Shaymin-EX vs. Octillery
Playing Pokémon TCG on a professional level requires an extensive knowledge of the cards – knowing your deck inside out is good, but understanding what your opponent can play is also part of the job description. That being said, there are many decks out there that rely on draw power and two of the most popular Pokémon cards that provide such support are Shaymin-EX and Octillery.
While both fill your hand with cards, one ensures you get at least five cards while the other, six. Of course, many debate on which card is the best to have in the deck, but today, I will take a moment and explain what each can do, their weaknesses, how they can be used properly, and how they fair in certain decks and against one another.
Potential draw power, but at what cost?
Setting up an Octillery on the bench isn’t the easiest of tasks – certain decks make it very difficult to draw the cards you need in order to get everything ready. However, once on bench, each Octillery you play will enable you to use the Abyssal Hand ability once per turn. If the requirements are met, and that you aren’t being ability blocked, Octillery will grant you the power to draw until your hand counts five cards. The drawback, however, lies in the fact that Octillery is an evolved Pokémon from Remoraid. Although both are water types – they can be searched using Dive Ball – they also have under 90HP, which makes them also searchable through the effects of Level Ball.
Another potential way to bring Octillery up on the bench would be to use Archie’s Ace in the Hole. If an Octillery finds itself in the discard pile, and Archie’s Ace in the Hole is the last card in your hand, you can use it to set the water Pokémon on the bench and draw five cards (from the effects of the trainer card). Later during your turn, you can also use Abyssal Hand if you wish to. Since Octillery is a normal Pokémon, knocking him out only awards a single prize card.
On the other hand, you have Shaymin-EX, a normal EX Pokémon that doesn’t require any prerequisites to set up on the bench. As his effect Set Up mentions, if you play it from your hand, you get to draw until you have six cards in your hand. This is one extra card over Octillery, not to mention that Shaymin-EX can be played directly on the bench – there is no Pokémon it evolves from. However, compared to the water creature, this normal type’s effect only takes place once it is played from the hand, whereas Octillery can be used every turn.
To fully profit from Shaymin-EX’s ability, cards such as AZ and Super Scoop Up are played to bring it back to the hand so it can be played again on the same turn, but that’s not all. In addition to being paired with great trainer cards, Shaymin-EX’s attack Sky Return deals 30 base damage and returns itself to your hand (so it can be played on the next turn). This ability and attack combo makes Shaymin-EX a powerful card, not to mention that it is a normal – it can be pretty much played in any deck, especially if it features double colorless energy. The major drawback, however, is that it only has 120HP and gives out two prizes once it is knocked out.
How much space do they take?
While Shaymin-EX is a single card, decks usually run two or three of it. On the other hand, Octillery requires Remoraid, so a decent amount would be to play two of each – that is a total of four cards. Unfortunately, that is not the limit to their cost – let’s look at an important element, the retreat cost. Both Octillery and Shaymin-EX have two colorless retreat costs. However, Shaymin-EX can be easily scooped up, or even return in your hand with an attack, whereas Octillery in the active spot is pretty much a dead fish. Taking cards like Switch and Escape Rope out of the picture, since they can only be used once, decks running Octillery need the support of Float Stone, an item that once equipped to a Pokémon, makes it retreat for free.
If that is the case, the deck requires to the very least two to four extra cards, making the count go up from four to six, or eight. Is the cost necessary? This is when you must take in consideration the value of each cards.
Picking between Shaymin-EX and Octillery for your deck is indeed a very good question. At the end of the day, it all relies on the type of deck you are playing, the amount of draw power you are looking for, and the burden they will make you carry if they end up being in the prize pool. Here are a couple of examples that can inspire you to make a decision.
First and foremost, let’s take my main deck as an example. Considering the fact that I run a Greninja Sniper deck (you can find my deck list here), my trainer cards focus solely on gathering the water Pokémon that I need – this is why I run Dive Ball and Evosoda. That being said, the Octillery fits in my deck like a glove – Shaymin-EX on the other hand, would have been a burden. Additionally, I require a lot more draw power, something that Shaymin-EX cannot provide.
Another great example is Blazing Wing deck featuring Mega Charizard (you can find the full deck list here). In this deck, neither cards fit the profile – fire decks usually rely on Scorched Earth and other trainer cards to feed their draw power. Additionally, the main card in this case, Charizard-EX, only requires a single energy to attack with Stoke, which allows you to attach up to three basic Energy to it. Doing so prepares Charizard-EX for his 120 damage-dealing attack. This early pressure gives you plenty of time to set up Scorched Earth.
However, if you analyze both decks, even though they have their own draw power, Shaymin-EX can still be added for that extra draw. In this case, it would make more sense to be added in the Charizard deck – that is what makes Shaymin-EX so special, and also a reason why it is one of the most expansive cards of the current meta. If you are thinking of playing one, I urged you to consider at least putting in two of them, but be careful; make sure you have some AZ or Super Scoop Up cards to allow you to return him to your hand. Due to its low HP, the last thing you want is to have someone Lysander it in, or sniped from the bench.