Mark A. HicksOverall I think my last article went over pretty well and I got some good positive feedback from you, the readers. First I want to thank everybody that liked my article and gave it a positive review, as well as those of you who voted for me at the end of the month. I really do try my best to put out great articles so seeing the feedback is always rewarding.
This month I thought I would stick with the same recipe and I hope everybody can get a lot of useful information out of it heading into Regionals. If this is an article format you like or don’t like, please give honest feedback about it.
My Battle Roads Experience
Normally I don’t travel much for Battle Roads, but to put it simply, school has been driving me absolutely crazy. I’ve been unbelievably busy with my internship, classes, and work, and it was really starting to get to me. I have great friends and got an amazing offer to come up to Minnesota for the weekend and play in 2 Battle Roads that they had. I mainly wanted to use the weekend to test in a competitive environment and to try and nail a deck down for Regionals.
After talking to Josh I decided I had to play Magnezone/Yanmega. I knew the deck, plus it has pretty even match ups across the board. I also talked it over with Andy Wieman and he pretty much sold me on it being a good play.
Here is the list I ended up using. The base list was mine and then Andy and Josh helped me make some last minute tweaks.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 29
Energy – 11
I won’t waste a whole lot of this article giving you an in depth tournament report over a couple of Battle Roads. I also won’t give a detailed card for card analysis of my list considering I feel like Josh has covered the deck in depth in his last few articles.
pokebeach.comThe main difference in our lists was I chose not to run Kingdra Prime in mine and instead I opted to play a 4th Junk Arm and a PlusPower. I felt like Kingdra Prime was amazing if it got set up, but with a 1-0-1 line, Horsea was just too vulnerable to Pokémon Catcher. I thought that the PlusPower would get me the extra 10 damage when I needed it and the Junk Arm would help me get it back.
This sounded much better in theory than it did in actual practice. A single 10 damage to the active just wasn’t that impressive and I usually found myself 20-30 damage shy of the 1HKO. PlusPower also didn’t set up easy bench KOs for Yanmega like Kingdra does.
A 2-0-2 or 2-1-2 Kingdra might be the way to go, since it leaves you far less vulnerable to Pokémon Catcher, but it will drastically hurt your consistency with a deck that already has issues in that department. Either way, PlusPower probably isn’t staying in my list though I really haven’t decided on what to replace it with.
My tournament performance for the weekend was nothing I’m going to brag about. I ended up starting off day 1 at 3-0 before losing my last 2 games to bring me down to 3-2 and missing cut. Day 2 I fought back from 0-1 to 5-1 and made top cut before losing to Zekrom in top 4.
The thing that bothers me the most this weekend is the fact that none of my losses were really games where I felt my playing ability factored in, and except for my game against Jake Long, there weren’t really any times where I could look back and be like “Well maybe if I would have done this differently, the game might have had a different outcome.”
I absolutely hate it when players blame their losses purely on bad luck so I try desperately hard not to do this. I just don’t feel like our current format gives you as much room to outplay your opponent as previous formats have.
Here’s a quick recap of the weekend:
Round 1: Gothitelle W
Round 2: Yanmega/Zone W
Round 3: Typhlosion/Reshiram W
Round 4: Zekrom L
Round 5: Yanmega/Kingdra/Zone L
Round 1: Emboar/Reshiram L
Round 2: Typhlosion/Reshiram W
Round 3: Zekrom W
Round 4: Stage 1’s W
Round 5: Typhlosion/Reshiram W
Round 6: Donphan/Machamp W
Top 4: Zekrom Loss
I won’t go in-depth about the matches I won; instead I’ll just share my losses. Honestly you’re almost always going to learn more from your losses than you will from your wins.
pokegym.netMy first loss was to Andrew with Zekrom. I mulligan twice before going second and the game plays out picture perfect for him. He gets the first turn KO with Zekrom and I am forced to “Eeek” for several turns and try to set up while he uses Pokémon Catcher to grab key prizes. By the time I see my first Magnezone I’m already down 4 Prizes and don’t have the energy to take more than a single KO before he takes his last 2 Prizes.
My second loss was to Connor playing MegaJudge with a 2-1-2 Kingdra and Jirachi CL. I start second opening Pachy is to his Yanma. Followed by a turn 2 Yanmega for him, I think I have a small chance in this match up because I do get the first Magnezone in play, and then I proceed to Judge his large hand. But out of his four cards he manages to get double Magnezones out and never looks back.
My third loss was to Jake Long playing Emboar/Reshiram. I went first opening Yanma to his active Reshiram and benched Vulpix. The game was pretty much decided on his second turn when I have to make a decision. I topped a Pokémon Communication with no other Supporters in my hand and my only in hand Pokémon being a Yanmega Prime. His field was Reshiram active and 2 Vulpix benched. I have a Pokémon Catcher and I can match hand sizes. So my 2 options are either to Catcher and KO Vulpix or Communication for Cleffa and “Eeek.”
At this point in the game I had only seen 2 Pokémon (Yanma and Yanmega) and 1 Supporter (Sage’s Training). This left me with 18 Pokémon and 11 Supporters in my deck, so literally half of my deck would make my hand playable. I also knew if he started looping Ninetales I would probably lose regardless due to how easily his deck scored 1HKOs when it got set up.
So I take the Vulpix KO, draw an energy for the prize, and a Judge for my next turn top deck. I play the Judge and am forced to drop a basic in my hand (he dropped Tepig, Tepig, Vulpix the turn before). He has a massive turn after the Judge getting 2 Ninetales and an Emboar into play, and I have no way to compete with that field.
Looking back, taking the first KO without a board position to back it up was probably a bad idea since it gave him access to Twins, though at the time I felt like him having double Ninetales on the field was just as bad. But hindsight is 20-20 and it’s far easier to quarterback a game from your living room than it is on the football field.
My last loss came in Top 4 against Ed with Zekrom.
Game 1: He goes first and KOs my lone Cleffa with Pachy.
Game 2: I go first with Yanma and Magnemite, attach to Magnemite and pass, he attaches to Zekrom and passes. I Candy Zone, drop Patchy, and turn 2 him.
I played 3 turns in 3 games, and the entire match took around 12 minutes.
In the end Mike Lesky of Wisconsin ended up winning both days going 15-0 undefeated. I got a peek at his list and we were within 3 cards of each other and the differences were minor. I really don’t know what to make of this; once again it almost seems like a cop-out for me to say it was simply his weekend or he was luckier or got better opening hands than me, but without really watching all of his matches I really can’t comment on if he did something drastically different than me.
One of the biggest things I noticed about this weekend compared to tournaments last year is simply the quality of everybody’s decks. Even the more “random” decks in the field seemed to have very solid and consistent lists behind them. I think this is due to how much more coverage this game is getting, sites like SixPrizes, Prof It!, and Pooka’s live game streaming all factor into this.
One other major thing I noticed this weekend is how similar lists were for the same deck. Before it was nothing to have the same decks be 10+ cards off and you just simply don’t see that anymore. Pretty much all of the archetypes I saw were within 5 or fewer cards of each other.
Once again this is due to a large majority of the population having access to better lists and the simple fact that this is still a relatively new format with only a handful of sets legal. I hope as more sets are added to our card pool we’ll begin to see more diversity in decks.
pokegym.netI’m not as in love with this deck as Josh is, so I’m not hailing it as the best deck in the format. Rather I’m saying it’s a very good deck in the format and one that is surely going to see play. This weekend was the first time I played the deck in a tournament where Pokémon Catcher was legal, so I’ll share some of my thoughts.
What I liked about the deck:
- It has pretty even match ups against the field.
- It has the ability to 1HKO Pokémon.
- The deck has options.
What I didn’t like about the deck:
- I found the deck only semi-consistent.
- You burn through resources quickly (several games I was within a few cards of decking out).
- Only 10 Basics, all with 50 HP or less.
Three Reasons Why I Hate this Format
1. Going first is way too big of an advantage:
- I won 4 out of the 5 games I went first.
- I won 4 out of the 7 games I went second.
- I won every game that I went first and opened Pokémon Collector.
- 2 of the games I won going second I feel were due to my opponents playing badly.
2. We desperately need something to punish people for taking the first prize.
I know we have Twins and N is coming out next month, but I just don’t feel like it is enough. I honestly think Scramble Energy would improve this format dramatically, especially since you would be able to Twins for it.
3. We desperately need some sort of consistency crutch beyond Cleffa.
It’s honestly just not enough; back in 2006-2007 we had Holon Transceiver and Holon Mentor which essentially allowed every deck to play 6-8 Pokémon Collectors, not to mention act as a tool box for numerous search and straight draw cards.
In 2008-2010 we had Call Energy, and Chatot MD acted a lot like Cleffa, but with better Hit Points. In 2010-2011 we had Spiritomb AR which brought the game to a grinding halt for the first few turns. I’m not knocking Cleffa (besides its HP), I just feel like we need more to help consistency.
I’m not overly worried though; usually during Fall Battle Roads the format is pretty sketchy and far more luck based. Normally, after a rotation a ton of sets are cut and it usually leaves a hole in the format that leaves a lack of consistency cards and increase in luck based decks.
The Mario (Machamp DP and Lucario DP) format of 2008, and the Turn 2 Kingdra format of 2009, etc. are all examples of this. Around Cities is when the format really starts to take shape and gain depth and with some of the new cards I’ve seen (like N), I have high hopes that this year will be no different.
Tips Heading Into Regionals
When you’re testing: Don’t flip to see who goes first every new game, instead simply go back and forth. This stops one player from going first an uneven amount of times. You might be lucky in testing and go first 8 out of 10 games but only go first 2 out of 10 games the next day. This is something that could drastically affect your results. Plus going first or second adds another variable to your testing which is something that we always try and remove.
Tech Binder. Whenever I go to tournament I always bring a tech binder with me. My tech binder is normally a very small 4 slot per page binder that I carry techs I could see myself adding to my deck. Basic Supporters like Copycat, PONT, Cheren, etc. Trainers like Switch, Junk Arm, Pokémon Communication, etc. My Pokémon techs usually depend on the deck I run but I think you get the idea. This allows me to very easily switch up my deck and make minor changes to it if I want to based on the meta I see.
Bring extra basic energy with you. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a tournament and I have had someone ask me if I had extra basic energy. Sadly I’ve also been this guy and it’s very embarrassing to go around asking if anybody has R Energy on them.
Play what you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to play the best deck in the format to do well in a tournament and sometimes it can even cost you big time by doing so. If a deck is considered the best deck in the format it is usually for a reason, but there are some downsides to playing them.
Most players spend the majority of their testing timing testing against the BDIF (best deck/s in the format). Which means when they play against you, they know how to play the matchup because they have done it plenty of times in testing.
Jason Klaczynski is a two time World Champion, who admits in both of his Worlds wins he played what he believed to be the second or even third best deck in the format. However he still chose to play those decks because he knew them inside and out and believed that he could outplay the better decks.
Experience is everything in this game.
On the same note, don’t refuse to play a deck you feel really good about because it is dubbed as the BDIF.
Play “Your Deck.” This is something that I can’t stress enough; everybody’s play style is a little different. I have never played a list card for card that I’ve found online. Now this isn’t out of some belief that I have to be original, but rather I’ve always changed the list to fit my play style. That being said, you also don’t have to start from scratch when your building a deck either.
A perfect example of this is Palkia Lock a few years ago. I played the deck at a States when all the lists were still very “new” and ended up getting 2nd. Heading into Regionals Chris Fulop had the most polished list for the deck I had seen. So I began testing his build (that he had success with), over the couple of weeks leading up to Regionals I made a half dozen changes to the build to fit my play style.
I ended up winning the Regionals with a list based heavily off of Chris build. But I had multiple games that day where my changes won me the game, most notably I added a second Crobat G which won me the finals.
This is why in my articles I try to give so much background on why I made certain choices in my decks, and why I ran the number of copies I did. I feel this allows the readers to more easily understand my thinking process and help them adapt the deck to their play style or metagame.
Use stock lists when testing. When testing for tournaments I recommend using very standard builds to test against. Perhaps you like running a 4-4 Lanturn in your Zekrom, but it is probably not something you’re going to see in tournaments.
As soon as you underestimate somebody, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. From time to time in this game I’ll see somebody put down a new player or call them an easy win and it’s really disappointing to see. No matter how good you think you are at this game or what you’ve accomplished, it doesn’t make you special.
Would you really walk up to Pooka and tell him how amazing you are because you made Top 128 at Nationals? One of my favorite quotes is “It’s not the loudest person in a room you should be most afraid of, it’s the quietest.” Meaning the truly exceptional players don’t have to walk around telling everybody how good they are.
Here is something Josh talked about I want to touch on:
“This is an old tip that I’ve stressed before, but don’t forget it—don’t be afraid to ask players for advice! The worst thing someone can do is ignore your post or say no. The best thing that can happen is that you can get some valuable insight!” –Josh.
pokegym.netThere is a difference between being a player looking for advice and a beg friend. A beg friend is somebody who basically wants to be somebody’s friend only to use them. It really doesn’t take long to get that kind of reputation and is definitely not something you want to be seen as.
The big thing to do when trying to get help from someone else is to ask yourself, “What do I bring to the table?” If your boss invites you over for dinner, you are not going to show up empty handed. You’ll probably bring a bottle of wine or a dessert something to thank them and to show you’re contributing to the meal.
It’s the same thing in Pokémon I would never expect anybody to just give me their decklist, (nor would I just ask). Normally I would offer a swap: “Hey I’ve won 2 Battle Roads with my Zekrom deck, but my Typhlosion/Reshiram list is pretty bad. I know you won a couple Battle Roads with the deck, would you be interested in exchanging lists?” Now they might not be interested, but at least you brought something to the table and didn’t just expect a free list.
The second way to approach somebody is come in with your own lists and ask very specific questions. I really don’t like the “What do you think of my deck?” type of questions; because it’s so broad and especially if I don’t like the list I could probably right a few pages worth of a response, which normally most players won’t take the time to do.
A better way to approach it would be “Here is my Typhlosion/Reshiram list, I’m having problems with Gothitelle do you have any suggestions on what I can do to improve this match up?” or “What’s your opinion on Ninetales?” The more specific the question is the more specific of an answer you can expect to receive and in my experience the more willing people are to help you. Plus since your coming in with your own list it shows that you’ve already put some effort into your deck.
Magby TM/CL: I’ve seen this card pop up in some Zekrom decks, and other decks that lack the 1HKO ability against Trainer Lock. The idea is you burn whatever they are tanking, (usually either Donphan or Gothitelle) so you have a 75% to land burn damage on the Pokémon that they are not able to Reuniclus away. Normally this 20 damage puts the Pokémon back in 1HKO range for one of your other Pokémon.
However, there are numerous problems with this strategy, mainly the fact that Gothitelle plays Switch to get out of the burn and 20 damage on Donphan still doesn’t allow Zekrom to 1HKO it. But it’s something I saw pop up and I wanted to share it with you.
This year is a bit different than we are used to for a few different reasons. In the past Battle Roads meant next to nothing and had almost no impact on your rankings. They were just a fun way to get back into the season without a ton of pressure.
However, now that we have Championship Points they can actually mean the difference between getting and not getting a Worlds invite. But perhaps even more important is the fact that the format we use for Battle Roads will be the exact same format that we are going to have for Fall Regionals.
So let’s take a look at what been doing well at Battle Roads so far, the list on Pokégym was nearly impossible to get accurate information from so I spent the last 2 hours going through every page to get an accurate tally for you guys…or maybe I just stole Josh’s list. But clearly the most important thing is that we have an accurate list.
What Won Battle Roads (The J-Wittz tally)
31 Zekrom Variants (likely with Shaymin/Pachirisu/Tornadus)
16 Magnezone/Yanmega (sometimes w/Kingdra)
9 Stage 1s (Combinations of Yanmega/Weavile/Zoroark/Donphan/Cinccino)
5 Mew Prime + Stage 1s
4 “Ross” (Vileplume/Reuniclus/Zekrom/Donphan/Suicune Entei Legend)
*Only decks that won more than 1 Battle Road were posted
pokemon-paradijs.comI think it’s really important to look at what has been doing well, but there are some things to keep in mind when analyzing a list like this. First this is only for the areas that reported and often it groups different variations of a deck together. A deck like “Stage 1s” could mean Donphan/Yanmega, Yanmega/Beartic, etc.
The other thing to keep in mind is that this list doesn’t tell the size of the tournament. A deck winning a 50 person Battle Roads is a far bigger accomplishment than a deck winning a 10 person Battle Roads.
Same with records, a deck going X-2 and narrowly making top cut, then narrowly winning games in Top 4 and Top 2 is very different than a deck going undefeated winning all of their games by a large margin.
It’s also important to realize how at times there can be large shifts in a meta with very little notice, and Nationals last year was a perfect example of this. Before Canadian Nationals Magneboar was considered the BDIF, but after Canadian Nationals, Yanmega/Magnezone decks took that role and made large showings at US Nationals.
Due to this shift Typhlosion/Reshiram saw a huge upswing in play at Worlds despite the fact that it had seen very little at Nationals. All of these shift occurred over the course of just a few months. Now this is very extreme example, but it’s important to remember meta shifts are always possibility and they are not always easy to predict.
The last thing I want to cover before breaking off and talking about individual decks, is I wanted to talk about decks in general. One thing I do really enjoy about this format is how there is more than one right way to play a deck. To use Typhlosion/Reshiram as an example, I’ve seen list with no Ninetales, and I’ve seen list that run 3-3 Ninetales and everything in-between.
Both ways are “correct” and a list isn’t good or bad just because of the Ninetales count. Things like personal preference and meta are taken in to account when a player is determining the Ninetales line. So simply because a deck did well with a 3-3 Ninetales doesn’t mean that’s the only “right” way to play the deck or vice versa. Keep this in mind when you are building your deck for Regionals.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
The real earth shattering thing you probably noticed about this list is that I run a 1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND (which I’ll refer to it as SEL from now on). I’m sure many of you are wondering why. After all I run zero Water energy which means that I can’t even use SEL’s first attack and 3 for 80 and burn is a pretty vanilla attack. But the thing that makes this card so great is the fact that Suicune brings an easily accessible Water Pokémon to the table.
The deck’s hardest matchups are the “Ross Deck” and Gothitelle because the prize count doesn’t matter in those games; as soon as they get “the lock,” you lose. You simply can’t deal enough damage to 1HKO anything and they simply Reuniclus the damage away and heal while 1 shooting or at worse 2 shooting your Pokémon.
Against the Ross deck, their two biggest attackers are Donphan Prime and SEL. Before, the Water weakness really wasn’t that big of a deal because there really wasn’t any good Water Pokémon. The real sad thing about the matchup is the fact normally you’re simply dominating them until they just bide time trying to get the lock in and once they have it in you lose.
The beautiful thing is that SEL 1HKOs both of these threats. Of course they can 1HKO you with their SEL, but normally they can’t drop a surprise SEL on you in one turn, so you can time it well. The way to matchup plays out is you normally take 3 or 4 Prizes while they are setting up and you really just need something to push through for those last few prizes.
The Gothitelle matchup is slightly different, after all nothing in the deck is Water weak, but SEL can still win you this match up. The huge thing here is the burn damage, if you come up and hit a Gothitelle for 80 damage and burn it they are simply going to move that damage with Reuniclus.
But if they don’t retreat that Gothitelle or Switch/retreat it than you’ll have a 75% chance of getting that key 20 damage on them they can’t remove (burn flip at the end of their turn and the burn flip at the end of your turn). If either of these is tails, then a Reshiram will be able to 1 shot it.
It is far from a fool-proof plan and they can play around it, but it gives you a fighting chance once they lock you where before you would just be scooping up your cards. They simply can’t keep retreating out of burn every turn at the cost of 2 Energy, which means they need either their 1 Switch (pretty realistic with Twins) or Junk Arm (which they probably run 0-3).
4 Reshiram: I’ve seen some versions play only 3 and do just fine with that. I think the big thing is we are playing the version without Ninetales, which means were running only running 9 Basics (one being Cleffa) while the Ninetales version is running 1-3 more basics. Also the Ninetales version is tighter on space and might need to make that cut when we really don’t.
4-2-4 Typhlosion: The 4-2-4 line is pretty standard so I won’t go into a ton of detail. It’s just far faster and more consistent than 3-1-3 or 3-2-3, especially with Pokémon Catcher in the format.
1 Cleffa: Once again I won’t go into a ton of detail, I think pretty much every deck in the format plays at least one Cleffa. For a single tech spot it can get you out of bad hands or tough spots. Plus the fact it’s searchable with 4 Pokémon Collector and 4 Pokémon Communication which means you have 9 outs to a bad hand at the start of the game (sometimes more with situational Junk Arms) not including all the “draw cards” the deck already runs.
1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND: I covered this in the opening few paragraphs, but I really want to draw attention to how sometimes thinking outside the box can greatly improve your bad match ups. Over the years I have found that I sometimes give up too early on a deck once I realize its shortcomings and that is something I’m trying to get better at. Last year Yanmega/Magnezone was the perfect example of this.
It was the first deck I built for the new HGSS on format, but my list was subpar and when I found it had a mediocre Emboar/Zone match up I abandoned the deck rather than working on improving my list. There is a fine line between giving up to early on a deck with potential and wasting too much time on a deck you simply want to be good, finding the line is normally the hard part.
4 Pokémon Collector: Another consistency card, pretty much every deck in the format is going to be running 4 of them.
4 Sage’s Training: This is something I really thought of doing a 3-3 split with PONT in the deck. But I really like how Sages helps speed through the deck, and dumps R Energy in the discard at the same time. If 4 Sages isn’t working for you try messing around with the Sages count and PONT and see if you find a balance you like.
4 Junk Arm: This deck has a lot synergy with Junk Arm for several different reasons. First we don’t play Ninetales, so this really limits our ways of discarding R Energy and getting them into the discard pile for Typhlosion Prime. Sure we could just wait till something gets Knocked Out to get the energy in there but that just way to slow in a such a fast format.
We also play a large number of tech trainers that we might want to use repeatedly (PlusPower, Pokémon Catcher) over the course of a game or even over the course of just one turn. Lastly we run a lot of other discarding cards (4 Professor Juniper, 4 Sage’s Training), so it’s not uncommon early game to find our discard pile filled with a wide variety of Trainers. This really gives Junk Arm that tool box effect like I talked about in one of my early articles.
4 Professor Juniper: It’s no secret I’m pretty stingy on this card and very particular in what decks I play it in. I usually reserve it for decks that: don’t have a ton of key cards I might have to discard, can easily play their hand down before discarding, a deck that really want to burn through their deck at a fast rate (speed decks), and decks that might benefit from the discarding effect. I really don’t see Typhlosion/Reshiram as a speed based deck it does fit the other three rather well.
The only thing that I ever really have a hard time discard is a Typhlosion Prime and we run 4 of them, plus those situations aren’t extremely common which makes it manageable. Plus the Professor Juniper just adds another way we can dump R Energy into the discard pile early game.
3 Rare Candy: I would love to play a full 4 Rare Candy, but I opted for 3 simply because of room and to be honest I probably shouldn’t. The 4 Candy is my 61st card right now and I’m trying to find a way to get it back in the deck.
3 PlusPower: Deciding how many PlusPower to run can at times be a tough call. I ran 3 because I felt like if we ran 2 we would never draw into it enough to get in situations that we needed it, especially not running a draw Pokémon like Ninetales or something that could search it out like Twins. We didn’t run 4 because we simply didn’t have enough room.
2 Pokémon Catcher: Typhlosion/Reshiram is not a very fast deck in terms of today’s field; it gets it strength from dealing high amounts of damage consistently every turn once it is set up. Baring an amazing opening hand, the deck won’t be using Blue Flare for 120 damage on turn 2. Which means we won’t normally be able to grab those cheap and early prize off our opponent.
This makes Pokémon Catcher much stronger in the mid to late game when we are trying to control the field or steal cheap prizes for the win. So 2 may not seem like a lot but you do have to remember we have 4 Junk Arm to reuse it.
So first I have to be straight up and honest with everybody: personally this is not a deck that I would play in a tournament right now. To put it simply, in my opinion its weakness outweigh its strengths.
- Has a high chance of donking an opponent that opens with 1 basic.
- Can relatively easily put 120 Damage on the field turn 1.
- Can put enough early pressure on the field that you can “win out” of your bad match ups.
- The deck is very straight forward.
- There are “good” Fighting Pokémon that see play right now (Donphan Prime for one).
- A very weak Trainer Lock match up.
- You can’t play from behind.
- The deck lacks options.
pokegym.netAll of that being said, it is a relatively simple deck to play and understand. This makes it a perfect choice for Juniors and in some cases Seniors. This also makes it a solid choice for anyone who is newer to the game or simply is looking for a very straight forward deck to play.
Now before I get an inbox full of hate mail, let me be clear and say this is simply my opinion of the deck. In no way am I denying the strength of the deck or how many Battle Road wins the deck has. I’m simply saying the deck has too many tough match ups and lacks to many options for me.
Whether you agree with me or not, the important thing is to have a good list for the deck. Because the deck will see play at Regionals, and it’s important for you to either be ready to play it or play against it.
So originally I was going to give you my Zekrom/Tornadus list, until I realized how close it was to Fulop’s. Since I don’t plan on playing the deck for Regionals I like to stick to a very standard list for testing. There is very little point in me testing against a variation of the deck that I probably won’t see in an actual tournament. Chris’ list from his last article is near perfect for this and I would only make one or two minor changes to his list for testing.
So instead of giving you a list within a few cards of Fulop’s I’m going to talk about a another way of running the deck that I have been working on. This isn’t something I’ve tested heavily, since I don’t plan on playing it nor do I feel that this is the “perfect” list for the deck. But I do think the idea has some merit and the list is going in a new direction.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 34
4 Dual Ball
Energy – 11
On the surface this looks like your standard Zekrom deck, you still play all of your key Pokémon and Trainers. But there is a few major things that make this deck stand out and that’s the 4 Victory Medal and the 4 Energy Search. The idea behind the deck borrows heavily from that of the Trainer Gyarados deck.
Play a lot of Trainer cards that burn through your deck and then go for a new hand (sadly we still don’t have Uxie LA), with cards like Professor Juniper and Professor Oaks New Theory. We still run all the same consistency cards that the standard Zekrom does we simply traded some of our tech and energy spots for cards that thin out our deck and help us burn through it.
I won’t pretend like this deck doesn’t have a much weaker Trainer Lock match up compared to your standard Zekrom list. But let’s be honest: Trainer Lock is a bad match up no matter what variation of Zekrom you are running.
4 Tornadus: Honestly you don’t need 4; I think 3 would work just. The reason I ran the 4th is simply so we have 7 good starters between Tornadus and Zekrom.
3 Zekrom: If you wanted you could switch the Tornadus and Zekrom counts pretty easily. I just feel like Tornadus is the better choice since early game 80 is enough to score KOs or basics and it lets you diversify your energy.
2 Pachy: It honestly scares me to only run 2 Pachy and 2 Shaymin. The odds of prizing both are low, but it does happen. Tornadus also can attack for 2 energy (Lightning and DCE) which makes this rare game state not an auto-loss like it was before (Zekrom took 3 drops).
So in the end the deck simply doesn’t have the space to try and reduce the odds of running into a very rare game state. Something I have toyed around with is running a 3rd Pachy as this would decrease the of prizing all your Pachy down to near nothing.
2 Shaymin: Pretty much the exact same as Pachy; it’s a necessary part of the combo I would love to run 3-of out of fear of prizing 2, but I simply don’t want to devote the space to it.
1 Cleffa: I pretty much play 1 Cleffa in pretty much everything, if your hand is unplayable this give you a chance at a new one early game. Or if you start running out of steam mid to late game than Cleffa can snag you a new hand. I opted not to play Tyrogue in this build simply for room.
If you took a look at Kettler last article he opted to play 1 Tyrogue and no Cleffa in his version, and I’m sure the same would work here. This is one of those “do at your own risk” ideas because I can’t think of 1 deck in this format I would tell somebody to run without Cleffa.
4 Dual Ball: We can search out any Pokémon in this deck with Dual Ball since we only run basics. Pair this with the fact Dual Ball is a Trainer Card and doesn’t take up our Supporter for the turn, it’s far better than both Pokémon Communication and Pokémon Collector for this deck.
4 Victory Medal: The idea behind Victory Medal is that it’s a self-replacing card. When you play it 50% of the time you are going to get to draw a card. This makes Victory Medal a 1-1 card that burns through our deck. Another 25% of the time you are going to get nothing, but this downside is evened out by the fact that 25% of the time you are going to get to search your deck for any card.
Being able to search the deck for any card we want should almost always guarantee that we get that Turn 1 Zekrom or Turn 1 Tornadus. The downside to Victory Medal is that it eats up four spots that we could be devoting to techs.
4 Energy Search: I dropped 4 Lightning from the deck and added 4 Energy Search. Since we run 1 Energy Retrieval, 7 energy plays just fine. Energy Search burns through our deck and also has a lot of synergy with Junk Arm. Once you play a single Energy Search your 4 Junk Arms can now grab energy as well. This can make setting up the turn 1 Zekrom or Tornadus much easier.
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory: Like I talked about earlier the idea behind the deck is to play through all your normal Trainers and then go for a new hand. PONT and Professor Juniper are the best 2 Supporters for this so that’s why we max them out.
3 PlusPower: This is personal preference, but I feel 3 or 4 is the right call for the deck. So feel free to play around with the number and see what works for you.
2 Copycat: Copycat acts as our 3rd “new hand” Supporter. Since it doesn’t have a set number of cards that we can rely on getting every time, I find it weaker than both PONT and Juniper. This is why we only run a pair of them.
1 Switch: Just a minor tech in the deck that has situational uses. It can help us get a Pachy or Shaymin out of the Active Spot that we were forced to start with. Or get a damaged Zekrom or Tornadus back to the bench. Plus once it hits the discard it can be a nice Junk Arm target if we need it back.
1 Energy Retrieval: I love Energy Retrieval in this deck. It sets up mid and late game Pachys. This is also one deck where you have to attach an energy nearly every turn and Energy Retrieval helps make sure you can do this.
1 Seeker: Prior to Emerging Powers, one of the biggest problems I had with this deck was how flip reliant it was. Super Scoop Up and Pokémon Reversal each required coin flips and I hate decks that rely on coin flips, especially 8 of them. I never really found myself needing to pick up a Pokémon very often but a single copy gives me that option mid to late game to reuse a Pachy or Shaymin.
We don’t run more because Seeker is a Supporter and early to mid game were normally going to need a new hand more than we are going to need to pick a Pokémon up. 0-2 is probably the number I would stick with for this deck.
7 Lightning: Most Zekrom lists are going to run higher basic energy counts but for this build I opted to play a lower energy count and instead play 4 copies of Energy Search
4 Double Colorless: The number of DCE in my opinion should be equal to the number of Tornadus in my deck. Since we run 4 Tornadus I opted to play 4 DCE
Good Luck At Regionals!
Mark A. HicksSo that’s it for this time around hopefully everyone enjoyed the article and it gave you some things to think about heading into Regionals. Right now it looks like I’ll be heading to St. Louis, Missouri for Regionals. So if you see me walking around please come up and introduce yourself I love being able to put names and screen names with faces.
The big things I want you to take away from this article is play a deck you like, feel comfortable with and no inside and out. It’s far better to play a tier 2 deck that you play near perfectly than a tier 1 deck you have no idea what you’re doing with.
Lastly, enjoy it. Just because you want to do well at it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a fun time as well. As soon as you lose sight of that than you really lose the point of playing.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
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