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Pokémon TCG Triple Play: Decks Featuring Orbeetle from Sword & Shield—Battle Styles
As the new Battle Style cards in the Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion are grabbing headlines, there’s another Pokémon that’s starting to get a lot of attention: Orbeetle. Its Evomancy attack lets you play a Stage 2 Pokémon directly from your deck to your Bench for each Energy attached to Orbeetle, a fascinating effect that opens up a bunch of different deck strategies. However, this effect will only work on Stage 2 Pokémon other than Orbeetle. Even though Orbeetle might not be the first card tournament competitors look to build their decks around, this fun effect is a great opportunity for some creative deckbuilding.
We’ve pulled together three superstar Pokémon TCG players—Robin Schulz, Ross Cawthon, and Xander Pero—to explain how they would use Orbeetle in their decks. All three of them went in unique directions, creating decks that all take different routes to victory.
Keep reading to see how one card can be the catalyst for many different successful decks.
Orbeetle from the Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion is an interesting card to build a deck around, as its Evomancy attack is a unique concept that opens up a lot of possibilities. Setting up multiple Stage 2 Pokémon is usually difficult, but Orbeetle can help with that by putting them directly from the deck onto the Bench.
The key to making the attack worth it is Triple Acceleration Energy. Setting up an Orbeetle just to look for one other Stage 2 Pokémon wouldn’t be very efficient, but when we get three of them at once for just a single Energy attachment, it gains a lot of value.
Choosing an Attacker
Orbeetle is good at helping us set up, but it’s not a strong attacker on its own, so we need to pair it with some other Stage 2 Pokémon that have more offensive power. Ideally, that other Pokémon should also make good use of Triple Acceleration Energy. Luckily, there are plenty of good options! I decided to go with Coalossal, another new Pokémon from Sword & Shield—Battle Styles.
Coalossal’s Coal Cannon has perfect synergy with Triple Acceleration Energy and can, with enough Energy and some luck, Knock Out any Pokémon in the game, even TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX and Pokémon VMAX! It also has an impressive 180 HP and great typing, doing extra damage to popular Pokémon like Eternatus VMAX and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX due to their Weakness to Fighting types.
Since Coalossal will be our main attacker, we want a way to attach more than one Energy per turn to it. This is where Porygon-Z comes into play as the last missing piece at the core of this deck concept. With access to Porygon-Z’s Crazy Code Ability, which allows you to attach Special Energy cards from your hand to 1 of your Pokémon, we can freely attach all our Special Energy and get some big Knock Outs with Coal Cannon.
The main goal for this deck early in the game is to set up an Orbeetle by evolving from Blipbug directly using a Rare Candy, attaching a Triple Acceleration Energy, and setting up the rest of our Stage 2 Pokémon. The Pokémon lines reflect this strategy—we play four Blipbug to find two of them immediately. Rolycoly is less important since we plan to set up the first few Coalossal with Orbeetle’s Evomancy. I didn’t include any Porygon, so it’s important to use Evomancy to look for two Porygon-Z to have as backup in case one of them gets Knocked Out.
Outside of our main Pokémon, I chose to include two Snorlax. We need to use Pokémon to access additional cards in our deck, especially when we don’t have a Supporter card in hand. Adding Snorlax to the deck makes it so all our cards for searching out Pokémon can get us out of a weak opening, which makes successfully setting up Orbeetle—and execution of our strategy—more likely. I decided for Snorlax in favor of other options like Crobat V or Dedenne-GX for multiple reasons—it’s usable with Capture Energy, gives up only a single Prize card when it’s Knocked Out, and it’s a great Pokémon to open with at the start of the game. It can even be a relevant attacker in this deck!
The Right Support
Finding the right combination of Supporter cards for this deck is difficult. Professor’s Research is the strongest draw card in the game and will help us find a lot of Energy once Porygon-Z is in play, but it can be awkward in the early game if we have a hand we don’t want to discard. Marnie draws fewer cards but lets us put important cards back on the bottom of the deck for later, and it disrupts the opponent’s hand at the same time.
Bird Keeper lets us draw only 3 cards but allows us to keep all the cards we already have in hand. It also gives us some mobility to get Snorlax in or out of the Active Spot. Skyla and Opal are great in the first few turns and can help us find Basic Pokémon or missing pieces of our combo. There’s a lot of room for experimentation with all these different options.
The Items in this list are simple and all about setting up. Pokémon Communication fills two important roles in the deck: it’s our main way of finding specific Pokémon we need, and it can put Stage 2 Pokémon back into the deck for Evomancy. Remember, Orbeetle can only look for Pokémon in the deck, so being stuck with multiple Porygon-Z or Coalossal in hand could be a serious problem. Quick Ball is another great search card, but since our deck isn’t very reliant on Basic Pokémon and already has access to Capture Energy and Blipbug’s Call for Family, it’s less important.
Rare Candy is usually the key to making Stage 2 decks work, and even with Orbeetle, this one is no different. We need Rare Candy to start using Evomancy as soon as possible and to set up additional Coalossal toward the end of the game, so it’s important to have access to it as frequently as possible.
Since we need only Colorless Energy, we can take full advantage of all the format’s best Special Energy cards, even outside of Triple Acceleration Energy. Twin Energy, Recycle Energy, and Capture Energy are all amazing cards, and we need a lot of Energy for our deck’s strategy to work, so I included four of each of them.
For the last few spots in the deck, I’ve added two copies of Glimwood Tangle, a Stadium card that can give us a second try if some Coal Cannon coin flips don’t go our way. It also works with Snorlax’s Body Slam, which can be a very useful attack. Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star is another Stadium card that works great in this deck. It hardly affects our own Pokémon since we usually attach a lot of extra Energy, but it can be very annoying to deal with for other decks.
Lastly, I added a Mew since there are a lot of popular decks that can attack the Bench, and its Ability, Bench Barrier, gives us a much better chance against them.
Orbeetle is a unique card that really turns deckbuilding upside down. At one extreme, you could play several different Stage 2 Pokémon with none of their previous evolved forms and create all kinds of combinations. Once your Orbeetle are Knocked Out, though, you would have limited options to put in play. On the other hand, you don’t want to play a full set of the usual Basic Pokémon since you need open Bench spaces to use Evomancy. Finding the right balance with this card will be key.
I started my brainstorming by looking through all the Stage 2 Pokémon and thinking of powerful combinations. What ended up appealing to me most were Pokémon that can use the same Energy cards that Orbeetle uses, namely Triple Acceleration Energy, and to a lesser extent Twin Energy. Two Pokémon in particular caught my eye: Unfezant and Toucannon. Both have powerful attacks that can use Triple Acceleration Energy, but equally important, they have attacks that conserve Triple Acceleration Energy by removing it from play (when normally it would be discarded at the end of your turn). Any other Pokémon that relies on Triple Acceleration Energy could attack only a few times before running out of steam.
Two Attackers Take Flight
The basic game plan after using Orbeetle’s Evomancy is to keep the opponent off-balance with disruptive and efficient attacks. You typically first respond to an attacker by using Unfezant’s Downburst attack, which sends all Energy and Pokémon Tools attached to both Active Pokémon back into the deck. Mix this in with disruptive cards like Reset Stamp and Power Plant, and you hope to leave your opponent with an Active Pokémon without any Energy and few options in hand.
Next, Toucannon comes in. If the opponent puts an Energy card back on their Active Pokémon, Toucannon’s Energy Cutoff attack will discard it. If they leave their Pokémon in the Active Spot without Energy, Toucannon can do an efficient 160 damage for one Triple Acceleration Energy with Loop Cannon. This also returns the Triple Acceleration Energy back to your hand, setting up the next attack. When a new attacker finally comes back to the Active Spot with multiple Energy attached, it’s time for Unfezant’s Downburst again.
My Pokémon lineup looks odd for a few reasons. First, as mentioned, with Orbeetle we have the strange incentive to play more Stage 2 Pokémon than Basic Pokémon. I have also intentionally included Pokémon without Abilities so I can use Green’s Exploration as one of my main Supporter cards. My initial lists did have Pokémon with Abilities, namely Snorlax and Dragonite. I realized, though, if I included Snorlax I would require many switching cards since it has a high Retreat Cost. Plus, some of the Basic Pokémon I do have, like Blipbug and Pidove, already have useful attacks I could use instead of Snorlax’s Ability. (Note that our Psychic-type Orbeetle, unlike Grass-type Orbeetle from other expansions, has Fighting Resistance and can be found with Pidove’s Chirp attack.) Dragonite is great, but making it one of my likely three targets of Evomancy was a high cost. Once I considered removing Snorlax and Dragonite, focusing on Green’s Exploration made sense. To get Orbeetle into play, my early lists had Skyla to find a Rare Candy or Evolution Incense, but Green’s Exploration can get both! Or it can find one of them and a Supporter for next turn.
In testing the deck, I realized I still needed some support Pokémon when my hand was weak. Blipbug and Pidove have good attacks, but neither finds Trainer cards like Rare Candy. Chimecho checked all the boxes I was looking for: no Ability, a single-Energy attack, a single-Energy Retreat Cost (like all of my Basic Pokémon), and findable by both Level Ball (90 HP or less) and Pidove (Fighting Resistance). By getting a Supporter card and a Pokémon with Auspicious Tone, I can really do anything on my following turn.
Draw Power Decisions
I’ve mentioned Green’s Exploration, but the other important Supporter card in the deck is Guzma & Hala, as it’s the best card in the format for finding a Special Energy card. This will be used mainly for Triple Acceleration Energy. It also finds a Pokémon Tool card and a Stadium card. This is key to getting a U-Turn Board, typically to retreat an Unfezant after using Downburst (but try not to attach it too early, as Downburst will also shuffle in U-Turn Board!). Guzma & Hala is also great on your first turn (if you go second) to get a Capture Energy, which lets you find another Basic Pokémon and fuel the attacks of Blipbug, Pidove, and Chimecho to get the deck going.
Beyond these, I use the typical powerhouse Supporter cards, Professor’s Research and Boss’s Orders. Targeting the Pokémon you want with Boss’s Orders is always good, and Professor’s Research is one of the best draw cards. Green’s Exploration allows you to find these cards quicker, which certainly helps your consistency.
The last Trainer cards I’ll highlight are Reset Stamp and Power Plant. These cards are a very disruptive combination to be found with Green’s Exploration, leaving your opponent with few cards and without access to popular Abilities to draw cards like those of Dedenne-GX, Oricorio-GX, and Silvally-GX.
Energy in Threes
For Energy cards, the star will be Triple Acceleration Energy. If you don’t have one, though, a Twin Energy and a Capture Energy can give you three Pokémon from Evomancy as well. Capture Energy’s effect is great, and Twin Energy also fuels Toucannon’s Energy Cutoff. It’s a luxury of the deck that it can use all Colorless Energy cards and get the extra effects of each one.
I tend to think going second with this deck is best since it relies heavily on search capabilities from both attacks and Supporter cards, though certain hands can be better going first if you already have some pieces to use Evomancy on the second turn.
The deck is pretty fun to play, constantly disrupting the opponent. With only single-Prize Pokémon in the deck, opponents will need to work very hard to take all six Prize cards. Give it a shot and perhaps develop an even stronger list!
One of my favorite cards from the new Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion is Orbeetle. Its first attack, Evomancy, is reminiscent of an older card: Cradily from Black & White—Plasma Blast. Evomancy is an incredibly strong attack when paired with the right Stage 2 Pokémon. I decided to focus on Charizard from Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage. Royal Blaze is capable of dealing up to 300 damage—or 330 with Leon—which is enough to Knock Out most Pokémon VMAX.
Charizard Heats Up
The plan is simple: set up an Orbeetle, attach as many Energy as possible, and use Evomancy to call Stage 2 Pokémon from the deck into play. Triple Acceleration Energy is a great card because it allows us to pull three Pokémon with a single Energy attachment. Another way to accelerate Energy is with Welder, though ideally those should be saved for Charizard. Once you’ve used Evomancy, you should focus on powering up Charizard and getting Leon into the discard pile. Here’s one tip—don’t be afraid to expend all of your resources for a multi-Energy Evomancy. You’ll be able to draw more cards with Charizard’s Battle Sense and Dragonite‘s Fast Call Abilities.
The first thing you may notice is that there are two Stage 2 Pokémon other than Orbeetle and Charizard in the list: Incineroar-GX and Dragonite. The main issue with running multiple Stage 2 Pokémon in the same deck is consistency—it’s usually very difficult to draw the correct Stage 2 Pokémon and Rare Candy. Multiple Evolution lines are also space-intensive depending on how many copies of each card you include. With Evomancy, that’s no longer an issue! It’s now very easy to include niche Stage 2 Pokémon.
Incineroar-GX is mainly used for its Darkest Tornado-GX attack, but it starts with its Scar Charge Ability: it lets you place 3 damage counters on Incineroar-GX each turn, even though there is no Darkness Energy in your deck to get. This may seem counterintuitive, but it increases your damage output with Darkest Tornado-GX! Conveniently, the attack cost matches Triple Acceleration Energy. Incineroar-GX is a great finisher, especially because it can make use of the Triple Acceleration Energy that Charizard cannot.
Dragonite fills a different niche—consistency. Its Fast Call Ability lets you search your deck for a Supporter of choice. In most cases, you’ll want to look for Welder or Leon. Make sure you grab Dragonite using Evomancy if your hand doesn’t have a strong Supporter card. Also, because the deck list doesn’t play Litten or Dratini, you cannot set up either Incineroar-GX or Dragonite without Evomancy. Be sure to plan ahead with your choices!
The Supporter lineup may seem a bit odd compared to other draw engines in the Standard format. Most decks opt for Professor’s Research and Marnie, two powerful cards that allow you to burn through your deck quickly. We have a different goal here. Considering that our entire game plan revolves around attacking with Evomancy, strong Supporters are those that can search out a specific missing piece of the combo (Rare Candy, Orbeetle, and Triple Acceleration Energy). Without all three cards, we’ll either not have an Orbeetle in play or retrieve too few Pokémon with Evomancy.
Opal and Rosa do a great job of searching out these combo pieces. The benefit of Opal is that it can search out any piece of the combo without any restriction. The downside is that it requires coin flips. On the other hand, Rosa can search for both Orbeetle and Rare Candy, but it cannot find Triple Acceleration Energy. Moreover, Rosa requires a Pokémon to have been Knocked Out during your opponent’s last turn.
Celebi and Snorlax are the consistency-improving Pokémon of choice. I don’t include Dedenne-GX or Crobat V because the additional Prize card when they get Knocked Out is too large of a price to pay for this deck. Celebi is great alongside Rosa because Celebi can find Triple Acceleration Energy. Snorlax helps in a more general sense when you need to draw more cards. Both of these Pokémon can be retrieved with Scoop Up Net, too.
As is the case with any Charizard deck, some of the most important decisions come from choosing which card to put into your hand with Battle Sense. The best thing to remember is that a large portion of the deck is strictly dedicated to setting up Orbeetle. Cards like Quick Ball, Pokémon Communication, and Opal aren’t necessary as the game progresses. Instead, you should prioritize grabbing your late-game cards, namely Boss’s Orders, Welder, Ordinary Rod, and Fire Energy. It’s possible to run out of Energy or Charizard to attack with if you aren’t careful, even with seven Fire Energy and two Ordinary Rods!
One final piece of information to remember is that you can also evolve Charizard via Charmander and Rare Candy. I find myself doing that at least once per game, and I always put a Charmander into play at the start of the game. If you’re fortunate enough to have Welder, use it to attach a single Energy card to Charmander, and then manually attach a second Energy card to Blipbug. You should aim for four Energy on Orbeetle—one Fire Energy and one Triple Acceleration Energy. That leftover Energy on Charmander is very useful because you can attack without needing a Welder once Orbeetle is Knocked Out.
Orbeetle can be difficult to set up, but fun and powerful if you pull it off. I hope you are inspired to try out Charizard with Orbeetle, or even find a different partner! There are plenty of interesting Stage 2 Pokémon to pair with Orbeetle.
It’s incredible to see how one card can spawn ideas for three decks that all find different ways to win. Pokémon like Orbeetle have lots of possibilities for you to discover a winning deck.
For more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis, be sure to keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy.
About the Writers
Robin Schulz is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He has been competing in Pokémon tournaments for 10 years and was the Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion in 2018. He spends a lot of time traveling and competing, and he rarely misses a big event. Aside from playing Pokémon, he attends university, where he is studying mathematics.
Ross Cawthon is a longtime player, starting to play tournaments in 2000. He is the only player to compete in all 17 Pokémon TCG World Championships, finishing as a finalist in 2005 and 2011, and a semifinalist in 2016. He is known for creating many new “rogue” decks over the years. Ross has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and studies dark energy (not to be confused with Darkness Energy cards).
Xander Pero is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He was an avid fan until discovering sanctioned tournaments in 2009. He formerly traveled often for the Top 16 circuit, but now spends his time focusing on university, where he studies industrial engineering. You can find him at various tournaments, as well as on Twitter at @xanderpero.