So my first Underground article. Pretty sweet right? I’m guessing that you’re in one of two camps right now as you’re reading this…
You’re one of my millions of loyal followers and are excited to see me finally writing an Underground article, and can’t wait to see what science I’m going to drop on you in the next few thousand words.
You’ve never heard of me and were expecting a Fulop article and are now considering canceling your underground subscription unless I give you a reason to do otherwise. So, I’m here to do that.
Firstly, let me come clean about one thing: I’m nowhere near the level of player that Fulop, Kettler, et al are. I don’t pretend to be a master of the game, I’ve never won Nationals, I’ve never qualified for Worlds, etc. If you’re looking for a decorated champion, I’m not going to be that guy.
What I am, however, is a decent player with an incredible passion for both the game of Pokémon and writing about the game of Pokémon. I’d like to think that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to Pokémon, and that my dedication to writing (I’ve written on a semi-weekly basis for SixPrizes for months now), shows that clearly enough. I also test with some absolutely fantastic players, and feel that I can hold my own both when playing the game and when writing about the game.
My biggest strength is probably my ability to theorize and more over, my ability to tune decks. My friends and I speak a lot in private about the different roles players take on a testing team. Some players are deck builders who can create off the wall things that occasionally work, others are purely players who have no ability to create decks, but can play them better than anyone and can find faults in them.
I feel that, although I’m neither an incredible player nor an incredible deck builder, what I am is a bit of a middleman, in that I have an ability to tune decks. What this means is that I’m not going to be able to create the deck from scratch, but I will be able to test it and notice what’s wrong with it, and offer small suggestions.
Essentially my strength lies in refining decklists until they are the most efficient version possible.
My biggest weakness in the game is getting put on tilt. There have been multiple matches that I could’ve won if only I hadn’t convinced myself that I was worse than my opponent, or after getting a crap hand had decided that the game was his.
I need to work on keeping myself in the game for as long as possible and understanding that I’m equal with anyone that I could be playing against, regardless of their past accomplishments or name recognition. This isn’t to say that I’m one of the best players in the world, but rather that I shouldn’t put myself out of contention before the game even begins.
Now that I’ve shared those little tidbits with you, I hope that you’ll read this article with no preconceived notions about my status as a player, and more than anything I hope that you learn something from reading this and can use it to further yourself as a player.
If you do happen to like this article and gain some value from it, please let Adam know, or “Like” this article, so that I’ll continue to get UG gigs and won’t have to live on the streets any longer, using junk commons as my only barrier to the elements. =[
With all the introductory stuff out of the way, let’s get down to the topic at hand…
pokegym.netOver spring break, my good friend and teammate Isaiah Middleton took a vacation to Japan to see old friends and ball out in Tokyo. During this trip he attended some Pokémon tournaments, I think he went to an HS-on Gym Challenge, or something of that sort.
Although he couldn’t scrounge up enough relevant Japanese cards to be able to play in the tournament, he observed the top players’ matches and reported back that there was one deck that seemed to be winning, and in a dominating fashion.
That deck was Emboar/Magnezone.
Although we hadn’t thought of at the time (the HS-on format hadn’t been announced yet and we still had Regionals to play in), it seemed to obvious. Emboar reigns energy down, Magnezone feeds of off that, you have Reshiram as an early attacker.
We assumed that most people hadn’t thought of it yet, so we started hoarding Magnezones are ridiculously low prices and built a few test lists. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned Regionals we didn’t get entirely too much time to test the deck, but we still felt we were ahead of the curve quite a bit.
We were still trying to keep it a little bit of a secret by the time that Regionals were over and the HS-on format was announced. We know that a number of pro players were aware of the deck but we figured that it hadn’t quite leaked out to the general public yet, so we figured that the few of us who were attending Nationals could have a lead on most of the field if we kept our testing results to ourselves as much as possible.
pokegym.netEventually we decided that it was better to share our information with the public via my articles, as keeping things to yourself only works for so long, and as a writer I felt it was sort of my duty (and better for the game as a whole) to report on these sorts of things and keep my audience informed.
Little did we know that Chris Fulop had already written an article on it just the day before we were discussing releasing the deck publicly. From there on out we decided that it was a free-for-all and that we might as well try and help the public as much as possible.
With all that being said, here is what I feel is the definitive list, and an explanation for it. Understand that we still have a lot of time to work on these things and nothing, not even in this list, is set in stone. I hope that the above few paragraphs summarize our experience with the deck and that you will trust that I know what I’m talking about when I write this.
I also encourage you to seek other lists and get other writers’ thoughts on the deck. Fulop has shared multiple lists on Underground and all of them have been fantastic, as usual. Here is what we’ve been working on…
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 24
Energy – 15
I’ll skip breaking it down piece by piece as I assume you understand how the deck works, but let me make a few points…
– I feel that 3-1-2/1 Emboar is absolutely the play. The 3 Tepigs give you additional insurance vs. Pokémon Reversal and help with being able to set up both an Ability Emboar and an Attack Boar (note that he prefers to be called Attack Boar and not “bad boar”, which is both offensive and hurtful. He isn’t disabled, he is differently abled), which can be crucial in some matchups.
Speaking of Attack Boar, it is very much the correct choice in my opinion. It gives you another big attacker who doesn’t completely void you of energy like Magnezone and doesn’t run as big of a risk (nor as big of a reward) as RDL.
– I could see going to 2 Reshiram if the metagame called for it. As we’re going to discuss a little bit later, Reshiram is fantastic vs. Donphan or any other quick decks, and in general is just a very good attacker for the early game. I think 1 is fine in most situations but I wouldn’t scoff at anyone who ran 2, either.
– The Rescue is there as it’s simply your best recovery card. We chose it over Flower Shop Lady (FSL) because it provides immediate value. No, you can’t use Broken Time-Space or Candy to cheat your Magnezone or Emboar line back into player as you could last format, but it doesn’t require you to wait a turn to make plays, unlike FSL.
In a world where Uxie can be tutored with Communication to draw infinite cards, FSL is probably the play, but without that ability we love Rescue Energy. It’s by far the best recovery card in the format at the moment, and I’m genuinely surprised that most of the top players’ MagneBoar lists don’t run it. It’s such a no-brainer to me.
To prove that I’m not just getting high on that list and am stifling innovation, here is another list that members of my team are working on. I think most of us are leaning toward the first list, but this is also a completely relevant list that we’ve been testing out
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 23
Energy – 15
As you can see, this list has a few key differences to the last one…
– Firstly, the Tepig line, which I’ve already spoken about. Although this list is getting major testing among our group and is still considered very viable, the Tepig count is something that I think all but a few of us are against at this point.
– 2-2 Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND (RDL). This is probably the most interesting part of the list. When we first brewed this up (before we had seen any other lists besides the Japanese ones, which we never got an actual list for), we assumed 2-2 RDL was the play just because of how sick it is.
Our testing showed that although 2-2 RDL was quite ridiculous, it would often create space and hand clogging problems, and it’s fragility against Bouffalant techs is what would ultimately lead most of us to cut to 1-1. As I said, we’re still not sure which is the correct play, but I thought I would throw out the 2-2 as an option, as I haven’t seen that brought up in any past articles.
– No shuffle/draw but Judge is the other defining characteristic. I’ve actually personally tested with this list more than with the one running PONT, so I’m naturally going to favor the Judge-only list. However, my teammate and renowned deckbuilder/former US Nationals runner-up Tyler Ninomura has been very vocal about his support of PONT, so much so that it’s made the main list.
Now that we’ve gone over the differences between my two lists, let me point out a few differences between these lists and others posted around the internet (mostly Chris Fulop’s most recent)…
– I tested Sage’s Training fairly extensively, and didn’t think it was as powerful as Judge or even PONT. I understand the idea behind it and when it worked it certainly worked, but too much of the time I felt that I was either burning important cards, or having to take unrecoverable cards in order to NOT do that.
I tested 4 Sage w/ 1 Flower Shop Lady, and then I even went to 3 Sage, but in the end I just wasn’t feeling it. Perhaps it requires more testing or there’s something I’m not seeing, but for now I’ve written it off as an option.
– We’ve always had the energy at 15, with a 10/3/2 split. I’ve never had serious problems hitting Lighting, but I admit I would like that extra insurance. Again, these lists aren’t quite perfect, and they’re still being tested. For now I think that our energy count is solid and has been working well, but I could see trying to make room for 4 or even 5 Lightning energy.
Unfortunately I’m not willing to find that space at the expense of Rescue Energy, so finding that balance has been proven to be quite difficult.
Now that we’ve covered my thoughts on the MagneBoar deck thoroughly, let’s take a look at another deck that’s been getting a bit of hype lately, and for good reason: Donphan Machamp. Here is my personal list…
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 28
Energy – 14
As you can see, this list is wildly different from most of the lists floating around on the internet right now. Let me make some explanations…
– We originally started with a 2-1-2 Machamp line, but found that you had a terrible late game if you couldn’t get at least one Machamp online as fast as possible. The inclusion of the second Machoke is also sort of relevant for killing asleep Cleffas and such, but mostly it’s just there to add extra consistency and lessen your reliance on Rare Candy.
– We choose to run Buffalo over Zoroark simply because it takes less room, and accomplishes most of the same tasks as Zoroark. I’ll come right out and say that this is probably the least tested of the list — I’ve played games with Zoroark but not what I would call a substantial amount — so there’s a decent chance I could be wrong about this.
However, for now I feel that although Zoroark gives you a wider range and more potential, Buffalo takes one turn to set-up and accomplishes most of the same tasks as Zoroark does. I still need to test more, but I feel that for now Bouffalant is a reliable option.
– We originally had a very high count of Juniper, something like 4 Juniper and 1/2 Oak. However, we soon found that, although we were drawing a ridiculous amount of cards and when we drained our hand before activating Juniper it was awesome, too much of the time we had to choose between discarding important cards and hoping to hit something off Juniper or simply having no plays for the turn.
With all that being said, Juniper is still a ridiculously sick card and deserves to be included here.
– Pokémon Reversal is too ridiculous of a card in this deck. Early game it gives you the ability to KO literally any basic that evolves (namely Magnemites, Tepigs, Zoruas and Machops) if you can hit the heads. Mid-game it provides some disruption, particularly if you can bring up an Emboar and buy yourself some time until your opponent peels a switch.
Late game it gives you a chance to completely turn the game around by gusting up an Emboar or a hastily played RDL and ruining your opponents board state. I understand the arguments for running less than a full set, but I can’t imagine cutting the card out completely.
Now that we’ve talked about what I feel are the two biggest/best HGSS-on decks, I wanted to take a minute to talk about a few rogue-ish ideas that I’ve been working on that aren’t fully realized yet.
These decks are tested very minimally and are to be taken mostly as theories. I’m not looking for in-depth critiques of the lists, although I do feel that these deck ideas are sound and are at least worth testing. Let’s get down to it…
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 26
Energy – 15
The basic idea behind this list is to have two win conditions: A spread with Feraligatr (we also had Delibird as an additional spread suite in this deck when we thought that was the play), and a mill with Kyogre/Groudon LEGEND.
This deck also has the advantage of hitting Donphan and Reshiram for weakness. This deck is heavily under tested, but I thought I would throw the initial technology down here for you all to see.
I haven’t heard of similar ideas being worked on anywhere so perhaps if someone takes the time to refine this list it can prove to be something of a surprise at Nationals or Worlds.
The second deck we’ve been working on is Wailord/Reuniclus. I’ve just recently brewed this list up, so it’s very imperfect, but I wanted to give you guys an idea of what I’m talking about…
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 22
Energy – 14
The general idea behind the deck is to use Reuniclus’ Ability to spread damage off of Wailord so that Wailord’s Swallow Up attack can always do the maximum amount of damage. You also have the added benefit of being able to manipulate damage onto Cleffa and other low-HP Pokémon to score KOs which will allow you to activate Black Belt and Twins.
The deck still has a ways to go, as I said, this is a first draft, but I think it has solid potential. I’ll keep all of you updated on the progress of this deck as it evolves.
For those who are fans of my free SixPrizes articles you’ll know that one of my biggest interests in the game is the financial aspect. Card values, trading and selling, etc. I usually write a paragraph or two at the end of each of my articles with what’s going on in the financial world, but as this is an Underground article I felt I would go a little bit deeper into the discussion.
I know that the intention of the Underground side of things is to help players do better at tournaments and improve as players competitively.
dborman2However, I think that giving financial pro tips such as these are also very relevant, as it helps you to make money off of the game, which can then fuel the ability to attend bigger tournaments, etc. If anyone doesn’t want to see this sort of stuff in future articles please let me know. However I think most of you will appreciate it.
The single biggest skill you can learn in the hustlin’ game is speculating. Correctly speculating on cards can make you massive amounts of money and/or trade stock, depending on which way you want to go, and how much you’re willing to invest.
For instance, because we knew that Magnezone would be good before most other people had realized it, Amelia Bottemiller and I were able to trade for or buy 20 Magnezones. We never bought one at more than $10, and most of them we ended up trading irrelevant cards at a $5 value.
Even if we assume that every single Magnezone was purchased at $10, they’re currently going for $25 (and they’re sold out, which means they’ll go even higher) on TrollandToad.com, meaning that our investment of $200 (and remember, it wasn’t even that much) will net us $300 profit. This isn’t a whole ton of money, but it would cover gas, hotel, and food to something like a Regionals or a State Championship.
But I realize that a lot of players don’t have $200 to gamble on cards with, which is why I wanted to kill a common misconception — You don’t need to spend a ton of money to hustle Pokémon. While it’s true that you end up getting back what you put in, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to make a profit.
Example: Amelia and I bought 30 reverse foil Cleffas at $.50 a month or so ago, and we’ve been able to successfully sell all of them at $1.50, turning our $15 investment into a $30 profit.
Theoretically from there you could argue that you can invest that $30 into 3 Magnezones at $10, and sell them for $25, gaining even more profit, but we’ll assume that most players value immediate money over long term financial gain.
pokegym.netOne of the best things about speculating on cards is that you already have an advantage over everyone else — you’re a competitive player. If you’re willing to pay to read Underground articles I’d bet that you’re someone who takes this game seriously and has some amount of skill, and therefore will be able to evaluate cards in multiple formats better than the majority of people out there.
You, right now, have all of the tools you need to make money via speculating off of Pokémon cards. The easiest way to do this is to trade or buy a card up when it’s either:
- First released and isn’t hyped yet, or
- Is in a down period such as in-between formats or during a time when a new set is going to be released before the next tournament (aka after Cities but before States).
The biggest mistake you can make in doing this is trying to get your hands on cards that are already being hyped. Unless your community is full of complete idiots, there’s not much of a point in trying to hustle Catchers at the pre-release.
Everyone knows they’re good and they’ve been hyped for months. You’re more than likely not going to be able to find someone who values them low. You have to dig a little bit deeper and be able to see cards that aren’t fully on the surface yet.
Because face-to-face trading has a lot of different variables associated with it (negotiating skills, the age/experience level of the person you’re trading with, rules of the store you’re trading at), I’m going to be mainly focusing on online trading at this point. If any of you would like to see face to face negotiating tips in future articles, please let me and Adam know!
The single most undervalued tool in the trading/selling/hustling community right now is a little thing called eBay saved searches. eBay saved searches allow you to search for something, let’s say “reverse foil Cleffa COL” and then have eBay e-mail you whenever a listing with a similar name appears on the site.
serebii.netThis is useful not only because it saves you the time of actually having to search these terms regularly, but it also immediately notifies you when they’re listed so you have a chance to snipe them up. I’ve recently cleared out my saved searches, but the two I still have up are “Holo Pokémon Communication” and “Holo Pokémon Collector”, and I can’t tell you how much profit I’ve made from having this up for the past year or so.
That’s really all I’ve got to say about the hustlin’ game in general for now (I have a lot more but I can’t give away all of my secrets now), but I’ll leave you with a few market watch tips…
- If you can find Tepig Promos at a decent price (under $5), buy them up. I’m not sure that I would sink a large amount of money into them, but I would probably pick up an extra set or so. I only see this going up.
- For some reason Tyranitar Prime is at $20 right now on most sites. I only see that dropping, so if you have any extras, now is the time to offload. Maybe this card is good next format, but I’m simply not seeing it. I feel confident that they’ll settle down to $12 – $15 within the next few months.
So go out there and try to hustle some cards. If you’re a competitive player who attends tournaments, spends money on the game and has a great deal of knowledge about these cards there’s absolutely no reason not to start profiting off of this stuff, especially if you’re a mediocre player like me! :O
I hope all of you enjoyed this article. In fact, if you did, please hit me up personally at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you thought. I read and respond to every single e-mail I get, it may just take me a while. :D
More important, if you’re feeling my writing, PLEASE let Adam know. E-mail him at email@example.com, hit him up on Facebook or clog his Twitter feed, whatever you can do to let him know that you want Kenny Wisdom to write future Underground articles. He’s in charge and the only way it’ll happen is if he knows that you guys want it.
Thanks for reading, and remember, always play to win.
…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.