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RAMBO was a Pokémon Trading Card Game deck archetype that saw success during the 2003-2004 season. Its name is derived from important components of the deck (Rayquaza ex, Team Aqua's Manectric, Blaziken) and its strategy (OHKO). Prior to the release of EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua in March of 2004, the deck was known as BAR. The deck functioned identically, but with Ampharos from Expedition serving the function of the not-yet released Team Aqua's Manectric, and a higher Rayquaza ex count compensating for the lack of Blaziken ex. BAR stood for Blaziken Ampharos Rayquaza. Though Rambo saw less play toward the end of the season due to the release of Gorebyss, Walrein, and others in the EX Hidden Legends expansion, Chris Fulop piloted a variant of RAMBO (which he called Blaziken Tech) to the finals of the 2004 World Championships.
RAMBO's strategy employed a number of components, with the end goal being utilizing Blaziken ex's Volcanic Ash and Rayquaza ex's Spiral Growth attacks to take six prize cards as quickly as possible. Though both of these were very strong attacks in isolation, they each required significant Energy discards, which necessitated a form of Energy acceleration from the discard pile. Coincidentally (given that Blaziken ex already required Combusken and Torchic), Blaziken's Firestarter met that demand perfectly. However, given that Firestarter could only attach to Benched Pokémon meant that the deck needed a way to either move that Pokémon active or a way to move the Energy to the Active Pokémon. Some variants of the deck decided to go the former route and included heavy counts of cards like Switch and Warp Point. The list shown, though, uses Team Aqua's Manectric to move the Energy from Firestarter back to the Active Pokémon via its Power Shift Poké-POWER.
Because RAMBO relied on so many different cards to function, it required a lot of room devoted to consistency cards. Dunsparce's Strike and Run attack was imperative to getting the necessary Evolution cards in play early in the game. From there, the player would typically seek to evolve Skitty into Delcatty and Torchic into Combusken (or directly into Blaziken via Rare Candy). Getting Team Aqua's Manectric into play was typically less urgent, because it was not necessary until the player was consistently attacking for damage with Rayquaza ex or Blaziken ex. Delcatty's Energy Draw, particularly in combination with Oracle, helped the player get the Evolutions and Energy they needed after getting Basic Pokémon into play with Dunsparce. Other Supporter cards such as Steven's Advice and Copycat further helped with consistency.
- Blaziken - Blaziken's Firestarter Poké-POWER, which allowed the user to attach a Energy from the discard to one of their benched Pokémon, provided a way to charge up both Blaziken ex and Rayquaza ex easily. Since both of their attacks, along with Delcatty's Energy Draw, discarded Energy, Firestarter was critical to maintaining a steady stream of attacks. Blaziken also served as a decent attacker in a pinch, or against decks utilizing Pokémon such as Wobbuffet with the Safeguard Poké-BODY.
- Delcatty - Delcatty's Energy Draw Poké-POWER provided consistency, with the added effect of placing Energy in the discard for retrieval via Firestarter.
- Team Aqua's Manectric - Firestarter only allowed the user to attach Energy to a Benched Pokémon; by attaching that Energy to Team Aqua's Manectric, the RAMBO player could then use Team Aqua's Manectric's Power Shift to move the Energy to an active Blaziken ex or Rayquaza ex and continue attacking. Team Aqua's Manectric also served as a valuable attacker against Swampert/Suicune (officially titled Rocky Beach in its World Championships printing), another popular archetype of the era. Team Aqua's Electrike's Self Charge attack made it possible to attack with Team Aqua's Manectric as early as the user's second turn. A player in a Water-dominated metagame may have elected to utilize two copies each of Team Aqua's Electrike and Manectric, as opposed to the 1-1 line shown in the list below.
- Blaziken ex - Blaziken ex's Volcanic Ash attack was extremely powerful at the time; for a cost of , Volcanic Ash could hit any Pokémon on the opponent's field for 100 damage. Though it required the user to discard two Fire Energy attached to Blaziken ex, those Energy could be reused with Firestarter and moved back to Blaziken ex with Power Shift, allowing for consecutive uses of Volcanic Ash.
- Rayquaza ex - Rayquaza's Spiral Growth attack, similar to Volcanic Ash, was very strong but required the discard of Energy to be effective. Again, Firestarter and Power Shift made it possible to use Spiral Growth for large damage repeatedly.
- Dunsparce - Because the deck was reliant on a number of different Evolution lines, Dunsparce's Strike and Run attack was critical to get the necessary Basic Pokémon in play early in the game.
- Oracle - When used in conjunction with Delcatty's Energy Draw Poké-POWER, Oracle effectively allowed the user to search their deck for any two cards and add them to their hand. Because RAMBO relied on so many different parts to function, this provided a valuable boost to consistency.
The deck list appearing below is not official; it is meant to represent an average build of the archetype, not specifically constructed for any regional metagame. Being that this is merely an archetype, a player may wish to change any part of this deck when building his or her own version. The list shown assumes an Expedition through EX Hidden Legends format. Potential later additions may be listed in the Possible tech cards section.
Possible tech cards
The following cards were sometimes used in RAMBO in place of certain cards included in the above list.
- Bellossom - Chris Fulop used Bellossom in his 2nd place 2004 World Championships RAMBO variant. According to Fulop, Bellossom: 1) provided a hard counter to Walrein/Milotic which saw success at the U.S. National Championships; 2) replaced the Stadiums necessary to counter Desert Ruins (a widely-played card that proved disastrous for RAMBO under normal circumstances), and took up less space in doing so; 3) swung the mirror match in his favor by allowing his Blaziken to survive longer; and 4) was a great counter to the Magma archetype piloted by the Japanese. (Despite this, Fulop lost to a Magma deck piloted by Tsuguyoshi Yamato in the finals of the tournament.)
- Professor Oak's Research - Professor Oak's Research provided Supporter-based consistency, and could be substituted for TV Reporter, Steven's Advice, or Copycat.
- Desert Shaman - Desert Shaman had the potential to serve several purposes. It could function as a general consistency card, though it only netted the player four cards, making it largely inferior to TV Reporter, Steven's Advice, and Copycat. However, it also dropped the opponent to four cards, and therefore could grant the user card advantage if they already had some means to external consistency (such as Delcatty's Power Draw) when the opponent did not. Finally, Desert Shaman could keep the user's hand low against Gardevoir ex-based decks, minimizing the damage done by Gardevoir ex's Feedback.
- Pokémon Nurse - Because the main attackers in RAMBO discarded Energy cards to use their attacks, they often did not have many Energy attacked. Thus, the main downside of using Pokémon Nurse (discarding Energy attached to the targeted Pokémon) was often a non-issue.
- Town Volunteers - Town Volunteers provided a means to recover Pokémon and Energy from the discard pile. Town Volunteers was more prevalent in RAMBO lists than ran thin lines of the deck's supporting Pokémon, such as a 1-1 Delcatty, a 1-1 Team Aqua's Manectric (shown in the above list), or only one Rayquaza ex.
- Professor Elm's Training Method - Given that RAMBO relied heavily on Evolution lines, Professor Elm's Training Method provided search-based consistency for those who were willing to cut back on the possible explosiveness of draw-based consistency (such as Steven's Advice) in favor of a slower but more deliberate engine.
- Mr. Briney's Compassion - Mr. Briney's Compassion would have provided a similar effect as Professor Elm's Training Method.
- Archie - Archie provided a simple, consistent way to get into play. However, relying on Archie removed the user's ability to use Team Aqua's Electrike's Self Charge attack, an occasionally useful resource for getting Energy cards into play.
- Friend Ball - Friend Ball, a little-used but interesting option, was particularly useful for retrieving Dunsparce early in the game, as most decks of the era relied on Strike and Run to set up. Many decks also used Delcatty lines, and one could expect to play against opposing Blaziken decks often, as well.
- Power Plant - Power Plant was useful as a means to retrieve Lightning Energy, of which the deck ran few, while placing Fire Energy into the discard for later use with Firestarter. It also provided a counter to Desert Ruins.
- Warp Energy - Because Firestarter could only attach to Benched Pokémon, the RAMBO player needed a way to continually either move those Energy cards to the Active Pokémon or to move the attacking Pokémon to the Bench prior to using the Poké-POWER (and then subsequently back to the Active position). Though this demand was typically covered by Team Aqua's Manectric, Warp Energy (along with Switch or Warp Point) could be necessary if Team Aqua's Manectric was Knocked Out or prized.