HGSS-on: Got Your Back, and a UK Nationals Report

With so many different formats shooting around at the moment and me having not written an article for this site in ever so long, I thought I would incorporate two articles into one so there’s something for everyone.

The first half, and the half the majority would probably be interested in is a deck analysis of the deck that I have been having the most success with, and a deck I think has a huge amount of potential in the HGSS on format next year.

No, it has nothing to do with Emboar, or Donphan for that matter. It includes the two cards that when scans were released, I immediately thought were top contenders separately but not together I must admit.

The second half of the article will house my report for Nationals which took place in the UK, and thus under the MD-CoL rules that have governed the format for my whole experience in this TCG. Check out how I do later on in the article.

Zekrom Samurott

pokebeach.comSo, Zekrom/Samurott eh? Sure they don’t scream synergy, but as the title of this article suggests, I really do think that they cover each other’s weaknesses very well. Everybody knows the speed Zekrom engine by now, load energies onto a Pachirisu and then transfer the energies onto Zekrom via Shaymin, and there’s nothing different with this deck.

I feel this combination is a very potent one and can be incredibly destructive, and thus it is the basis of my deck, and its focal point. So what about Samurott? I think it’s worth taking a brief look at the main functions of Samurott in a deck like this.

Samurott is a Stage 2 Water type with a solid HP of 140. It also has a neat Ability which reduced damage done to Samurott by 20. This essentially puts Samurott at a hefty 160 HP, and if you’re not 1HKOing it, technically a lot more. This puts it at tank status for me, which is nice when you’re main attacker hurts itself quite a lot during a match.

Its attack, for 3 Colourless energies hits for 70 plus 10 for each Water energy attached to it. The Water energy part of this attack is irrelevant in this deck as the situations you find yourself needing Samurott won’t require the extra damage. This card I feel is incredibly versatile and splashable in a lot of decks.

It doesn’t hog energy space as you can use whatever you were using in your deck already, and more importantly hits the metagame for weakness. A lot of Donphan and Emboar based decks are predicted to succeed over the coming months, and Samurott has the tools to deal with these decks very nicely.

The necessity for Zekrom decks to take a prize a turn is definitely boosted by the fact that Samurott can 1HKO all threats to Zekrom barring Machamp Prime and Rayquaza Deoxys Legend, both of which Samurott avoids the 1HKO from anyway which can be vital.

All in all, I feel that Samurott is one of the most underrated cards from the Black and White set, not because its stats are inherently special but more due to the fact that it counters a lot of the metagame in one go without having to dedicate too much space in a deck for it.

I know you guys are hungry for decklists these days, so here’s my most recent incarnation of this deck.

Pokémon – 19 

4 Zekrom BW
2 Pachirisu CL
2 Shaymin UL
4 Cleffa HS/CL
1 Tyrogue HS/CL
2 Oshawott Promo
1 Dewott BW
2 Samurott BW #32
1 Unown [D] UD

Trainers – 27 

4 Professor Juniper
3 Pokémon Collector
3 Dual Ball
2 Pokémon Communication
3 PlusPower
3 Pokémon Reversal
4 Junk Arm
2 Rare Candy
1 Switch
2 Super Scoop Up

Energy – 14 

13 L
1 D

So there it is. Isn’t it a sight to behold? Indeed…

Here are some of the major questions I’ve either been asked or envisage people asking. The general strategy of the deck should be painfully obvious, so if your questions weren’t answered here, by all means ask me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.

Why the Unown Dark and D Energy?

pokebeach.comWell the chances of starting with 3 Lightning energy in your opening hand is low to say the least. This helps offset this by giving you the leeway of only needing 2 energies in your opening hand while being able to ‘search’ for that third energy.

Always make sure the Dark energy isn’t prized when doing this though. I actually made a list of all forms of energy manipulation in the current format and this stood out to me.

Why the 3-3 Dual Ball Pokémon Collector Split?

Well testing is the answer to that question, and personal preference. My perfect start would include Pokémon Collector and thus, I run a 3-3 split over a 2-4 in favor of Dual Ball like many have been proclaiming for this deck. Sure it gets clogged up in your hand later on but it’s Junk Arm/Juniper bait anyway so I don’t see the problem with this.

Why only 2 Pachirisu and Shaymin?

If Azelf was still in format, I’d genuinely put this down to a 1-of in each. Past the first few turns, it becomes absolutely useless and it’s more efficient and ‘Bench space saving’ to just manually attach energies. I have my hands tied to using two of each due to the fear of one being prized.

Only 2 Super Scoop Ups and no Seeker? How do you reuse your techs?

I’ve already kind of answered this in the previous questions, which also begs the question why do I include 2 SSU? That’s essentially because at times, it may be necessary to reuse them and this give me that out. Also, I actually quite like scooping up a useless bench filler like Unown and discard it with Juniper, opening up more space on the bench.


pokebeach.comYup, this card is obviously dependant on the popularity of Cleffa but I’ve been finding Cleffa almost essential in all decks, so Tyrogue can help clean them up. It’s also a good use of a Reversal to nab a benched Cleffa for an essentially free prize.

The most important thing with this card is that it’s potentially invulnerable on a coin flip, and it’s a prize without having to commit an important attacker into the Active Spot. You can deal with a revenge KO on your Tyrogue, but a revenge KO on Something like Zekrom isn’t always easy to rebound from.

Just a quick note on Pokémon Reversal; I’ve found this card to be absolutely amazing, even with the coin flip and is a huge component of this deck and is my main Junk Arm target. I can only imagine how much power this deck could gain with Catcher in the format.

It doesn’t really have any support on the bench so Catcher doesn’t hurt it as much as it will hurt other decks, so this is very much a deck for the future in my opinion, although it does carry it’s weight well currently too, which brings me quite nicely onto matchups.

I’ll only really go over the matchups with decks that have either been hyped or I feel will be dominant.

Reshiram/Emboar: Advantage

You always take an early prize lead in this matchup, and can further hinder the opponent by being able to Pokémon Reversal benched Pignites/Tepigs to put them back a turn or two. The early prize lead is very important as you can then proceed to set up a Samurott or two to keep the prize exchange in your favor.


It is barely ever worth using Bolt Strike on Reshirams unless you can confirm the 1HKO with it, so an initial Outrage before the Bolt Strike is almost always a better option to preserve your Zekroms.

Magnezone/Emboar: Even

This matchup is quite a bit harder than just straight up Reshiram as an attacker. It’s not always possible to secure a 1HKO on Magnezone Prime whereas they can always return the KO by simply Lost Zoning 2 Energies at the most.

What you do have going for you in this matchup is that it’s by no means a quick deck, having to set up two Stage 2 Pokémon while you’re solely relying on Basics. You should always have a free retreater in play before your Pokémon get Knocked Out.

This gives you the versatility to try and Reversal a benched Emboar up and if successful, have a Samurott simply take it out to really hinder the deck. All in all, this matchup is about conserving momentum once you get rolling, and to always keep the opponent under pressure with Reversals.

Machamp/Donphan: Disadvantage

This was always going to be the bane of a deck such as this, and there are only certain things the Zekrom player can do to keep this matchup alive.


You will have to get lucky with Reversal flips in order to hinder the opponent by being able to take out Phanpys and Machokes before they get to the dangerous evolutions. Samurott is quite useful in the matchup as it easily 1HKOs opposing Donphans and can almost always resist a fully powered Machamp Prime.

Lostgar: Large Advantage

I’m still unsure as to the viability of this deck, but thought I’d review this matchup anyway. At the end of the day, whether the opponent is promoting Gengar Primes or Mew Primes, you will have a field day Knocking them Out in one hit. Also, this deck has an impressive discard engine so it’s never hard to keep Pokémon out of your hand.

All in all, I feel this deck has top tier written all over it, and my testing has been backing this up in all honesty. It’s not as consistent as I’d like it to be, but I’m so used to MD on that I’ve never known the notion of having a hand in which there isn’t much to do, and to be totally honest, it’s a lot more consistent than a lot of decks out there.

I didn’t go over all the techs that I have been testing with, but this is a very versatile deck in which you can stamp your own personal touch so try it out and let me know how it goes for you!

UK National Championship Report 29th May 2011

I’ll be honest; HGSS on practice has been a huge distraction for me. I’d not done nearly enough playtesting for this tournament and considering I’d never taken this deck to a tournament before, with hindsight, I should have done a lot more testing.

But I couldn’t ignore how much more interesting testing for the upcoming format change was so spent the majority of my time on Skype playtesting my deck above with Tommy Roberts, so I’m very envious indeed of all you Americans who get the privilege of playing this fresh format and hope you all make the most of it!

pokebeach.comAfter a year of playing a Machamp based deck (whether it be Kingdra Machamp, DonkChamp or Magnezone Machamp) or Luxchomp, I’ve been conditioned to love the trainer engine, despite how destructive and overpowered it was.

This obviously meant I always had a pretty hard time against Vilegar, and I could never seem to definitively outplay it even with techs such as Dialga and Froslass GL. In fact my win record with Vilegar was through the roof against all of my decks, which caused me to re-evaluate my extreme disgust for the deck.

At the end of the day, it has very solid matchups, answers to all top tier decks and even has outs to its hardest matchup thanks to Gengar LV.X. So 3 weeks before the largest TCG tournament of my life, I decided to join the enemy.

Almost all of my testing was against SP. Whether it was Luxchomp or Luxlock, or just plain Sablock, I didn’t really get a varied experience, but I was expecting a non stop SP onslaught at nationals so this didn’t seem too much of a problem to me.

It was soon evident that Blissey is 100% necessary in this deck to have an edge in the mirror, and the more I played the deck, the more I realised that the most important factor in the success of the deck was the success of the first few turns.

This led me to also include Call energy in the list to minimise the number of dead cards in an opening hand. The following is the deck that I took to the National Championship.

Pokémon – 27 

4 Gastly SF
3 Haunter TM
3 Gengar SF
1 Gengar LV.X AR
2 Oddish LA #112
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
1 Chansey PL
1 Blissey PL
4 Spiritomb AR
2 Uxie LA
1 Azelf LA
1 Unown Q MD

Trainers – 28 

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Bebe’s Search
4 Looker’s Investigation
3 Twins
3 Broken Time-Space

Energy – 15 

8 P
3 Call
2 Rescue
2 Warp

So yeah, a very heavy Pokémon count and a very heavy Energy count indeed. Notable exclusions would be Palmer’s Contribution and Seeker. With Palmer’s, I was always so frustrated it seeing it in my hand when I didn’t need it, and often found myself using it solely for the recovery of energy, which wasn’t as necessary anymore since I included a higher energy count.

pokebeach.comSeeker I found to be a luxury and my main use for it was to reuse Uxie’s Setup. Yes it’s great in healing off Gengars but it also makes you lose out on energy drops which I wasn’t a huge fan off.

Another thing I took on board was the piece of advice Sami gave to me which was basically, 1 off techs that aren’t particularly searchable are not worth it in something as large as Nationals as they aren’t consistent enough, which was also a contributing factor to dropping Seeker and Palmer’s as I wasn’t running large enough counts to make it worthwhile.

As with my Zekrom deck above, any questions, queries or even criticism about the list I can answer in the comments below so fire away!

The actual tournament was amazing, so many good memories already and so many older memories revisited as you get to see all the people you met on the journey toward Nationals throughout the year. Over 100 people decided to attend, I don’t have precise numbers but there was to be 7 rounds with a top cut of 16.

Me and my main testing partner and friend from outside the TCG, George, were both hyping our chances of both making cut having both had very successful seasons.

I had won a City and State Championship throughout my first year in the game, and George had picked up a very successful rating and consistently placed well throughout the year and hadn’t really bombed in any tournament like I did at Nottingham States where I went 2-4 losing 80 ranking points.

I will admit though, I certainly had my doubts that I could make top cut but I still went into the first round with full intention of taking this tournament.

Round 1 vs Michael: Sablock w/ Infernape

It was really nice to see a familiar face in the first round, someone I had met back in the City Championships which I won, and he was running the same deck as back then. It’s quite a scary deck to play against, as Infernape 4 forces you to send out Pokémon you would rather keep on the bench and miss energy drops to retreat them.

pokebeach.comHowever after levelling it down and using Looker’s to shuffle his hand away, I took full control and took prize after prize with Poltergeist as his hand was rendered unplayable.


Round 2 vs Aydenn W: VileChamp

I was fairly confident going into this matchup as one of the main reasons I decided not to play Vilechamp was its horrendous Vilegar matchup. I quickly took out his Regirock with Shadow room to make sure he had no discard engine throughout the whole match to negate my poltergeist.

He did little bits of damage to me with Hurricane Punch while I was just retreating them and healing them with Blissey while I took prizes with Poltergeist and Shadow Room.


Round 3 vs Dave W: Vilegar

I knew he wasn’t playing Blissey in his deck so I was fairly confident in being able to overpower him. However I start with a lone Unown Q and looked nervously until he flipped over his Spiritomb. However he benched his Azelf and I was hoping to god he didn’t have an Unown Q in his prizes to retreat his Spiritomb for the donk.

As it turns out, he didn’t even have a psychic energy in his hand IIRC so it was never a problem. He struggles to get Gengars up so I place damage counters all across his board while I use constant Looker’s investigations in order to keep the Gengars hitting the field.

I use Compound Pain for 5 Prizes leaving a lone Pokémon on the field, with which he gets his first Gengar up and running and takes a prize before I finally take it out.


Round 4 vs Ross A: Luxchomp

pokebeach.comAt this point, I was happy to see I was sitting at the very top table meaning I must have had a fairly good resistance. I was really unsure as to what he was playing until I see he starts Promocroak. I yet again start with a lone Unown Q and he has the donk as long as he flips heads on his Leap Away attempt.

He gets a crucial tails and I have a Collector and Call energy in hand to get full set up from there. He causes a bit of trouble by Poison Binding my Vileplume with Roserade GL and strategically Knocking it Out to take 2 Prizes in one turn but I was prepared and laid down another Vileplume the next turn.

I then overturn the deficit and tank with a Gengar LV.X for the rest of the game and score Poltergeist knock outs every turn.


Round 5 vs Yacine S: Vilegar

I was yet again sitting at the top table which essentially meant that I only needed 1 more win to reach top cut as 5-2 with a high resistance would have been enough to make it. We both get horrible starts and cannot really get anything going for many turns.

I do eventually get up a Gengar but have no means to set up any more. I Shadow Room two benched Gastlys to death hoping to limit the number of Gengars he can hit the field with throughout the match.

He can eventually get his setup working while I’m still stuck with the lone Gengar and he systematically outplays me by making sure to get rid of my Blissey followed by my Gengar.


Round 6 vs Alex: Gyarados

pokebeach.comI was finally able to play a very trainer based deck for the first time this tournament. This game me a lot of confidence going into the match. I get a Spiritomb Gastly Gastly start which was refreshing having opened with lone Unown Q for a while.

He tries to set up under Sableye but I negate this by using Looker’s Investigation to shuffle his hands in while I set up my field. I quickly get rid of his Regice with Shadow room to remove his discard engine for the game. With no way to discard his Magikarps, he had to go aggressive with his low hitting Gyarados in order to get his Magikarps in the discard pile.

By the time he got 3 in there, he had absolutely no way of overturning the deficit he had accumulated in the prize count.


Round 7 vs Karl B: Luxchomp

At this point, I was just happy at almost guaranteeing my Top Cut place, and was honest just more intent on finding out if George had won his match or not to get his record up to 5-2. Karl’s been quite a large part of my development throughout this year as I was lucky to find a very talented league in my area.

I get a ‘technically’ great start in which I’m able to get a T2 Vileplume and Gengar. However, this leaves me at a hand of one with absolutely no outs once he bright looks out my Vileplume and Knocks it Out. I do get another Vileplume going but he scores KO after KO on my Gengars and I do not flip heads on Fainting Spell or he leaves it to die from Flash Bites.

At this point, I’m getting quite frustrated as I’ve not yet hit a heads on Fainting Spell all day. As I was running no recovery, I then start to go on the offensive with Blissey. He tries to poison me with Crobat to negate my Nurse Call but I Warp Energy it out twice in a row to stop this threat.

pokebeach.comI take a prize or two with Double Edge but the Looker’s Investigation that I used to try and disrupt him from hitting the energy he needed to win instead drew him into Luxray GL LV.X leaving him able to bright look and bite a benched Pokémon.


At this point, the standings were posted and I was indeed the highest ranking 5-2 on the day and was seeded at 5th, meaning I would be paired against whoever was 12th, which was Charles B.

Top 16 vs Charles B: Luxchomp w/ Dialga

Match 1: I played Charles earlier on the season on my way to my States win so I had a general understanding on his playstyle. He likes to play slowly, which is horrible for any Vilegar player. However this match plays like a dream and I take 6 straight prizes with Poltergeist as my early Looker’s Investigation left him topdecking for the rest of the match.


Match 2: With no time pressures on me in this match, I played a lot more carefully and considered options at all times rather than rushing through my moves like I usually do under time constraints. He manages to get his Dialga LV.X and thins his hand of trainers and Poké-turns it back up.

He continues to do this throughout the match and Knocks Out my Vileplume so I need to take the last 4 Prizes without any trainer lock at all. I get a crucial Fainting Spell Heads with which I can remove his Dialga G LV.X which at this point was more annoying as an attacking force with Remove Lost than his body as I had no means to set up another Vileplume.

I then have enough Shadow Room targets on his bench while he struggles to produce another attacker that can do enough under my Nurse Call antics and I take the game.


pokebeach.comI was so drained at this point that it was hard to even feel happy about winning. George had been Knocked Out as well after apparently making a misplay to lose his game which was a shame. The following is a breakdown of the decks that made top 8.

4 Vilegar
1 Luxchomp
1 Loxchomp
1 Dialgachomp
1 Sablock w/ Blaziken

The two that I really didn’t want to play was the Sablock and Dialgachomp.

Top 8 vs Ben S-A: Sablock w/Blaziken

Match 1: This starts horribly, he gets an early Blaziken FB out and just Luring Flames to disrupt me from setting up with Spiritomb while he sets up his own bench. I have to waste energy drops in order to maintain my Darkness Grace setup but he was too well set up himself and can start taking out my bench and put me under too much pressure to come back.


Match 2: I had to play incredibly quickly this match as he was understandably playing fairly slow. He takes very early prizes with Sableye and Garchomp but I get my full set up going and start taking prize after prize with Poltergeist.

However, with one more prize left for him to take throughout the match, he just waits until he has both a DCE and Garchomp C LV.X in his hand and with me not being able to draw into Looker’s Investigation, I cannot disrupt this and he finally takes the last prize for the win.


pokebeach.comSo overall, I believe I placed 5th if I understand how the ranking system works which I’m incredibly satisfied with with it being my first National Championship and all. I was happy with the deck choice that I made and I feel that I played well enough on the day to deserve the place I got.

At the moment, I’m just hoping that I get enough rating points to qualify for Worlds as that would be a great way to round off my first season in the game. The following is the breakdown of the top 4 for Masters, unfortunately, I couldn’t find a top 16, but I’ll be sure to post it in the comments when it emerges.

1. Yacine S (Vilegar)
2. Karl B (Luxchomp)
3. Ben S-A (Sablock w/ Blaziken)
4. Tom H (Loxchomp)

Interestingly enough, Vilegar won all 3 age divisions at this tournament which is an incredibly good showing for the deck and justifies my decision to use it. Dialgachomp was also a very popular play on the day while contrary to what lots of people were expecting, Luxchomp was nowhere near as popular as many were predicting.

All that’s really left to say is that I wish the best of luck to all UK participants in World Championships this year, obviously I hope to be joining you but I’ll have to get quite lucky to secure the invite.

Thanks a lot for reading through and good luck to all of you with your National Championships in the future, hopefully this article gave you a potential deck choice offering and also an insight into the UK metagame.


Reader Interactions

22 replies

  1. kurt rosales

    You would be better off with a normal dark energy for the scizor match-up.

    • Tamao Cameron  → kurt

      Fwiw, I actually don’t use the special darkness for not only this reason, but also to avoid lost remover.  I don’t remember putting special in when I wrote this up, maybe just a slip of my mind but you’re absolutely right, normal darkness should be what’s played.

    • Sam Stevens  → kurt

      thats obvious seeing as how theres no dark attacker, why run an energy that can cause you problems but give you no advantage over its basic form…

  2. Anonymous

    WHY CLEFFA?!?!?!..IT’S DUMB..I mean you get a new hand but chance’s are that the new hand which will most likely be bad..it’s happend everytime..and if you wake up.your oppenent will get a free prize..

    I don’t understand why you guys think its a good card

        • Anonymous  → Emil

          Tyrogue can only hurt Cleffa if Cleffa is awake. If Cleffa is asleep it is no good. Also, there are quite a few options to OHKO an awake Cleffa on turn one. I honestly do not think that Tyrogue is all that great.

    • Tamao Cameron  → Anonymous

      Why will the new hand be bad?  You get 6 (7 by the time it gets back to you) which is more than enough to ensure you get a means of obtaining what you need, gives you 50% chance of invincibility and is a generally good free retreater to send forward when something gets knocked out.  I’ve played decks with and without cleffa and have found 4 cleffa’s almost staple in every one of my decks now

      Doing 30 to Cleffa is much harder in the new format compared to the old one.

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Anonymous

      Why Cleffa? Same reasons people play PONT/Copycat/Cynthia/Chatot MD

      A chance of a better hand is better than nothing. Plus, who says it only works with a bad hand? Play out everything you can and you’re usually shuffling 1-3 cards to draw 6. That’s brilliant. 50% chance of immunity is decent and even if they do KO Cleffa, it’s done it’s job and probably taken the hit for something more important.

      Nice report Tamao. Congrats on the 5th place.

      Obviously I wanted Ben to win though ;)

  3. Tamao Cameron

    Just as a little aside to this article, I wrote this about a week ago and my Zekrom list has undergone a few changes.  Adding PONT into the deck really helps it gain a bit more consistency, leading to a lower Collector count and higher Dual Ball count.

    Also I’ll have a vid of this deck up against Donchamp on my youtube channel in under an hour :)

  4. Martin Garcia

    Good job on that 5th place man. With it being your first year playing, its a pretty amazing feat you have achieved.
    Hope you can actually make it to worlds, and good luck.

  5. Oliver Barnett

    Good job man well deserved on 5th place ( lol ive told u this like 3 times now) i came 13th the only reason i didn’t get to the top 8 (in my opinion) was me getting a terrible hand vs vilegar (again lol)

  6. Grant O'Brien

    I’m gonna have to miss US nats because I have to go to a wedding :(

  7. theo Seeds

    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………………………………………………………. I don’t see this working. You run a stage 2 line as a tech in this.

    Also, I’m the first one to catch this, you have 28 Trainers posted when you have 18 in the VGar list.

    • Willy Goebel  → theo

      Samurott isn’t a tech, it’s one of the main focuses of the deck and the list has a full 2-1-2 line not just a 1-0-1 or 1-1-1 tech line…

  8. Garrett Williamson

    Am I the only here who remembers the Cleffa from Neo Genesis being named the #1 best card ever made? Only difference between the 2 is that the old one took an energy and gave you 7 instead of six. After test Iv found Cleffa to be a great card in early, mid and late game. Im not afraid to give my opponent a free prize if it gets me set up. Electrode EX gave you opponent 2 prizes for an energy acceleration boost and even now people even play electrode prime which gives your opponent 1 prize. Let them KO my Cleffa, then Ill just use my twins ;)

  9. Alex Law

    I like ur Nats report, but for the decklist instead of running the unown dark and dark energy you could potentially run just 2 more lightning energy? no? or just energy search altogether, but either way i dont find it practical :X.

    • Tamao Cameron  → Alex

      I understand that reasoning, and I’ve certainly tried it out but what the dark energy gives you is a searchable energy resource which is good when a lot of your deck consists of searching basics.  I did plenty of solitaire testing to see percentages of pulling a first turn Zekrom and the Unown Dark variant had a much higher rate of achieving this.

      All energy search does is thin the deck of one card which, whilst does increase chances, not nearly as much as having a searchable energy source.  The unown Dark is still very much a luxury in this deck but I’m liking it at the moment.

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