Well, since the last time I wrote here, I’ve discovered quite a few things about this current format. First and foremost, let me say that any and all hopes of Beartic being a tier 1 threat have been dashed. As cool (get it? Ice type!) as he is, he is unfortunately just not quite on par with the other threats in this format. He isn’t necessarily bad, but there are more degenerate things you can do in this format.
Also, due to his heavier energy requirements, and large Retreat Cost, he isn’t that splashable of a threat, so he can’t just be used in support other tactics. It really does come down to building a deck around the card, which maximizes its strengths, but isn’t good enough, or trying to plug him into better decks, at which point you don’t maximize the strengths of the card.
That pretty much limits us down to Gothitelle and Tornadus as being the best cards in Emerging Powers, Pokémon wise.
Now, I want to just break out of my standard (lack of) formating and just cut to the chase and post the decks I am currently testing. These are also the decks I am running on the Pokémon TCG Online. For those who are playing, I am Ruiner on there.
I wound up investing rather heavily into the game, having opened 550 or so, so if you are looking for cards, feel free to hit me up and perhaps we can work out a deal. Especially if you need any of the Trainers out of Triumphant, as I have a rather large stockpiling of those for trade.
Nonetheless, these are the decks I have built. (Note to players: Don’t use decks with Reuniclus…it’s near impossible not to time out with that card in any sort of real game.)
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 30
Energy – 11
This is the current, updated list for Gothitelle, which is actually my choice for current best deck in the format. I’m still not 100% sold on the numbers, but it is improving. I added a few Juniper to help smooth out the draw, even though Copycat “should” be superior along the Trainer lock.
The “issue” with this is that sometimes the deck needs a good draw card BEFORE it establishes the Trainer lock. Copycat can be exploited fairly easily when a player has access to dumping their trainers, so its pretty common place for hands to get down to 2-4 cards early on, so Copycats strength is much weaker early game.
It may end up getting cut altogether despite common sense, simply because by the time you do establish the lock, it’ll take quite awhile for decks to get their hand sizes back up.
I also run one Tropical Beach to grab with Twins. It’s a good way to refill your hand over the course of the game, and if a deck is unable to “break” through the Reuniclus healing lock, the lost turn is almost entirely negated. It is good to refill the hand if you are short an energy for a kill, so rather than 2 hitting something, you just one hit it the next turn and refill your hand.
Now, a few of the numbers could end up getting tweaked. I think 11 energy is actually enough, but either 10 or 12 may be correct. I don’t think you’d ever really need more than 12, and obviously less than 10 would be pretty risky, so those are the only 3 numbers that seem realistic to me in this deck.
Outside of the energy count, and potential suckiness of Copycat (it has really underperformed, but sounds theoretically powerful…I’m not sure if I am simply catching bad variance of if the card really isn’t right for the deck.) we also have to address the amount of healing cards the deck needs.
2 Seeker, 2 Max Potion, a Blissey Prime, and 2 Junk Arm likely is enough, especially since the deck isn’t 100% reliant on having to establish the hard lock. It could get tweaked one way or another, though.
pokemon-paradijs.comA card I am embarrassingly considering is actually the Alph Lithograph which lets you view your Prize cards. You can Twins for it, and it lets you “trim” the numbers a bit. You don’t need more than a 1-0-1 Reuniclus line, hypothetically, but the issue is getting pieces prized.
Unfortunately, we already run 1 Cleffa, 1 Shaymin, 1 Jirachi, and 1-of both the Blissey pieces. These already put the deck at somewhat high risk with prizes, so if you were to cut a piece of the Reuniclus line for the Alph, you stay high risk on prizing issues, but you run an answer to offset a problem you face regardless.
One of the other cards I wanted to try was a 1-0-1 Magnezone Prime line. This helps keeping the draw power flowing, and once Gothitelle is active, it is pretty low risk to get it out. They can’t kill Magnemite with Catcher, and without Kingdra, they can’t Yanmega snipe it, so it should be a pretty easy card to get online once you start to get set up.
I’m not sure it is necessary, but draw power midgame is one of the few issues the deck does face, and if we try the Alph Lithograph (I’m waiting for every UG member to immediately unsubscribe at the mere mention of this bulk rare :P) then it can slide in pretty easily. Thinning the Reuniclus line would be a good start to fitting this, but I wouldn’t go below 2 Solosis because Yanmega can snipe it if you bench one solo, so you need to be careful with it.
On that note, the deck is a bit tricky to play, because you need to decide when to start going aggressive, because you can chain Twins to set up some very powerful plays, and often Twins are needed to get fully set up. I’ve had numerous game states where I’d opt not to start attacking so that I could get multiple turns of Twins before I take a prize and cut off my best draw card.
I’m beginning to really feel that Twins is one of the absolute best cards in this current format. It started to gain popularity at the end of last season, and I think the amount of play it’ll receive this year will be far higher.
pokegym.netThe other cards that may need to “fluctuate” as the format matures are Catcher and Gothorita. If Gothitelle and Vileplume get big, then 1 Gothorita is not going to cut it. Against non trainer lock deck, 1 is perfectly fine, especially with the Twins being able to get Rare Candy. They are needed for mirror match though.
Catcher plays an interesting role in beating decks that aim to “beat” Gothitelle. If decks start teching cards to allow 1HKOs, then you need to be the aggressor and hunt them as they hit play. Most counter cards are stage 1s or higher, and I don’t believe any short of Mew Prime are able to do it for a single energy, so Catcher is your built-in counter to a lot of attempts to beat you.
That being said, Mew Prime is very good against this deck, and I’m not sure what sort of counter measures can be added to help answer that. Oddly, Blissey Prime is a good attacker against Mew if you can Shaymin energy to it, just be aware that this then opens you up to Gothitelles getting Catcher’d, as odds are you left them with a hand full of them by this point.
No decks currently run Mew that should concern you, but the card is the best counter for this deck in the format, so if my prediction of this being the best deck holds up, then Mew’s value definitely increases.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 28
Energy – 14
pokegym.netThis is a different approach at the deck. I’d seen a few people messing around with Electrode Prime with Gothitelle, as it turns on Twins early, and is a good source of energy manipulation. Ideally a turn 2 Trode Prime with a Twins leads to a turn 2 Gothitelle attacking.
The deck needs a higher energy count, and I actually feel in this one, 14 energy is as alow as it gets. This is a far more aggressive build, hoping to set up quick, maximize its early disruption, and over power other decks before they get a chance to fully establish themselves.
I’m not entirely sold on this build yet…not necessarily the concept, but this list. I have played against it a few times, and most notably against local player Matt Nawal, whose son Joey took 4th at Worlds in Juniors this year. He ran a far higher energy count, somewhere near 18, and I think those spots are needed elsewhere.
The biggest challenge the deck faces is its need to try and “go off” on the second turn. I’m curious if a “turbo” build could be produced, likely running say, Dual Balls/Great Ball, and PokéGears, because the “ideal” opening is Voltorb + Electrode + Gothita + Twins, as that should yield a turn 2 Gothitelle.
The other approach could be adding a 1-0-1 Reuniclus, and just use that to maintain a lead if you do get into a close game. At that point, I’m not sure if I’d rather just go for the prior build. The main “advantage” this build seems to offer is a stronger mirror match game, and it may be better when trying to beat decks that eventually develop to exploit the Gothitelle matchup.
Now, this is also my “build of choice” for Gothitelle on PTCGO, because well, Reuniclus doesn’t work on time. It is also fun to play, and you never get bored of seeing the reaction given off by an opponent seeing you slam down a Voltorb for the first time.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
pokemon-paradijs.comMy “favorite” deck. I’m going to get this out of the way now: If you want to beat Yanmega Magnezone, adding a Max Potion is a pretty good solution to it. Outside of that matchup though, the card was actually not performing up to par with my expectations so it is currently out of the deck.
I was getting better mileage out of Switch, a card I think was sorely missing from the deck. So many plays are made because you KNOW they can’t use Switch, and their energy supply is EXTREMELY predictable, so disruptive Catcher plays can really set you back if they are smart with them.
Merely running a Switch makes these plays ineffective because players can’t safely even gamble at making them as most of them backfire if you run into the Switch. I wouldn’t ever run more than one, but one is a nice little addition.
I’d like to fit a 4th Junk Arm in here, and a 4th PlusPower or Catcher would obviously be nice. Again, if Vileplume and Gothitelle get big, perhaps a 3rd Quilava will help shore up those matchups. One thing I need to address here is that this deck really has no answer to 130 HP Pokémon with the Trainer Lock + Reuniclus combo.
Ross’ deck and Gothitelle both prey upon this deck pretty readily, and I can’t really think of many additions which will help fix this. You also have an issue against Magneboar, which having just won Worlds, should have some degree of a surge in popularity.
This deck didn’t get much better or worse in the grand scheme of things, but I’m not sure the metagame is going to wind up shaping up favorably for the deck.
I’m still a bit partial to running a 1-1 Ninetales line in here as well, but general consensus is to just cut them entirely, so I’m giving that a shot at the moment. I’m a bit offput by only having 9 basic Pokémon in the deck. I’ve mulliganned a LOT with the deck, and if you fail to open with a Collector really puts you in a bad spot, especially if you go second.
I’m not sure what can be done to help offset that, as the deck seems fairly tight. The deck isn’t necessarily bad, and it is easy to play and easy to build, so it is a solid enough default play for Battle Roads, I’m just not optimistic about it being the “best deck” by the time the Battle Road format really comes into maturity.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 28
Energy – 15
pokemon-paradijs.comAhhh. My baby. Now, this build is actually quite strong…minus the uh, fact that it cannot possibly beat a trainer lock deck. Now, this would have been a perfectly acceptable gamble prior to Worlds. Vileplume was tier 2 at best, and we didn’t have Gothitelle.
Now, we need to add Stage 1s back into the deck, sadly. I wound up cutting RDL, because, well, it was clunky, and I finally pulled the trigger on deeming it a “win more” card. It was a huge stresser on the deck to get it up and running, and many games you would be able to win by expending those resources elsewhere.
By cutting it, I had to add in Bad Boar again. Doing 150 damage with something that isn’t crippled by Dumb Elephant (Donphan) is needed without RDL. It is also very good against Gothitelle and other “tanking” Pokémon.
With the addition of Bad Boar, I added in 1 Double Colorless Energy to Twins for. It has been doing wonders toward the performance of the pig, actually.
One of the things I was concerned about was the lower basic count. 4 Magnemite is standard, and so had 3 Tepig been. With the need for an extra Tepig to Bad Boar, and the presence of Catcher allowing decks to apply additional pressure to whichever line they feel is thinnest ( PIG! ) the thickening of the base of the line is important. It also fluffs the basic count.
Also to account for the issue of Catcher, we up the Switch count to 2. This lets us not only draw a copy sooner, but it gives you more uses without burning Junk Arm because leaving Emboar active can stall the deck pretty hard.
The one Catcher is a reliable Twins target that also helps us get around baby flips which had previously been a major annoyance when decks are trying to say, two hit us with a Tyrogue followed by another heftier attacker when they normally couldn’t keep up with the exchange.
It also helps us in mirror by choosing key targets, such as when they have a lone Emboar, or a lone Magnezone, so you can be selective in what you need to pressure.
pokegym.netNow, I guess the next question everyone reading will be asking is “How do we adjust that list to incorporate Stage 1s so we don’t get crushed by Gothitelle?” Well, there are a couple of solutions to that. The 2nd Switch is “optional”, as is the Catcher, the 15th energy, and the 4th Tepig.
Those give us 4 cards which can be cut, and I guess the 3rd PONT can perhaps go but I’m not sure I advise it. I’d add 1 Pignite, and 1-2 Magneton. I would need to test the matchup against Gothitelle more before making a judgment, because if you are actually going to go through the effort to add the cards, you need to isolate how many copies are needed to win anyway.
1 Magneton may not be enough to win the matchup anyway, meaning you may need to run 2, which is really unfortunate because they are so unnecessary in every other matchup.
Nonetheless, the deck has a really strong game against a lot of the decks in the format. You are 50-50 or so vs Yanmega Magnezone with the Twins, and you are really good against Stage 1s, ZPS, and Reshiphlosion. The deck is pretty well positioned to do well again in the upcoming format despite the fact that a lot of people defaulted to the assumption that Catcher made it weaker.
While it is good against it, it really doesn’t offer a lot more to beating the deck then it already had to deal with. People are building less and less to beat the deck, and this will have a lot of people underestimating the deck, and thus finding themselves very much unprepared to actually beat it.
It is the only deck I currently have sleeved up in real life after getting rid of most of my cards, if that says anything about my faith in it.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 32
Energy – 14
pokebeach.comZPS is a deck I am really a fan of at the moment. I think I prefer it to the Stage 1 decks that people are brewing up, as it’s a bit faster and easier to get going. Tornadus is a great replacement for Yanmega, which is a card that was clunky and difficult to use in the deck before.
It never was easy to match hand sizes, and it forced you to run Supporters which were otherwise subpar in the deck. Now, we get our fighting resistant attacker who is also a good turn 2 attacker ( or even turn 1! ) that is a lot less stressful on your Supporter lines.
The use of Double Colorless Energy is something Tom Hall convinced me of at Worlds, running 4 in his build. They allow a turn 1 Outrage (and for his deck, allowed Bouffalant to attack, but I didn’t choose to run that card, although it may not be that poor of an inclusion) which is actually pretty good with PlusPowers, and is strong against Horsea, Yanmega, and other lightning weak attackers.
Obviously DCE is even better (and necessary) for Tornadus, who threatens a fairly reliable turn 2 80. One of the things that is really good with Tornadus is the way he spreads your energy around so that you can “chain them” pretty well, which is important if your opponent has a good set up and would otherwise do a pretty good job of forcing an exchange which would pressure your energy.
I’m trying out 1 Thundurus, but I’m not sure how good he will be. It’s an “8th” good starter (10 if you count the babies, but I am always scared to open with them). I really like Tyrogue as both an intermediate attacker, and as a great turn 1 kill threat. With a few PlusPowers, the card can really score KOs out of no where, and it is probably stronger in this deck than in any other deck.
Notable cards “missing” are Dual Ball, Super Scoop Up, and Seeker, and they are just cards I opted not to use in this build. The deck has been playing really well as it is, but I haven’t logged nearly as many games with it as I’d like, so the “little things” haven’t really been worked out of it yet, but it is one of my favorite decks at the moment, so I’m hoping that’ll change soon as I want to play it more.
pokegym.netThe deck has a few issues though, namely being that it has an iffy Emboar Magnezone matchup, and it can’t beat Gothitelle once they set up with Reuniclus. Emboarzone will likely always be a tough matchup, although a good quick start can allow you to overrun it.
You can try to run a Mew approach to counter Gothitelle, as turn 1 Mew grabbing Tornadus, followed by a turn 2 DCE is a good attacker regardless, but it’ll really unfocus the energy count of the deck. Mew’s free retreat is nice, but the deck would literally have to receive a massive overhaul to make it work. I’m not sure how to do it yet, and it would require a lot of work before I’m willing to take any stabs at this one.
The different cards that I’m running are the 2 Defender, which are so strong with Zekrom that they can’t be ignored. The card really messes with a player’s math and can do a great deal toward beating strong players. Due to the lack of free retreaters, and the ability of slower decks to use Catcher defensively to slow you down, Switch gains value and gets a spot as a 2-of.
The cards, besides Seeker/Dual Ball/SSU that I’d like to try would, at the very least, be an Energy Retrieval, depending on if the 10 Lightning energy are enough to fuel the deck. I’d also be interested in tweaking some of the supporters up a bit, but the decks been running really smoothly at the moment.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
pokegym.netWell, having spent so much time testing Yanmegazone, I actually have spent less and less time playing this because I felt like I needed to catch up on the other decks more. I added a 2nd Switch so that Magnezones don’t get stranded as much. Obviously Reversals became Catcher.
I’m a really big fan of Jirachi still, especially against all of the Trainer lock decks. I am NOT, on the other hand, a fan of the Kingdra Prime, which I am likely going to cut for something else. If that is the case, perhaps Jirachi goes too, as they both benefitted off each other for their synergy.
Obviously Pachi replaces Jirachi, but I have no idea what to do with the additional spots for Kingdra, but likely they’d go toward another tech line, as I feel the deck would benefit from a few additional options.
I could also cut them for an 11th energy, and a 4th Catcher if you wanted to go a bit more aggressive. This deck actually has a pretty good game against the Trainer lock decks, but I think its got a bit rougher of a time against the other decks now. I’ve written a lot on this deck in the past, and haven’t really made too many innovations to it since then, so there isn’t a ton to talk about.
I was considering trying to use the Pachi/Shaymin/Zekrom splash line which I’ve been talking about off and on for months now, but with Kingdra’s value dropping off a bit, I think this may be the time to finally make the switch.
Those are the decks I’ve actually gotten around to testing. There are a few others that I want to test more, and I’ll touch on those really quickly, but in passing more so than in detail simply because I haven’t gone in depths with them myself.
Due to the issue against Reuniclus, Typhlosion Reshiram could likely be adjusted to Emboar Reshiram, as gaining access to the 150 damage attack is CRUCIAL toward being able to beat decks that Trainer lock you. You’d need more energy, and some DCE perhaps, and a bit of energy retrieval, but I really think it’s a viable alternative, and may be a superior alternative to using Typhlosion because of the way the format seems to be evolving.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe other deck is Stage 1s, which I haven’t tested very much lately, and while I have played against it, have not really interacted with and worked on enough to really pass judgment ont he correct approach to building it. The deck can run literally so many different cards that it’s probably the most difficult deck to feel you have “perfected”.
I think Donphan is a very interesting card. It really only shows strength against Zekrom and Magnezone (and those ever present Tyranitar, of course) but is weaker against other decks, and is a source of exploitation for Pokémon Catcher. Even Phanpy has a 2 Retreat Cost, which can hurt you just even having it benched. The card is a liability, but is also a bit of a lynchpin regarding how the deck is able to beat other decks, and thus far has been mandatory in Stage 1 decks.
I feel Zoroark is still a very good card, and I also feel that Yanmega actually got a bit weaker, as sniping isn’t as strong with Catcher increasing people’s ability to attack who they want, and the Lightning weakness is a fairly hefty handicap.
I know some people really like Weavile, and that is a difficult card to evaluate, but if decks using Magnezone and Ninetales seem to leave the format, it gains a lot of strength. It can also disrupt Trainer lock decks pretty well as they are limited in draw power and need to set up early. Snagging that Twins can be a huge blow.
Right now, the biggest challenge for Battle Roads isn’t just discovering what decks are best, as I feel that we have a pretty good grasp on most of the viable choices, and it isn’t even really about perfecting lists, but trying to figure out exactly what portion of decks are going to be the most represented.
There is a strong Rock Paper Scissors aspect to this format, and the key to winning seems like it will come down to who can get the best reads regarding that. Now, I don’t mean that the gaps between matchups are THAT huge, as in terms of TCGs, it is fairly minimal, with a lot of 60-40s, 50-50s, and 40-60s, but I can still imagine the format shifting almost week to week and keeping on top of this will be the most important.
I didn’t have a ton of time between articles this month, but ideally by my next article, at the end of September, I’ll have uncovered quite a bit of information on this format and narrowed down the decks I like to 3 or 4 decks, especially once we see what Battle Roads will consist of.
Hopefully everyone gets out and attends a few of the events and has fun! Good luck UG, enjoy both testing and the start of the 2011-2012 season!
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