Disney Lorcana Pawpsicle Art

What’s Wrong with Pawpsicle?

Let's take a look at the popular Sapphire item ramp deck revolving around Pawpsicle, identifying its main weaknesses and looking for ways to improve it.

Sapphire Ruby entered the metagame with high expectations, driven by the hype around Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker and Pawpsicle. However, despite the ability to draw numerous cards with the pair, the deck has faced challenges, securing only six top-eight finishes in the first month of the Rise of the Floodborn metagame.

The struggle lies in adapting its end game to be less of a linear path. As the metagame evolves, Sapphire Ruby players must explore new strategies for sustained success.

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The traditional versions of this list formulated early discovered how quickly you could out advantage your opponent on resources with Fishbone Quill and Hiram. A turn five Be Prepared simply wasn’t unheard of, being more efficient than an opposing Grab Your Sword, laying the groundwork for this deck’s success.

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However, as time went on and more players picked up the Amethyst core a flaw started to show. The endgame for Ruby Sapphire simply wasn’t enough to combat the onslaught that was Amethyst Bounce. One step further showed Amber Amethyst aggro also presetting a problem for deck, with a turn five Be Prepared often not enough to secure victory. Although players continued to bring the deck to events, the number of players turning out to be successful with it grew smaller. When things like this occur, there are a few questions one must ask.

Pawpsicle Ramp Control

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Is the deck even good? We unfortunately do not have a full meta breakdown for every event. However brief summaries should suffice for this theory. GalaxyCon hosted 46 players and 10 of them brought Ruby Sapphire. That’s 22% of the field, yet only one of those 10 players found their way in to the Top 8. At Pax Unplugged the same weekend, of 64 players total, 8 brought Ruby Sapphire, for 12.5% of the field, with only one player in Top Eight. Last weekend, at the online LPN event, of 242 players, thee top eight featured six copies of Ruby Amethyst, one Amber Amethyst, and one Amber Steel, with ZERO Ruby Sapphire (despite some larger PB players brining the deck to the event). Now we don’t know the total number of registered Ruby Sapphire decks, but to have a deck be so highlighted early on to not even show up in a top cut, simply has many asking now “is the deck even good enough?”

Is it skill intensive? Most times in games when a deck is successful in limited quantities it can be due to the fact it’s simply not an “easy” deck to pilot. Not everything is “like riding a bike,” sometimes it takes true training to become good at playing a given deck. From my experience with the deck and as Pro card player for many years, I do not think Pawpsicle is a particularly hard deck to learn or pilot. However, I feel its biggest issue is a lack of consistency and ability to recover. Inconsistency is vastly increased in games that do not include a turn one Pawpsicle. The deck simply can not function well when you miss this precise play. Recovery is the other concern. While your deck is efficient at playing Be Prepared, it is ironically not set up well to come back from opposing Be Prepared. While you also have a fair amount of single target removal, relying on Be Prepared can make you vulnerable to wide aggressive board states. What can be done to aid in these issues you ask, well what if we flipped the script entirely?

Pawpsicle Aggro

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Where are the Maleficent - Monstrous Dragons? Where is Tamatoa - So Shiny!? No Be Prepared?! Yes, this simply doesn’t look like the ordinary version of this deck. However, the duo of Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker and Pawpsicle remains and its power level with it. The core of Noi - Orphaned Thief and Minnie Mouse - Stylish Surfer are the bread-and-butter lore gainers of this deck. Noi, while an item in play is one of the more frustrating cards to play against, and Minnie Surfer was a well-kept secret for a good portion of the early meta.  She has recently proved to be a four of in just about every Ruby deck, the evasive 1 / 3 is simply too good not to include.

You may be looking around the remains of the list with confusion. Zero Let It Go, two Hades - Infernal Schemer, zero Be Prepared, how are we fighting in the end game?

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Well, while Noi and Minnie are the keys to gaining lore early in the game, Gaston - Intellectual Powerhouse and Grand Pabbie - Oldest and Wisest are excellent ways to finish out games. Most decks come to an impasse in games against midrange and control strategies and come to a complete stop. Gaston’s three lore and ability to find your next threat is very appealing. This is a card that on a turn after a board wipe can come into play, be a immediate threat on board, and find your either an additional small threat to be played as well, or your next threat in the game the following turn. Three lore is a major clock and with four willpower, the ways to remove him are limited to mostly ruby cards (and Madam Mim - Fox...).

Grand Pabbie is quite the opposite, he enables completely unforeseen play lines. If you are sitting above 13 lore you are a threat to simply win in one turn without your opponent ever being able to prevent it form happening. Pawpsicle and Gumbo Pot find a way to work double duty rather then just simply being banished to Hiram.

This deck brings an aggressive starting strategy, with a backup Combo end game plan. Mother Gothel - Withered and Wicked, Maui - Hero to All, and Scar - Vicious Cheater offer this deck a way to “cheat” lore gain since they are normally damaged by their abilities. This allows you to win with Grand Pabbie seemingly unexpectedly. Thanks to Pawpsicle along with Gumbo Pot you have onboard items that simply allow you to “go off” the turn you play Grand Pabbie.

Scar allows you to still have a way to remove multiple character without having to play Be Prepared, giving the deck some control while also advancing it’s win condition. Some original versions of this list had included the card but as we continued to test it, we realized it put the gameplan of the deck on hold and made it more difficult to win the end game. Scar quickly became a way to clear the path and potentially be a huge part of a way to win with Grand Pabbie + Gumbo Pot or Pawpsicle.

The deck overall still gives you the massive card draw engines that the original lists gave you, except now it is in service of a more aggressive game plan.  All of your three drops can quest for two Lore and have secondary uses.

Teeth and Ambitions is another card that pulls double duty in the list.  Since it is a Song, it can be played for free to damage your own characters (even TWO OF THEM off of the same card!) the turn you play Grand Pabbie. It is also key early game removal for opposing characters, with Noi shrugging off the two damage.

If you’re looking to “Flip, the Script” on Ruby Sapphire I suggest giving this list a try. We have truly enjoyed it the last few weeks at league, and it’s been a fun project for the Team to work on together. Hiram + Pawpsicle will find a home in many Sapphire decks to come, if like to pressure you opponent early and then steal wins from out of nowhere, and still draw a ton of cards, then this deck may fit your style!

AUStarwars
AUStarwars

Scott Landis is a 30-year Trading Card Game professional, and former writer for the World of Warcraft TCG and Transformers TCG among others.  Currently he is an owner of The Forbidden Mountain, a Lorcana YouTube Page and TCG player Store. You can follow them on YouTube and please use their TCGplayer Store (same cost as the marketplace). You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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