February 25, 2021

Pokémon TCG Top Deck Academy Episode 4: Cramorant and Arrokuda Swallow the Competition

Discover how a few Pokémon can work together to create the nucleus of a powerful Pokémon TCG deck.

It can sometimes be difficult to take that very first step in creating a new deck—deciding which Pokémon to build around. One way to get started is to look for two or three Pokémon that seem like they would work well with each other.

That's the concept of this episode of Top Deck Academy, where the natural connection between two Water-type Pokémon can help propel the deckbuilding process forward. Pokémon fans who have explored that Galar region have seen that Cramorant preys on Arrokuda, but today we're going to see how they can work together to prey on your opponents!

Remember that a new episode of Top Deck Academy comes out every week, and you can watch the entire series here on Pokemon.com or on YouTube and Twitch.


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Hey, Trainers, my name is Rosemary Kelly, and I'm one of the Video Game Championship casters and, maybe like you, a little bit newer to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. One of my good friends and fellow casters Kenny Wisdom taught me this really cool deck to help me sharpen my deckbuilding skills, and I can't wait to share it all with you. This is the crossover you never knew you wanted.

On today's episode of Top Deck Academy, we're going to be building a deck that relies on the synergy between Cramorant and Arrokuda—two Pokémon that are a super iconic duo in the Video Game Championships, but I want to know how they play in the Trading Card Game. If you're a brand-new player, I don't recommend starting here, but I do recommend that you go take a look at the how-to-play videos on tcg.pokemon.com/how-to-play. These are a great way for you get started if you're brand new to the Trading Card Game.

Today we're going to be talking about how the deck works, why it works, and some of its main strengths and weaknesses. By the end of this video, you should feel confident taking this deck for a spin on the Pokémon TCG Online ladder, and you will have learned some fundamental TCG concepts along the way.


How the Deck Works

This deck relies on the combination of Cramorant and Arrokuda. Taking a look at the namesake of both of these cards, you'll see that they work great together. Arrokuda's first attack, Flock, allows you to search your deck for more Arrokuda and put them directly onto your Bench. Once your Bench is full of Arrokuda, Cramorant's Continuous Gulp Missile attack can do a whopping 240 damage.

This deck is a great example of a concept you'll hear a lot in the Pokémon Trading Card Game: synergy. When building a deck, it's important to ensure the cards you're using all work well together to form one cohesive plan of attack. You won't always have such built-in synergy like with Cramorant and Arrokuda, but you will always want to make sure that each card in your deck has a specific purpose and helps you to execute your deck's plans.

Apart from Cramorant and Arrokuda, we also run a small number of other Pokémon. Dedenne-GX and Mewtwo from Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds are in the deck to boost consistency. Sometimes we will need to reuse an important Supporter card or refresh our hand, and these Pokémon allow us to do just that. For reasons I'll get to later, we're less reliant on these cards than other decks, so we only have one copy of each.

You'll also notice that we have some backup attacking Pokémon: Vikavolt V and Zapdos from Sun & Moon—Team Up, along with a Tapu Koko Prism Star to help us power them up. These Pokémon don't have the same direct synergy that Cramorant and Arrokuda have, but they allow our deck to have a secondary plan of attack for turns where we struggle to find enough Arrokuda to take a Knock Out or can't find the right combination of cards to attack with our Cramorant.

Zapdos is a very efficient single-Energy and single-Prize attacker that can take Knock Outs on low HP Pokémon and help soften up higher HP Pokémon for an eventual Continuous Gulp Missile. Vikavolt V can fill one of two roles. It can either use Paralyzing Bolt to slow our opponent down by denying their use of Item cards, or it can act as a secondary attacker that can push damage through, doing a whopping 190 with Super Zap Cannon. You won't necessarily use these backup attackers every game, but even the most synergistic and combination-oriented decks want to make sure that they have a backup plan.


Why it Works

As we zoom out and take a look at the broader deck list, there's another important TCG concept that we have to talk about, and that's an engine. If you've been around the TCG long enough, you've probably heard the term engine thrown around, but the definition of it isn't entirely clear. In short, an engine refers to how your deck functions. For instance, some popular decks in this Standard format right now use the Welder engine or the Tag Call engine.

For this deck, we're relying on the very popular Jirachi engine. Jirachi from the Sun & Moon—Team Up expansion is a very powerful card, and this deck relies on its Stellar Wish ability to find important Trainer cards throughout the game to ensure you can keep filling your bench with Arrokuda and keep attacking with Cramorant. Most of the time, you'll be relying on Jirachi to find cards like Nessa from Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage and Familiar Bell from Sword & Shield—Darkness Ablaze, both of which will help you reclaim your Arrokuda after you've discarded them with Continuous Gulp Missile.

Another great upside of Jirachi is that it allows us to play only two copies of each of these cards. Normally we would want to maximize our chances of finding them by running the full four copies, but with Jirachi in our deck, we can be confident we'll find the cards we need when we need them. Rounding out the rest of our Trainer cards in the deck, we have the usual suite of Professor's Research, Marnie, Quick Ball, Pokémon Communication, and Scoop Up Net, which serve to boost our consistency and make sure we're executing our game plan as often as possible.


Strengths and Weaknesses

You'll also notice the two of copies each of Great Catcher and Boss's Orders. Both of these cards are super powerful in their own right, but it really helps to illustrate one of the main advantages of this deck, which is that your main attacker only gives up one Prize card. This means that even if it's a little bit easier for decks with Pokémon-GX or Pokémon VMAX to knock out your Cramorant, as long as you can return the Knock Out over the next turn or two, you should take all of your Prizes before they take theirs.

This is commonly to referred to as the Prize trade or the Prize exchange. Great Catcher and Boss's Orders are amazing at helping you do this. You can take quick Knock Outs on your opponent's Benched Pokémon, such as Dedenne-GX or Crobat V, to win the Prize race and therefore the game—without having to attack into giant TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX that might be too big to Knock Out in one hit.

The final note about this deck list, and yet another advantage of Cramorant being a single-Prize attacker, is we get access to Twin Energy. This is extremely important, and it means that you can pay for Continuous Gulp Missile, which costs two Energy, with a single Energy attachment. We play the full four copies of Twin Energy alongside four Basic Lightning to be sure we can attack with our Lightning-type backup attackers, Vikavolt V and Zapdos.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Top Deck Academy. In this episode, we learned that all decks should be synergistic and have a game plan, but also have a backup plan in case things go awry. We learned what an engine was, and how the Jirachi engine helps this deck succeed, especially in a long game where every card matters. Lastly, we learned by using single-Prize attackers, we can manipulate the Prize exchange to win games against decks that have bigger, more resilient Pokémon. I've personally been having a ton of fun playing this deck that Kenny Wisdom built.

Are you going to try it out for yourself? Let me know in the comments below [on YouTube.com only], and also let me know what you'd like to see on future episodes of Top Deck Academy. Thanks for watching!

It's extra credit time, Trainers! Here's the full deck list for the Cramorant/Arrokuda deck we've just built:


  • Cramorant / Arrokuda
Pokémon
  • 4
    Cramorant
    40/185
    swsh4 40
  • 4
    Arrokuda
    41/185
    swsh4 41
  • 4
    Jirachi
    99/181
    sm9 99
  • 1
    Dedenne-GX
    57/234
    sm10 57
  • 1
    Mewtwo
    75/234
    sm10 75
  • 1
    Tapu Koko ◇
    51/181
    sm9 51
  • 1
    Vikavolt V
    60/189
    swsh3 60
  • 1
    Zapdos
    40/181
    sm9 40
Energy Cards
  • 4
    Lightning Energy
    nrg1 29
  • 4
    Twin Energy
    swsh2 174
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia)
    swsh1 178
  • 3
    Marnie
    swsh1 169
  • 2
    Boss’s Orders (Giovanni)
    swsh2 154
  • 2
    Nessa
    swsh4 157
  • 4
    Ordinary Rod
    swsh1 171
  • 4
    Pokémon Communication
    sm9 152
  • 4
    Quick Ball
    swsh1 179
  • 4
    Scoop Up Net
    swsh2 165
  • 4
    Switch
    swsh1 183
  • 2
    Familiar Bell
    swsh3 161
  • 2
    Great Catcher
    sm12 192
More Info Copy Deck List
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