Hi everybody! My name’s Matt Ludwigson. I’m a relatively new contributor to this site with several ideas for articles, but with the pending possibility of a mid-season rotation, a lot of these ideas are rendered irrelevant.
By that I mean everyone knows the current pre-rotation format is going to be dominated by Sabledonk and Spiritomb during the Battle Roads season, which makes discussing new deck ideas moot due to the very short-lived nature of that format.
As for Nationals beyond that, we’re currently unsure of which format it will use, negating the usefulness of discussing new decks for Nationals. So I thought it might be interesting to discuss something else entirely: Pokémon Limited. Or more specifically, Sealed. Now this is likely only going to pertain to those who plan to attend a Prerelease this weekend, but it should still be an interesting topic for discussion.
First of all, for those who are unfamiliar with Limited formats in general, Limited is a format in which instead of bringing your own deck to a tournament, as in Constructed (Modified or Unlimited), you build your deck onsite at the beginning of the tournament out of sealed booster packs provided to you.
There are multiple different Limited formats, but in this article I will only be discussing Sealed. In a Sealed tournament each player receives six sealed booster packs, opens them and then must build a 40 card deck out of the contents. You may only use the cards you opened, aside from Basic Energy which will be provided. Also, games are played with only 4 Prizes instead of the standard 6 Prizes.
Limited is completely different than Constructed in many ways. Your deck will be built on the fly. You won’t know the cards you’ll have available beforehand and therefore won’t be able to use a specific strategy like you would with a Constructed deck.
You’ll be using cards you wouldn’t normally ever even consider, some you may not even know exist. Evolutions are not common. You don’t have access to whatever Trainers/Supporters you want, which means you don’t have the same control or search capabilities that most people are used to. Special Conditions not only are relevant, but quite powerful.
Strategies in Limited
One of the other reasons I wanted to write this piece is to increase discussions and/or awareness about Pokémon Limited and related strategies. I found it virtually impossible to find anything out there about even basic stuff. Luckily I have experience from limited formats for other card games to fall back on. Here are some of the strategies I came up with:
Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert on Limited, or that these ideas are the best way to do things. These are just ideas that I came up with myself trying to figure out how to best strategize for an all new format. I’m open to hearing others’ ideas and strategies since I couldn’t find anything online on the topic.
– Open Bombs: By bombs I mean cards that are really good, are going to have a huge impact on the game and will go in your deck no matter what. Opening bombs is always a good strategy, but one you will have no control over. But if you’re lucky enough to open a Reshiram or Zekrom, or Professor Juniper, you know those cards are going in your deck.
– Don’t Play Bad Evolutions: By playing evolutions, whether they be Stage 1 or 2, you’re making a commitment to them. You are obligated to play their lower forms because that’s the only way to get them into play. They require more deck space and set-up, and with the limited availability of searching effects they become unreliable and inconsistent.
For example, say you open a 2-1-1 Klinklang line. He seems alright if you get him up and running, but nothing too special. Do you really want to be sitting on a Klinklang stuck in your hand with a Klink taking up a bench spot while waiting for you Klang to show up with only one copy in the deck?
If you have the resources available to do this, like a thicker line or searching effects, this becomes more feasible. Now if you open something like Serperior, as long as you have one of each form, that guy is definitely going in your deck.
– Special Conditions Matter!: In most Constructed games, Special Conditions (burn, sleep, etc.) are hardly relevant and rarely come up. In Limited, however, they are quite frequent and powerful. The only ways to get rid of them are through retreating, Trainers or coin flips.
They force your opponent to either commit resources to dealing with the condition (discarding precious Energies to retreat, burning through a Super Scoop Up, etc.) or likely give up a prize. Burn or poison will eventually KO their active. Sleep and Paralysis force the defending Pokémon to still take hits while not being able to attack back.
And Confusion is just plain annoying. In other words, place a higher emphasis on Pokémon that inflict Special Conditions, especially ones that guarantee it.
– Play Bad Trainers: Let me clarify. Don’t actually play bad cards. You know what happens when you play bad cards? You draw bad cards and then get frustrated because you didn’t draw a good card. What I mean by bad Trainers is you want to play Trainers you wouldn’t normally consider in Constructed.
Potion is actually a very good card in Limited. In a format where attacks are usually doing less than 40 damage, healing 30 damage becomes quite relevant.It virtually wipes out one of your opponent’s entire attacks setting them way back.
Trainers are almost always good because they provide unique abilities that you don’t get from your Pokémon. They fill out your deck with useful cards instead of playing extraneous Basics that will just clog your hand / bench. Mid-game would you rather draw a Switch to get your active out of danger, or another Patrat?
– 70 HP is Actually a Lot: In the early game most attacks are usually doing less than 40 damage, likely 10-20. That means its going to take a few turns to KO a guy with 70+ HP. Having Basics with high HP will let you wall your opponent from taking early prizes while setting up your bench for future attacks.
If your opponent is only doing 20 damage a turn its going to take around four turns to KO your wall, giving you four turns to play multiple energies on a tank and even get him evolved. This is pretty basic Pokémon strategy overall, but something to keep in mind when you don’t have to worry about Gyarados attacking for 90 on turn 1 or 2.
– Play Cards that Draw Cards: Everyone knows drawing cards is always a good thing. In Limited there are very few ways to do this, so place a greater emphasis on cards that do. Lillipup isn’t a great attacker by any means, but spending only one energy to draw a few cards can go a long way.
I want to give you guys a look into how I evaluated cards from my sealed pool and what I eventually ended up playing. Hopefully you guys can give me some insight into what I’m doing right and what needs to change.
I couldn’t make it to a prerelease during the first weekend they were running so a couple of my buddies and I went out and bought 6 packs each so that we could build sealed decks out of them and battle. Here is the pool I opened:
|W – 9
1 Oshawott #27
|G – 6
1 Snivy #2
|R – 7
1 Tepig #16
|D – 4
|F – 3
1 Timburr #58
|Electric / Steel – 3
1 Blitzle #40
|P – 4
|Colorless – 10
1 Patrat #77
|Trainers / Energy – 14
Go ahead. Take a minute to look this over yourself and ponder how you would build it.
The first thing I did was realize I got pretty lucky opening a Reshiram, Zoroark AND Cinccino. Then I put all the cards into piles by type and then further put them into their respective chains, similar to how the list is organized above. Since I didn’t know all the cards by heart yet I spent some time reading all the cards making sure I knew exactly what they did.
After reading a few of them I knew they were automatically going into whatever deck I ended up playing. Cards like Reshiram, Cinccino and Zoroark seemed too good not to play. From there I decided to go through each individual type and set aside all the cards that I thought looked good and could potentially be played.
Trainers: I started here because depending on what I had I could have an easier time splashing either Pokémon or energies. I feel that the more trainers you have in your deck the less terrible Pokémon you have to play with. Also, more trainers leads to greater consistency.
Water: Having a 2-2 Simipour line is pretty sweet. I really like Simipour’s attack “Scald,” having the ability to burn a guy could come up huge. I also like that the line is pretty thick. It seems like a 2-2 line of anything solid would be excellent to have. Besides the Simipour chain the only other Pokémon that looked remotely powerful was the Alomomola #39. His “Hydro Pump” attack is absolutely huge.
Grass: The only card that would pull me into this type would be Maractus #12. He seemed solid and I like how flippy his first attack is. I’m down with games of chance. “Giga Drain” also makes it hard to KO him. Deerling and Petilil looked fairly strong; the fact that they can heal themselves and deal damage at the same time is a great thing. Pansage and the 1-1 Servine #3 line have some solid attacks and I wouldn’t mind playing them.
Colorless: Cinccino baby! This guy was going in whatever deck I ended up playing. “Do the Wave” is an extremely powerful attack in both Limited and Constructed. Other than that, Lillipup’s “Collect” and the 1-1 Watchog line are good. I would totally be playing Stoutland if I opened any Herdier. His “Odor Sleuth” is pretty much good game.
Dark: Another strong type. Zoroark is ridiculous. “Nasty Plot” is by far the strongest attack in my pool. Since I was already wanting to run D Energies, playing Liepard was a given. “Taunt” and “Sucker Punch” are crazy good.
Fire: Reshiram is the nuts. Too bad there aren’t any other fire guys to compliment him. Regardless, he is going in my deck. He is a basic with 130 HP and “Outrage” is plenty good enough.
Fighting: Similar to Alomomola #39, Throh is a huge Poké-monster. They basically do the same thing except Throh seems a bit more consistent. The 1-1 Gurdurr line is really solid too. Gurdurr has a good amount of HP at 80 and 2 very good attacks.
Electric, Steel, and Psychic: There weren’t any Pokémon in these types worth battling with.
Now that I had a good assessment of all the cards in my pool, I started with all the Trainers and all the Pokémon that were for sure in.
|Pokémon – 10
|Trainers – 12||Energy – 0|
Being very new at this I couldn’t decide how many Energies to run in the deck. I felt like somewhere between 14 and 17 energy would be good to ensure I could make my energy drops every turn. It also depended on the amount of energy- and hand-manipulation cards I had.
I felt like 15 was a healthy number, but I really just pulled that number out of the air. After playing about five games with it I feel that 15 is a good number and I couldn’t imagine running any less.
At this point I knew I wanted to play 15 Energies and I had 10 Pokémon and 12 Trainers that were for sure going in my deck, which left 3 slots open for other Pokémon.
I, at the time, really felt that the Water Pokémon were overall better than everything else. I wanted to run the Alomomola #36 and the 2-2 Simipour line, which was 5 cards meaning I had to cut 2 cards. Here’s what my deck ended up looking like:
|Pokémon – 15
|Trainers – 10||Energy – 15|
I cut a Switch and the Super Scoop Up because I felt I needed more Pokémon so that I could always Do the Wave for max damage. After playing the deck and talking it over with my playtest partners I realized I should be playing these two cards, so the list I think I should’ve played will be displayed later.
I played around 5 games with this list and went 4 -1 with it. I have huge respect for Energy Switch and Energy Retrieval now. I don’t think they are Constructed-worthy but they should be played every time in your Limited deck.
Obviously Reshiram, Zoroark and Cinccino were absolutely amazing. Nasty Plot is just unfair. With Zoroark’s 100 HP he can hang out for a few turns and take a few hits while you get WHATEVER you want. His second attack “Foul Play” can be pretty strong but your opponent can see it coming and play around it accordingly.
I don’t want to go into much detail about the games since they are pretty boring. The power level of all the cards is really low so talking about being attacked by a Patrat isn’t very exciting.
After battling it out and having a blast with my friends we all laid our decks out and discussed how we felt building and such went. I really like Alomomola #36 but he requires a high number of W Energies so I felt I needed to play other Water Pokémon to properly utilize all the W Energies. Therefore we felt that playing Throh and the 1-1 Gurdurr line would be stronger than the Water guys. It’s not that Simipour was bad; it’s just that you want your W Energies to be on Alomomola. So the 2 trainers were put back in and the Water Pokémon were replaced with the Fighting ones. Here’s the list that I felt I should’ve played.
|Pokémon – 13
|Trainers – 12||Energy – 15|
pokebeach.comThis is what I feel is the best deck to build out of this pool. I’d love to hear what you guys think and get some pointers if it looks like I’m way off base. I plan on going to a few prereleases this weekend. If you guys would like me to write another in-depth article about my deck or decks just say the word.
I love playing Limited. I think it’s really fun and also very educational. It makes player evaluate cards differently and forces them to see games from all angles, making them better players. I think it is something that everyone can learn from, not to mention all the sweet stories you get to tell involving cards like Maractus and Basculin.