Jay’s Gym: The Pre-Tournament Thought Process

When I was deciding what I wanted to write about for this article, I began to realize just how awkward of a spot the 15th was going to be. I’m not going to get back from Regionals till late Sunday evening and the article is due on Monday the 14th. I do plan on spending some of this article talking about my Regionals experience, but I have to have a majority of it written before I leave.

I know people are going to be interested in what did well at Regionals, what we learned, and how to adapt it for the new format. I’ll probably have some pretty good information about what went down in St. Louis, but the day after Regionals is also a Monday so a majority of people are probably going to be at school, work, or still asleep. This means a lot of quality information won’t start surfacing till later in the week, which makes it hard to give a good and accurate write-up.

So instead I’ll go through how I approached Regionals, decided on a deck, what I played, along with my other top choices. I also want to share a few Kyurem lists that I’ve been working on; the card has a lot of hype right now, but I feel like it also has a lot of potential.

Deck Building in General

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” I took the quote from a James Bond film (apparently they took it from Bruce Feirstein), where it was spoken by one of the many forgettable Bond villains. Ironically though the quote actually has a lot of important meaning when it comes to choosing a deck for a tournament or with deck building in general.

Thinking outside of the box and playing “your deck” are always two of the biggest things I stress. The only difference between a tech or a deck choice being a great play or a stupid mistake is measured only by your performance.

I feel like many players come up with great ideas but are just too scared to try them in a major tournament because it “isn’t standard” or “can’t be good” because other people haven’t done it. On the other side of this I feel some players try so hard to be original that they play bad techs or subpar decks.

When I head into a tournament like Regionals with a large number of participants, I’m always looking for something to give me an edge over the competition sometimes this means playing a non mainstream deck, other times this means playing a mainstream deck teched for the meta.

Sometimes again this mean playing a less teched out version of a mainstream deck when I feel my consistency will give me an edge rather than my techs. At the same time though, I balance all of this with common sense. I won’t play a something different just for the sake of being different. Before I play any off the wall techs, I always ask myself the following questions.

  1. Why am I playing it?
  2. What matchups does it benefit?
  3. How common are these matchups going to be?
  4. How consistently is it going to impact these matchups?
  5. How much does it help this matchup?
  6. Does it hurt any of my other matchups?
  7. Is it essential to win the matchup or is it just a “win more” card.

By asking myself these questions, I am able to directly explain why I’m playing the card/s. It also forces me to think of the impact they will have on my deck and in my games, both good and bad. If you have trouble answering any of these questions, you might want to reevaluate how important your tech is.

How I Decided on a Deck for Regionals

The best way to choose a deck would be to take it and play a few hundred games with it against various opponents, decks, and techs and repeat this process with every deck in the format. This approach still wouldn’t include testing against rogue type decks and it’s just too time consuming to be plausible for anyone. This makes it so important to get the most out of the time you do have to test regardless of how much time that might be.

The first thing I do is get together a list of what I believe to be the top decks in the format. This list is usually compiled from the results of the last major tournament, what I’m seeing on reliable online sources (like SixPrizes), and talking with friends.

It’s important to keep in mind that decks from the last tournament might be out dated if a new set came out, and lists on online sites (like the Gym) might not always be top tier. I try to keep the list focused, but at the same time board enough to hit all of the top ones. This is not only usually how I choose my deck, but how I decide what I’m going to test against as well.

Not every deck on my list has to have preformed highly at a major tournament, sometimes I’ll put rogue decks on here that I feel are top tier. I usually won’t spend a ton of time testing against them but I will strongly consider playing them.

So after reviewing everything this is what I have as the top decks of the format in no particular order.

  • Zekrom/Tornadus/Pachy/Shaymin
  • Typhlosion/Reshiram
  • Yanmega/Magnezone
  • Gothitelle/Reuniclus
  • Mew Stage 1s
  • Emboar/Reshiram
  • Ross “The Truth”

Now I’ll begin to use my criteria to narrow down my deck choice.

  1. What I have the cards to build
  2. Matchups
  3. Performance in timed games
  4. How I feel about the deck (Options, Consistency, and Comfortability)

pokegym.netOverall Pokémon is a pretty cheap game to play, and there really aren’t a lot of money cards in the current format with Yanmega seeing an upcoming reprint. I never really buy packs at all; I always find it much simpler to buy or trade for what I want. If you are a person who does enjoy opening packs and find yourself buying quite a few, you might want to just think about buying a box.

In my area packs retail for around $3.99 a pack and full boxes (36 count) you can get on eBay for $70-$90. This is quite a price difference when you take 36 packs times $4 a pack you get $144; this means you are paying twice as much as you would buying a full box.

But what I normally do is buy singles from either eBay or Troll and Toad. They have about the best prices around and I’ve only had a few problems out of a large number of transactions (but I still have had a few). Troll and Toad also does next day shipping, so that’s definitely where I go if I need a card ASAP.

Trading is the other way to get cards, if you have a strong player base in your area find the trades you want can be easy. Or a lot of players use sites like PokéGym to trade online (this has its own risks involved which it’s important to be aware of).

But always make sure you have all the cards you need well in advance. When you go into major tournaments like Regionals all of your opponents will have the cards they need and the last thing you want is to play a watered down version of a deck because you didn’t get the cards you needed in time.

For me right now though the cards I have aren’t affecting my deck choice, I have the cards for all of the decks besides Typhlosion/Reshiram (somehow I only have 1 Typhlosion Prime). But Typhlosion Prime is pretty cheap and I can get 3 for under $20 on TT and have it here in time if that’s the deck I choose to play.


Next up I have to look at the decks and see how they match up against each other and the format in general. When looking at match ups I take a lot of different things into consideration. What are the deck’s bad matchups? What are the decks good matchups? What are the even matchups? How prevalent are the decks bad matchups? The good? The even? How bad is the bad matchup? Etc.

Speed is another thing I take into consideration when evaluating matchups. A deck like Gothitelle is going to lose hard to any deck playing a heavy Mew Prime count. Mew Prime is relatively easy to set up and fast. While Gothitelle on the other hand is very slow in the early game.

Zekrom has a bad match up against Donphan/Yanmega, but the decks sheer speed will allow it to pull out more wins against Donphan/Yanmega than Gothitelle will against a heavy Mew Prime deck. I am much more willing to accept bad match ups from a fast deck than I am a slow one.

So looking at match ups and performance in timed games, I’m going to Knock Out Gothitelle and Ross right now. Both decks are slow, and struggle to put early pressure on the opponent. I’m expecting Regionals to be an 8-9 round tournament and then another 5-6 rounds of Top Cut. I would be very naive to think that none of these games are going to go to time.

On top of this I just don’t feel good about the matchups. Gothitelle struggles with anything that plays Psychic or Mew and I feel both decks are extremely vulnerable to an early Yanmega Prime. Ross plays a lot of dead cards and consistency is a major issue for me.

I’m probably selling both decks a bit short, but heading into a large tournament like this I just don’t feel comfortable with decks that have trouble in time and have a lot of shaky match ups.

This is also the point that I’m going Knock Out Mew Prime/Stage 1s. I really liked Mew, and I thought a lot of people were wrong about the Yanmega/Magnezone match up. I figured the deck’s speed and consistency would be enough to win the game easily, but I haven’t found it in testing.

I feel the deck still has a lot of potential, but I can’t go into a tournament having a bad match up against one of the most popular decks in the field. Once again I’m probably selling the deck short, but I just don’t feel like it’s a good play for me this weekend.

How I Feel About the Deck

So my top 4 choices for the event are Typhlosion/Reshiram, Yanmega/Magnezone, ZPS, and Emboar/Reshiram. Typhlosion/Reshiram in my opinion has an unfavorable Trainer Lock match up, and Yanmega Magnezone matchup (40-60) which I expected it to be the most popular deck at the event. The deck is really straight forward and never really seems to give you any way to out play your opponent.

To go along with this, the mirror match is downright stupid, and not something I wanted to play. In the end Yanmega/Magnezone wasn’t as popular as I thought it was going be and Typhlosion/Reshiram would have been a really solid play.

The Zekrom list I was testing going into Regionals was near identical to Kettler’s lists with a few floating spots I kept switching around. In the end I decided not to play the deck because I didn’t really like the feel of the deck. In testing I just wasn’t hitting Turn 1 Zekrom or Tornadus as consistently as I liked and the odds of me winning a game I didn’t hit it turn 1 dropped dramatically.

My brother was hitting it nonstop in our testing so I knew it wasn’t the list. I also thought Trainer Lock and other forms of Zekrom hate would be far more prevalent than it turned out be.


pokegym.netSome friends and I were really trying to break Emboar/Reshiram going into Regionals. On paper the deck looks amazing, it’s consistent, it has good match ups against the field, and Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND allow you to come back from behind. I tried probably a half dozen different variations of the deck, trying to find a list that worked.

I tried varying counts on Ninetales, Emboar, RDL, with Junk Arm, without Junk Arm, etc. I just could not get the deck to work, it simply was not consistent. I feel this was mainly due to having to devote so many spots to cards to get your energy back. I didn’t find any way around this without running Magnezone Prime and I really didn’t want to play a second Stage 2 Pokémon in this fast of a format.

The best ways I found to run the deck were to burn through your deck early discarding energy, this was mainly done with Ninetales and Sage’s Training. Then in the mid to late game Fisherman was netting you 4 energy every time. I used this as a main strategy in the two major variations I tried. The first was what I considered a “standard” version of the deck with Junk Arm.

Pokémon – 18

4 Reshiram BLW
3 Tepig BLW 15
1 Pignite BLW 17
3 Emboar BLW 20
2 Vulpix UL
2 Ninetales HS
1 Cleffa HS
1-1 Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collecter
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Fisherman
4 Sage’s Training
3 Rare Candy
3 Junk Arm
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Twins
1 Switch
1 Energy Retrieval
1 Burned Tower
1 Professor Oak’s New Theory

Energy – 12

10 R
2 L

The second variation of the deck focused more heavily on Rayquza & Deoxys Legend. I also really tried to smooth out the consistency issue I had with the first list by dropping all of my Junk Arm and Pokémon Catcher. The idea was the deck raced your opponent to 6 Prizes, and it really didn’t care what it Knocked Out. Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND is such a strong card because it is always going to take 2 Prizes and if your opponent can’t get a return Knock Out on it, than it’s usually game over.

By playing a 2-2 of the Legend it cuts down on the odds of it being prized, and it can also force your opponent into situations where they have to answer 2 RDLs back to back and if they can’t, it will cost them the game.

Pokémon – 19

3 Reshiram BLW
3 Tepig BLW 15
1 Pignite BLW 17
3 Emboar BLW 20
2 Vulpix UL
2 Ninetales HS
1 Cleffa HS
2-2 Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND

Trainers – 29

4 Pokémon Collecter
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Fisherman
4 Sage’s Training
4 Pokégear 3.0
3 Rare Candy
2 Twins
2 Switch
1 Energy Retrieval
1 Burned Tower

Energy – 12

10 R
2 L

What I really liked about this list was how I was able to fit in the 4 Pokégear 3.0. The card was amazing all game; early it helped you find Pokémon Collector. While mid and late game it helped you search out Fisherman or Twins. It added more consistency to the deck than the first version had.

In the end neither list was consistent enough for my liking and far too vulnerable to Pokémon Catcher. It was pretty disappointing to because the deck looks so good on paper.

Mew/Stage 1s

The next deck I tested heavily heading into Regional’s was a Mew/Stage 1 variant. This deck has had some success in the Ohio metagame, and was dubbed with the nickname YMCA. In theory the low HP of your Pokémon should make little difference, since you should be faster out of the gate than your opponent and then settle into making one for one trades.

I figured the sheer speed of the deck should give me the advantage against slower set up decks like Typhlosion/Reshiram and Yanmega/Magnezone. I knew it was quite possible for Zekrom to out speed me, especially if they went first, but all of their attackers took 3 energy (or 2 and a DCE) to attack while mine only took a DCE or 2 basic. I figured with smart Pokémon Catcher targets I could get this to catch up with them in the mid to late game and pull ahead.

Pokémon – 21

3 Mew Prime
3 Minccino BLW
3 Cinccino BLW
4 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
1 Bouffalant BLW 91
1 Crobat Prime
1 Zoroark BLW
1 Cleffa HS
1 Tyrogue HS

Trainers – 29

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Copycat
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Junk Arm
3 PlusPower
4 Pokémon Catcher
1 Pokégear 3.0

Energy – 10

6 P
4 Double Colorless


Originally I had 4 Mew Prime, but I found in most matchups that if you can’t get that Turn 1 See Off you really don’t have time to do it and Mew Prime is a dead card for the rest of the match. I really liked how many “good” basic openers the deck had, in total 9 of them had free retreat. Not only did this help getting that crucial turn 1 See Off but it also severely cut down on the odds of getting donked.

The Crobat Prime was played for Trainer Lock, so they couldn’t tank a Donphan Prime and run through me. In hindsight Muk might have been a better choice, allowing me to constantly drag up Vileplume or Reuniclus. Muk also was situationally good in other match ups (but severely weaker without Vileplume) where Crobat Prime was basically a dead card in the deck.

The deck played pretty smoothly, but I really didn’t like how I felt like I was living from 1 Supporter to the next. It’s pretty simple to burn your hand down to nothing and then play a Juniper/Oaks/Copycat for a new hand, then rinse and repeat.

The problem came though when you didn’t get one of those Supporters in your new hand. This happening even once over the course of a game was usually enough for your opponent to make up any ground that they had lost in the prize war while leaving you desperately hoping for a good top cut.

I wanted to fit in more Supporters or Pokégear 3.0 to help with this problem, but I simply could not find the room. I felt like both my Pokémon and Energy lineups were close to bare minimum and dropping crucial Trainer techs like PlusPower or Pokémon Catcher would hurt my match ups.

On top of this I found the deck had a rough match up against Yanmega/Magnezone, and I couldn’t stomach an unfavorable match up against what I thought would be one of the most played decks in the format. ZPS could also create awkward situations for you if they were able to hit turn 1 Tornadus EPO and diversify their energy across their board. A combination of consistency issues and shaky match ups is what ultimately pushed me away from the deck.


pokegym.netSo once again I come full circle, and I began to heavily test Yanmega/Magnezone. This is the deck that by far I have the most experience with in the current format. I also felt like I had even to favorable match ups against everything in the format besides ZPS which was a pretty bad match up.

I knew the deck would see some play, but I didn’t expect it to show up in as much force as it did. I knew the list I played for the 2 Battle Roads had some issues that needed to be worked out. I originally felt like running a very thick line of both Yanmega and Magnezone was essential for consistency but I began to realize that these cards only brought consistency to the deck in conjunction with other cards.

Magnezone for example needed both Magnamite and Rare Candy to be good and by itself was nothing more than a bad top deck or a dead card in the opening hand. This led to me slimming down my Pokémon lines dramatically and including more Supporters. Here is the list that I played for the St. Louis Regionals.

Pokémon – 18

4 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
4 Magnemite TM
1 Magneton TM
3 Magnezone Prime
1 Bouffalant BLW 91
1 Pachirisu CL
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 31

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Judge
4 Junk Arm
4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Pokégear 3.0
2 Twins
2 Cheren
1 Switch
1 Copycat

Energy – 11

10 L

1 Double Colorless

Even in hindsight I don’t think I would change anything about the list, it played really well and I found it to be consistent. Like I said it does have issues with Zekrom, but every deck in the format has a rough match up against at least 1 other popular deck. I won’t go through the whole deck but I will explain some of the differences.

1 Bouffalant: I admit it I completely stole this idea from Kyle (Pooka). It was added mainly as a Zekrom counter but in testing I have found the card to have uses in a lot of other match ups. It allows for nice return KOs against Stage 1s, can 1HKO a Zekrom in the Ross match up (if they moved 40 onto it to KO a Yanmega), you can Catcher/KO a Ninetales in the Typhlosion/Reshiram match up without endangering a Magnezone Prime, etc.

To top it all off it’s easily searchable with Twins. I concede that it’s a bad starter, but the card continues to exceed my expectations.

2 Twins: A lot of players get over eager to take an early prize, even if they don’t have the board position to back it up. This is just such a fast format and it’s not hard at all to fall behind. Twins can put you back in a game your down or stop an early push by your opponent from getting out of hand.

It’s a dead card in the opening hand, and often times I found myself taking the first prize so I only played a pair of them. I found with 2 you draw into them enough that you can get 1 when you need it, but it wasn’t so many that it would clog your hand when you were ahead. Worse case scenario they acted as nice Junk Arm fodder.

2 Pokégear 3.0: This was another addition I made to the deck in an attempt to boost consistency and I love it. What makes it such a good card is that it’s good throughout the entire game. Early it gives you another chance to try for a Pokémon Collector, or Twins against a fast opponent. Mid to late game it can search out a Judge or Copycat, or it can be easily burned to help match the opponents hand size.

On paper it looks very luck based, but you have to keep in mind that we run a lot of Supporters many of the big ones in copies of 4. I’ve had a lot of success with the card and never regretted seeing it in my hand.

2 Cheren: This is another card that plays a lot better than it looks on paper. I really liked how Sage’s Training helped me burn through the deck and match hand sizes of 7, but I found myself too often discarding valuable resources that came back to hurt me later in the game, especially now that I was running a much slimmer Pokémon line up, I knew I couldn’t risk the discarding of Sages.

I decided to try Cheren over Sages and it played pretty well; I only got to grab the top 3 with Cheren versus 5 with Sages, but I wasn’t forced to make hard discards. Cheren also made it so I could get my hand size up to 8 after a Magnetic Draw if needed.

St. Louis Regionals Report: 218 Players, 8 Rounds, Top 32

Round 1 vs Brent with Typhlosion/Reshiram

pokegym.netBrent is currently ranked number 1 in the World with Championship Points and when I saw what he was playing I knew this was going to be a good match. The game started off picture perfect for me, going first and opening with Pokémon Collector. We each spend the first few turns using Cleffa to try and set up. Brent doesn’t hit the opening Pokémon Collector so his set up is slower than mine.

After my second Eeek, I draw into a pretty good hand and feel like I can start pushing the pace on my following turn. But my plan hits a snag when I flip a string of tails on sleep checks and spend the next two turns asleep. Brent uses this time to stabilize his set up and my heart sinks when I see a pair of Typhlosion hit the board. I finally wake up and snag some cheap prizes off Cyndaquil while he return KOs my Yanmegas.

We continue to trade prizes I take a 1-3 Prize lead, but Brent doesn’t have any more cheap prizes on the field. Time is called as Brent evens the prizes up at 1-1, and we’ve both exhausted almost all of our resources. It his turn and he has two cards left in his deck and I have one. I don’t remember the hand sizes but they were close.

I have game with Yanmega if I can match his hand size, he has game the following turn with Reshiram if I can’t. He can’t get his hand size high enough where I can’t match it without decking out, which means he has to drop it low enough in hopes I can’t copy it. He gets it down two and I draw the last card in my deck.

I’m able to burn my hand down my playing a Pokémon Collector and failing a Pokégear. There comes a question whether or not I can Pokégear without any cards in my deck, but after consulting with a Judge it goes through and I match the hand sizes to take the game. This was the best game I played in the last year, it was really back and forth and there was so much deep strategy on both sides.


Round 2 vs Isaiah with ZPS

I opened lone Magnemite without a Pokémon Collector, but I was holding Pokémon Candy as well as Pokémon Communication. I thought I might be in pretty good shape if I managed to go first. But I lose the dice roll and when he flipped over double Tornadus I smiled knowing what was going to happen.

He worked for it a little bit though, having to Professor Juniper. But he was able to hit the Pachy, Lightning, DCE, and an Energy Switch. I offered the handshake and wished him luck. I found it kind of ironic how I could go from the best game I played in the last year, to not even getting to draw.

pokegym.netBut that really is how this format goes, games can be really long, in depth and skill based or over before you even draw. I wasn’t too upset as I knew going in my deck had a weak ZPS match up and my hand was pretty poor going second against it. Even had he missed the donk I would have needed a really good top deck or amazing Cheren to stay in the game.


Round 3 vs Ross

I have the Pokémon Collector but my opening hand is quite weak, so I’m forced to use Cleffa. She decides to go very aggressive and Knock Out my Cleffa with Donphan Prime. I was alright with this, she didn’t have Vileplume or Reuniclus on the board and taking the first prize meant that she couldn’t use Twins for them.

I know at this point that my Magneton is prized, so I snipe 1-of her two Oddishs on the field with Yanmega. This still wouldn’t activate her Twins and I was hoping to snipe off her Oddishs before she was able to draw into a Vileplume.

Next turn she Cherens for 3 and gets the Vileplume. I desperately start trying to take any cheap prize that she has on the board, knowing that I have to get that Magneton. In the end I think I snag 3 Prizes, none of them being Magneton and she takes her 6th prize as I stare at a field full of Magnemite and Energy.

Even at this point I still don’t regret not playing a second Magneton. Trainer Lock wasn’t a very popular deck on the day and despite what happened the odds of Ross being able to snag a turn 2 KO is low (KOing my Cleffa was huge), prizing Magneton (1 in 10 games), and her being able to hit Rare Candy Vileplume without Twins before I hit Rare Candy Magnezone (She played 3-1-2, I played 4-1-3 and more search) was all very low let alone it all happening in the same game.


Round 3 vs Lilligant/Vileplume/Sunflora/Kingdra Prime

pokebeach.comI figured at 1-2 I was probably going to start hitting some easy opponents, and my suspicions were only reassured when I sat down across from a very young girl who pulls out a paper starter deck mat and begins to shuffle. I ended up being very surprised, this deck was really legitimate. I think the concept of Vileplume and Special Conditions in general is a very under played strategy in this format.

The game started off well for me taking some simple KOs around the board. She was able to hit a Sunflora and in turn a Vileplume before I was able to snipe off the basics. This is when her deck got rolling and I found out that she played a 4-4 Lilligant, their 90 HP got extremely annoying because I had to 2 shot them with Yanmega Prime while she had a 50-50 shot of stopping me from attack all together on the next turn.

She got 3 early heads with the first one to KO my Yanmega before I even got a hit in on her. From this point we begin to trade KOs back and forth. Bouffalant once again proves to be a huge asset by getting me a KO on a fresh Lilligant. The game actually comes down to 1-1 Prizes, but she’s out of Lilligant and I have the energy on board to KO her active Kingdra Prime.


Round 5 vs Typhlosion/Reshiram

I’m take an early lead and am able to keep him at just 1 Typhlosion Prime in play most of the game. I don’t have enough energy in the deck to deal with multiple Typhlosion Primes so normally so if they get one in play normally I’ll let them keep it and just keep going after the Cyndaquils.

I’m not sure if there was a reason for it, but he played 1 of the 40 HP Cyndaquil which let me get an easy KO without wasting a Pokémon Catcher. I take an early lead and he begins to make a comeback, but I have enough energy on the board to take the Game 0-2 with Magnezone Prime.


Round 6 vs Emboar/Magnezone Prime

pokegym.netWe each mulligan once, so I see he is playing Magneboar, then I proceed to mulligan another 2 times to give him a nice 8 card hand. I win the coin flip though and he flips over Pichu, I play down everything I can, and use Copycat for 8 hoping for the slim chance of a Pachy donk but no such luck.

He uses Playground and we fill our benches; he grabs 2 Magnemite, 2 Tepig, and a Cleffa. I figure his hand is pretty weak, or he’s hold Twins and wants a backup plan if I don’t take an early prize. Either way I’m happy to see 2 cheap prizes on the board, I go after the Tepigs and he uses Twins.

We start trading Prizes and I focus solely on his Emboars knowing all he had to do was take 4 Prizes and then use RDL for game. The game comes down to 1-1 and uses Pokémon Catcher on Bouffalant and uses Outrage for 20. I have 1 Energy on the Bouffalant and 1 on a benched Magnezone Prime, 5 cards in hand, 6 in deck and I have to hit my 1 Switch.

I play Judge, and draw 4, I didn’t hit the Switch, but I got an amazing Judge where I’m able to burn my entire hand and Magnetic Draw for 6. I draw my 6 cards and find Switch to be the last card in my deck. Second time on the day I won with 0 cards in my deck.


Round 7 vs Typhlosion/Reshiram

I wish I would remember her name because she was a really nice woman and a good player; she didn’t make any misplays that I saw. [Editor’s note: You should have got her number! :P]

I opened amazing going first with a Yanma/Collecter start, while she has to Eeek for a few turns. She struggles to get Typhlosion Primes in play while my deck just flows beautifully giving me a study stream of Pokémon Catchers, Junk Arms and Judge’s.

She gets 3 or 4 Prizes with Reshiram and a single Typhlosion Prime she got in play and makes it a game, but my faster set up and consistently good draws lets me take this one.


Round 8 vs ZPS

pokegym.netRight off the bat I catch a couple of lucky breaks. I go first and manage to get a Judge off followed by an “Eeek” with a field of 2 Yanma, Magnamite and Cleffa. He gets a Pokégear out of his 5 cards, which in turns grabs him a Juniper.

He misses the turn 1 Tornadus and I get a bit of reprieve. My Eeeks are less than stellar, but I am able to get another 2 Magnemites on the field. The next few turns are spent with me diversifying my energy and desperately trying to Eeek into a Twins or a Rare Candy and Magnezone.

Despite whiffing on Rare Candy/Magnezone or Twins, I do hit a steady stream of Pokémon Catchers and Junk Arms. On several occasions I’m able to create situations where I Pokémon Catcher up something without Energy (normally a Shaymin or Pachy) where he isn’t able to retreat and attack in the same turn.

Every time I’m able to create this situation I’m met with a Super Scoop Up and a heads. In the end he went 3 for 3 with Super Scoop Up which was very frustrating to say the least. While I’m Eeeking he spends the early game with a steady stream of Pokémon Catchers on my Magnemites.

I make a major misplay early by using Pokégear and grabbing a Judge. I leave the Judge setting on the table while I shuffle my deck, I than proceed to Eeek and I just drop my head as I realize I forgot to play the Judge. He has a relatively large hand of 7 and a draw to 8, so the Judge could have been huge.

This really bothered me for 2 reasons; first even after the game I didn’t know how badly this misplay cost me. Second, it was a stupid mistake and one that I normally don’t make. It’s always been my belief that if you want to be truly good at this game you have to own up to your mistakes. But there’s nothing I can do about it right now so I shake it off and keep playing.

pokemon-paradijs.comOf course out of his 8 card hand he had a Junk Arm and another Magnemite goes down. I’m finally able to hit a Twins on the last Eeek though and I grab a Rare Candy and Magnezone. Since he already KO’ed 3-of my Magnamite this would be the only Magnezone I would have this game. I had enough energy on the board that I could do some real damage with it.

He settled for two shooting it while I grabbed 2 Prizes with it and put a dent in his on field energy. The game comes down to him with a 1-3 Prize lead and it becomes evident to me that I’m not winning this game on prizes. I instead change my strategy in the very late stages of the game to decking him out. Over the course of the game he burned through his deck with Juniper, Oaks, and Sages.

He has four cards in his hand and 2 cards left in his deck, so I once again create the situation where I play Pokémon Catcher and bring up a Pokémon where he can’t retreat and attack in the same turn, hoping he doesn’t have 2 energy or 1 energy and a switching card.

He draws to 5 in hand and plays Sage’s Training for the last card in his deck. He attaches an Energy to his bench Zekrom and hit the Junk Arm for a Switch he had in his discard pile. Nothing I could do but offer the handshake.


I was pretty disappointed mainly in myself for making that stupid mistake with Pokégear and Judge early on. The only reason I didn’t punish myself more was because I didn’t know how badly that mistake hurt me. I was also pretty disappointed that he went 3 for 3 on Super Scoop heads. Even 1 tails could have dramatically changed how that game played out. In the end though I didn’t see him misplay once while I made a big one, he played a better game than I did.

Over all the weekend was still amazing, I got to see so many friends that I normally don’t get to see till Nationals each year. I also want to thank Andrew for driving and setting up the whole trip. These events are always so much more fun and easier financially when you go with friends, and for anyone that has ever driven long distances for events knows how great it is when you are not the one driving.

Noble Victories

pokegym.netTo be honest, I normally don’t pay a ton of attention to new sets coming out till about a month or two ahead of time. A lot of people do though so I normally hear about the highlights of an upcoming expansion over Facebook, or one of the online message boards. This gives me a pretty good idea what is coming out and what to expect.

I always try and go into these situations with an open mind because a lot of the cards that get a crazy amount of hype turn out to be just average or completely overrated (Darkrai LV.X and Gengar Prime are prime examples of this). However, I also I picked up quite a few Pachirisu for next to nothing when I heard about Zekrom coming out.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s a lot like playing the stock market, sometimes you hit it big and other times you lose big and I have countless stories from both sides. The longer I have played, the less I’ve found myself jumping into pre-set hype, which has allowed me to come out with far more stock market “wins” than “losses.”

I start really paying attention to new sets about 2 months to 2.5 months out. This is normally just before pre-orders start appearing on Troll and Toad. I want to make it clear I’m not a spokesperson for the company nor are they a paid sponsor; these are honestly just my opinions. I’ve only had a few minor problems with the company all of which were worked out with their customer service, at least to the point I was okay with.

They reasonable prices, cheap shipping, next day shipping, and the fact that they have never canceled an order on me (nor have I heard of them doing it to someone else) for a huge fluctuation in the market are all reasons I do a large portion of my business with them.

I won’t start dropping names, but what I’ve seen other online retailers do is cancel preorders or orders if there is a huge price jump in a cards price. I had a few friends who had problems with this, the day of Canadian Nationals they went and ordered a play set of Yanmega Primes off a website when they were still dirt cheap. A couple days later they received an email saying that their order had been canceled due to the company not being able to fulfill it.

When they checked the site the company had relisted the Yanmega Primes for over 2 times what they had them at originally. The real sad thing is this is getting to be very common with online stores. If I ever hear about a company doing this to someone, I will refuse to do business with them (I have a handful now), and I will never recommend them to people (in fact I’ll tell people to not order from them).

To get back on track, Troll and Toad has never done this to me, and in fact I’ve gotten quite a few steals from them such as recently Pokémon Catchers at $2.99 a piece on pre-order.

When looking over a new set these are the questions I ask myself:

  1. How does this card effect our current metagame?
  2. How much widespread play will this card see?
  3. How game changing is this card?
  4. How rare is this card? (This deals more when I’m deciding if I want to pre-order it.)
  5. How large is the set? (This deals more when I’m deciding if I want to pre-order it.)
  6. How hyped is this card? (This deals more when I’m deciding if I want to pre-order it.)

By asking myself these questions I’ll start to rank the set.

  • Obliviously Good
  • Has Potential
  • Everything Else

Of course you can further subdivide these but right now this is all I really care about. This is what I came up with for Noble Victories.

Obliviously Good

Super Rod

Has Potential

Rocky Helmet

I have some really high standards, and usually have a pretty short list. I think the set has a lot of average cards or cards that would make great league decks, but to get on my list I have to feel the card will or has a solid chance of make a big splash in the meta.

Once I have my list I’ll start watching Troll and Toad, waiting for when they put up their preorders. Now once they have their preorders up I don’t just instantly go crazy and buy everything on my list. What the preorder prices are determines if I’m going to buy the card, and how many I’ll buy.

My criteria for figuring out what I’m willing to buy the card for:

  1. How deck specific is the card (also how popular is the deck/will be)?
  2. How many copies will the deck run?
  3. How rare is the card?
  4. How much money am I going to be out if I’m wrong?

By asking myself these questions, I have a pretty good idea if the card is going to go up or down once the set actually hits. I budget about $40 to spend on a set to get what I need. There is approximately 4 sets a year so I figure $160 to spend on cards per year isn’t too bad for a hobby.

Of course this number ends up being a bit higher by the end of the year since if a tournament is around the corner and I need the cards I’ll buy them. I normally try to keep a pretty wide collection and get a hold of the stuff I need long before any tournament.

So these were my preorders for Noble Victories:

4 Evolite at $2.49 a piece
2 Full Art N at $14.99 a piece

pokebeach.comSo when it’s all said and done I’ll probably be a bit over budget, but I couldn’t pass up the Full Art N’s. I absolutely love the Full Art cards, and this is definitely one of my current weaknesses right now. The Full Art versions are no different from their less valuable counter parts.

Normally, I’ll refuse to pay any sort of money for what I consider “upgrade wants” and the amount of money I’ve seen people shell out in other games simply to have a holo version of a card absolutely astounds me.

I heard rumors that Full Art N’s were really rare in Japan (I don’t know if this is true or not) and I felt the card will see a lot of widespread play. So I figured it probably won’t drop below $15, and I might just be getting a steal.

My thinking on the Evolite is that it is going to skyrocket a few decks in the current meta (Zekrom, Reshiram Variants) and is probably going to see play in these decks in copies of 3 or 4. It’s only an uncommon but its value will probably settle around $5-$7. Plus if I was wrong I’m only out $10, a small risk versus the potential gain.

As for the rest of the cards, Super Rod is going to be in a Starter Deck and handful of decks will play 1. Unless I feel like I’m getting a steal I usually don’t pre-order any of the cards that fall under the “has potential” category.

From my experience, I have far more losses here than I do wins. None of the cards will see widespread play which will make them easier to trade for, and I would rather spend a little extra money down the line than put a lot of money up front on something that might go bust.

I’ve gotten quite a few steals in the past (like $2.99 Pokémon Catcher) and I feel like I came out alright this time around as well. If you play it smart Preorders are a way to find some amazing deals. I do want to stress the absolute worse time to buy cards is right after prerelease tournaments.

There is a very small supply for popular cards and very large demand. This creates a shift in the market where you’re almost guaranteed to spend more money than the card is worth. Usually a day or two after the set is officially released is the time to buy cards. This allows the supply to catch up with the demand and the market to stabilize.


pokebeach.comI think a lot of the “hot” cards in Noble Victories will be teched into many of our current top tier decks. While others will bring new life to the lower tier decks we currently have. Kyurem is one of only a handful of cards in the set that has the potential to explode into its own meta deck. While at the same time pop up as a tech card in decks that already play “Dragons” and would rather have the water type over Lightning (Zekrom) or Fire (Reshiram).

Like everybody else, my main focus is still on Regionals, so I haven’t gotten the chance to work with this a ton. But, I’ve come up with 3 main ways to run the deck, the first is a speed spread version that is focused on getting Turn 2 Kyurem and putting a large amount of early pressure on the opponent.

The second is a slower version running Feraligatr Prime, which brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the deck. Feraligatr Prime is going to take up a lot of space, probably either a 3-2-3 or a 3-1-3 Feraligatr along with Rare Candy. The Feraligatr version is slower, less consistent and is far more susceptible to Pokémon Catcher. What Feraligatr Prime does bring to the table though is a hard hitter that has a lot of potential for 1HKOs after a spread or two.

The last version is a “Ross” deck geared toward Kyurem, it is going to be a lot slower than the first two but it cuts off your opponent’s trainers and is able to control the board far better when it is set up than the other two versions.

The Speed Spread Version

Pokémon – 16

4 Kyurem NVI
4 Buizel UL
4 Floatzel UL
2 Shaymin UL
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pichu HS

Trainers – 29

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Professor Juniper
4 Pokégear 3.0
3 N
3 Eviolite
2 Fisherman
1 Energy Search

Energy – 15

14 W
1 Double Colorless

This is only one variation of the deck and I feel like there is a lot of different ways to run it. I also want to try a version that uses Electrode Prime instead of Floatzel. There is quite a bit you could do with the Trainer lineup here as well. I wanted to stick to a similar formula that ZPS uses which is a lot of consistency cards like Pokégear 3.0 and Supporters that burn through the deck like Professor Juniper and Professor Oak’s New Theory. Sage’s Training is another card that accomplishes this goal that I plan on testing.

I opted not to play Twins because it’s a dead card in the opening hand and does nothing to help us hit that Turn 2 Kyerum, but it is something I’m going to test. I haven’t worked with this deck enough to start talking matchups, but this is one of the lists I’m going to start testing over Thanksgiving break.


The Ross version of the deck goes after the same strategy of spreading with Kyurem. However, instead of focusing on getting a Kyurem spreading as soon as possible it takes a slower route and opts to gain control of the board before applying pressure with Kyurem.

Pokémon – 25

3 Kyurem NVI
3 Oddish UD
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
3 Solosis BLW
2 Duosion BLW
2 Reuniclus BLW
1 Phanpy HS
1 Donphan Prime
1 Chansey HS
1 Blissey Prime
1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND
1 Cleffa HS
1 Pichu HS

Trainers – 24

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins
4 Sage’s Training/Cheren (I’m testing both)
3 N
2 Seeker
3 Pokémon Communication
3 Rare Candy
1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless
4 Rainbow
3 W

pokegym.netOnce again, I’m really going to start testing this over Thanksgiving break. This is going to be my starting list, and there are a lot of different techs and variations I want to try. Zekrom may still be needed in the Pokémon line up since it can 1HKO both Yanmega Prime and Tornadus without being endanger of either of them getting a return KO.

Kyurem also brings another Water element to the table so I’m not sure if SEL is still needed. I’ll probably mess around with Entei & Raikou LEGEND and see how that plays. In theory it could act as a sweeper against Zekrom, Typhlosion/Reshiram, and Yanmega/Magnezone.

The Trainer lineup is pretty standard but I’m going to test both Cheren and Sage’s Training. As well as trying to nail down the right count on N, you have to remember that if you play Tropical Beach down early it really hurts your late game N’s. A version that doesn’t run Tropical Beach might play a higher N count than one that does.

As for the energy I’m not sure if Rainbow alone is enough for Donphan Prime and Suicune & Entei LEGEND. I do like 7 possible energy for Kyurem, but I don’t think I could drop below 6. A lot of this will probably get smoothed out through testing and become clearer as this new format continues to unfold.


I hope you enjoyed the article, I feel like a lot of the information on choosing a deck is extremely relevant for any tournament and not just exclusive to Regionals. I also think despite not settling on lists I liked many of the choices I talked about still have a lot of potential and are still very viable heading into Cities.

Speaking of Cities, the format is still pretty undecided and untested with so many people focusing all of their effort on Regionals. I think over the next few weeks as more and more testing gets done hopefully some solid choices for Cities will become clear so I would definitely be checking SixPrizes often and joining in on the discussion on the message boards.

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