Building a Water Deck

Water type Pokemon have a wonderful history in the Pokemon TCG, after all, the Pokemon TCG’s very first Energy ramp deck was Water Type! There are many ways to build a Water Type deck in Gym Challenge format. Some lists focus on bulky attackers, some spread damage to the Opponent’s Bench and others try to get as much Energy into play as quickly as possible. In this post I’m going to cover some of the most prominent Water Type Pokemon in Gym Leader Challenge Format.

Blastoise

Blastoise Boundaries Crossed

Calling back to the original Rain Dance Blastoise from Base Set, Blastoise from Boundaries Crossed has an Ability, Deluge, which allows you to attach as many Water Energy from your hand to your Pokemon as you like during your turn. Many Water Type Pokemon have attacks similar to Blastoise’s Hydro Pump attack, which does more damage for the amount of Water Energy attached to it, making Blastoise BCR a perfect fit for most Water decks.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Frosmoth

Frosmoth Sword and Shield

Frosmoth from Sword and Shield, like Blastoise BCR, allows you to attach as many Water Energy from your hand to your Pokemon as you like during your turn with its Ice Dance Ability. Unlike Deluge, Ice Dance can only attach Water Energy to your Water Type Pokemon, but that’s not an issue in Gym Leader Challenge Format! All Pokemon paired with Frosmoth will be Water type anyways. Another differentiation is that Ice Dance can only accelerate Water Energy to your Benched Pokemon, while Deluge can accelerate Energy to Pokemon in the Active Spot. Many Water Type decks run both Blastoise BCR and Frosmoth SSH since Frosmoth is easier to get into play, while Blastoise is more powerful overall.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Wailord

Wailord Vivid Voltage

This dude is extremely large. Need I say anything more? In a format without Rule Box Pokemon, Wailord’s 200 HP towers over most of the competition. It’s Hydro Pump attack also has one of the best multipliers across all Water Type Pokemon in GLC, dealing 10+ 40 more damage for each Water Energy attached to Wailord. A fully powered Wailord VIV can wreak havoc on any unprepared board state.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Octillery

Octillery Break Through

Drawing cards is one of the best things you can do in the Pokemon TCG. Octillery BKT, of 2018 BuzzRoc fame, has one of the best draw Abilities in Gym Leader Challenge Format. Abyssal Hand allows you to fill your hand to five cards once during your turn. This Ability is great not only for consistency, but also so that you can draw into enough Energy to accelerate into play with Blastoise BCR or Frosmoth SSH.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Starmie

Starmie Evolutions

Many of the most powerful Water attackers require lots of Energy to perform their best attacks. Getting the Energy into play is no problem thanks to Blastoise BCR and Frosmoth SSH, but retrieving the Energy from the discard pile can be difficult. Once set up, Starmie’s Space Beacon Ability essentially guarantees that that you will have unlimited access to your Energy throughout the game, trading one card in your hand for two Energy from the discard pile. Over the course of a game that may last over 10 turns, Space Beacon can recover an exorbitant amount of Energy.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Alolan Vulpix

Alolan Vulpix Guardians Rising

Many of the best Pokemon in Gym Leader Challenge Format are Evolved Pokemon. Getting Evolution Pokemon into play consistently is essential to winning a game of GLC. For this reason, Alolan Vulpix’s Beacon attack is an amazing asset for Water Type decks. Beacon is a free attack that allows you to search your deck for two Pokemon and put them into your hand. Since many GLC decks spend the first few turns setting up, this means that an early Alolan Vulpix may get to Beacon multiple times before getting knocked out. And since Beacon is a free attack, you can use an Energy attachment from hand to retreat into Alolan Vulpix and Beacon as early as the first turn of the game going second.

Greninja

Greninja Detective Pikachu

2020’s Pokemon of the year, Greninja, is no slouch in Gym Leader Challenge Format. With limited gust options available, Greninja’s Evasion Jutsu Ability, which evades damage from attacks on a coin flip, can be infuriating to bypass. Greninja’s attack, Furious Shurikens, which does 50 damage to two of your opponent’s Pokemon, also pairs well with the many spread options available to Water in GLC. Back to back Furious Shuriken attacks can devastate even the most stable board positions.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Inteleon

Inteleon Chilling Reign

Inteleon from Chilling Reign is quickly becoming a dominant force in the Pokemon TCG. It’s Quick Shooting Ability allows you to place two damage counters on one of the opponent’s Pokemon during your turn. Its attack, Waterfall, also deals a respectable 70 damage for two Energy. Inteleon CRE pairs well with the many spread type attackers Water has in its arsenal, but is also useful because it evolves from Drizzle SSH with the Shady Dealings Ability. Shady Dealings allows you to select a Trainer from the deck and place it in your hand upon Evolution. In a format where only one of each card can be played, the ability to grab any Trainer out of the deck is extraordinarily valuable for pulling off combos.

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Inteleon

Inteleon Sword and Shield

If Shady Dealings is so good, why isn’t there Shady Dealings two? Well, there is! Inteleon from Sword and Shield has a juiced up version of Drizzile‘s Shady Dealings Ability, allowing you to grab two Trainers from the deck when you Evolve it. Inteleon SSH also has an efficient attack, Aqua Bullet, which deals 120 damage and 20 to an opponent’s Benched Pokemon for just two Energy. Inteleon SSH is a huge boost in consistency for any Water deck. The most difficult thing for most players will be choosing which Inteleon to play, since you cannot play both in the same Gym Leader Challenge deck!

Suggested pre-evolutions:

Time to get building!

These are just a few of the amazing Pokemon that Water can play in Gym Leader Challenge format! (Really, there are many many more) Hopefully this article inspires you to try building your own Water deck. If you have any questions or want to find other players to battle with, feel free to join the Tricky Gym Discord!

-Andrew Mahone