With the state of the format pretty much lying in stagnation, being the proverbial “lame duck” until the release of the next set, and the next series of tournaments (States) not being until March, we are left with very little “innovation” to do. Unfortunately, due to the “unknown” nature of the next set, it is difficult to really test new deck ideas and theories simply because we are still in the dark over the actual contents of the set.
Let me use this as an opportunity to go on a bit of a tangent. I really love these types of sets. I loved Power Keepers, and I am extremely stoked for the new set as well. One of the issues that we run into is the fact that I feel Pokémon is a poorly tested game. Whatever “R&D” team comes up with the sets is extremely poor at it. The balance has historically always been off, more so than any of the numerous games I’ve played.
Part of this also deals with the fact that Japan has different formats (both involving what sets we have legal, and even deck size, since they use their 30 card format a lot) than we do. Cards which may not seem “unbalanced” in their format may be really difficult to deal with here.
As a result, these types of sets allow reprinting and even card creation which theoretically can be used to “fix” these imbalances, with an emphasis on our format. Plus, the lack of previewed information keeps a level of excitement going into the release of the set that is really lost when we’ve had spoilers for the set for months before it is released.
Ever since they cut all prize support from pre-release tournaments, I’ve had zero interest in going to them. I’ll hit up the close ones in an effort to trade since it is nice to get such a large gathering of people in one place for that, but I don’t spend the 25 dollars for the event when I can go and pick up a box for a little over 70 dollars in a couple of weeks.
Now, I actually have the motivation to go and play in one of the pre-releases, as I’m excited over the mystery of it. I mean, sure, I’m willing to bet PokéBeach will end up having a full set of scans a few days in advance again, but at least now I’m pumped for it.
The interesting question is, what will we see in the set? Well, there is of course Lost World, which a lot of people, myself included, have already come to cope with as being released. I don’t think it is good for the game, and I’m pretty sure the general consensus in Japan was that it was a mistake as well. That is the last beacon of hope I have for it not being released.
Theoretically, if they do not release it in the U.S. they can avoid having it legal at Worlds at all, which is a pretty nice quick fix to the problem in the short term. They could also print it with a slight alteration, such as increasing the required number of Lost Zoned Pokémon to 8, or 9, or even 10. They could use that as the basis for an errata to fix their Lost World problem as well, without having to “ban” the card or anything like that.
The other interesting idea is that with this set offering the prospect of entirely “new” cards, they could release “counters” to this strategy, such as introducing cards which bring Pokémon back from the Lost Zone. So while I feel Lost World, as printed, with no counter measures is a bad idea, I feel that this set has plenty of opportunities to help “fix” the issue.
It is somewhat pointless to try and speculate on what sort of new cards, if any, get designed for this set, but it is a bit more realistic to look into what reprints we may see. I’ll cover a few of the potentials.
Pokémon Collector, Rare Candy, and some of the other “staple” Supporters and Trainers are likely to get reprinted. Any of the big cards which don’t look to rotate, and haven’t been League promos yet are viable options.
There has been a concentrated effort to cut the value of the uncommon cards which get inflated prices in the past few years with the League promos, so I think this is another opening to do just that. Obviously the SP trainers and cards such as the aptly named Broken Time-Space are not in line for a reprinting, but anything from the HGSS block seems reasonable.
The next question is what kind of older, not currently legal cards will get reprinted, if anything? I’d look to avoid a reprinting of Uxie, Azelf or Mesprit, as those cards are bad for the game. Well, Azelf is actually quite good for the game, and I’d like to see a similar card printed in the future for the next formats. ( Although without the Level X mechanic, it is a bit less necessary. ) Better ideas would be Roseanne’s Research, and actually, Claydol.
Roseanne’s Research adds stability to the game, while being “on par” with Pokémon Collector. It isn’t inherently better, but helps make decks more consistent. The less unneeded variance in the game, the more skill based it becomes, and the better the game is. I’m not sure it will be reprinted, but it definitely would be nice.
Claydol is a perfectly balanced card. I’ll say that again. Claydol is balanced. Especially once Broken Time Space rotates, and Rare Candy requires you to wait a turn to play it, the card will not be a problem. Uxie has been the biggest issue in the past few formats because it makes decks unreasonably fast.
That was one of the worst cards to ever print because “Set Up” is simply too good. As more and more abusing non-Supporter consistency cards get released, it only grows stronger. Claydol, being a Stage 1, is a lot more balanced.
One of the major things we’ve noticed this year is how strong SP decks are. SP decks have always been tier 1. They have been a force to be reckoned with ever since they were released. The biggest issue this format is that other decks had their draw engine gutted from them, while SP still had its largely intact.
Claydol was the card which allowed evolution decks to keep up with the disruptive and fast SP decks. SP decks stayed the same, while evolution decks became less stable, and weaker. Returning Claydol to the format would even the playing field again. I’m the first to admit I love playing SP decks, but at the same time I feel they are too good.
pokemon-paradijs.comDo I expect Claydol to be reprinted? No. Is it possible? Yes. Would I like to see it reprinted? Yes. It would be healthier for this format, and it would be a huge boon to the next format as well without enabling degenerate decks.
Now, lets address the “big” cards that we know are coming out. Clearly, we have Lost World, as I touched on. The de facto “win condition” for Lost World is Gengar Prime. There is always debate over which support Pokémon are best for the deck.
There is discussion over using Mew Prime. This card helps you set up past disruption, and is a great opener, allowing you to start Lost Zoning Pokémon on the second turn easily. It also makes “replacing” Gengar Primes a non-factor midgame in close “race” type scenarios as all you need is a basic. It gets around Spiritomb rather nicely as well.
I feel that the best “strategy” is to run a very fast, and consistent “speed” list, which is great in most matchups. Of course, you get crippled by trainer lock, such as Vileplume, and the start crippling Spiritomb. Mew Prime, on the other hand, is fantastic against those decks.
Mew also allows you to run interesting tech evolutions to attack with, such as Machamp, which is an answer to Deafen lock from Dialga. (Gengar LV.X lets you “Level Down” the Dialga and get your body back, so eventually it will happen.) The Machamp inclusion also gives you a “sudden death” win conditions so you can theoretically take a quick prize or two if need be.
The other cards that are interesting are SP. Palkia G LV.X augments your game plan, and Absol G LV.X does as well. Both of these let you “cheat” around the 1 Lost Zone a turn quota you expect once you get going. Chatot G also works really well with Absol because it guarantees you hit cards you want to Lost Zone.
These cards, and the required Poké Turns, take up a lot of space though, so I’m not sure if they are worth the sacrifice. They may wind up being “win more” conditions, where they simply allow you to win games you already should win, just easier.
The cards clearly offer strong synergy and a harder to play around game plan, but do defocus the deck a bit as well. I’m legitimately unsure if they are needed, but the fact they seem strong in the mirror match offers promise. They also help “accelerate” your wins, which outside of being that shunned “win more” approach, may actually matter due to the fact that you are required to “win” your games since you automatically lose the tie-breaker for unfinished games: prizes taken.
That becomes an even bigger issue in match play, where you have to win your first two games completely or you will lose. They may be a necessity just because of that.
The other card that I think is really strong is Lucario. It has 90 Hit Points, and an attack for two colorless that does 30 damage plus 20 more for each Pokémon in your Lost Zone. There is no damage cap on this, so it can hit unrealistic levels of damage.
Couple this with Palkia G LV.X and the associated disruption cards such as Giratina and Mesprit, and you have a real contender. The issue is, it can’t even come close to beating Lost World, and not only does it fall to the Gengar builds using it as a win condition, but it also falls to any deck that wants to just run one copy.
If the deck proves to be the best deck in the format, decks can just run a lone copy and smash it. While not all too likely, it is a huge pain in the ass to deal with.
Palkia Lucario looks to be a frontrunner for me if Lost World does not get released, or gets errata’d. Even with Lost World, look for the deck to be strong against the field outside of decks using it. Theoretically you can add Absol G LV.X as your Lost World deck counter, and forgo using Lucario altogether, which may work better than it should against the deck.
Beyond that, it looks like we got most of the good cards in Triumphant, so we’ll have to see what else gets released. There is the one Energy Removal trainer which gets rid of Special Energy cards, but I’m not sure how useful that will be. The card takes up space in decks where space really isn’t available to be allocated. Decks need to stock up on so many speed and consistency cards due to the nature of the format they can’t afford to add them in place of it.
The other issue is that it doesn’t do much against the big decks. LuxChomp abuses DCE, but pretty much expects to either lose it or even discard it to Dragon Rush. It might be an alright inclusion for SP mirror matches though. Gyarados doesn’t use Energy, but it may work as a counter to Rescue Energy, but that deck can probably work around that. It is clearly bad against Vilegar, and isn’t good against Lost World either, so the card doesn’t have enough upside to really see play.
Without more spoilers, it is difficult to look ahead, so we are really left with looking back. The Cities season is over, and a pretty well-defined Metagame has taken shape from the aftermath. After attending 11 City Championships, I’m resting at a comfortable 1807 rating, which is above my expectations. My “high end” goal was to crack 1800, and I managed to do that for the first time.
Without attending any of the Marathons, I knew it would be difficult to break into the higher rankings, if they ever get online, but I managed to meet my goal. Now that I’ve finished bragging and congratulating myself, lets move on to the more important part of what I am getting at: The decks.
To round out this article, I wanted to address all of the decks that were contenders at the end of Cities. This puts us all on an equal playing field. We are all going to be scrambling to test once the next set is released, and the first place we will start is by updating existing archetypes, and then of course, trying to build new ones, but figuring out what we think are contenders for being the existing metagame we are left with after Cities.
So while the metagame is dependent on the next set, it is still vital to know what is currently floating around. As a result, I’m going to post lists for all of the biggest decks so that you have your “stock list” for testing. These should give you a great starting point for your testing, which is really all anyone can give at this point.
Pokémon – 20
3 Garchomp C
Trainers – 28
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 12
This is the deck I’ve played all season long, and the one I feel is by far the best in the format. There isn’t a single matchup I’m worried about using this deck, so I really advise players give this thing a go.
Pokémon – 22
4 Magikarp SF
Trainers – 33
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 5
Gengar Vileplume (Vilegar)
Pokémon – 26
4 Gastly SF
Trainers – 19
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 15
Possible Inclusions Are: Crobat G and/or 1-1 Blissey PL likely at the expense of Seeker and/or Looker’s Investigation. The 15th Energy (not a Psychic) could be cut as well.
Pokémon – 22
4 Magnemite SF 66
Trainers – 24
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 14
4 Special M
This is another deck that is extremely flexible both in what kind of tech cards you can add, and in what sort of draw engine you use. This is similar to the one that’s been seeing success locally, so I used it as the “stock build” over some of the random ideas I’ve been throwing around.
Now I have a few other random decks I want to touch on real quick, but I don’t necessarily have lists for. These are mainly decks that popped up during the Georgia Marathon, which I didn’t attend, but I can at least briefly address.
One of the events was won by a Magnezone Yanmega Prime deck. Despite neither card helping to fix its worst matchup (and arguably, it’s only bad one at that) in LuxChomp, Yanmega is very good at fixing the fundamental problem of Magnezone: It is slow.
Yanmega is a very fast card, and one that doesn’t take any energy at all, so you are able to put a threat active, taking prizes, while you set up with Magnezone. I love the concept in general, if it didn’t offer no help against LuxChomp. That is the deck that neither Magnezone or Yanmega can beat reliably.
I do like the synergy between the two and Judge (both Primes love that card) and the deck just downright destroys both Gengar and Gyarados, which turned out to be huge decks at that series of events. If you aren’t afraid of a huge LuxChomp presence, Magnezone is very well positioned in the metagame to make a deep run at a tournament. I’m not sure if it can beat Lost World, if it comes out, but I’m sure it is good vs everything else.
One of the other big decks that has gained popularity recently is Steelix Prime. The deck spiked in popularity after Worlds and Erik Nance’s strong showing with it, but it died down a bit during Cities. It won a CC during the Marathon, and I’ve seen a lot of bandwagon lists going around.
The deck is a pretty powerful threat, but is a victim of pairings. There are simply certain matchups that deck is not going to beat, and others that it should have no issue beating at all. I’m not a very big fan of the deck because it really relies on its rogue nature to be a threat. If the deck catches on, it is very easy to tech against and thus beat. It may be a good play in a well-defined, favorable metagame, but beyond that it is really a risky play.
Alex Brosseau unleashed his Regigigas lock deck at the Marathon as well. Running no basic energy, it relied on using a mixture of Drag Off and Gigaton Punch on turn two to put quick pressure on the opponent. The deck ran a ton of trainers, maximizing its speed and consistancy, while running all of the tools needed to loop one of his three LA Mesprit to keep the opponent off of Powers almost the whole game.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe ran a Giratina (Let Loose) as means to cripple an opponents hand, and then keep them off of Powers which his 170 HP Regigias went aggressive. He was able to routinely win games before having to give up his Power Lock, which is just such a threatening game plan in this metagame.
The deck has its harder matchups, but fares well against most of the tier 1 decks. It has an incredibly strong SP game, and Gyrados can’t keep up with the hand disruption and power lock. Drag Off is strong against Vilegar, as you aim to keep Vileplume active and eventually get your trainers back.
After discussing the deck with him, we realized the decks strength lied less in Regigigas, and more in the engine of the deck and the disruption, so hypothetically any aggressive, hard to kill stage 1 might be better in the role than Regigigas. I proposed Scizor Prime, but with the new format coming, I never got around to testing it.
To close out the article, I wanted to address some of the cards I expect to get hot coming up. Gengar Prime, and Mew Prime are sure to go up in value. They are the proposed backbone of the Lost World deck, and even if the deck doesn’t reach the expected success I think it will, the cards will hold value until at least States so they are still a good investment.
They have already spiked in anticipation, so I don’t think they will jump up too much more, but I could see Gengar, if the deck is successful, nearing 30 dollars. Due to the rarity difference, don’t expect another Luxray GL LV.X, but it could go higher. Absol G LV.X is a huge prospect right now. It is likely to play a role in the Lost World deck, and it is also a great counter to it. SP decks could be adding it to their lists, so it benefits off of being played in both decks.
Palkia G LV.X may see play in Lost World, and also with Lucario, so that too is a card to watch for and pick up in advance. It should be easy to snag due to the box set with it and Dialga G LV.X (which is such a crazy steal that everyone should buy one).
Mesprit is another card people should be picking up. Either with Palkia, or with a Regigigas style lock deck, this card is one of the best in the format right now. Even if your deck doesn’t stand to directly benefit off the card (and I can’t imagine many decks not wanting it) it is a great “counter-measure” to Seeker, which a lot of decks will play. Punish their Seekers with a Psychic Bind the next turn.
If you aren’t running an SP deck, Mesprit seems pretty mandatory, and as the only Faerie not to get a League Promo, the card is growing harder and harder to get.
As for cards that are likely to lose value, we have Gengar SF. The deck is hailed as many as the “best deck in the format” despite the fact that a well built SP deck beats it pretty badly (by adding either Dialga, or a dark type attacker) but this deck is going to get really hurt by Lost World.
Not only is Gengar Vileplume atrocious against the Lost World deck, but it receives “splash hate.” Dark types will surely see a lot more play in the near future to combat that deck, and that hurts its chances too. SP decks aiming to beat Lost World end up running a lot of cards which also hurts Gengar Plume.
Machamp will continue to be less viable, as more and more non SP decks hit the scene. I would hold on to the Primes for next season when it will be a monster, but at the moment I don’t see Machamp playing a role in this format again. It won’t stop people from playing it, but it can’t be regarded as anything but a bad play now.
I actually expect Gyarados’ value to drop as well. It is performing worse and worse vs SP as the season progresses, and it is an underdog to Vilegar and Magnezone. I don’t like its odds against Lost World either, and its favorable matchups are dropping off in popularity while more threatening ones gain playability.
In closing, the States metagame should be an evolution of the current one, only adapted to handle Lost World. In my opinion, that leaves us with Lost World builds, and SP builds intended to beat it. Full blown lock decks may also be viable because they can go at it against SP, and may be disruptive enough to beat Lost World decks.
Of course, these predictions could be thrown completely off as a result of new cards being added to our next set, but I’m only able to work with what is known.
Hopefully this article did a good job of catching everyone up and putting a bit of a cap to the City Championship season, and will be a great primer to those who are looking to step up their game as the stakes grow higher going into the back to back weekends of States!
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