pokemon-paradijs.comWhenever I ask a pro what they recommend for an SP LV.X line, it’s surprisingly varied based on the player. Most people know that DialgaChomp decks typically run a 3/1 line of Dialga and 2/2 line of Garchomp simply because you want to start with Dialga, and you rely more heavily on Garchomp’s “Healing Breath” Power.
But beyond that, decks like Luxchomp, Blazechomp, and even Sablelock have a surprising amount of variance when you look at decks that have made top cut in the past. It’s after all this time that I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no “best” line for your SP LV.X Pokémon, and it depends more upon your playstyle and your desire for certain matchups results that should determine how you want to run your SPs.
In order for me to start this article off, I have to immediately say that anyone who swears by a 3/1 or 2/2 line and has only tried one of them, whether it be due to net-decking, or just general stubbornness, you need to become more open-minded. I asked someone at my last Battle Roads why he ran a 2/2 line of both Luxray and Garchomp, and he said it was simply because he liked the fact that it had more silver foil and added more value to his deck. I won said Battle Roads because I playtested both lines and determined that I’d run a 3/1 Garchomp line with a 2/2 Luxray line.
First off, the most popular attacker in the format: Garchomp C LV.X. The most obvious question is, what’s more important to you? Does your deck place more emphasis on tanking than attacking (ala Dialgachomp)? Then obviously, I’d recommend running a 2/2 line in order to maximize the amount of opportunities you can spam Healing Breath. However, if you’re running a Luxchomp build and want to get a leg-up on the opposing SP decks, I would actually recommend a 3/1 line. The reasons go into a mini-article all on its own, but I’ll try to be as brief as possible.
pokemon-paradijs.comNow, the advantages of the 3/1 line are simple math: you have a slightly better chance at starting with the Pokémon as opposed to a “dud starter” like Uxie or Azelf. The risk is still there, but you’re maximizing the amount of times that you can start with a great Pokémon VS a sub-par or horrible one.
Secondly, it gives you the most ammunition. While you can have your one Garchomp C LV.X prized, the chance of it is actually lower since you run only one, as opposed to two. It also makes it EXTREMELY unlikely that all of your base Garchomps will ever be prized (something that happened to me a few times when I ran a 2/2 line).
Thirdly, it offers the most potential for recovery. You NEED to run at least one, probably two Aaron’s if you plan to run a 3/1 Garchomp line. In addition, a Premier Ball isn’t a bad idea either.
The reason for this is that it gives you the numbers advantage VS the other SP decks that don’t run as much recovery, and as has been said in many an article here, the Garchomp War is one of the most crucial when it comes to SP mirror matches. The 3/1 line also gives you the most room for error in case your benched Garchomp gets sniped by an opposing one, but most good players would do everything they could to prevent that.
Next, up, the most expensive Pokémon in our current metagame, Luxray GL LV.X. I think you’d be surprised to find that the card doesn’t attack all that often, instead being abused for its “Bright Look” Power more often than anything else. This of course allows you to use its free retreat to bring in something that will probably KO the opposing Pokémon that was gusted in, usually Blaziken, or sometimes Garchomp to take a cheap prize off the bench. By association, many people tend to run a 2/2 line of Luxray in order to maximize on abusing Bright Look. However, there are some advantages to running a 3/1 line, and while I don’t run it myself, I concede that the advantages are there.
pokemon-paradijs.comClearly, the most obvious advantage is if you intend on attacking more with a starting Luxray. A turn-two Trash Bolt is one of the strongest attacks that a base-Pokémon SP can dish out, and it KOs a surprisingly large amount of metagame opponents that have that dangerous x2 Lightning Weakness, sparing you the bench space of a Crobat’s “Flash Bite”. However, this option all but requires that you use more deck space for Energies, as Trash Bolt’s downside is the energy discard.
Now, let’s move onto the less-used SP attacker, Blaziken FB LV.X. This choice is a lot more clear-cut than the previous two. If you need to wreck the opposition as fast as possible, it’s hard to find better than a 2/2 Blaziken FB line. The “Burning Spirit” body, which adds an extra 40 damage done to a burned opponent, on top of “Jet Shoot” results in a devastating 120 damage that makes all but the bulkiest Pokémon fall.
If you’re looking for a more disruption-based attacker with Blaziken FB, a 3/1 line is preferred. “Luring Flame” is also a fantastic attack for a starting Blaziken, as it’ll force your opponent to waste energies and turns to retreat, or if it’s SP, they’ll waste a precious Poké-Turn. Forcing the opponent to prematurely use their resources just to recover has always been a solid play for decks outfitted for a war of attrition. While I’ve never used a full line of four Blaziken (simply because I’ve never run a deck that focuses on it as a main attacker), the advantages for both should make your choice pretty easy based on your playstyle.
A 3/1 line isn’t just to help your chances of starting with a certain Pokémon, it also helps reduce an SP deck’s reliance on Call Energy. A 2/2 line and Call Energy have gone hand-in-hand ever since SP was introduced, and running a thicker line of Basics will help reduce that extra 3-4 spaces you’ll use Call Energy with.
In closing, I know I didn’t cover some of the less popular options like Palkia G, Infernape 4, etc, but the idea of the article wasn’t to hold your hand so you can net-deck based on your playing style. It’s to get you acquainted with the thought-process that goes into experimenting with SP lines and finding out which one’s right for you. Don’t desperately cling to your 2/2 or 3/1 line without experimenting with the alternative and finding out which is better for your purposes. The players with the most success experiment and tech on a consistent basis, considering all the options and finding out what works and what doesn’t.