Fulop’s Korner: Lock, Stock, and 12 Smoking Deck Lists

oakleyoriginals
Nats is almost here!!1

Well, here we are… the last two weeks leading into Nationals (last week for Canadians and Mexicans!) and I’m sure everyone is still crunching for what deck they want to use. I think a tremendous amount of progress has been made over the past month or so regarding decks in this format, and I’d like to say that this site has done a ton to promote that.

I know everyone should have been playtesting by now, but I think I have some content that will help both the experienced player in this format, and the one who is just now picking up decks to try and get ready for Nats a bit late. The following are “stock lists.” They aren’t necessarily the “best” lists, but they are the ones that are most widely known, and played.

I can verify they are all good, and pretty well fine-tuned, but may not include any personal techs or tweaks, which for testing’s sake, is correct.

Nothing is more aggravating than testing against the same list all the time, beating it, and then losing to the same deck at a tournament because it wasn’t built just like the “superior” one you and your friends have built. Having a stock list will help you prepare for the decks you’ll actually play against, which helps to make sure testing is not skewed.

It is very easy for a player testing “gauntlet” (list of decks they run their potential deck candidates against to see how it fares) to become very inbred, and that is one of the most common fallacies even great players make. The lists you have are better, right? But they aren’t a representation of what you’ll play against.

You may keep updating your lists to one up their next tech or tweak, but then fail to be properly built to play against the decks you’ll see, even if you’ll beat your testing partner’s best deck.

So these decks are great for starting points to pick up an archetype you’ve yet to really explore, or to test against. If you want to use one of these lists, play it a bunch, and if you get some experience with it and want to make a few changes, feel free to! These are all great lists for their respective archetypes, but are far from the end all be all of lists.

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Keep making adjustments as you test.

I’d fully endorse them for play at Nationals, but everyone has personal play style differences, and their own suspicions of what the metagame will look like and what decks need most focused on, so feel free to adjust accordingly. Just make sure to keep logging games with the changes and don’t miss stupid oversights that get made while making changes that end up hurting the deck in the long run.

I started to do that with Magneboar, cutting too many consistency cards for fancier techs, and I found it growing unstable so I had to really scale back, and re-approach it because it was getting fragile which I didn’t want. I was at the bare minimum in too many areas, and while it looked “safe” on paper, there were just too many areas that “small probabilities” of complications could occur that they added up to things just falling through too often and it was easy to miss that on paper.

Theory crafting, if you are an experienced deck builder, is great, and saves a lot of time, but at the end of the day, you need to still log some games to make sure you didn’t overlook small things like that.

Nonetheless, here is my Emboar Zone list, not a whole lot of changes, but I really don’t feel like there need to be any.

Emboar Magnezone

Pokémon – 20

3 Tepig BW07
1 Pignite BLW 17
2 Emboar BLW 20
1 Emboar BLW 19
3 Magnemite TM
1 Magneton TM
3 Magnezone Prime
1-1 & Deoxys LEGEND
2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Reshiram BLW

Trainers – 24

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Sage’s Training
1 Flower Shop Lady

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Energy Retrieval
1 Switch

Energy – 16

10 Fire
5 Lightning
1 Rescue

I’ve continued to test Emboar Magnezone with fantastic results. Things have gotten a bit rougher in my testing than they used to be, but all of the matchups remain positive. The issue I’ve been running into that has skewed results a bit is that I’ve pretty much stopped playing against decks that lose badly to this altogether. There isn’t much of a point to it, and it wastes valuable testing time.

pokemon-paradijs.comAs a result, Player X will be like “Let’s see if this can beat Emboar Magnezone,” so I’ll give it a whirl. Some decks get close, but none have really shown to be a notable favorite, either in results or in theory. Decks have evolved to beat what is generally being viewed as Public Enemy #1, even if they aren’t that successful at it. I’ve just stopped running into those decks that just have no intrinsic game plan whatsoever against it.

This will clearly not be the case with the open field at Nationals. The people I test with are well aware of my (justified!) bias toward the deck, so they hold it in a higher regard than the average player who, while aware the deck is good, may not view it as being AS good as it really is. This benefits anyone who wants to use it for the big event.

During my testing, I had started to try and get a bit fancy with the deck. A number of cards had been in and out of the deck, but slowly and surely the deck’s consistency began to falter, and match-ups and games I should have won I lost due to suspect starts.

It wasn’t a wasted effort in the least, as I got to experience how a lot of powerful cards interacted in the deck, but at the end of the day, I reverted back to a fairly skeletal list.

I had cut the deck down to 3 Collector at one point, and I guess it’s passable, but it was a card I kept wanting to open with. Sure the excess copies suck, but it’s pretty hard to lose if you DO open with it, especially with the Cleffa backdrop option.

Reshiram has really underperformed for me, and is a card I continued to cut. I’m still not sure I want it in the deck, but it’s another beefy basic. I ran into the problem of being put off-balance occasionally to start, so I wanted to try to keep the basic count higher. Reshiram may not be the correct inclusion, but a 10th basic really does seem ideal.

pokemon-paradijs.comHere are some of the cards I have had in and out of the deck, as solo copies. If I’m listing it here, it is at least worth considering squeezing in, so substituting one or two of these to customize the list is perfectly fine.

Judge: Judge is great with Magnezone, and really good against decks without it. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t help you set up, so it’s much more of a late game card. It’s perfectly passable as a one of, but due to the deck’s raw power, isn’t a mandatory inclusion.

Defender: This card has oddly come in handy quite a bit. Used on either Emboar or RDL, it escapes kills, and really messes up 1HKO math. It makes Magnezone pitch an additional energy for most kills too. Worried about Donphan thwacking your Magnezone? Make it use 2 PlusPower to get the job done. It sounds goofy to say, but this card works wonders math-wise in this format.

Pokémon Circulator: We need Warp Point back badly. The card would be perfect in this format. This card helps get easier KOs, but is primarily used to deal with sleeping Babies. They make or break games these days, so this is a fix. Most of the time they are wanted early game, which makes the card a bit awkward.

You want to draw this early for most of its situational uses, making a lone copy weaker because it’s harder to draw on time. Extra copies clog the deck and aren’t too useful because their value decreases as the game goes on.

Pokémon Reversal: Same purpose as Circulator, but less reliable, and a bit higher in power if you do draw in mid to late game.

Emboar Ninetales

Pokémon – 18

3 Tepig BW07
1 Pignite BLW 17
2 Emboar BLW 20
1 Emboar BLW 19

2 Vulpix UL
2 Ninetales HS
3 Reshiram BLW
2 Cleffa HS
1 Elekid TM
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Engineer’s Adjustments

1 Flower Shop Lady

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Pokémon Reversal
3 PlusPower
3 Rare Candy
2 Energy Retrieval

Energy – 14

14 Fire

This is another deck that has put up some pretty interesting results. Emboar Magnezone has more raw power, but this deck is pretty potent in its own right. Reshiram is the primary attacker, and is supported by PlusPowers and Pokémon Reversal with a full suit of Junk Arms. A Fisherman or two would really round the deck out well as it’s challenging to always have energy, but unlike a build with Magnezone, is isn’t as energy intensive.

pokemon-paradijs.comElekid is a card I really like that fits better in here than in almost any other deck. It serves the same “biding for time” role as Tyrogue or a midgame Cleffa, but also gets around a sleeping Baby. It does a crucial 20 damage to the bench too. Unlike Magneboar, this deck isn’t built to always score one hit kills.

With its primary attacker basing at 120, that early 20 changes two shots into one shots even without PlusPowers. I like this less than Emboar Magnezone, but it is pretty good. A 3-3 line of Ninetales may be better in case it gets Reversal’d, but 2-2 seems sufficient as past the first one, the deck doesn’t have the energy to be fueling two of them each turn anyway, so I’d rather conserve the deck space.

1-2 Rescue Energy would be an interesting inclusion here. This deck, unlike Magnezone Emboar, is pretty abortive against Water, but despite talks of Water decks, no successful ones have really developed. Not that they don’t have potential, merely that they lack a good draw engine.

I’ve seen some players try to put RDL into decks like these, but I’m not entirely sure I like it. You are forcing Lightning energy into a deck with Ninetales, and they don’t fuel anything else. Plus it’s a hard card to get out and fits better in a raw power deck like Magneboar than this deck which really benefits mainly from Reversals and a slightly softer energy requirement.

There is an alternate version of this where you run Typhlosion Prime over Emboar, but I feel that Typhlosion is an awful attacker (Bad Emboar on the other hand, gives you that 150 you otherwise lack) and is less explosive than Emboar. It also puts damage on your Pokémon, which, with Emboar, really cuts into the fact that it has a huge hit point total.

It helps with the Energy Retrieval, but seems to just be a bit less powerful. Plus, with only one in play, you can’t Reshiram every turn if they start to get killed, so to reach full potential you need multiple copies. Nonetheless, it is certainly a viable alternative, and if you make the switch with Emboar, you can run less energy recovery.

LostGar

Pokémon – 19

4 Gastly TM
1 Haunter TM
4 Gengar Prime
4 Mew Prime
2 Spiritomb TM
1 Mime Jr. CL
1 Mr. Mime CL
2 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Seeker
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
3 Junk Arm

3 Lost World

Energy – 11

11 Psychic

LostGar is actually a fairly good deck at the moment. The only real downside is that it really cannot beat RDL. In games where LostGar has been able to “snipe” a half of the Legend out of someone’s hand, it’s been extremely lopsidedly in ’s favor. In games where RDL has been able to enter play rather early? It gets ugly.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe 3 turn clock is almost impossible to rare even with a quicker start. The deck still suffers from a poor match play performance, but decks are unprepared for it, and I feel people are not as practiced for how to play against it as they may have been at one time.

A couple of interesting things with this deck, though … Gengar Prime loves Babies. The 30 hit points allow them to be killed easily. Try to kill them early before Seeker puts them back in their hand, because the deck effectively “guarantees” 4 “hits” off of Seekers, so the other two you get to work for.

Mime Jr. is another secret weapon. He plays the “Baby” role well, sleep stalling and stalemating in Baby stand offs. He also provides a zero energy “Hail Mary” at sniping Pokémon off the top of an opponent’s deck.

Like I said, the “challenge” with this deck, outside of avoiding RDL, is getting those last two Lost Zonings, and Mr. Mime, alongside , and Gengar’s spreading attack, are your main ways of pulling that off outside of hoping they get Pokémon stuck in their hand.

The high number of Junk Arms decks play now make this challenging. Between the Junk Arms, and Poké Communications, emptying hands of excess Pokémon targets is pretty easy.

I’m not sold on the Professor Oak’s New Theories, but the deck needs some form of hand replenishment. I don’t like risking Juniper, and decks empty hands anyway, so Copycat seems out too. Another inclusion could be a 1-0-1 Reuniclus line. Against decks which can’t score a one hit kill on Gengar, it makes taking prizes nigh impossible for them.

With the Seeker Spam as it is, you’d be hard pressed to kill a Gengar. Unfortunately, by the time you get it out, they should be up a prize or two, so denying them future kills doesn’t matter THAT much. You end up needing to actually WIN by Lost World anyway, and the argument of Reuniclus making it so you don’t have to focus on getting more Gengars out again is somewhat null and void because you just burnt resources to get a thin Stage 2 line out that could have been devoted elsewhere so it isn’t “that” big of a boon.

DonChamp

Pokémon – 18

3 Machop TM
2 Machoke TM
3 Machamp Prime

3 Phanpy CL
3 Donphan Prime

2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 28

3 Pokémon Collector

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper

1 Seeker

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Pokémon Reversal
3 Rare Candy
3 Junk Arm
3 PlusPower
1 Switch

Energy – 14

10 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

machamp-prime-triumphant-tm-95pokemon-paradijs.comThis won’t be the last time you see a deck with a fairly thick Donphan line on this list, as it is a major role-player in the aggressive Stage 1s deck I’ll be touching on next. While that deck aims to be hyper-aggressive, this deck uses Donphan as a powerful early game force, but transitions into the mammoth Machamp Prime as a mid-to late-game attacker.

Decks which can’t 1-shot Machamp are really hard pressed to win against it, so outside of Magnezone or Emboar based decks, it is pretty well off. It benefits from the fact that, well, for once, Psychic seems to be an atrocious type in the current format. Gone are … and Gengar… and the easily splashed Uxie LV.X.

Psychic’s big role-player is now Gengar Prime, and to put it bluntly, it can’t exploit a Psychic weakness at all. I really feel that this deck functions the way that the game was originally intended to function, being that it has a few cards that are fast and efficient to play the early game and setting up the game for a bigger hitter.

Of course, the original selection of Trainers in base set, and eventually the power creep, really never let this happen, but it seems like the healthiest “utopian” game play for the game. Now that my slight tangent is over with, let’s get back to the deck, shall we?

Outside of sharing a type with Machamp, and offsetting its slow nature, Donphan alternates weaknesses. Water is a pretty safe weakness to have, due to a lack of expected water decks. Alongside Machamp, Donphan offers great synergy with its Earthquake attack. By putting a damage counter on all of your Pokémon, Earthquake supercharges Machamp’s attack, letting it reach 150 damage.

I originally ran a Zoroark BLW line in this deck, and while not bad, I wound up cutting it for Bouffalant and Reversal. Bouffalant counters an early game RDL with a kill, although you are still dead to a Bad Emboar. For those wondering, Bad is now used in Michael Jackson song sense, not “inferior.”

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Putting pressure on Magnezones is huge. The key you need to know for this matchup is that if they set up a Bad Emboar, you NEED to have Machamp ready to light it up. This isn’t “THAT” hard to do, because Bad Boar has to be third on their list of priorities, behind Magnezone and Inferno Fandango Emboar.

Perhaps a 1/1 Zoroark is still a good call here, but I don’t think most lists you’d find at Nationals will be running it. Part of what I’m trying to do with this article is really to provide a gathering of lists that not only represent the archetypes that will show up at Nationals, but also the most common builds.

Personal tweaks and techs can be added to help in certain matchups, but these offer what seem to be more popular amongst the masses, which is important when testing before the event even if you have no intention of using the deck.

I know the last time I addressed a DonChamp list, people complained about the inclusion of the Baby Pokémon. Decks need to run the Babies not just because you need the consistency, but because you want to have your own Baby to “stonewall” theirs if they stay asleep.

Nothing is more annoying than passing into a sleeping Tyrogue, and letting them get the first attack off despite setting up first. This way you can at least try to play their own game and have a chance to blocking attacks in response. Plus the free retreaters increase the odds you get to send up Donphan on the second turn,

Stage Ones

Pokémon – 21

3 Phanpy CL
3 Donphan Prime
2 Zorua BLW
2 Zoroark BLW
2 Yanma TM
2 Yanmega Prime

2 Vullaby BLW
2 Mandibuzz BLW
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Cleffa HS
1 Elekid TM

Trainers – 25

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Professor Juniper
2 Copycat

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Reversal
3 PlusPower

Energy – 14

6 Fighting
4 Darkness [Special]
4 Double Colorless

This is what I consider to be one of the better lists for the “versatile Stage 1 deck.” The deck is aggressive, and Elekid again plays the role of set up attacker. It may not take the early prize as Tyrogue often can, but it can set up attacks, and works really well with Mandibuzz and even a turn 2 Yanmega.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe difficult thing about this breed of deck is that you really don’t know what lines to expect until you play against it. There are two main “strengths” these decks try to exploit. The first is that they tend to be faster. By being Stage 1s with generally cheap attack costs, they are looking to apply pressure, get early kills, and disrupt set ups.

With PlusPower and Reversals, they can take a lead and really ride it to a win. The second strength is that they exploit the intrinsic “Rock Paper Scissors” element of the game that typing brings with it. By running a variety of different type Pokémon, the game plan is to mirror “Rock” their “Scissors” every time, and alternate accordingly.

As a result, figuring out what Pokémon they’ll be running is tough, because, well, they should be running a pretty nice variety. Luckily, BTS rotated, so you have a warning in advance of what they have. Donphan, Mandibuzz, Yanmega, Cinccino, Zoroark, and more offer fast attacks, and should be expected.

The biggest challenge facing these decks is the lack of a real draw engine. Magnezone (and to a lesser extent Ninetales ) offer huge advantages to decks, in that it allows them to have access to far more cards than any other deck.

I’ll be honest: At this point, I see no reason not to run a deck that uses Magnezone. The advantage that Magnetic Draw (plus an unlimited damage cap of course ) brings to a deck is huge. Decks without Magnetic Draw struggle as they are forced into using cards like Professor Juniper, Copycat, and PONT.

All three are passable, and none of them are actually very exciting. I’m not happy with any of them, and really, decks like this want 6-8-of them, and I’m still not sure what the absolute best split would be. If you prefer raw card count, Juniper gets you the most cards most reliably.

pokemon-paradijs.comIf you don’t want to burn away resources for later, PONT isn’t a huge hit to card advantage over Juniper. Copycat is generally the weakest, but here, it lets you use Yanmega a bit more effectively and is a passable concession to that.

The two “key” inclusions to this deck that should be present in all builds are Donphan Prime and Zoroark. Donphan is huge against Zekrom, and against Magnezone Prime, and Zoroark is a catch-all answer to anything with a high damage attack. Once decks start to overpower you, it keeps you in the game with its efficiency.

Whatever other “partners” that get added are going to vary. Mandibuzz fills in a role that I had previously been experimenting with Lanturn Prime for. The deck was stuck relying purely on a Rock Paper Scissors game, and when faced with a random high-powered threat it was not prepared for (or really, it was ill-equipped for Donphan really, too) it rolled over.

Mandibuzz offers what is effectively a 110 damage attack against Stage 2 decks. It can duke it out with rival Donphans as well, and in this build, when paired with your own Donphan and Yanmega, you should have an edge. It also gives you a nice one hit kill option against LostGar, where Zoroark, despite being Dark Type, still couldn’t really do any damage to it.

ZPS

Pokémon – 13

4 Zekrom BLW
3 Pachirisu CL
2 Shaymin UL
2 Cleffa HS
1 Elekid TM
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

2 Seeker
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory

 

4 Dual Ball
4 Victory Medal
4 PlusPower
4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Reversal
3 Super Scoop Up
1 Energy Search
1 Revive
1 Energy Retrieval

Energy – 14

14 Lightning

Now, I’ll preface this with the same thing that Jay said in his recent article: ZPS is a bad deck. ZPS has no redeeming qualities in this format. ZPS will be played. So simply familiarize yourself with the deck, and how to beat it.

pokemon-paradijs.comThere is no point in losing games to a deck simply because you don’t test with it because you have no intentions of ever using it, or even fearing it. It won’t take too many games to play against it to get a good feel for it and how it plays, but don’t skip it altogether.

You can take into account some basic concepts when playing against Zekrom. The biggest threat they have is a quick start, so make sure you load your bench up so you don’t get benched right off the bat. They do run Seeker, and while they won’t ALWAYS have it turn one, I’d hate to lose a game holding a third Basic when they do happen to pull off the Seeker play.

The other important thing to know is to double up on key basics when trying to get evolutions out. I’ll use Magneboar as an example, and this rule applies to all decks that play Reversal against you. Try and bench two Tepig and two Magnemite so if they Reversal one of them, you aren’t cut off.

Nothing is more aggravating then getting the one Tepig you bench each turn Reversal’d three turns in a row. Sometime it is better to hold off if you only have one copy of a basic and play down two at a time. Needless to say, you have to judge the degree of pressure an opponent is applying and how many prizes you can afford to “go down” before you start going on the offense, but it’s worth noting. Sometimes you simply don’t have a choice but it’s worth realizing the options available.

Elekid is a great card in this deck as well for those “off turns” as it also gets a key 20 damage on Pokémon. This puts them in one shot range of Zekrom. I’ve seen lists try to use Yanmega alongside Zekrom, as a “free attacker” for “in-between” turns when you need to power up Zekrom again.

pokemon-paradijs.comIt also offers a nice Fighting resistance, but to be honest, Yanmega has underwhelmed me in general. It doesn’t even do that much against Donphan, as you are both 3-shotting each other (They 2-shot you if you they happen to have three energy, but that’s a bit of a pipe dream.) I’ve also seen lists going Zekrom + Magnezone Prime, with Magnezone using its Magnetic Draw Pokémon Power to boost midgame and late game consistency.

It also gives you more 1-shot kill options, but it still leaves you dead to fighting types. It just feels that for what the deck gains in speed, you lose so much mid and late game that other decks have. The reward isn’t worth the sacrifices you make to be fast at the moment.

Now, those are the “accepted” archetypes in the format at the moment. There are, of course, some decks which are a bit more off the radar, and sadly, most of these are there for a reason, as they are just not QUITE good enough. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any potential for them, but this format is a pretty “closed” one.

Decks like Emboar Zone really provide an “entry test” into the format. They have a remarkable amount of consistency, and have a huge degree of power. If your deck can’t compete against it, then it really isn’t viable. The mere power of this deck (with no real exploitable weakness) really limits what Pokémon are viable.

That being said, here are a few decks I’ve thrown together to test and some of my comments about them.

Jumpluff Vileplume

Pokémon – 26

4 Hoppip HS
3 Skiploom HS
4 Jumpluff HS

2 Oddish UD
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
2 Sunkern HS
2 Sunflora HS
2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Caterpie HS
1 Metapod HS

Trainers – 23

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Copycat

2 Professor Elm’s Training Method
2 Seeker
1 Sage’s Training
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 Flower Shop Lady

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy

Energy – 11

11 Grass

vileplume-undaunted-ud-24pokemon-paradijs.comI have been working on trying to make Vileplume good for a while now, but it is always missing SOMETHING. The card is fantastic in the current landscape of deck builds we have, but there are a few fundamental problems facing it.

First and foremost, the Supporters we have aren’t that good. We lack any sort of non-Magnezone draw Pokémon, and a lot of our best consistency stems from the use of Trainers. This means that I’ve been forced to run Pokémon Communication in a deck that aims to speed out Vileplume. The deck unfortunately needs it for the opening turns and of course, it is dead mid game.

Also, we lack any cards such as Spiritomb, or BTS, so to get a remotely timely Vileplume out we are also stuck with Rare Candy. So to really play the deck, we are literally stocking our deck with 8 cards we acknowledge will be completely dead once we set up.

To offset this, I run 2 Seeker, which allows me to bounce Vileplume and re-Rare Candy it to the other Oddish mid-game if I need to play Trainers. I’d normally run one, but as you’ll see with our choice of attacker, Rare Candy mid game seems quite useful.

Sunflora is a fantastic pairing with Vileplume to help get your Pokémon out mid-game once you are under trainer lock, but sadly, we are at a major loss for good attacking Grass types, and Jumpluff is the best we’ve got. It shares some synergy with Sunflora too, as you’ll need to get multiples out quickly. I guess it is less synergy, and more Sunflora offsetting a major weakness that Jumpluff has.

Metapod is necessary for cutting off your Fire Weakness, as otherwise a lone Emboar is going to do pretty heavy damage. One of the things which is hard to account for at first is just how strong Vileplume is against an Emboar deck in terms of shutting off its draw power, and thus energy supply.

Using Emboar Zone as an example, if they can’t play Trainers, it becomes very difficult to draw enough cards with Magnetic Draw to get to your energy because your hand is so clogged. Toss in the fact that Energy Retrieval and the Junk Arms that go with it are locked out, and the discard requirements really add up.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe deck is able to justify attackers which are fundamentally “bad” against the best deck simply because its main game plan of trainer lock is fundamentally carrying the weight in that matchup.

Copycat is the best supporter with Vileplume, for the same reasons it was last year. When decks can’t play their trainers, they clog their hand, and increase their mean hand size, and Copycat therefore gains more value. Flower Shop Lady is a great card in this deck too because you run a lower energy count, and also need to replenish Jumpluffs. A second copy isn’t bad, but you are already cramming a lot of cards into this deck.

I think the true best pairing with Vileplume has yet to have been found though. Something more disruptive seems really strong. The problem is, the set up engine for a good Vileplume deck doesn’t exist in this format, which is handicapped by a STRONG reliance on Trainers. Even if hypothetically in the next few sets we get the tools needed to make Vileplume really good, it may be a net negative for its viability as it makes the other decks less vulnerable to its lock.

I’ve tried a few different Vileplume approaches and it just seems that the deck always falls narrowly short in some category. Either the deck sets up too clunky, or it doesn’t have enough power. I’m not sure if I just haven’t found the secret yet, or if there just aren’t the tools available to build a list I’d feel comfortable piloting in a large tournament.

Kingdra Mandibuzz

Pokémon – 23

4 Horsea UL
1 Seadra UL
4 Kingdra Prime

3 Vullaby BLW
3 Mandibuzz BLW
2 Zorua BLW
2 Zoroark BLW
2 Cleffa HS
1 Elekid TM
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 24

4 Pokémon Collector

3 Professor Juniper
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 Sage’s Training

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
2 Energy Exchanger
2 Junk Arm

Energy – 13

5 Water
4 Darkness [Special]
4 Double Colorless

kingdra-prime-unleashed-ul-85pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a prime example of two major issues in this format: The Emboar Magnezone Test, and the clunkiness of non Magnezone draw power. Look at the draw power we are stuck with: A mixture of Sage’s Training, Professor Juniper, and Professor Oak’s New Theory.

None of these even remotely excite me in this deck in the least. It isn’t even that we are stuck with too few good draw Supporters … we are stuck with a bunch of extremely mediocre ones.

Also, this deck is pretty strong against anything not using Magnezone. Mandibuzz and offer a lot of damage output, but they are both weak to Lightning. You do a ton of bench damage and spread with this deck, and it adds up.

The better your Baby flips are, the better the deck performs. Once you get out, say, three Kingdra, the damage really adds up. The deck would normally be quite good against the entire field … except it can’t beat Magnezone Emboar, and therefore I can’t really justify playing it.

It’s the same issue as an otherwise good deck merely losing to Feraligatr back in the very first Modified … or to Gallade Gardevoir in 2008. You can’t really play a deck if it has a bad matchup against the best deck … especially not when that best deck is also more consistent than you.

Feraligatr Prime

Pokémon – 19

3 Totodile HS
1 Croconaw HS
2 Feraligatr Prime
3 Oshawott BLW 27
2 Dewott BLW 29
3 Samurott BLW 32
1 Magnemite TM
1 Magnezone Prime
2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 26

4 Pokémon Collector

3 Sage’s Training
3 Engineer’s Adjustments
1 Flower Shop Lady
1 Fisherman

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
2 Energy Retrieval

Energy – 15

13 Water
2 Rainbow

I wanted to give credit to Jay’s Machamp Donphan list for getting me to try the 1-0-1 Magnezone line in decks mainly as a means by which to draw cards. I think it is quite good, even if it is weak to Reversal. Samurott is a great attacker, but again, fails the Magnezone test.

pokemon-paradijs.comThis deck, with the addition of Magnezone, has managed to somewhat offset the issue of not having a reliable draw engine, but then comes face to face with the issue that it still can’t beat Magnezone. On the same topic, a legitimately interesting card in this format, Crobat Prime, is also crippled by the same weakness.

I don’t mean to “complain” about certain cards being too powerful in a format. Such things always happen but at the same time, you need to acknowledge what the format defining cards are, and also acknowledge certain cards simple can’t work due to them. You have to realize what the metagame actually will be, and not all good cards are favored equally.

Another potential fix for this is to add an additional 1-1-2 Magnezone line, and a few more Lightning sources. If you do this, adding a Shaymin, or Energy Switch may not be terrible. Feraligatr is a great card, worse than Emboar, but an interesting alternative.

Blastoise UL, Samurott, and Magnezone are all good primary attackers for the deck. Sadly, there are no easily splashable Fighting types to help cover your weakness, which is the downside of a small card pool like this.

An interesting idea I’d like to credit to Matt Nawal is Floatzel Magnezone. Rather than rely on a thick Stage 2 line, Floatzel gets you energy in play as a Stage 1, and with Blastoise, you can move energy around (including to Magnezone) and it gives you a nice attacker.

Now, I wanted to also address DonChamp a little bit more before I finish things up, because there have been a lot of requests to cover a deck that appears to be Tier 1 but is one that no one also seems to want to actually champion and write about.

I have the list I posted above, and I also suggest that players take a look at Jay’s list, as I’m really a big fan of the direction he’s taking it. I just saw his list recently, and haven’t gotten to play too many games with it, but I feel qualified to make some judgment calls regarding it anyway. I’ll relist my list, and then Jay’s right after, for simplicity’s sake.

My List

Pokémon – 18

3 Machop TM
2 Machoke TM
3 Machamp Prime

3 Phanpy CL
3 Donphan Prime

2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 28

3 Pokémon Collector

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper

1 Seeker

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Pokémon Reversal
3 PlusPower
3 Rare Candy
3 Junk Arm
1 Switch

Energy – 14

10 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

Jay’s List

Pokémon – 21

3 Machop TM
1 Machoke TM
3 Machamp Prime

3 Phanpy HS
3 Donphan Prime
1 Magnemite TM
1 Magnezone Prime
1 Zorua BLW
1 Zoroark BLW

4 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Sage’s Training

1 Judge
1 Flower Shop Lady
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Reversal
3 PlusPower
3 Junk Arm

Energy – 11

5 Fighting
3 Rainbow
3 Double Colorless

Let’s address some of the main differences between our lists.

pokemon-paradijs.comFirst and foremost, he opts to run Zoroark over Bouffalant. Zoroark requires an extra space, and is a bit harder to get out, but it covers a lot of different roles opposed to well, pretty much keeping RDL in check. It’s a situational mid to late Game 1-1 line, so the thin nature of it isn’t actually too bad.

I’ve always tried to squeeze in a 2-2 line when I ran it, but I don’t really know if that’s necessary, and a 1-1 line suffices. Clearly, if you do run Zoroark, you don’t run the Bouffalant, which was mainly my concession to the fact that Rayquaza & Deoxys Legend is a major problem for this deck.

Second, of course, is the 1-1 Magnezone Prime line. You already run a decent number of Rare Candy to make Machamp work, and with Poké Communication and Junk Arms, you can fairly reliably get out even a 1-0-1 line of the card. The nice part about it is that it really isn’t “necessary” and is just an added perk if it gets set up.

You can still very much win games without ever getting the card out, so it is pretty nice to run it without also using it as a crutch for draw power. The Emboar Zone list I use is pretty reliant on Magnezone, which is why Vileplume is such a huge blow to it when it hits play.

Jay runs 4 Cleffa opposed to my 2, which is acceptable, but I think at least 1-of those should be a Tyrogue. I appreciate the high number of starting Pokémon (they lead to a T2 Donphan without being down energy drops which is huge, especially with Machop packing a 2 Retreat Cost) but 4 Cleffa is redundant.

I know Tyrogue isn’t “amazing” in here, but I’d feel bad not even having the option to use it. It sets up kills when you’re in a bad spot, and the ability to go ahead on prizes vs Babies, or just win Turn One is probably worth the one spot. I started at 4 Cleffa in Emboar Zone, then cut it to 3 Cleffa and 1 Tyrogue, and later 2 Cleffa 1 Tyrogue and while a 4th starter would be nice, I think 3 has been fine too.

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother big difference is the energy count. I’m running a much higher 14 energy compared to 11. While I think 14 may be on the higher end, I’m a bit skeptical of 11 as well. I think the lowest I’d want to go is 12, and I think I’d want to max out on DCE as well.

The 3 Junk Arm, 3 PlusPower, 3 Reversal count is about the minimum the deck can run, and I’m pretty content with it. I’m not sold on Flower Shop Lady, but I don’t dislike it either. I’m just not sure how many games it’ll be relevant in.

I like having a random recovery card “just in case” but this seems like the format where such cards are their absolute weakest in. In decks which really put a strain on the energy count, such as Emboar, then I’m more likely to want it, but this seems like a deck where you may simply not need the card very often.

Like I said, it’s not a BAD inclusion, I’m just not sure that it’s mandatory. I’d never demand it be taken out, but I don’t think I’d think twice with it being gone. I’d probably make that the 12th energy, as I guess it is kind of in place to offset the low 11 count.

I know Jay stood by the Professor Elm’s Training Method, but I’m a little less sold on it. I ran an embarrassingly high count of the card when I first started testing this format and slowly but surely got rid of them. While it isn’t a bad allocation of a Supporter spot, I don’t know if it’s the best use of the spot either. I’ll use this as a spot to kind of transition into my main “concern” with the list.

Jay’s got the deck built to function like Magneboar with its draw engine, which I clearly feel IS the best draw engine in the format. Not every deck functions well with it though, obviously, but I think Machamp Donphan can pull it off. There is a small problem. Jay’s left out any sort of raw card advantage out of the deck besides Magnetic Draw.

pokemon-paradijs.comIf Magnezone is hit by a Reversal (what I’d consider to be the primary target if someone knows the list) or a Magneton is prized, the deck’s draw power is sufficiently gimped. The list looks like it would flow very well with a Magnezone in play, and fairly poorly without it.

As a result, I think I’d “hedge my bets” a little bit, and run some raw hand refreshers, such as Professor Juniper or PONT.

I’d cut 1 Cleffa, 1 PETM, and the Judge (Judge is great with Magnezone and not a bad card at all in the deck, but I think I’d rather have a bit more insurance) for 3 PONT or Juniper. This gives you a better back up plan. The Cleffa PETM and Judge are all good cards, and perhaps other cards are safer cuts, but those are my initial 3 to hit the chopping block.

Let me re-state that I’m a really big fan of some of the innovations Jay’s done with the deck list. The first major point I noticed about this format is that I feel Magnezone is a must for pretty much any deck I would play.

It was a major reason why I was shying away from really viewing DonChamp as a choice for me to use, but the 1-0-1 line really helps fix that. I don’t expect many players at Nats to run such a list, which is why I first included what I call the DonChamp “Stock List” originally.

I’m going to do a bit of tweaking and try and merge mine and Jay’s lists into what I think is a good happy medium:

Pokémon – 20

3 Machop TM
1 Machoke TM
3 Machamp Prime
3 Phanpy CL
3 Donphan Prime
2 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Magnemite TM
1 Magnezone Prime
1 Zorua BLW
1 Zoroark BLW

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Sage’s Training

2 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 Professor Juniper

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Reversal
3 PlusPower
3 Junk Arm

Energy – 12

5 Fighting
4 Double Colorless
3 Rainbow

Due to Donphan’s Retreat Cost, and Machamp’s, I wouldn’t mind seeing at least a Switch in here, but I guess I can’t be too greedy either. -1 DCE +1 Fighting, or -1 Rainbow +1 Fighting are both options, but the energy seems fairly safe and can go a number of ways without really destabilizing the list I feel. The 4th Sage’s Training might be expendable as well, but I’m not sure either without logging more games.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe more I think about things, the more I begin to realize that Magnezone Prime may take on a Pidgeot role in decks. I hate to say so, but it offers such an immense edge in decks that I almost feel like I’m unnecessarily handicapping myself if I do not play it.

Things will get really interesting after this weekend though, when Canadian and Mexican Nats take place, and we’ll get the first “real” results from any substantially large event. I’d be paying extra attention to not only what wins at those events, but what decks saw the most play in general as they should be the most accurate Metagame representation we’ll see before our own Nationals.

I’d pay extra attention to the forums for coverage of these events right after they happen, as who knows what sort of decks may pop up and do well.

This is the final stretch, and by early next week, I’d suggest players have a deck ready to choose. I’ve made a number of mistakes with last minute deck changes in my career. It’s really easy to panic and switch at the last minute, and it hurts.

In 2005, at 7 am the day of Worlds, I still had no idea what deck to play, and all I knew was that Medicham had destroyed me all night long, and that I knew I didn’t want to use Medicham either, so I went with Rock Lock. I don’t regret using Rock Lock, but I do regret the list I used, as I made some bad last minute calls that could have been avoided had I settled on it and played it more opposed to hopping between decks I quickly abandoned for the week prior to the tournament.

In 2008 Worlds, I audibled away from the GG list I was doing really well with in testing when I woke up to Sami Sekkoum and Eric Craig screaming about how Empoleon was the play and I should play it with them. While I made top 32 with it, I also regretted not having GG the entire day.

pokemon-paradijs.com
Be comfortable with your deck!

2010 Worlds, I had a three-way tie between Kingdra Machamp, LuxChomp, and DialgaChomp as viable options going into registration, and went with Kingdra Machamp. LuxChomp was the play, but the major issue I had was I made last minute changes to Kingdra that wouldn’t have happened if I’d been fine tuning it well in advance.

People underestimate the value of really being comfortable with a deck going into a big tournament. Often times it is more important than using the better deck.

Hopefully everyone gets to log as many games in as they’d like, and can go into Nationals full of confidence. I’m going to be at Nats with no intentions of playing, but, with the other two North American Nats a week in advance, I’ll have some good knowledge regarding whether or not I need to play a round or two to try and gather points just to be safe. Hopefully I’ll get to say hi to a bunch of people at the event!

In closing, I know people want to know what I suggest is the best deck, and, well, unsurprisingly, I stand by Emboar Magnezone. Even if a select group of people do find a list that is going to be a favorite against the deck, it won’t be worse than a 40-60 matchup for you, and I can guarantee the deck’s high power level places it better against the rest of the deck in the field.

I feel Donphan Machamp is a pretty good alternative if you aren’t feeling too comfortable using Emboar either. The biggest role players in the format at the moment are Magnezone and Pokémon Reversal, so I suggest that you play at least one of those in your deck, or have a very good reason not to be. Anyway, good luck, and happy testing!


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