Mark A. HicksFor those of you yearning for an invite to the 2012 World Championships, Regionals are a great place to rack up Championship Points. Even if you aren’t planning to go all the way, who wouldn’t want the sick trophy, not to mention the major props, that come with winning Regionals? With the 2011-2012 Fall Regionals just around the corner, I’d like to talk about the pet project that I’ve been working on.
Let me start by saying that I was planning to go to Regionals this year, but just learned that I won’t be able to go. Instead of letting the last two months of my research and testing go to waste (Noble Victories is released after November 12th, so at least a portion of this information will be outdated), I decided I would release it so someone can make use of it.
Below I talk all about the deck I had chosen to run at Regionals; why I selected this particular deck, how I built the list, the way the deck works as well as possible changes that could be made and how it stacks up against the rest of the format.
I’m not going to try and convince you it’s the by far BDIF that can beat anything and you’d be stupid not to use it. My only wish is to present a twist on a top deck that has performed incredibly well for me in testing. There’s a lot I’d like to cover, so let’s get started.
Before I start building my deck for a tournament, I take a long look at the metagame I’m expecting to see and ask myself one question: what can beat it? The format hasn’t changed since Battle Roads, so I know I can expect a lot of the same with a few changes. However, since everyone else knows how Fall BR’s played out, it’s sure to have an impact on Regionals.
In light of this, the decks I picked as “the ones to beat” and that I should be doing a large part of my play testing against are ReshiPhlosion, MegaZone, ZPST and Mew Box. Now I’d like to go into a bit more detail why I selected these four decks as “the big 4” for Regionals.
For starters, ReshiPhlosion is a strong, well rounded deck that is cheap and easy to play. These traits shinned during Fall Battle Roads with TyRam winning over 40 BRs this season, the most of any deck. I think ReshiPhlosion’s fatal flaw is its popularity. Being a mainstream deck since Nationals means everyone’s logged hundreds of games against the deck. This flaw didn’t ruin TyRam during Battle Roads, I expect it to be more of a hindrance going into Regionals.
MegaZone is one of the best decks in the format right now because it is a fast, well-rounded deck packed with disruptive tactics. It always has a lot of options and flexibility going into each game, making it a strong contender going into Regionals. If I hadn’t been using my ZPST variant this Battle Roads season, I probably would have used MegaZone.
I excluded Gothitelle from my “need to beat” list because of the rising popularity of Mew Prime. Because it can dish out big damage by Lost Zoning big hitters such as Cinccino or Jumpluff, combined with Gothitelle’s Psychic Weakness make Mew variants a terrible match up. Decks using Mew, such as Mew Box and MewLock, have been gaining a lot of steam as of late, so you definitely need to be prepared for it.
Finally, we have ZPST. ZPST’s strength stems from its raw speed and power. Double Colorless Energy and Pachirisu allow its main attackers, Zekrom and Tornadus, get fully charged at lightning speeds. PlusPower ensures vital KOs while Pokémon Catcher drags up your most valuable Pokémon to be Knocked Out.
Those four decks are the ones I’ve been preparing and testing the most against. But don’t fret, I haven’t been ignoring the other decks in the format. I’ve been viciously testing against any and every deck I could think of, ensuring it can handle just about anything. However, it’s important that you do your own testing to make sure you know each of its match ups inside and out: I don’t want to see any net-decking!
Pokémon – 15
1 Cleffa HS/CL
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
pokebeach.comThis ZPST variant, ZPSTZ (I like to be original :P), is your standard Zekrom/Pachirisu/Tornadus/Shaymin with an added 2-2 Zoroark line. The thing that kept holding this deck back for me was a less than ideal TyRam match up and since it was the most winning deck at Fall Battle Roads, let’s just say I wouldn’t be accepting anything less than 50/50.
The basic strategy of this deck is the same as ZPST; get out a quick Tornadus using Double Colorless Energy or Pachirisu. PlusPower lets you score vital knock outs and Pokémon Catcher is provides a major disruptive edge that can crush your opponent’s set up enough to score that 6th prize.
Now to address the giant red thumb: Zoroark. ZPST is a deck that consumes a lot of resources early in the game so it can get a rocket-fast start. However, this causes its mid and late-game to suffer. Zoroark has been amazing at scoring those vital knock outs against otherwise difficult to KO Pokémon.
Zoroark has been a valuable tool in nearly every match up, but it has been a life saver in a particular few. The first is against ReshiPhlosion. In the average game, I’m able to get about 3 KOs before they get a Reshiram and 1-2 Typhlosion Prime up and running. In some cases I can kill off enough Cyndaquil to prevent this, but in general they can eventually push one through via Rare Candy.
By this time, I’ve usually picked up somewhere between 2 and 4 Prizes. However, once they get Reshiram hitting for 120 + PlusPower a turn, ZPST crumbles, usually scoring only 1-2 more KOs. However, by using Zoroark (who I can easily power up via DCE) to take out their Reshiram (either before they get going or later in the game for that final 1-2 Prizes), I’ve been able to take a lot of games.
A similar thing happens against Magnezone Prime. I take the lead early, but eventually they set up a Magnezone, and along with Pachirisu, kill something important storing a lot of Energy. But with Zoroark, I’ve been able to stay in the game by getting an immediate revenge 1HKO, something that Zekrom has a tough time doing.
pokebeach.comBasically, Zoroark has allowed me to have a stronger end game against a lot of popular match ups and apply a lot of pressure on my opponent that Zekrom or Tornadus can’t always do effectively.
As for the rest of the deck, it’s built to be fast and aggressive each game while maintaining solid match ups across the board.
I’m really liking the 2/4 Collector/Dual Ball split. I find it much faster than 4 Collector on their own since I can still play another supporter, such as PONT or Juniper, during that turn. It’s also another card that can be targeted by Junk Arm, making Junk Arm that much stronger. I tried going with no Pokémon Collector, and then just 1, but neither of them quite worked. I also didn’t like being that much more vulnerable to an Item lock.
One card that’s definitely won me over is Pokégear 3.0. A recent addition, it gives me a lot more options as I have one more Supporter I can choose from. It also helps me save resources as I’m not as often forced to throw away a decent, but unusable at the moment hand with Juniper. Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this addition, I read it in an Underground article (I can’t remember who, but props to whoever it was).
The decision to run only 3 Pokémon Catcher, albeit controversial, is one I stand behind. Pokémon Catcher is easily one of the most powerful cards in the format, and if you aren’t running Vileplume, would be crazy not to include it. I liken it to how LuxChomp lists were beginning to cut out the 4th TGI Energy Gain from their lists. In place of the Cyrus’s Engine, we have the Juniper/PONT engine. Combined with 3 Junk Arm, I feel that I can get away with running only three copies. I’ve almost never had a game where I was saying “dang, I should have run a 4th copy”.
I don’t think running 3 Junk Arm is that strange of a move as a lot of lists are sticking to 3 copies. Again, I use the same reasoning as above: I’ve been able to consistently get it when I need it and I feel that space in the list can go to other, more important things.
pokebeach.comI cut Tyrogue as it didn’t seem as important as it used to be. Players are learning to run more basics to avoid being Tyrogue donked, so it’s becoming less relevant. Even if I couldn’t donk a Cleffa, killing it with Tyrogue has its advantages, but generally I didn’t want to waste the energy retreating something else to KO it with Tyrogue. Plus, if my opponent does start with a lone Cleffa (or almost any other Pokémon, for that matter), there’s a decent chance I can donk it with Zekrom or Tornadus.
Only two copies of Zekrom are included because, I haven’t needed more than that. Tornadus is your preferred beat-stick early game and Zoroark is just as, if not more, useful for taking down big Pokémon. Zekrom definitely has its uses and is still strong if you get it going early, as well as helping ensure a main attacker early.
The Energy line is pretty standard with the expected 4 DCE and 10 L Energy, a number I’m really happy with. Without wasting extra slots in the deck for Energy, I’m still able to consistently power up my attackers when I need to. In addition, since Zekrom plays a very back seat role in the deck, I can keep my L Energy at a slightly lower number.
Next up is the match up section. I’ve included a general outlook at each match up as well as some things you can do to improve each match up, both before and during the game.
pokebeach.comReshiPhlosion is going to be one of your most important as well as most common match ups at Regionals. Like I said, I think the amount of play deck sees won’t be as high as it was as Battle Roads, but you can definitely expect it to be popular, especially in the Junior and Senior divisions.
The most important thing in this match is to be careful with your resources; you should be planning what to do with your Energies 3+ turns in advance, at least to some extent. It’s vital that you’re prepared for everything. If they use Blackbelt to 1HKO that Tornadus with an injured Reshiram, can you come back from that. This is one of those match ups where a mistake can and probably will cost you the game.
At the same time, you need to know when to take risks. Your opponent has the stronger and more consistent end game than you, so it’s in their advantage to play it safe. You need to know when to drag up a lone Typhlosion Prime for a 2HKO and when you should focus on taking cheap prizes off of Ninetales and Cyndaquil.
In general, Zekrom isn’t going to be that useful here as it’s a lot of investment when your opponent can 1HKO it pretty easily. Generally, the only time it’s useful is for killing a dragged up Typhlosion or if you can get it out early before your opponent has any Typhlosion or Energy in play to 1HKO those Reshiram. Zoroark is going to be very strong here as you can get those 1HKOs on Reshiram that TyRam isn’t always prepared for.
Typhlosion and its various parts are definitely your primary target with Tornadus/Zekrom, but if you see an opportunity where you can get a 1HKO on a Reshiram with Zoroark, it can be huge, especially if your opponent has a Reshiram prized.
I’ve logged hundreds of games against TyRam and for good reason. Zoroark was definitely a good inclusion that makes this match up very close. Combined with the unpredictable factor, I was banking on my ability to outplay my opponent’s to give me enough of an edge to consistently win. If you’re confident in your ability to outplay your opponents, this is a very solid deck choice for you.
Like most ZPST builds, this deck doesn’t run anything that can beat a fully set up Gothitelle deck. However, just like other ZPST decks, I’m counting on my significant speed advantage. To put it simply, you want a fast set up and then proceed to tear apart your opponent’s set up.
However, your opponent is surely playing 4 Twins, meaning that as soon as you take that first prize, Twins activates and lets them get the exact cards they need, so make sure that you can keep the momentum going. Things will go bad fast if you take a single prize when you can’t keep the pressure up on your opponent.
Pokémon Catcher is a hugely valuable asset, use it to drag up your opponent’s Reuniclus (Solosis and Duosion included) to prevent the lock from ever full getting set up. Without Reuniclus, Gothitelle becomes a lot weaker.
Once your opponent gets a Gothitelle active and Reuniclus on their bench, you’re in a much tougher spot. At this point, being locked out of your Trainers, your only move left is to try and overload your opponent’s field with damage so they can’t move it all off of Gothitelle. Zekrom is very good at this, especially when Gothitelle isn’t fully charged up as it can dish out a massive 120 damage a turn. Unlike Reshiram, it doesn’t discard Energy, so you can do it again next turn with no problem. Unfortunately, if your opponent gets set up and has a Blissey Prime ready, it’s game over.
One tech that I’ve become very fond of is Weezing HS. While this particular list doesn’t run it, if you think that I’m underestimating Gothitelle, you could try out a 1-1 line (Side Note: It’s arguably strongest in the Gothitelle mirror match). For a very splashable CC, it can 1HKO a Gothitelle. To avoid letting the opponent use Black Belt and Twins, Gothitelle decks will usually fall behind by 5 Prizes, then proceed to take 6 Prizes in 6 turns. You can use Weezing to take that final prize.
One nice thing about Weezing is that it is still strong even if both you and your opponent are down to 1 Prize. Since Gothitelle is one of the slowest decks in the format, it literally hands you the match due to time. I’ve never seen a Gothitelle deck that consistently wins in sudden death. If you have, call me so we can get you checked into a psych ward asap.
I don’t think Gothitelle is a problem going into Regionals. Mew Prime, which has been seeing more and more play as of late, is very strong against Gothitelle, so I think just the fear of Mew will help to reduce the amount of Gothitelle, not to mention Mew actually winning games against it at Regionals (during Swiss and Top Cut).
pokebeach.comWhile playing against MegaZone, Tornadus generally takes a back seat to Zekrom in terms of importance, especially after the first few turns. Zekrom can very easily 1HKO a Yanmega, either with a “Bolt Strike” or a “Sonicboom” fueled “Outrage” and with 2 PlusPower can 1HKO a Magnezone Prime.
Also, with Kingdra Prime being a common addition in Megazone, Kingdra’s x2 Lightning Weakness is definitely helpful. On the other hand, Tornadus is stuck trying to 2HKO everything, not to mention the x2 Weakness to Magnezone.
I was originally running only 7 Shuffle and Draw Supporters and 2 Sage’s Training/Cheren (at the time, I was testing out 3 Dual Ball, so that’s where the other slot came from), but I didn’t stick with it because it made me more vulnerable to Judge. With MegaZone lists running a minimum of 3 copies, they ended up being too risky. In addition, Sage’s really hurt my late game. Between it and Professor Juniper, I was burning (not burning through, burning) my deck way to fast.
Zoroark once again is very helpful here as I can use it to copy Magnezone’s “Lost Burn” to get the 1HKO. Unlike against TyRam, where getting another Reshiram charged up is rather easy, if they loose a Magnezone Prime, especially late in the game when they’ve burned through a decent portion of their Magnezone/Yanmega. In the early game, however, if you can use Zekrom to KO the Magnezone because if you aren’t careful, Lost Zoning 3 Energy can cost you the game.
I think it’s definitely a positive match up, though. As long as I get a solid opening hand, I can usually disrupt my opponent’s start and then proceed to overpower my opponent. Late game, a few well-timed Zoroark or Zekrom 1HKOs on Magnezone seal the deal. “Magnetic Draw” and Judge make it close, but I think I can pull ahead, especially against less experienced players.
VS Mew Variants (With & Without Vileplume)
I won’t go into much detail on this one as it’s pretty much an auto-win. Both your main attackers can 1HKO Mew and (like stated above) Zekrom is very strong against Yanmega Prime. This is even more so when Trainer locked: You use “Blue Flare” to 1HKO something. They bring up Yanmega, but stall at 70 damage since PlusPower is out. Next turn, “Outrage” Yanmega. Sunflora helps them keep the stream of Yanmega up, but when the Zekrom/Yanmega war is so one-sided, there isn’t much they can do.
“Sludge Drag” is very weak against you because you can use 4 DCE, Shaymin/Pachirisu and two Switch (if you aren’t Item locked). Part of the reason I like ZPST is because it has a very strong match against MewLock and Mew Box, both of which are steadily gaining traction.
VS ZPST (aka the Mirror)
pokebeach.comLike the title suggests, this match up, as far as the lists go, is going to be close to 50/50. Like in any match, it’s crucial to keep track of your deck, prize and discard pile contents at all times. You don’t want to be searching through your deck and whoops, I guess the second Shaymin is prized. Knowing what’s available each time you play a Pokémon Collector or Junk Arm ensures that you’re considering every possible move available to you so you can select the best one.
Zoroark is generally helpful here as it can copy Tornadus or Zekrom for DCE where your opponent will have to pay the higher costs to attack. Unfortunately, since Zoroark is a Stage 1 and the only evolution search I run are two Pokémon Communication, in some games you may have a bit of trouble getting it set up. This weakness is more evident here than in other matches because both decks are so fast. However, it’s still beneficial to try and get Zoroark out because like I said, it attacks for less Energy while still doing the same amount of damage, so it helps you conserve Energy.
One other tweak in this list that really helps in the mirror is the 4 Dual Ball and reduced Collector count, which allows me to fish out the Basics that I need and still use a PONT or Juniper, which helps when it’s important to get a fast and consistent start.
Overall, this match up sits right around the middle. If you plan to run this deck, or any ZPST variant for that matter, just know that the more experience you have with it, the better you’ll be able to perform in the mirror (as well as every other game). I know that that’s a rather obvious fact, but important none the less.
VS Everything Else
I’m pretty confident with how ZPST fares against the rest of the field because, due to its speed, has very few unfavorable match ups. It’s similar to LuxChomp from last season. Because it was such a fast deck and disruptive deck that ran so many techs, it was extraordinarily rare to run into an unfavorable match up.
Even decks specifically founded to have a strong SP match up, like VileGar and Machamp, ended up faltering. With just a few adjustments, my LuxChomp deck was consistently beating both of them.
It’s impossible for me to recommend a deck that is perfect for every single tournament in the country. This list was optimized according to what I believe will be popular and do well at Regionals. However, it is up to you, assuming you decide to run a similar deck, to figure out what you think your meta will be like it and adjust the list accordingly. Here are some changes you can try:
pokebeach.comDefender is a very, very strong card. Being able to “ruin the numbers” for your opponent can have a big impact on the game. Especially powerful when you run at least two copies (my standard ZPST deck ran 3 copies), Defender forces your opponent to dish out extra resources if they want that KO, which helps to run them dry of those resources later in the game.
The ended cutting Defender was mostly due to a lack of space. I might have been able to squeeze in one, but decided that if I couldn’t run at least two, it would be better to cut them all. Also, it didn’t really help when I attached a Defender to Zoroark or Zekrom as their low HP (assuming Zekrom has used “Bolt Strike”) was still low enough to be Knocked Out by a “Bolt Strike” or “Blue Flare” and still 2HKO’d by just about everything else in the format.
Replace Shaymin with Oddish
It wouldn’t necessarily have to be Oddish, just any Pokémon that starts with an “O”. If I do, I can rearrange the deck’s name to spell out ZZ TOP. Not competitively helpful, but who wouldn’t want to win a tournament with ZZ TOP? No one, that’s who.
[Editor’s note: EPIC IDEA!!!]
Like I said in the Match Ups section, Weezing is very strong against Gothitelle, being able to 1HKO it for CC, which not only makes it splash-able in nearly any deck, but also lets you power it up via DCE. Since Weezing dies along with Gothitelle, if the game doesn’t end (although it generally should), you don’t want to be using two turns worth of Energy attachments on a Pokémon you’re about to kill.
Side Note: When Mewtwo ex comes out, this card becomes considerably stronger. It does just enough damage to 1HKO Mewtwo and since it’s a Pokémon Ex, you’ll pick up 2 Prizes compared to the one your opponent gets, putting you ahead in the prize race.
pokebeach.comThe reason you want to be adding Bouffalant to your deck is because of its first attack, “Revenge,” which for CC dishes out a mean 90 damage. However, this number is drastically reduced if one of your Pokémon wasn’t KO’d during your opponent’s last turn. Bouffalant’s main purpose is the mirror match. Being able to hit for 90 damage is enough to KO a self-damaged Zekrom. Since it can use Double Colorless, it can come out of nowhere and get that unexpected KO.
I think the last change I made to this list was getting rid of two SSU and replacing them with two Switch. I really liked Super Scoop Up and it kind of acts like a make-shift Switch at times, but ultimately I found myself in a lot of situations where Switch would be better than Super Scoop Up. The second any space opens up in the deck, it’ll probably go to one of these two.
I’m sure many of you are planning to attend Fall Regionals and rightfully so. They’re a fantastic place to rack up your rating and get you on your way to a Worlds invite. Once again, I’m not claiming this is the BDIF that has 90/10 match ups against everything, but I do think this is a strong option if you’re going to Regionals and I hope you at least consider some of these ideas. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, just post a comment below!
If anyone would like any help with Regionals, whether it be perfecting their list or help selecting the right deck, feel free to email me (email@example.com) or send me a pm (I’m dakotabeboys on the forums.)
Good luck at Regionals!