Silly Deck Saturday: Shiftry

Starting this month the Team KO Blog will be running some new stories on weird deck strategies for the trading card game. The current plan is to run roughly two a month, however it will depend on interest. To begin these new articles, we will start off with a card that piqued my interest a long time ago, and has since come back to mind: Shiftry (XY-Flashfire, 7/106)

Free Retreat Cost? Nice.
Two weaknesses? Ouch...
I've always liked Shiftry, even though its nose horrifies me. In the video games, Shiftry is often relgated to some slight usefulness on Drought teams. Lately, even that status has dropped with the inclusion of Chlorophyll Venusaur. That being said, Shiftry has often been an interesting choice in the TCG. In fact, during the 2006 TCG season I ran a deck that utilized Shiftry EX (Crystal Guardians, 97/100) and had moderate success with it. Primarily, its ability to utilize the special Darkness Energy as well as its ability to damage players who heavily utilize powers made it a fun card to play. Compared to our current EXs, however, it suffers from having to be played as an evolution to Nuzleaf (a stage 1) which drastically slows it down. I mention this because it is something the Flashfire Shiftry also has to deal with. In the current format, there is a big push away from Stage 2 pokémon being the primary focus of a deck. Basic EXs are faster plays which allow the users to get their deck to run efficiently without sacrificing turns. Those Stage 2s that are played are typically bench warmers that are utilized primarily for thier ability. This is where we currently see the Flashfire Shiftry situated.

The rhythm is gonna get ya,  the rhythm is 
gonna get ya, the rhythm is gonna get ya... 
Shiftry (seen on the right) has made a little bit of a splash when it first came out due to its amazing ability Leaf Draw. For the simple sacrifice of a single Grass energy, Shiftry allows the player to draw 3 cards. With multiple Shiftry, this number can obviously be increased. Getting the energy to feed it isn't that hard either, as Professor's Letter (XY 123/146) gets you two basic energies from your deck. This allows players to quickly draw through their deck, even under Item lock from common deck staples like Seismitoad EX (XY-Furious Fists 20 & 106/111). It's not all sunshine and roses for Shiftry though. Some Seismitoad decks run Garbotoxin Garbodor (various BW sets) which would stop Shiftry's ability to draw. Garbotoxin stops all abilities except Garbotoxin if Garbodor has an item. The recent loss of Lysandre's Trump Card also hampers the draw a bit. If you aren't careful, you could deck out. Luckily, Garbodor decks are dwindling due to Garbodors imminent rotation and a weather eye on your deck size can keep you from decking out.

If we could have 9 pokémon per team
in VG.. stuff would get INSANE
As an attacker, Shiftry has yet to really shine. However, I think with the proper build Shiftry decks could be quite viable. "X the Bench" style attacks have always done a lot of damage relatively quickly, and Shiftry is no exception. For a Grass energy and a Double Colorless Shiftry is hitting for 100 if your bench is full. If your opponent has some pokémon on their bench, it's even more. Not only that, but Shiftry has been given a wonderful gift in the form of the Skyfield stadium card (XY-Roaring Skies 89/108). With it in play, each bench now maxes out at 8 pokémon. That means with your side full Shiftry is hitting for 160 damage. That is pretty deranged. If your opponent has one benched pokémon you can OHKO any non-Mega/Primal EX. Currently, Seismitoad EX is seen in most decks, but if you're running Shiftry they likely stand little no chance without Garbodor. Sure they could use cards like Crushing Hammer or Enhanced Hammer which remove energy cards, but they can only do that for so long. As I mentioned earlier, we're losing Lysandre's Trump Card. A few more weeks and it will a lot harder for Toad decks to consistantly remove energies. Not impossible mind you, but a lot harder. People are toying around with Crawdaunt (XY-Primal Clash 92/160) which can remove an energy from the active when played and have seen success, so it could make for an interesting match up.

Other cards which could help Shiftry be interesting include the following:
More useful dead.
  • Giant Plant Forest (Stadium; Ancient Origins) - Allows players to evolve grass pokémon on the turn they are played or the first turn of the game. This speeds Shiftry up a lot when used in tandem with cards like Ultra Ball (XY-Flashfire 95/106) and Wally (XY-Roaring Skies 94/108). Hypothetically, you could have Shiftry on turn one with the right hand and attacking on turn 2 with a Double Colorless energy.
  • Target Whistle (Item; XY-Phantom Forces 109/119) - Is your opponent keeping their bench low intentionally to reduce your damage? Whistle lets you put one of thier discarded basics on their bench. This also reduces the damage that Night March decks can put out. Just KO the non-Night March pokémon and gum up thier bench with Joltiks and Pumpkaboos from the discard.
  • Exeggcute and Exeggutor (Pokémon; Plasma Freeze) - These cards are rotating in a few months, but for now they could make for fun partners. Exeggcute's Propogation lets you get it back should it be discarded by Ultra Ball or when someone replaces your Skyfield with another Stadium. Exeggutor locks Supporters, which is a burden on any deck and give you time to build up Shiftry.
  • Colress (Supporter; Plasma Blast) - Also a rotating card, this allows you to shuffle your hand and draw based on the pokémon on either players benches. If you have Skyfield that's a max of 16 cards. A huge advantage, but the draw must be used sparringly. Combo that with Shiftry's Leaf Draw and you'll deck quickly. Colress is best as a tech in this scenario.
  • Energy Retrieval (Item; Primal Clash) - Essential after using Leaf Draw to get your energy back. Although it lacks the kick of Super Energy Retrieval (Plasma Freeze) it doesn't require a discard and is not rotating.
Basic Shiftry Deck: This deck is a suggested build for an early Shiftry deck. Obviously, after playing a bit with it you may find ways to improve upon the basic idea given your area's play environment. PLF: Plasma Freeze; FLF: XY- Flashfire; FFI: XY Furious Fists.

Pokémon: 15

  • 3x Seedot (FLF)
  • 2x Nuzleaf (FLF)
  • 3x Shiftry (FLF)
  • 4x Exeggcute (PLF)
  • 3x Dedenne (FFI)
  • Trainers

  • 3x Professor Sycamore
  • 1x Colress
  • 3x N
  • 2x Lysandre
  • 2x Wally
  • 1x Xerosic
  • 3x Skyfield
  • 2x Training Center
  • 2x Ultra Ball
  • 2x Vs Seeker
  • 2x Target Whistle
  • 1x Crushing Hammer
  • 2x Enhanced Hammer
  • 2x Head Ringer
  • 2x Energy Retrieval
  • 1x Sacred Ash
  • Energy: 13

  • 10x Grass Energy
  • 3x Double Colorless Energy

  • Special Note: The Training Center Stadium cards are just place holders for Giant Plant Stadium which is currently unreleased. Although this deck has no EXs in it, it can hit really hard once Shiftry is going. Also, Dedenne is in the deck for early game to help build up the bench. Its primary attack, Entrainment, allows you to search your deck for 2 pokémon and put them on your bench. In tandem with Wally and Ultra Ball, you could have a Shiftry by turn 2. Once Giant Plant Stadium is released, the Wally number could probably be dropped to 1. Also Dedenne could be swapped for the Pokémon Fan Club supporter, but this reduces the number of pokémon you have to fill your bench.


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