Hey everybody, it’s Josh here with what is likely to be my final article before the Canada and United States National Championships. With just one week until Canada and two weeks until the US, it’s crunch time! Decks should be completed (spare a few techs), bags should be packed soon, and before we know it the biggest tournament of the year will be done and gone. With such little time left to prepare, what should we talk about?
Because both Kettler and Jay have put out some great articles concerning really important aspects to testing before Nationals, whether it be testing theory or mirror matches, I was pretty stumped on what to work out for you guys as my final bit of advice.
However, thanks to you guys, plenty of you answered my forum post in the UG Hideout, and I’ve got plenty to work with! This article is geared to be an answer to everything you guys wanted to hear last minute before the tournament, and I’m hoping that even if you didn’t submit a question you wanted answered that you take something valuable from this article.
While I received close to 20 different requests, most of your questions seemed to gravitate around 3 central points: Preparation at Nationals (outside of just deckbuilding), “Rogue” concepts, and helping your Junior succeed in tournament play. Chances are if you’re a player you’re interested in one of these three topics, and I hope you get something great out of the article before Nationals has come to an end.
I got a few requests that had to deal with things at Nationals outside of testing or building lists, and I think it’s a pretty important subject. For many of you, getting into Underground was due to your interest in getting into the competitive game, and I know that this is the first Nationals for many of you!
It’s hard to think that Underground has almost been around for a year now (probably closer to ¾, but who’s counting : P), and believe me when I say that I was in your guys’ boat. Last year was MY first Nationals, and I’d love to share the things that I learned to help you new first-timers out.
Mr619: Probably wouldn’t write a whole article, but a snippet maybe, but I know I’d like to read this. Basically a run-down on what to expect at nationals for a first time player there. It’s my first year at nationals, and I only hear so much since not a whole lot of people end up going there around here. Just a small amount really on what to expect and what to do in between rounds or something.
Curtmina: How to stay calm throughout a large tournament
This is a pretty broad topic, but I’d love to tackle it. Your first time at Nationals can be pretty intimidating! Even if you’re showing up to the lobby to mess around the day before the actual event, that moment where you enter a room and realize that there are thousands of other people playing some form of Pokémon is pretty intense!
It’s also, in my opinion, a very rewarding experience: it’s the culmination of all the work that you’ve put in, and also the game’s greatest testament to how strong its community is. You’ll meet awesome people all over the country over the next 3-4 days, and it’s a pretty unforgettable experience.
One question that should undoubtedly be on your mind is — What do I do on the first day?
First I recommend you register as quickly as possible on Thursday — it’s a pain to do it the next morning (Friday) from what I’ve heard, and the lines are usually pretty reasonable as long as you’re not trying to get in the minute they open up registration. Beyond there you can get a view of the grounds for the event itself, and there are plenty of open rooms available for free and league play.
I recommend taking a trip in here and seeing if you can meet somebody new and test some games out. This is a good way to meeting new friends across the country, and just a generally good way to get yourself familiar with playing entirely new people.
It’s during these games that you can get a feel for what’s floating around in players’ minds for the main event. Just because you play 5 Donphans on the first day might not necessarily mean that you’re going to face 5 Donphans to start off the tournament, but it should at least give you a grasp on what kind of decks to prepare for.
This is also a good time to decide and finalize those last 2-3 slots for your techs. If you play 5 Donphans and lose all 5, you might want to seriously consider examining why you lost, and how you could at least make the matchup slightly better. While changing up some techs is fine, I STRONGLY disagree with making a last-minute deck switch on the day before the tournament.
I saw a handful of players do it at Nationals last year, and almost all of them regretted it. Too often you’ll hear “I built X, was expecting Y, but I got matched up against Z all day”. Even if there’s an unfavorable matchup out there, you’ll always play better with the deck you’ve tested the most and know the best.
I know I probably say this in EVERY SINGLE article, but it’s my best bit of advice, and I really recommend you stick to it. There will also be lots of talk before the event about how “SECRET DECK X HAS BEEN REVEALED, NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO PLAY AGAINST IT, IT BREAKS THE META, HAS NO WEAKNESS, ETC”.
Some people like to fall into this last minute hype, too. Some players who bring a big card pool get so intimidated and so interested in this “NEW DECK” that they build it immediately. They play a game or two which it wins, then reaffirm to themselves that it is indeed “THE PLAY”, only to find that having zero comfort with the deck leads to their downfall.
A good example of this would be last year, when Michael Kendle and a handful of Missouri players decided to retool his classic creation: Gengar C. Aside from Kendle’s 1st and 3rd places at 2 States, the deck had a good handful of Regionals success, and I was really interested in how he could have possibly improved the formula.
When I finally got my tip on what changed, I tried to remain skeptical instead of instantly declaring it amazing. The changes included dropping Garchomp C for Blaziken, and adding some shenanigans with Jirachi UD. People around me seemed to be chanting “oh that makes so much sense it’s so much better” without even playing a single game with the list.
Different factors, like using multiple energy not having the easy Garchomp snipe prizes made me raise an eyebrow. Sure enough, not a single Blaziken Gengar made it’s way into top cut, but the original Gengar C saw a few appearances.
Now I’m sure that Kendle didn’t make this deck overnight, but there were plenty of players that did after getting word about it that probably regret they did.
Once you’ve played a handful of games, hung out with your current friends and the new ones you’re making, and decided on your last few techs, you should probably get to bed. I know it’s really hard to find a balance between having a great time and getting the right amount of sleep, but you really should promise yourself at least 6-7 hours of sleep.
Even though Nationals is now a 3-day tournament in the United States, you still have to play out 7 rounds on day 1 starting as early as 9, and you want to play the best that you can, right? It’s a very big prestigious event, and despite that the Pokémon community is at large very kind and respectful, I wouldn’t expect your opponent to allow you very many, if any, take-backs of any kind.
Being well-rested and focused is going to be the main factor in whether you can avoid silly unintentional blunders, and that goes for days 2 and 3 as well.
In top 128 my buddy Emre Arslan (the same jerk who bought all 125 of Troll and Toad’s 25 cent Cleffas : ( ) accidentally announced “Bring Down” to knock out his own Raltz that he could have evolved, to essentially lose the game. I’ve also heard Pooka talk multiple times about how tired he was on the third day of top cut, and how mentally exhausted he was.
Granted he still got 3rd place after following a 1st place the year before, probably cementing him as the best performer in the US National Championships ever (I think he got 2nd in 2004, too), but you can tell the way he talks about it that he believes he could have had a shot at winning it two years in a row. Have a good time, but be sure to be well-rested!
On the day of the tournament, I recommend you bring/buy new sleeves and sleeve up your deck in them that morning. When I played last year I bought new sleeves the day before and played out probably 15-20 games on the night before. When time came for the actual tournament, I was pulled aside for a random deck check on round 5.
They deemed my sleeves too illegal to play in any more (they are understandably strict on this), and I was forced to sleeve into the grotesque grey and green Arceus sleeves that they offered (I hate those things!). I highly recommend you sleeve up new the day before, and then shuffle a few times to break them in.
I know it’s a random fact, but being forced to resleeve after a round instead of hanging out with your friends can be pretty frustration — so avoid it if you can!
Speaking of in-between rounds, there’s usually 30-60 minutes of downtime between the rounds to make up for the huge attendance. During this time you can play some pickup games, participate in a special league to win random prizes (my cousin got a free playmat, my brother got some packs, etc), or just chat it up with people that you know from online.
PokeGymThis, for me, is more rewarding than the actual event itself, and I recommend you try and get to know some people and have a good time outside of the tournament. Some people (myself included) can get pretty down after a loss, and one thing that helps me out is to chill with my friends and remember that we’re all there for a good time.
Play a practice game with your friends afterwards if you really feel frustrated — it’ll help loosen you up. Be sure to use this time to eat, stay hydrated, or use the bathroom, too. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but my top 128 opponent almost (JUST ALMOST : P) had to forfeit his game due to taking a trip to the bathroom too late.
You might be having a good time, but remember to take care of your natural needs first!
Since we’re on the topic of the tournament itself, I thought I’d branch into one more Nationals-Related question:
FlareStarFire: I’d like your take on large scale tournament play- I haven’t been able to be in 100+ man tournaments in forever. One of the things I always assume when I sit across from the table that they have a perfect list and will play it flawlessly. But, unless you’re the “unlucky” guy sitting across from a world champ round 1, usually it takes X number of rounds before you are fairly assured of seeing someone with said perfect list and flawless play- in your experience, what round number is that for you, or do tournaments have an easy => hard flow for you at all?
It goes without saying that your flow of good/bad players at Nationals is random, but I’ll try and help you with the ratio that you’re looking for based on my/my friend’s experience.
Last year I was awarded the wonderful gift of a 2 round bye from my Regional win, but my round 3 opponent was none other than a round 2 bye opponent as well—our very own John Kettler! Kettler is a strong player and an acknowledged competitor in the game, so I guess you could say it’s much better to come into each game expecting a challenge rather than giving yourself the artificial crutch of “oh I’ll just face a bunch of easy players first”.
We played a good game that started with me leading strong, and him turning things around once he hit his Judge to lock me out of any prizes. It was sad to lose a game round 1 coming off of my byes, but I got paired with a strong opponent and played my best.
However, I will say that you can definitely hit a lot of weak players, too. At 2-1 I think I got paired against some girl’s random Octillery deck, which was an easy win. At 3-1 I was paired with a Jumpluff deck that ran Buck’s Training and no Claydol.
However, by rounds 6 and 7 I was right back on the challenge track, having to deal with Jimmy Ballard (2006 World Champion runner-up, and all around intimidating player to have a competitive game with), and Yehoshua “Yoshi” Tate—an established strong player and one of the founders of Sablock.
Rounds 8 and 9 I faced against 2 players I didn’t know, but both were running solid Luxchomp lists and gave me good games.
Because HGSS is a new format, there’s bound to be a huge pool of players that don’t make the transition into the new format very well, and I’m sure that they’ll be easy wins for those of you testing hard on the format in advance.
If you really need to give yourself a mental picture of what to expect, I’d say a good ratio to expect is 3-4 easy wins, and 5-6 games that you have to compete in. I tend to stay away from this track of thought though, because you never know when you’re going to hit scrubs all day or when your matchups force you to play through the entire Underground Staff each round : P. Coming in with zero expectations and playing your best game each round is the best way to do it.
In the end, I wish the best for all UG members going to Nationals this year. As long as you can get comfortable with a solid deck, you should have a great shot and taking your games to top cut and beyond! And even if you don’t, there’s still a great opportunity for you to have an amazing time at the event itself.
Remember Loxchomp? It’s first appearance by a Wittenkeller came in Nationals last year with my brother. He took it to a not-so-impressive 5-4, but still had a good time. Even if you don’t play well, there’s always next year to do a bit better : ).
Time to switch gears and tackle a new topic! I know that I’ve encouraged you guys to have your decks good to go by this time, but plenty of players have a big interest in some of the more unique decks in the format.
It’s understandable to want to try something new and different in a format where the card pool is so small, but just remember—rogue decks take a lot of practice and teching in order to even have a shot at the format.
I’d say at the least you need a 40-45% chance of beating both Emboar and Donphan variants, and meeting that requirement alone can be tough to do!
Mewuk8531: I’m from California what I have been hearing around the board is everyone is stuck on building a couple decks. For instance speed zekrom, emboar magnezone, and donchamp.
Matt7: How about an article on the top 5 rogue decks we may see and what that will mean for “meta” decks?
I’m going to use these questions as a springboard for the rest of this section. I know that I’ve been pretty stingy in my stance that “rogue won’t win”, and I’ve been trying my best to keep an open mind to as many options as there are in the format, just in case. I’ve been spending the past 2 weeks working hard on scraping together concepts outside of the 3-5 obvious builds that we keep seeing, and here are my five favorites so far:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 25
Energy – 15
This deck is a fun concoction that I’ve seen thrown around from person to person, and here’s the list that I’ve come up with for it. The goal, as the title states, is to mill your opponent’s deck out and force them to lose when they can no longer draw cards.
PokeGymThe deck accomplishes this by using Emboar to load up Magmortar with copious amounts of energy, and then using Top Burner to discard cards from your opponent’s deck equal to the amount of Fire Energy attached to
I’ve seen the deck used with both Ninetales and Shuckle draw engines, but I like Shuckle a lot more in this deck. It utilizes the smallest amount of space while having the potential to get the most energy in play in the shortest amount of time when done well.
The idea is to set up an Emboar through your supporter draw and Eeeeeeeks, go wild on Shuckle to draw an enormous hand, then use Seeker or Unown Return to pick those energy up and donate them to Magmortar. It takes a couple of games to get used to, but it works pretty well.
You might be thinking to yourself “How on earth can I mill 60 cards in one game?”, and the answer is, you don’t have to. At the start of the game your opponent is going to lay 6 prizes down and draw 7+1 cards to start the game, leaving them with 46 cards to mill. Now let’s assume that they need to draw cards to set up attackers (they do).
Cards like Juniper draw a whopping 7 from the deck, while Collector nets 3, Sages nets 5, and PONT usually nets 2-3 cards drawn from the deck. Also keep in mind that if your game lasts 7-8+ turns, there’s another drawn card for each of those, too.
Add in Magnetic Draw/Ninetales draw, too! After all is said and done, your opponent will usually self-draw around 15-20 of those cards, leaving you with the very attainable 30-25 cards to mill.
The idea is to mill as hard as you can with Magmortar fast, and then Sleepy Lost one card at a time with Mime Jr. to stall if you need time to build up your next Magmortar. Milling is a very fun way to win, and this deck is definitely one of the most enjoyable if you just want to play things out with no real care if you win or lose.
That being said, it can win, and often against a player who overextends their resources, and it’s definitely worth trying out if you want a look at something new.
PokeBeachI won’t really talk about much about this deck because it was the main focus of my last article, and you can view both of the builds with Weavile that I worked with in my last article. The fact stands, though — I still think Weavile is a really great card against Stage 2 decks, and continues to rip my Magneboar lists to shreds around 7/10 times.
Genguy: I’d like to what you consider a speedy yet Disruptive engine. Like an engine letting a stage 1 deck set up on turn one while Judging the next turn.
You’d probably be best off running an engine similar to my Donphan/Yanmega/Weavile list from my last article. It’s hard enough to get the consistent turn 2 Stage 1 setup every single time, and a Judge on top of that is asking for a lot, but it’s still possible with enough consistency cards. Something like this:
8 in combination of Juniper/Sages/Copycat/PONT
Would probably be a good base to work off of. Once again, expecting the turn 2 Judge is asking a lot, but having the heavy Supporter consistency should help your Stage 1s set up as quickly as possible, giving you the best odds once you hit your Judges.
NJ_Bob: I would also like to see 1-2 solid lists and discussion on lostgar.
Seeing as Kettler already did a Lostgar article a few weeks back, and included his most recent list in his “Fool to World” article, we’ve already got a good amount of discussion on this already, but here’s a strong alternative list that has done well in my testing so far:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 28
Energy – 11
I thought the same things when I first saw my brother play with it. To be honest, I thought he had just gone on a Weavile power trip — adding it into every deck he owns just to make himself feel like he’s unique. However, the deck has a lot of synergy when you look beyond its bizarre structure.
The main strategy is this: Use Mew’s “See Off” to throw a Gengar Prime into the Lost Zone and start using “Hurl into Darkness” quickly. If you don’t have the Mew and the Psychic, use Mime Jr.’s “Sleepy Lost” to do the job. While working off of these two strategies, you have 2 main support Pokémon.
The first is one that Kettler introduced to us, the Slowking, which lets you arrange your opponent’s topdecks to insure you’re throwing Pokémon from the top of their deck into the lost zone. The other support Pokémon, Weavile, shuts your opponent out of the game by discarding their crucial Supporters.
With Weavile cutting Supporters and Mew throwing Pokémon and Slowking messing up topdecks, your opponent can be locked out of the game really quickly.
This deck has given me a lot of frustration in Magneboar testing, and I want to say I lost 8 or 9 games out of 10 to it, which alone is something huge to consider. It’s really hard to function when you need 2-3 turns to set up completely, but are denied chance to set up by your opponent’s 2nd to 3rd turn.
Pokemon ParadijsMagnezone only runs on average 4-6 draw Supporters — meaning that when Weavile drops your Sage’s Training and Mew throws your Magnezone, you’re pretty much in topdeck mode from the start. I’ve found myself only competing in some games by using Magnemite’s second attack in deperation — it really makes me feel pathetic :P.
The downside? The deck suffers heavily from decks that can set up on the first turn, specifically Zekrom. Decks that take 2 turns to set up, such as Donphan are unfavorable, but not unwinnable.
Yes, they do take one prize per turn once they get their Donphan out, but by throwing to the lost zone every turn along with hitting a few tails with Mime Jr. can make the matchup possible.
Once again, another fun deck that gives you the satisfaction of disrupting your opponent to death.
Zangoose: I would love an indepth discussion on Samurott / donphan. You mentioned it so you prolly have some experience.
Kuprin: As for what I’d like to see you cover, you mentioned Donphan/Samurott to me last night and said it was A) a serious contender B) a threat to magboar. My response to it then is the same as it is now: “this I gotta see!”
I don’t feel like I ever said it was a threat to Magneboar, but I do believe the right list can get the matchup to a 50-50 and compete with it. While the first 3 decks on this list are more “fun decks” — this deck is a legitimate one that I believe can have a chance against the full format:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 26
3 Professor Juniper
Energy – 13
This is a fairly standard list, and only a small handful of cards behind Mikey’s list which I started with as the base of my testing. The strategy is pretty simple: Donphan and Samurott have the same Body/Ability and can take a hit.
PokeGymThey also both deal medium damage, but are valuable in the format because they possess the weaknesses of important cards, such as Magnezone, Emboar, Reshiram, and others. Zoroark acts as a counter that deals with many of these same pokemon (including RDL), at the convenience of just one energy.
The heavy Supporter line is for crutching what would be an otherwise amazing deck, except that it has no draw engine. So far I’ve found the 3-3-2 Juniper/Sages/PONT split to work pretty nicely, and the 1 Flower Shop Lady is there to bring back the pieces of anything that hits the discard.
If you don’t feel you really need the Flower Shop Lady (you run 8 attackers total and only 5 basic energy so it’s not 100% needed) it could easily go toward a 9th draw Supporter slot, further stacking your deck for hitting consistent draw.
Everything else is pretty standard, aside from a few trainer techs. Energy Exchanger is a nice card for swapping into Doubles from Fightings or vice versa, and works really well as a one-of in the deck. The 2 Reversal are there to give you a slightly higher chance of disrupting things early, or just for ensuring yourself a KO in a situation where you normally wouldn’t get it.
Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward deck. You have 3 attackers who have pretty straightforward strategies. I’ve found the deck to enable you a competitive match vs both Magneboar, Donphan, and Zekrom, and the only real deck that it seems to struggle against is Gengar Prime, which I wouldn’t expect in copious amounts.
Another big plus to the deck outside of its playability is it’s much lower pricepoint — Donphan is your only real “high price” card in the deck, and I could easily see somebody purchasing the full list for under $100 by shopping around.
I know that most of you at Underground probably aren’t on a budget to make your decks, but it’s nice to know that some of the best decks can be really affordable. It’s a good recommendation to give to kids and other league members that want to get into the game.
Curtmina: whether trainerlock is something worth worrying about
PokeGymI can’t get into detail of the cards used in the deck because the player requested I keep things a secret, but all I can say is trainer lock is a LEGIT way to start messing your opponent up. While he included a lot of different interesting cards and techs in his build to tackle the meta, I want to talk about Vileplume as a whole, as well as share my own personal experiements with it at the moment.
Let’s look at just Vileplume for a moment. “Allergy Flower” is a Body that most players are familiar with by now, especially after how long Vilegar lasted and competed through the format this year. Gengar of course had the perfect synergy with Poltergeist and was an all-around strong card, but Vileplume itself is still very interesting in the format.
The most interesting thing to me, is that once you get a Vileplume out, 99% of games, he’s there for good. Unless you snipe him for 3 turns with Yanmega or use an attack like Muk UD’s, Trainers are gone for the game. No more Trainers, both players, for the rest of the game.
Seeing how important Trainers are in the format right now (Rare Candy, Communication, Reversal, Dual Ball, Junk Arm, etc), if you were to make a deck that didn’t need Trainers as badly as the meta decks, you’d be at a straight advantage right there.
Also worth noting in particular is Rare Candy. Rare candy is still strong even with the rule change, and in decks like Magnezone where getting the first ‘Zone online, it’s become far more important to evolve all the way up to the final stage with Candy as opposed to taking the three turn Mite-Ton-Zone route.
Because of this, most Emboar/Zone builds have X-1-X lines of their main attackers. If you drop Vileplume, that instantly removes their imbalanced lines and forces them to evolve up to the three stages. If you go first, giving you the route to the first Vileplume before they get their first Candy, they’re stuck with useless lines and no way to use rare candy for the rest of the game — which really locks the deck hard.
Pokemon ParadijsEven if they go first and are able to get that turn 2 Magnezone, if you follow with a Vileplume, the Magnezone player will slowly realize that their draw is crippled, too. The deck is so reliant on using Junk Arm to drop your hand down and then draw up that cutting off Trainers just ruins you.
My Magnezone/Emboar build has been playing very well in my testing, and it’s only 3-4 cards off from Fulop’s (isn’t everybody’s now? : P). I’ve legitimately won 3 out of 20 tested games between me and the Pokédad’s secret deck/testing with my brother using the Vileplume deck we’ve made.
It doesn’t really scare me as far as Nationals go, because I don’t see trainer lock being this huge force to watch out for each round of swiss, but it does intrigue me. If I could trash everyone else’s Magneboar, would it be worth the risk?
I’m testing hardcore on this list right now (I only heard about it less than a week ago so I haven’t had much time), but if I can get things to go perfectly, I’d love to give it a shot.
Pokémon – 26
Trainers – 24
Energy – 10
* HOPIIIIIIIIIIIIIP!!!!!!! Basically contributing to around 90% why I’m trying to get this deck to work—it’d be so fun to run my own mascot lol
Pokemon ParadijsThis is our prototype list right now. I’ve only been able to log around 10-15 games with it so far, but I’m really going to try my hardest to get things to work. The idea is pretty simple—get the fast Plume out, and use low-cost/cheap attackers Yanmega and Jumpluff to take prizes while your opponent suffers under the trainer lock.
Sunflora provides a great search engine, and is extremely effective under the trainer lock. He gets your evolutions while your opponent is slowed, unlikely to make much forward progress.
Yanmega and Jumpluff are great because they function under one or less energies, and are strong attackers even if you aren’t able to get the lock off quickly. Both Pokémon having a resistance to Fighting is really nice, too.
The deck is so simple and unteched right now, but I guess one of the main things about the deck’s strategy is that you need to maintain consistency once the lock gets out. Running the 7 Trainers of your own doesn’t hurt yourself that badly when you also run a whopping 12 draw Supporters, pretty much guaranteeing you draw into one in any situation.
While you’re working with that, most other decks are limited to 4-6 draw Supporters while having their hand clogged with a much higher Trainer count.
Now, you might be hearing me hype this deck up and think it’s the BEST DECK EVER OMG I NEED TO BUILD IT NOW, but remember my advice much farther up the page—don’t fall into the hype unless you test it first. I haven’t had enough time to test this deck into the ground like I have with Magneboar, but I really want to give it my best shot, if anything solely because I can yell HOPIIIIIIIIIIP! Every time I play one.
The deck isn’t without it’s weaknesses though, so listen to those first before you jump on the hype train:
PokeGymIts Donphan/Machamp matchup is decent and winnable, but not the best in the world like you might think. The Fighting resistance is great, as is cutting off the Trainers, but most Donchamp lists run more draw Supporters than decks that have built-in draw, such as Magnezone.
A big Machamp can still pummel anything you have while requiring a minimum of 2 hits to knock out, and combined with “Fighting Tag” they can overtake you in the late game. For this same high Supporter reason, the “Stage 1” combo decks seem to do fairly well against it, too.
Another problem is all those low HP basics. It makes me nervous. I do like the 12 count, which is a tad higher than average, but I want to find a better way to stack the deck of basics, or find basics that won’t get Tyrogue’d. The 3 Hoppip (Tyrogue hits through resistance) and 2 babies are ripe Tyrogue fuel, and the 40 HP Sunkern/50 HP Yanmas and Oddishes are just a PlusPower or two from Tyrogue as well.
Granted, I haven’t ever been able to Tyrogue donk my brother (he runs 4-4 Yanmega in his though), so maybe it’s not as big of a fear as it FEELS like to me.
The last problem is that Ninetales draw manages to be pretty decent against Trainer lock. Your opponent will still have trouble without the experience, though. While you’ll have solid draw—you’ll also be discarding Fires that you won’t ever be able to Retrieval back.
In the end, I think it’s a deck worth looking at and experimenting with. This is my last time I get to talk about things before Nationals, and I thought that I’d share with you guys what interests me the most. That being said, PLEASE don’t go off on the forums saying “J-Wittz SAID THIS DECK WAS GOOD” — Nationals is just two weeks right now, and I’d like to keep the concept within the Underground if we can.
Pokemon ParadijsI’m not saying it’s the best deck ever, or that I’ve even devoted to playing it, but if it DOES end up being great, wouldn’t it be all the better to say that the concept was one that your exclusive membership told you about?
I really appreciate it if you just keep it within Underground, and I thank you guys for understanding. It’s not like Vileplume Jumpluff is an unheard of concept, but I feel like it’s way overlooked right now and could potentially be great.
There were a few other requests, such as Tangrowth, KGL, and Steelix, but I just don’t think they’re up to par to make my top 5 list. I want to give you guys the best information, and for that reason I only want to cover what I feel like will compete in this format. Thanks for your understanding!
MannieBothans: My son is a junior division player, and thus will be his very first nationals. I doubt many other subscribers are in the same boat, but if you have any idea of what a junior meta might look like, that would be fantastic. Also, if any details are known about organized pre-tourney practice rounds or other side specifics and schedules that might help us plan, too.
NJ_Bob: As a long paying subscriber and pokedad, a junior article would be very welcome. Basically take JK’s article and make for junior with a number of lists and some pointers on play and weakness. I would also like to see 1-2 solid lists and discussion on lostgar.
Kevstoy: Thanks for considering the kiddie angle as well. I’ll second (or third, or fourth whatever) the sentiment of PokéDad with kids I’m trying to teach/coach the game. Plus we just started our league on the northern suburbs of Indy and day 1 almost 50 kids, mostly juniors and young seniors showed up. (needless to say, my league promos initially planned on a league for 15-20 went fast). While my own kids are probably some of the few that’ll compete in Nats. Just hearing about what other experienced youngins are doing would go a long way.
Matt7: actually. my daughter is a junior and this will be her 1st Nat’s also. I have another daughter in the Senior division and this will be her first Nat’s too.
Wow, plenty of Pokédad’s out there! I guess this was to be expected, seeing how you guys are the ones with an actual income to afford UG, but I’m glad that I found the audience was so large now as opposed to never. I’ll use this last section to tackle a few good bits of advice I have for Juniors:
PokeGymI know that as parents you are obligated to be proud of your child and believe that he is a genius, but I think most of you are probably aware of the critical thinking level your son/daughter is at. I’m not calling your kid dumb (I can’t imagine how the community would crumble if I did : P), but there’s just a huge gap in abstract thought from children to the level that Masters/us writers are at.
If your child is extremely gifted and can pilot complicated decks quickly, then by all means let him play with the best deck in Masters. Just remember — know your limitations.
Because of this, things like 1-of techs, counters, and complicated setups are usually things worth avoiding. One particular deck that I feel might be a little strong for Juniors is Magneboar — which requires multiple Stage 2’s, correct energy placement, and a complicated draw engine when coupled with the decision-heavy Sage’s Training.
Aside from Zone, things such as the Shuckle draw engine, Trainer lock, and the disruption decks I put up in my last article might not be the best decisions either.
Keep in mind, the 6-7 year old girl that was a world champ in Juniors ran turbo Jumpluff with PlusPowers instead of Luxray. Her deck was extremely simple, and I can guarantee that it helped lead to her victory.
Building off of the last point, keep decks consistent and straightforward. Builds that rely on using a limited amount of attackers and deal out straight up damage seem to be the best to work with — they offer the least room to misplay.
Decks such as Donchamp, Jumpluff/Yanmega (even without Vileplume), Reshiboar (just Emboar with Reshiram and Ninetales), Reshiphlosion, Turbo Zekrom, and Samurott/Donphan all seem like really great choices. They offer quick attackers and easy damage, and will likely be the top decks at Juniors this year.
Pokemon ParadijsIf your kid still doesn’t know what to play but has been testing out options, give him or her one of these to work with and have them stick with it without much change.
In the builds themselves, I’d recommend keeping 1-of techs to a minimum and maximizing on easy to use supporters such as PONT and Copycat. Conversely, running 4-of copies of several cards is a good way to minimize variance.
Instead of running 2 Juniper, 2 PONT, 2 Copycat, and 2 Sages, running just 4 and 4 of these cards is probably the best way to go. Simple engines are effective in long rounds of swiss, and minimize on any chance for errors.
I see this happening more often than I’d like to, and I’d like to kindly remind you guys to remember that this isn’t the Olympics. Kids want to compete and will get emotional no matter what while playing, and hyping your kid up and telling them how good they could be is a bad way to set them up for nerves and failure.
If you approach your relationship with your child as more of a friendship than a coach/trainee standpoint, it’ll help make the game more fun and relaxing for your child.
I know it sounds weird to hear me “parent”, but I’ve seen so many kids feel like they have so much on the line on these tournaments, and reminding them that it’s all about having fun is really important. Can you test each day in excitement? Sure! But it should be more of a bonding experience than a training one.
At this age, the game should be about developing your critical thinking skills and increasing your social skills through friendly interaction. Are the scholarships nice? Yes, but that should never be a parents focus when helping their child out.
Pokemon ParadijsThis should be pretty straightforward, but nobody gets more excited for these events than children. There are a TON of people, all kinds of exciting floats and decorations, and it’s an experience that most kids can’t stop thinking about for months before hand.
Because of all this excitement though, be sure to set a good example and get enough sleep—especially before the first day. Kids crash twice as easily off no sleep when compared to teens and adults, and they’ll likely have trouble sleeping anyways. Getting as much shut-eye as you can will prevent cranky kids, meltdowns after losses, and misplays.
This is a general point that has truth in each of the sections above. This should feel like a trip to Disneyworld as opposed to a fierce competition. While I’m not saying it’s bad to prepare your kids and give them the tools to succeed (you wouldn’t be in UG if you weren’t interested in helping your kids), you should come and leave Indianapolis happy and talking about how good of a time you had.
Even if your kid doesn’t do well, assure them how proud you are that they are playing their best, and join in the dozens of side events that go on at the same time as top cut. Nothing is worse than taking the long drive/flight home feeling like you’ve wasted your money because your child is more unhappy than when you got there.
Another thing to consider is letting your kid play what they like the best instead of what we say is the best. Comfort with a deck is really important, and it takes the longest for kids to grasp new concepts. I know that forcing a deck on your kid because UG or some other source says it’s awesome is almost always a bad idea.
Unless your child is really gifted, you’re best off letting them play what they like to play while just helping them clean up their Trainer or Pokémon lines to ensure consistency. Because there are just 2 weeks until nationals, throwing a deck on your child and expecting them to master it is pretty absurd.
Even I’d like more than 2 weeks to test this Jumpluff deck, and it wasn’t for several months that I felt I mastered Sablock.
Well, that’s everything! I tried to answer all of your questions the best I could, and if I didn’t get to you it was probably because it was addressed in Mikey’s video. I wish you guys the best of luck at Nationals, and I hope your last few days of testing go well! I hope you enjoyed this format for an article, and maybe I’ll make another thread for requests in the next installment of Battle of Wittz!
Keep your Wittz about you ;)
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