Hey there everyone, guess what time it is? If you guessed article time, you would be correct! Ok, I guess I really need to work on creating better hooks for my writing. That one was embarrassing even by my standards. Nonetheless, we have a lot to talk about now!
In my last article, I wrote about testing a “new deck” and while it isn’t quite tested/perfected to the point of really breaking the format, I have had some pretty good results with it! I actually have a number of new decks to run by everyone this week.
Let’s address ZPS as a deck first. ZPS has been a very popular deck for the Battle Road season thus far. Despite this, I’ve seen a number of different approaches towards how to build the deck. The one major thing I noticed is that the deck has (or should have, I know a lot of players have not quite caught up to this yet) become more of a TPS deck.
Tornadus is a vastly superior card to Zekrom in this deck. I guess that is a tough statement to make. The two cards oddly serve different purposes. I feel that Tornadus is the best opening attacker, and that the goal of the deck should be to transition to Zekrom in the latter stages of the game. Zekrom is a bit harder to get powered in the opening turns, and a lot of times, if an opponent has a solid game going too, it can be dealt with, and then you are left with no energy in play.
It is a harder to pull off “all in” opening. Zekrom REQUIRES Pachirisu and Shaymin to get a real attack off turn 2. Tornadus can do it manually with a basic energy and a DCE.
The biggest issue that ZPS faces is that it has a really bad game against Gothitelle. I’m not sold on its games vs Reshiphlosion, or Magneboar either, but Gothitelle is by far its hardest game, and there isn’t a lot the deck can do to deal with this, because if you cannot OHKO Gothitelle, you are in for a very difficult matchup if you ever let them set up.
Unfortunately, in this format, there are very few ways to prevent this, so you are just stuck accepting they should set up, and well, you see where that leads.
The best “answer” to Gothitelle, and the one which has been popping up everywhere now in the Michigan and Ohio metagame is Mew Prime. At first I felt it would be crazy to include Mew in a ZPS list, as it had primarily been used in Vileplume builds and Stage 1 toolbox lists, but the more I played with it, the better it actually started to perform.
“Fluffing” the deck with additional free retreat, non 30 HP basics actually helped the decks performance immensely as well. Now, I’ll be the first to admit: I am doing a lot of concession just to make the deck have game vs one deck. I wouldn’t make the effort if I were not concerned with Gothitelle in my region. Unfortunately, Gothitelle is a huge threat, so making this concession is not that unreasonable.
I’ll start by giving two different ZPS lists. One with Mew, and the other without. One thing you’ll notice is the great reduction in Collector in the builds. I liked them at first, but embarrassingly enough, have switched over to Dual Balls, even if I always do end up getting tails regardless.
Without the Pokémon Collectors, I cut the PokéGear 3.0 which I had previously been a fan of in the deck. I loved Gear, but without Collector it loses value. Gear also was a bit of a concession to keeping your Junk Arms live post Judge, but Judge has seen a sharp decline in play once players decided to play less Yanmega Magnezone.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 32
Energy – 15
One of the cards I don’t see enough people playing is Defender. This is the card that gives you some semblance of game against decks like Reshiphlosion. If you have no means of not dying to Reshiram BLW one shot, you can’t keep up unless you get a really quick start and keep them off any sort of set up all game, which, well, I wasn’t having a ton of luck doing.
It isn’t an atrocious matchup, but the Defenders certainly help you have a real shot vs them even when you don’t get that start advantage. I haven’t run the Mew version against Reshiphlosion that much yet, but I may wind up wanting the 3rd Defender back in there. The card gains so much strength when played in multiples that a 3rd copy really makes each of them notably better.
The same can be said for PlusPower. Taking a Tornadus up to say, 110 damage with a few PlusPowers is really strong. They are also very strong with Tyrogue. If you ever can get a Tyrogue kill with PlusPowers, you wind up in such a strong position. You put them on the defensive, and conserve your energy. It adds up.
I know some players really like using Super Scoop Up, but the card has really played poorly for me. It really only offers strength with Pachirisu and Shaymin, and with the addition of Tornadus, you need to repeat Shaymin/Pachi a lot less, since you conserve energy. This makes SSU far less valuable. I do run one copy of Seeker none the less, but even that card seems expendable. It is certainly on the chopping block. I just have an issue cutting all copies of ways to “bounce” benched Pokémon.
Another option with the Mew build is to splash Zoroark BLW. I said earlier that you have some issues in the Reshiphlosion matchup, and you also have issues with Magneboar. In closing, you have issues against decks that can OHKO Zekroms, as you cannot keep up on energy drops with that. If Mew can start exchanging OHKOs in those spots with a DCE, that changes the dynamic of those matchups drastically.
It may also make the mirror match a bit interesting too, as if you need a turn to set up a Pachi Shaymin play with Zekrom, you can “take a turn” to See off something with Mew, and have access to Zoroark all game. If you wanted to take it further, you could try a 1-1 Zoroark line, or even a 2-2 line (2-2 would be without Mew I assume) and you’d want to try to add like 2 Pokémon Communication, but those aren’t even terrible additions to begin with.
You’d think Communication would be awful simply because you don’t run any evolutions (normally) but if you accept the logic of using Dual Ball over Collector, and accept that Dual Ball GENERALLY gets you 1 Pokémon, then PokéComm’s value isn’t as low as you’d initially perceive.
That being said, you’d need a Pokémon in hand to get rid of, which is a bit rougher due to a low Pokémon count overall, but it is certainly reasonable. If you want to make Zoroark work in the deck, it’s a necessity though.
I’ve been testing Gothitelle a lot, and have discussed the deck with former two-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski (NAME DROPPING!) who has put up some very impressive numbers with the deck over the course of Battle Roads so far, and I wanted to address a card which he has run any where from 3 to 4 copies of in his build.
I want to discuss a card you will likely groan over when you see me post it. I want to discuss the oh-so-easy-and-cheap-to-obtain Tropical Beach.
Here is a list I have influenced by the list Jason used. He ran more Tropical Beach than I did originally, and I had additional Supporters in those spots. The Tropical Beaches are better by such a large margin it isn’t even close, though. Beyond that, our lists looked similar.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
Energy – 10
I’d like a 2nd Gothorita but not sure what to cut for it. DCE is awful in here. I also hate the Reshiram/Zekrom stuff people are running; the cards almost never actually matter, and are pretty awful starters. Now, back to Tropical Beach.
Gothitelle (and to a lesser extent, Emboar Magnezone, and I guess to an equal extent, The Truth aka Ross’ deck) have a raw inevitability to them. Once they set up, they win. They don’t play by the rules. They don’t get caught up in this battle of attrition, of for position. They simply struggle to get their field to Point X, and when they do, they win in short order (or often long order, but that win is rarely in question).
Now, of course, you can run cards to actively disrupt this set up, but vs a lot of decks, they can’t really overpower you once you hit this. Reuniclus Gothitelle denies prizes, Magneboar gets 6 prizes in 6 or less turns and has huge HP. This means attacking in the first few turns matters very little to these decks. They would much rather draw cards then attack.
Think of Tropical Beach not as a last ditch Plan B for a bad hand, but as a proactive draw card that you want on turn 1 as often as possible. You want to “cheap.” You want Uxie back. You want to play your Supporter AND draw up to 7. This accelerates your set up very quickly. You don’t care if your opponent can draw cards: In fact you prefer they aren’t attacking. You just want your field to contain Gothitelle and Reuniclus as soon as possible.
As a result, Sage’s Training is definitely one of the best draw cards for this deck. If you do not have a turn 1 Beach, it can help you get it. So when it hits that, realize that it will likely net you an additional 2-4 cards, so Sage suddenly nets you quite a bit of value.
Perhaps at least 1 PONT is worth playing, but the deck can afford, even once set up and attacking, to forego and attack to restabilize if you run out of gas a bit, so I really don’t think you need a whole ton of bulk draw.
The other card I really like in the deck is still Magnezone Prime, only as a thin 1-0-1 line. This lets you have sustained draw without needing to use supporters. If you do want the bulk, this card is a viable option, and is probably a good solution to NOT dropping 400ish dollars on a playset of Tropical Beach. My friend has been playing with it and having pretty strong results, so I have at least some faith in its value.
Now, I know a lot of people shying away from this deck due to its issue with Mew, which, unfortunately, is something hard to deal with. The deck faces a major issue: It beats a majority of the format yet falls rather certainly to one card. Luckily the card isn’t really very splashable but it is, none the less quite popular right now.
Now, there are some measures to be taken to try and combat Mew, but I’m pretty sure none of them actually work. By adding DCE, you can try to trade 2 energy attachments for each Mew, which could hypothetically work. Unfortunately you are still stuck needing to replace Stage 2s while they have basics, and you need to deal with drawing your DCEs…which you then need to run in bulk. Which is awful for every other matchup.
DCE hypothetically would work on Reshiram or Zekrom, or even Blissey Prime if you opt to run it (I still don’t hate the card, but I’m pretty sure it has to be cut overall, sadly). Against decks which you need an alternate attacker against (those which one shot you) you do not wind up in a spot where you even get damage on the field, so the old plan of “put 40 damage on a Reshiram and give it a DCE to KO Mew” doesn’t really work out, and when you try it, they just Catcher up your Goths and kill them.
Sadly, the deck is forced into a hole where it lives and dies by whether people want to make the overall sacrifice to play a deck with Mew in it. Mew isn’t particularly great vs a large portion of the rest of the format, but it sure is good against Gothitelle.
Pokemon ParadijsThe next deck I wanted to address is a little home-brew I made with my good friend Tyranitar. For those who have played this game for quite some time, you’d know that my old handle on the PokéGym was “Tyranitar666” since well, when you’re 15 or 16, you really can’t resist the urge to rebel against the man/church and tack 666 or some other “inappropriate” number such as 69, or 420 onto your otherwise acceptable user names.
Nonetheless, a Tyranitar deck stormed into the top 8 at U.S. Nationals amidst a general consensus (held by myself as well) that it wasn’t a really contender. After testing, I concluded that prior to Worlds, it remained not quite good enough. Yet the introduction of Emerging Powers and what it did to the metagame changed this, in my opinion.
The first major addition is Max Potion. Rather than try to get Tyranitar up and ready to do massive damage to a single Pokémon, the game plan is to get him ready to do massive damage TOTAL to a large group of them. Darkness Howl is the weapon of choice, needing only a lone Darkness Energy, which is easy to replace after a Max Potion heals its girthy 160 HP frame. I opted not to run Serperior, or any real bench healing choices, choosing instead to rely on well, running primarily Dark Pokémon.
The spread approach capitalizes on the widespread use of Twins as well. Decks are slower to set up and get going, so you can often get multiple Darkness Howls up before they formulate any sort of counter offense to your initial Tyranitar.
Decks such as Typhlosion Reshiram suffer when caught by a quick Tyranitar, and Magnezone Emboar can get overwhelmed too. ZPS can’t really ever one shot Ttar, so you can definitely spread a lot of damage around there. Gothitelle has Reuniclus, which is useful, but they also can be overloaded. Looking up to my list even, I run a dangerously low amount of healing cards: Seeker, a Max Potion, and 3 Junk Arm. Tyranitar has 160 hit points, Psychic Resistance, AND the ability to hypothetically do 130 damage so they can’t really even risk the full-blown tanking.
Now, I’m sure someone is going to say “What do you do about Donphan?” Well, the long story short is “get massacred.” Ok, that’s admittedly raw theory-crafting, but I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate portrayal of the outcome. I guess it isn’t “that bad” because you can withstand 120 damage attacks all day long, and they either need 3 energy or 2 PlusPower to one shot you. Earthquake otherwise helps with the “issue” too.
So PERHAPS things can be done to fix this issue, but I currently chalk it up as a loss. Now, locally, we have had next to no Donphan being played, and certainly less of it performing well. Right now, due to a decline in Magnezone play (which I think is a lapse that can be capitalized on) and the fact that Tornadus stonewalls it in the ZPS matchup, Donphan’s uses have declined. So Donphan is a fairly solid deck to take a “loss” to.
Anyways, there is a special little surprise in the deck as well, which I’ll let you discover in the list, and then I’ll touch on it.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
4 Darkness [Special]
2 Darkness [Basic]
Yes. Darkrai & Cresselia Legend. The “worst” Legend printed. (Ok, Raikou & Suicune rivals, but that isn’t the point.) It just so happens to be rather good at concentrating all of that lovely Darkness Howl clutter. Darkness Howl 3 times against a full bench, and that’s 360 damage.
Feel free to divide that up however you feel now, likely scoring about 3 KOs. This lets you cherry pick big kills. Does Gothitelle think it can safely hide damage with Reuniclus? Think again as Gothitelle and Reuniclus, and maybe a Solosis all die in one fell swoop, crippling them.
PokeGymSince you need to run Psychic Energy for the Legend, you get to run Jirachi too! Jirachi with a recovered Psychic and a DCE attached from hand can devolve 3 guys! Those are pretty easy KOs to get. Shaymin allows you to take spread out energy (and the energy from Jirachi) and condense them into a tanking Tyranitar, ready to unleash 120+ damage. This lets you switch up your game plan if need be. Maybe even come out of no where and OHKO that pesky Donphan Prime with 2 special dark?
Anyways, let’s get to the other “interesting” park. Weavile. Weavile is a fantastic card. Ignoring its ability to just disrupt otherwise good starts, it has a special purpose in this deck. It “safeguards” the deck from two types of issues, outside of just slowing them down. (If you play down multiple Weaviles turn 2, most decks just fold from the pressure, or are at least forced to bench Cleffa, an easy prize).
You fear Healing cards. In Gothitelle, this means Max Potion, Seeker, and associated Junk Arms. Or perhaps Blissey, if they run it. Same against The Truth (Vileplume Reuniclus decks). These decks could normally “cope” with the spread (to a degree) but they are pretty vulnerable to having their key cards plucked out.
Against other decks, you run the risk of having your benched Larvitars plucked apart before they can evolve, opposed to you getting multiple Tyranitar out. So this way, you can force them to try and chew through your Tyranitar wall, and make them play by YOUR rules. The more you disrupt them, the harder it is for them to try and race your spread.
Weavile and Sneasel are also both conveniently Dark type, meaning they do not fall victim to spread damage. Sneasel is a great opener, with free retreat, which is why he is a 3 of (and may go to 4 even if I keep Weavile at 2). I like extra of the basic so you can “loop” evolving them with SSU, if you go that route. Super Scoop Up lets you loop both Weavile and Tyranitar, and re-use Jirachi and Shaymin. The card is “worse” than Seeker, but Seeker heals their bench, so we are stuck with the Trainer version with a flip.
This deck isn’t flawless yet, but it is a pretty nice, innovative deck that you can likely do very well with if you don’t expect much Fighting type Pokémon.
Up next, we have Lostgar. I talked with numerous people and they have logged a decent number of games with the deck, and we all agree that most decks are simply not prepared for this deck. Previously, Magneboar kept it in check with RDL. Now, we have a bunch of decks that cannot reliably do 130 damage every turn to a Gengar for the deck to pray on.
Previously Mew was the best route to take the deck, but now, I’m pretty sure a heavier Gengar line is best. Now, we still run Mew too…you need the good openers, and the speed it offers. The idea is to open with Mew, and See Off Gengar, then transition to Gengar Prime and hope that decks cannot KO multiples of him.
Here is the list:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 32
Energy – 9
Ok, here we are, back to the Magnezone splash. In this deck, I really stand by it. Perhaps a 2-0-1 line, to make sure that Magnemite doesn’t get Catcher’d and killed. The “issue” with LostGar has been that it has been unable to keep up with drawing enough cards while also having to play Seeker pretty much every turn. Magnezone is the answer to that issue. It lets you get access to a lot of cards even without using a Supporter, which is exactly what the deck needs.
PokeGymWe also see our good from Weavile, the Vile Weasel, make another cameo here. One of the things I noticed was that if you didn’t need to be bouncing Spiritomb with Seeker, I really wished I had something to use with a coming into play power, and Weavile fits the bill. He lets you see what the opponent has, and lets you tear out of their hand discard outlets, like Junk Arm, or shuffle draw, which would let them hide Pokémon from you.
It also can snag Catcher for guys trying to kill Magnemite, or work around an un-KOable Gengar. I actually think I’d like to try a 2-2 line in this deck, as the free hand information has proven really nice.
Max Potion plays a similar role as in Ttar, and Switch lets you get out of bad spots, and is pretty much mandatory with the Magnezone. You have Twins, so you can fetch the cards you need. One of the other reasons I love Weavile is that Gengar early on is also very disruptive.
We look at Hurl into Darkness as a win condition but often overlook how well it can cripple someone if you use it turn 2 to pick their hand apart. Doing this and then using Weavile at the same time can really tear a players game apart early.
The deck has issues primarily with ZPS, as it is often a turn faster, and can actually OHKO a Gengar with PlusPowers (this is where Weavile protection can be so helpful). Now, a way to stop this would be to add some Defenders. This makes Gengar have 150 HP, which actually stops Zekrom from KOing it. Unfortunately, they will often just Catcher something up, and punish you anyways, but you can hope to get lucky with Weavile perhaps.
This is a matchup where a thicker Weavile line seems crucial. As you can see, the message from this article is “Weavile is quite good.” Even if I haven’t officially broken it.
Now, one of the other decks I wanted to touch on is Emboar Reshiram. I had been testing it, as had one of my friends, and been loving it, and on Sunday, Matt Nawal, father of the 4th place Juniors finisher at Worlds this year, won our Battle Roads with the deck. This affirmed our feelings on the deck, as I feel it is simply a better deck then Typhlosion Reshiram, by a large margin.
I guess its only suspect matchup is against The Truth, but Reshiphlosion suffers there too, and badly. You get an improved game against Magnezone Emboar, Reshiram Typhlosion, ZPS, and Gothitelle. Being able to deal 150 damage opposed to capping at 120 is just a massive advantage. Here’s my list:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 30
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 13
This deck has the efficiency of Reshiram backed by the raw power of Bad Boar. Fisherman is just absurd in this deck. The four energy is so strong, since unlike Magneboar, you aren’t using the Lost Zone. Oddly, even if you get your Emboar Catchered, that 4 retreat cost is manageable with the use of Fisherman and DCE. Assuming switch isn’t an option due to say, Trainer lock.
PokeBeachI include the one PlusPower so that Reshiram gets a bit of a boost, and can hit for 130+ damage. That and I want to be able to beat Tyranitar Prime, of course. :P One thing I would like to do with the deck is perhaps squeeze a Twins or two into the deck, although the deck doesn’t have to be “slow” so I’m a bit worried about pigeonholing it into such a reactive deck when it doesn’t have to be. I would have to log even more games for that to be determined.
I would be interested in adding some Twins, a 3rd Junk Arm, maybe a 2nd Catcher, and even an extra energy, to be honest. If the retreat costs become an issue, Dodrio UD is an option, actually. He isn’t too bad in this deck and helps so much against the Trainer lock decks. I know Matt had started with a 2-2 line in his deck, but I’m not sure how he fit that one really.
Anyways, another deck that isn’t really getting widespread play at the moment but is supposedly quite good (Alex Brosseau has been using it to some success) is The Truth, which I’ve mentioned multiple times in this article so far. I wish I could say more about the deck, but since it hasn’t seen a lot of play, I really haven’t tested it that much and wouldn’t put much faith in me having a viable “updated” list for everyone. I would just advise you to know its a real deck apparently, even though I had somewhat written it off for it being really clunky on time.
Also, I am being HARASSED on AIM by Jason to let you know that he is making the BOLD prediction that Tropical Beach will settle as a 250 dollar card. You heard it here first folks, but he DEMANDED that be put to writing for either future bragging rights, or immortalized embarrassment and shame.
Anyways, I am pretty happy with the way this format is developing. It is a far cry from the undesirable state HGSS Onward was after Nationals last year, and while I feared it may devolve into a shallow format, this format has shown plenty of depth and even more room for innovation. It’s kept my excited to playtest online, and I think this is shaping up to be one of my favorite formats yet. Thank you Catcher!
Anyways, that’s all for this article, I am getting another one at the end of the month, and I’m not sure what I’m going to write about yet for that one, but I’ll be sure to give a post BRs, pre Regionals analysis and give me top 3 deck choices. Also, for anyone going to the Great Lakes Regionals, I will be judging there, possibly both days. So I hope to see everyone there. Give me Basculin cards en mass or I WILL DQ you. Now stop reading and go gather me bass cards.
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