Hey all. I’m back with a wrap-up of the Regional Season. I’ll go through how I did. We will talk about what won, what decks made a surprising showing, the cards to look forward to in Noble Victories, and get a head start on what decks to be looking at for Cities.
intellivisiongames.comSo, the morning of the tournament I have this fun little thing called Mock Jury Duty. You see the second-year law students take a class called trial advocacy and their final is conducting a live, mock trial. Well, they make the first-year students serve as the jury members and it was Saturday. So, I get to the court house at 7:45 am. The trial starts at 8:15ish am. I had a case about a double homicide, plus robbery. After the opening arguments, I’m pretty sure that everyone and their mother knew which side was going to win. But, we had to sit through the next three hours of boring trial stuff. We deliberate for about 15 seconds and return the not guilty verdict.
I rush out to my car, where my cards and decklist are waiting. I had talked to the PTO and he was hopeful that if I made it out there by 12-12:15ish I would only miss the first round and get in on the second. I take off down the street and BOOM red light. It turns green and BOOM another red light. I finally get on the highway. There is a person pulled over. So, traffic is compressed from three lanes down to two and everyone is driving about 45 mph in a 60 mph zone.
Then I get off the highway and BOOM red light. Two more red lights later, I get on the other highway. I get off and finally get to the road that the venue is on. I come up to the first light and, that’s right you guessed it, red light. The best part about this one is that I didn’t even make it through the green light here. So, I had two red lights at this one intersection.
I go a bit up the road and there is… construction. So, the two-lane road is condensed down to one lane and traffic is slow. I get past that and get to the last light, red, but it’s OK because I’m turning right and can go through it. My 15ish minute drive turned into as 25+ minute drive.
So, I get to the venue, still hopeful to only have missed one round, but I learn the second round had started about five minutes earlier… I talked to the PTO, and he said that it was the smoothest registration and organization that he had seen. He was truly surprised that they were moving along that fast.
pokebeach.comIt’s OK I tell myself, I’ll just take the 0-2 start with terrible resistance. I was going to try and win six straight, and have an epic report to tell you all. At least I wanted to be in contention in rounds six and seven. Well round three starts. I sit down to play. I am running tyRam and my fellow 0-2 opponent is running MagneBoar. What great luck. I personally feel that tyRam is about 50/50 against this, but I would have appreciated playing any of the random decks (Simesear, Excadrill, Gilgath, etc) that were at the tables surrounding me.
So, the game gets started and my opening hand is Reshiram, Vulpix, Cyndaquil, Typhlosion, Fire, Fire, Fire. Not too bad, if I can just hit a draw card, Collector, Ninetales, or Communication. The game starts and I top deck a Rare Candy and get a T2 Typhlosion. I’m stoked. He was making some misplays (I hope you don’t take offense to that, you were a really nice dude). So, I take a 3 Prize lead. Now, I start running out of steam. I had taken 3 Prizes in about five turns and one of the my drawn prizes was another Cyndaquil. However, taking these prizes left me with zero cards in hand. We play the game out and he ended up clearing my four Pokémon for the win.
You see I had eleven turns in this game. I had seven cards to start, 3 Prizes, and 11 draws. For the first ten turns (which means that I saw 20 cards from my deck), I did not get a single Collector, Communication, PONT, PETM, Ninetales, Cleffa, or Sage’s. I played 18 copies of those cards combined and I did not see a single one for the first ten turns. Not a single one. Any one of those likely puts me too far ahead in the game because of his slow start and misplays. Then on my 11th turn I hit a PONT, played it and got three Collectors, Sage’s, PETM, and Junk Arm. So, it is his turn and he 1HKOs my last Poké. Game over.
0-3 with the worst possible tie breakers… Tournament over. I dropped, went home, and watched football.
I promise every word of that hilariously bad day is true.
It’s OK because sometimes it’s just not your day. You keep smiling and come back again. So, I went back up on Sunday for the Top Cut. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the top cut and playing in a 34 (I think) person Pass Draft. It was a lot of fun.
Congratulations to everyone who did well! Special congratulations to Connor C (I’m sure you will be or have already read his tourney reports) because he took Donphan and Dragons w/ Zoroak to a 3rd place finish, and to everyone else who made Top Cut.
Regional Break Down
Well the results are starting to become clear. The decks are being tallied and life is pressing on. Let’s talk a bit about the decks that made Top Four.
8 tyRam (1 with Kingdra, 1 with Magnezone)
2 Donphan Yanmega
2 The Truth
Primetime won twice. tyRam won twice. The Truth won once. ZPST won once.
There is not really anything too surprising.
From what I have heard, there was not a ton of tyRam being played (relative to the numbers it showed at Battle Roads, and there was not a ton at the STL Regional from what I saw). Yet, it still managed to take home two top spots. This really just cements its position in the top tier and its position as, at least, co-BDIF.
The deck has been the best and most consistent performer since the rotation. The deck really does not have any auto-losses, but it has several very favorable match ups. The deck makers have figured out how to tech the deck (Magnezone, Kingdra, Bellsprout, DCL, etc) without losing too much consistency to be able to handle the lock decks. It doesn’t hurt that the techs are not useless the other match ups. Even Bellsprout can be used for some fun stall tactics against a lot of stuff. Not much else to say here, at least not at this moment.
The deck that likely surprised most people was Primetime. It was widely considered to be a good deck, but not a great deck. Well, it has clearly broken its way into the top tier. This deck’s big advantage is that it preys on so much of the field. Who cares it the ZPST matchup is not extremely solid and the tyRam is 50/50 at best, it is going to beat down pretty much every other deck out there. This deck is just going to see a rise in play because of its success (oh and that Prime Challenge box…).
Rounding out the top tier trio is ZPST. We all knew this was a good deck. Some people still questioned its consistency in a large event, but I would say that those questions have been settled. The deck is very solid. It has more bad match ups than the other two top decks (at least when it has to play a full game), but it has the unique ability to literally end the game in the first two or three turns and to out speed its bad matchups. This is a great feature to have in any format, especially this one.
Now, onto the deck that people just still continue to underestimate, The Truth. Almost all of the big time analysts and writers pegged Gothitelle as the better lock deck. Well, once again The Truth fought back. Here is the deal about why The Truth fared better than Gothitelle: it’s a better deck and it wins the head-to-head matchup. The Truth has more flexibility. It can cover more weaknesses. It can have an early game presence with Donphan. It can sweep a game more easily once set up. Gothitelle just does not have any of those things.
Yes, I get that Gothitelle can use Items and The Truth cannot. This just does not seem to be that earth-shattering mechanic that people want it to be. The fact of the matter is that you have to be able to stream a Stage 2 attacker with a VERY expensive attack. I think it’s time to admit that The Truth has been the premier lock deck in the format since Ross broke it at Worlds through Regionals.
Finally, the other elephant in the room: Donphan. It showed up in Donphan/Yanmega, Donphan and Dragons, DonChampLock, and The Truth. Many of the pundits were moving away from Donphan in the Stage 1 variant in favor of Cinccino and were down on Donphan in general. I think the elephant really showed why it is still a very viable part of this game. It is hard to 1HKO. It has a cheap attack. The recoil can be beneficial. I really think that Donphan was a big winner and it is only going to get reinforcements from the next set.
So, there we have it folks. The competition has played out. We have results from two tournament sessions (plus Nats and Worlds). The obvious and clear break down of the top decks is (in order from top to bottom):
Donphan and Dragons
Those were obviously the six decks to beat in this last format, but will they hold up in the future?
So, here is my very short Noble Victories set review. These are the cards that I think will impact the meta. These are in no particular order.
N: We might as well start off with the most obvious card. N is going to be a powerful Supporter. It really serves a dual role in a deck. Early in the game it is a two-way PONT which could be essential to keeping your hand moving. Late in the game it becomes a super Judge. In my opinion, there are several decks that this benefits, but I will cover deck impact a little further down.
Eviolite: Well, nothing like giving the previously-overpowered big basics a boost right? That’s what has happened and I’m not too sure if I like it or not. This baby is Donphan’s Exoskeleton in Trainer-Tool form. It can also be thought of as a permanent Defender. Obviously this card will see play.
Kyurem: Now, I’m not sure that I’m buying all the hype. I’m not sure that spread is completely viable on it’s own in this meta. I am however buying that Kyurem will find a home in many decks. The other thing that Kyurem will impact is the Reuniclus decks. 30 HP basics are a huge liability since one Glaciate completely eliminates all of the basics in play. So, to get Reuniclus set up you need to get an evolution out before Kyurem is able to attack.
Super Rod: This card will see play in non-Lock decks. It is not particularly great, but it is arguably the best recovery card right now.
Now, the next set of cards are ones that could show up in the cities meta. I’m not as sold on their usefulness as the previous four, but there is definite potential. Again, these are in no particular order.
Leavannny: The ability to negate weakness is very attractive, but this just looks like Catcher bait. Its best obvious pairing is Vileplume to take away weakness. However, this seems clunky.
Virizion: A 110 HP basic that doubles as early draw support is always going to get an introductory look. Furthermore, starting on turn three it swings for 80 damage for two energy. However, being weak to fire is a bad thing right now.
Victini 14: This is also known as FlipTini. This is every rouge gambler’s dream card. For those of you who don’t know, this allows you to re-flip if you want to for attacks that require flips. The obvious combo is Sharpedo TM. I was playing on PlayTCG when someone hit a Strip Bare on turn two and again on turn four or five. It can be really crippling.
pokebeach.comVanilluxe: This card is a lot of fun and can be paired with Vileplume for a lot pressure. For WC you get to flip two coins and do 40 damage times the number of heads. If either of them are heads, the defending Pokémon is paralyzed. There is a combo out there waiting to happen with this card.
Eelektrik: Everyone should know about this card by now. It allows you to take a L Energy from the discard and attack it to a benched Pokémon. Many people have thought about pairing this with Zekrom, but I think that a Magnezone/Vileplume/Elektrik combo is much more appealing. As with Leavanny, any Bench-sitter is a liability and needs Vileplume for protection.
Victini 43: This one is the gambler’s counter to Gothitelle. If you can manage to hit double heads, that Gothitelle just took 240 damage to the face for a single psychic energy. I could even see a fun FlipTini/Victini 43 combo.
Chandelure: We all know how deadly adding 10 damage through PlusPower or Kingdra can be. Well, this card can allow you to drop 30 extra damage per turn as long as it is active. The rest of the card is just average, but there is potential. There is especially potential because it is a psychic type weak to darkness instead of psychic.
Gilgalith: I want this card to be good, but without Regirock, we just do not have the necessary F Energy acceleration. Basically this card is a 150 Stage 2 beast that has an unlimited snipe attack. The attack does 20 damage times the number of F Energy on Gilgalith to any Pokémon in play. Fun times right? Five to seven energy would 1HKO anything.
Conkeldurr: This is another Pokémon I want to be good, but I’m afraid it will not be. This one is a 140 hp Stage 2 that gains 20 HP for every F Energy attached to it. How amazing would it be to say that your Pokémon has something like 240+ HP. Say what, Reshiram does 120 damage, that’s OK, I still have 120 left. It also has a decent attack. It does 80 for FCCC with a milling effect. If you are already stacking F Energy on Conkeldurr, this is not too bad. However, there is not any proper acceleration. Also, it is weak to psychic which is not great. I’m afraid this card is not going to see much play.
Archeops: We all know that his card has potential. Its Ability stops people from naturally evolving Pokémon. However, this card just seems to be doomed. First, the mechanic is very hit or miss. Second, it is going to be Catcher bait even if you do get the basic out. You could use Vileplume, but that just messes up the mechanic even more. Finally, the early report is that Rare Candy will bypass the ability. Bummer. I could see this paired with Jirachi, but I don’t think it is going to be a huge deal.
Terrakion: This is a huge 130 HP basic with a Revenge-type attack called Retaliate. For FC it does 90 damage if your Pokémon was KOd during the opponent’s last turn. With it’s multi-color typing and large Retreat Cost, this appears to be outclassed by Bouffalant if you want a Revenge attacker.
Bisharp 76: There has been some play with this Darkness-typed Bisharp. However, 70 for one Darkness is not great enough to offset the low health and general fragility.
Hydreigon: Here is something that could work. It is a Stage 2 with 150 hp. It is a Darkness type that does 60 to the active and 40 to two benched Pokémon for DDDD. This might seem like a very expensive cost, but its Ability makes any Energy attacked to Hydreigon count as a D Energy. This could see some play and do very well. I’m not really sure what I would pair it with though.
Bisharp 82: In short this card is outclassed by Scizor Prime right now. It has a nifty 100 HP and can use Special M Energy to raise that cap. It also does 40 + 20 for each M Energy attached. Ultimately, the fire weakness might hold this card back for now.
pokebeach.comDurant: Is milling viable? Well, assuming you can keep four Durant in play each turn, you would need to use Devour anywhere between 10 and 12 times depending on how fast your opponent goes through their own deck. Given this is a weak 70 hp basic, that is not likely to happen. It is a fascinating idea, but it does not seem to be legitimate. Not to mention the deck would have problems on time since it does not take prizes.
Coballion: This is one card that has gotten some hype since it was revealed that Japan was using it to success. It is a 120 HP Metal basic. So, it can use Eviolite and Special M Energy to increase it’s survivability. It’s second attack does 80 for MMC and makes it so that the defending Pokémon cannot attack the next turn. Now, I think that this has possibilities, but it might have a hard time with its Fire weakness right now. I think it is important to note that Japan has Mewtwo EX already so the Psychic resistance is a big deal for them.
Basically, everything else from the set just is not doing it for me. As I mentioned earlier, I think that only three cards from NV will for sure impact the meta and the other cards have potential.
Impact on the Current Meta
So, now that we have established what the top tier decks were before Noble Victories and we have looked at what cards are impactful, what is the outlook for the established meta decks?
ZPST: Well obviously, ZPST gets help in the form of Eviolite. It is just another card that helps out Zekrom. It reduces the recoil and makes it hard to 1HKO. This will only add to the decks early game dominance. However, ZPST is likely the hardest hit deck from N. The deck has zero internal draw and is focused on racing out to early leads. If the deck gets down to two or so prizes left, the opponent can simply drop and N and lock ZPST into a small hand with limited resources to work with. This may be enough to bring the deck to a crawl and allows slower decks back into the game. Overall, however, I think that ZPST will remain a very viable deck.
pokebeach.comPrimetime: This deck is the deck that is most immune to N and benefits the most from N. This deck can afford to fall behind early to ZPST now and still have a solid comeback plan. Primetime can N ZPST or another deck that is faster than it is into a bad hand and stage a comeback. Also, Magnezone neutralizes N that is played against you. So, you do not have to fear going up on prizes and getting locked out as a Primetime player. As long as there are Pokémon that get 1HKOd by Yanmega and Magnezone is needed for the heavy lifting, this deck will be played.
tyRam: Well, this one is a little bit more interesting and less straight forward. First, Eviolite is a boost to the deck in that Reshiram is now more durable. Second, N is not as devastating against tyRam as it is against ZPST. A set up tyRam deck can really function without a hand in most matchups. So, having your opponent use N to force you into a two or one card hand is not that big of a deal because you can simply continue using Afterburner and Blue Flare.
Also, tyRam can use Ninetales, so, there is an increased chance of drawing back up from a small hand with this deck compared to other decks. The presence of N in the format will likely help tyRam even if N is not actually used in your tyRam deck.
Donphan and Dragons: This deck really gets a boost. With the addition of Kyurem, DD now can cover more type matchups. This offers the deck more versatility and therefore increases its effectiveness. It has a fast pressure based game and has the dragons to hit hard late.
The Truth and Goth: These two decks’ success will hinge on the popularity of Kyurem. As mentioned earlier, a developed Kyurem basically eliminates Reuncilus from hitting the board if there was not already at least a Duosion on the field. The ability to 1HKO all 30 hp basics on the field is devastating for these two decks.
So, basically, I am predicting that the top three decks all get better compared to the rest of the pre-Noble Victories field at large. Ain’t that some fun news. Do not fear though, because there are other decks that may emerge. I do not have polished lists for these, but here are some possible Pokémon combos to test out. I think they all have promise, but I am not guaranteeing that any of them will break into the meta in a big way.
Cobalion/Kyurem/Electrode: This was the deck from the Deck Out’s Japan series. This deck will see play, but I’m not sure how good it will be. It is really good in Japan because of Mewtwo EX. It is resistant to Mewtwo and can lock it out of attacking. However, since we do not have Mewtwo EX, it will be interesting to see if this deck can find success. In general, Electrode is becoming more attractive to play. We can slightly modify the top of the deck, and we have better recovery now to get back the discarded resources. Also, you get to control the ability to use Black Belt, Twins, and N.
Zekrom/Eeletrik: There is a lot of talk about Zekrom/Tornadus/Eeletrik being the new and improved ZPST. I am not buying this. Zekrom/Eeletrik is giving up the biggest advantage that ZPST has: speed. If you want something that can stream energy from the discard to the field, just play tyRam. Eeletrik is too small and is lacking a solid attack to be useful in a secondary purpose.
The Truth with Reshiram/Zekrom/Kyurem: This deck is really just the Truth with easier access to attackers because the dragons are all basics.
Kyurem-based decks: Energy acceleration and spread. That’s about it. This is the most hyped card in the set. However, I fear that it will not take off in a huge way. It really gets owned by Eviolite and there are plenty of other healing options out there to neutralize the spread. I think this will be played a lot because of the hype, but it might fall out of contention soon. It will be paired with Electrode, Feraligatr Prime, and Floatzel.
Vanilluxe/Vileplume/FlipTini: This is a fun lock deck that works better than the Beartic stuff. You have basically an auto paralysis in Vanilluxe and the denial of Switch. You can really lock the opponent into place to suffer a slow death. The problem is that you need a way to skip back ahead in prizes. Maybe Kingdra could help here.
Sharpedo/FlipTini: This is going to be one of the more devastating disruption decks. You could possibly toss in Slowking and a Stage 1 attacker (either Zoroark or Cinccino). The biggest drawback to lock decks is that they all rely on some luck, even SableLock was luck based with Conspiracy. Now, Sharpedo is luck based, but if you can hit the double heads on Strip Bare, you will be in great shape. You could also use Weavile to control their hand even more. I’m not sure how good this can be, but it is definitely fun to play and a pain to play against.
pokebeach.comMagnezone/Eeletrik (with or without Vileplume): This is really a pet deck. Back during the rotation, I was a big fan of Magnezone/Floatzel (with or without Vileplume). Well, now we just got a more versatile version of that deck. As a partner for Magnezone, Eeletrik is much better. It is energy compatible. It allows you to utilize more draw cards and to not fear Juniper and Sage’s Training nearly as much as in Magnezone/Floatzel.
I’m not guaranteeing that this deck will work, but I really think that there is something here. I can envision something like 3-2-3 Magnezone, 3-3 Eeletrik, 2 Zekrom (and a 3-1-2 Vileplume if you want the lock, in which case you would want a 1-1 Dodrio). You could use N, Sage’s Training, Professor Juniper, and Twins in this deck along with Magnetic Draw. Zekrom would be for an alternative attack, Magnezone is the big hitter.
The Gambler: Now, in all honesty this deck is not going to be competitive. It is not consistent enough to work in a large tournament. But if hit a sweet luck streak, this deck might be for you. This deck is FlipTini and Victini 43 (V-blast). The point is to get both Victini out turn one with a P Energy. Then V-Blast for 120 every turn. It is completely luck based, but it would be awesome to go on a run with.
Well, hopefully, I will be back in the future with some fun deck articles. As for now, happy deck building and playtesting.