It’s been a while since we’ve had the announcement that we may be undergoing a mid-season rotation into HGSS onward. So amidst that excitement, I finally got around to actually logging some games with the new format, and made a couple of observations.
Now, I don’t think anyone is going to claim they fully grasp the new format expertly, and if anyone does, they are likely to be lying, because the format offers a pretty hefty change to things. For a lot of players who have just recently gotten into the game, the changes will be pretty radical compared to the past 3 years.
As someone who has played this game for a long time, it’s been a welcome challenge to revert back to deck building concepts that the speed of more recent formats have pretty much rendered irrelevant.
The biggest change comes from the removal of Uxie. It has been 4 years since we’ve had a format that has not contained either Uxie or Claydol. This means that we can’t rely on Pokémon based draw power as readily as before. As a result, emphasis is re-placed on Supporter/Trainer based draw. Let’s look at some of the choices we have available in the format right now, and how their uses may have changed.
This card is still likely to remain a 4-of in decks. Yet its value has actually dropped off compared to last format. This card lets you get access to all of the basic Pokémon cards you need, and is probably the best turn one play available still.
Unfortunately, the cards strength is still much lower than it has been in a while. It used to be that a Collector would effectively net an entire set up. You could generally empty enough cards that Uxie, grabbed by Collector, would allow you to “Set Up” into enough to stay going. The removal of Uxie is going to make it so that you still need other cards in hand to make your deck do what it wants to do.
This change alone is likely to force decks to run more Supporters. Gone are the days of running 10 or so draw cards. This “low count” was offset by the strength of Uxie. The biggest change last year was the removal of Roseanne’s Research, with it being replaced in all decks by Pokémon Collector.
This forced decks to up their energy count fairly drastically. Going back to Uxie, you’ll notice that its loss will be a defining point address throughout this article because it is going to take a lot of getting used to when adjusting how we build decks.
Another lesser noticed change has been the removal of Bebe’s Search. In its place, we do have PETM as a means by which to grab evolutions. The card has played alright, and I originally tried running it as a 4-of, effectively replacing Bebe’s Search. Since then, I’ve reduced the count to 1-2 in certain decks.
The inability to also get matching basics has really hurt the value of this card. One of the decks I have been testing has been Emboar Magnezone, and with a deck using two evolution lines, and the card has increased value in positions like that. It competes with both Pokémon Collector and the next card on our list as well…
This card is going to be a 4-of in every deck now. With Bebe’s Search and Luxury Ball gone, there are no competing spots. Last format, the card was often shaved in favor of Bebe’s due to the fact that you wanted playable cards vs decks such as Vilegar that abused trainer lock.
It also saw less play because, to be honest, most decks were SP decks, and they had SP Radar (coupled with Cyrus’s) and Collector to get most of their basics. Premier Ball covered the Level X cards, while also doubling as a recovery card.
As a result, Pokémon Communication saw less play, but that is actually a bit misleading because the card is extremely good, and is a blind 4-of in every deck for the foreseeable future. Not only have we lost most of the viable replacements, but the cards that decreased its value before (Spiritomb mainly) have rotated.
Judge is an interesting card. Decks are now more weak than every against this card, and disruption in general. The loss of Uxie, again, being a major reason. Decks are more fragile now, so Judge is going to do more damage. Good recovery cards, like Chatot, have also rotated, so its harder to protect against this card.
On the other hand, it is harder to abuse as well, because it is a double-edged sword. As a result, it can easily backfire. The strength of this card is likely to depend on what sort of draw engines end up being played and how fast/consistent the fully fleshed out engines end up being.
If decks wind up complex, and a bit fickle, then this card is going to be a true beating versus them. If decks such as the turbo Zekrom deck define the format, such disruption will hurt them less, although a deck like Zekrom may end up being able to abuse it.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis was the default “go to” card last format for shuffle draw. This is a format where there is a higher demand for shuffle draw cards to replenish hand size since Uxie is gone. Unfortunately, since Uxie is gone, average hand sizes drop off as well.
I wanted this card to maintain its value, but sadly, it seems like this isn’t going to be the case. As hand sizes drop below 6 quite regularly, I’d rather just run Professor Oak’s New Theory or Professor Juniper. I ragged on PONT last format because it was functionally worse than Copycat, but now, things have changed in PONT’s favor.
I pretty much addressed this by discussing Copycat, but this card has gained value as a good default shuffle-draw effect. The debate is now whether this card is better or worse than Professor Juniper.
The Supporter Professor Oak… where to begin, where to begin… I played this card in some games, and had very mixed feelings. Juniper draws more cards than PONT does, but in this format, it seems like discarding a ton of cards actually winds up hurting quite a bit in the long run.
With an emphasis on thicker evolution lines, discarding those pieces when you are instead trying to fit them together can be a downside. Again, the deck I have been using the most has been Emboar Magnezone. In a deck with two stage 2 options with very few expendable cards (you want to be using all of your energy, so even discarding them to Juniper early adds up) I found Juniper to be really challenging to use.
I found myself tossing away too many cards I wanted to use later on. In other decks, this card could wind up being extremely strong. If decks wind up being able to simply toss away or play their cards pretty readily, 7 new cards is the best reliable yield of any particular Supporter.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a card I first fell in love with when playing around with Gyarados. The strength of this card shows through when you are trying to build a deck that is trying to “combo off” as quickly as possible. I’ll use my Magnezone Emboar deck as an example again.
The deck pretty much sets up on its own the moment Magnezone Prime comes out by means of Magnetic Draw, so the real challenge is fishing for that Rare Candy to match with Magnemite and Magnezone. While that is a very specific case, any sort of deck that really needs specific, hard to search out cards, will benefit from the fact that this card has the largest “reach” of any draw card.
Unlike Juniper, it lets you keep the cards you already have, but adding to them. It isn’t going to be close to a format staple, but it should have its uses in specific decks. I know I “disliked” Juniper in Magnezone Emboar due to recklessly discarding cards, and seem to endorse Sage’s Training, but Sage is a bit more selective in terms of what you discard, and also helps to get your complex evolution lines out into play.
This is similar to Sage’s Training, and may end up simply being the better card, even in more specific decks. It digs almost as deeply, but nets you more total cards. In energy heavy decks, the discard is almost irrelevant.
Non-Supporter basic search is always interesting, but coin flips are not. I don’t see why to play this over Pokémon Collector and Pokémon Communication, but if you are building any sort of deck that wants to get basics without using your supporter for the turn, it may be good. A switch to a Trainer engine for getting Pokémon out while using Juniper/PONT to refresh hands may work.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the role-playing trainers, lets look at which Pokémon have stood out to me.
pokegym.netThis card is just silly. In an “I’m not sure it’s all that good for the game” silly, but silly none the less. Huge Hit Points, decent attack, and arguably the best Pokémon Power ever printed. Everyone’s talked about this card to death by now, but it immediately sticks out as a frontrunner for this format. It fuels so many different attackers, and has so many synergies that it can’t be ignored.
Reshiram is a great attacker in conjunction with Emboar. Its ability to do repeated shots of 120 damage on a basic, for only 3 easily attachable energy is brutal. Unfortunately, a lot of the “big threats” have 130+ Hit Points, making the 120 cap underwhelming as the game develops further and Hit Points grow.
It is a great early attacker though. The card benefits from the use of PlusPower, but unfortunately the amount of cards already used to make a set up deck like Emboar run doesn’t really afford that much space for them. Which brings us to the next card to be addressed…
Zekrom is a fundamentally “worse” card than Reshiram. Its “business” attack naturally offsets the large hit point totals. It doesn’t have the synergy with Emboar that Reshiram does. On the other hand, it has remarkable speed and efficiency when paired with Pachirisu. Being able to do 120 damage on the first turn with a combination of Pachirisu and Shaymin.
The fact that he then leaves himself with only 90 Hit Points is negated by the fact that it is so fast. As a result, pairing Zekrom with aggressive cards such as Pokémon Reversal (and Catcher when it comes out!) and PlusPower is advisable.
pokemon-paradijs.comDonphan is a fast and aggressive card that is hard to kill. As a stage 1, it is fast and requires very little set up to get going. It also has a fantastic matchup against Zekrom. It is pretty light on space, so you can pair it with any number of supporting cards.
I have a feeling it could be the backbone of a number of aggressive decks in this format. Zekrom, Cinccino, Zoroark, and Magnezone Prime are all weak to Fighting, which makes Donphan a fantastic counter to them.
Machamp Prime is a huge hitter who also pairs well with Donphan. Donphan brings the early game, and once it gets set up, Machamp Prime starts one hitting everything, and also loops with Seeker. I tried this last format, and it actually was pretty good and really only handicapped by Gengar, due to Weakness, and Gyarados, due to resistance.
With a slower format, with less viable Psychic types, Machamp looks like it could really shine. It was one of the first cards I thought about when looking at a HGSS format, and I usually trust my gut instinct to a degree, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card being a notable roleplayer in this format.
Magnezone Prime… one of my favorite cards in last format, and one I feel should remain as strong if not stronger in this format. It is fantastic with Emboar for energy manipulation. It is also abusable with Feraligatr Prime, and even Pachirisu. Typhlosion Prime, or any other form of future energy manipulation pairs well with this card.
Not only is it a hefty attacker with literally a limitless damage output, but its Pokémon Power offers consistency far beyond anything else in this format. Magnetic Draw pretty much enables the deck to set up on its own once one copy of the card hits play.
pokemon-paradijs.comEnergy manipulation is always going to be good. Water is an interesting type right now. Emboar and Reshiram are hot, as is Donphan Prime. Both of these do not want to have to deal with water types. Unfortunately, Magnezone, and Zekrom, are both good as well.
Unfortunately, if any of the Water decks are to really be competitive, odds are it will be on the back of Feraligatr fueling them. Initial reaction is that it is strictly inferior to Emboar, but the type switch up matters, and as decks gun to beat Emboar, Feraligatr may prove to be a viable counter or simply an alternative.
Gengar Prime is a card that really didn’t lose anything in the rotation, and in fact, benefitted by the loss of most of the cards that were good against it. We are now without Fossils to try and counteract Seeker. SP decks and their speed/disruption are good. Good, splashable Dark types are rare now. Dialga, with Deafen, is gone as well. On top of that, decks are slower.
All of those points at Gengar Prime being a powerful force in this format. The deck is fairly self-explanatory. The biggest problem is that you’ll often need to use Seeker to send Pokémon to the Lost Zone, so you need to find a good way to maintain set up without using Supporters.
Shuckle is almost exclusively useful with Emboar. Every Fire attachment becomes a card. Combo’d with Super Scoop Up and Seeker really allow you a pretty degenerate engine. In Magnezone Emboar, you can attach soon to be Lost Zone’d energy to Shuckle for maximum efficiency. While the card threatened to be truly degenerate in MD on, due to Forretress, the card is now merely just a powerful consistency accessory.
Mew really seems to only show value in a Gengar Prime deck, but it is enough to discuss. I addressed earlier with Gengar that its biggest issue is being able to keep pumping out Gengars while also using Seeker. Mew Prime helps offset this.
In a much slower format, you are able to afford the first turn set up for its attack. The low 60 Hit Points matters less early on, as turn one kills should be unlikely.
Yanmega has been discussed as a cheap, quick attacker by a few players I’ve discussed with. Judge and Copycat make it easy enough to keep hand sizes similar. It could be an interesting card to pair with say, Donphan Prime, as its Lightning weakness is offset by Donphan rather well and there isn’t really any conflicting energy costs.
I’m not entirely sold on this card, but it seems that quick, aggressive stage 1s may have a place in this format. If this proves true, Yanmega may be an interesting inclusion, mainly because other fast, aggressive stage 1s, such as Cinccino, and Zoroark, are weak to Fighting.
Perhaps it even has a place alongside Zekrom. Fighting resistance on a “splashable” stage 1 seems to have value.
“Do The Wave” for a Double Colorless Energy? Sign me up. While it only has 90 Hit Points, it is a Colorless source of high damage on a stage 1. It’s able to start hitting hard on turn two now, with minimal deck investment. The card suffers somewhat from the “issue” I have with Zekrom and Reshiram, which is that they all don’t actually one shot primary attackers that are stage 2s.
That doesn’t mean the card is bad, it just means that it is a weakness that should be addressed when you decide what else to pair with it.
pokegym.netThis card has actually impressed me more than I thought it would upon initial review. Due to the popularity of Zekrom, and Reshiram, alongside Magnezone Prime, Zoroark’s attack is actually proving to be rather efficient. With a PlusPower or a Special D Energy, it is 1-shotting Reshiram and Zekrom.
“Nasty Plot”, while not amazing, is nothing to ignore either. I played against a Zoroark/Cinccino/Yanmega Prime deck at league, and while I was underwhelmed by the Yanmega necessarily in the deck (I was running Emboar Magnezone, so that is somewhat skewed) the Zoroark proved to be rather good.
I’m not sold on that particular combo necessarily, I see a lot of raw potential in Zoroark. Maybe not as a primary attacker, but it seems like a great 2-2 line to counter certain cards.
This is a card that got initial hype for last format, but is pretty much dead in the water now, without access to Crobat G for Flash Bite. It could hold some promise if paired with say, Kingdra Prime, or any sort of spread attacker. It could be interesting because of the “change” to Rare Candy.
If you get a Kingdra Prime in play, it threatens to one shot any benched Pokémon before it gets a chance to evolve. The downside to a deck like that is the overbearing Lightning weakness which seems to be a pretty bad thing to have in this still unexplored format. Lightning and Fire seem to be the two big types right out of the gates, so keep that in mind when finalizing a deck.
pokegym.netWe’ve touched on the rotation of Uxie, but we haven’t touched on the rotation of Azelf. With the rotation of Level X cards, the importance of singular cards being prized matters far less, but it is still a fear all plays have. The best bet for dealing with that is this Rotom, who offers prize manipulation, but also offers a pretty nifty attack for only a Lightning energy.
One of the things I’ve noticed now is that a lot of decks simply have a very low basic count. While donks are not that prevalent (well, Zekrom does donkt fairly consistently) you don’t want to be mulliganing a ton of cards away, and you want to have enough basics to make sure you can really establish yourself if you don’t have access to Pokémon Collector.
As a result, the concept of “starters” has returned in full force. Anyone else remember the days of feeling ashamed to be sleeving up a Dunsparce SS, but doing it out of necessity anyway? Smeargle is the “go to” guy for a “starter” that was my first instinct.
It was a pretty playable card last format, so hey, why not give it a shot in HGSS, since with a “weaker” format, cards which were really powerful in the last format should remain so again, right? Not entirely.
Smeargle isn’t a BAD card still, but it has actually revealed quite a few flaws as I’ve been playing with it. Lets address some of its issues:
Unown Q has rotated. It isn’t so much an issue that you have to pay to retreat it now, as a lot of set up decks which really want it can afford the energy drop (example: Emboar). It does hurt the fact that it can no longer be promoted between kills to net card advantage and act as a free retreater.
The 1st turn rule. It used to be, that if you went first, and an opponent had their best Supporter, you could use it. (This holds true) If you went 2nd, they couldn’t play any Supporters, so again, you had access to play their best Supporter.
pokegym.netNow, they play their best Supporter on their first turn (usually the ideal Collector you wanted to snag) and you are lucky to grab anything, yet alone a good one.
A common play before was to Collector for an Uxie, and draw a bunch of cards off of it, so even then, the odds they refilled their hand with more Supporters was higher. Now, they Collector, and are likely fairly barren.
Cyrus’s Conspiracy rotated. Cyrus was one of the best cards to hit with a Smeargle. Since Cyrus kept chaining itself, it would always leave targets available, so it was great fodder for Smeargle. This card rotated, so now it is lacking one of its favorite targets.
Professor Juniper and Judge are seeing play now, and neither of these are cards you want to randomly copy when you have a good hand. These cards can backfire, and see a good deal of play, so there’s always a risk to blindly Smeargling now.
Now, I still feel a lot of decks want a “starter” or at least a midgame “fallback plan” a la Chatot MD. The 30 HP Cleffa seems to be that guy. Not only is its attack free, but it has a free retreat as well. (No need for Unown Q!)
Its attack nets you a free PONT, and also gives you a 50% chance to be invulnerable for the next turn. This isn’t super relevent, but the 30 HP menace is harder to kill then you’d initially think. Without Crobat G, first turn Broken Time-Space and Rare Candy, or Pokémon SP, a 30 HP basic is no longer the liability it used to be.
pokebeach.comWhile this card isn’t actually “bad” it is certainly overshadowed by the Inferno Fandango pig. Luckily, you really only need to get a lone copy of Good Boar into play to get maximum utility out of it, so if you are running a moderately thick pig line, you can easily afford to splash this guy.
Its 150 damage attack is pretty nice to deal with threats like Donphan. While it seems “unnecessary” in Magnezone Emboar, being able to hit for 150 without Lost Zoning energy actually matters quite a bit.
This is a card that hasn’t really caught on yet, but is actually the single best weapon at Emboar’s disposal. For RRLC it does 150 damage, and likely dumps off 3 energy. It also takes 2 Prizes. Against any deck incapable of doing 140 damage in one hit, it is taking 4 Prizes in two turns.
Donphan, for example, isn’t going to be doing too much to this prize chainsaw. Against decks which do threaten the 140 damage, you can still save it for the last 2 Prizes, still allowing you to “leap ahead” in an exchange if you started behind.
I made a joke last year when this card was printed about how it was going to be the best deck for Worlds next year, even writing “Rayquaza Deoxys Legend: BDIF Worlds 2011” on my friend Tracy’s refrigerator as a joke (a particularly unfunny one in writing, apparently) and I had no idea that this card actually would be a part of the deck I think is a clear front-runner in this format.
This card has some pretty negative interaction with Cinccino and Zoroark who both light it up pretty easily. What I find funny is, last format Colorless and Psychic were arguably the two worst weaknesses to possess.
Now, Psychic is a pretty awful type, attack wise, and Colorless isn’t really that great either outside of Cinccino. The best part about this card is that you don’t build a deck around it, leaving it easily exploitable. It just happens to fit seamlessly into an already versatile deck.
Emboar Magnezone is now armed with 3 different weakness types by which it can be attacking with, meaning almost no deck is going to be able to match up properly against whatever attackers it wants to be able to use. Such a type diversity can’t be overlooked.
pokegym.netNow, I’ll address some cards that aren’t that good anymore. Steelix Prime and Scizor Prime take huge hits, because of the power of Fire types. Magnezone also keeps both of these guys pretty well in check as well. They still read extremely well, but again, single-minded tanking decks suffer in any format where 1HKOs are popular, or the type they are weak to is.
They may have been viable in the faster, incremental damage based MD on format, but now, they are sitting in the midst of an unfavorable metagame. On the topic of other cards which used to be good but are now likely to never see play, we have Vileplume.
Not only are decks slower and less reliant on the trainers which Vileplume locks out, but it is harder to get Vileplume out. Spiritombs gone, and so is Broken Time-Space. Unless you want to use Rare Candy (which isn’t exactly synergistic!) you have to wait until turn 3 to get this guy in play. His time in the sun looks to have passed.
Jumpluff was a card that hasn’t really had a time to shine in over a year, and it doesn’t look to change anytime soon. It can’t get a turn one start anymore, and its harder to keep replacing them now. Also, Hit Points continue to go up, and Crobat G and Expert Belt have left the format.
Again, like Steelix and Scizor, it has to contend with a lot of Fire types and that’s bad for its future. Those are some of the cards which had seen previous success or look like they may be strong enough to make an impact, but currently, I don’t see a future for them.
Now, that was a loose primer on some of the cards I think players really need to look at and analyze. One thing I want to address is that while Rare Candy took a hit in terms of its strength, it is a card you still want to run. It isn’t as good as before but the card is still going to see heavy play in spite of this.
Now I’m going to move on to some actual decklists that I’ve been working on. I’ll be the first one to say that they are far from perfect. I’m pretty content with the Pokémon, and the Energy, but the draw engine is going to take some time to really figure out what is ideal.
I’ll address some of the choices and debates after the list, since nothing is concrete. Needless to say, I’ll be discussing Emboar Magnezone.
Emboar Magnezone 1.0
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 25
Energy – 15
pokegym.netThe basic idea here is that you set up both Magnezone Prime and Emboar, and well, do all sorts of degenerate things from there. Reshiram, Magnezone, and Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND (RDL from here on out, that’s getting annoying to type out!) are all great attackers, but Magnezone is likely going to be the primary attacker.
Cleffa helps you set up in the early turns, but let’s make the primary focus of this deck clear. You want to get out Magnezone Prime. Once you do, everything else falls into place. Magnetic Draw helps the decks otherwise complex set up bloom, so it should be your first target.
This is why I choose to run Sage’s Training in here. It has the deepest reach of any of the Supporters so I can, as reliably as possible, reach “Magnemite + Rare Candy + Magnezone Prime”. Sage also has some interesting synergy with Junk Arm and Energy Retrieval.
I said before that Pokémon Collector isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be, but let’s realize we are running a deck that currently has 10 basic Pokémon. Collector gets you all of the Basic Pokémon you need, which is important in a deck that wants to get out two stage 2 Pokémon.
Professor Elm’s Training Method is a “5th” Pokémon Communication. Certainly not a great card, but 1-2 copies seem good for consistency in this deck. I’m not entirely sold on it, but right now it seems like it is a pretty good consistency boost.
Rare Candy is a pretty obvious 4-of in any deck that is running 2 thick Stage 2 lines.
pokemon-paradijs.comJudge is a fantastic card in this deck. Not only is it amazing with a Cleffa opening, but it also has sickening synergy with Magnezone Prime. You shrug off the “4 card” restriction by immediately refilling to 6, but it also is a great answer to “clunky” bigger hands that make it hard to Magnetic Draw for substantial amounts of cards.
It serves 3 major purposes in the deck. I’m not sure it’s a 3-of card, but I am pretty confident I want at least 2 in here.
Energy Retrieval is a card I originally had as Fisherman, but I made the switch here to help run Junk Arms. Junk Arm “seems” unnecessary, but the main reason I added it is so that I could maximize my Magnetic Draws. I use it just as much to help me empty my hand as I do to re-use the Trainers.
Getting back Rare Candy, Pokémon Communication, and Energy Retrieval are all great options. I’m NOT certain this is better than running say, 2 Fisherman, and having extra space, but right now it’s been playing pretty well.
Now, I’m pretty sure my primer earlier had covered the uses of the Pokémon I included in this deck, and I covered the Trainers above, so we should be pretty good on the actual list. I’d like to point out that I originally stacked the deck with a WHOPPING 18 energy, but since moved down to 15, due to the Energy Retrievals and Junk Arms.
As I started to use Pokémon that simply discarded the energy opposed to being forced to Lost Zone them with Magnezone Prime exclusively, the demand on the energy count lessened. I may want to go up to 16, but for now, 15 seems sufficient.
Lets look at some of the cards I don’t have in the list but could be running.
3rd Tepig: We need more basics. I still feel 10 is lower than desired, and a 3rd Tepig isn’t a bad thing to have. It also allows me to justify the next guy a bit more.
Bad Boar: This guy would offer an additional attacker that is hard to kill, and pumps out a lot of damage while NOT Lost Zoning your energy. This guy makes me prefer Fisherman, so perhaps a list using him, which stresses your energy discard so much, may make room for it by the Fisherman game plan.
Switch: These Pokémon are fat. They all have huge Retreat Costs, and while you CAN afford to just retreat them, the occasional Switch seems like it could be rather useful. Especially if you end up “stranding” a Magnezone Prime active and want to save it on the bench and attack with something else. It may be a luxury card since the deck really just overpowers everything, but it could be a nice inclusion.
Twins: This deck, even when built to be as “fast” as it can be, is still slow. It will almost always start off down in prizes, so Twins seems like it’d be a pretty good inclusion. Being able to grab Rare Candy and whatever Evolution card you want seems like it would be a pretty nice play.
It also single-handedly matches your RDL halves. Running cards such as a lone Switch becomes much more realistic with Twins as well. 2 seems like the ideal number if you did try this out. I ran 2 briefly, but they got lost in the shuffle while I started testing other cards because I primarily tested mirror matches, and well, to be honest, that is one of the few matchups you really don’t want to go down on prizes in.
They actually can keep up the exchange, and can even match your RDL plays, so its going to require some luck to actually skip ahead. With Emboar being a popular deck, I’d rather play a pro-active engine such as Sage’s Training, than the reactive Twins.
Engineer’s Adjustment: This card vs Sage’s Training is rough. Sage digs deeper but this nets you more cards. I’m not sure which will end up being better, but it seems to me that the “extra” cards you draw off of Engineer’s Adjustment might actually be a bad thing. It clogs your Magnetic Draws.
With Sage, you see the top 5, grab the two best, and then dig even deeper with Magnetic Draw. Engineer’s Adjustment forces 4 blind cards into your hand, opposed to 2. With Sage, even if you don’t see the cards you want, you can usually choose the 2 cards which are most easy to “cycle”.
That simply means cards you can play that turn, which in turn is simply an additional card you draw off of Magnetic Draw. The ones that would stick in hand, such as extra Cleffa, or evolution lines, get discarded. You don’t get that anti-clunk selection with Engineer’s Adjustment.
Simply put, you are digging deeper and more selectively with Sage’s Training, but are stuck having to discard cards.
Flower Girl: One copy of a true recovery card couldn’t be too bad. Perhaps in place of one of the Junk Arms. It brings back not only additional energy, but it can bring back evolution lines.
This is particularly useful if you prize a few bad Pokémon and are forced to kill some. I’m not sure it is necessary due to the amount of different attackers you run, but it is certainly interesting.
Reshiram #2: This guy also inflates the basic count of the deck, but also provides a pretty solid attacker. I’m not sure it is necessary as it seems worse than adding Bad Boar, but if the singular copy winds up overperforming, I’m certainly not against trying out a 2nd copy.
I started at 2, but found myself preferring Magnezone’s in the exchange. Admittedly, I was against slower decks, so perhaps there are matchups where you need to resort to using Reshiram early because its easier to get out. If that happens, this cards value goes up substantially.
Shuckle: Not only is this card good, but me and my friends can’t get over how amusing Fermented Liquid is. Yes. Just the name. Yes, we are like middle school students. Anyway, we’ve discussed the Inferno Fandano/Fermented Liquid synergy, and when you have Magnezone Lost Zoning energy off of ANY of your Pokémon, why not just attach it to this little guy, and net free cards off of it.
It’s also a sort of back up plan if you have a bad hand, as you can “waste” your energy drops pretty safely searching for extra cards because once you set up, those wasted drops do not matter. This card also gives you the option to really mess with your engine as a whole.
If you wanted to, you could run Seeker and Super Scoop Up to fuel this guy, re-using all of those drops. It would likely require a far thinner Magnezone line, or even just a straight switch to cutting Magnezone in favor of Bad Boar, and more Reshirams, but I’m not entirely sure I like that.
The decks engine is good enough as it is now, so I’m not sure gutting the deck for space to loop Shuckles is worth it. It might be, but it’s such an abstract engine that I’d have to do substantial testing before I give it any sort of stamp of approval.
Normally I would discuss this deck’s “matchups” but I can’t really do that. There are no established decks at all yet, so it is really hard to determine what I could be playing against yet alone how this interacts with those hypothetical decks. Everyone has pretty much picked up “their deck” and just started playing it, so we really don’t have anything close to an established metagame.
For Nationals, I do expect to see a bunch of “subpar” decks, where people run cards which look strong, and probably are well built decks, but simply don’t beat the actual “best” decks in this format. This is a huge benefit to all of those who take the time to actually playtest. This brings me to my final point.
Mark A. HicksWe have roughly 200 Underground Members. In the grand scheme of things, that is a rather small player base. This is information that isn’t widely available. There is something to be said for having an information advantage. While I’m not playing Nationals, and just hoping my 1861 holds up for me getting to Worlds (it may, it may not), I have plenty of friends who are trying to get in.
As a result, I was a bit torn regarding sharing my actual, most recent innovations when they really are quite advantageous at the moment. As a result, I’m asking the readers here not to recklessly spread the lists posted here before Nationals. Not just my lists, but everyone elses.
While this site is meant for your improvement, keep in mind that all of the writers have a very vested interest in their own performance as well. It benefits us, and you, to keep the information shared here between ourselves. The less the competition knows, the better our odds are.
Not “our” as in the writers, but “our” as in all of Underground. In an unmapped format, information is going to be a bigger factor at Nationals than play skill is, in my opinion. so use these tools wisely, and don’t spread this information too widely. I’m sure everyone else will thank you for it.
Until next week, good luck, and happy testing!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
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