My Very Own Hot Sauce and Water Blend – Battle Diaries
by Elijah Douresseau
It was another ripe weekend for Pokémon Challenges in the LA and greater LA areas, as the official Regional circuit kicked off in Pittsburgh.
The top-tier meta scene still contains an army of Lost Box decks. As time goes on and expansions…expand the standard landscape, variations of the best decks in format can also increase. And some older versions may resurface with a vengeance (ahem – Giratina, anyone?).
During the registration phase of this Challenge, someone may have heard me say, “Let those Lost Boxes, those Palkias come at me, bro! Heck, give me all the smoke from them Miraidons,” as I decided to play my Quaquaval list I’ve been tinkering with for a couple of months.
Now Quaquaval ex and baby Quaquaval might not have a ton of visibility right now. I don’t know if they ever did. Admittedly, the ex version is probably the most straightforward of the ex starters – not that that is a strong reason not to play it. Coupled with the Energy Carnival single-prizer, the ex might be more compelling as an efficient two-energy attacker. Spiral Shot’s 230 damage takes out most basic rule box Pokémon in format currently. And it puts pressure on your opponent as an effective two-hit champion for anything bigger. Spiral Shot requires you to put two energy cards into your hand afterward, but with Energy Carnival, saving two energies for your healthiest Quaquaval ex becomes quite the strategy to besting your opponent. AND it gives you peace of mind to use the Cheryl supporter when things get especially hairy.
What makes the deck sing is good ol’ Klefki from SVI base set. Its ability-arresting Mischievous Lock makes any Lost Box variation have to think a little more about setting up its Lost Zone engine. And with Quaquaval’s Exciting Dance effect, of both actives switching out for benched Pokémon, Klefki gets really good at cutting into any deck’s Cha Cha Slide. It’s a strong enough combo to get your opponent behind for at least a couple of turns, under the right conditions, so your biggest burden is making sure you can set up your Quaquavals in time to capitalize.
The tech support in Bibarel also ensures you’re able to set up your multiple Quaquaval lines with less difficulty.
Most of the same decks I studied while putting this list together went with a 1/1 Palkia V line for its added muscle. And to utilize a V Star Power that accelerated energy onto a lean board with not many water energy cards in the deck, in general. Still, I wanted to try some alternatives that would do versions of both tasks differently:
Starmie V helps in a couple of key ways. First, you can never underestimate the versatility of a zero retreat cost Pokémon. It saves your switch cards and effects, and is the first line of defense when gathering your next move after your opponent takes a prize off a knockout. Energy Spiral also punishes any opponent for leaning into the current meta of going aggro on energy acceleration.
Chien-Pao ex’s Shivery Chill ability is just as good in non-Palkia/Baxcalibur lists. It thins out your deck and gives you better odds of drawing into what you need to set up or edge out a victory in a close matchup.
The other element worth noting is that these Palkia V Star alternatives are still attacking with, maximum, two energy costs, so they make the cut for not expending too many energy cards in the course of any battle.
It was with this list that I took on the Trainers of the Geeky Teas League Challenge. Time for the match-by-match action:
R1 – Sandaconda V, Eiscue ex, Palafin
I consider myself a moderately rogue player, so I’m always happy to play other Trainers with a similar approach to contending in events. Hopefully, without trying to troll-win the meta too much. This list was quite unorthodox, but thankfully, I was able to set up a sliver of my Quaquaval engine to take knockouts every turn before my opponent was out of a bench of reserves. Win
R2 – OBF Charizard Lost Box
It is worth mentioning that this Quaquaval list was cultivated with anti-Lost Box conditions in mind…but it by no means makes Lost Box an easy matchup. Or even an easier one. Playing against Lost Box almost requires you to not only start the match with a Klefki in the active but to bench your second also – because your opponent will likely use an Escape Rope to play around just one key ring Pokémon.
This matchup was tough. There were no easy kos for my Quaquavals (that DARN grass weakness on those Zards!). I also couldn’t get my Vitality Band equipped fast enough to make quick work of my opponent’s Comfeys, in the deck's golden attempt to slow down that slithery Lost engine. We traded even blows until time was called, and then some. Tie
R3 – Giratina Lost Box (ugh!)
I generally play better against Giratina Lost Box than any other variation. Klefki can usually stall quicker evolutions into the V Star, which makes Spiral Shot a lethal attack against the basic V. But none of that happened in round 3. Lost Box did Lost Box things, especially because I couldn’t set up my two Klefkies fast enough, nor multiple Quaxlies, to have a fighting chance at this battle. And not getting much after a chance Research, when things were starting to get mighty tight, resulted in drawing a bunch of the wrong cards, as Giratina continued to swallow up my board in its Lost Zone. Loss
R4 – Arceus/OBF Charizard
This final round got away from my opponent a little too fast. I was able to set up my energy acceleration and draw engine by the second turn, and neither Arceus nor Charizard were able to get into play fast enough to accelerate energy and soften up my side of the board. An unfortunate brick of a start. Win
Final – 2-1-1
I was able to nab 6th place – a decent, if not surprising placement in a competitive event for a tier 2/3 list. The mission was accomplished, as far as I was concerned. The spice doesn’t need to win, though I’m gonna give it my darndest effort. It just needs to enhance the present recipe of a deck and change the pace. Think I’ll hold on to Quaquaval a bit longer. Happy competing in the new season, Trainers!