Pokemon TCG: Being decisive about Wishiwashi

Basic fish Pokémon. Historically, they have had mediocre attacks and hit points that render them susceptible to being knocked out on the first turn of the game. However, 30HP basic fish Pokémon often occupy a prominent place in the competitive Pokemon Trading Card Game metagame. Feebas evolves into Milotic, which proved to be a powerful supportive Pokémon in the EX Dragon Frontiers era and a good option for Night March decks last season. Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, which proved to be a formidable offensive Pokémon when Stormfront was a legal expansion set and is currently the focus of a competitive deck in the standard format.

Sun and Moon brings us a new 30HP basic fish Pokémon – Wishiwashi. At face value, Wishiwashi’s “Cowardice” ability seems quite poor. Why would a player want to run a Pokémon that simply exists to be put down only to bounce back into their hand? But don’t underestimate this fish just yet. Wishiwashi has a surprising amount of utility.

The many uses of Wishiwashi

1. The Free Range Fish 

Through its ability, Wishiwashi can act as a switch card. This means that an active Pokémon can retreat to the bench and then be re-promoted in the same turn – through the use of one switch card instead of two, or without using a single switch card (in the case of Pokémon that have free retreat). Why is this useful? This mechanic can be used to:

  • Clear status conditions.
  • Clear the effects of your own attacks (relevant in the case of Lapras GX, Salamence EX, O-Wing Yveltal, and Volcanion EX). This is particularly interesting for Volcanion EX players, as they are able to operate one Volcanion EX in the same way as if they had two in play.
  • Utilise Max Elixir (in standard and expanded) and Dark Patch (in expanded).

Consider this example: You have a Jolteon EX in the active spot with a single Lightning energy attached. You want to use Flash Ray this turn, but you are under Chaos Wheel lock, and have no access to switching cards. To achieve a Flash Ray, you can free retreat Jolteon EX, promote Wishiwashi, attach an energy to Jolteon EX, hit an energy off a Max Elixir, and then bounce Wishiwashi back to your hand to re-promote Jolteon EX. Your board is now clear of Lysandre targets, and you are attacking with Flash Ray.

Note: In general, Wishiwashi also offers a free retreat option to promote after your active Pokémon has been knocked out.

2. The Flying Fish  

Decks that run Raichu from XY, Mega Rayquaza from Roaring Skies, and Mega Gardevoir from Steam Siege benefit from having more Pokémon on the bench. These decks are often adversely affected by an opposing Parallel City or a countered Sky Field. In the case of Raichu and Mega Rayquaza, this may leave the player with a cluttered bench and thus an inability to use Shaymin EX’s Set Up to dig for a new Sky Field.

Just like every other Pokémon, Wishiwashi can occupy a bench spot and thereby increase the damage that these Pokémon can deal. However, Wishiwashi can also be used as a temporary bench sitter. After being hit by a Parallel City, players may opt to keep Wishiwashi on the bench, so they can bounce it back to hand and play down useful offensive or supportive Pokémon that might not have already been in play. The same school of thought applies to a countered Sky Field.

Interestingly, players could choose to bounce Wishiwashi and use it as Ultra Ball fodder to collect a Shaymin EX to dig for the counter stadium.

3. The Bait and Switch 

Wishiwashi is a decent Ninja Boy target. No really, hear me out.

How many games have you played in which you eyed an opponent’s benched Shaymin EX and decided that it was two free prizes? Perhaps even your win condition? How many times have you lost because your opponent was able to Lysandre your benched Shaymin EX and take the last two prizes for game?

A common method for a player to clear Shaymin EX from the board is by attaching a Double Colourless Energy and using Sky Return. However, this may not always be a possible, convenient, or ideal play.

Instead, players could select Shaymin EX with Ninja Boy, and transform it into a Wishiwashi. This Wishiwashi can then be bounced back into the hand. This completely removes a two prize liability from the board.

Another method of mitigating prize losses is to Ninja Boy a heavily damaged EX or GX into a Wishiwashi. Due to its low HP, Wishiwashi will be knocked out. However, this results in a one prize loss instead of a two prize loss. Obviously any low HP single prize Pokémon could fill this role, but it is just another example of the versatility of Wishiwashi.

The following commentated match between two competitive standard format decks features Wishiwashi. The player demonstrates some of the practical uses of his Wishiwashi tech. This match is part of a weekly series.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this summary of the uses for Wishiwashi’s “Cowardice” ability. Many of these are very niche uses, and often there are more consistent means to achieve the same effect. However, in standard competitive play, I would not be surprised to see a tech Wishiwashi appear in Volcanion EX or Lapras GX/Water toolbox decks.

This article is part of a weekly series for competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game players. Never miss an article! Follow me on Twitter here.

About Ellis Longhurst

Competitive Pokemon Trading Card game player since 2006. Competed for Australia at the 2015 World Championships, & the 2017 European International Championships. On-stream commentator and post-match interviewer at the 2016 Australian National Championships. Currently invested in supporting the growth of the Australian Pokemon TCG community. Current Video Game journalist for GameCloud Australia.
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