Alright everyone! With Regionals behind us, we are looking forward to a rather turbulent time in the world of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. If you have paid attention whatsoever on other message boards, people are in an uproar over the introduction of the Black and White rules into the game.
Now, everyone has been asking whether this is merely a chicken little “the sky is falling!” overreaction, or if it really is as bad as the doomsayers are preaching.
Well, put simply, it is bad. Put less simply, it is bad, but the game isn’t entirely crippled on the back of these changes. I’d like to liken the state of the game to what we had years ago in Unlimited. We dealt with the Trapper Combo (Impostor Professor Oak, Rockets Sneak Attack, and Team Rocket’s Trap).
IPO gave them a 4 card hand (And people complain about getting Judged! IPO was a one-sided Judge.) and then RSA plucks a Trainer from it, and TRT shuffles the remaining 3 cards into their hand. And yes, this was happening turn one too.
Remember, this was a world where Computer Search, Bill, Item Finder, and of course, Professor Oak, reigned unrestricted. The game didn’t wither up and die, even though the state of Unlimited at that point really did begin to push toward the introduction of rule sets such as Prop 15/3c, and eventually, our very first set of rotations with the first Wizards of the Coast Modified Format (Rocket onward).
Prop 15/3c, for those who didn’t play back then, was a rule that you could only run 15 trainers, and 3 copies of a card. Now, this kinda backfired, because the same 15 trainers hit every deck, and while some degree of “balance” was restored, the winning decks boiled down to the exact same combination of cards (Clefable, Rocket’s Zapdos, Hitmonchan, etc).
pokegym.netWe can also relate this situation to the popular (required) Cleffa Lass interaction which defined Unlimited up until its last days. Cleffa helped to alleviate the Trapper Combo problem, but in turn, made Lass a mandatory inclusion. Both players got their hand stripped of Trainers, only the person who opened with Cleffa would then shuffle their hand in and get a new trainer filled 7 card hand.
Cleffa takes the exact same role that Sableye does. If you didn’t open with it, you were in really bad shape. If you went first, you got it out on your first turn. Same exactly scenario.
Now, keep in mind, this exact issue led to the creation of Modified. This was an acknowledgement by Wizards of the Coast (and likely had to go through some sort of OK by the higher ups) that sort of state of the format was NOT good for the game. We have a direct precedent for acknowledgement that what is happening now is bad for the game.
Let me also address something important when making that comparison. The damage output of cards during those days was drastically less than what it is now. Cards could not threaten first turn kills. They could not reliably take 6 Prizes in 6 turns.
The “power creep” we’ve seen has enable decks to often take 6 Prizes within 6 turns, REGARDLESS of interaction with an opponent. This didn’t happen in the old unlimited format. A card like Murkrow, which was extremely dominant, would have been terrible in a format with the relative attack strength we see now.
Now, ignore the obvious number jumps in damage and Hit Points. Look at the RATIO of damage to Hit Points. Damage has gotten SIGNIFICANTLY higher in ratio to average Hit Points on Pokémon. Pokémon get killed quicker, and this makes the window of opportunity for a player to recover from first turn disruption very narrow.
Going back to the “6 Prizes in 6 turns” issue, this means that if a player gets up 2-3 Prizes before a player “recovers” it is irrelevant, because they are still EFFECTIVELY out of the game.
I think a lot of the concerned players are not really focusing their worries correctly. They are worried about actual first turn kills. Despite the admitted higher chance of first turning with Sableye based Seeker kills, I wouldn’t want to be using a deck that effectively has no back up plan if their “donk” fails.
Even if a deck can donk 60% of its games regardless of matchup, remember, that’s a STRICT 60% that also means you lose 40% of your games, which, isn’t going to be getting you deep into Worlds, now is it? I expect that decks like this will show up, especially amongst players who acknowledge they can’t compete against the best players in regard to complex matchups.
Now, I don’t mean to degrade players. I’ve heard this exact argument used for why players use Machamp. Not “oh, player A is only using Machamp because they can’t win with a harder deck” but Player A CLAIMING they used Machamp because it gives them better odds to win due to skill and practice differences.
Players stand to gain quite a bit off of honesty regarding themselves. If you aren’t prepared to use certain decks, don’t have the mindset that you will play any deck flawlessly, because you are shooting yourself in the foot. Know what ability level you are at in any given format, and play the deck that gives you the best odds to win.
In Magic, they offer tournaments for multiple different formats. It is common knowledge that, regardless of skill level, if you are unfamiliar with a format, or have been inactive for a while, or even if you are just breaking into the competitive scene, don’t go with the most complex deck.
Go with the one with a clear-cut game plan, that’s simple, and you won’t mess up. There isn’t anything to be ashamed of in acknowledging that you are NOT prepared to be using the complex “best deck”. Don’t let anyone else try to rag on you for it either.
Use what gives YOU the most success, not what SHOULD give “flawless player X” the most success. Being able to step back and honestly evaluate where you stand in terms of preparedness for any event SHOULD influence your decision.
That was a bit of a tangent regarding the fact that, while I wouldn’t run any sort of dedicated “donk” deck, that I don’t blame a decent number of players who are going to. Uxie Donk has been known to do well at a number of tournaments, and with the new cards and rules, yes, the deck does get substantially better.
pokemon-paradijs.comNot good enough for me to want to use it (and no, not because of any moral or ethical or “spirit of the game” objections, just because I feel that it doesn’t give me the best odds of taking down an event).
The problem is a bit deeper than that. I don’t see Nats being won by whoever can donk the most people. I see it being won by whoever can avoid being donked the most. That is still not a good state for the format to be in.
The problem I see is that it isn’t going to be an issue of losing to a “donk deck”. It is an issue of EVERY DECK having access to a game stealing plan. Every deck will run Sableye. Every deck then, has enough room to be packing the same cards “Sablelock” has been using for years now. Uxie-Donk is a tier 2 deck currently, where as Sablelock is tier 1.
(Not at the TOP of tier 1, but still tier 1.)
There is no reason not to be running Judge, and Cyrus’s Initiative, Mesprit LA, or even Giratina PL #9 with the new rules. That means that the standard LuxChomp list, or Gyarados, or Machamp, or whatever deck you want to play can simply be updated to incorporate these cards, and “effectively” steal games.
Remember when I address that issue with the old Unlimited analogies? You don’t need to ACTUALLY win on turn one. You only need to make a play that slows them down so much that they are realistically unable to win. Watch most games in the format as it is.
Whoever takes an early lead almost always wins, barring extreme examples. The way the format is shaping up, this “early lead” will go to whoever goes first almost every single game now. I don’t care if a player’s ACTUALLY beat on turn one, I care that players are EFFECTIVELY beat on turn one.
The fact that every archetype and matchup will be based around who steals the game off the bat is bad for the game. It isn’t even just some degenerate luck deck posing a problem, but a number of them.
Even without Sableye, we face problems. Giratina + Cyrus’s Initiative is just bad. With a Poké Drawer, PokéDex, Junk Arm, Uxie, Unown R engine, accomplishing this on the first turn is very easy. Even if Sableye isn’t the one playing the Initiative, it is still a hand crippling card.
Imagine using Jirachi to replicate the effect of Cyrus’s Initiative. Turn one, get Jirachi active, and use Cyrus’s Initiative for 4 flips. Sableye or not, that can cripple a game off the bat. It also makes it very easy for a player to chain a Mesprit Lock due to the use of trainers and supporters right away.
pokemon-paradijs.comEven taking Sableye out of the equation, the unnatural speed and disruption of this format enable too many degenerate plays that GREATLY favor whoever gets access to them first. Before, at least cards like Call Energy would allow you to have an edge.
That, and an extra card, plus an extra energy drop, and first access to evolution and leveling up. That was enough to somewhat offset going first. Most decks still wanted to go 2nd, but now, that balance is removed entirely.
We also have to deal with stupid decks like Emboar Shuckle Forretress, which, due to Broken Time-Space, can go off on the first turn. I don’t particularly like the deck as I’d rather be using a deck which can also “steal” the game using Sableye, but it becomes a big degenerate threat if a solution such as “ban Sableye” is enacted.
Now, I know I addressed this in passing last article, but I think you’ve noticed by now that I’ve taken to a different “format” than most with my articles. I prefer to use this more as an extended blog than any particular essay styled article. This allows me to touch on a lot of different things, rather than have to stick rigidly to a topic that may or may not have enough content to warrant a full lengthy article.
I could certainly push out 10,000 words on a number of topics, but a lot of them wouldn’t really be useful. I could fill something with plenty of fluff, but feel I would rather just diverge from doing one specific topic (beating a dead horse etc) and cover everything that’s recently occurring.
Now that I got that tangent out of the way, let’s go and look at the fallout of Regionals! Really, there isn’t a lot to say that we didn’t know was going to happen. LuxChomp pretty much dominated the tournaments, taking down more events than any other deck. We saw the same decks from States performing well, with Vilegar, Gyarados, DialgaChomp, Sablelock, Machamp, and Magnezone pretty much making up all of the top cuts.
I don’t think anyone really expected something truly innovative to step up and “save” a stale format, because, sometimes, a format just doesn’t have that much depth to it. Toss in the fact that we’ve effectively had two years to really explore the cards we have, it makes perfect sense that the near perfected lists we have now would still hold up.
I opted not to play Regionals (and somehow, everyone must have assumed I still was, because everyone kept asking me how I did despite telling them in advance I would be judging) and got a chance to judge the event. I wanted to take this time to give a shout out to the great staff I got to work with in Fort Wayne for Great Lakes Regionals.
I’ve always said that the region has some of the best organizers and judges in the country, and after getting to work with everyone at a big event, I can’t reassert that enough. The only issues we did have were with the computer and some of the match inputs there, which slowed things down a bit, but were fixed promptly. Beyond that, it went surprisingly smoothly.
One of the things that I enjoyed was getting a chance to watch the tournament from a perspective other than as a player. It would be wrong for me to post any sort of lists that I would have seen due to my judging position or from doing deck checks, but I feel safe discussing information that was otherwise readily available to anyone else who paid even moderate attention to the event.
First, I wanted to really congratulate Ohio for it’s extremely impressive performance at Regionals! The top 4-of Juniors, and top 2-of Seniors, were all from Ohio.
Juniors was won by a Regigigas Honchkrow deck that I got to help test against the prior week at League, and Seniors was taken down by Gyarados lock (the same deck I wrote about in the previous article! I got a chance to see the list during deck check, but despite the format changing to the point the list doesn’t matter anymore, I wouldn’t feel right leaking it. I will say that I was pretty close on it though.)
The top 8 for Masters is really where I wanted to go into more details.
1: Jack Iler with LuxChomp w Dialga
2: Drew Holton with LuxChomp w Dialga
3: Tad Wheeler with Vilegar
4: Andrew Mondak with DialgaChomp
5: Dan Richard with Machamp
6: ??? with Gyarados
7: Adam Bruggeman with LuxChomp
8: Austin Reed with LuxChomp
5-8th I am unsure of the actual standings of, but I know they made top 8. You’ll see that the top 8 consisted of 4 LuxChomp, and 5 SP total. I’d also like to do a bit of State-Bragging and point out that again, the entire top 8 ( and at least 6 of the 8 top 8 ) were all from Ohio. I also wanted to congratulate Jack on his win! He had a lot of bad luck going through States, so its nice to see what you were able to do with a bit better of luck.
pokebeach.comThe deck that did extremely well at our Regionals that I wanted to point out was Magnezone Regirock (I also know it won PA Regionals.) It placed a number of players into the top 32 here, and had the second best performance during swiss outside of LuxChomp.
Unfortunately, all of them had been weeded out by the time we reached Top 8, but the deck had far more success than the top 8 would show. In fact, Top 16 was a rematch between Jacob R and Andrew Mondak, who played off in the finals of Indiana States, with Mondak again picking up the win.
Outside of mere variance, I also know for a fact that the Magnezone decks were beating a number of top players in tough matchups. It’s easy to look at raw statistics and numbers and try to extract from them, but I find more faith in knowing that the deck was winning real, legitimate games.
I think that we can extract a bit of information from this though. I’ve always preached about how some decks have great intangibles. I think this is a perfect example of this. Magnezone did great during swiss where it was guaranteed its games would be 30+3, but seemed to struggle once put into match play.
It certainly wasn’t because they were now paired against better players, because they were racking up big wins during swiss too. It makes sense that they’d struggle in any potential game 3s as well.
I was actually shocked by how much Gengar I saw this time around. At both Ohio and Indiana States, the deck was under represented. Yet at Regionals there was a ton of it. It didn’t fare too well, and quickly dropped toward the lower tables though.
I’m not just talking Vilegar, but LostGar as well. I know I’ve been down on the decks forever now, but I’m glad to know my bias wasn’t entirely uncalled for. I’m sure the deck is better than I say it is, but I still don’t like it.
Another deck that did well, and placed two players into the top 16, was actually Arceus. Giant props to my friend Alex Schact for 6-2ing Swiss and making it all the way up to top 16 while still being so new to the game. I’m still not sold on the deck as a whole, but I will say that very few players know how to correctly play against it, and that alone makes it a pretty threatening deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comArceus actually standards to be a really good deck next format, potentially. If nothing is done, and we do get RR onward, then Arceus standards to become much better with the lack of SP, Machamp, and Gengar. In a format where BTS and Rare Candy are gone or nerfed, the “slower” Arceus deck suddenly becomes aggressive comparatively.
I know players (myself included) are pushing for it to go to HGSS onward NOW, but if we do get RR on as announced earlier this year for next format, Arceus is certainly an overlooked threat.
Now, I could go into more detail about the decks that came out of Regionals, but, put politely, they don’t matter. That format is officially dead, and there is no reason to dwell on it. Instead, we have to look ahead to the release of Black and White. Leaving the debate of the rules change aside, lets just look at the cards which will be included in the release.
Super Scoop Up
pokegym.netThose are the cards that got released in the U.S. installment of BW, so a few potent cards did get left out of our version from the Japanese release. For instance, Catcher (Gust of Wind) did not make the cut. That card would have clearly made an impact on the format, so its lack of release is important.
Sadly, also cut, was Cubchoo and Beartic, my two favorite Pokémon from this generation. Luckily, my other favorite Pokémon, and all around good guy, Basculin (The Masculine Bass) DID make it into the set, so I certainly am excited for that.
I may as well say it now, but I am accepting any and all bass donations. I understand that you love him too, but, if you are feeling extra generous, or just want to build up karma for Nationals (we all know you need it now, “good luck”) then I appreciate you parting with the rare, desirable fish.
Lets look at which cards immediately stand out to make an impact. As usual, a large portion of any set is just filler and will never really be in contention for any sort of competitive play.
So rather than go and address each card and try to come up with a witty way of saying they are awful as I have in the past, I’ll instead just look at the ones I think matter.
Ability: Royal Heal: At any time between turns, heal 10 damage from each of your Pokémon.
GC: Leaf Tornado: 60, Move as many G Energy attached to your Pokémon to your other Pokémon in any way you like.
Weakness: Fire x2
Resistance: Water -20
pokebeach.comWell, it’s Ability is Nidoqueen without the limit of only one working per turns, so yeah, if you get 4 of these guys out, you are healing 40 each turn, for a net healing of 80. That’s a tad bit greedy, but the card doesn’t seem too bad. Currently, it has access to support cards like Shaymin LV.X and Celebi Prime.
Its attack costs are pretty cheap, so I’m not sure Celebi is exactly what the doctor ordered here, but it is a card I feel should never be overlooked. Its Power is still very powerful, and a rarity on a basic, so I’m always trying to keep an open mind regarding its possible applications.
Shaymin, on the other hand, seems extremely good here. Granting Serperior a whopping 170 Hit Points ( 190 with an Expert Belt ) is very useful with Royal Heal. It’s actually a pretty fast attacker too, swinging on turn 2. It hits for 80 with an Expert Belt, which isn’t great, but is acceptable due to its speed.
It also lets you re-arrange your energy, which is pretty strong. It isn’t that abuseable, but it does let you save your energy if you know Serperior is going to die. Combining it with Shaymin also allows you to use Shaymin’s attack as a one hit kill option, for matchups and positions where doing 60-80 otherwise just isn’t enough.
One of the problems that a deck which focuses on not dying suffers from is the inability to also go aggressive enough. You’ll never beat an SP deck if you cap at 80 damage (Garchomp will heal right past you and be able to steal prizes regardless) but being able to toss in attacks for 140+ damage gives you more reach in crunch time.
One of the problems I see facing this guy is that he has a fire weakness. Currently, that’s almost a good thing, but Emboar and Reshiram are both very good cards, and look to make a competitive splash in the near future, so that likely keeps this guy in check, especially since he is only “borderline” in terms of playability as it is.
Still, I wouldn’t rule him out for next format perhaps, as he’s not necessary bad, just not that exciting.
Ability: Inferno Fandango: As often as you like during your turn ( before you attack ), you may attach a R Energy card from your hand to 1 of your Pokémon.
RRCC: Heat Crash: 80
Weakness: Water x2
Retreat Cost: CCCC
pokebeach.comAlright, I hate the pigs, but that is besides the point. I don’t know how they decided to restrict the strength of most of the Pokémon in this set, then give us this guy, but hey, we play with what we are given. This guy has monstrous Hit Points, and his ability even shames the abusive base set Blastoise’s Rain Dance.
Feraligatr Prime is just extremely jealous here (well, besides the fact that everything breaks even when you realize how DUMB Emboar looks. Gotta throw the poor thing a bone somehow.).
Not only does it not place any damage counters (Blastoise-EX) but it also can attach to ANY type of Pokémon! Rain Dance had always been “balanced” (the term is used very loosely here) by the fact it could only rain down on Water types.
This balance is now thrown right out the window. We saw what happened with this in 2006 where Holon’s Castform/Electrode/Magneton allowed Blastoise-EX to be broken wide open as it let the deck run both Lugia EX and Steelix EX. While we don’t have a direct way to allow Emboar to attach different colored energy, it is a bit on the overpowered side.
Luckily this Emboar appears to have a low damage output at 80 for a fat 4 energy, but let’s look at his partner in crime, the (equally ugly) other Emboar:
FCC: Heat Crash: 50
FFCC Fire Blitz: 150, Discard All R Energy attacked to this Pokémon.
Weakness: Water x2
pokebeach.comThis guy caps at 150 damage, so it offers up the cannon role rather well. I don’t like discarding (likely 4) energy much either, but 150 damage is 150 damage. Especially when you can attach all 4 in one turn.
Emboar opens up the use of a number of older Pokémon, such as Charizard, which were previously handicapped because, while good Typhlosion Prime isn’t THAT good. It was handicapped by getting Mesprit locked, and Power Sprayed, and still required you to get energy in to the discard pile before it really let you take over.
Emboar fulfills that role far better. Especially since Psychic Bind and Power Spray do nothing to Inferno Fandango, an Ability. I’m pretty sure I’m going to require my opponent to announce that power every time he attaches an energy with it by name, just to hear those words. No more “I’ll attach these 5 energy with Emboar” I wanna hear “Inferno Fandango” 5 times.
Emboar also benefits from the presence of Ninetales. While it lacks the raw synergy it had with Typhlosion, it is still a good draw engine. Emboar is, though, still handicapped by Gyarados. Perhaps Junk Arm + Bubble Coat would be enough to fix that (a Charizard with Bubble Coat can chew past Gyarados like it is it’s job).
I address the Forretress Shuckle combo before, but I’ll touch on it again while on the Emboar portion of this article. Shuckle lets you draw a card every time an energy from your hand gets attached to it. So Emboar lets you just dump fire to it, and then Seeker/Super Scoop Up lets you re-use it.
The “kill switch” is Forretress who flips a coin for every energy attached to it, and for each tails, it does 20 damage to every Pokémon. You see where that is going, as once you pile 10+ energy on Shuckle, they all wind up on Forretress and kill everything. Gimmicky but effective and full of raw power. Emboar is easily the best card in this set.
CC: Outrage: 20+, Does 10 more damage counter on this Pokémon.
FFC: Blue Flare: 120, Discard 2 R Energy attached to this Pokémon.
Weakness: Water x2
pokebeach.comAlright, this guy is a pretty big beating. It’s hard to tell just how good he’ll be, but any time you get a basic Pokémon who can deal a ton of damage like this, it has to be looked at. Blue Blaze is a good attack, and Outrage has the potential to do a lot of damage as well if they can’t do 130 damage in one hit ( hint: most decks cannot )
He has the potential to be paired with either Emboar, or Typhlosion Prime. Fire is a great type for this guy to be, as he has a lot of synergy with great fire types in the format.
Again, Gyarados pretty much limits this guys power, but next format, you have to assume that Fire decks abusing a combination of Emboar, Typhlosion Prime, Reshiram, and Ninetales are a frontrunner for the best deck.
Ability: Shell Armor: Any damage done to this Pokémon by attacks is reduced by 20 ( after applying Weakness and Resistance ).
CCC: Hydro Pump: 70+, Does 10 more damage for each W Energy attached to this Pokémon.
Weakness: Lightning x2
I didn’t like this guy when I first saw him, but I actually warmed up to him the more I looked at him. Shell Armor actually really puts a damper on SP damage outputs, but the Lightning weakness is a big beating. Luxray is going to smack this guy around, but his damage output is pretty high.
I overlooked the fact it was dealing 100 for WWW, which, with 140 HP and a built-in two metal energy, is actually a lot. Even for Luxray GL LV.X using Trash Bolt caps at 120 base damage, so it isn’t that crippling.
Again, this guy will need paired with something like Feraligatr Prime to really get it powered. I’m not sure how it’ll do against decks like Gyarados either, so I think this another card that is best looked at again after rotation.
CC: Outrage: 20+, Does 10 more damage for each damage counter on this Pokémon.
LLC: Bolt Strike: 120, This Pokémon does 40 damage to itself.
Weakness: Fighting x2
pokebeach.comWell, this guy falls under the same category as Reshiram, but with a few conditions. First, being a lightning type, he doesn’t have the raw support that Reshiram has. Magnezone, and Pachirisu offer some degree of energy manipulation to get this guy up and going, but neither of them are nearly as synergistic as Emboar is with Reshiram.
Also, it doesn’t take nearly as much advantage of its girthy Hit Points because if it is doing relevent damage, it is effectively reducing its Hit Points to 90, which is far more easy to kill. Its weakness to Fighting also allows SP decks to take advantage of it with Toxicroak G.
On the other hand, being a Lightning type helps against Gyarados, which should be gaining more and more popularity as people experiment with the new Black and White rules. Unfortunately, any deck that can support this card (translated: just Magnezone) already has an innately good matchup against Gyarados, and already has Magnezone Prime to do high amounts of damage.
Thus, while Magnezone seems to be the best home for Zekrom, Magnezone is also a deck that really doesn’t seem to need the strengths the card offers, as it doesn’t do much the cover its weaknesses and just offers redundant strengths.
It may be fine as a 1-of addition anyway, as the card is clearly powerful, and as a basic is a nice supplemental attacker so you aren’t stressing over using all of your stage 2s if you get caught in a tight prize exchange.
I think this is a card to look at more in an upcoming format than in this one, though. It seems like it’ll have a very hard time being a better alternative to Reshiram, because I simply don’t see it ever getting the type of synergistic support it’s fire type counterpart has.
Ability: Damage Swap: As often as you like during your turn ( before your attack ) you may move 1 damage counter from 1 of your Pokémon to another of your Pokémon.
PPP: Psywave: 30+, Does 10 more damage for each energy attached to the defending Pokémon.
Weakness: Psychic x2
pokebeach.comWell, this is a card we can’t overlook simply because it has Damage Swap. I’m sure a lot of readers are familiar with base set Alakazam, and how it was the lynchpin for the old “stall” decks abusing it and Chansey, and then Pokémon Center.
This card offers a number of great combinations, as well. It works very well with either Nidoqueen and Serperior, both who allow you to spread the damage across your field and maximize the amount of net damage healed.
You can also pair it with Blissey Prime, which allows you to selectively move the damage around, and then heal whoever has the energy attached to it.
This is somewhat the inverse approach used when using Blissey Prime with Energy Trans powers. The card also has synergy with Super Scoop Up or Seeker, allowing you to effectively wipe off large chunks of damage from your field while using cards you would already be abusing.
The card also works with large tank Pokémon, such as Scizor Prime, or Steelix Prime. The higher the Hit Points of the attacker, the better the combination. The problem is, this is a stage 2 Pokémon that then also requires you to devote a lot of card space toward a fairly linear strategy of “never letting your active die”.
The downside to this is that you are a bit of a gimmick deck. This isn’t necessarily bad, but you wind up in spots where you are a bit fragile. Getting Reuniclus gusted or sniped (it only has 90 Hit Points, this isn’t hard for LuxChomp to do) really negates a ton of work and risks your deck collapsing.
The other issue is, any deck, such as Magnezone, that can score one hit kills, is still a problem. The card is really, really good, but has a few fundamental flaws that may keep it from being a tier 1 contender. Also, whatever deck it is used in likely seems to be handicapped by time anyway, as it looks for a more methodical, inevitable win, then a more time friendly one.
He may be better next format once SP rotates (Garchomp and Luxray are both major threats to this card) but soon Catcher (Gust of Wind) will be released, so that card may just be a killing blow that will prevent this card from ever really being used.
CC: Torment: 30, Choose 1 of the Defending Pokémon’s attacks. That Pokémon can’t use that attack during your Opponent’s next turn.
FFCC: Krookoroll: 60+, If the Defending Pokémon already has any damage counters on it, this attack does 40 more damage.
Weakness: Water x2
Resistance: Lightning -20
pokebeach.comThis card is fairly powerful, but again, very linear. Tormet is fine for a DCE, and if an Expert Belt is attached, doing 50 ( with 160 Hit Points ) while forcing them to play around the Amnesia effect is still pretty threatening.
Krookoroll is a good attack, capable of doing 120 damage Belted vs a damaged target, so with a simple Flash Bite, this card can really get rolling.
Unfortunately it is slow, and offers no real utility outside of being a powerful stage 2 attacker. I feel there are better alternatives out there. This is more of an example of a card being “not bad” but not really GOOD either.
I like its Lightning resistance, as it should be a pretty potent threat against LuxChomp. It reminds me very much of Nidoking from Triumphant. Same pros and cons, just without the inherent synergy with Nidoqueen.
The fact it dies to Gyarados another awful blow. Had its weakness been to grass, we would possibly be coming back to this guy, but in the end, he doesn’t have enough upside to warrant his shortcomings in my opinion.
D: Nasty Plot: Search your deck for a card and put it into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward.
CC: Foul Play: Choose 1 of the Defending Pokémon’s attacks and use it as this attack.
Weakness: Fighting x2
Resistance: Psychic -20
pokebeach.comThis is another card that really has been hyped up. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it actually. Nasty Plot is great for consistency, and is a great supplementary attack for the main reason this card is appealing: Foul Play.
Foul Play is clearly a fantastic attack. Metronome on Jungle Clefable made that card extremely viable in a format ruled by basic Pokémon. The difference is, it requires a Double Colorless Energy to use, or 2 other energy. Both of these are fine requirements, but the edge this card has over the rest of the format isn’t the same as that which Clefable had.
The problem is, every attack that is being used right now is so energy efficient. Every attack pretty much costs 1 or 2 energy (or zero, Mr. Gyarados) so you aren’t really gaining any ground in terms of tempo. On the other hand, you are handicapped by being reactive.
Zoroark doesn’t really do anything proactive, so a smart player can work around its strengths by setting the pace of the game. It is the same way that LA Ditto is played around. It doesn’t make the card bad, but it does somewhat reduce it to a niche role instead of a format-definer, which is kind of where I see Zoroark falling.
The card has great stats. 100 HP while also being very energy efficient is a pretty great combination. Foul Play is a great consistency booster, especially with rotation taking away the crazy speed and consistancy of Uxie. As the format slows down, I feel this card’s value strengthens but I’m also not overly impressed by it.
Just remember that for nearly the same requirements, (DCE plus 2 Pokémon cards) we have the extremely abuseable Dragon Rush (yes, Garchomp needs to have an Energy Gain too, but Cyrus helps so much with that so it isn’t as big a deal as you’d think.)
Its Dark type doesn’t even help really. The two Pokémon that Dark Types are used against are Gengar and Gengar Prime, and neither one of them really are weak to their own attacks. I guess Shadow Rooming a Gengar back is fine, but it suffers the same fate Ditto has: They control how powerful this card can be.
In the current format, this card doesn’t really excel vs most of the big decks. It isn’t going to be that good against Machamp (weakness, plus what do you get to do, Rage?) Gyarados (I guess you can use the big attack but even at that Gyarados then just one shots you) and SP decks are more about speed, disruption and energy effecient, lower damage attacks, so Zoroark isn’t going to be doing a ton of damage there either.
Magnezone Prime isn’t a great target either, as it still requires you to dump all of the energy to actually do damage, so the card seems rather lackluster vs the entire first tier at the moment.
I feel the card, while good, is overhyped and actually fairly weak in our well-defined metagame. None the less, the card oozes potential, so it is something to watch for as the format and metagame shifts in case it finds the right moment to shine.
Ability: Shift Gear: As often as you like during your turn (before you attack) you may move a Metal energy attached to 1 of your Pokémon to another of your Pokémon.
MCC: Gear Grind: 80×, Flip 2 coins. This attack does 80 damage times the number of heads.
Weakness: Fire x2
Resistance: Psychic -20
pokebeach.comAnything with Energy Trans is worth looking at. Magnezone LV.X is a great card, and its power has shined every time I used it. Shift Gear is similar, but unfortunately, this Gear Pokémon is handicapped by its untrustworthy attack. Averaging 80 for 3 energy (one of which can be a DCE!) is actually not bad at all. 160 for that cost is actually really good!
Unfortunately, this isn’t the format where you can afford to be giving up 0 damage attacks, and this card is just a bit too flippy. Perhaps the 25% chance of 160 damage I’m underrating, but right now the format is just too fast.
I do feel like the card offers a powerful Ability, which should shine with Scizor Prime, or Steelix prime, already two viable contenders. Even if they are stuck at a tier 2 status, those cards are still already on the radar, and really just need a slight push to go over the edge.
Perhaps Klinklang is the card to do that, but I’m also not sold. It is hard to justify as a utility Pokémon (similar to Reuniclus) because of its stage 2 status, unfortunately, and it isn’t offering a good enough attack to be built around.
The other big downside is that the strength of fire types has sky rocketed, and that hurts any sort of metal tanking strategy that this would enable. Steelix and Scizor both seem extremely suspect right now, mainly because of Emboar and Reshiram.
Toss in the fact that Magnezone Prime has really caught on, and looks to remain a tier 1 contender even next format, and the future of Metal types simply doesn’t look too bright.
C: Tail Slap: 20×, Flip 2 coins. This attack does 20 damage times the number of heads.
CC: Do The Wave: 20×, Does 20 damage times the number of your benched Pokémon.
Weakness: Fighting x2
pokegym.netThis is an interesting little card. It is like Wigglytuff on crack. Do the Wave can reliably do 100 damage for a DCE, 120 with an Expert Belt, while having 110 Hit Points. As a Stage 1, it can still currently be accelerated into by BTS as early as the first turn, so it is easy to swarm with.
It is a great potential turn 1 kill engine, and takes up very little space, so it is easy to splash into decks. Its typing as makes it very good against Garchomp C LV.X, which is great. This card is the real deal, and should see quite a bit of play. I could even see an SP deck built around it as a core attacker, splashing different supporting types to answer threats individually.
The downside I see is that this guy is bad against Gyarados. With 130-150 Hit Points, and capable of dealing 90-110 damage before trainers, Gyarados one shots these little guys while being two shot in return. Gyarados has roughly the same speed, and is even more energy efficient, so it seems like the two are just mismatched.
Cinccino requires less set up and is a bit less fragile, so perhaps a disruption package may give it the speed edge over Gyarados to give it a lead which it then has to hope to maintain. I’m still not sold on that, but it may be ok.
I’m not sure how well this guy holds up post rotation actually. Hit Points should jump, and this guy will eventually start to get overpowered mid and late game. The BTS abuse goes away, so he isn’t quite as fast. Right now he benefits from the strength of an SP ruled format, and once that changes, his viability may decrease, but right now he seems fairly well positioned.
D: Blindside: Does 50 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon that has any damage counters on it. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)
DCC: Punishment: 40+, If the Defending Pokémon is a Stage 2 Pokémon, this attack does 60 more damage.
Weakness: Lightning x2
Resistance: Fighting -20
pokebeach.comI’ve seen some people preach this cards strengths but I really just don’t see it. It’s being suggested as an alternative to Honchkrow SV, but I like Honchkrow much better. Blindside is ok, but pretty much does what Honchkrow G did, and that card underwhelmed me too.
50 damage plus the set up Flash Bite is still shy of an Uxie or Azelf kill, so it seems like a struggle to realize abuse that snipe. Punishment has the same costs as Riot, but is very specific. It is great vs a stage 2 Pokémon, but Honchkrow does a minimum of 80 there, plus whatever basics they have (which is usually a lot this format) so you do about the same, or less, against a stage 2, and you do far less against Gyarados or an SP deck.
You also lose the cool Pokémon Power which is a pretty sweet answer to Gyarados if you can start catching Magikarp. Gyarados actually suffers vs Honchkrow because they only have 1 evolution out. They either fill their bench to prevent me from getting their Magikarp back, which puts them in 1HKO range from Honchkrow, or let me cripple their damage output. This guy offers no such strength and just seems to be an inferior card for its intended purposes.
Look at the top 5 cards of your deck and return them in any order.
This card is just pretty bad, actually. It is negative card advantage, and while it lets you semi rig your next series of draws, the format offers so much manipulation that it doesn’t really help much. It is offering such a low degree of manipulation that there’s no way it is remotely useful.
If it replaced itself with a card, then it probably still is under powered, but may be worth using. Still, a very weak card.
Discard your hand and draw 7 cards.
pokebeach.comEveryone is excited for the “New Professor Oak” except that this card is bad. Professor Oak was only good because of the way it could chain into more draw cards. Tossed in with the fact that every card in the format at that point was pretty much stand alone and all-purpose.
You would just play out your trainers, and dump your basic Pokémon. Currently, I don’t want to be dumping 4-5 good cards away to try and draw 7 more. You throw away evolution lines, and cards which are more late game oriented.
The strengths Oak offered are not really present here. I mean, I guess it would be pretty cool to dump a hand of Magikarp, or Energy if you have some form of recursion, but I don’t see this being the go-to draw supporter. Certain decks will love it, but not all. Generally cards like Copycat and Professor Oak’s New Theory will perform better.
Toward the end of Unlimited, we had Professor Elm getting played. Decks would often run a 3-2 or 2-3 split of it and Oak because decks grew to be in positions where sometimes they’d want to conserve resources. I see this holding true here, where shuffle effects may be superior. This is one that will need tested for sure, but that’s my initial review of it.
Anyway, those are the interesting cards to come out of Black and White. I think that the set is fairly good overall, but I may just be biased due to how much of a suck-fest Call of Legends was. They could release anything and it would comparatively be a great set.
I got to go to two Prereleases over the weekend, playing in one of the sealed Flights, where I went 3-0 before dropping to sign up for a draft, where I again went 3-0 to win it. I also Judged a Prerelease on Saturday, and then got to experience the most fun I’ve had in a long time: Rochester Draft.
Huge props to Kyle Lathem for suggesting we run one. We managed to compile a table of 8 drafters, and I managed to craft quite the beauty, ending up with a 7-5-3 Serperior line, backed by 3-of those Luvdisc wannabe rare cards that have 100 HP and a CCC attack that does 40 damage plus 10 more per Water attached. I wound up 3-0ing rather easily as my deck was downright dumb, and that got me 5 more packs.
This set is pretty fun for limited as there are plenty of good cards. The stage 2s are all really strong, and the monkeys are actually quite good. The grass one less so, but the fire and water ones are all-stars.
BulbapediaReshiram and Zekrom are stupid, and are a bit unbalanced in this format, as their big attacks are too good, and when the opponent tries to kill it in response, Outrage takes 1-2 more prizes. It really is hard to beat those cards, and they seem to appear enough to warp this Sealed/Draft format, but it was still a blast regardless.
The best part of the pre release was the fact that I got to begin my new collection. I now collect Basculin, the Masculine Bass. This Pokémon is a true threat to all other Pokémon, and should be feared. I managed to get donated almost 30 Bass by the end of the two events, and I would likely to ask you, the reader, to consider such donations as well.
I understand the card is extremely rare, extremely valuable, and very playable, but be selfless, and let me have them in spite of this. I can’t explain my obsession with Basculin, nor would I really want to, but the more I own, the happier with life in general I am. So collect these Hostile fish, and when the time is right, present them to me!
Now let’s talk about something a little less serious than my need for Basculin…my initial outlook on the post BW format. While I hope something is done about the new rules, I’m going to base this on the worst case scenario assumption, which is what it appears we will be getting.
Let’s Get Serious
First off, every deck will be running 4 Sableye. No, I don’t care what absurd reason you have for wanting to justify not running 4. Just suck it up and run them. The card is too good not to use. I don’t care if you are a slower deck and have no intention of “donking” or whatever.
The card offers consistency past Cyrus’s Init, Judge, and other disruption, plus is your counter-donk by hoping to go first and prevent them from beating you. The card really does do everything now, so play it.
pokemon-paradijs.comIf you are planning on being a slower deck, I’ve been experimenting with running 4 Sableye, 4 Spiritomb. Spiritomb is a “soft counter” to Sableye starts. It isn’t a great opener comparatively, but it offers 4 more openers which help offset their Sableye starts.
It still leaves you open to taking a Cyrus’s Init to the face, but it does prevent them from likely turn 1-ing you, which is certainly a good thing. Right now, if you are looking to go deep, extra consistency and failsafes are a good thing.
If you want to use an SP deck, you will be adding elements of Sablelock to it. 4× Sableye, and Cyrus’s Initiative are a must. Machamp takes a huge hit because it can’t have access to Rare Candy anymore, so SP should gain a bit from that. Vilegar also takes a fundamental blow as well.
I’ll address that in a moment, but the other card that is interesting in SP now may actually be Mesprit. Quick starts are going to be very important, an even a simple one of on Mesprit can take a good start, to a game ending start.
Having testing a 1-of Seeker in SP to fantastic results, a potential for even a 2 Seeker 1 Mesprit addition to a Sableye fueled SP deck could wind up being really good. It may be interesting to revisit Palkia some more because the deck is so disruptive it may have a really good opening in this format.
I would wait until Battle Roads get under way and a defined metagame is observed before really dedicating a lot of time to it though, because it is a fairly reactive deck to build. You have your disruptive package centered on Palkia, but you really need to base your attackers on what decks you are trying to beat, and that requires a defined format, which we don’t currently have yet.
We can theorycraft all we want, but until we see what decks are putting up results, it’s still theory. Not worthless theory, but not something you can use to build a deck on.
Proactive vs. Reactive
This brings me to a slight tangent. There are metagame proactive decks, and metagame reactive decks. Usually a proactive deck is one that gets by on raw power. They are the format establishing decks. You take raw strength and synergy, and these decks often form the foundation of a metagame.
Beyond that, you have reactive metagame decks. Decks which beat those foundation decks. They may wind up being every bit as good as the ones which have more raw strength, but you have no real way of knowing what these decks are until you have a deck to try and beat. I feel a deck like Palkia is best used once we know what the decks to gun for are.
pokegym.netNow I said a moment ago that Vilegar takes a hit. I’ve heard a number of people saying that trainer lock gains strength with the new rules change, especially as decks convert over to so-called turbo-engines. I’m going to propose a counter argument to that misconception, because a few things are being over looked.
Let me first address that those engines are slow and clunky to begin with. Clearly Vilegar has had enough success that it isn’t slow and clunky enough to be a bad deck (even though I always state how much I dislike it) but at the same time, it is acknowledged even by the decks proponents that the decks biggest issue is its somewhat inconsistent starts.
Right now, the decks starts are just good enough to warrant it still being used.
Let me also address something on the side regarding the different engines available in this format. This format is defined by the consistency and absurd speed offered by the incredible trainer engine offered by the cardpool. Most games which end in turn one kills, or quick game wins, would have instead led to long, drawn out competitive games in any other format.
We have unheard of speed in this format. By opting to go with a reactive engine, aka trainer lock, we are choosing to play a slower more disruptive engine that tries to slow those decks down. While this is great, and can often really screw a deck over, it also prevents you from having a “God Start” of sorts because your best games are still slower.
You opt out of the chance to steal games, or apply early pressure. Often times, unless you say, catch a Gyarados deck with a hand full of trainers and they draw pass for a while, you are slowing them down to your level. I’d rather be the deck with the explosive starts than the one hoping to prevent those starts.
Now this has clearly been proven to still be a good enough approach because a lot of decks are hindered by this enough to matter. This goes back to the reactive vs proactive debate, because if you didn’t have decks like Gyarados and SP decks being the format defining decks, then Vilegar is likely not that great.
It doesn’t pack the raw power either of those do. It just happens to show off a large amount of strength against those decks. Take SP and Gyarados decks out of the metagame, and see what decks turn out to be the best, and I bet Vilegar isn’t tier 1, because those decks would not have the susceptibility to its game plan that SP and Gdos have.
It’s clearly primarily hypothetical since we haven’t really tried to build decks for such a hypothetical format, but it seems like a safe call.
pokemon-paradijs.comAnyway, this analysis of what Vilegar has been successful leads us to why it becomes worse. You’d think such a push to the deck engines that the deck is aimed to beat would increase its stock. Right now, Vilegar has 8 good openers.
Gastly and Spiritomb are effective turn one trainer locks. Either they would go 1st, and not be allowed to play trainers, allowing you to have either started with Spiritomb, or Gastly ( using Pitch Dark ), or play a supporter to get either of them active.
If you go first, you could either open Gastly or Spiritomb, and Pitch Dark, or have Spiritomb’s Keystone Seal.
Unfortunately, now, if they go first, you have to open Spiritomb. Gastly doesn’t get a chance to Pitch Dark. When they go first, rather than automatically falling to not being able to play trainers and getting hardlocked, they gain a huge increase in chance of being able to “go off”, empty their hand, and put early pressure. Lets look at a bit of the math.
Previously (assuming its safe to say that if you went 2nd, you’d have SOME form of trainer lock established) we had a “100%” chance of hardlocking if you went 2nd (thus a net 50% chance of the lock.) Then, if you went first, you had 8 starters which did it.
The odds of starting with one of 8 cards is roughly 80%. Plus or minus a bit. So you were looking at a near 90% chance or actually locking them right off of the bat. Now, lets look at how this math changed. Lets invert the roles.
If you go first, it’s an equally high chance of establishing the lock as if you had gone 2nd previously. So let’s be kind and give that the 100% chance of lock. Now, that’s a net 50% lock. Let’s see how the math that makes up the other 50% looks though, shall we?
If they go first, the only card that matters is Spiritomb. That’s a 40% chance of opening with it. The other 60% of the time, they get access to Trainers on the first turn. (Not to mention, a Supporter into a Regice is bad for you.) So that’s a total 70% chance of a trainer lock opposed to the prior 90%.
Keep in mind this is regarding a deck that was just barely consistent and un-clunky enough to really be good enough. Now, clearly these are rough #s, as I didn’t do the exact statistical analysis, but the numbers are still within the ballpark and simplified for clean numbers here. Also, lets realize that this is assuming we have a 50-50 chance of either player going first.
pokemon-paradijs.comWhich isn’t the case. Lets change it so that there’s a 40% chance of an opponent opening with Sableye. Rather than it being a 50-50 chance of going first, it is instead a 70-30 chance, which skews the previous 70-30 chance of starting with the hard lock even more.
This brings the lock chance much closer to 50-50, down from the previous 90! This is a huge blow, especially since the deck is slower, and likely going to be overwhelmed during those games where a player does get to go off.
To make matters worse, lets look at the situations where you get Sableye vs Spiritomb starts. Sableye has a huge heads up edge there. You can open the game with a Cyrus Initiative, and likely cut them off. If you have a Supporter, you can still start with Giratina into Cyrus Init. The odds of a Vilegar deck recovering from that is really bad. Especially since it also allows these decks to set up past the disruption.
The deck that gains a ton of strength is Gyarados. It is readily built to embrace Sableye. It is able to steal games with the highest realistic turn one damage output. Rare Candy takes a huge hit, so decks trying to get a turn 1 Stage 2 are handicapped. Still pretty possible but not nearly as much as before. A stage 1 deck abusing BTS on the other hand isn’t hurt. Gyarados gains strength and loses none.
I had already touched on the disruption package in Gyarados in my past articles, and that is exactly where this format pushes the deck. Giratina and Cyrus’s Initiative fit in naturally, alongside Mesprit. Gyarados merges all of the cards you want to be playing right now all into the same deck.
With this new speed, it should simply outclass SP decks. It already had a huge edge against DialgaChomp and Sablelock, and now, it should gain an edge against LuxChomp as well. The disruptive build already had an edge in most SP games, regardless of Luxray, but the Sableye change really makes it even more favorable.
Gyarados is, in my opinion, the default best deck at the moment. If Worlds were tomorrow, it is what I’d be playing. Regigigas also looks to have benefitted from this change, as it too is good at establishing a quick lock and capitalizing on it. Unfortunately, Gyarados is better heads up vs Gigas, and also can score a turn one kill, opposed to just a turn one lock.
pokebeach.comEmboar looks to be a great deck of some sort, but is going to need an answer for Gyarados. A simple Emboar Reshiram looks like it would beat the SP decks, but would get mauled by Gyarados. Magnezone Regirock is a good deck too, but it suffers from Vilegar’s same issues.
Spiritomb is weaker, but it is a deck less focused on a hard lock, so it may be able to survive. It has an innate good Gyarados game, so it may be good enough.
It was one of the best decks coming out of Regionals, and I look at the lists being played and see a deck that had a lot of refining left to be done. It could have certainly been tightened up, and in turn, likely have been made even better.
Anyway, I’d love to say I’ve done extensive testing to come to all of these conclusions. In reality, because we don’t have a definitive answer as to what is happening with the format, I’ve held off doing heavy testing. This isn’t to say that I haven’t thought a lot about it, or held a lot of discussion.
What it is saying is that the number of full-blown games played hasn’t been that many. 90% of the time, my theorycrafting pans out exactly as expected once put to game, and I have faith that most of what I’ve seen so far is fairly accurate. In the next two months I look to be putting in a lot of games.
Even if I am not playing Nationals, I do plan on helping my friends who need a good showing test so that they do well.
I’ll be testing Emboar, SP varients, Gyarados, Vilegar, Magnezone, and Regigigas to start with, and see where those decks take me. My next article should have some analysis of those matchups and my findings to see which of these decks remain tier 1, and which fall to the wayside.
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys getting their new Black and White cards, and can re-experience the joy of playing with new cards for the first time now that Call of Legends is behind us. Hopefully everyone was content with their Regionals showings, and are looking ahead of Nationals. And, as usual, good luck, and happy testing!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.