With Autumn Battle Roads now officially in the books everyone’s attention is turning to Regionals. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because of my commitment to my job (have to pay those bills!), but I am very excited to see what decks do well. I’d also like to share the deck that I ran during Battle Roads because it proved to be stronger than I’d anticipated! I was able to run this deck to a current #1 ranking in both Rating and Championship Points in Arizona!
Back in the early days of Pokémon TCG I played (along with everybody else) a Haymaker deck. I believe I played a list that was Hitmonchan, Electabuzz, and Fossil Magmar heavy. The strength and consistency of that deck motif was ridiculous. Nowadays Trainer “engines” are much slower because of Supporters and big Basic Pokémon were not very playable. Until…
…Reshiram and Zekrom.
I couldn’t help but feel like Zekrom and Reshiram were meant to be played like Haymaker Pokémon. Donphan Prime even helped the cause by mimicking Hitmonchans early power, and helping power up the dragons to boot! That more or less made up my mind to run this deck and see if it could restore the motif’s old glory days. I managed to make Top Cut at all three Battle Roads I played the deck at (36 players, 32 players, 53 players), and finished 1st, 3rd, and 1st. Not a bad start.
I know that a lot of players that are doing well don’t like to share their lists. I can’t blame them. It’s hard work tweaking your own list, and it’s probably no fun putting it out there for everyone to tinker with. I don’t mind, though, and actually hope someone takes up my cause and helps me bring this deck to the top! Here’s the list:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
The deck itself is very Trainer and Supporter heavy. Some people advised against running four Catchers and four Junk Arms, but I can’t tell you how many times the extra copy of each won me a game. Lost Remover was more of an addition sparked by nostalgia (Energy Removal?), but has proven to be quite useful against those pesky Pokémon that rely on DCE. This card proved to be more disruptive that I thought it would be, but can be a dead-draw against the likes of Donphan and Yanmega.
On to the Pokémon! Phanpy CL might not be the best choice in retrospect (being able to Flail if going second might be worth it), but Ultra-Thick Skin has come through a handful of times. This one is really a matter of taste. I considered running only Zekrom, but decided to tech one Reshiram in just in case the occasional Kingdra Prime pops up.
The one tech that I really like (and one I haven’t seen in any lists really) is the Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND. More often than not this card will make for a dead-draw, but does very well against Ross’ Deck and Gothitelle. In one game against a Ross Deck I went from down 3 Prizes to one in a completely lost position to dropping both Legend halves and using Moon’s Invite for 3 Prizes to win the game in one turn!
One of the reasons I really like this format is because of the wide range of “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” decks. It seems like every city has their own different meta. This also means, however, that we need to test and prepare for that many more decks! This really allows for so much creativity. These are the more popular decks that I’ve encountered, though, and how I’ve navigated against each:
This is one that gave me trouble. I’ll admit that I just assumed this wouldn’t be a tough deck to beat and completely ignored in testing. That sounds terrible given how this deck won Worlds, but I just felt like Catcher hurt this deck enough to where it just wasn’t strong enough anymore. I went after the Magnezones, because they were easy prizes for my Donphans, but learned quickly that Emboar and RDL are nothing to scoff at.
In retrospect I’d probably go after the Tepigs and Pignites early, as this deck is slowed down quite a bit without Inferno Fandango. A tough matchup, but shouldn’t be impossible if you can remove the Emboars from the equation. Donphan does well against Magnezone and Tornadus takes care of RDL. Using Catcher to remove the Emboar line should be key.
This one has actually not given me much trouble. It really comes down to matchups, but they’re actually pretty favorable. Donphan matches up well against Zoroark and Cincinno. Zekrom is a big problem for Yanmega. Tornadus can handle Donphan. The abundance of Catcher also means that you should be able to make your matchup favorable every turn for some quick 1HKOs.
pokebeach.comThis has actually been my easiest matchup. Yanmega/Magnezone just doesn’t stack well against this deck. Magnezone is relatively easy to handle with the plentiful Donphans, and cleaning up the Yanmegas with Zekrom is easy as well. Your main attacker should really be Donphan all the time against this deck as your opponent really won’t have any easy answers to counter you.
Yanmega can take Donphan’s punch, but really can’t hit him back hard enough to prevent you from using Catcher to Knock Out Magnemite, Magneton, Magnezone. Magnezone also has a hard time attacking because of the amount of energy he’ll have to Lost Zone to consistently Knock Out Donphan. Eventually they’ll just run out!
This was the only deck to beat me in Top Cut, but also the deck I beat the most in Top Cut. The truth is that this one will be common in just about any metagame. The deck is fast and consistent. There’s no easy answer, but I’ve had success ignoring everything except Cyndaquil/Typhlosion. This is the cog that makes the whole thing work.
It’s easier said than done, but removing these is key. Sometimes this will mean burning two Catchers to Knock Out a Typhlosion in two hits, but it’s worth it. The deck sputters without Afterburner, and Reshiram won’t seem so bad after that.
I never really bought into the hype for this deck. I still have my doubts about how far this deck will go, but I’ve seen the potential, and it’s scary! In one game I was able to take 5 Prizes to my opponent’s zero, only to have him fully set up and being unable to take that last prize. It was terrible, and that’s what this deck can do to you. Fortunately, Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND can save you in this one.
If your opponent is unable to remove the damage on their bench fast enough, Moon’s Invite can cripple their entire setup by letting you Knock Out multiple things at once. In the games I’ve played against this deck a single Moon’s Invite has been enough to disrupt my opponent to the point of no recovery.
The only other approach I’ve taken against this deck somewhat successfully is Catcher every Solosis/Reuniclus early. Gothitelle is slow, and not so scary if she can’t move around damage. If you can take Reuniclus out of the equation Knocking Out Gothitelle won’t be too much of a problem.
Donphan and Dragons is a deck that can hit fast, early. Most matchups are also surprisingly favorable for this deck, regardless of meta, and that I believe is what can take this deck far. In this wide-open format the decks that can adapt to any situation are the ones that rise to the top, and this does just that.
Noble Victories will have a huge impact on this deck as well, but I believe all will be positive. Eviolite and Rocky Helmet will only make the dragons stronger, and the addition of Kyurem will be great as a counter to the likes of ReshiPhlosion and Donphan. Even cards like Archeops will only make these big Basics that much stronger!
What are your thoughts?