pokebeach.comSince my last article there have now been two full weekends of Battle Roads (BR) and the third weekend it is quickly approaching. For my area, this is essentially the halfway point. We had tournaments the weekends of the 17th and the 24th. We also have tournaments the weekends of the 8th and 14th.
I will be 100% honest with everyone; I have not competed in a Battle Roads tournament yet. The week before the 17th my car had been run into. I got a call about two hours before the end of registration that they completed the repair work early. I did not think that it was going to take more than two hours to get it back, but after a little over a an hour and a half wait at Enterprise to return the rental car and 30-40 minutes at the repair shop, I was already too late to make it.
I did go out to the tournament site (about 20ish minute drive) and watch the last round of Swiss and the Top Cut matches to get a feel for how it was going. The next day I have my first ever law school paper due, so no tourney that day. Then Sunday the 25th we had our in-laws over. So, no fun that day either. Long story short, I hope to make it to a couple, but things just keep popping up.
Anyway, I want to give an overview of the metagame, the new points system’s impact, a brief section on some deck building tips, and a question for you.
Here are the reported results from the ‘Gym for Battle Roads victories. I would say that these are very surprising for quite a few reasons. Let’s take a look at the winners:
Masters Winning Decks (posted as of 12:30pm CT 9/26/11)
pokebeach.com9 or 11 x ZPS variants (7 x ZPST, 2 x ZPS, 2 x Zekrom; I am not sure if this is a misprint from the ‘Gym. The ‘Gym’s list has 9 ZPS variants and then two more Zekrom decks listed again. This might be only 9 if they had already condensed the list and simply forgot to remove the 2 Zekrom decks from the list.)
7 x Reshiphlosion
5 x Stage 1s (I also condensed this down. I made it so that anything that was primarily Donphan + Yanmega was a Stage 1)
4 x Primetime (2 x Y/M, 2 x Y/M/K)
3 x Reshiboar
2 x Magneboar
2 x Gothitelle/Reuniclus/Dragons (1 x G/R/Resh/Z, 1 x G/R/Z)
1 x Reuniclus/Vileplume/Donphan/Zekrom
1 x Donphan and Dragons
1 x Donphan Prime/Zoroark/Tornadus
1 x Lanturn/Yanmega/Zekrom (This was the deck Yamato ran at Worlds)
1 x Mew/Yanmega
1 x Mew/Cinccino
1 x Samurott/Donphan
1 x Yanmega/Weavile
1 x Yanmega/Kingdra
1 x Blastoise/Floatzel
1 x Cincinno/Yanmega/Kingdra
1 x Horsemega
Top of the Pack
This list shows 19 fundamentally different decks winning a tournament. That is crazy. However, it would appear that there is a clear Top Tier right now consisting of Zekrom and TyRam. Here is a brief explanation of why those two decks are owning the field at the moment.
These two decks are similar in some ways and different in others. Both deck’s main aim is to stream 130 HP attackers that can hit for 120 damage per turn. That is the key similarity, but the two do this in different ways.
Zekrom is hands down the fastest deck in the format. It is extremely common for this deck (as in 80%+ of the time) to be swinging for 80 damage on turn one and 120 damage on turn two. That is some serious firepower. Also, with Catcher in the format, this deck can abuse it to destroy other people’s set ups. The deck also gained Tornadus to counter Donphan. This is a great play. This deck is great on timed matches and is great in sudden death.
Tyram is possibly the most consistent deck in the format. Once set up, the deck does not fold to non-Reuniclus trainer lock and it is very hard to be successful disrupting the hands of tyRam players. I personally an still liking at least a 1-1 Ninetales if not a 2-2 line in the deck (but this is another matter for another article). This deck hits very hard by turn three. Ironically, out of the top two decks, this one has become the most versatile. The main complaint about the deck was that it was too linear and so top players desired to play other decks. However, compared to ZPST, tyRam has many great options.
On The Cusp
It would appear that right now there are three more decks sitting on the verge of joining the elite. Those decks are PrimeTime (Yanmega/Magnezone) and Stage 1s.
Again, these two decks are very different from each other. Stage 1’s main strategy is just the slower and weaker-hitting version of ZPST. The deck tries to apply early pressure to disrupt the opponent’s set up. The difference is that this deck sacrifices a little bit of speed to cover more type matchups. This deck is solid, but I think that you should just go all in for the early disruption and the best deck to accomplish that is ZPST.
PrimeTime is another very good deck. I honestly feel that this deck deserves to be in the same breadth as the top decks (and it very well might be by the end of Battle Roads), but it seems that many people were afraid to run Magnezone in a format with Catcher.
However, I feel that this deck has indeed lost a little bit with the release of Emerging Powers. What I mean is that you really need an extremely consistent list to succeed.
The best versions of this deck are running straight Yanmega/Magnezone without extra techs like Kingdra. That has swung the Tyram match up back into Tyram’s favor. I would expect to see this win more as the BR season rolls on, although it can struggle against ZPST.
Middle of the Road
The next block seems to be slower set up decks including Reshiboar, MagneBoar, and Gothitelle. If you are looking for a deck that has potential that has not shown really well yet, look here. I have a feeling that these decks can be improved.
The success of these three decks seem to be dependent on the success of Gothitelle. Gothitelle is a good deck, but it can struggle in the timed environment against opponents that slow the game down (within the legal means). The deck struggles even more in Top Cut when the first game will likely drag on for 35-40ish minutes. This allows the opponent to play game two to time and win on prizes and then win the sudden death game. Gothitelle can be nasty when it hits the lock early, but even then, you have to take the time to stack enough energy on a Gothitelle to be able to 1HKO things with 130+ hp.
Reshiboar and MagneBoar are two of the best counter decks to Gothitelle. Both decks can hit for more than 140 damage and secure 1HKOs even under the lock. This is accomplished through Bad Boar and RDL for Reshiboar and through Bad Boar, Magnezone Prime, and RDL for MagneBoar. These two decks can struggle against the speed and consistency of the top two decks. So, until Gothitelle takes a larger role in the format they will be likely play second fiddle.
In all these set up decks are too susceptible to early disruption from Pokémon Catcher. They are also significantly slower than the top four decks in the format.
Finally, we have a bunch of one-time winners and a few of them seem to be worth noting. I have a feeling that some of these are breakable and deserve to be in the top tier, but they are just underrepresented.
The first deck that I feel is worth a look is Kingdra Prime/Yanmega. This deck saw success at Canadian Nationals and then it mysteriously disappeared for a while. This deck essentially can hit for 50 damage anywhere at any time. It is very good against Donphan and can utilize Jirachi to take several prizes at one time late in the game.
Mew/Yanmega is also a really fun deck to pilot. You can really utilize a lot of run things in this deck. For ideas on how to run this deck with a focus on Mew Prime take a look at this videofrom Ness.
The other deck that I want to touch on is Blastoise/Floatzel. This deck was widely covered immediately after the rotation. Basically this deck as very solid match ups against Donphan, Reshiram-based decks, and Reuniclus decks. It holds a distinct advantage over those decks. It should be noted that the BR this deck won had three Tyrams in the top four with this one Blastoise/Floatzel. So, if the Gothitelle decks rise in popularity you might see this deck become more playable.
I am a little surprised to not see any MewLock decks take home the top prize after Ness won the Top Cut Invitational with it. If you want to know anymore about any of the decks just post a question in the comment section or look on the forums. Most of these decks have at least halfway decent lists floating around. Moving on.
Wow is this a diverse format at the moment. There are so many decks that are viable and that can succeed. I personally think this is great for the game. Here are the pros and cons:
– This allows players to be creative in their deck building and deck choices. For the first time in a long time, players can open their binders, look at cards and say “why not?” This is true for everything from techs to core strategies.
– Having a multitude of deck choices allow players to access the game cheaply. Yes the staples (Collector and Catcher) are running at between $20 and $40 a play set, but everything else is solid. If you really need in on a budget you can look at Cinccino/Zoroark or Leafeon. One of the top three decks is still considerably cheap (Tyram). Save for Yanmega, nothing is over $30 a card to get a hold of. Compare this to the prices of Uxie LV.X and Luxray GL LV.X.
– This can keep games fresh for many people. Even at the top tables there are several decks that you could reliably see (Tyram, ZPST, Stage 1, Goth, MewPlume, Mew Box, MagneBoar). This means that right now there are rarely going to be mirror, after mirror, after mirror portions of your day.
– The rock/paper/scissors portion of the format has many players frustrated with “luck” again. This time the luck is not in coin flips, but rather in match ups.
– There is a real lack of predictability right now. I would assume that by the time Regionals role around, this will straighten itself out, but for now there are several things that could show up on any given day.
I will not harp on this too much, but man this card is vital and so far it has won the Catcher v. Item-Lock war. It has increased the number of Vileplumes and Gothitelles being played, but fast decks are running the show at the moment.
Quick and Fast v. Slow and Powerful
This argument really comes down to the time limit P!P has instituted in the competitive environment. The fast decks have come out of the gate and appear to have the upper hand. The second place of decks are still the medium set up decks like Tyram and Yanmega/Magnezone.
However, I think that people are figuring out that against the crippling but slow decks (MagneBoar, Ross.dec, Gothitelle, etc) they can and should use time to their advantage. The moment that you opponent turns over a basic from those decks, you can just start using all of your legal time allotment and win on time.
The Hype Machine
Is anyone really surprised by the lack of relative success by Gothitelle? It happens over and over again in this game. People love the new stuff over the old stuff. When a new card has any hint of being top tier it is immediately anointed the Best Deck in Format (BDIF). Then oftentimes it falls (often hard). Now, this is not to say that the new decks are bad, but it is only to say that the new decks are not often the runaway BDIF.
Take a look at recent history. Gengar Prime was supposed to dethrone LuxChomp and run rampant over the format. Fail. MagneBoar was supposed to be the BDIF by a large margin (as in you better expect nothing but mirror matches all day at the top tables and that the deck had at least 60-40 matchups against everything save the mirror). Not so much.
Now, Gothitelle is just the latest to fall to the hype machine. It is important to note that MagneBoar did come back to win Worlds. I have a feeling that Goth will firmly be in the top of the metagame also, just not as the runaway BDIF.
It is also interesting to note that after Black and White hit the shelves in Japan, it was “reported” that ZPST and ReshiBoar were the two best decks and that Goth was the third wheel. It would seem that this is holding relatively true (save Emboar being switched with Typhlosion). ZPST is just so fast that it destroys setups. Tyram is also quick, and if it can hit a Turn 2 Typhlosion and another on Turn 3 it is in great shape almost unstoppable. Then Goth + other setup decks are coming up. The variation to this is the Stage 1 builds. I will be back with more about the expected Regional metagame after Battle Roads is over (don’t be surprised to see ZPST, Reshiram, and Gothitelle).
The Points System
OK, this is the first time I have covered the subject. I will keep my opinion really short and will cover in the effect it is having on the game.
I honestly do not like the way the points system is set up with the current point allotment. I love the idea of accumulating points instead of tracking Elo, but the system is out of whack right now. First, I think that Battle Roads and Cities are worth too much relative to Regionals and Nationals. I think that the larger events need to be worth more points and not that the cap needs to be less on the smaller event.
Second, because the smaller events are worth so much, the current system punished people who cannot travel much more than the last event. Third, there are too many great records going unrewarded. Fourth, it makes the game less accessible for new players. With Battle Roads relatively worth more, they are more competitive. Fifth, because BR are worth more, you have potentially increased the impact of luck on the game’s ranking structure.
For example, in our first two BRs Poké-Parents beat some very good “standard masters.” Those parents got on a great roll (one of them had only been playing his deck for like 3-4 days) and essentially “took” vital points from players who actually plan on using them.
Finally, the kicker system is messed up. The winner of a more-populated event deserves more points that a winner of a smaller event. So, the kicker should, for example, increase 1st place at BR should go up to 3, the 2nd place should go to 2, and the 3rd place should get 1, etc. Under the current system, this is not feasible, but if you make States, Regionals, and Nationals worth more, this could easily happen.
The effect has already been noticeable. In the past many of the great players of the game have skipped Battle Roads altogether. Now you have people like Jayson Harry, Micheal Pramawat, Ness, Brit Pybas, etc. going to multiple Battle Roads. This has instantly increased the competitiveness of the tournament. Every point is very important and great players are coming out for these small tournaments.
In addition, Battle Roads are going longer. We have had between 5-6 rounds for each of the battle roads in this area. Pair this with top cut and a possible lunch break and you have an event that is taking between six and seven hours of the day (40 min for each round and to get the results processed, 1 hour for each top cut round, 1 hour for lunch). This is very disheartening. This is not much shorter than Cities and some States. So much for short and concise season opening tournaments
Also, many players are calling for a mandatory Top Cut of eight because with points only going to the top 2 or 4, no one wants to go X-1 and miss on points because of resistance (which I think is a more fair idea with the new points system). If we get this in the future, you would be looking at seven to eight hours.
This section will be very short. I just wanted to touch on two things that people have routinely asked me before Battle Roads.
1. Consistency is key right now. There are very few decks that can tech out to cover the less than ideal match ups (except for Vileplume/Reuniclus, Mew Box, and maybe Stage 1s). Everything else needs to go for max consistency. Don’t worry about getting that single card here or there to cover the terrible match up. With the diversity in the field, don’t worry about that one match up that gives you problems. Just take the single loss and win the rest. Of course, if your meta is full of bad match ups, you should probably change decks (if you want to win).
2. I am not going to cover this in the detail it deserves, but I want to put it out there: multi-use cards. When you are building a deck look at each slot in the deck, not any particular card but rather the function that slot needs to achieve. An example of this would be the four slots devoted to basic Pokémon search. Now obviously this is best achieved by Pokémon Collector, but you will limit your creativity if you view these slots as “Collector Slots” instead of “basic search” slot.
One example for the format past, is MagneRock. MagneRock needed away to get high retreat Pokémon out of the Active Spot that got Bright Looked up. Well so most builds has two slots devoted to “free retreat”. Now what cards could possibly fill that slot? You had Switch, Warp Point, and Warp Energy. What was often the best one to choose. Well Warp Energy was. That card was serving two purposes: energy for Lost Burn and free retreat.
One example in the current format comes from Tyram. With Catcher and Mew (w/ Muk) decks running around, you need a way to get out of the active. The deck normally has 14 energy slots and two retreat slots. So, instead of running all R Energy and two Switch, you can run 12 Fire, 2 DCE, and 1 Retreat.
Now you still have 14 Energy to drop and use for attacking and you have three retreat cards (since DCE can cover anything’s Retreat Cost) for a combined 15 slots instead of 16 slots. Thus, you have just opened up one slot to use for other things. This is a great way to fit a single of something that you might want to include.
So, please remember to at least consider multi-purpose cards.
Question for the Readers
I have an article that is sitting on my hard drive. It is about my overall experience from my first year of competitive play. It is written as a narrative (so it is obviously about me and not the metagame or anything). It offers general tips for players and members of this community that were derived from my year. Is this something that you are interested in right now, or would it get in the way of “serious” competitive gaming articles?