Battle of Wittz: On the Verge of Battle Roads

Hey everybody, and welcome to the next installment of Battle of Wittz! Last article had me hyping up the insanely fun Pokémon TCGO program, but I’m planning on using today to get right back to business and cover my testing for this year’s first tournament series. Can you believe the first tournaments of the new series begin in less than a week? I know I sure can’t!

Battle Roads — What’s new?

So, what do we know about Battle Roads this year? Unfortunately, not nearly as much as we should. At the time of writing this article, it’s just 4-5 days until the first Battle Roads events start. We know the time, date, and place of most events (I highly recommend going to fellow member LosJackal’s website if you live in North America to find events near you).

We also know the prize support, to some extent. 4 Packs for 1st and 2nd, 2 packs for 3rd and 4th, and 1st-3rd will be getting the elusive Victory Cup promo card. This is a new, English-Exclusive card, and we have no idea what it does! That being said, I haven’t heard any tournament organizers saying they have the cards in hand yet, so I hope those shipments make their way out soon.

But, unfortunately, we DON’T know what we’re playing for in the long run. We don’t know how tournaments are going to effect our rating this year. We don’t even know how the system is going to work this year at all!

By all means, this is not an event to sweat over, and not likely to be an event where you end up with more than you spent to get there. However, we’re coming dangerously close to the events without knowing their true worth in the long run, and that is frustrating.

While I would like to get my hopes up and say that Pokémon has formed some kind of new, fair system for earning points that both encourages play and prevents the urge to drop events, that prospect is looking unlikely.

Looking at the current rankings thread we already see that players from France, Austria, and Germany already have some points earned over our traditional 1600 +/- point system from a Battle Roads-type event that was ran BEFORE worlds that was supposed to count for the next season. Oh no!

The problem with our current system, if you are a new player or if you just aren’t aware, is that each game is played on a system that does not account for luck. It assumes that a higher ranked player will DOMINATE a lower ranked one most of the time.

pokegym.netHowever, because we play a luck-based game, this just isn’t true, and it damages results. Because the system subtracts points (a good amount!) for every loss, some players (myself included) are encouraged to sit out of events once your rating reaches a certain level to prevent you from dropping out of the cutoff for Worlds this year.

Being the optimistic person that I am, here is my hope:

1) Pokémon is running the traditional 1600+/- system, but has modified it in some way to take luck into account (perhaps by decreasing the factor of how much you win/lose in points based on rating).

2) Pokémon is taking so long to let us know what we’re playing for because they are frantically at work releasing some kind of new ratings system, and the German event that has already been completed will be re-added to this new system.

Granted, this is just wishful thinking, but I sure wouldn’t mind the change. If there was a change to the system, I’d personally forgive Pokémon for any problems that they had taking so long to let us know what’s up.

That being said, I do wish that we as players had better communication with the company, and I do hope that ties increase over time. Pokémon has unfortunately not been known for their timeliness on a multitude of issues in the past few years, and this doesn’t do much to change that.

A few days ago, one of Pokémon’s biggest employees sent me a message saying that they wished to talk with me. I have no idea what they want to talk about, but I can’t help but be excited that it’s some kind of new big news. Even if it isn’t, it at least leaves the potential for me to open up a dialogue about increasing player to company conversation and awareness. More wishful thinking, but I can’t help but cross my fingers for a great season of Pokémon, and I’m hoping for the best.

Anyway, that’s enough of my personal opinion and my report on the current state of the game. Let’s talk about the event itself!

What to Expect

On a whole, as I’ve hinted at earlier, Battle Roads have not been considered heavy competitive events for some time. Since they’ve changed their weighted value to just ¼ of a City Championship (and docked the prize support too), they rarely leave an impact on a players’ ranking at the end of the year: to put things into perspective, I went to a single Battle Road last year in the Fall, and zero in the Spring because I didn’t agree with the new Japanese rules + an MD-On format.

Winning the Battle Road raised my rating an impressive 8 points—the equivalency of winning a single game at a City Championship. Granted, if you were REALLY devoted I’m sure you could pocket some kind of small ratings boost if you went to enough Battle Roads, but let’s be realistic here. We’ve all got busy lives (school, work, etc), and Battle roads are just not economical.

They are, however, a great way to make your forage into competitive Pokémon events. Because the stakes are so low, players are much more focused on getting a feel for the competitive atmosphere, meeting friends, and testing out deck interactions. Even if you do terribly at battle roads (or even if you do great), it’ll unlikely sway your rating enough to make a big impact.

That being said, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go out to win if you’re making the trip out to a tournament, and I’m set out to help you guys with the decklists I’ve been working with. Because our own Chris Fulop already covered an enormous count of decks in his last article, I decided that I’d try and cover the decks that he didn’t cover or went into less detail with.

Lucky for me, my three favorite decks right now are all ones he didn’t hit too hard, and I hope that one of the three can lead you toward earning that elusive Victory Cup.

My three favorite decks right now are MegaZone, Mew/Vileplume, and Stage 1s + Weavile:

Megazone: Ol’ Faithful

pokegym.netHaving placed 5th at our past World Championships, it’s no secret that I love this deck and want it to do well this season. Like the early half of last season, when I tested and played with Sablock so much that it became second nature for me, Megazone is reaching a pretty optimal stage for me.

I keep messing with the build card by card, but I’m getting to the point where a lot of the build is “locked” into place for me, leaving only a tiny bit of wiggle room. That being said, this list is my most refined, and most tested, and is probably the best experience-based advice I can give you at this point in the season.

The big question right now with the deck, is “can MegaZone still survive with Catcher in the format”? Catcher, which eliminates the flip that Pokémon Reversal left us with, goes both for and against you. The plus is that you already run a heavy line of the game’s fastest attacker Yanmega, giving you access to cheap prizes even more readily.

Catcher is a strong card at nearly any point in the game, letting you take key prizes for quick damage (Yanmega), and heavy damage (Magnezone) throughout the game.

The downside is that your partner in crime, Magnezone, sets up slower as a Stage 2 and carries with him the heavy Retreat Cost of 3. While previously, setting up multiple Magnezones meant that you’d have better access to draw through your deck, it now carries with it the liability of being dragged up with Catcher.

You don’t run enough energy acceleration to get multiple attacking Magnezones online most of the time, and the risk of having your Zones Catchered has left a lot of players dismissing the deck on theory alone in favor of faster decks like Zekrom and Stage 1s, or in favor of the new Trainer lock + Reuniclus builds.

I’ll be the first to say that I still think this deck is really good in the format with enough testing and experience. It’s one of those decks that has close to even matchups with the entire format, leaving you with plenty of close call games that come down to your own ability to outplay your opponent. Like Sablock, I feel like the deck’s strength increases a great deal with player experience.

I have two builds for MegaZone built right now: One featuring Jirachi, and the other featuring Pachirisu as your energy acceleration. Here’s how they both look:

===

Pokémon: 20

4 Magnemite TM
1 Magneton TM
4 Magnezone Prime
4 Yanma TM
4 Yanmega Prime
1 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Jirachi UL/Pachirisu CL

(A 1-0-1 Kingdra line can still be fit by cutting a combination of 2 cards from Magnezone, Yanmega, or Tyrogue)

===

T/S/S: 29

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Judge
1 Copycat (Can be replaced for a 4th Judge if desired)
2 Sage’s Training (Can be replaced for Copycat, Judge, or Cheren)
2 Twins

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Junk Arm
4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Switch (2nd Switch can become a 4th Catcher or additional Supporter)

===

Energy: 11

(With Jirachi)

3 Psychic (Can go down to 2 for another Lightning, or even a Rescue)
8 Lightning (Similarly, you could afford to go as low as 7 Lightning and fit another Rescue)

Energy: 11

(With Jirachi AND Kingdra)

2 Rainbow
4 Psychic
5 Lightning

Energy:11

(With Pachirisu)

1-3 Rescue Energy
10-8 L Energy

(These counts fluctuate on preference. Currently I’m taking the middle ground at 2 Rescue and 9 Lightning).

===

Before I get into matchups (something I plan on going pretty thoroughly into for each of my decks this article), I’ll defend the various changes over past builds, and the inclusions for the present ones.

No More Kingdra

pokegym.netKingdra is a card that I was crazy for when I first tested, with a 2-1-2 line almost guaranteeing me the extra 10 damage per turn that I needed by early-mid game. After deciding that the deck needed a consistency boost, I axed the line down to 1-0-1 for Worlds, and it served me just fine.

I used Kingdra in more than half of my games at the low 1-0-1 line, and I don’t think I’d ever go back to a heavier count. So, after all the debate for Kingdra, but its eventual inclusion and benefit in my Worlds deck, why the axe?

The purpose of Kingdra is solely making cheap prizes even cheaper. 10 damage, in combination with Yanmega Prime’s 40 damage linear attack is the perfect count for KOing other popular basic Pokémon, including 50 HP Yanmas, Magnemites, and Horseas.

Or, when your opponent had evolved their Pokémon to deny your cheap prizes, Kingdra still aided in creating potential devolution knockouts with Jirachi on your opponent’s Rare Candied Pokémon. Kingdra could also be used as a strong attacker vs. Donphan Prime with Rainbow Energy and weakness.

Finally, the extra 10 damage proved to be useful in 2 specific scenarios: Vs Yanmega and Vs Donphan, where adding just 1 damage counter before a lost burn requires one less energy thrown into the Lost Zone for a knockout.

pokegym.netWith the release of Catcher, that first usage drops dramatically. Yanmega’s 40 snipe attack, while occasionally useful, is oftentimes never going to be used now that Catcher effectively gives you a 70 damage “snipe” with Sonicboom. Because 70 damage easily KOs nearly every setup basic Pokémon in the game, you’ll no longer need Kingdra to extend you those extra prizes.

With its main use gone, Kingdra’s power drops pretty significantly. The other 3 applications still exist, but keeping in mind that your own Horsea is also prone to being Catcher-KOd within the first turns of the game, you might be better off reinvesting in your deck’s consistency.

That’s what I’ve been trying, and currently haven’t missed Kindgra much at all. It’s still only a 2 card addition if you feel it’s important enough, and if you want to keep it in the deck, by all means keep him in.

4-1-4 Zone, 4-4 Mega

This is one of the calls of my deck that you can easily question and modify. Both 4-1-3 Magnezone and 4-3 Yanmega are lines that I have used successfully in the past. However, in a format of even faster prizes, I feel that maximizing your lines helps you defend the most against having your setup go awry too early in the game.

Yeah, you likely won’t be playing down 4 Magnezones in any game, but having the 4th one at your disposal increases your chance of evolving up to your first Zone right away, which is still a crucial factor in the deck’s ability and consistency.

In Comes Tyrogue

pokegym.netThis is another card you can argue for and against, but personally I think it’s Tyrogue’s time to shine again. It’s a vicious cycle that seems to come down to timing. First, Cleffa is hyped like crazy in large amounts before Nationals, leading everyone to play Tyrogues for easy wins at Nationals.

Then, post Nationals, players cut Cleffa in their decks for the inferior (but un-Tyrogue-able) Manaphy. Less assurance of Cleffa for Worlds leads players (including myself) to cut Tyrogue. Players cutting Tyrogue means Cleffa is safe again! Players thinking Cleffa is safe now means it’s time for Tyrogue again! Ahhhhhh! So confusing!

But if this ridiculous cycle isn’t enough of a reason for you to consider Tyrogue, consider the new rage that is Ross’ deck. Ross’ deck runs a high basic count, but among those basics are 2 30 HP Pichus, 1 30 HP Cleffa, and 3 30 HP Solosis.

If this deck even sees a tiny bit of hype for play at Battle Roads (it took second at Worlds and the decklist is on public forums, it should!), then including the single Tyrogue could give you a few wins before the game even starts!

In addition, 30 damage for zero energy is still a solid option in random moments against other decks. It drops Reshiram from 130 to 100 damage, giving you a KO with Magnezone for one less energy. It’s also not a bad opening attack, giving Yanmega an easier snipe prize on your second turn. All around, I think Tyrogue is worth is 1 slot in the deck, and with only 10 basics in the deck without Horsea, he fits pretty well as your 11th.

Pachi vs. Jirachi

(That’s so cute! They rhyme!)

pokegym.netThis has been a debate that’s been going for a while, and understandably so. On his own, Magnezone is too slow to afford one-by-one energy attachments, and running a single Pokémon to help boost that energy count on your field is a great way to keep consistent Lost Burns going. I’m sure you know the drill on these already, but here’s a quick rundown of the plusses and minuses for both:

Jirachi:

+ Gives you the devolve prize option late game for prizes (strong vs. Candied Vileplumes even without Kingdra because Oddish has 40 HP).

+ Allows you to afford to discard Psychic energy to retreat or with Sage’s training, because you can retrieve them back with his Power from the discard pile.

– Forces you to run 2 energy types, decreasing your space for optional cards like Rescue Energy.

– Works optimally with Kingdra for Devolution prizes.

Pachi:

+ Can deal 50 damage on the first turn of the game for a Tyrogue-like first turn win on a 50 HP or less starter.

+ Works with Lightning energy.

– Requires you to have both him and Lightning energy in your hand at the same time—waiting for this condition can leave you with bigger hands and smaller Magnetic Draws.

pokegym.netThe facts are here on the board, and which drawback/advantage appeals more to you can depend on what your metagame is. Pachirisu is more consistent, and opens you up to the option of Rescue Energy. Jirachi has obvious strength vs. Vileplume, and can sometimes be a more reliable way to get 1-2 energy in play depending on if you’re alright waiting longer to get those energy in the discard pile first.

Honestly, right now I’m pretty hooked on Pachirisu. Now that I no longer play Kingdra, Jirachi loses power. Ironically, with the Pachi, my list actually looks more like my Nationals list than my Worlds list! As the metagame changes, some concepts go back full circle. It’s pretty interesting!

Rescue Energy

Like my Nationals list, Rescue Energy has now found its way pretty prominently back into the list. Because of the consistency of the energy counts, it works best with Pachirisu’s mono-lightning approach. Why Rescue again?

It provides you with recovery that the deck didn’t have in builds that didn’t feature it. It allows you to recycle and use up to a 5th and 6th Yanmega, or help you return with a Magnezone the turn after one gets Knocked Out. Keeping a steady stream of consistency and attackers is huge in this format, especially with catcher dismantling setups easier than ever.

Also, with Catcher, your own Yanmegas are even more valuable. Some matchups (especially Mew/Vileplume), heavily limit Magnezone’s use, and the rescues help you afford to play Yanmega alone for nearly the entire game.

For counts, I’ve been cycling between 1 and three, and like all three counts to be honest. The lower the count, the more you’ll be getting out of your lone Pachirisu. The higher the count, the better recovery you’ll have. 2 Rescue is my favorite count right now, but both 3 and 1 sound good to me depending on my mood and the matchup. I encourage you try it out if you haven’t in the build already.

2nd Switch

pokegym.netThis is a straightforward addition, meant to maximize your ability to escape catcher traps on Magnezone. Honestly, I don’t find myself getting stuck with Zone’s active that often (if they Catcher it up it’s almost always in order to Knock me Out), but the insurance policy is nice to have. As I said on the list, investing the Switch back into a Catcher slot, or even another Supporter, is fine if you don’t find the 2nd Switch all that needed.

Everything else in the list has already been covered in some form or another on my Worlds report, and nothing else is really worth noting in deep explanation. I still find Twins to be a very strong card in games where you fall behind too quickly, and I still like a combo of Judge, Copycat, and Sages for draw power/matching hands.

Personally, I still prefer the look 5, draw 2 effect of sage over the draw 3-of Cheren, but feel free to try the switch if you want to test out the new draw Supporter. Pooka is a very big fan of the card, and he plays it in almost all of his builds, favoring its hard draw over the risk that Sage’s can bring.

Matchups

After all that justification, how does the deck stack up against the rest of the field? Honestly, pretty well. Granted, I’ve poured ridiculous hours into the deck to get to the level that I’m at now, but if you want a deck with a chance to beat anything, this is it.

Vs. Reshiphlosion

You’d think that without Jirachi most of the time that this matchup would get harder for you, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. I think that having the power to Catcher your opponent’s Cyndaquil/Vulpix early in the game instead of being at the mercy of flips is huge. This puts you at an early advantage most of your games that really allows you to get ahead and afford the time to set up Magnezones for mid game KOs to secure it.

Knowing who to Catcher and KO can be tricky, but I usually try and go this order of operation:

  1. Any Pokémon that hasn’t evolved yet
  2. Any Pokémon that will prevent your opponent from being able to attack on their next turn (likely Typhlosion because he provides them energy turn after turn)
  3. Any knockout that you CAN take (usually late game for your 5th or 6th prize)

Overall, I’d put it at just slightly in Zone’s favor.

Vs. Magneboar

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is another matchup where early prizes hurt them the most, except this time you’re cutting out their setup AND main attackers with each Magnemite and Tepig that you’re able to drop. That being said, the deck will likely run 4 Twins now to pull comeback games once they’ve fallen behind, and it usually just comes down to how quickly you can break their setup and take over.

Usually, I like to deny them Magnemites first, and then mid-late game I’ll try and Judge them out of a stable hand.

Granted, when they do set up the deck becomes a lot harder to deal with—all their main attackers take 3+ energy thrown with Lost Burn. This is definitely a matchup where Kingdra + Jirachi help you secure late game prizes that would have been much harder to get otherwise, but personally I feel the matchup is pretty even without it. I’d say very close to even without Kingdra/Jirachi, and slightly favorable with it.

Vs. Reuniclus-Based Trainer Lock

I’ll be honest; I think Ross’ deck gets much weaker the more people begin to understand its pieces and how it functions. As someone who generally understood the deck well the first time I came in contact with it, I find this to be more and more true with each game.

The best way to approach the matchup in my opinion is to start off by taking any cheap prize that you can that will prevent your opponent from evolving on their next turn. The deck does run 2 Pichu, but it won’t hit them every game, and at least half the time they’ll be left with just 1 Oddish or just 1 Solosis in play.

I try and go for the KO on the lone Pokémon they have (so that even a Twins will not allow them to get their ideal setup). While the usual Catcher + Sonicboom strategy is possible here, all his basics except for the attackers have under 40 HP, making it ideal to Catcher one Oddish/Solosis while linear attacking the Pokémon you want to KO on the bench.

This forces them to retreat at some point, wasting one of their valuable retreat options and giving them a really hard time catching back up in the prize race once you’ve sniped as many basics and babies as possible.

pokemon-paradijs.comWhile you take all your cheap prizes, focus on getting a single Magnezone out (either through candy ASAP if they don’t secure a Trainer lock turn 2, or up through Magneton) and load it up with energy. By manually attaching energy each turn, you can use Magnezone to sweep for 2 Prizes, pushing you forward the rest of the way for a win.

Rescue Energy helps here—even if they DO get a Donphan with 3 energy on it to 1-shot you after you take your Zone knockout, you can get your Magneton back and build another zone through the Trainer lock.

If you play the matchup smart and chose NOT TO ATTACK UNLESS YOU CAN TAKE A KO WITH YOUR ATTACK (best advice vs. Ross’ deck in general), then your opponent simply can’t take quick prizes, even with the perfect setup. Zekrom is limited to outraging for the minimum, and the deck’s highest damage output is Donphan’s 90 (minus 20 vs. Yanmega).

By cycling Yanmegas over and over while your opponent is hitting away turn after turn, you can usually take enough time up on the clock to secure your win on time, or enough time to build those Zones you needed for the win. With experience, I think this matchup is straight up favorable for you.

Yeah, some games can be a lot tougher if they hit the turn 2 Vileplume and they go first, but even with the trainer lock things go pretty well for you.

*Side note Vs. Gothitelle*

– Most Gothitelle + Reuniclus lists are very similar to Ross’ deck, and the matchup plays very similarly too. The only difference is that they can still play Trainers while locking you, and they sacrifice having a slower attack for a stronger setup overall. There are two things to worry about in this matchup.

One is that if you have the fortune of getting more than one Magnezone out at a time, it might not be a good idea. They can Catcher you while denying your Switches, leaving a Magnezone stuck active.

They also put a bit more pressure on you by threatening unlimited attack power. At 4 energy they KO Yanmegas, and at 5 they KO Magnezones. Hopefully you can build your zones and disrupt enough where this isn’t a problem, but things can get out of hand if you don’t set up well enough. Overall, very similar to the Ross match, but much closer to an even matchup.

Vs Stage 1s

pokegym.netThis matchup is one of your hardest, but just by its very fast-paced and brutal nature, not by its actual difficulty to play. It becomes a battle of “take 6 Prizes first” with Catchers and quick attacks, usually falling much more on your reliance of Yanmega and Rescue Energy to recycle Yanmega.

Magnezone can be helpful for 1-2 final knockouts, but Donphan Prime only needs one PlusPower to 1HKO you, and can still Catcher you and KO you as a Magnemite, making things pretty tough to work out.

My problem with this matchup is that it doesn’t really come down to skill, but more of a rush to get everything set up first. One thing that can help the matchup is limiting your field to only evolved Pokémon as often as you can to deny cheap catcher prizes, but that can be tough too.

There isn’t much of a strategy to share here, just duke it out and hope that your internal draw + Judges beats their Supporter draw. Still close to even, but in Stage 1’s favor a little this time.

Vs. Zekrom

This matchup is a lot like Stage 1s, in that a lot of it is out of your power. If they get the turn 1 Tornadus/Zekrom (it’s happening a LOT more often with Tornadus now), then you’re going to be on the defensive right away, struggling to build a single Magnezone.

If they do whiff the early game setup and you can get Magnezone rolling with Judges, the game turns in your favor dramatically. Magnezone can take a hit before going down, and KOs both a damaged Zekrom from bolt strike and a Tornadus at full health with just 2 energy.

I’ve had games where I fall back the first 3-4 Prizes and turn things around last minute because my opponent has run dry of resources to get more energy in play. From there, things get pretty easy. Zone handles all immediate threats, and Pachi/Shaymin become free prizes for Yanmega to clear the game.

Granted, the matchup could prove to be a problem in Game 3 of time, but in Swiss things are still (on average) pretty even. Overall I’d pin this at even, but factors like donks and time will give Tornadus/Zekrom more wins than you in the long run.

Like I said, I’ve played this deck by far more games than any other deck, and this is probably the most I’ll ever be able to offer as far as the preferred moves I make in matchups. It’s also probably close to as complete as the decklist will get, with only a small amount of changes happening here or there until the next set it released.

I know the deck’s been beaten over your head at this point, so let’s take a look at two more exciting decks!

Mew/Plume: The Lock

Mew + Vileplume (aka Jason K’s Top Cut Challenge deck)

Pokémon – 26

4 Mew Prime
2 Muk UD
1 Jumpluff HS
4 Yanma TM
4 Yanmega Prime
3 Oddish UD
1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
1 Aipom UL
1 Sunkern HS
1 Sunflora HS
1 Cleffa HS
1 Jirachi UL

Trainers – 22

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Judge
3 Copycat
4 Twins

4 Pokémon Communication
3 Rare Candy

Energy – 12

4 Rainbow
3 G
5 P

This deck might seem pretty complicated, and honestly, it is! Jason K likes decks that hinder your opponent in some way, while also having a lot of options, and this deck is no exception. For those of you wondering how the deck works, here’s the basic rundown:

Use Mew as a versatile tool—either as a decent attacker by throwing Jumpluff into the Lost Zone, or a Catcher that inflicts special conditions by throwing Muk for his sludge drag. Muk’s ability is particularly strong when paired with Vileplume’s trainer lock, and Yanmega provides your usual quick attacker and sniper option. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the deck’s more interesting inclusions:

1 Jumpluff

pokemon-paradijs.comTo be honest, I don’t think this card was in Jason’s list at the TopCut challenge, but with the rise of Gothitelle right now, I think it’s necessary. Using See Off to throw a Jumpluff into the Lost Zone means that Gothitelle falls to every Mew with a Grass or Rainbow Energy on it, which is devastating for them.

Running only 1 Jumpluff is a risk because it might not end up in your deck, but you honestly only use it vs. one matchup, and I think you can afford the 1/10 games it will be prized.

2 Muk

Muk is a 2-of copy because unlike Jumpluff, it’s useful in almost all of your matchups. Leaving a Pokémon Confused and Poisoned while denying them through switch is extremely strong and disruptive, and gives you time to snipe with Yanmega. Almost every deck runs a main Pokémon with 2 or more retreat in it, making Muk pretty useful vs. most decks.

1-1 Sunflora

It might seem strange that Jason only runs a 1-1-of this, but it makes sense once you play the deck. You’re only going to need one out in the game, and the deck runs too many other Pokémon to squeeze in a second line. The idea is that Sunflora’s Sunshine Grace offers you incredible search throughout the entire game, while your opponent is limited to what they can do under trainer lock.

Having the ability to both fetch your Vilepume early, while also giving you access to Yanmega throughout the game, is a great option to have. It also helps matching hand size, allowing you to play cards out of your hand off of a Copycat/Judge, because you can sunshine grace afterward to fill your hand back up again.

1 Jirachi

You might be wondering why this card is so recommended here without any kind of Kingdra option. Jirachi is actually pretty strong, because it can find itself useful even without taking knockouts. When your opponent is under Trainer lock, devolving the few Rare Candy’d Pokémon that they have can reset them to a point where they probably won’t be able to reset their evolutions for a while.

This is particularly good vs. Typhlosion and Magnezone—both cards that remain cornerstones in their respective decks, and hurt your opponent a lot when they no longer have access to them. Because you already run a decent count of Psychic energy, it’s pretty easy to power him up, too.

Aipom

pokegym.netThe idea behind Aipom is that he’s pretty much solely a Magnezone counter. Tail Code allows you to move one energy from the defending Pokémon to your opponent’s bench. If you pull up a clean Magnezone Prime with Sludge Drag, your opponent can remain stuck active for 7 turns of poison, finally ending in a KO coming into your turn.

The idea is that if your opponent attaches an energy, you can just Tail Code it to someone useless on the bench. They can never reach that 2nd energy attachment to attack, and they can’t ever Switch, so they’re stuck! Eventually they’ll stop trying to attach to Magnezone, which then gives you an opening to snipe with Yanmega. If they try and attach to threaten Yanmega, then you switch and Aipom again. It’s a vicious and frustrating cycle that can turn into 2-3 Prizes for you pretty quickly.

This option is really only recommended for securing a late game where you’re tied or ahead on prizes, but it can also find its random uses at times where your opponent is low on energy. Personally, while I think the combo is pretty cool, I’m not sold on Aipom.

He doesn’t work too well many other places than Magnezone, and even then he only works when you’re not losing, so I haven’t made up my mind. If Mangezone stays popular, he’s an amazing 1-of card that can really hurt an opponent that has no experience against him.

With all these options, how has the deck fares vs. the rest of the format? Here’s what I’ve got:

Vs. Megazone

This comes down to a player’s understanding of the matchup. They have the Yanmegas to snipe your Oddishes quickly before they become Vileplume, and because of this they might feel secure to get a Magnezone or two out. Most of the time, even getting a single Magnezone hurts them more than it helps because of Sludge Drag.

pokegym.netDragging Magnezone not only poisons and confuses them, but special conditions also shut off their Magnetic Draw. Combined with Aipom, you can shut your opponent out of games pretty quickly.

However, if your opponent is smart, they’ll learn that you should never drop Magnezone unless the chance of Vileplume is cleared, or if they plan on attacking with Zone to end a game. If they go solo-Yanmega on you, it becomes a closer and more interesting game. You have the advantage of using Sunflora under trainer lock to get more attackers while your opponent is limited.

However, if your opponent runs or hits into their Rescue Energy, then they have better recovery and more Yanmegas to work with than you do. If this becomes the case, the matchup becomes more even. Most games against ZoneMega should be at least slightly favorable for you, with a seasoned player at the matchup bringing things pretty close to even.

Vs. Reshiphlosion:

There are two games on TheTopCut’s YouTube channel of this matchup, and watching those games will do much more for you than listening to my analysis.

In general, Trainer lock hurts their setup, and Sludge Drag is really strong if they’re limited to just one Typhlosion. If forces them to continually burn energy to retreat, while keeping them from attacking. Combining that with the options of Yanmega and Jirachi, and most games are favorable for you.

Vs. Magneboar:

Probably your best matchup. They run lots of heavy Pokémon that both hate trainer lock, Jirachi, and being pulled up by Sludge Drag. If they get both Emboar and Magnezone out then the Aipom lock no longer works, but with their deck relying on you taking a prize for them to twins into a setup, chances are they won’t get much going for them before you start the trainer lock up.

I don’t think I’ve lost this matchup once—it’s definitely one that favors your disruptive abilities to their fullest potential.

Vs. Ross/Gothitelle

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Vs. Ross things usually go your way. You have the Yanmegas to take cheap prizes, and you also have Mew to drag up Reuniclus if they ever get it out to try and deny you prizes. They are then forced to either burn a Double Colorless energy every turn to move it, or they lose their option to move damage counters.

The deck is full of 2 or more retreat Pokémon (Vileplume, Zekrom, Donphan, etc), and Sludge Drag at key times usually gets you in favorable spots to go up in prizes. The matchup is fairly even, with you at a slight advantage.

Vs. Gothitelle, like I said earlier, things are pretty easy. Jumpluff gives you easy prizes on their only attacker, and Yanmega cleans up the mess. I’ve even played two games where I had the prized Jumpluff and still have won through Sludge Dragging either a developing Gothitelle, or a Reuniclus.

The main reason I even looked at this deck in the first place was because it had a solid matchup against Gothitelle, and it’s definitely a play worth considering if Gothitelle gets a ton of hype in your area.

Vs. Stage 1s:

This is much more like the matchup that you experience vs. Magnezone when they’re smart and don’t play down a Magnezone, except they have more cheap attackers to work with, and a higher Supporter count to work through trainer lock. Basically, it’s just a hard matchup.

Trainer lock helps deny them their cheap prizes and brings them “to your level”, but even then, the matchup only becomes even after your secure the Vileplume in play, and you’ll likely already be playing from behind. Donphans on the bench are a nice target for Sludge Drag, but if they’re smart and just go Yanemga/Zoroark on you, things can get pretty ugly.

A good Judge off of Trainer lock is usually the only way I’m able to come back and win this matchup. It’s definitely unfavorable.

Vs. Zekrom:

pokegym.netSame story as Stage 1s (Like Fulop said in his last article, I’ve actually found Zekrom to be a faster version of “Stage 1s” now that the deck has Tornadus as a DCE-hungry option). This matchup is really a disaster. They go up in prizes early, and on top of that you have no easy way to KO either of their attackers.

If they drop a Zekrom you have a chance with Sludge Drag, but if they play it smart and go for Tornadus most of the game you don’t really have a counter other than hoping for a resource-limiting Judge off of Trainer lock.

Once again, you’re on the clock playing from behind, and even when you do get setup the game doesn’t get too much easier for you. Just as unfavorable as Stage 1s, and possibly worse because they start dealing damage from turn 1.

One thing to remember is that this deck is often playing from behind in games. It isn’t always a problem in Swiss if you practice playing as quickly as possible, but best 2/3 in time is a huge issue. If you don’t win your first two games, an incomplete Game 3 is very hard to go ahead in prizes by the time your clock runs out.

Because of this, I don’t recommend MewPlume nearly as much unless you’re using it as an anti-Gothitelle meta counter. It can easily win best 2/3 vs that at least!

Donphan/Yanmega/Weavile—you again?

And last but not least, we have Donphan/Yanmega/Weavile. Sound familiar? This was one of the (at the time) rogue experiments that me and my brother were working with in one of my early HGSS-On articles, and it’s cool that the concept is actually a success!

After playing and beating Pooka in a close 1-1 Prize game on the online program, I decided to go back to his game and write down his deck as it was revealed. Kyle plays nearly 3-4 hours every day very late online on a live stream. He plays with 5+ decks a day, and they’re all great lists! If you just like spectating games, or want a look into some finely crafted decklists, I highly recommend you go to his stream at night that you’re free with pen and paper.

As this game is developing, the resources for online media in the game continue to expand. Kyle streaming every night is an excellent and entertaining resource, and I encourage you watch when you reasonably can! (you can also catch me winning each night, I’m currently 2-0 vs. him, we’ll see how long that streak lasts : P).

Here’s the list. It’s solid, consistent, disruptive, and fast:

Pokémon – 20

4 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
3 Phanpy HS
2 Donphan Prime
4 Sneasel UD
3 Weavile UD
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Judge
3 Professor Juniper
2 Copycat
2 Professor Oak’s New Theory

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 PlusPower
2 Super Scoop Up

Energy – 10

9 F
1 Rainbow

While the strategy remains very much the same as my aging HGSS article on disruption, here’s a few explanations:

Donphan and Yanmega

Take fast, cheap prizes. The idea of the deck is to take 6 Prizes by doing 60-70 damage every turn off one energy. It’s really simple. Yanmega attacks for free, and Donphan hits heavy and provides weakness on Magnezone.

Weavile

pokegym.net

Adds a nice disruptive touch that the deck might need in order to beat your opponent from setting up their deck. Every time you drop a Weavile, Claw Snag allows you a free look at your opponent’s hand, and a free discard from whatever card you choose. Cutting your opponent’s only draw Supporter from their hand, their only route to a Magnezone, or that Catcher they needed for next turn are all reasons why Weavile is incredibly strong.

The deck aims to grab cheap prizes all game, but if your opponent can get a high HP Pokémon set up then you might start falling behind late game. Weavile plans to cut their late game out of the picture, and is probably the best pair in Stage 1 decks right now the way that they’re attempting to battle the metagame. Sneasel also has free retreat, making it a fantastic starter.

The deck really isn’t that complicated beyond the Weavile, so I feel like going straight into matchups is the best way I can help you understand this deck’s place in the metagame.

Vs. Megazone:

You have the early game advantage of picking off Magnemites with Donphan and Yanmega, while they can still deal an early game with Yanmegas of their own. Because you have no internal draw like they do (Magnezone), you need to either keep hitting your heavy Supporter count for draw, or you can use Claw Snag to bring them to your level.

The later the game goes, the more aid they get from Magnezone for a big attack and continual draw, so shutting them out early is key. This matchup plays out pretty close most of the time, and is pretty close to even.

Vs. Reshiphlosion:

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother game that rides on your ability to steal KOs and discard their hand before they can set up. Your deck runs no real out for Knocking Out Reshiram easily, so your best bet is to hit around your opponent and go for an early Weavile rush.

If you can break their setup early enough, you’ll be able to afford 2HKOing Reshiram while giving up a prize in return each time. However, if they do set up, you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble. They can potentially 1-shot your entire deck, and you can only take cheap prizes for so long once they set up Typhlosion with more Reshirams.

Overall, I don’t think this is too great of a matchup for you. I’ve won plenty of games early in, but if you don’t stop their setup fast enough, things go pretty sour pretty quickly.

Vs. Magneboar:

This one depends on if they have early access to Twins, and how well they plan ahead. You’re going to go up in prizes and give them trouble right away, making you the favorite on time already. However, if they get out Rayquaza Deoxys Legend (Or Bad Boar), then they can easily take a stream of prizes without you being able to grab one outside of Catcher.

Like Megazone, it’s all about dismantling their setup before they can get their consistency cards out, but this time you don’t have to deal with a Yanmega attacking you on turn 2. Games play out pretty favorably for you, but it’s not an auto-win.

Vs. Ross/Gothitelle

Ross and Gothitelle have been taking a beating so far by my first two decks, but this is the first time they have their positive matchups. You naturally go up in prizes at the beginning, but with Trainer lock and Reuniclus, they block you from all possible prizes. Your deck maxes out at 90 damage a turn, and Reuniclus can move your counters to prevent their own Donphan, or Gothitelle (depending on the build) away from a KO.

pokegym.netThis is where Weavile is most important. If you can hit the Twins out of their hand to prevent them from setting up their combo, you’re free to take cheap prizes all game. If you can’t and they set up, you’ll find yourself in an unwinnable scenario.

Overall, the matchup is slightly in their favor. Weavile works wonders, and you’re still the favorite on time, but if they set up you’re pretty much done.

Vs. Zekrom:

This matchup is pretty interesting. Both decks aim to set up quickly and take fast prizes on each other. They set up a turn earlier and can take cheap knockouts faster, but once you get setup things become pretty even. Donphan gives you a quick prize against Zekrom, but they also have the option of Tornadus to keep you from ripping through their entire deck like you used to. Yanmega isn’t a great attacker here, but does take cheap prizes when you need them.

Most games I play in this matchup are really close. They have the advantage of attacking first, but you have the advantage of consistency. They function on 3 energy to attack, and you need between 1 and 0 to get going. Combined with Weavile for cutting them off from Supporters, and some games can go completely your way by mid to late game. Another even matchup.

This deck is a great simple option for those of you looking for a deck that can consistently take quick prizes while having a great game on time. The Weavile is still a unique addition that can give you an edge that the deck normally woudn’t have vs. some of its weaker matchups, and I highly recommend it.

Conclusion

cartoonstock.comWell, with those three decks, things finally come to a close. These are the three decks I’ve been playing, card for card, in my testing for Battle Roads this season. All three should serve you well, although Mew might require a bit more testing to get a hang of than the other two, and all three decks require knowledge of all your matchups to obtain the strong matchup results that I’ve ended with.

Battle Roads will be going on for a month, so keep testing decks and checking them out while the tournaments are still going on! We’ll be back with 2 articles every week constantly evaluating the changing metagame, letting you know what kinds of decks to expect across the World.

Like Fulop said in his last article, things are pretty rock-paper-scizors in this metagame, and making the right deck play can be more important than the list itself that you play. I hope that with my variety of fast, slow, and balanced decks, you can find a pick that beats the other decks in the area, and leads you to the first victory cup of the year!

Till next time,

-Josh


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