Hello 6P Nation, let’s gear up for Nationals! I want to give the non-Underground members an article that can be used as a study guide (or think of it as an outline) to the format. Please understand, that the Underground Staff is light-years ahead of me, and if it comes down to their word versus my word: TAKE THEIR WORD.
However, I do feel that I have done enough testing and more than enough reading from sites all across the inter-web to lay down a reference guide.
This article will offer nothing ground breaking. It is designed for people who have not been reading various websites religiously. It will offer a tiny bit of insight into many popular decks.
This article is going to be a mash up of several sections.
1. I will give a brief rundown of decks that you need to be prepared to see at nationals (predicted by people much smarter than I, but with some of my own opinion). I will attempt to either link you to or provide in the article a skeleton list and basic strategy of each deck.
The purpose of this section is to allow people access to lists (WARNING: THESE LISTS ARE NOT PERFECT) for testing and to just give you a feel for the decks you will likely see. It is cram session time, so, take the lists tweak them and then test against them.
2. I will go over some of the tougher decisions to be made in your deck of choice. Card A over Card B? Stuff like that.
3. I will give some personal tips.
The National Field
This list is in no particular order. Just no matter what you are playing, you need to know about these decks and you need to have a game plan on what to do against them.
Most people are calling this THE PLAY for Nationals. I would expect to play against this deck at least twice (probably at least one more). This deck has been hyped to the extreme lately. Here is a link to Jwittz’s sweet analysis video. He provided a skeleton list at the end, so, no list from me.
How to run it: What makes this deck tick is its great internal draw and consistent damage output. Early in the game, you should focus on getting a Magnezone Prime set up to start the draw engine. Then comes and Emboar 20 and at least one more Magnezone Prime.
The other HUGE advantage to this deck is that it has access to four great attackers: Magnezone Prime, Rayquaza & Deoxys Legend, Emboar 19, and Reshiram. The deck usually starts hitting for 120-150 damage on turn three or four and continues for the rest of the game.
Then once the game gets into the late stages, RDL comes into play. RDL is the great closer, hits for 150, and takes 2 Prizes when you KO an opponent’s Pokémon with it.
How to run against it: This deck can be out-sped. Two stage two lines can be a little bit slow at times. The key is to gain board control very early in the game. This deck relies heavily on sitting behind a starter Pokémon for a couple turns. So, you should run Pokémon Reversal or Pokémon Circulator.
Decks like Speed Donphan and Speed Zekrom can really establish board control early. (See this testing video for proof that Zekrom can hang with this. Yes, the Zekrom player got some fortunate flips early, but hey that is the format we are in.)
The other weakness of this deck is the relatively tight count of Lightning Energy. Getting a couple of Lightning Energy in the discard can slow this beast down.
You also need to have a counter to Rayquaza & Deoxys Legend counter. There are two easily teachable ones. You need to either run Bouffalant or Zoroark. They can both score the return KO, should the MagneBoar player attack with RDL before the end of the game.
pokebeach.comPeople originally thought that this was going to be BDIF when Black and White came out. The hype around this deck has died down a bit. Jwittz also covered this deck in the same episode as MagneBoar. Again, the list is at the end of the video.
How to run it: This deck focuses on setting up by turn three or turn four and then pumping out a consistent stream of 120+ damage every turn. Early in the game you should focus on setting up Emboar 20 followed quickly by Ninetales. You will need a heavy dose of energy recovery in the form of Fisherman or Energy Retrieval. PlusPower is also a staple in this deck, allowing you to hit for the occasional 130-140 range.
With the presence of Emboar #20 in the deck, ReshiBoar can also run Emboar #19 to attack for 150 damage. This deck can also use RDL, but then you will have to tech in either a couple of Rainbow or Lightning Energy.
How to run against it: You can either play heavy tanks such as Magnezone Prime, T-Tar, Machamp, etc. that this deck struggles to consistently 1HKO. Or you need to out speed this deck. Defender can actually be very effective in surviving for one more turn to jump ahead in the prize race.
It is also important to take out Ninetales early. If you can kill the deck’s draw engine, it will struggle mightily in the end to recovery energy.
DonChamp, with a great set up is arguably the best deck in the format. However, with no internal draw engine for consistency, the deck is vulnerable to running out of steam.
How to run it: The key to this deck is getting a full bench relatively early in the game. Many people over look this aspect and settle with their set up after getting a couple Donphan Primes and a Machamp Prime up. You should have Donphan Prime set up turn two and start using Earthquake to put pressure on your opponent through accumulating damage. This attack is also key in damaging your own bench.
You should be setting up the bench with damage to power Machamp Prime’s Champbuster in the late game. If you have five Pokémon on the bench, all with damage on them, you get to swing for 150 damage. It is a mindless game of dishing out damage early and often.
How to run against it: The obvious answer is running a water deck. A solid, quick water deck can take away Donphan’s early game advantage. Another tech option is to use Xatu to counter Machamp Prime. Xatu for PCC can 1HKO an active Machamp Prime with full energies and with resistance to fighting, Xatu will likely not be return KOd by Donphan.
pokebeach.comThis deck has been widely regarded as second tier. Many people have put it off to the side to make room for ReshiBoar and then eventually MagneBoar. However, if you are not ready for this deck, it can hit you square in the face and leave you stammered.
Here is a link to a toolbox version of the deck. The toolbox version can pull off some great combinations, but can be a little inconsistent in the early game. It might be worth taking out a couple of the tools for a couple more consistency cards.
How to run it: This deck is not the same as ReshiBoar and should not be treated as such. It will struggle to consistently spam Reshiram’s Blue Flare attack. You will likely need at least one knockout per game from outrage and at least one KO from Typhlosion Prime.
This deck desperately needs to get Ninetales going early to get the draw engine rolling. After that, it is important to always have two Reshiram on the field and be working toward building two Typhloshion Primes.
You also should not be too afraid of using Typhlosion Prime’s attack to disrupt your opponent’s energy drops and recovery. Picking of early Fighting Energy from DonChamp can be huge and so can bleeding decks with Magnezone or RDL out of the Lightning Energy.
How to run against it: This deck can be out-sped. Also, a healthy dose of early Pokémon Reversals and Pokémon Circulators can be crucial. As with Donphan based decks and ReshiBoar, water decks can rip this deck up.
pokebeach.comZ/P/S stands for Zekrom/Shaymin/Pachirisu. This is arguably the fastest deck in the format and that can be to your advantage.
How to run it: The main premise behind this deck is to get a turn one or turn two Zekrom out and attack for 120 damage using Bolt Strike. This is accomplished with the help of Pachirisu and Shaymin. Pachirisu allows you to attack two Lightning Energy to Pachirisu when you play him down.
Then you attack one energy to Zekrom manually. Then you use Shaymin’s Celebration Wind to move the energy to Zekrom and start attacking. Pretty simple. If you are lucky you will end the game (or at the very least, cripple your opponent’s deck) before it even gets rolling.
There are several ways to play Zekrom. Some people play this deck with pure speed. The idea there is to make the deck as fast and consistent as possible and to go for broke early on.
A sample list can be found here. Other people play the deck with a better end game using another Pokémon as an additional attacker. The most often method is to use Yanmega Prime and healthy lines of Judge and Copycat to attack for free. A list can be found here.
How to play against it: Honestly, the early game is often out of your control. If you are still in the game (meaning: you are only down 2 Prizes) by turn four, you should be in good shape. Donphan Prime is the best counter to this deck.
How to run it: There are two ideas on how to run Blastoise. First, partner Blastoise with Floatzel. There have been several very good articles covering this approach. Look here and here. The idea is that by only requiring one stage two Pokémon line, this deck can be fast to set up.
Once you have Blastoise ready to go and at least one Floatzel on the bench, just start sniping everything in sight. Generally, you want to start with the draw support. One shot that Ninetales. Two shot that Magnezone if you can or take out Magnimites and Magnetons.
The second option is to run Blastoise with Feraligatr Prime. Feraligatr allows you to drop as many Water Energy onto the field per turn as you would like. However, needing two stage two lines is very slow. I recommend running the Floatzel version.
How to play against it: To be safe, you should often play two of the basic Pokémon you want to evolve. Blastoise can only snipe once per turn. So, playing down two will allow you to get to that evolution.
The other thing to remember is that Blastoise has no internal draw. If you can stay afloat (get it… you’re fighting a water Pokémon… oh never mind) while taking out one or two Blastoise, you should be in good shape. Spamming a stage two attacker is a tough thing to achieve.
Ok a little rant: I went to an in-house tournament last weekend to get some practice. I was really hoping to get in a game or two against DonChamp or MagneBoar. What did about half of the field have? That’s right MewGar. To be honest, I think I liked MewGar more than most people and felt that it could be a very good deck, but after that tourney, MewGar has gained a lot more respect from me.
I do not know of a good MewGar list out there right now, so, here is a rough skeleton list (a very rough list):
|Pokémon – 12||Trainers – 18||Energy – 14|
That is a total of 47 cards. That leaves you with 13 open slots. You should use those open slots to at least fill out the Mew line, thicken the Gengar line, maybe add a Slowking CL line, or thicken the Trainer lines.
How to run it: This is the craziest part about MewGar, there are so many different ways to run it. I have seen it with Vileplume. But, there is no Poltergeist in this deck!?! True, but that Trainer lock removed PlusPower, Pokémon Communication, Junk Arm, and Rare Candy.
Rare Candy, Junk Arm, and Communication are all ways to get Pokémon out of your hand. If you opponent cannot get those Pokémon out, you can Hurl them into Darkness. Removing PlusPower for play allows Gengar to survive for two turns against Reshiram and Zekrom.
I have seen this deck with Crobat Prime in it just to be Sent Off with Mew Prime and then used to poison stuff. I saw a teched Jumpluff and Rainbow Energy to be able to use Mass Attack to take a quick prize if need be due to a time constraint. The deck is very versatile.
One of the most overlooked aspect of MewGar is how disruptive it is. It is the best disruption deck in the format right now (in my opinion). Decklists are so tight and almost every card in a list is vital. Even randomly sending cards from the top of your opponent’s deck to the Lost Zone can be very disruptive.
All that being said, you really need to get a Gengar Prime in to the Lost Zone ASAP. There is nothing worse than having five Pokémon in their Lost Zone, Mew Primes on the bench, a Gengar Prime in the discard (because you used it to attack with first), and having the other Gengar Primes prized. So close to victory, yet so Farfetch’d.
How to run against it: Well, obviously the key is to keep Pokémon out of your hand. Make your opponent work for those Lost Zoned Pokémon. You also need to be able to deal 60 damage turn two and be able to hit 130 damage every so often. Other than then that, hope that luck is on your side. Playing a consistent deck that can set up fast is key.
Also, in this game you cannot just leave your Baby Pokémon out. This can be a killer to some decks that really need a free retreater. Gengar Prime can just Cursed Drop those Babies into the Lost Zone and they get to take a prize.
How to run it: The purpose of this deck is to use two Pokémon that are great tanks to cover weaknesses and to counter Donphan and fire decks. Samurott is the stage two version of Donphan Prime and for CCC does 70 + 10 more for each Water Energy attached to Samurott. Donphan is up to his same ole’ tricks. Just pound away early and tank late with Samurott.
How to play against it: This deck lacks a late game changer. Get an attacker that can hit for 140-160 damage up and you are poised to make a comeback.
Gengar SF’s Little BrotherVileplume, Muk, and
This deck is a ton of fun to play. It can also really
burn confuse you if you are not ready. Here is a forum list. The list is a great starting point and the conversation to it is mostly solid and constructive. Take a read through it to get a feel for the deck. I can honestly see this deck doing surprisingly well at Nationals. It is a difficult game for everything except maybe Yanmega.
How to run it: It is kinda like when you were playing the video games. You know those times when your Pokémon was poisoned in the last battle. You do not have an antidote or a full heal (why was I too cheap to buy those…). Every step you take is painful because the screen is cutting in an out. You know your Pokémon is suffering a slow and painful knockout. Yeah, this deck is like that.
The main idea is to Trainer lock the field with Vileplume. Then get Muk set up and drag up Pokémon with huge Retreat Costs and let the poison and confusion set it. Watch your opponent’s Pokémon die a slow and painful death. It is a little sadistic I know.
Mismagius is there to use Poltergeist for some Knock Out blows. Hopefully, your opponent as a ripe hand full of Trainers to do at least 120 damage with. However, you must be careful, because at only 90 hp, Mismagius is almost certain to be knockedout in return.
The other card I would like to see played in this deck is Jirachi. You could damage the huge stage two Pokémon in the format: Emboar, Magnezone Prime, Machamp Prime. Then you would use Time Hollow to devolve them and take cheap KOs.
The one thing that I have not seen in this deck that I would like to see tested is Dodrio. The ability to switch out your active with much more ease under Trainer lock seems like a great idea.
How to run against it: The first key is to plan ahead. If you have an extra energy in your hand that you do not need immediately, put it on your heavy retreaters. Get a head start on getting them out of the Active spot. Other than that, Dodrio could help.
The best version I have seen of this deck is a toolbox style.
How to run it: Well the idea is to set up a massive wall Pokémon in T-Tar. Then start to spread damage across the field. Then you can pair it with Mandibuzz to snipe the damage Pokémon. You can also run Zoroark to copy hard-hitting attacks (Lost Burn, Ozone Buster, etc.).
How to run against it: The rest of the field will be your best friend. With fighting Pokémon set to be a large part of the format, T-Tar could struggle mightily. If not, you just need to be able to get around a wall. Again, Pokémon Reversal and Pokémon Cirulator can be big cards against this deck,
Other decks to be aware of:
Steelix Prime: I do not think that this is going to be played a lot, but you should know that against everything but fire it is a great tank.
Gyarados Lock: The regular Gyarados from CL can be used to deny energy. When paired with Feraligatr it can be powered up quickly.
Leafeon: This deck likely deserves a little more than I am giving it. It generally utilized Roserade UL and a Rainbow Energy to inflict the defending Pokémon with two status conditions. Then Leafeon attacks doing 50 times the number of conditions affecting the defending Pokémon. This deck may also use Hypno or Houndoom. Leafeon can be a very fast attacker that hits for 100 or 150 for only one energy.
Wailord Tank: Wailord paired with Feraligatr could be a surprise to some people. With 180 health, anything not electric will struggle to take this beast down. It can do 100 damage for a heafty WWWC cost.
Vulbeat/Illumise: This is another possible donk deck. For one energy Illumise gets to flip a coin for every Volbeat in play and does 30 times the number of heads. It can hit hard early and take advantage of an early lead.
Kingdra/Mandibuzz: PokémanDan has a good video explaining this deck and here is a good article too (I actually believe that the article came first, so props to the author for thinking about this). This deck is designed to snipe the bench quick and early.
Cinccino Rush: The idea it to do 100 damage turn two from the Do the Wave Attack.
Urasing Prime / Vileplume: The Teddiursa from CL allows you to flip a coin, if heads your opponent cannot play trainers on their turn. This is the best chance at a turn one trainer lock to last the whole game.
Samurott/Feraligatr: The idea is to load Samurott up with energy to tank and attack pretty hard.
I’m sure that there will be some great decks that I missed, and that no one except their creator will see coming. There will be some great combination of cards that have been overlooked or undervalued. However, if your deck can hold its own against the previously mentioned decks, you should be in relatively good shape.
Now let’s move onto some of the difficult choices we as deck builders have to face. In general, HGSS-on decks have higher energy counts which translates into fewer tech spots. Let’s look at some of the cards:
Tyrogue: This little baby serves one purpose and virtually one purpose only, knockout Cleffas. For zero energy, he does 30 damage. I know many people do not like donks, but this guy could win you the game early. Here is a Jwittz video on him. I agree with Jwittz that a single copy of Tyrogue should be in almost every deck.
Cleffa count: How many of these babies should you play? Well I honestly feel that virtually every deck should play at least one. It is a great consistency card. It can be used as a free retreater. It can single handily save you from a bad hand. I would go with 2-3 in your deck, unless you REALLY want to open the game with Cleffa, then go with four.
Professor Oak’s New Theory vs. Professor Juniper: Well let’s see, Juniper discards your whole hand and then lets your draw seven fresh cards. PONT shuffles your hand back into your deck and then you draw six cards. With Junk Arm in the format, discarding some Trainers is not a huge blow.
However, getting that hand with say Magnzone, Pignite, a couple of energy, and Juniper with nothing on good on the field can be devastating. PONT is the much safer play, and for decks with Magnezone Prime or Ninetales, PONt can save you from decking yourself out. I would say that most decks should heavily favor PONT over Juniper. The exceptions would be the donk decks like Z/P/S.
Noctowl: This card may be tempting to several players. It does a couple of things right. If you use Judge or Copycat it can 1HKO Rayquaza & Dexoys Legend. It also allows you to draw one extra card per turn. Considering that you need to run at least a 2-2 line of Noctowl, I would probably just use a Bouffalant and a couple of draw Supporters.
Consistency verses Techs: The recent MD-on format was one of almost unprecedented teching ability. With SP Pokémon to cover virtually every type matchup, low energy counts, and phenomenal searching power, decks ran a very high amount of tech cards. So, do you try to cover your deck’s weakness in this format, or do you focus on making your deck as fast and consistent as possible?
For example: Does a Blastoise player tech in a few Rainbow Energy and Donphan Prime (or Throh, Marowak, or Hariyama for those of us without pet Elephants) to cover the lightning matchup? Or do you focus on speed and just try to control the board?
A lot of this depends of play style. I for one do not plan on running a ton of techs. I might run a Bouffalant here or there to counter RDL, but that is about it. I want my deck to run as smoothly as possible.
PlusPower and Defender: I would say that PlusPower is almost required in every deck. We all saw how crucial Crobat G was, and this the is the best replacement we have for it. Defender can also be a good play, but it can be negated with Circulator or Reversal.
Pokémon Reversal vs Pokémon Circulator: With the prevalence of MagneBoar, Baby Pokémon, and evolutions in general, these two cards are vital. So which one do you play? Circulator is the better play early in the game. It guarantees you the ability to move those Baby Pokémon. This can be crucial as getting early KOd by getting around Sweet Sleeping Face is huge.
However, Pokémon Reversal is better as the game wears on. The ability to Reversal up weaker Pokémon, Pokémon with preexisting damage, or crucial support Pokémon is also very important. However, Reversal relies on a flip.
So the questions is: Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? All jokes aside, I run a straight four Reversals and hope that I get an early heads. With a healthy line of Junk Arm, you can hopefully get a heads through the raw number of Reversals played.
That leads into the next topic: What type of deck should I play, or What deck should I play? As everyone will tell you, play what you are most comfortable with. That is a completely valid answer. Some people just cannot get the hang of Speed Donk decks (I am one of those people). Some people struggle to think ahead far enough to really play a set up deck. Those are all valid observations.
I want to divide decks into different categories though: Simple and Complex. For example, ReshiPhlosion is much more complex to play than ReshiBoar. In ReshiPhlosion you have to plan out your usage of Afterburner, you have to figure out how to score the KO with Outrage. With ReshiBoar you have to drop Reshiram, drop three Fire Energy, attack for 120. Rinse and repeat. I would also call MewGar a complicated deck. If gives you many outs, but forces you to think a lot.
Here’s the deal, nationals is a long tournament. Complex decks are going to wear you out mentally. Are you really going to be able to focus well enough in that 9th swiss match of the day to maximize the power of ReshiPhlosion, or would you rather be able to go on auto pilot with something simpler? Sometimes, simple is better. It allows us to play a deck to its full potential even at the end of long days. Just something to consider.
These are really just a list of mistakes that I have made. So, point and laugh if you want to.
1. Do not let your opponent fluster you. John Kettler wrote an article about this for Underground members. I have not read it, but if you are a member, you should. People will do anything to get a leg up in this game. Learn to just have a thick skin and ignore all the table talk.
Mark A. Hicks2. It sounds very mean, but do everything allotted to you within the rules to win. What I mean is stuff like do not allow people to take back crucial misplays. I have been burnt by this several times. I’ve allowed people to take back plays and then they do not let me do the same. Also, utilize the time allotted to you. Take your time, think everything through. Just slow down a bit.
(Unless of course you are down on prizes and you really need the game to speed up before time is called.)
3. While on the clock, be as fierce a competitor as you want. In between rounds, take a chill pill. It is good for you to relax and let the mind recover. It is also more pleasant to the people around you if you calm down. It also helps you get over what happened in the last round. Do not get too down on yourself after a loss and do not get over-confident after a win.
4. Please be honest in trades. I hate seeing people rip other people off (Yeah I’ll trade you a Shaymin for Magnezone Prime…). Not cool.
5. Get lots of rest, obviously.
6. Drink water and eat something resembling nutritious food.
7. Win gracefully and lose gracefully.
8. HAVE FUN. We play an awesome card game. It is designed to be fun. It is colorful, cartoonish, and most of them have funny names. Enjoy yourself; this is the biggest Poké-Party of the year.