Jay’s Gym: Bracing for Battle Roads

Mark A. HicksI went with a slightly different approach this month for reviewing decks and lists. First, I’ll give you my list, and then I’ll break down each card and talk about why I played it, and why I ran the numbers I did. At the end, I’ll talk about some other cards I’ve been testing in the deck or that I would like to fit in. I’m hoping this will make it easier to see my mindset when building decks.

Hopefully this will also give you a much stronger starting point if you want to change or alter the deck to fit your playstyle, or adapt it to your metagame. If you like (or dislike) my new approach, please give me some feedback on it; after all these articles are for you.

Anyway, I really enjoy the month or so off between Worlds and the start of Fall Battle Roads. School is normally starting and it allows me the time to dive into something other than Pokémon. However after a month or two of getting into the routine of school, I once again find Pokémon as my weekend escape from a busy routine of school and work.

I really like Fall Battle Roads from the point of view that we normally have a rotation and a brand new set to play with. The deck building side of this game is something I really enjoy (something I feel a lot of players lack), and with Battle Roads, it’s almost like starting from scratch.

A lot of the decks we had in the previous season either are rotated or are missing so many key cards you have to rebuild the entire deck. We don’t have a rotation this time around, but we do have a new set that is really looking to shake up the format.

pokemon-paradijs.comWithout a doubt, in my mind Pokémon Catcher is the best card in the format. Normally I don’t like going out on a limb like this, but this time around I feel pretty confident in doing so. The card is finding its way into just about every deck in the format. On top of this, it has completely changed what decks are playable and it’s something you have to keep in mind when building your decks.

It’s been a while since we have had one single card completely change the format like this. I have learned an awful lot through the testing I have gotten in this current format. The top decks in the format are either going to be able to take advantage of Pokémon Catcher, or be able to counter it.

Complex set up decks (decks involving more than one Stage 2) must have some sort of Trainer Lock aspect to them to be competitive, otherwise it’s just too easy for your opponent to disrupt your set up. Decks that revolve around a single Stage 2 and then either a strong Basic or Stage 1 component (Reshiram/Typhlosion or Yanmega/Magnezone for example) are still competitive, but normally fall into tier 2.

Looking through Emerging Powers, I was really sad with how many card would have potential if it wasn’t for Pokémon Catcher. But that’s just the way the format is I suppose.

In some regards, testing for Worlds is actually easier than testing for Battle Roads. While there is usually some secret decks for Worlds, the majority of the meta is known. Battle Roads on the other hand usually offers a whole new format. With the low K value, players are normally more willing to experiment with new ideas and riskier tactics.

So early in the season there is just no such thing as an established deck build, and many player struggle to find good lists, which in my opinion gives a huge edge to the good deck builders who devote the time to thoroughly test their decks.

Also, with no set builds or common lists, you don’t always know what tricks are up your opponents’ sleeves. This often times forces players to adapt to new situations and techs that they weren’t expecting, which gives an edge to the good players.

Tips and Tricks

Before I dive into decks and strategies, I really want to cover some tricks and strategies I use at tournaments that really give me an edge over the competition.

1. Dragon Shield sleeves are the best sleeves I’ve ever played with! I originally played with Ultra Pros and bought two new sets at Nationals, and I ended up ripping all of them in testing (yes I ripped about 50 sleeves in 2 months). On the advice of a friend, I broke down spent the extra few dollars and bought Dragon Shields.

I didn’t rip a single one in testing the last few weeks before I left for California. I got to Worlds looked over my sleeves and the first time in 8 years I decided not even to re-sleeve for the big day. I passed a round 6 deck check and the deck check before Top 16 with flying colors; I swear I’ll never play with any other sleeves ever again.

2. I play as many non-holo cards as I possibly can. I believe Josh touched on this in his last article, but yes they do curve and they do clump together. I found Reverse Holos and certain energy (Holon Phantoms, Emerald, and Power Keepers) are the worst. The new league energy and the old Base Set holo energy I haven’t noticed it with, but I still don’t play them.

Holo versions of cards seem fine though, like Holo Cleffas for example (not Reverse Holo), though I still do my best not to play with them. I don’t have enough experience with the Emerging Powers Reverse Holos, but for right now, I’m avoiding them.

3. If the room has a clock in it, I always try and grab the chair facing it. This is actually two-fold; I don’t like wearing a watch, but I like to know how much time is left in the round. However, the main reason is I don’t want my opponent to be thinking about time. It’s very easy for time to slip away, especially if you don’t have a visual reminder of it in front of you.

4. I don’t really bother playing mind games and most of the better players don’t either. Just the overall set up of this game makes it hard to try and bluff your opponent into to anything, and intimidation is not only illegal, but pretty low. My advice is spend the time improving your game and don’t worry about trying to get inside your opponent’s head.

On top of this, the amount of players I have seen making horrible bluffs is atrocious. Many of them thought they were looking like “pros” where in reality not only were they hurting themselves in the game, but they came across as beginners.

5. A majority of my testing is done to simulate real tournament games. This means I rarely sit down and play untimed games. Most of my single matches are 30+3 and most of my top cut matches are 60+3. It’s important to practice both, as time is a huge factor and you can’t just ignore it.

While I was reading Josh’s articles over the course of this season I was simply amazed at how much time he spent playtesting, and this most likely really contributed to his success last season. This is of course ideal – to get in as many games as he was playing in a week – but it isn’t always possible.

To put it simply, during the school year I don’t have time to play dozens and dozens of games every week. This means what testing I do get in becomes so much more important and I always want to get the most out of it. Here are some things I always keep in mind to make the most of the time I spend playtesting:

6. The majority of your testing should be against the big 2 or 3 decks in the format. I do think it’s important to be ready for the random rogue deck however, you will see far more Stage 1s decks at a tournament than you will Krookodile decks.

Also most of the time the top players will be playing meta decks, and these are the guys you need to be most worried about. Being a good player and knowing your deck well will normally allow you to navigate the more random match ups without much problem, especially if it’s against a less skilled player.

7. I normally have a “main deck” and a backup deck I’m testing, and it’s important for me to feel comfortable with both. A majority of your games should still be logged with your main deck. For example, at States last year my main deck was Luxchomp, so a majority of my testing was with Luxchomp (probably 80%-90%), but I also tested Dialgachomp. If there was a drastic meta shift and Luxchomp became a bad play, I had a backup choice that I could go to.

Also, in tournaments when I played my Luxchomp against Dialgachomp players, I had a much better idea what was going through their head and what they were thinking. I feel like this gave me a huge edge in these matchups.

8. I absolutely love how Pokémon is trying to incorporate an online version of the game, and how far it has come so quickly. This is simply amazing for people like me with tight schedules since I can get on whenever I’m free and start playing. This makes testing much easier since I’m only worried about when I’m free and not my testing partner too.

I fully recommend you take advantage of it, and if you don’t know where to start, read Josh’s last article and it will help you get started; I know I certainly got a lot out of it. That being said, online games will never replace actual physical testing.

It’s not the same feel that you have when playing with another player; sitting in your room eating a bowl of cereal and typing away on your computer is not the same thing as playing against a real opponent. If you ask any professional poker player, they will tell you playing online and playing in person are not even close to the same thing.

So while I do suggest you take advantage of online testing, don’t solely rely on it, especially in testing for larger tournaments.

Battle Road Techs

With a new set legal for tournament play and Pokémon Catcher redefining the format, I have found myself going through my binders again looking for ways to counter the current format with new cards and old cards that have gotten a new breath of fresh air.

Twins: With Pokémon Catcher seeing playing in most likely every deck, it’s not hard at all to find yourself down in prizes, especially if you’re going second. Obviously slower Stage 2 decks will get the most out of this card like Gothitelle/Reuniclus and Reshiram/Typhlosion. I think this is also a tech that should be tested in faster decks as well.

Just because you’re playing a fast deck doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself being down in prizes, and if you do find yourself down Twins might be just the thing to bring you right back into the game. I don’t recommend a full 4 copies in faster decks, but a pair might be worth slipping in your testing to see if you like the feel.

The card really shines in any deck play Stage 2s; the ability to grab Rare Candy and the Stage 2 is too good to pass up.

Black Belt: 1HKOs are so important in this format, and Black Belt is a card that will help you achieve theme. It allows Yanmega Prime to 1-shot opposing Yanmega Primes, or against decks like Gothitelle or “the Ross deck,” it makes 1HKOs possible.

The biggest issues I have is finding space for it. The card hasn’t been testing amazing, but it has shown some promise in the right deck, so I wanted to give it a mention.

Defender: I like Defender because it can save some of bigger Basics from Pokémon Catcher. The problem is the Basic Pokémon you’re trying to protect has to have at least 60 or 70 HP starting out even than your opponent can just Catcher around it.

Tropical Beach: With Twins seeing more and more play in my decks, I’ve found myself trying a single copy of it. It can be a great draw card early in the game, especially in a deck that isn’t able to go aggressive with very quickly.

Switch: This is a pretty standard tech card already, but I’ve found myself upping my Switch count from 1 to 2 in some decks. With Pokémon Catcher flying all over the place, my opponent could try and lock a high retreater in the active position. Double Switch helps insure one is not prized, and it also is much easier to draw into a copy if you’re playing two.

The Ross Deck

I’m using the term “the Ross deck” as a very general term to really describe any deck that uses a similar Pokémon line up of Reuniclus, Vileplume or Gothitelle, and then a host of tech Pokémon. The Trainer lineups are also usually very similar for decks like this. I feel like you’re going to see a lot of Stage 2s paired with Vileplume using a similar Trainer line up.

Mikey posted Ross’ list on the forums a while ago, but I’ll post again here for reference. I just once again want to say this is not my deck; it’s Worlds 2nd place finisher Ross Cawthon’s deck. I would expect to see some variations of this at Battle Roads.

Pokémon – 27

3 Oddish UD
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
3 Solosis BLW
2 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW
2 Zekrom BLW
2 Phanpy HS
2 Donphan Prime
1 Chansey HS
1 Blissey Prime
1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND
1 Cleffa HS
2 Pichu HS

Trainers – 22

4 Twins
4 Sage’s Training

3 Pokémon Collector

2 Seeker
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 Copycat

 

3 Pokémon Communication
3 Rare Candy

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless
4 Rainbow
2 Fighting
1 Fire

Gothitelle

Below is my current Gothitelle list; the original list was borrowed heavily from Ross’ Trainer and Pokémon lineups. The list has continued to evolve as I keep testing it, and I made more changes after reading Fulop’s last article. I’m not saying that his list or my list is “perfect,” rather I feel that it’s moving in the right direction.

Making decks like this are always very challenging because you’re always struggling to balance consistency and techs. Right now I have 4-5 cards I would love to fit in here which I’ll talk about at the end of the article.

Pokémon – 19

4 Gothita EPO 43
1 Gothorita EPO 45
1 Gothorita EPO 46
4 Gothitelle EPO 47
2 Solosis BLW
1 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW
1 Chansey HS
1 Blissey Prime
1 Pichu HS
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Copycat

1 Seeker

 

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

3 Junk Arm
1 Pokémon Catcher
1 Max Potion
1 Switch

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

10 Psychic
1 Double Colorless

Pokémon

4-1-1-4 Gothitelle: I opted to go with a 4-2-4 line because I feel Trainer lock will see a solid about of play this format, especially during Battle Roads when players are more willing to experiment. I simply didn’t like the idea of losing a game against a portion of the format if I wasn’t able to get an early Rare Candy. I did a 1-1 split on the Gothoritas because you should never be attacking with the card anyway, so 99% of the time it shouldn’t even matter.

However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you do have to attack with one, it is nice to have options. The first has the chance of removing an energy, where the second can actually do minimal damage. I really like to try and vary my Basics and Stage 1s in this manner, and I’m surprised that more players don’t do it. Sure, it rarely matters but in the times it does it can make all the difference.

2-1-2 Reuniclus: I understand where Fulop was coming from dropping it down to a 2-1-1, but I don’t like it. You really need both Gothitelle and Reuniclus in play at the same time to have a chance at winning, so I really don’t like the idea of dropping one of the most key cards in the deck down to 1. The odds of prizing it or something happening to it are just too great in my opinion.

1-1 Blissey Prime: Not a whole lot to say; a simple 1-1 tech that can heal a board full of damage. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person rushing to their binders to make sure they actually owned a copy or two of this card.

1 Cleffa, 1 Pichu: Basically I allowed two spots for babies. I’m not quite sure if I want to do the 1-1 split or just go ahead and play 2 Cleffa. One is testing fine, but I always seem to find myself prizing it when I need it most. What I really like about Pichu is that it’s a Pokémon Collector with legs; it’s searchable with both Pokémon Collector itself and Pokémon Communication.

pokemon-paradijs.comYour opponent will obviously try to break up your lock, so it is imperative that you’re able to get 2 Gothita and 2 Solosis in play at the same time. They can pick off one but not both, this is something Pokémon Collector is not always able to do.

I believe Fulop was right and the 1 Jirachi UL and the 1 Shaymin UL are probably a good idea. But I wanted to try something a bit different and give you guys another view on the deck. I’m trying to fit them into my current build, but I’m testing to see what I want to drop.

Trainers

4 Pokémon Collector, 4 Pokémon Communication, 4 Rare Candy: Standard consistency cards in a deck like this; not really a reason not to max out on them.

4 Twins: Any deck like this, where you know you’re going to fall behind in prizes, you should be playing 3-4 Twins. It really allows you to come back into the game, and really make your opponent think hard if they really want to take that first prize.

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory: I opted to go with a high count of PONT because it’s the most consistent way to go. In the early game your opponent will most likely be trying to burn Trainer cards knowing that they won’t be able to play them in the later stages of the game. This can leave them with a very low hand size, sure you might be able to Copycat for 7-8, but far more often you’ll find yourself playing Copycat for 5 or less.

As for Professor Juniper, I just don’t like the card in Stage 2 decks, especially playing no recovery. You’re only drawing 1 less card with PONT and you’re not discarding anything. We have far too many important cards in the deck to risk the discarding.

2 Copycat: Simply because I feel it’s the next best card for Stage 2 decks, as far as hand refreshers go.

1 Tropical Beach: I know this might be out of reach for some of you, but it really is essential to the deck if you can get your hands on it. The Stadium is so good because you really don’t need to attack until you have established “the lock,” so you’re getting free draws at the end of your turn instead.

You only play 1, but it’s very easy card to grab with Twins and since no other Stadium is really seeing play, it’s most likely going to be there all game. Currently the cheapest one on eBay looks to be about $75, so you’re really breaking the bank if you have to buy one.

The upside is the rest of the deck is rather cheap, and you’re not dropping money on a play set of Yanmega Prime. If you feel Tropical Beach is not for you, I would suggest another “new hand Supporter card,” but I have to be honest and say there really is no replacement for it.

1 Pokémon Catcher: Like I have been saying, the card is just too good not to run. This deck isn’t very aggressive early, so I didn’t want to devote too many spots to the card. A single copy can easily searched out with Twins and reused with Junk Arm. How aggressive your deck is should be directly related to how many Catcher you play.

1 Seeker, 1 Max Potion: I went with a lot less healing than Fulop did and instead opted to play a higher Junk Arm count to reuse Max Potion. Seeker is a Supporter and is really slow, I have so many more important Supporters I would rather play early in the game and later in the game too much healing becomes just win more cards. The one Seeker allows me to heal a damaged Pokémon in a pinch, or ideally re-set Blissey Prime.

1 Switch: A single copy is pretty standard; it gets us out of bad situations if our opponent does manage to Catcher something up or if we just need to get a damaged Gothitelle out of the active spot. It will also have a lot of synergy with Shaymin if I can ever find room for it.

3 Junk Arm: We play a lot of Trainers we want to reuse, and we have a lot of dead cards that we don’t mind discarding. There is also some synergy with Junk Arm and Tropical Beach, where we can discard our hand down to draw more at the end of our turn.

Energy

1 Double Colorless Energy: The Psychic are pretty self-explanatory. I opted to play 1 DCE because it allows me to attack quicker and I also don’t have to put all my resources on 1 Gothitelle, so I can attack with 1 while building another. I’m not sure how much I like it yet, but it is testing alright.

Things I Would Like

3rd Solosis: You normally have to bench both at the same time, and prizing one just hurts you so bad.

2nd Duosion: Normally you always go for Vileplume first to get the early Trainer lock. This becomes a problem though if you prize your only copy of Duosion since with Vileplume in play, you have no way of getting out Reuniclus. Going by the odds this should only be an issue in 1 in 10 games, but it is something that I would like to avoid.

2 Seeker: Just some synergy with Blissey Prime, and healing in general.

1 Jirachi, 1 Shaymin: Seems like a very potent combo that I would like to find room for.

Now I’ve been on both sides of the fence in testing, both playing and playing against this deck so I’ll share some of my thoughts on both.

Playing the Deck

pokemon-paradijs.comI cannot stress enough how big of a factor time is when playing this deck. Once you get the set up and establish “the lock,” you’ve basically won the game. Not only will you be dealing out massive damage but your opponent’s only way of taking prizes will be to 1HKO your Pokémon, otherwise you’ll simply move the damage and heal. Consistently 1HKOing 130 HP Pokémon is going to be a challenge for a lot of decks.

– In testing make sure all your games are timed both 30+3 and 60+3.

– In testing I’ll actually have my partner play slowly vs me, not to the extent of blatant slow playing, but realistic slow playing that you see in tournaments. Taking a full minute on Pokémon Collector, not rushing with other Supporters, stuff like that.

This can get very tedious and sometimes downright annoying in testing, but I do suggest playing a few games like this. It’s very important to not only recognize slow play, but to factor in as well.

– In tournament play don’t hesitate to ask a judge to watch for slow play during a match, and if it’s a small Battle Roads, I would even go up to the judge before hand and tell them that your opponents have been slow playing you today, and if they wouldn’t mind watching for it in your games. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

– Always bench doubles of all important Basics, so you don’t get in a situation where your opponent can Catcher them up as you play them down. If you bench 2 Gothita and 1 Solosis, I’ll Catcher up the Solosis every time, and if you bench 2 Solosis and 1 Gothita, I’ll Catcher up the 1 Gothita every time. To break “the lock” I only have to deny you one of the two.

– Sometimes burning copies of the “1 of” Trainers isn’t always bad. In heavy Twins builds, I actually prefer to run fewer copies of Trainers and a higher Junk Arm count. We can easily Twins for the single copies and from then on out any copies of Junk Arm we draw simply become additional copies of that card. This mean that the card can actually do us more good in the discard than it can in our deck.

Playing Against the Deck

pokemon-paradijs.com– Look for misplays on your opponent’s part and try and take advantage of them. Your number 1 priority should be to deny your opponent “the lock.” This normally involves hoping they play badly or simply don’t have the outs to get it after you start taking KO’s.

– Some people say don’t take the first prize too early because they will simply Twins turn after turn. While I feel there is some truth in this, you really can’t sit there forever waiting either. If I feel I have a strong (or strong enough) board position, I’m going to start taking prizes hoping they can’t get the set up.

Knowing when to become more aggressive is really something that just comes from experience and testing the match up. But I would say most of the time you will need to take that first prize in the first 3 turns of the game.

– It’s also really important to try and evolve your Pokémon using Rare Candy before they get Vileplume/Gothitelle in play. Most decks only run 1 of the Stage 1, so if they hit Vileplume/Gothitelle before you get to play Rare Candy you could be down to a single copy of your Stage 2. This is something to think about when you’re deciding if you should take the first prize or not.

Stage 1s

Pokémon – 17

4 Phanpy HS

3 Donphan Prime
4 Yanma TM

4 Yanmega Prime
1 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 35

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Copycat

 

4 Junk Arm

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 PlusPower
2 Max Potion
1 Switch
1 Defender

Energy – 8

8 Fighting

Okay, so this is a very different take on Stage 1s. This build is built entire around taking cheap and easy prizes from turn 2 on. The thing I really like about this deck is how much free space the deck has and how much room you really have for personal preference. I’m sure looking over this list some of you are already screaming bad for multiple reasons, but I’ll try and go over some of my choices.

No Zoroark: This is probably the first thing you noticed when looking over the list. Zoroark isn’t a staple in a deck like this; it’s an anti-meta tech. At Worlds I saw players running lines anywhere from 2-2 all the way up to 4-4, but you have to remember Typhlosion/Reshiram was the most played deck on the day and this showed through in top cut, to where I believe it took 8 of the 16 spots.

The card isn’t good by itself; it’s other cards that make it good. I don’t run Darkness Energy, so I’m not able to take advantage of its first attack which means it’s only in the deck for its second attack. You also have to remember you have to devote a lot of space to this card not only to it, but also to Double Colorless Energy; normally you’re talking about 7 spots minimum.

With the format I’m predicting of Stage 1s, Gothitelle, Vileplume variants, and Zekrom. I’m just not seeing anything especially good in this format to copy. I of course could be wrong, or the meta could shift and Zoroark might find his way back into the deck. Right now though I don’t feel it’s worth the space, especially in such an undefined meta.

Pokémon

4-3 Donphan: I played 4 Phanpy because it gave me 8 good starters that can lead to taking prizes turn 2, also 4 Phanpy leaves me less at the mercy of Pokémon Catcher. Donphan is arguably the second best Stage 1 in the game right now. It has a cheap attack that’s going to let it start taking prizes quickly, and a huge thing is the fact that nothing in this format can really 1HKO it, allowing you time to Catcher up and pick off 2 or even 3 weaker Pokémon while your opponent struggles to 2 shot you.

Fighting is also a really great type right now with Magnezone probably still seeing play and Zekrom getting some new hype.

4-4 Yanmega: Not a whole lot to say here. Quick and cheap attacks make it a staple in this deck. You could probably get by with a 4-3, since you have to assume at least 1 or 2 of your Yanmas are going to fall victim to Pokémon Catcher. I played a full 4 just for the increased odds of hitting it turn 2.

1 Tyrogue: Chance of donking, taking cheap and early prizes is too good to pass up. The big thing I’ll say though is make sure you have some sort of follow up play and that you’re able to keep applying pressure. Otherwise you’ll have taken one prize and simply allowed your opponent to keep looping Twins.

1 Cleffa: You will probably rarely play it; it’s in there mainly in case of a bad hand. The draw of Manaphy UL was always the fact that your opponent couldn’t snipe it on the bench with Yanmega Prime. With Pokémon Catcher in the format it really doesn’t matter if you have 30 HP or 60 HP on the bench; you’re still a cheap prize.

Since Cleffa doesn’t require the energy to attack, you get 1 extra card, and it has built-in protection, I feel it’s the superior choice right now.

Trainers

4 Pokémon Collector/4 Pokémon Communication: Standard consistency cards; really no reason not to max out on them.

4 Professor Juniper: We play a very bumped up Pokémon lines, all Stage 1s, and quite a few burnable Trainer cards, which means that the discarding really doesn’t hurt us. In some cases such as playing against Trainer lock the discarding can actually help us since we really don’t want to have to put any of those Trainers back in the deck anyway.

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory: I have never had too many problems copying my opponent’s hand size playing PONT. Rarely are hand sizes above 6, but this of course could change if Cheren starts seeing a lot of play, and players start opting to go for straight draw cards.

4 Copycat: Copycat allows us to easily copy hand sizes for Yanmega Prime. I’m not sure 4 is necessary, but I wanted a lot of new hand cards to help us get easy access to Pokémon Catcher.

4 Junk Arm: We play a lot of Trainers we want to get back. The only thing scarier than 4 Pokémon Catcher is 5, 6, 7, or 8.

4 Pokémon Catcher: Allows you to disrupt your opponents set up by going after key basic Pokémon or simply grabbing cheap prizes.

3 PlusPower: I had 4 in my list before Worlds, but I was also playing Zoroark. With Catcher in the format it’s so much easier to simply KO a basic before it becomes big or to simply Catcher around a Pokémon. I’m not sure 3 is needed, but right now I have the space so I’m leaving it at 3. It has good synergy with Tyrogue and donking the opponent or scoring important KO’s.

Things I Would Like

This deck actually has a lot of space to play with the numbers, so it’s less about what I would like to fit in and more about how to tech it for a particular meta.

Zoroark: This card really shines in a meta with a lot of Reshiram, or RDL. Mainly what I look for is it has to be able to get a good revenge KO. The deck can already easily 2 shot pretty much anything. So Zoroark really needs to be able to 1HKO something in a major deck that I’m having trouble with for me to warrant playing it.

Machamp/Donphan/Vileplume

pojo.comThe first time I heard about this deck was at the Grinders this year, being played by John Chimento. John was big writer for Pojo back in the day, and a guy I really looked up to when I was first making my way onto the competitive scene. When I talked to John he was 4-0 with the deck, 2-0ing four Reshiram/Typhlosion.

Sadly in round 5 his day came to an end when he played his son Nic. I really thought about asking John for the list Friday night, but thought better of it know I shouldn’t play Worlds with a deck I had no experience with… again.

This is actually my list. I don’t have John’s so I can’t be sure if they are close or not. This is a bit more of a dark horse pick for Battle Roads, but I wanted to talk about it for a few reasons. First, I think the deck is an excellent example of how you can take an already existing deck and incorporate Vileplume into it.

Secondly, the deck can hit for big damage and score 1HKOs on Pokémon like Gothitelle. This is something that I really look for in a deck with Reuniclus being so big right now.

Pokémon – 24

3 Phanpy HS
3 Donphan Prime
4 Machop TM
3 Machoke TM
3 Machamp Prime
3 Oddish UD
1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
1 Cleffa HS
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 25

4 Sage’s Training
4 Pokémon Collector

4 Copycat
3 Twins
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method

 

4 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

7 Fighting
3 Double Colorless
1 Rainbow

Pokémon

3-3 Donphan: I played only a 3-3 because it really is only for the early game. 1 or 2 Earthquakes is all you’re really looking for before you ideally start cycling Machamp Primes.

4-3-3 Machamp: I opted for a full 4 Machop because you really need all of your Machamp Primes and I didn’t really want to risk prizing one or one getting Catchered before we were able to get Vileplume up and going. I hate playing 3 of the Stage 1 Machoke, but since we run Vileplume, we really don’t have a choice.

We can’t consistently rely on being able to Rare Candy to them. Three of the Machamp Prime, since it’s our main attacker. Two just doesn’t get the job done and I felt like 4 was clunky and I didn’t want to devote the room to it.

3-1-2 Vileplume: Pretty standard. The reason we play the extra Oddish is because it’s so important to bench 2 of them at the same time when setting up. If we prize 1 copy they are just going to Pokémon Catcher it up, or KO it with Yanmega Prime.

1 Cleffa: Once again just another consistency card, easily searchable with Pokémon Communication and Pokémon Collector.

1 Bouffalant: I’m actually really iffy on this card right now. Bouffalant and a DCE are easily grabbed with Twins and it can play as a nice revenge attacker. However, he really doesn’t do anything for the strategy and at times can be tough to get into the active position.

Trainers

4 Pokémon Communication/4 Pokémon Collector/4 Rare Candy: Consistency!

4 Sage’s Training: A lot of Vileplume decks will play 4 Sage’s Training, this is so we can get access to Vileplume as soon as possible early in the game. The discarding really doesn’t hurt too badly; we have a lot of dead cards later in the game we don’t mind getting rid of (extra Vileplume lines, Donphan, etc.).

4 Copycat: Personal preference I guess, and I’m kind of testing different things in different decks. I talked about this some in the Gothitelle section: normally when you’re running Trainer Lock players hands will start to get larger toward the end of the game when they keep drawing useless Trainers, while they could be much smaller in the early game if they are trying to burn their Trainers. These spots could easily be PONT or even Juniper if you wanted to try that route.

3 Twins: This deck could (and perhaps should) play a full 4 Twins. I only have 3 right now because we are a semi aggressive deck, and it’s not uncommon to get a Turn 2 Donphan Prime or Machamp Prime swinging and us actually taking the first prize. The only thing I will say is just because you can take the first prize doesn’t mean you should. The decision should really be based on the game state and the strength of your hand.

1 Professor Elm’s Training Method: This is probably what I would drop for the 4th Twins. Mainly I’m just testing it right now. It’s a Pokémon search under Trainer Lock and it also acts as a 5th way to search out Vileplume early game.

Tropical Beach: I’m sorry guys, I hate repeatedly posting decks with a $75 card in them, but I really think the card works so well in slower decks like Gothitelle or decks that play Vileplume. Since we are a bit more aggressive than your standard Vileplume deck I don’t find the card as useful, so if you don’t have one I wouldn’t worry too much and simply replace it with another draw card or tech you want.

Energy

pokemon-paradijs.com

7 Fighting Energy: We attack with it!

3 Double Colorless Energy: I usually try to play the same number of Machamp Prime and DCE. Since we have Twins to search it out we don’t need to play a full 4.

1 Rainbow Energy: You would honestly be surprised how often you need to randomly put 10 damage into play for Machamp Prime’s second attack. I didn’t play anymore than 1 though because many times I don’t want that 10 damage in play. A lot of people really underestimate how big of an impact 10 damage really is.

The 1 Rainbow is easily searchable with Twins when we need it, but by only playing 1 we won’t be building up damage when we don’t want to.

Things I Would Like

1 Seeker: I just like the idea of healing a damaged Machamp Prime. The reason it’s not in the current build is because we no longer have Broken Time-Space. This means we can’t Seeker up a Machamp Prime and play it back down in the same turn.

1 Flower Shop Lady: Gives us a 4th Machamp Prime without having to play another full line of him. Also it’s helpful if key basics get Catchered or KO’d early in the game.

When Preparing for Battle Roads

One last thing I wanted to add in on the end here because I feel like it really is important. Battle Roads are usually the smallest tournaments of the year, and with such low K values out-of-state players are far less likely to want to spend the money to travel to them, especially with the much higher K value Cities right around the corner. What this means is that a majority of the players you will be playing with will probably be local players, your friends, and fellow league goers.

The weeks leading up to Battle Roads I pay very close attention to what players at our league are playing and most importantly what they are trading for. A lot of the better players won’t play their tournament decks at leagues but they might have no other choice but to trade for last minute cards they need.

I’m very fortunate and have a very skilled and Worlds accomplished testing partner in my brother. I know this isn’t always possible for many of you, but I do suggest trying to keep your testing group incredibly small, ideally just 1 or 2 other players. In such small tournaments there is a very high chance that you will have to face your friends and teammates.

I normally try to get my stuff way in advance by either buying from trusted sites or trading online (which has its own risks). I also trade for a ton of different things at leagues and not just what I want. I’ll even try and ask or trade for stuff in many of the top decks and not just the one I want.

This may seem well over the top, but players pay far more attention to what you’re trading for than you might realize. Battle Roads are also such small tournaments there are only a few players you’re really worried about, this makes metagaming far easier.

Hopefully you guys got a lot out of this article that will give you an edge going into Fall Battle Roads starting this weekend. I want to wish everybody good luck at Battle Roads, and hopefully we will bring home some more Trophy Cards for the Underground.

– Jay


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