The Hidden Skill of Durant, Part Two: Rotom Tricks

For part one of the article, go here.

What is Rotom in your Durant deck for? The simple answer is to get prized Durants back into the deck, of course. But Rotom can do so much more. Rotom tricks are by far the most complicated aspect of playing Durant. And if you don’t have a great memory, you won’t be able to do them. I’ll warn you now: this is going to get complicated.

Part 1: Draw Insurance

You’re playing Durant and you draw the following opening hand:

Rotom, Pokémon Collector, Metal Energy, Metal Energy, Eviolite, Junk Arm, Revive, and then another Pokémon Collector.

You are forced to start with Rotom. On our first turn, we play a Pokémon Collector. We begin to search for Durants, and of course, even though we can only retrieve three, we want to see if a fourth one is prized so we can begin using Mischievous Trick to try to retrieve it.

But there are other cards we should check for, too. For example, draw Supporters. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume our Durant deck plays only the following Supporters:

4x Pokémon Collector
4x Twins
4x N
4x Professor Juniper

Now, let’s just focus on our “draw” Supporters – the ones that are most essential to maintaining cards in our hand:

4x Twins
4x N
4x Professor Juniper

Before searching my deck, I first tally the draw Supporters in my hand and discard pile. I tally them mentally in the following order: Twins, N, and Professor Juniper. (You can tally them in whatever order you like.) If I had a Professor Juniper in my opening hand, my tally would start like this: 0-0-1. If I had one Professor Juniper in my hand and then also another Professor Juniper in the discard, my tally would be 0-0-2. If I had a Twins and Juniper in my opening hand, and then also a Juniper in the discard, the tally would be 1-0-2, and so on. I count the draw Supporters both in my hand and in the discard pile. I do this to help me figure how many are prized.

In our specific example, it’s the first turn of the game, so there are no draw Supporters in the discard pile yet. We’ve also drawn a weak hand with no draw Supporters, so before playing our Pokémon Collector, our tally is 0-0-0. When we begin searching our deck with Pokémon Collector, we want to mentally update our tally each time we come across a Twins, N or Professor Juniper.

Suppose we encounter an N. We update our tally to 0-1-0.
Then, we see a Twins. We update our tally to 1-1-0.
We spot another Twins. 2-1-0.
We spot another N. 2-2-0.
A Professor Juniper. 2-2-1.
Another Professor Juniper. 2-2-2.
Twins. 3-2-2.
N. 3-3-2
Twins. 4-3-2

Here is our initial tally.

Anytime the tally ends at something other than 4-4-4 we know we have prized one of our draw Supporters. In this example, after searching through the deck, our Twins-N-Juniper tally is 4-3-2, respectively. Since we play four of each, that means we have prized the following cards:

1x N
2x Professor Juniper

Let’s suppose all four Durant are in the deck. We retrieve three of them and bench them, then place an Energy on one of them. Should we Mischievous Trick? We don’t need a Durant. Since we have no draw Supporters, and we have three in the prizes, we absolutely should. By using Mischievous Trick, we have a 50% chance (3/6) of putting a helpful draw Supporter on top of the deck. This is much better than the odds of getting a draw Supporter from a 43 card deck! (9/43 = 20.9%)

So let’s say we use Mischievous Trick. We don’t know anything about which prize is which, so let’s just switch the prize card closest to us. We’ll call it Prize Card 1.

Label your prize cards mentally to keep track of them.

On the next turn, we’ll want to pay attention to what we draw. If it ends up being an N or a Professor Juniper, we need to mentally update our tally. Remember, our tally was 4-3-2, meaning we prized one N and two Professor Juniper. If we were fortunate enough to draw a Professor Juniper, we would know that Rotom retrieved it out of the prizes, and we would update our tally to 4-3-3, meaning we now expect to have 3 Professor Junipers outside of the prizes.

But let’s say we aren’t so fortunate. On our next turn, we draw another Eviolite. We’ll be able to Devour this turn, but with no access to Twins, Crushing Hammer and other useful Trainer cards, Operation Devour is going to be short-lived. We do have another Pokémon Collector, which we can use to get the fourth Durant. But even if we had all four Durant, we would still play this Pokémon Collector because it gives us information.

When we look through our deck with the second Pokémon Collector, we need to update our tally. Say we recount our draw Supporters (which we tallied at 4-3-2), and now they are only 4-2-2. What happened? An N went missing! Where did it go? The N is in Prize 1! Do you understand how we know this? Since we had three N in the deck before using Mischievous Trick, and now we only have two, the N can only be in one place: the prize we switched (Prize Card 1). Since we paid attention, we can make our second Mischievous Trick on the same prize card, Prize 1, and unless our opponent does something to disrupt out deck, we will draw that N next turn! Rotom has bailed us out of a pinch.

Knowledge of our prize cards bailed us out!

When you memorize what draw Supporters are prized you give yourself extra insurance in case you encounter a bad hand. You will either know you have Supporters in some of the prizes, or, in some instances, a specific prize. This gives you opportunities to Mischievous Trick to fetch Supporters and get yourself out of a jam.

Now let’s go back to this same example, but throw another variable in there. Let’s assume we have the same hand with an active Rotom, and we Collector turn one and get the same tally: 4x Twins, 3x N, 2x Professor Juniper: 4-3-2. (We’ve prized 1x N and 2x Professor Juniper.) But this time, we’ve prized a Durant as well. We Mischievous Trick Prize 1, and again draw an Eviolite on the following turn. Everything is the same so far, except on our second turn, since we know we have a Durant prized, we Mischievous Trick before we play the second Pokémon Collector. That way, we have a chance of putting Durant into the deck, and we can use Pokémon Collector to get it. We know Prize 1 isn’t going to be a Durant, so we Mischievous Trick Prize 2. Now here’s where things get a little tricky: Do you remember why you keep track of what you draw after using Mischievous Trick? It’s so you can keep an accurate tally on what’s prized. This time, we played a Pokémon Collector after Mischievous Trick, so we won’t get to draw that card next turn and see what we got from the prizes. But it’s no problem; it’s still easy to see what Rotom retrieved. All we have to do is look at the top card of our deck after we use Pokémon Collector. Let’s say the top card ended up being the Durant. Our draw Supporter tally would remain 4-3-2. If it was a Juniper, we would update our tally to 4-3-3. If it was an N, we’d update it to 4-4-2. We’ll just stick with saying it was a Durant, though, leaving our Twins/N/Juniper tally at 4-3-2. Now, as we go through the deck, we count a tally of 3-3-2. What happened this time? A Twins has gone missing! But where is it? This time we cannot be sure. We can narrow it down to two prizes though: the two prize cards we used Mischievous Trick on, Prize 1 and Prize 2. In this scenario, the Twins is equally likely to be in either Prize 1 or Prize 2, but sometimes this is not always the case.

Where did the Twins go?

Picture a scenario where we have a 4-4-4 count, meaning we’ve prized no draw Supporters. Our seven card hand has one Twins in it and we use Mischievous Trick on Prize 1. On the following turn, our opponent plays N, and we draw six cards, plus a seventh on our turn. This time, our hand has no Twins. We then use Mischievous Trick on Prize Card 2. Then, we play Pokémon Collector, and we notice the count is 3-4-4, meaning a Twins has gone into the prizes. Where is the Twins? Well, it’s either in Prize Card 1 or Prize Card 2. But believe it or not, it’s actually more likely to be in Prize Card 2. The reason is because when we used the first Mischievous Trick, there were only three Twins in the deck, but when we used the second Mischievous Trick, there were probably four in the deck (I say probably because there is a chance one went missing into the first prize). Since there were probably four Twins in the deck when we used the second Mischievous Trick, it’s more likely to be in Prize Card 2.

If this doesn’t make sense, use a more extreme example. Suppose we had 4 Twins in our hand, and used Mischievous Trick on Prize Card 1. Then, our opponent played an N, and on the next turn, we used Mischievous Trick on Prize card 2. We then go through our deck and notice a Twins is prized. Where is the Twins? Because there were no Twins in the deck when we used the first Mischievous Trick on Prize Card 1, the Twins must be in Prize Card 2.

Let’s go back to that example where we tallied 4-3-2 and then, after using Mischievous Trick on Prizes 1 and 2, we noticed another N go missing. We determined that we had an N in either Prize 1 or 2. But don’t forget, we still have one other N and two Professor Junipers in the prizes. Where are they? They are in Prizes 3-6. In fact, since we know there are three draw Supporters in those four prizes, we have an even higher chance of getting a draw Supporter by using Mischievous Trick on Prize 3, 4, 5 or 6. This specific example of prizing four Supporters is uncommon, but it’s designed to illustrate a concept.

Just like a draw Supporter going missing after two Mischievous Tricks leaves us guessing which one of two prize cards it’s in, the same thing can happen with three, four or five prize cards. Say we use Mischievous Trick three times before searching our deck, and then notice a draw Supporter has gone missing. It could be in any one of those three prizes.

Remember, your tally will frequently change throughout the game if you are using Mischievous Trick. You might start with zero draw Supporters prized but later, playing Twins, notice that two have gone missing. You might start with one draw Supporter prized, but recover it, and update your tally to 4-4-4. In the latter example, you would never use Mischievous Trick when in a jam, as there would be no draw Supporters left to get from your prizes.

Things can get a little complicated when our opponent shuffles our deck because we do not get to update our tally by drawing the card Rotom placed on top of the deck from the prizes. Let’s say on the first turn of the game we tally our Supporters as 4-3-3, meaning we’ve prized one N and one Professor Juniper. We use Mischievous Trick on Prize 1, perhaps looking for a fourth Durant, and on our opponent’s turn, he plays a Judge, and we draw into a terrible hand with no draw Supporters. What should we do? Well, we know we had two Supporters prized, but what if Rotom put one of them back in the deck and we only have one now? The odds of getting a draw Supporter with Rotom on the previous turn would have been 1/3 (2/6 prize cards were draw Supporters), but what are they now? The answer is that the odds are exactly the same: 1/3, but only if you switch Prize Card 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Why is that?

Disruption cards like N can make Rotom even trickier.

When Rotom first used Mischievous Trick, it had a 1/3 chance of pulling a draw Supporter out of the prizes. Let’s break it down:

One third of the time we will be left with only one Supporter in Prizes 2-6.
Two thirds of the time we will be left with two Supporters in Prizes 2-6.

In other words:
33% of the time, 20% of our other five prizes will be draw Supporters.
67% of the time, 40% of our other fives prizes will be draw Supporters.

When you average these out, we end up with the same chance of pulling a draw Supporter from one of our five unchanged prizes that we had when Rotom first traded the first prize card: 1/3 or 33%.

So with a 33% chance of getting an N or Professor Juniper from the prizes, it’s worth doing and you should switch either Prize 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 (it doesn’t matter) with the top card of your deck to increase your odds of drawing a draw Supporter on the next turn.

Part 2: Retrieving Crucial Cards

Now that you’ve learned how to use this concept to bail yourself out of some tough spots, you can also use Rotom to fetch your Junk Arms and Crushing Hammers. Games with Durant are constantly decided by how many Heads you can flip with Crushing Hammer. The more Crushing Hammers you draw, the more opportunities you’ll have to flip heads. How do we draw more Crushing Hammers? By making sure we have as many in our deck as possible. Just like I do a mental tally of Supporters, I also do a mental tally of Junk Arm and Crushing Hammer.

You need every Crushing Hammer you can get with Durant!

In my mind, I tally Junk Arm first (Junk Arm – Crushing Hammer), but you can do either order. Let’s say my opening hand has one Junk Arm and one Crushing Hammer. I’ll tally that as 1-1. Then, when I search my deck, I’ll mentally update my tally each time I come across a Junk Arm or Crushing Hammer.

Starting at 1-1:
I spot another Junk Arm: 2-1.
Spot a Crushing Hammer? 2-2.
Another Hammer? 2-3.
Another Junk Arm? 3-3
Last Junk Arm? 4-3.

In the above example, we’ve prized one Crushing Hammer. Assuming we have Rotom in play, we should use it to try to get that last Crushing Hammer. We’ll know if we retrieved it from the prizes if we draw it on our turn, but it’s still important we re-tally the Junk Arm/Crushing Hammer count when we check the deck. We do this because in the process of trying to retrieve that fourth Crushing Hammer, we may have put another Crushing Hammer or Junk Arm in the prizes. Once we search our deck and see we have all of our Durants, Junk Arms and Hammers, we can usually stop using Mischievous Trick because we don’t want to risk putting one back into the prizes. If a Junk Arm, Crushing Hammer (or any other card we tallied) has gone missing, we’ll be able to identify which prize cards it is possibly in depending how many Prize Cards we used Mischievous Trick on, and can attempt to retrieve it. If yet again another valuable card goes missing, you repeat the process until you are satisfied with what is in your deck. After all, four Twins gives you lots of opportunities to search your deck and update your tally.

Part 3: Expanding on These Concepts

So now that you understand how to use Rotom for more than just fetching prized Durants, realize you can use it for memorizing more than just Supporters and Crushing Hammers. Depending on the match, you may choose to memorize different things. For example, if you’re playing against a Vileplume deck, your Junk Arm/Crushing Hammer tallies are insignificant. Instead, count how many Energy cards you have prized, and use Rotom to retrieve them. Rotom is particularly useful against Vileplume decks because they do not run Pokémon Catcher, and your benched Rotom will never be a liability.

Also realize that just because you can do these tricks, you may not want to bench Rotom. There might very well be useful cards in the prizes, but if playing against another Durant deck, a benched Rotom is going to be Catchered active repeatedly, and you are going to eventually be stuck passing.

Be careful! Rotom can be a liability sometimes.

Lastly, if you’re going to tally draw Supporters, and you’re confident in your ability to quickly memorize and rememorize your tallies, you may want to tally Pokégear as well. A Pokégear has a very high chance at bailing you out of a jam as well.

Part 4: When to Not Use Rotom Tricks

One unfortunate reality of Rotom Tricks is that they are incredibly time-consuming. When you first begin trying to tally and memorize what’s in your deck, you may feel overwhelmed and unable to do it in a timely manner. Don’t be frustrated. With practice, you’ll be able to memorize more and more things quickly. First, try tallying only your draw Supporters. Then, as you feel more comfortable, your Crushing Hammers, Junk Arms, Lost Remover, etc. However, just because you can do this, doesn’t mean you should.

You may not have time to use Rotom in best 2/3 matches.

Generally, you’ll always have enough time for Rotom Tricks in a Swiss match. I’ve played Durant in 13 tournaments and have only had one Swiss match go to time. When you get to Top Cut, though, it’s a different story. With 75 minutes, you’ll probably have time for Rotom Tricks, but if the games start to go long, you don’t want to waste too much time as you can then lose on time in Game 3. Remember, Durant has no legitimate way to win a match on time. You want to leave yourself with a minimum of 25 minutes in Game 3. While 75 minutes is sufficient for Durant in Best 2/3, most tournaments use only 60 minutes (something I hope to see changed in the near future). In this timeframe, I recommend completely scrapping your Rotom tricks. It is simply not worth the time. You may very well grab that game-winning Junk Arm out of the prizes and take Game 1, but wasting a total of three minutes over the course of the game doing your tricks could end up losing you Game 3 on time.

Part 5: Blind Mischievous Tricks

What if you haven’t seen your deck yet? Should you Mischievous Trick? The answer is sometimes you should. Suppose we’re playing against a Vileplume deck. Our opening hand contains six Item cards, including Revives and Super Rod. To add insult to injury, we opened with a lone Rotom. Fortunately for us, our opponent used an N and gave us a new hand, but not much better: just a bunch of Energy and no Supporters. Should we Mischievous Trick? Well, seeing all those items in our opening hand, and knowing they’re all in the deck now, it’s worth it. On average, we can give ourselves something that will be more useful against a Vileplume deck than those Trainers. Basically, when you haven’t seen your deck yet, you are unable to know what’s prized. So instead of Mischievous Trick becoming an attempt to fetch something from the prizes, think of it as an effort to put something useless into the prizes. In this example, the most useless card we can probably have against a Vileplume deck is a Super Rod. Knowing it’s in the deck means we will very slightly benefit on average from a blind Mischievous Trick.

Rotom is especially useful against Vileplume!

Likewise, what if we initially had a hand with a bunch of Energy cards and a Flower Shop Lady (a Supporter card that is very useful against Vileplume), and our opponent played N? This time, we drew a mediocre hand of some Trainers, a Juniper, and an Energy. Should we Mischievous Trick? No, we shouldn’t, because we saw so many good cards in our deck that we can end up placing into the prizes.

Part 6: Different Versions of the Same Card

Consider using different versions of the same card.

What other stuff can you do? You can intentionally play different versions of cards to gain as much information as possible. For example, let’s say you’re looking for your fourth Crushing Hammer, which is prized. Unlike the other Crushing Hammers in your deck, this one that is prized happens to be reverse holo. You use Mischievous Trick, but on your opponent’s turn, he plays an N, so you never get to see what Rotom retrieved when you draw for your turn. In your new hand, you draw a reverse holo Crushing Hammer. If you had played all non-holo Crushing Hammer, and you previously had at least one remaining in the deck, you would not know whether or not this Crushing Hammer came from the prizes or was simply remaining in your deck (until you searched your deck, at least). With this information, you could stop risking placing useful cards into the prizes with Mischievous Trick because you know you retrieved what you needed.

I hope all of you gained some insight (lol, Yanmega) from the article. I am happy to say that I am in excellent shape to earn a Worlds invite this year, and looking forward to seeing everyone at Nationals and Worlds.

-Jason Klaczynski

6 responses to “The Hidden Skill of Durant, Part Two: Rotom Tricks”

  1. MichaelS

    The REAL trick is not playing Rotom >:]

  2. lucas mazzega

    I was expecting more. Everything at the article seems obvious to someone with a brain. Its not hard. The 0-0-0, 0-0-1 concept, I love to use, even when Im not using Durant.

  3. SoulDew

    why memorizing if you can take notes?

    1. pokeray90

      well you would still have to memorize it for some time since you can’t take notes on your turn.

      1. pokemonfan65

        Yes you can. Jay Hornung did it in many of his matches from states. You can check them out on TheTopCut’s youtube channel.

  4. Snorlax

    Wow, thanks Jason fot this great article. I was quite amazed while reading some parts, especially at that different version trick you mentioned last! I’ve never thought of that!!