An Introduction to the 2010-2011 Season

The switch over to this new format has been an interesting one. One thing that stands out is how similar it is to the prior one. The number of cards which rotated was at an alltime low: Only 4 sets worth. The number of those which were actually seeing play at the end of last season belong to an even smaller list. Due to the continual power creep of cards, cards from Diamond and Pearl ( released in mid-2007 ) simply fell behind the more recent releases. Most of the cards that were played were the support cards.

claydol-great-encounters-ge-15pokemon-paradijs.comThe most pronounced loss was Claydol, from Great Encounters. Some people cherish its rotation, others are going to miss it. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I feel that cards which offer a boost in consistancy to decks over the course of the whole game are good. Claydol fell in line rather similiarly to Pidgeot in the 2005-2006 seasons, only on a stage 1. It was handicapped with a 2 Retreat Cost, and only 80 Hit Points. It enabled a good number of interesting deck combinations. It was the primary deck “engine” of the past few formats. Now, with it being rotated, there remains a bit of an imbalance.

SP decks were already at the very top tier of the game due to their speed, consistancy, and access to a slightly overpowered engine abusing Cyrus’s Conspiracy. So while Claydol being rotated “changes the format” it can also be argued that it makes it that much harder to beat the best decks in the format: SP. With Battle Roads underway already, the results are streaming in, and it seems a safe majority of events are being won by the all basic menace. I have attended one Battle Road thus far, and won it with Dialga Chomp.

On the other hand, I am always a fan of rotation. It freshens up the format, and prevents staleness. It also challenges the deck builder. By the end of a season, players have “caught up” with the format. Stock lists are readily available, and players have such a defined metagame that they are able to throw their chosen deck against the field so many times that they are able to perform at a degree above their natural ability. This is part of the reason why rogue decks, or “SDs” are able to do well at a number of late season events. The main mass of players simply get better “playing matchups”. Throwing in unknowns unbalance that. The best players perform strongly all season, and every new “reset” of the metagame restores that balance. Being one of the first players to get a grasp on the best decks in the format is such a huge edge when trying to win events.

victory-medal-autumn-battle-road-2010-2011pokemon-paradijs.comWhile Battle Roads are not that big ( although the new Victory Medal card is really amazing. I’m glad they made the change to the new card. ) they are really important in keeping at the top of your game, learning the new format, and most importantly, learning, or even influencing, your local metagame. It is my opinion that the most important tournaments of the year are the City Championships. They offer a strong K value, and as a result, you can really rack up your rating toward getting into Worlds off of them. They are also still local events.

By the time States come around, and the same goes for Regionals and beyond, you begin to have multiple states traveling to the same events, which brings out much bigger turnouts, and competition. Due to the natural variance of the game, this makes it hard to gamble on a sure-fire win at these events. It is much easier to chain good City performances. The past two seasons, I attended enough of them that by the end, I was sitting at over 1780 rating. If you do well at States, you can have your World’s invite locked up before Regionals as a result. City Championships are really the building blocks for Rating Invites.

This brings me back to my prior points. By Cities, the format is still ” up in the air”. Most players are still near the beginning of the “learning curve” of grasping it. ( As an example, look at the variety of decks and lists at the beginning of the season. Then go and look at what % of decks at Regionals could be considered already established archetypes. The huge difference is literally staggering. ) By using Battle Roads to get in shape for Cities, you are positioning yourself for a huge run of success while a majority of players are still trying to sort the format out. This is one of the most exciting times of the year for Pokémon, and I encourage everyone to go out and tear up a few Battle Roads heading into Cities.

roseannes-research-secret-wonders-sw-125pokemon-paradijs.comLet’s go back and address some of the other key cards which were removed from the format, though. Roseanne’s Research was in almost every deck. Its removal will be felt from decks across the board. Unown G was also removed from the format, which increases the power of both Gengar ( SF ) and Machamp ( SF ) by a large degree. Machamp is now a well positioned favorite against SP decks. Unfortunately, its a fairly hefty underdog against the rest of the decks in the format, so it stays a bit of a gamble to play.

Also rotating are Gallade and Gardevoir from Secret Wonders. These cards won Worlds in 2008 ( and dominated that entire format more so than any deck in the history of the game, Neo Genisis Feraligatr included.) and were on the verge of taking down a second World title in the past format due to the release of Double Colorless Energy and Judge. I feel that their time has come and gone, and their legacy is well cemented as being some of the best ever printed.

Now, seeing as how the number of impactful cards leaving the format can be counted on your own two hands worth of fingers, its easy to come to this conclusion: the format really hasn’t changed very much at all.

Pokémon Collector fairly easily replaces Roseann’e Research. It requires decks to adjust their energy count and allocation slightly, but as a whole the change is fairly lateral.

Unown G has to be addressed slightly differently. It isn’t easily replaced. There is no other card that directly fills its void. Unown G served two major purposes. It stopped Shadow Room from Gengar, and it protected Pokémon from Take Out by Machamp. Without Claydol, Shadow Room loses strength. It is very realistic to simply acknowledge that Gengar is a bit better now, and just suck it up. Shadow Room was never an attack that MUST be answered, so that can be somewhat ignored. Out is a bit of a different issue. Most decks are not concerned with Machamp. SP decks on the other hand routinely relied on one or two copies of the Unown to keep them in the game against Machamp. SP decks have a few ways to try and answer this newfound problem.

Toxicroak G from Platinum has Unown G’s effect as a PokéBody and is also a psychic type. This card has been phased out of SP builds as more and more stronger SP cards were released, but now it fills a major hole in the decks game plan.

Another approach would be to use Uxie Level X as a return KO answer. This works alright against decks with a thin Machamp line in them, more so than against decks running a full line of them. This approach would be best coupled with heavy disruption, to prevent them from being able to pull out a long chain of replacement Machamps.

An evolution line can be teched in to help here as well. A 1-1 Psychic Line can help give the deck a bit of game against Machamp. Coupled with Uxie, this might work fairly well.

Another game plan, and the one I used at my Battle Roads, was simply to ignore Machamp. The rest of the metagame is terrible for Machamp, so you can bank on it not being heavily played, and at the very least, that it will not perform that well. The odds are it will not make top cut. Sometimes it is better to simply acknowledge an auto-loss if the odds of you having to play it are low enough to allow such a gamble.

vileplume-undaunted-ud-24Now, its easy to address the cards which have been taken out of the format. We also received a new set in the form of HS: Undaunted. The set has a number of fun cards in it, many of which seem to be pretty strong. Vileplume, Smeargel, Energy Exchanger, Houndoom Prime, Leafeon, Scizor Prime, and a number of others seem to be well positioned to see play in the upcoming format.

The biggest challenge facing deck builders this season remains how to replace Claydol. I will be writing an article on cards which gain strength this format as a result of their ability to help fill in the void left by the very awkward looking fighting type Pokémon.

In the mean time, hopefully everyone is enjoying the new season of Organized Play, and that you get a chance to make it out to as many events as you can. I’ll end this article with what I feel the three best decks in the format currently are, and they are the ones I’d suggest anyone to take with them to Battle Roads in the next few weeks.

Dialgachomp, Luxchomp, and Gengar Vileplume are all regarded as three of the best decks in the game for a good reason. All three are extremely potent, and well positioned with the other decks currently seeing play. I’d advise anyone who wants to take home their very own Typhlosion medal give one of those three decks a run at the top. So good luck, and enjoy what I consider to be the most fun point in the season.

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