you could see. Even in the last year of Shaymin being tournament-legal, it's still just as important as it's always been.

Which decks absolutely need Shaymin, and which ones could probably get by (at a slightly lower performance level) with Octillery?

In Standard:
M Ray: Required- Not only is it needed to get a functioning Mega Ray out as fast as possible, it can also be searched out via Scoundrel Ring, making it the ideal bench filler to power up your Emerald Break.

M Mewtwo/Garbodor: Strongly Recommended- While Shaymin's usefulness dwindles rapidly while Garbo is in play, the boost provided by Shaymin can be the difference between getting Garbodor out before your opponent can even set up, preventing them from dropping their own Shaymin and Octillery, giving you the major edge; and your opponent having time to prepare for Garbodor, getting set up, and ensuring that they have the requisite Lysandre to deal with everyone's favorite sapient trash bag.

Brilliant Arrow Gardevoir: Strongly Recommended- Shaymin makes it that much easier to find your Max Elixirs and Mega Turbos, as well as providing an Energy repository for your Geomancy Xerneas and Max Elixirs.

Despair Ray Gardevoir: Borderline Required- Gardevoir needs Bench fodder, and by tossing away your Shaymins after using them, you no longer have to worry about the possibility of them being dragged out with Lysandre. Buddy-Buddy Rescue lets you return them for reuse if you so desire, as well.

Flareon/Volcanion: Recommended, Not Necessary- Shaymin can help you get your ideal first turn combo of Active babby Volcanion, benched Flareon-EX, and discarded [R] Energy, but, to be honest, that's a relatively easy combination to pull off, and it doesn't really benefit from the speed boost of Shaymin compared to Octillery, since the deck is rather slow either way.

Zygarde/Carbink: Strongly Recommended- Zygarde isn't meant to be out and swinging immediately, but Shaymin makes it that much easier to get your Strong Energies dug out of your deck, as well as getting your Carbink BREAK and Zygarde-EX in play as quickly as possible.

In Expanded:
Dark Shenanigans: Required- T1 Shaymin lets you get your Dark Patches and Max Elixirs out faster, meaning you can start swinging for OHKOs with Yveltal-EX and Darkrai-EX a lot faster than you would with Octillery. In a deck where speed is the strength, Shaymin is a no-brainer.

Night March: Required- Night March is built around the intention of Compressing Night Marchers and getting an OHKO on the first turn you can attack, something that is nearly impossible with Octillery instead of Shaymin.

Speed Flareon: Required- There's no way you'll be able to discard 2 [R] Energy and manage to Blacksmith them out immediately, on your first attacking turn, with the possibility of others via Max Elixir shenanigans, without the assistance of Shaymin.

Vespiplume: Recommended- Unown/Acro Bike/Compressor/Revitalizer is usually enough to ensure you get your T1 Vileplume in play, but Shaymin makes it that much more consistent. This is one of the few cases where Octillery has its own viable niche, as it can be used to provide consistent draw support while under Item lock.

There's more I could say, but it's pretty late. Any thoughts? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I stupid?

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If I may add my short two cents (so short its probably only one cent), here it is:

Basically, outside of Night March, Vespiquen, and Flareon, if your deck is a bunch of Non-EXes, you can merit using Octillery to help fill the role of draw support and maintain an EX-free deck. Decks like this include Greninja and Garchomp. If your deck is already revolving around EXes as it stands, its better off to use the Shaymin-EX and keep up the pressure early on.
Mostly agree with what you're saying @Shiny Shinx but since I'm going to bring up a few areas of contention, it might seem otherwise. ;)

Octillery has two main positives over Shaymin. It is reusable without the use of scooping cards such as AZ and SSU, and it only yields one Prize when it is, inevitably, teed up with Lysandre and smacked into the discard for a cheap and easy KO, which in a way, negates its reusability, since both tend to have relatively short stays on the field of play.

One of the many common issues with discussing anything is how easy it is to go too far one way or the other. Shaymin-EX and Octillery are prime targets on the Bench, but that is true for Bench-sitters in general. You have to do some mental math and subtract whatever one believes is the baseline value of such cards. Shaymin-EX is 110 HP and worth two Prizes but usually its job is done by the time you can KO it. There are many games where I have won or lost because of Shaymin-EX being KO'd but based on my hazy recollections there are almost as many games where it didn't make a difference. Octillery is worth only one Prize, but as it is reusable, its value as a Bench-sitter rises.

The big take away though is that they are only slightly bigger targets than other worthwhile Bench-sitters, partially prepped attacks, etc. that are vulnerable to OHKO.

...ever since the heyday of the donk deck (around the time Platinum came out)...

I'll provide details if you wish, but donk decks in Pokémon predate the term "donk". Prior to the release of Seeker, spammed via Porygon2 (DP: Great Encounters 49/106) and Sableye (DP: Stormfront 48/100) to improve your odds of going first as well as hit hard for a single Energy, decks just focused on being really good at the donk because it happened frequently anyway. Effects to improve your odds of going first are rare, so usually it was a 50-50 chance. As long as you didn't trash your deck too badly when whiffing on the donk, you probably could just push for the win as an aggressive beatdown deck.

Before we had that Sableye, we had Erika's Jigglypuff with "Pulled Punch" for [CC], hitting an uninjured Defending Pokémon for 40 damage. This was at a time when we had access to the ridiculous Trainer based draw/search/recycling of the early days of the game (as Erika's Jigglypuff is from this period). You know, card effects that either are or would be Ace Specs or Supporters now, but which were just "normal Trainer" (re: Items before we had the term "Item") fueling our decks. Plus lower average HP scores. In fact, even before this we just had Haymaker decks in the Base Set. Donks have always been a major part of Pokémon, I am afraid.


Yes, this was me leaving out details!