In an effort to explore the Pokemon TCG community, “Social Saturdays” strives to better explain or understand important aspects of the community's player base.
(Chansey's reaction upon seeing the entry for "Full Throttle")
SOCIAL SATURDAYS: ENCYCLOPEDIA HTANICA, Volume I
About Encyclopedia HTanica
There are certain terms and abbreviations in the Pokemon TCG community that are common knowledge. However, to many newer players these are as good as an indecipherable foreign language. In this inaugural edition of Social Saturdays, we'll be defining some of those commonly used terms and abbreviations which define the "lingo" of Pokemon TCG. With very limited exception, we are avoiding placing player or card names as individual entries.
Encyclopedia HTanica is far from complete! Since this is a Patriarch-authored entry, we'll be hearing and evaluating future suggestions for terms that should be included in a future edition. So feel free to discuss on the boards or just message me.
6P: Short for SixPrizes, a competitive Pokemon TCG website focused primarily on premium subscriber content. Has a separate scans website called pkmncards.com.
Bad Deck Monday: a weekly stream/YouTube segment run by The Top Cut (see below) featuring a strange or unusual deck concept.
Battle Roads: Small local tournaments initially worth significant points, but scaled down over time.
Beach: Short for Pokebeach, a Pokemon website focused primarily on Pokemon TCG news. Has a premium subscriber program.
Bubble: To miss on a top cut by a single spot; also applies to swiss-only events where a person misses out on prizes due to opponent’s resistance.
City Championship (defunct): A smaller, area-wide event. Largely replaced by League Cups (see below).
CotD: Card of the Day, or discussions of single cards meant to produce new content for websites. Popularized by Pojo.com in the late 1990s, and still frequently used by websites like 60cards.
Day Two: The second day of play in a large event. Usually comprised of 32 players.
DCE: Double Colorless Energy
Donk: A lucky, fast win. Originally applied only to turn one wins, but has since been interpreted less rigidly.
Grinder (defunct): Last chance qualifier tournaments which granted top finishers entry into the Pokemon TCG World Championships from 2002-2014. As of writing, these are no longer held.
HeyFonte Classic (see Virbank City Gym): Facebook group organized in the early 2010s meant to offer a a hub for HeyTrainer and LaFonte users. Ultimately resulted in the siphoning of Pokegym users.
HeyFonte Modern (active): Facebook group organized in the mid-2010s meant to offer a competitive replacement or Virbank.
HT: HeyTrainer.org, of course!
LaFonte (mostly defunct): a private message board turned private Facebook group comprised of several successful Pokemon players and their friends.
League Challenge: A small local tournament worth marginal prizes and points. Also the spiritual successor to Battle Roads.
League Cup: A smaller, area-wide event. Also the spiritual successor to City Championships. Confusingly has the same acronym as League Challenges.
Mapping: The ability to narrow down the contents of Pokemon TCG booster packs in a sealed booster box based on a pattern. Highly controversial, but largely exaggerated in its seriousness and primarily used by goons for clickbait. The louder cousin to Scaling(see below).
Mid-season rotation: a special incident in June of 2011 when Play! Pokemon determined that a format rotation was necessary prior to the U.S. National Championships.
Modified: Refers to the modified-set formatting imposed by Play! Pokemon official events, excluding certain older sets from use. Currently divided into “Standard” (only the most recent sets) and “Expanded” (all sets beginning with Black and White).
OHKO: one-hit Knock Out.
OP: "Organized Play." Usually refers to the official Play! Pokemon, but can refer to local tournaments and alternate organized play such as ARG.
P!P: “Play! Pokemon,” the official event-organizing branch of The Pokemon Company International.
Poke-Dad/Poke-Mom: A parent of a competitive Pokemon Trading Card Game player -- usually in one of the younger age divisions. Associated with non-competitiveness, although the game has at least two very successful Poke-parents as players.
Pojo: A competitive hobby website, once famous for its Pokemon page.
Pokegym: Pokemon Message board run by Team Compendium. See also WizPOG and Psylum's.
Prof-it: A mostly-defunct YouTube channel for Pokemon TCG content. Has since been incorporated into a part of the larger Jwittz YouTube channel.
Psylum's Pokegym: The original incarnation of the Pokegym (see above).
Scaling: The use of a scale to determine the contents of Pokemon TCG booster packs. Highly controversial, with most suspiciously good pulls posts met with a hearty "weigh to go!"
Swiss: Preliminary rounds preceding a top cut which pair opponents of similar win-loss records against one-another. Sometimes functions as its own tournament
Tag Team: The Father-Son mascots of HeyTrainer.org.
TC/Team Compendium: The group which makes and compiles rulings for the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Their rulings are considered authoritative in all official events. Considered quasi-official by Play! Pokemon, you can see the current and past rosters here.
Top Cut: The final remaining players in a tournament who are paired in single-elimination match play.
The Top Cut (defunct): A once-prominent Pokemon TCG streaming and live-casting group. Also the original premium content website. Not to be confused with a tournament’s top cut (see above).
Top Deck: To draw the exact card you need.
Virbank City Gym: The modern incarnation of HeyFonte. Changed its name once the administration decided the page no longer reflected "HeyTrainer" or "LaFonte."
Whiff: To not draw into a crucial card you need.
WizPOG: "Wizards Pokegym," the official Pokemon Trading Card Game message board during the Wizards of the Coast days. See also Pokegym.
Posted by: on 2017-02-25 14:38:32 • Tags: Pokemon Encyclopedia Pokemon TCG encyclopedia CotD Card of the Day Pokemon Pokemon DCE Pokemon Donk Pokemon Grinder Pokemon HeyFonte Pokemon mapping Pokemon scaling Poke-dad
We hope you've enjoyed our articles over these past two weeks! In the brief time we've been back, the HeyTrainer blog has highlighted format-changing cards, offered highly accurate recommendations for deck choices, and produced thorough deck profiles. The concept here is simple: advance the community, and offer premium content for free.
To be clear, we're going to keep on hammering away at this content, and it's only going to get better. However, the more assistance we receive, the more ambitious and expansive we can get. Therefore, we have a simple proposal to anyone reading this blog who currently subscribes to a premium article website:
If you find that the quality of our free content is higher than the quality of the content you pay for on your premium article website, then donate us half the cost of your subscription, and note which site you're immigrating from! So if you pay $10 a month to read stuff behind a paywall, but find that the general quality of our content is better, then consider clicking that "donate" button at the bottom of each blog entry and passing us $5. Believe us: That $5 goes a long way to maintain and improve the site, as well as create opportunities for its members and the community at large.
It's your call whether you'll keep your subscription and donate to us, cancel your membership and donate, or not donate at all. Either way, we'll still be here for you.
“Ghetsis's Hidden Past” –The History Behind Ghetsis in Expanded, and Teching for the Future
By Drew Allen
Hey, HeyTrainer readers. I’m Drew, and this is my first ever article here. I’ve been interested in taking up the “pen” in the Pokémon article community for a while, and I’m thankful John’s given me the opportunity. I’m super excited to share the cool history of this card, as well as a little bit of insight into teching as a whole. Without further ado, let's get into it.
1. The “Birth” of Ghetsis: a Slow Start
For the majority of its competitive life, Ghetsis has been thought to be (and for the most part was) a mediocre card. Those of you who started playing after BLW-PLS probably don’t remember, but the hype for this card before release was pretty crazy – think Decidueye GX hype, but for a Supporter. With so many strong Item cards in the format like Pokémon Catcher, Hypnotoxic Laser, Random Receiver, Ultra Ball, Dark Patch, and Rare Candy, this card made perfect sense. Having the ability to disrupt your opponent’s Items through denial, lock or otherwise, has always been strong. Plus, you get to draw for as many Items as they have? Unreal!
However, back when Ghetsis just came out, the format was so heavily Supporter-based that a lot of the time you would Ghetsis for very few cards at the cost of setting up, and then your opponents would just Juniper or N themselves, set up their board, and win. Now you’re in a bit of a pickle, because instead of setting up yourself you just used your turn trying to disrupt your opponent to no avail. So for the time being the card was dead. Therefore, not many people played it.
2. An Impressive Showing
That is, however, until Worlds later that year where Chase Moloney, a close personal friend and in my opinion one of the best players to ever touch the game, snagged an outstanding top sixteen finish with two copies of the card in his deck - his first year in Masters, nonetheless. How did such a card go from being mediocre, to being worth 2 spots in his list?
It was all because of a very important shift in format. Long story short, Gothitelle/Accelgor gained Float Stone and became one of the strongest decks in the format, going on to win U.S. Nationals that year, so for Worlds a lot of players were thinking, “How do I beat this deck”? Paralysis is by far the strongest status effect in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and combined with Item lock seemed unbeatable. That is, until people started to figure out that Keldeo EX’s Rush In can be combined with Float Stone, or Darkrai EX’s Dark Cloak to get a “Rush In Retreat” effect to get a fresh, non-Paralyzed attacker, and it was just as effective as it sounds. Darkrai now had a viable answer to Gothitelle, as well as being one of the strongest attackers in the format. In addition, not relying on Float Stone/Keldeo meant that missing both Tool Scrapper and Float Stone before Gothitelle hit the field didn’t mean the end of the world.
So what does Ghetsis have to do with all this? Flloat Stone/Keldeo, high Random Receiver counts, and Dark Patches made Darkrai vulnerable to Ghetsis. Chase then decided to play to beat those strong players in a mirror match with two Ghetsis, and with several mirror wins throughout the weekend, he proved that Ghetsis as a mirror tech performed effectively.
1. The Texas Marathon Boys
Fast-forward to winter 2014. Ghetsis had seen very little play for the past 6 months. However, players then found a reason to gather for one of the most grueling, fun, and potentially rewarding events of the year: the Texas Marathon. For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, the Texas marathon was a tournament series that happened once a year, with at least five City Championships over the span of one week. This of course meant you had an abundance of points to be earned, but also an abundance of top players gunning for those same points.
Jeremy Jallen, Kevin Murphy, and of course Chase Moloney were all there ready to win some titles, and Ghetsis found his return. In Jeremy’s case, Ghetsis turned out to be a way to beat the Virizion/Genesect mirror. Holding onto your G-Booster, Energy Switches, and Tool Scrapper for just the right moment was how you went about winning this matchup, but having them shuffled back into the deck was a huge detriment to your opponent. Thus, Ghetsis rejoined the ranks of the top tables.
A good tech card helps against select matchups, including the mirror, while a GREAT tech card helps against everything. The metagame for the Texas marathon was a combination of Genesect, Plasma, Darkrai, and Blastoise – all decks which struggle to Ghetsis. As a group, the Texas Marathon Boys ended up winning four City Championship wins, with Jeremy and Kevin taking one each, and Chase taking two. Later that winter, Jeremy went 7-0 at a Regionals in the Genesect mirror, finishing at 8th losing to a completely unrelated autoloss matchup.
Unfortunately, Ghetsis for whatever reason fell off the face of the Earth yet again, and for a long time went underplayed in Standard and Expanded.
2. “Card’s Straight Broken”
At this point we’ve gone through a bunch of the Ghetsis’s history, as well as the reasons for why we teched it. Now let’s talk about the season Ghetsis became a format-defining staple:
Fast-forward: It's the Fall of 2015, and Ghetsis has been dead for over a year. This is mostly because of rotation, but I also think it's because it has seen no real reason to be played in Expanded...at least up to this point. Here I am in Houston with TJ Traquair and long-time HeyTrainer forum member Kale Chalifoux, two of my best friends in the game. Houston Regionals is tomorrow, and we're figuring out what to play when TJ drops this spooky Seismitoad/Giratina/Musharna list on me. It looks awesome, and I’m always down to play something spooky. So we’re playing a few games in the lobby, testing against Yveltal, Night March, and the mirror. They’re all testing well…that is, until we start playing against Blastoise. The deck was too fast – what else was there for us to do? TJ and I are then racking our brains over this and I’m honestly thinking of just playing Yveltal with Hex Maniac instead of taking an autoloss to a deck that just won a World Championship earlier in August of 2015.
Then Kale pipes up: “What about Ghetsis”?
"Holy moly, Kale – that might work." On paper it destroys Blastoise, right? So we try it: 1 Jirachi EX for searching Supporters, 1 Computer Search…and 1 Ghetsis. It turns out that Ghetsis to Quaking Punch is awful for any Blastoise deck, not to mention the added help it gives in just about every other matchup. So we keep it low key, because there’s a ton of top players at this event, including Jason Klaczynski, Michael Pramawat, Azul Garcia, and John Kettler. So we all agree that nobody should be saying Ghetsis, and from here on out let it be known only as “The Boy”™.
So we play a bunch more games with The Boy™, and he’s still just as good as we’d thought he’d be. I then remembered talking to Israel Sosa earlier that week about how he was going to be playing in California the same day we were playing in Houston. So I hit him up asking how he plans on dealing with Blastoise, assuming he was playing his signature Yveltal deck. He told me, “I’ll be playing Frozen City and Hex Maniac.”
I then empower him with the knowledge and strength that is “The Boy” ™, at which Sosa goes nuts. We all then do great in Houston, while Sosa steamrolls his entire tournament in California. Ghetsis in turn starts steamrolling the entire globe, and thus, The Boy™ is born.
LOOKING AHEAD AT SUN AND MOON
Touching on teching
I’d like to start off by saying that using critical thinking to analyze how some cards might be utilized as mirror techs – or otherwise – is something that’s good to practice whether you’ve been playing Pokemon since it started, or just picked it up last month. Honestly it’s kind of fun going through legal sets to see if there’s answers to specific problems a deck presents, and it’s a skill a lot of top players use. There are a lot of potential tech opportunities, but I’m going to talk about two big ones I’ve seen out of the latest Sun and Moon expansion:
First off we have Skarmory, which for a DCE discards all special energy in play. Seems pretty good; however, a ton of our metagame right now is basic energy. Volcanion, Speed dark, Lurantis, M-Gardevoir, are all popular concepts that this card would be pretty useless against. Even the decks that run special energy like Vespiquen, Yveltal, and M-Rayquaza can play around it. However, there’s been talk of a Solgaleo/Dark/Giratina deck going around, and I think Skarmory has the potential to be a top tier against that in the right list. So let’s say for example this deck gains some ground and becomes a part of the metagame, which I think is definitely a possibility. You’ve then decided to pick up this deck, but you expect a decent amount of others at your League Cup are also going to pick up the deck.
Easy solution? One Skarmory. You simply let your opponent set up and use their GX attack before you, drop Skarmory with a DCE, Ultra Road it into the active and discard 5 (10) energy with one attack. Seems like a pretty decent tech in the right meta, and while Magaerna will probably see some play in the deck a well timed silent lab or hex maniac to discard 5 energy is a great tradeoff. This is also to say nothing of how devastating Skarmory can be situationally against Darkrai/Giratina, which just won Anaheim Regionals.
Another card which is already picking up steam in Standard, and will certainly be played in Expanded as many players' go-to GX is Tauros GX. A lot of top tier decks in Expanded run DCE, including Yveltal, Toad/Bats, and Night March. Something Toad Bats and Night March have in common is a poor Item Lock matchup, specifically to Trevenant XY. However, Tauros GX is a very effective counter to Trevenant: It attacks for one Energy, and easily revenge-kills Trevenants. Even under T1 Item lock your energy requirement is low, plus Rage and Horn Attack effectively counter Trevenant’s mediocre damage output on a singular Pokémon. In addition, if your opponent doesn’t have any other Phantumps on the board, using Mad Bull early can be a great option to potentially give youself a few turns without having to worry about being under Item lock.
Tauros GX in general is good to have in your deck if you’re running DCE because being able to utilize such a strong GX Attack is an opportunity that’s tough to pass up. It may not be as splashable as Ghetsis, but it certainly has splashability in its own right. Tauros, like Ghetsis, can win tons of games by itself, in perhaps healthier ways than Ghetsis can be.
Ghetsis’s Bright Future
As for The Boy ™ himself? I’m still personally playing it in every deck I run. Sableye/Garbodor has gained a lot of play, and as long as Yveltal/Maxie’s is a threat to your deck, you now have a way to win as early as the first turn. For players in general, I think Ghetsis will see tons of play in both Collinsville and Portland. It’s got a strong, bright future, and unless we see a format rotation in Expanded, it’ll stay around for a long time.
“My Eye on Anaheim: Top 16 Masters Report with Decidueye/Vileplume”
Today’s tournament report is written with players of all skill levels in mind, as well as lay people who know nothing about Pokémon cards! Whether you’re here for the story or the strategy, I hope all of you who take the time to read this report enjoy it very much. Most of all, I hope it all makes sense!
Table of Contents:
6. The Journey to Anaheim
7. The Tournament Report
8. Some Final Thoughts on the Deck, and Ideas Going into Collinsville
6. The Journey to Anaheim
For those unaware, my trip to Anaheim almost didn’t happen. I got an unfortunate notice from my airline that my flight had been CANCELLED due to historic rainfall and even flooding throughout much of Southern California. I queued myself up for the only standby flight option available, but knew this was a long shot. So while on the hunt for Chicken McNuggets (I get a strange craving for them every time I go to an airport), I stumbled upon my airline’s customer service counter. By chance there was a new option available: a one-stop flight going through Chicago and then to Los Angeles! I hopped on it almost immediately, and while it was certainly much longer and less comfortable than my original direct flight was intended to be, it was my only chance to play.
Thanks to my incredible friends Alec and Robby, I actually had a ride waiting for me at LAX! Things were all around coming up Milhouse, and my tournament was on.
This image is oddly appropriate for today’s entry
7. The Tournament Report
Round One: VS Volcanion
I played against a LOT of Volcanion decks1
Game One: I go first and miss the turn one Vileplume Item lock. However, his start isn’t particularly explosive either, and so I’m able to get out both a Decidueye GX and Vileplume by turn two. I then proceed to win what should be an otherwise unwinnable matchup in a relatively unconventional manner: I use Lysandre to force one of his three Retreat cost Volcanion EX into the active position, and slowly whittle down his energized Volcanion EX with Feather Arrow. This buys me time to set up a second Decidueye GX, and about six turns in, I’ve taken out both his Volcanion EX. It’s a very slow way to win, taking well over 30 minutes, but it gets the job done.
Game Two: This game his start is much faster while mine is considerably slower, resulting in a quick early lead for him. I keep myself above water (above steam?) with my Lugia EX and Tauros GX, keeping his Volcanion EX in check. At about the mid-point marker in the game, where I just began to gain back control with my delayed start to Vileplume, time was called, and I won the match. (1-0)
Round Two: VS Volcanion
Game One: My opponent’s list had a couple neat variations which made it unique, including a tech Zoroark line and Hex Maniac. Unfortunately he seemed to struggle to get these out or get to play them at the right time, and had an awful opening start to boot. My start wasn’t too great either, with neither Supporters nor Shaymin EX outs, but fortunately I got out a turn one Decidueye GX. So then I improvised by using my Hollow Hunt GX on the first turn, grabbing back the two Trainers’ Mail I used to set up my Decidueye previously. Those Trainers’ Mail in turn nabbed me a Sycamore and a Level Ball, getting me out of the awful start and into a board with multiple Decidueye GX’s and a Vileplume. I won quickly from there.
Game Two: I go second yet again, and while my opponent’s start is – for the second time – much stronger, I draw into an incredible chain that lets me streamline all of my Stage Two Pokémon very early, again locking him out of the game. (2-0)
Round Three: VS Volcanion
Game One: Unlike the previous lists, this one ran a copy of Entei AOR (Combat Blaze), offering my opponent a viable non-EX attacking option against my deck. Unfortunately for him, I got the lock out and just benched him.
Game Two: Our starts weren’t particularly bad this game, but his fast Entei, multiple successful Max Elixirs, and multiple Float Stones on multiple Volcanion EX’s turn one before my Vileplume lock made solving this game a real puzzle. I never at any point thought I was 100% out of it until the very last turn, and a couple whiffs on Lysandre or Energy for Steam Up could’ve kept me alive, but this was the only Volcanion game of the tournament where my opponent’s superior setup just overran me.
Game Three: In what might be one of my best hands of the tournament, I set up a combined two Decidueye and Vileplume on turn one, allowing me to blaze through his deck in record time. (3-0)
Rounds Four and Five: VS Volcanion
Unfortunately, it’s at this point where my memory gets incredibly fuzzy. I just found it so incredible that I would pair against this seemingly “bad” matchup five times in a row, systematically dismantling all of them. However, I won the first match in a similar manner to rounds one through three, and was only a turn off from winning the fifth match. The fourth list was pretty normal, while the fifth list had a couple fun Sun and Moon choices like Lillie. (4-0-1)
Round Six: VS Mega Ray
My only losses the entire weekend were to this ugly, overgrown Groundhog-Snake thing
Game One: This matchup was a big motivation behind my decision to run Jirachi, and the Jirachi was helpful in staving off his early start. However, due to a couple Forest of Giant Plants being prized, and being unable to draw my other two, my Vileplume lock took far too long to set up in order to stay ahead of my opponent. I sure was missing those Reserved Tickets!
Once I finally got my lock going, including a fat Dragonite EX out in the active, he already had an Olympia sitting in his hand to switch out! I conceded pretty quickly after that.
Game Two: I drew a bad opening hand and got stomped! (4-1-1)
Round Seven: VS Turbo Darkrai
Game One: My heart sunk a bit when all I saw was a line of Decidueye GX, a second Rowlet, and some Energy. Fortunately, this was all that I needed to stay afloat in the game: His start wasn’t too incredible, and so my Decidueye GX became an incredible wall on the third turn. Its bulk in turn got me through the game
Game Two: One aspect of his list which was relatively unique was the inclusion of two Hex Maniac. Their value really showed this game, as he was able to do a good job keeping me locked, and after a relatively long slug fest, he finally won.
Game Three: Unlike the past couple games, which were characterized with a slow start and Hex lock, I charged into my Stage Two lineups right away. I then played very quickly in my effort to draw six prizes before the clock expired. I can’t characterize my choices as optimal, especially with some questionable Feather Arrow targets, but I made it with less than a minute to spare. (5-1-1)
Round Eight: VS Mega Mewtwo (Ross C.)
I decided to write this round before any other, and this description in particular because I think a couple of the interactions Ross and I had were incredibly fascinating.
First, I have a routine I offer every game to my opponents: I position myself to flip a coin, and then ask them if they want to call Heads, Tails, or in the air. He immediately asked if I’d be willing to do a roll of the die – something I normally wouldn’t do, but I went ahead and did anyways because I like Ross and have known him for a long time. I figured his motivation to ask for a die roll was based on past interactions, which I later confirmed by asking him. I then followed that up with, “Well, why didn’t you just call the flip in the air?”
At that point he simply said, “I didn’t hear you say that. But sure, that would’ve been fine.”
My takeaway: some flexibility in your early game routine (change randomizers or offer to flip in the air) is actually a really effective trust-building tool.
However, long live the coin master race
Second, Ross shuffles on his lap. This results in his deck going below the table, which is a serious problem because your cards should never go below the table. Again, I like Ross, have known him for forever, and have an immense respect for the quality of his game. However, I don’t care if you’re El Chapo Guzman or Mother Theresa: keeping your hand above the table is one of those ironclad rules of any card game. So I asked him multiple times to keep his deck above the table – something he complied with without any issue. The shoe was on the other foot, and he was willing to get a bit out of his comfort zone for the sake of respect.
My takeaway: respecting your opponent’s reasonable requests and maintaining trust makes asking for your own reasonable requests that much easier.
So that was fun – a couple neat takeaways. Now let’s get back to the games…
Game One: Ross won the opening fli—errr…dice roll, and opted to go first. Normally this would put a lot of pressure on a list like mine because of the threat of early Garbodor, but fortunately his lines make it harder to get out that all-important early Trubbish with Float Stone. This meant I had no threat of losing my Abilities, and so Vileplume’s Item Lock came out with no real threat to it, alongside Decidueye a turn later. We then spent a very long time making trades of Decidueye swarms against Mewtwos, while I simultaneously put damage on his Shaymin EX on the bench. He was never able to hit me with too good of a Shrine of Memories/Damage Change combo, but he did save a Shaymin from certain death. Ultimately, however, a very well-timed, luckily-drawn Lugia EX with Double Colorless Energy gave me just the damage output I needed to Knock Out his final Mewtwo, and seal the game.
(Also, I’d like to note that while Espeon GX didn’t get a chance to make a difference, it very well could have thanks to its GX attack. Ross just didn’t have the Lysandre to bring up my no-Float Stone VIleplume into the active position.)
Game Two: He again went first, and again couldn’t get out a fast Garbodor, but the difference here was that his start was a lot more aggressive than the last game. I brought up a Tauros to attempt to keep his Mewtwo from going too out of control as I built up other attackers, but that hardly lasted long enough to make a difference. Although Decidueye still did a good job exchanging with his Mewtwos, it wasn’t enough to seal the game. So by top being called and the third turn before the match’s end, his Mega Mewtwo Knocked Out the last Pokémon he needed to tie up the match. (5-1-2)
Round Nine: VS Mega Gardevoir (Stefan Tabaco)
Game One: Going second, I got stuck on a first-turn Hex Maniac with a lone Oddish and a Sycamore in hand. However, Tauros GX is pretty good in this matchup, so I decided to position myself to get my Oddish out of the active position and into the Tauros. So I used Ultra Ball for Tauros, benched it, hoped for the best and…drew an entire turn one Vileplume under Ability lock, on top of a Float Stone and a Double Colorless Energy! I then immediately used Tauros GX to take control of the game while slowly building up my benched Decidueyes. He made a good comeback without much to work from, but he couldn’t come back when I had two Deidueye in play.
Game Two: Although I had two Oddish prized, a dirty little secret to this deck is that you can play whole games without ever locking Items once. His start wasn’t too stellar, so Decidueye was able to carry the game unassisted at all by Vileplume. (6-1-2)
…And with that, I was on to day two! I at least made the cost of my trip back, and at 22nd seed could only go up from there.
Round Ten: VS Mega Ray (Michael)
Game One: I didn’t get any Stage Two Pokémon until turn three, but when I finally got out the heart of my deck, it was an unstoppable setup. Jirachi promo put in lots of work, slowing him down and knocking off Double Colorless Energy cards he would have no way to get back under item lock.
Game Two: I drew an unplayable hand and lost.
Game Three: I drew another unplayable hand and lost again. (6-2-2)
Round Eleven: VS Turbo Darkrai (Joshua)
Game One: I drew incredibly and won to an unplayable hand.
Game Two: I drew incredibly and won a somewhat dragged-out, but still mostly hard-to-play hand for my opponent. (7-2-2)
Round Twelve: VS Turbo Darkrai (Mark Garcia)
Game One: I drew incredibly and won to an unplayable hand.
Game Two: I drew incredibly and won to an unplayable hand.
…Wow, those sure were some interactive games versus Turbo Darkrai, huh?!
Round Thirteen: VS Mega Mewtwo (Ryan Sabelhaus)
Game One: Unlike my series with Ross, this iteration of Mega Mewtwo was an exact copy of Igor Costa’s second place deck list from a few weeks back – think the list I posted last week, but with an extra Trainers’ Mail instead of a Tauros GX. As such, his Garbodor lock was much more reliable, getting out turn two. I flailed around a bit to see if I had a way out of it, but I just wasn’t drawing into my Energies to see light at the end of the tunnel. I scooped relatively quickly.
Game Two: In another moment of totally interactive gameplay, I…got out a turn two Vileplume, and he did not get a Garbodor out. It was a little bit more questionable due to his ability to Hex to open up attachment of Float Stone and Evolution into Garbodor. However, I sniped his only Trubbish before that could happen, and didn’t have too much trouble cruising to a win.
Game Three: At the beginning this game was looking a lot like game one, but I was able to get two damage counters on his Trubbish by the first turn. This made all the difference, as within several turns that later set me up for the perfect opportunity to Knock Out his Trubbish with a Razor Leaf. He also found himself in a horrible draw spot, stuck with two Double Colorless on a regular Mewtwo EX…with no way to evolve it. I seized on the chance and knocked it out. While he ultimately got out a Mega Mewtwo EX, the aggression paid off, and I was quickly getting into a spot where I could stick his benched Hoopa EX in the active position while tearing apart his bench. Unfortunately time was called and I knew there was no way on Earth I’d draw all my prizes in time, so I made the simple plays that guaranteed the tie. (8-2-3).
Round Fourteen: VS Vespiquen/Zoroark/Herdier (Dan Lynch)
Game One: I got out a quick lock, but not much in the attacking options. It worked out pretty well for me, but opened up the possibility for a comeback. He did just that with some big hits with Zoroark and Orangaru, but they cost nearly all of his Double Colorless attachments. Once the fourth energy was down, I had the game.
Game Two: I found myself one card off of the turn one Vileplume, which set me back greatly for the rest of the game. I never did get Vileplume out past that point, and while my Decidueyes put up a lot of fight, and my Jirachi especially put in work, he always had the knock out in hand. I then, with multiple prizes left to his one, was dead on arrival.
Game Three: Without much time left, I capitalized on an explosive start and start Knocking Out his Pokémon very, very quickly. Unfortunately, he always seemed to have a Basic, and when time was called, I was – again – a turn off of winning an unlosable match. (8-2-4)
8. Some Final Thoughts on the Deck, and Ideas Going into Collinsville
So that was it – the end of Decidueye/Vileplume’s crazy Regionals run. In the process I played against some incredible players, beat some matchups which common knowledge, but fell just a bit short of continuing in the top eight. I really wanted to win this one, but I did finish well enough to justify continuing my season to more Regionals and traveling!
I wouldn’t have made too many changes to Decidueye – all of which were addressed above in the list discussion. For Collinsville and the Expanded format, Decidueye/Seismitoad is looking like a clear frontrunner. I also wouldn’t discount Decidueye/Vileplume either, especially because you get crucial cards like Jirachi EX, Computer Search, and Tool removal (eat that, Garbodor!). Of course your matchups change as well, which include Archeops Noble Victories: the prehistoric, Evolution-devastating bird monster. Despite how big of a threat Archeops can be, it will practically have the same effect Garbodor had on me this Regional: clearly a concern, but nothing you can’t handle, and especially something you can beat or at least stalemate.
This Regionals inspired me to keep thinking outside of the box, so it’s entirely possible I’ll use something radically different should I go to Collinsville. Nevertheless, if Decidueye proved it can compete with the best in Standard, then it can surely handle a much friendlier Expanded format!
In the old days, tournament reports were concluded with “props” section. Since I’m no longer a 14 year-old kid, I feel less interested in “props” – I could go on and on about the things I like. Instead, let’s take this moment to highlight some people I owe a ton of gratitude to for helping me survive this torrential weekend:
--Robby and Alec, my friends and roommates this trip. In a 20-year storm they stuck around waiting to come pick me up, tested and theorymonned…and most importantly talked me out of M Beedrill EX, haha. Robby was also the sole person aside from random opponents on PTCGO who got a chance to see how powerful Decidueye can be against its supposed autoloss, Volcanion.
--The airline customer service rep who miraculously routed me through the only path possible to get to Anaheim.
--My girlfriend Yanet did a really good job keeping me relaxed the Friday before the tournament. Everything needed to go right for me to not only get that new flight, but get to it on time, and she really helped me get in the right mindset for that.
--Second City Gym, the tournament organizer, for being ready to refund my entry fee in case I couldn’t get on a flight. Good customer service experience for my first regional of the season!
--MTGDeals.com for having exactly what I needed to finish my deck.
--Luck! I’m a lucky, blessed person in more ways than one, including getting this golden opportunity to jumpstart my 2016-2017 competitive season.
Til next time,
Did you enjoy today's article? Want to help the site grow and keep on producing better and better content? If so, just mash that "DONATE" button! Also feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed, and of couse check out the forums.
“My Eye on Anaheim: Top 16 Masters Report with Decidueye/Vileplume”
Today’s tournament report is written with players of all skill levels in mind, as well as lay people who know nothing about Pokémon cards! Whether you’re here for the story or the strategy, I hope all of you who take the time to read this report enjoy it very much. Most of all, I hope it all makes sense!
Table of Contents:
1. A (Re)introduction
2. A Sorta-Kinda Comeback, and Where We're at Today
3. The Importance of Anaheim
4. The Reasoning Behind Decidueye
5. The List: Analysis and Explanations
1. A (Re)introduction
My name is John Kettler, and I’m a life-long fan of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. I’ve been playing since this game first came out wayyyyy back in my childhood (“something-something you know you’re a 90’s kid when…”). I then became inspired by the online community to become competitive in 2003, when I made a name for myself as a player of unique, strange, and fun decks ,most of which I made on my own or with close teammates. Extended to our complete network, there were around two-three dozen of us spending the better part of 2003-2007 monopolizing the scholarship and travel awards available.
Later I began college, and as such saw a slight but insignificant slip in my results. But while I stopped dominating events the way I once did, I stayed relevant through founding the site you’re now reading: HeyTrainer.org. Founded on the ideals of free speech and free dumb, HeyTrainer.org was a reaction to a community with very few good spaces for the adult players – ironic, since at least 70% of the people who play Pokémon cards competitively are adults! Henceforth, I became less known for the playing, and better known as “Mr. HeyTrainer.”
However, we’re all three-dimensional people, so naturally our passions extend beyond any one particular thing. One such other great passion of mine is law – specifically areas with cutting-edge political questions such as immigration and family law. Finally (and most importantly), I’ve found myself in a serious relationship of three years! Thus, I balance a lot of things these days, and some of those things take priority over others. As much as I love Pokémon, I want to advance my career more than I want to play this game; and because we’re long distance, I will easily choose spending time with my girlfriend over playing Pokémon any day of the week.
The result was an erosion in my obsession for the game. Rather than stay well ahead of the curve as I once did, I began to lose my touch in both playing and deck building. Unlike older name players who aged like fine wine, I looked more like Casey at the Bat, putting up wildly inconsistent performances from 2012-2014. Some of this can be chalked up to the change of invitational structure, which emphasizes lots of tournament success over a few hot runs, but ultimately, not winning a National or World Championship falls squarely under your shoulders. I also neglected my poor brainchild HeyTrainer.org, which – although inspiring countless of the major Facebook groups which exist today – is now a Rocky Balboa in the Face(book) of countless Apollo Creeds.
2. A “Sorta-Kinda” Comeback, and Where We’re at Today
Starting with the middle of 2014 and continuing today, my tournament performances improved substantially. I started earning invites again, learned how to stress out less, became more honest with myself as a player, and found inspiration all over again. Johnny got his jam back, but there was one thing missing: a revived HeyTrainer!
Although I came dangerously close to closing this site for good, I decided that the forum once famous for its “anything goes” mindset needed to keep on existing for a new generation of players sick of the Facebook groups. I also saw a drop in quality of a lot of the “premium article” websites: places which charge players money to read articles meant to improve their performances at tournaments. Although notable exceptions exist for both, including but not limited to the HeyFonte Facebook page and the Pokebeach premium article program, I determined that our community has a void which desperately needs to be filled.
Therefore, the principal focus here is pretty simple: an increase in high-quality, free content for players, coupled with an unstoppable passion for this quirky card game of ours!
3. The Importance of Anaheim
Starting with the current season, the official organizing body for Pokémon tournaments – Play! Pokémon – increased the prize support of Regional Championships: prestigious events which represented the populations of several states or provinces. What once saw a prize of just a few boxes now sees a first place cash award of $5,000, as well as greater implications for multiple free trips across the world year-round! Unfortunately, all good things have a tradeoff, and the tradeoff this season was a severe cut in local tournaments, including individual State Championship event. The end result is that you now have a very hard time pursuing a competitive season outside of a few hours’ distance; otherwise, you won’t get the achievement points (Championship points) necessary to get free stuff. You also won’t have half a prayer to compete in the World Championships, the most prestigious and valuable tournament of the entire season!
Historically I love playing, but I also historically don’t like forking out tons of money to travel all over the world playing Pokémon. That’s why I have a harder time justifying tournament costs larger than the entry fee and a few bucks for gas.
A nice thing about living in Texas is that I never missed my local Regional Championship, meaning I had at least one good chance before the National and World Championships to test my mettle versus elite players in the real, non-online world. However, as mentioned earlier, I chose not to go to this year’s Regional Championship because it was scheduled the weekend of New Year’s. New Year’s was special for two reasons: it was my first time to celebrate a New Year in person with my girlfriend; and the First of January happens to be my mother’s birthday! For those reasons, it ultimately made more sense to skip the Regional entirely.
Don’t mistake prioritizing the important things in life for a lack of love for the game, though: I was still hungry for some good performances, and so the idea of flying to Anaheim for a Regional Championship came to be. I thought, “If I do well enough here, I can justify playing in more tournaments! If not, then let’s just roll the dice at the National Championship.”
4. The Reasoning Behind Decidueye
And thus, I decided that I should be perfectly willing to bet it on a new, risky concept out of Sun and Moon: Decidueye GX. The Pokémon Trading Card Game is mostly about getting Damage onto opposing Pokémon, and this card lets you put Damage in play…for free. You don’t even have to PAY anything!
Free and powerful...Sound familiar?
Well, other than that one little joke, I don’t need to spend much time telling you about the merits of Decidueye GX itself. That’s because I’ve already done it twice: once last week, and again the week before that. The purpose of this section, however, is to address why I risked my season on such an unconventional, new concept.
As mentioned above, this tournament was the bellwether for my entire season: If I did well, then I would play at more Regionals; if I did not do well, then I’d stake it all on Intercontinentals – a.k.a., the Artist Formerly Known as Nationals. So since my season’s path depended on this single Regional, I had much less pressure on me to play something safe. This freedom from safety in turn gave me the freedom to stick with what would otherwise be a very scary deck: After all, it’s a deck centered around getting at least two Stage Two Pokémon in play in a format full of Basics! How could that win games?!
Well, Basics can’t do nearly as much when all of their absurdly powerful Tools and Items aren’t there to assist them, right? Plus, the ability to deal Damage anywhere in the field combined with Item lock means you can even stick these powerful cards in unwinnable positions. Also, I uh…played a deck exactly like this at Nationals 2012, in an era even worse for Evolutions and better for Basics. And at that tournament I got 10th out of over a thousand people.
That memory suddenly put a lot more wind in my sail for Decidueye, so I knew it was an insane enough concept to work. All it needed was a good enough list…
5. The List: Analysis and Explanations
Here is the list I used, in all its crazy glory!
Does this look familiar? It should, because I spent a whole fourth of my last blog entry talking about Decidueye! As I mention in that article and in my Quick Search entry, my preferred way to run the list is Vileplume, and the changes to make the list I posted there to Vileplume were not that hard.
From the Vileplume-free list I posted, literally all you have to do is cut VS Seekers and Fighting Fury Belt. No giant mystery – just don’t run the stuff you either won’t use under Item lock, or won’t want to play before Item lock!
Let’s look at the choices in detail:
4-4-4 Decidueye GX line: Decidueye is your everything, so of course it makes sense to run a decent-sized line of it. However, I have multiple reasons for why I run a maximum count. First, the more pieces you run, the more likely you will get your free Damage faster and in numerous quantities. Second, Decidueye GX’s GX Attack, Hollow Hunt GX, is incredibly important in smoothing out every aspect of our deck, but you won’t be getting it out nearly as often and when you need it without four! Finally, I’m fairly convinced that without a 4-4-4 line, you don’t have nearly as many swarming options as needed to last a full game.
2-2-2 Vileplume line: At first I started with a 3-3-3 line, but was inspired by Andrew “Russian Charizard” Wamboldt’s Lurantis/Vileplume article to give 2-3-3 a try. I quickly became addicted to the greater space, so I then dropped it down all the way to 2-2-2, which was just the sweet spot needed in order to fit all the variety tech attackers I wanted, which will be discussed below.
1 Lugia EX: Of all the Big Basics you could pair with Decidueye GX, Lugia EX is the strongest. Its Aero Ball Attack puts immediate offensive pressure on your opponent in any situation, and Feather Arrows combined with its second Attack, Deep Hurricane, allows for incredibly high Damage caps to be reached. With some careful planning, it’s not unheard of to position a One-Hit Knockout against a Mega Pokémon through Deep Hurricane! Lugia EX was by far my favorite Basic tech of the weekend.
1 Tauros GX: While Lugia EX is a great offensive hitter, Tauros GX is great for revenge kills and defensive positioning. If the opponent attacks a Tauros GX with even a medium-sized attack, you’re suddenly putting nearly all of the format in range for a one-shot KO. While Tauros had its moments, I was longing for a second Lugia EX more often than not, especially in the Mega Mewtwo matchup.
1 Jirachi XY67: Jirachi made it in as the 60th card because of a theory process I went through on the airplane right to the event. Since I was torn between about half a dozen tech Attackers for only 2-4 spots total, I went down the line and considered exactly which matchup each helped out in the most. This theorizing led me to conclude that I had two blind spots: Mewtwo/Garbodor and Mega Rayquaza. To help alleviate both of those matchups, I decided to run promo Jirachi exclusively for its Stardust Attack. Not only do I discard their few-and-far-between Double Colorless Energies, but slow down a very fast, aggressive assault, buying me time to double my Feather Arrow output. Although Jirachi ultimately didn’t win me any of my four matches versus those decks in practice, I think it has the potential to turn both of those matchups in your favor. Perhaps the safer, cleaner play would be to run Meowth Fates Collide, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
3 Shaymin EX: Shaymin EX’s Set Up is the heart of nearly all draw power in the current format, and my deck is no exception. However, the difficult decision for me was whether I wanted to run three or four copies. A deck featuring Forest of Giant Plants for fast evolutions is about speed, so of course you would want a higher-than-average count of a card capable of getting your deck size below 30 on turn one. What I found in testing is that with the fourth Shaymin EX, I saw diminishing returns, to the point where its removal was hardly noticed.
4 Sycamore: I’ve seen many fast setup decks survive without a maximum count of Sycamore, but when you aren’t running any copies of VS Seeker to get them back, it’s essential to run as many as you can.
3 N: Hand replenishment is great, and hand disruption under Item lock is even better. What makes N particularly special in this deck however is its great synergy with Feather Arrow Knock outs. When your Opponent has a heavily damaged EX Pokémon with little health left, but is currently two prizes ahead of you, N lets you get the advantage of a bigger hand, score the Knock Out on the heavily damaged EX, and then maybe even score another KO with an Attack. This suddenly means that thanks to N, you get to create an even bigger comeback win than normal.
2 Lysandre: While I felt fine with the above Supporter counts, running only two Lysandre copies was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. Part of having a solid lock with Decidueye GX and Vileplume includes having the wherewithal to bring up a high Retreat Cost Benched Pokémon and snipe the actual threats. For that reason, I actually ran three copies through the majority of my testing. I finally decided to bring it down to two because I was confident in Hollow Hunt GX getting back the used Lysandre copies, as well as to keep my Set Up Abilities from yielding fewer cards.
4 Ultra Ball: Gets anything; thins your hand out for stronger Set Up Abilities.
4 Trainers’ Mail: Your games are often made or broken on how fast you can fetch a Forest of Giant Plants.
3 Level Ball: The count on Level Ball was one of the most contested aspects of my list, but rarely because it wasn’t useful. Rather, I thought about all the other possibilities that could be obtained at the expense of this quick, dirty way to fetch every one of your pre-evolution cards. I came down as low as one in order to fit a nifty little idea (more on that later), but when that idea was ruled out, three Level Ball became my final choice: enough to fetch your lines consistently, but not so many they detract from your deck’s versatility.
2 Revitalizer: Revitalizer is an incredible way to fix bad Professor Sycamore discards, make your explosive starts even more explosive, or just help you get around games with bad prizes. I actually started out with three Revitalizer but cut it to two due largely in part to the desire to keep my Set Up draws from being clogged, but also because I determined that really careful playing foregoes any need for the third copy. It’s a large reason why I took my typical prize-searching process much more seriously: because I knew that while I had some slack in case something was prized or discarded, I didn’t have much!
2 Float Stone: Due to my confidence in maintaining Feather Arrow aggression regardless of what my Active was, I actually spent much of testing with one or even zero Float Stone. That meant if a Vileplume got brought into the Active position by Lysandre, I was totally ready for that. However, I determined that not running enough Float Stone copies made splashing in tech Basic attackers completely unfeasible, so keeping space for that many copies became a necessity.
4 Forest of Giant Plants: Save the rainforests; fight climate change!
4 Double Colorless Energy: Nothing special here – 4 DCE is just really good for everything including attacking, retreating, and getting Shaymins out of play. Hypothetically you could run fewer than a maximum count if you were only running Decidueye and Vileplume, especially since you have Hollow Hunt GX to get them back. However, the inclusion of the tech attackers all but forces you to have this many.
4 Grass Energy: Unlike running two copies of Revitalizer and Lysandre, there are many things that can happen outside of your control if you ran any less than four Grass Energy in this deck. Not running VS Seekers means you will constantly want to have access to Hollow Hunt GX, Decidueye swarms, or even the ability to pay Vileplume’s hefty three Retreat cost. Running fewer than four also risks putting otherwise easy matchups in the tossup column, like Greninja and Waterbox. Grass Weakness doesn’t mean anything if you can’t ever attack with Razor Leaf, right?!
Meowth, FTC: It does a clean 50 damage to anything in play as long as it has Damage on it already – pretty neat, huh? Combined with Decidueye GX however, it becomes an immediate OHKO threat to any small Basic, most import of which is Trubbish BKP. Most lists running Garbodor BKP and its Ability-locking Garbotoxin have to wait a turn before evolving their Trubbish, so a Meowth strike can prevent what could otherwise be a very ugly board situation. I’ve actually switched it into my current list on the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, and it’s working as well as I knew it could. The only downside is that I have nothing to tilt my Rayquaza matchup other than just getting set up first.
Trevenant EX, PRC: The only thing that can prevent locking a high Retreat cost Pokémon in the active position while you go to town on the rest of your opponent’s threats is a pesky Float Stone, or reduced Retreat cost via Float Stone. What better way to deal with both of those than a Pokémon which locks the active with Dark Forest, without any hope of Retreat beyond a Pokémon Ranger or Olympia? Trevenant EX is also great because it lets you work on killing two, possibly three different Pokémon all at once! That said, I think the list does a fine enough job keeping Pokémon locked as-is, and it’s not high up on the list of choices.
Beedrill EX, XY157: Beedrill EX, unlike Meowth, is an unconditional way to rid yourself of a Tooled-up Garbodor while Vileplume is also in play. I like it almost as much as Meowth, especially because its second Attack can risk big damage for only two Energy, but the Meowth and Jirachi are both much more versatile in shoring up even matchups. It’s also a very vulnerable EX to potentially leave Active with as much as a DCE and Grass on it.
M Beedrill EX, XY158: This is my garbage gimmick idea. By Mega Evolving an already-included Beedrill EX, you now create an even more frightening lock via auto paralysis and quadruple poison, thus accelerating anything you had in mind. The idea is 100% untested, and thus gets no more respect from me than “crazy-awful 11th hour idea,” but actually could be a really scary deck I you could somehow fit it.
1-1 Raticate EVO: Rattata is another decent way to deal with Float Stoned Trubbish. However, my favorite theory was to put opponents in horrible positions with Raticate’s Crunch, discarding all Energy while you Feather Arrowed from the safety of the Bench. Shadowy Bite is also an incredible way to punish decks with lots of Special Energy.
X number of Celebi, XY93: Celebi is cool because it can augment Decidueye’s Feather Arrow Damage targets while offering what could be on a good flip the deck’s best stall wall via Leap through Time. I ultimately determined that because of how common Silent Lab,
Garbodor, and Hex Maniac are, the last thing I needed was a copy of a card that had no hope of significantly improving any matchup past Gyarados AOR (which you shouldn’t have a problem against anyways).
2-4 Reserved Ticket: One of the wildest versions of this list that appeared to have some success was running copies of Reserved Ticket. Much of this deck’s problem is not drawing cards, but getting a copy of Forest of Giant Plants out into play. One solution I settled on was to run copies of Reserved Ticket, which despite relying on a flip increases your odds of rigging the top card with Forest. I ultimately settled on not running this for two reasons: first, I put a lot of premium on deck space dedicated to actual attackers; second, I wasn’t too keen on playing an Item that doesn’t actually thin your deck.
Tomorrow I'll be posting a full-fledged tournament report for the deck I used to get Top 16 at Anaheim Regionals. However, I understand a lot of people were wanting to know more about my Decidueye/Vileplume deck. So here it is in all its crazy glory!
Does this look familiar? It should, because I spent a whole fourth of my last blog entry talking about Decidueye! As I mention in that article and in my Quick Search entry, my preferred way to run the list was Vileplume, and the changes to make the list I posted there to Vileplume were not that hard. From that list, literally all you have to do is cut VS Seekers and Fighting Fury Belt.
I'll be posting the list again in the tournament report, discussing choices and last calls, but for now I figure this'll give you guys something to chew on.
Tomorrow I'll be posting a full-fledged tournament report; however, I understand a lot of people had some intense curiosity in my Decidueye/Vileplume deck!
Does this look familiar? It should, because I spent a whole fourth of <a href="http://www.heytrainer.org/blog/posts/The_Elite_Four_of_Anaheim:_Four_Decks_Capable_of_Winning_it_All">my last blog entry</a> talking about Decidueye! As I mention in that article and in my Quick Search entry, my preferred way to run the list was Vileplume.
I'll be posting the list again in the tournament report, discussing choices and last calls, but for now I figure this'll give a lot of you guys something fun to stew over for future tournaments!
Going to Anaheim’s Regional Championship and struggling to choose a deck? In this concise but hopefully illuminating read, we’re going to go through what I consider to be the four best overall choices for the upcoming Standard format Regional in Anaheim, California.
First, some housekeeping:
1. This is not a top X list, and I will not be ranking the decks in comparison to each other. I'm going to be unconventional because in this instance, I believe any one of the below deck choices has a great chance of winning on any given day. I even think a couple decks not included are also capable of pulling off the win, but in my mind these four are on a tier of their own.
2. To keep you guys from overthinking or feeling like you have to “read between the lines,” I’ve organized the decks in ABC order, based on the most prominent letter in their traditionally-recognized name. (E.G., Yveltal goes to the bottom; Grass goes closer to the top.)
3. Since this is a step beyond the typical "top X" list, I've given a four-star rating to each deck in numerous categories. Such categories include:
o Safety: How likely is this deck going to yield you a good day? I define a “good day” here in generalized terms, e.g., if you’ll end up getting a cash prize.
o Ease of use: Some decks are easier to play than others. And in a big Regional Championship with hundreds of opponents, misplays matter. I'm a big advocate of being prudent in your deck choice, and so whether you're newer, younger, or just really busy and haven't had time to learn this new set, I wanted to give you some recommendations on what might be the better play for you.
o Personal preference: To make this blog the best it can be, we need to give you reliable, premium-quality content. But in order to do that, I need you to trust what I’m saying, and the best way to earn that trust is by sharing my exact feelings about all four decks listed. I have a clear favorite, a fallback, a deck I'd only use in specific circumstances, and a deck I won't even touch.
…And now, the choices!
Simple and safe
Why it's good: Although some decks explode, other decks explode consistently. Darkrai falls comfortably into category two, as it's an all-Basic deck capable of hitting amazingly efficient Damage counts in record time. EXP Share also does an incredible job at maintaing your momentum throughout the whole game, and never having to attach more than two Energy to an attacker is a huge advantage.
Safety: 3/4. It’s still very much a proven, powerful deck, and is still fresh off a great Regionals win. It’s also got several great matchups. Don’t ignore the bad matchups though, and virtually every new GX should be a cause for concern – yes, Incineroar GX included! Still, I think if you’re good enough and are ready to play up to 27 games in a single day, this’ll work fine for you.
Ease of use: 4/4. Darkrai is one of my biggest motivations for writing this article the way that I did. As with every deck, you need to make optimal plays with your Trainers, Darkrai is mostly a linear deck with linear choices. It’s great for a new or younger player, and it’s especially good for a semi-retired old school great. This is one of the main decks in Standard where you’re less concerned with perfect play, and more concerned with avoiding terrible misplays.
Personal preference: 1/4. Despite all its positive attributes, it’s not personally appealing to me at all. This is partially because it’s behind the curve on the metagame, but especially because it’s so linear. One of the most valuable ways to outplay someone is to have something unpredictable up your sleeve, and Darkrai just doesn’t scratch that itch.
(Also, since the very last thing I wrote before finishing this article was the "why it's good" section for Darkrai, I'm convinced I have som sort of inherent bias against the deck.)
Believe me, there are a LOT of other directions you can take this list! (...Also, why is Tauros a regular art now?)
Why it's good: Sun and Moon changed the game with its new-but-not-so-new choice to make both Basic and Evolution GX Pokemon. Chief among these absurdly powerful cards is Decidueye GX, a card I feel has gotten an insane amount of disrespect leading up to this tournament. First and foremost, this is my favorite Sun and Moon card! I’m a bit biased here, but I believe it’s for good reason. First, its Ability is the most efficient “free damage” in the Standard format: The longer a game draws out, the more devastating two to three Feather Arrows can be. Second, it’s beefy as sin, which is a rare trait to have for a Grass type. Third, its options for locking and/or teching Attackers supplies ample opportunities to handle its number one threat, Garbodor’s Ability-locking Garbotoxin. Finally, its GX Attack is hands-down the best resource recovery available in Standard.
(Want some last-minute ideas for your Decidueye list? Check out my Quick Search entry on Decidueye!)
Safety: 2/4. What comes with the territory of being a new card is the risk that you will collapse. It can hit some bad matchups, and needs a bunch of cards to set up in every variant.
Ease of use: 1/4. In principle this deck should be very easy: get a bunch of Owls into play and smash in your opponent’s face. However, it’s much more complicated than that, particularly because each of those Feather Arrows you announce is game-changing. Conversely, a single wrong Feather Arrow could lose you the game, and a poorly-played or poorly-timed Hollow Hunt GX Attack will stick out like a sore thumb. Finally, you need a great plan for best two out of three match play, or else you’ll be drawing and losing matches you should’ve won otherwise.
Personal preference: 4/4. Despite the risks and the difficulties, I’m absolutely in love with this card and its way to sweep games completely and utterly. It does have some glaring issues and matchups, but they’re mostly just players not settling on all the right list choices – myself included. Multiple Feather Arrows in play is format-changing: it can and will dominate games that should be completely unwinnable on paper. We haven’t seen something capable of such tempo manipulation in years, and so it definitely has a home in any format it’s legal in. I'm currently leaning towards a version of the above list with Vileplume, but I'm also enamored with the way the pictured list deals out, too.
Wait, isn't this just Igor Costa's list with the wrong Tauros?
Why it's good: It’s got incredible firepower, healing, and Ability lock! Mega Mewtwo’s always been good, but at every turn, Weakness has held it down badly. Be it due to Night March or Mega Gardevoir, this deck has struggled to take down anything sizeable in this Standard or the last. However, headed into Anaheim, all the hype is surrounding cards which conveniently don’t pose any imminent auto-win threat against Mewtwo. Furthermore, the counters to these decks (e.g., Volcanion) suffer against Mega Mewtwo because they can’t handle the strength of Psychic Infinity.
I think if any time is the best time for Mewtwo to take down a Regional, it’s Anaheim. It has hard losses Yveltal EX/Garbodor will never be exposed to (see below), but in many ways it’s a stronger version of Yveltal. So assuming we see a lot of players swarm to Yveltal as the “safe” play, Mewtwo may be a great meta call.
Safety: 3/4. See above reasons. It’s got some pretty incredible matchups and doesn’t fare poorly against the new Sun and Moon cards, but will always have glaring weaknesses to be exploited.
Ease of us: 3/4. In my experience, Mega Mewtwo has a rhythm – that is, a set of very normal, scripted plays that hardly ever deviate. It’s also pretty simple to know where to attach, when to use what attack, and so on. Where it does deviate, however, is in how elite players handle bad matchups, or sticky situations. Whereas a Mega Gardevoir player who’s equally as talented as a Mega Mewtwo player will win most of their games, a skill discrepancy could easily expose the weaker Gardevoir player to a Mewtwo player, who by virtue of the deck will be very aggressive in seizing on those mistakes.
Personal preference: 3/4. In investing, there are high risk investments, medium risk investments, and low risk investments. In other words, the greater the risk, the more money you’ll make. Now imagine the three decks I want to play as investments. Playing Decidueye can result in either an incredible tournament-tearing day or a crash-and-burn day – I see little in between. Playing Yveltal (discussed below) will probably result in a perfectly fine day one, but will undoubtedly result in a lot of grindy day two games that could easily be broken by a rough hand or two.
Then there’s Mewtwo, the medium risk guy that “may” have some solvency issues, but is still totally capable of making me a good chunk of change. This is where really knowing the California metagame would really help in making a decision, as it could help predict just how big your “risk” truly is.
Yveltal EX/Garbodor/Tauros GX
Okay, now we're just getting ridiculous with this whole wrong Tauros thing.
Why it's good: Except for a select few niche attackers, Yveltal has no bad matchups – none! Everything in the metagame is 100% workable, and even against those bad matchups, Yveltal’s unholy combination of versatility, power, and disruption makes even those bad matchups entirely winnable. Furthermore, Tauros GX closes up a lot of the holes the deck had previously, and supplies a ferocious attacker to handle formerly horrible matchups.
Safety: 4/4. If you’re a good player and have a good list, you have a great chance of walking away with some money, and there’s no way I imagine you finishing with a negative record.
Ease of use: 2/4. The first-level plays aren’t hard at all, but if you don’t have the skills to handle all of its intricate matchup interactions, then don’t play it.
Personal preference: 3/4. I have a long history of using Yveltal EX, trust its consistency and other positive aspects, and am open-minded about using it in a state I don’t play in. There’s a good chance I may fall back on this in case I suffer a crisis of faith in Decidueye.
A Few Words for the Fallen
I said "fallen," not "Knocked Over"!
Of course, there are several decks not featured on my list. Chief among them is Mega Rayquaza, the high-sailing dragon God that deals untold amounts of damage to every EX south of 250 HP. I think common wisdom would take Decidueye off my elite four and replace it with Mega Rayquaza, but many of the metagame threats meant to target these new Sun and Moon Ability decks will inevitably hurt Rayquaza, too. Chief among them being sticking Garbodor in literally everything – who ever thought garbage could be so popular? Also, considering how common Parallel City is, it’s tough to see Rayquaza actually win the whole tournament.
For Greninja and Volcanion, I see it being much worse. Although in theory Volcanion should benefit from all the new, good Grass decks, it’s one of the worst decks to deal with Ability lock, which a plurality of decks will be packing. Greninja is even worse in coping with it, and now suffers the added “bonus” of having to contend with viable Grass decks.
Lurantis is a good card, but in testing it’s revealed itself to be fairly overrated. Chloroscythe GX is an incredible GX move though, and lists aren’t incapable of running a few surprises, so its time may come yet.
While I didn’t put it on my list, Vespiquen is a highly capable threat. Contrary to other premium article writers, I don’t think Sun and Moon added enough to change its composition too dramatically. However, it’s still great – just perhaps not safe the way the four listed decks are.
Finally, I think Water Box’s fate is pretty much left up in the hands of the meta. While a heavy-hitting Lapras GX is stellar against much of the “old” metagame, Water Box takes hard losses to every single Grass deck out there. And since Grass is monopolizing the hype, it’ll be a super-risky choice for Anaheim.
There are several decks I trust to be very good choices, but ultimately only four I identify as having a good enough chance of taking the whole thing. As with any deck choice, remember that it's a personal decision: You may want a surprise factor, something easy, or maybe something that'll just get you to day two easily. Whatever you do though, and whatever your goals may be, be sure it's a good choice for you!
Just a friendly reminder that HeyTrainer, through associated Youtube channel RogueTrainer, will be doing streams select Monday nights at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central Standard Time! Tonight's will be going LIVE in three hours, and we're excited to have you join!
In the post, our blog coined a now commonly-used phrase called the "deck list dump": an article which provides users deck lists. As used here, the deck list dump's practical purpose was to provide users quality content on days in which we couldn't provide a more in-depth article such as yesterday's. That way, there's still a lot to learn even if the actual article writers here can't provide normal premium-level content.
In recent times, the term has taken on a more negative meaning, thanks to the rise of many premium content websites that exist just to regurgitate other people's content. At some point people DID pay specifically for deck lists, but nowadays they're quite literally a dime a dozen! That's why whenever we do a deck list dump, we'll focus on achieving the following:
1. Enough decks to make reading the article worthwhile;
2. Some minor explanation or analysis; and
3. Unique decks or a unique purpose behind the dump (example: today's dumping of Legacy format decks)
Despite being a frozen format, Legacy actually has a lot of untapped potential. That's because the people who play it are usually either inexperienced or nostalgia seekers, both of which are not actively seeking out new ideas. (There are also "Genters," or people who collude to get benefits in the VS ladder, but I don't include them because they aren't actively engaging with the cards or the format.)
Below are six ists which I've found decent amounts of success with:
Concept Competitiveness: 7/10. Great versus Genesect/Virizion/Celebi, competitive with most other decks, but struggles at times.
Concept Competitiveness: 5/10. Struggles against all of the top decks, but has a hard cap to the amount of times its games takes. Also beats Plasma very handily.
This particular list could use Twins from Triumphant.
Concept Competitiveness: 8/10. Amazing versus all of the top decks in Legacy, but will take very hard losses, including to anything Water.
Concept Competitiveness: 7/10. Darkrai as a concept will always be extremely powerful, but in all honesty this particular list is not very good. I've included it however as an option for how to build Darkrai even if you don't own the very expensive Junk Arm card.
Concept Competitiveness: 9/10. Incredibly powerful, versatile, and has no bad matchups. Only thing keeping it from being a "10" is that it struggles a bit with Darkrai and select rogue from time to time.
Concept Competitiveness: 8/10. Extremely consistent, and exchanges very well with most of the format. The card pool from HeartGold/SoulSilver makes a big difference for this deck.