How to School the Competition – Kyurem

pokebeach.comCongratulations to those of you who went to Regionals this past weekend. Regardless of how you ranked, I hope that you’re proud of your performance, gave it your all and had fun. But with City Championships starting only a week after Regionals, there’s no time to waste.

During City Championships, unlike Regionals, you’ll be able to play the new cards from Noble Victories. NV introduced a lot of powerful new cards that are sure to shake up the format. Like always, I immediately began testing out the cards in the set as soon as English scans appeared online. Arguably the most hyped card of the set was Kyurem.

Since Kyurem was among the first English scans to be posted online, I spent a ton of time testing it along side a lot of different cards. Over the past few months, I put a considerable amount of time and effort into testing out all sorts of ways to run Kyurem, trying to figure out what works, what has potential and what is just plain bad.

Before I go any further, like I do in most of my articles, I would like to add in a quick disclaimer. I feel like it helps people know exactly what to expect from an article. The information below has been heavily tested to the point that my fingers started bleeding (I got like 3 paper cuts :P). You can be sure that every bit of information in this article, from tech suggestions to metagame predictions, has been thoroughly tested and reviewed to ensure it’s an accurate reflection of my findings. I probably missed a thing or two here and there, so I apologize if that causes any confusion.

I’m not going to try and sell you the idea that I’ve broken the format and created an unstoppable deck that is going to dominate every single tournament for the rest of the season. I’m going to give everything to you straight and then you can decide if this deck is right for you.

Without further delay, here is the article complete with an overview of Kyurem, the decklist, a strategy guide, match ups section as well as changes you can make to better suit your metagame. There’s a ton I’d like to cover, so let’s get started!

Can Kyurem Win?

Mark A. HicksThis is the big question that everyone wants answered. Kyurem has received a lot of hype, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be a top tier deck. A great example of this is Gengar Prime and Lost World. Hyped to the moon by a lot of players, including myself and many other notable names, as the deck to beat. It did okay, but fell far short of our expectations.

Each time a set is released, I thoroughly test out as many new cards as I can so I can decide for myself whether it’s playable. I don’t like to rely on other people’s findings on whether or not a card is playable or not. It’s kind of like big foot, you need to see it for yourself.

If you read my article Schooling the Competition with ZPSTZ – Regionals Edition, you’ll know that about a week and a half before Regs, I learned I wouldn’t be able to make it. This meant I had a lot of extra time before and after Regionals to work with and develop some of the more promising cards. The card I took an immediately liking to was Kyurem.

So, to address the elephant in the room, do I think Kyurem is a contender? Definitely. Kyurem is such a strong card that there’s no way it doesn’t at least hit Tier 2, if not Tier 1. Glaciate is a powerhouse attack that dishes out huge amounts of spread damage. Its brothers, Zekrom and Reshiram, are some of the most powerful cards in the game and Kyurem fits right in.

Do I think it’s going to be the BDIF? Probably not. Kyurem is an amazingly strong deck with a lot of good match ups, but like most decks in the format, it has a few weak match ups, which will keep it from fully dominating the format like Plox or SP did. I doubt Kyurem will be the best deck in the format, but with a strong list piloted by a good player, it comes close.

For your convenience and so you may reference it while you’re reading the article, here is my list:

Pokémon – 22

3 Totodile HS
2 Croconaw HS
3 Feraligatr Prime
3 Kyurem NVI

3 Oddish UD

1 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
3 Pichu HS
1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND

Trainers – 26

4 Sage’s Training

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Pokémon Collector
3 Twins
3 N

2 Fisherman
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method


3 Pokémon Communication

3 Rare Candy

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

10 W
1 Rescue
1 R

Basic Strategy

Quick Overview: Kyurem dishes out spread damage each turn with “Glaciate”, which is powered by Feraligatr’s “Rain Dance” Poké-Power. Vileplume is here to shut off troublesome Trainers like Pokémon Catcher and consistency cards such as Rare Candy and Pokémon Communication.

Strategy: Pichu is your ideal starter here, which is why I run three copies of it as well as three Pokémon Collectors. I like the 3/3 split because it gives me a very high chance of starting with Pichu. In addition, running more actual Pichu as opposed to Pokémon Collector helps me get faster starts because I don’t need to waste my first turn Supporter on just getting Basics. I can start searching for the Rare Candies and Feraligatr right away.

In a deck that uses Trainer Lock, it can be devastating when you don’t hit that quick lock. Starting with a Pichu and a Sage’s Training pretty much guarantees I’m able to get the turn two lock. If I don’t have the necessary Rare Candy and Vileplume, I can use one of the many consistency Supporters I run to get the missing components. Getting the lock going on turn two, especially if you go first, is huge as is completely stops your opponent from being able to Rare Candy into a fast Typhlosion, Magnezone or any other Stage 2.

If I hit the Pichu start, I’ll generally fish out two Oddish, two Totodile and a Kyurem. This makes sure my that even if my opponent can Catcher up something, they can’t stop me from getting the Trainer Lock or a Feraligatr in play. They could technically Catcher up Kyurem, but it’s not easy for a lot of decks to get a 1HKO on a 130 HP Pokémon turn two.

Once you’re used “Playground” or Pokémon Collector, Vileplume is usually your first priority, the card you want to be using Rare Candy on. Locking off your opponent’s Pokémon Catchers is very important. It’s critical you don’t let your opponent keep dragging up Feraligatr as it will cause a lot of huge problems. Catcher is the reason why MagneBoar and ReshiBoar’s success has taken such a nosedive. No matter what kind of Energy accelerator you’re running, you can’t afford to keep discarding 3+ Energy a turn just to Retreat.

Another card that I had a huge problem playing around was Eviolite. I think problem might be the wrong word, roadblock works better. If your opponent can get 2-3 Eviolite on their Pokémon, there’s no way to stack enough damage on those Pokémon. I mean, you’d be 13HKOing Zekrom! Eviolote is sure to be played in high counts in decks that focus on Zekrom or Reshiram. Both TyRam and ZPST, the top two decks in the format, use one of these two Pokémon.

Vileplume UDpokebeach.comSpread decks already have issues applying pressure to your opponent’s field as they aren’t Knocking things Out like most decks. If it’s taking you 10+ turns to Knock Out their best Pokémon, there’s no way you can win. I knew pretty early in my testing that if I couldn’t find a way to solve the Eviolite problem, I might as well not even bother trying to make a Kyurem deck.

So, I’m sure it isn’t difficult to imagine how I came across the idea to run Vileplume, a card that solves two of this deck’s biggest problems. Also, another helpful benefit to running Vileplume is it slows the game down. By shutting off Rare Candy, Pokémon Communication, Junk Arm, etc., it slows your opponent’s set up and makes it harder for your opponent to take the lead in the beginning of the game.

An issue I would like to touch upon is time. Time is a huge, yet hugely underestimated factor in Pokémon that helps determine the winner of tournaments. A deck that’s bad on time, such as Gothitelle or The Truth, is at already a disadvantage before the game even starts. If there were no time limits, slower set up decks would be doing much better at tournaments.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to add in Vileplume was because I was afraid of becoming a slow deck. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this deck does on time. While isn’t nearly as good as ZPST on time and has lost games on time, it is definitely much better than Gothitelle.

Again, I need to give props to the 3/3 Pichu/Collector split. It’s just been so amazing at helping me get a strong start each game and not needing to rely on my opponent activating Twins to get set up. It hasn’t just improved the deck’s speed, but it’s consistency as well; it gets set up around the same time each and every game, which also makes it easier to play the deck as I know exactly how to pace myself and my resources. It also helps me get a turn 2 Vileplume 9/10 games, which is huge.

Side Note: While Twins is a great card that helps slower decks get up and running faster, it’s becoming less and less reliable. As soon as you drop down a Gothita, Solosis or Oddish, your opponent won’t take a Prize card until they’re fully set up. Eventually, their set up just gets so much further ahead of you that there’s no way you can come back.

pokebeach.comOnce you get a Vileplume set up, which is crucial to do as soon as possible in just about every match up (the exception being other Trainer locking decks), you want to start getting a Feraligatr going. Again, Pichu is great as it offers a 50% chance of stopping your opponent from attacking for a turn. If they want to attack, they’ll need to have a Pokémon Catcher in hand. With “Playground,” you’ll have gotten two Totodile and two Oddish, so they can’t prevent you from getting a Vileplume or a Feraligatr in play.

If they choose to kill the Kyurem, just continue your set up like usual, get Vileplume running, stall with Pichu or an extra Oddish if you have to until you get fully set up.

As soon as you’ve got both Stage 2s in play and Kyurem charged up via “Rain Dance,” start dishing out spread damage with Glaciate. Your opponent will have trouble getting the 1HKO on Kyurem under Trainer Lock, so there might be times where you can dish out significant damage with Outrage.

Suicune & Entei LEGEND has been an awesome inclusion into the deck. It’s the hardest hitting Pokémon in the deck as you can snipe for 100 damage each turn. Feraligatr can hit for a lot of damage, but it can be risky to bring active because it requires a huge Energy commitment. In addition, if you don’t have another Feraligatr in play, loosing your Energy accelerator can cost you the game.

SEL has a massive 160 HP, but it also has a Weakness to both Lightning and Water, so you need to be careful in promoting it in certain match ups, like MegaJudge or ZPST. However, SEL is an amazing tool in so many match ups including TyRam, Gothitelle, The Truth and Mew Box, that it definitely deserves its spot in my list. It also gives you an out against Cobalion as you can snipe it for 100 damage before it starts attacking.

Coming from a player who owns more than 10 copies of Tropical Beach, it may seem strange that I opted to only run a single copy. The first Kyurem list I built did include four copies, but over time, that number kept being cut down. I decided that, instead of using it as a crutch to help my deck set up, it would be better suited to function as a situational tech. Easily searched out by Twins, it’s effectively a Trainer card that reads “Draw 4-5 cards, then end your turn.”

Using Tropical beach in this manner has proved to be a super effective way to increase the speed in which this deck can set up. There are a lot of match ups in which you shouldn’t play Tropical Beach as it helps them just as much as it helps you. However, when you can and do play Beach, it often provides enough of a boost to win you the game.

I’m sure running only three Kyurem in a Kyurem deck will strike some of you as a bit strange, but I can get away with it. Since I’ve got six cards altogether that can search out Basics, I have little trouble getting one out early. In addition, with Rescue Energy, I can still use four Kyurem each game as well as up my overall Energy count, which has helped make sure those situations where I’m an Energy short of attacking happen less often. Also, running one less Basic helps to increase the odds of a Pichu start.

Something that I would like to point out is this deck is hard to play correctly. In TyRam or ZPST, there’s only about one or two viable moves you can make each turn, so it’s pretty easy to play. If either of those decks loose a game, it’s probably because of a bad start or tough match up and not because you did anything wrong.

On the other hand, in decks like MagneBoar, The Truth and this particular Kyurem variant, there can be many options at any given time. A few of those will be okay choices, but there’s only going to be one correct choice. These types of decks require you to play the correct move each and every turn. Making even one mistake can cost you the game, especially against a strong player who will do everything in their power to capitalize on your mistake.

Therefore, I suggest that you only take this deck to a tournament if you are 100% confident in your ability to play at a high level throughout an entire tournament.

Match Ups

Now that you’ve a general understanding of how the deck runs, you probably have an idea if this concept interests you at all. If you think this might be the deck for you, I urge you to continue reading. Instead of just saying what the match ups are, I decided I would actually tell you how to play this deck right.

Just like I did in my How to School the Competition articles last season, I’m going to talk about how the match up usually goes down, but I will also give some tricks and tips that will help you outplay your opponents and win more games.

Note: All of my Regionals information accounts for the Masters Division statistics provided by Pokégym, so please allow for a slight margin of error.


VS TyRam – Favorable/Highly Favorable

pokebeach.comA member of the Big Three, Tyram saw the most Battle Roads victories and was one of the best performing decks at Regionals. ReshiPhlosion captured more Top 32 slots than any other deck, not to mention coming in first place at two events. TyRam is firmly a Tier 1 deck and I don’t see that changing for Cities.

This match up is pretty strongly in our favor and as long as you get a decent start, you’ll have no trouble winning. Your opponent’s going to play against this deck the exact same way they would play against Gothitelle. They’ll be sure not to active Twins until they’re set up. Then, they’ll try to overwhelm you with knock outs. The key to stopping this is to get a Vileplume up and running right away.

Earlier in the article, I said this deck is better on time than Gothitelle or The Truth. I would like to explain exactly why that is. Normally, a deck using multiple Stage 2s isn’t good on time because it takes to long to get going. By the time you’re up and running, your opponent’s ahead by 2+ prizes. Even if you establish the ultimate lock, it takes a while to get ahead on prizes, usually too long.

Now, this deck isn’t near the speed of ZPST or even TyRam, but it does have an advantage that Gothitelle doesn’t. When fully set up, Goth can only take 1 Prize card each turn. However, Kyurem generally collects 3 Prizes every two turns, which allows it to come from behind more quickly.

Another key difference from Gothitelle, which needs 4+ turns before it starts taking prizes, Kyurem can start as early as turn two or three. No matter how you play it, Goth needs a certain amount of turns to gather Energy so it can 1HKO big Pokémon, but Kyurem can start spreading as soon as you set up.

One other thing, if you’re starting game two or three with 5 or so minutes on the clock, Kyurem can abandon the Trainer Lock and try to 2HKO some Basic Pokémon on your opponent’s bench. This isn’t super effective, but it is an option that Gothitelle doesn’t have. The Truth can do this, but it’s generally difficult for them to get going, even if they abandon Vileplume and Reuniclus, consistently.

pokebeach.comTo make sure your opponent can’t stop you from getting the Trainer lock, be sure to put two Oddish down. In addition, you should have some way to evolve them the next turn. Otherwise, a double Catcher means you loose both Oddish.

Another reason you want a turn two Plume is because of Eviolite. Since they can reduce the amount of spread damage you can do each turn, it’s crucial to prevent them from getting multiple Eviolite in play. You can handle one without much trouble, but once the second or third comes into play, it becomes very difficult to win.

Once the first few turns of the game have passed by, there’s a few different ways you can play the match up. You can keep bringing up Kyurem to overwhelm your opponent’s field with damage. Another thing you can do is get 30 or 60 damage on your opponent’s field and then bring up Suicune & Entei LEGEND to snipe your opponent’s Typhlosions. Its 160 HP means your opponent can only 2HKO SEL. If they lose two Typhlosion under Trainer Lock, they have very little chance of winning.

Suicune & Entei LEGEND might first appear to be a “win more” card, but I’ve found that it is key in games where you get a late Trainer Lock and your opponent pulls ahead in the prizes. I’ll attack once or twice with Kyurem, then whip out SEL to kill their key Pokémon, crushing their chances of winning.

You also have one other option: Feraligatr Prime. Again, you need to be very careful in attacking with Feraligatr as it needs a huge Energy requirement. However, if you’ve got a Fisherman in your hand to get back the Energy you need to Retreat, Feraligatr can be a great way to dish out huge damage and get a key 1HKO on a Reshiram.

VS ZPST – Swiss Even/Slightly Favorable – Top Cut Even/Slightly Unfavorable

ZPST was one of the most popular decks at Regionals, even managing to win one of the events. The release of Eviolite will just add fuel to the flame and give ZPST even more strength. Like I said, Eviolite is a big problem for spread decks and if one deck will be playing it in high numbers, it’s ZPST. So again, it’s vital that you get a Vileplume going as soon as you can, especially in Top Cut.

pokebeach.comSome match ups don’t vary a ton whether they’re played in Swiss or Top Cut. However, it makes a big difference when a slower deck faces the fastest deck in the format. While you won’t be able to prevent them from getting a Turn 1 Tornadus/Zekrom, Vileplume is really good at tearing apart their mid and late game. Without Junk Arm, Dual Ball, PlusPower or Pokémon Catcher, they’ll have a lot of trouble getting set up and taking prizes.

Kyurem gets a lot of strength under the lock as its 130 HP is just outside 1HKO range from a Bolt Strike. So, to set up a 2HKO, they’ll probably use Outrage, then follow up with a Bolt Strike. This is pretty desirable because if they can only 2HKO you, each Kyurem will putting 60 damage on each of your opponent’s Pokémon before going down.

You want to try and create situations where your opponent needs to drop a Shaymin and/or Pachirisu. Each vulnerable basic they put down is an easy prize. These become especially important in the second game of top cut. If you won the first game, it’s vital that you’re able to take the second as well. Unlike a lot of other slow decks, Kyurem does have the chance to get ahead on the second game, even if there isn’t a lot of time left on the clock, because of a spread deck’s ability to take multiple cheap prizes each turn.

Unfortunately, this deck does very poorly in Sudden Death as it just takes too long to get an attacker charged up. But don’t be too worried, just because a deck is slow, doesn’t mean it can’t do well in top cut. Just look at the Regionals results. The Oregon Regs were just won by The Truth, easily one of the slowest decks in the format.

A great tool to use against ZPST is N. Almost any deck that relies on capitalizing on its speed advantage over other decks is vulnerable to disruption. Just like Rocket’s Admin., a well timed N can completely turn the game around. If you play it just before you start taking prizes, you’ll get 5-6 cards while your opponent’s stuck with 2-4. Any player who’s played ZPST and been hit by a Judge will know just how much hand disruption hurts. N is especially potent under Item lock. There’s a good chance 3+ of the cards in their new hand will be useless Trainers.

pokebeach.comIf you want to determine exactly how helpful dropping an N is likely to be, consider a few things. First and foremost, to state the most obvious factor, check both players prizes! The more prizes your opponent has taken, the better the odds your opponent will get a useless hand and be relying on top decks to stay in the game. You’ll also need to check your prizes. Can you afford to drop to a smaller hand? Is something in your hand right now crucial to your game plan? The best time to use N will be when you’ve got a dead hand and your opponent has a large one.

You’ll also need to take into account the present board situation. If your opponent misses their next Energy drop, will they be crippled? Will dropping a DCE allow them to get a crucial Knock Out?

The other important thing to take into consideration is what they have in their hand. Now I’m not saying get a friend to stand behind your opponent with a mirror so you can see what they’ve got. You can usually get a good idea what your opponent has based on what they’re doing in the game. If they haven’t attached an Energy or used a Supporter in the past couple turns, you can be pretty sure they don’t have one and their hand is pretty dry.

You have to be careful when using cards like Judge or N. If you play it when your opponent’s got a bad hand, you could potentially give your opponent a much stronger one that lets them bounce back into the game.

Tropical Beach has proved to be a very valuable (no pun intended) addition to this deck. However, when you’re playing against ZPST, it is generally a good idea not to play it as it makes one of your greatest weapons, N, far less effective.

VS Magnezone/Yanmega – Even/Slightly Favorable

The underdog of Regionals, so to speak. Most people will agree that TyRam and ZPST are members of the Big Three, but the last spot has been hotly debated over. Some people believed Gothitelle deserved the spot while others (including myself) thought it belonged to MegaJudge.

In my Regionals article on ZPSTZ, I predicted that Gothitelle would perform rather poorly while MegaJudge would be just as popular as TyRam or TZPS. I’m happy to say that my predictions were pretty dead on :)

/End of Gloating

pokebeach.comNow that Primetime has proved itself to be one of the strongest decks in the format, we’ll definitely need to have a strong game plan against it. I think this match up is pretty close overall. Both decks have their advantages over the other as well as ways to exploit the other deck’s weaknesses.

Like usual, an early Vileplume greatly shifts this match up in our favor. Not only will you delay Magnezone from coming into play until at least turn three (assuming you get the lock up before they can Rare Candy into a ‘Zone), but you’re going to be slowing down the overall rate in which your opponent will get set up. In addition, “Magnetic Draw” becomes a lot less effective because their hand gets clogged fast with Trainers.

The other more subtle advantage to an Item lock is your opponent will have to put more effort into keeping hand sizes even so they can attack with Yanmega. As someone who has done a lot of play testing with MegaJudge (I almost took it to Regionals), I can tell you that it is a lot harder to keep attacking for free with Yanmega when your opponent’s got Vileplume in play.

A very effective way to make it impossible for your opponent to consistently attack with Yanmega is to keep your hand size changing. If you keep changing it, your opponent will likely need to play a Judge or Copycat each to turn to keep attacking. Eventually, their luck will run out and they won’t have a hand matching card to play.

The easiest hand sizes for your opponent to match will be 5 or 6. Like usual, they can use Copycat or Judge, but they can also use Magnetic Draw and PONT to get them much closer as well. A great number to be at is 7, which your opponent will have a hard time matching while not being so huge that you can’t ever play anything.

The overall plan here is to force them into a position where they can’t attack. A big weakness of Magnezone/Yanmega is with some planning and a little luck, you can get them in a position where they’re unable to attack. Yanmega needs the hand sizes to be even, so once they whiff on a hand matching Supporter, is going to be unable to attack that turn.

They can bring up Magnezone, but that’s very risky. Magnezone is more reliable, but is unable to score many successive 1HKOs because “Lost Burn” needs to Lost Zone three Energy to 1HKO Kyurem. Even with Pachirisu, they’re going to have trouble Knocking Out more than one or two Kyurem with Magnezone. There’s been talk of adding Eelektrik NVI to MegaZone decks as a way to fuel Lost Burn.

pokebeach.comBut since we’re locking out Junk Arm and most MegaJudge lists aren’t running many Juniper, they’ll be relying almost exclusively on the Energy they discard with Sage’s Training. Overall, in this match up, Eelektrik seems to more harm consistency-wise than good.

Also, there’s the Retreat Cost to take into consideration. Once they Lost Zone all their Energy, they’ll have a Magnezone stuck active with no Energy on it. Since Kyurem can do a ton of damage to your opponent’s field without actually KOing Magnezone, it’s pretty much game over. The only way they can bring up ‘Zone is if they can win the game in the next 1-2 turns, so if you stop Yanmega from attacking while your opponent has 3 or more prizes left, your chances of winning skyrocket.

A common strategy a player using Yanmega will try is to 3HKO Vileplume with “Linear Attack.” If you are able to employ some of the strategies detailed above about making it harder for your opponent to match your hand size, hopefully it’s more like a 4HKO.

This is a pretty solid map for your opponent to follow as once “Allergy Flower” is gone, this match up becomes drastically harder to win. This isn’t as effective of a strategy because of Glaciate. During the minimum three turns your opponent will need to KO Vileplume, that’s three times you can use Glaciate, which is 90 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokémon.

But if you’re really worried about the Item lock coming down, it isn’t too difficult to get another Vileplume running since virtually no pressure is being put on your field, so if you’ve got a Kyurem charged, you just keep attacking like normal and devote your resources elsewhere.

It’s important that you’re playing reactively. MegaZone is a deck that has a lot of options and variety each game, so it’s important you play strict attention to everything they do so you’re prepared for it. Knowing exactly how to respond to your opponent’s moves comes from experience. The more games you’ve played against it, the more ways you’ll know how to beat it.

pokebeach.comThe final wrench a MegaJudge player can throw into your plans is a Judge. If you’ve got something important in your hand, a well timed Judge can be catastrophic. While there’s not really a sure-fire way we can solve this problem, I do run a soft counter in the form of a higher Supporter count. This helps to increase my chances of being “Judged” into a Shuffle-and-Draw card or top decking one when I need it.

In addition, Judge is less of a problem thanks to the release of N. Most Magnezone decks are at least reducing their CopyCat/Judge/PONT/Sage’s count to include N, which becomes a lot stronger in conjunction with “Magnetic Draw”. But thankfully, N isn’t quite as disruptive because we’re playing a spread deck that doesn’t take a ton of prizes until later in the game.

This is a very tough game to play, like you’re walking on a tight rope. You’ve got to have multiple turns planned out and be able to completely change them at any time. It’s very easy to make a mistake and doing so even once can cost you the game.

Thankfully, your opponent’s in pretty much the same boat where making a misplay can have disastrous consequences. The victory will go to the player that’s put in the most time mastering this match up and who has the skill to back it up.

VS The Truth – Slightly Favorable/Favorable

Let me start by saying this is the match up that I’ve tested the least against (about 75 games), so I will openly say I haven’t “mastered” it yet (my general policy is it takes around 150 games to master a match up). However, I think I’ve gotten a good feel for how this game goes and can give you guys some tips on how to win it.

This analysis will be covering the standard build containing the following: 2 Zekrom, 2-2 Donphan, 1-1 SEL, and 1-1 Blissey Prime.

First and foremost, don’t waste any time or resources trying to get Vileplume up and running. Since The Truth is also a Trainer lock deck, it won’t be running many damaging Trainers (Catcher, Eviolite, PlusPower, etc.). You’re much better off going for Feraligatr to get Kyurem up and running asap.

pokebeach.comSince Kyurem is such a new card, people don’t know what to expect when facing it as there’s so many potential ways to run it. There’s a good chance your opponent won’t even know you’re running Vileplume until a few turns into the game. This is great, let them waste their resources trying to get a near-useless card running.

If your opponent gets set up faster than you do, don’t worry. One of the weaknesses of The Truth in this match ups is, even if they manage to get a very fast start, it’s difficult for them to really capitalize on it. They don’t play Pokémon Catcher, so they can’t really disrupt your set up. It’s very easy to just stall with an extra Pichu/Totodile/Oddish or a Kyurem until you’re ready to go. If they can’t Knock Out Kyurem in a single blow, you’ll even be able to start using Outrage for a decent amount of damage since CC is pretty easy to get even if Feraligatr isn’t set up yet.

Okay, let’s fast forward a bit. The three main attackers in Ross.dec are Donphan (the main attacker of the deck), Zekrom (to do 140 damage and deal with Yanmega) and Suicune & Entei LEGEND (to beat Reshiram & Reuniclus).

Donphan is very easy to deal with. The Water Weakness and “Exoskeleton” means you’ll be hitting active Donphan for 40. Since neither “Earthquake” nor “Heavy Impact” is capable of 1HKOing a Kyurem means you’ll be able 1HKO Donphan with Outrage. Also, Donphan’s recoil damage will only help you to overload your opponent’s field with damage.

Zekrom is really the only threat your opponent has to use against you. With “Damage Swap”, your opponent can stack 110 damage on it, which is enough to 1HKO Kyurem via Outrage. Loosing one isn’t a huge issue, but is you can’t return the KO on Zekrom, they’re going to be Knocking Out your Pokémon fast. Thankfully, if they stack that much damage on it, it’s well within Glaciate KO range.

The card that really helps swing this match up in my favor is SEL, who can snipe for 100 damage, which is enough to KO a fresh Reuniclus. Once you take out Reuniclus, the deck pretty much falls apart since they can’t tank with anything. They’ll have trouble getting another one set up because Solosis and Duosion have such low HP. Glaciate is sure to get them before they have time to evolve.

pokebeach.comIn addition, their most effective weapon (Zekrom) becomes less effective once Reuniclus is gone. Technically, they could just let it sit on their bench and get hit by four Glaciate (30 x 4 = 120), but against a spread deck, they can’t really afford to wait wait that long to start attacking. Their best and only shot at winning is to run me out of Kyurem before they’re completely overwhelmed by the damage.

Now, if you can’t get SEL in play and charged up, you’re still in a good spot. Your opponent will run out of places to store the damage (which will be 180 damage on a full bench a turn), especially since they need to leave everything with 40 HP or Glaciate will KO it. This is huge as even big HP Pokémon like Donphan can’t store much.

Something important to make note of is your opponent also runs SEL. However, without an Energy accelerator, it’s mostly just in the deck as a weapon against Reshiram. Since it requires three turns to get charged up and has a Water Weakness, trying to use it is a risky move for your opponent as its demise lets you pick up 2 Prizes.

As long as you’ve got a firm grasp on how to play this match up and are thinking a few turns ahead, the odds of victory are greatly in your favor.

VS Stage 1s – Favorable (1-1 Zoroark or less) / Slightly Unfavorable (with a 3-3 Zoroark)

This section will be to address the various Stage 1 decks out there, more specifically decks running a combination of the following: Donphan Prime, Yanmega Prime, Cinccino BLW, Zoroark BLW, Weavile UD.

Stage 1 builds are strong because they’re able to attack quickly and apply a lot of early game pressure. It’s not quite as fast as ZPST, but it’s arguably more consistent.

Thankfully, their speed advantage isn’t that helpful for them here. First of all, Pichu helps you fish out the necessary Basic Pokémon from your deck (which is generally 2 Oddish, 2 Totodile and a Kyurem). Also, there’s a 50/50 chance “Sweet Sleeping Face” will either slow your opponent down a turn or force them to waste a Pokémon Catcher.

The big, bad wolfpokebeach.comIf they do Catcher around it, that’s even better as it activates Twins. We all know the routine; put two Basics down, one gets KO’d, play Twins for a Rare Candy and the Evolution. Twins is very strong here, so do what you can to get/keep one in your hand, which means try not to discard it via Sage’s Training or shuffle it way with PONT/N.

First off, we’ve got Donphan, who is generally a shoe-in in just about every Stage 1 build. This is because apart from Cinccino, none of the others can just do damage, regardless of hand sizes or what attacks your opponent’s active Pokémon has. Dealing with Donphan is very easy. Since it maxes out at 60 damage, they’re 3HKOing Kyurem under Trainer lock, so you can easily get the KO with Outrage.

Yanmega is a little trickier. If they can’t prevent you from setting up, just like in MegaZone, they’ll try to 3HKO Vileplume to get the Item lock taken down asap. Again, this isn’t much of an issue because that’s 3+ turns you can be using Glaciate, which is 90 damage to their Pokémon. In addition, you can just put down another Oddish and as soon as Vileplume is taken out, Rare Candy into another ‘Plume. If they want the Trainer Lock taken down, they’ll be sure to KO Oddish and then resume attacking Vileplume, but this is fine. It’s just one more turn you have to use Glaciate without having to worry about Kyurem getting KO’d.

If the Trainer Lock is taken down, they’re sure to have saved up a few Pokémon Catcher to drag up Feraligatr. Fortunately, since you’ve been able to go 3+ turns without having to power up another Kyurem, you should have stock piled a few W Energy or a Fisherman by now, even if your opponent played a Judge or two. By this time, your opponent’s field will be flooded with damage, so being able to Retreat Feraligatr once or twice should buy you enough time to get those last few KOs and take the game.

Next up we’ve got Cinccino, who is pretty much the same thing as Donphan. The lower HP is evened out by not having a Water Weakness. While Cinccino can hit for up to 100 damage, this still isn’t enough to 1HKO a Kyurem. However, it does put enough damage on Kyurem so it can get the revenge KO with Outrage.

pokebeach.comWeavile is interesting in that it isn’t included for its attacking capabilities, but instead is run for its Poké-Power. When it’s put in play, you can look at your opponent’s hand and discard one card among them. This can be highly disruptive and even decide games, so it’s important that as soon as a Sneasel comes into play that you’re prepared for a Weavile drop.

You’ve always got to have a back up plan ready in case your opponent “Snag Claws” a card vital to your original plan. However, once you get the Trainer Lock up and running, Super Scoop Up will be shut off, so your opponent will have a harder time using Snag Claw turn after turn. Seeker does get around this, though.

Finally we have Zoroark, arguably the most bothersome tool a Stage 1 deck has in its arsenal. Since “Foul Play” let’s them use their choice of Glaciate or Outrage for only CC, they can implement their own damage spreading strategy. Combined with the fact Kyurem can’t 1HKO Zoroark as well as their ability to set up more than one Zoroark rather easily means we’ve got a real problem on our hands.

So how do we combat a Zoroark infestation? Well, it’s actually pretty tough. Glaciate helps make it harder for your opponent to get Zoroark in play by always threatening the 2HKO on Zorua. While this won’t stop your opponent from evolving a Zorua to Zoroark before its KO’d, we do have a way to make this much harder for your opponent in the form of N.

The only time they’re going to be putting a Zorua in play is if they’ve got a Zoroark in hand, but N will be giving your opponent a brand new hand, one that hopefully doesn’t include Zoroark or PETM. They’ll probably get a PONT or Copycat, but with Trainer Lock, they won’t be able to use Pokémon Communication; they’ll need an actual Zoroark. This strategy becomes more effective as the game goes on and they collect more prizes.

pokebeach.comThe other option we have is to use SEL or Feraligatr to 1HKO Zoroark (Feraligatr will need for there to be damage on Zoroark to get the KO). While this presents its risks, such as your opponent being able to copy SEL’s attack and snipe for 100 or Feraligatr getting 1HKO’d, our objective is to remove Zoroark threats as quickly as possible. If you’ve already killed 1-2 Zorua/Zoroark, these are strong moves to make sure Zoroark “stays down”.

I’m not crazy by how tough Zoroark is for this deck to deal with, but I don’t think it will cause any major damage to this deck’s performance at Cities. Firstly, Stage 1s have been seeing a slow decline in play for a while now as the Power Creep is becoming too much for the deck to bear. Decks that can’t score 1HKOs are rarely viable in this format.

Also, Stage 1 builds are starting to shy away from Zoroark. Even as recent as Regionals, it was one of the strongest Pokémon in the game. Eviolite changes all that. Zoroark’s popularity stemmed from the fact that it could do 120 damage to Zekrom or Reshiram for CC (and without discarding Energy), which was the magic number.

Against TyRam, it would have little trouble 1HKOing a Reshiram thanks to Afterburner damage and all it needed was a PlusPower to beat Zekrom (assuming no self-inflicted Bolt Strike damage).

Overall, the match up is greatly changed by Zoroark’s presence. However, with it becoming significantly weaker with Eviolite’s release, decks will start to leave it out of their lists. Without Zoroark, this match up is strongly in your favor and you’ll have little trouble winning.

VS Gothitelle – Favorable

Many people were shocked at how badly Gothitelle performed at Regionals. Thankfully, I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I shared this prediction in my ZPST article before Regionals, so my ego is nice and inflated right now :P

If I were to choose what I think is the reason why Goth underperformed, I would have to say time. Like I’ve said multiple times in this article and what’s been said in numerous articles before this, Gothitelle is terrible in timed matches. It can’t steal games like ZPST or TyRam can and can’t even beat its strong matches reliably in top cut.

However, Gothitelle did do well at Fall Battle Roads this year, so I wouldn’t count it out just yet. You’ll still need to know how to beat it.

For starters, I’d like to address Vileplume. This match up will establish a very unique set of circumstances. Gothitelle’s Ability will prevent you from being able to use Items, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get Vileplume up and running. Until you do, your opponent will still be able to use their Pokémon Catchers, Junk Arms and Rare Candies.

I spent a few days trying to play this match up without getting Vileplume set up. I figured the only real reason you’d want it up is to block Pokémon Catcher. Since most builds only play 1-2, they won’t be able to play as many copies per game. Also, because of Gothitelle’s slow set up speed, it applies virtually no early game pressure, so it might not be that huge of an issue if I’ve got to manually Retreat Feraligatr once or twice each game, especially since I run two Fisherman.

It seemed this was accurate in about 75% of games. The other 25% of the time, my opponent would play 3-4 Pokémon Catcher via Junk Arm or I would whiff on a Fisherman. Also, being able to Retreat my Pokémon is useless if they just KO it. So, after about 10-15 games against Gothitelle trying this alternate method, I finally conceded that Vileplume is more helpful than not.

However, getting it out can be tricky. Since I run only a single Gloom, (more on that later), it’s definitely in my best interest to try and Rare Candy Vileplume into play before they get their lock up. If not, you’ll have to try to manually evolve into Vileplume. Obviously, they’ll try to Catcher up Gloom, but that’s actually not as bad as it would seem. Even if they prevent you from getting a Vileplume, you can then follow through with the plan I tried above: Hang on to those Fisherman and manually Retreat Feraligatr.

As you can see, I don’t have a hard solution to this problem, but I figure I’ve got enough soft counters to make it work. I doubt Gothitelle will be as popular as it was at BRs because its poor Regionals performance is sure to cause people to shy away from it. Overall, I think having a game plan that can overcome Pokémon Catcher (when played in Goth) 80-85% of the time will more than suffice for Cities.

pokebeach.comApart from the Trainer Lock differences, you should play this match up almost identically to how you would play against Ross.dec. Use Kyurem to overwhelm your opponent’s field until they’ve got no place to put all the damage.

SEL is very strong here as it gives you the option to snipe a Reuniclus or a Gothitelle they’re charging up on their bench. A lot of times, Gothitelle players aren’t prepared to have their benched Pokémon killed, so a surprise Torrent Blade can be huge.

VS The Mirror

Since Cities will be the first tournament NV is legal at, you’ll see a lot of different Kyurem variants. But again, you’re going to see a lot of players running Kyurem lists that just aren’t ready for tournament play yet. Either they haven’t thoroughly tested it enough or the deck has problems that they didn’t really fix. The players using Noble Victories cards that have properly tested their deck and adjusted it accordingly are the ones that will win tournaments.

However, you can’t go to Cities not expecting to face at least one strong mirror. To win those games, it’s vital that you know how to play against them. Below I’ve listed four of what I believe will be the most common mirror matches you might be up against at Cities.

Kyurem/Ross.dec – Favorable

Not to be confused with a Truth deck just teching in Kyurem, this deck focuses on trying to keep a Kyurem up and attacking as long as possible using Reuniclus and Vileplume. Because we’re up against a fellow Trainer Locking deck, we can forget about trying to set up Vileplume and go straight for Feraligatr.

cartoonstock.comSo basically, this match up is Feraligatr vs Reuniclus and quite frankly, we’ve got a huge edge. While Reuniclus certainly has its strengths, Feraligatr just provides more speed and power. This speed advantage gives us the chance to steal games by Knocking Out their Pokémon (like Solosis or Duosion) before they can even get in the game. Being able to get set up faster and having stronger recovery really gives us the edge.

One trick they do have that we don’t is the ability to 1HKO Kyurem with Outrage by stacking 110 damage on their Kyurem. But since our deck has much stronger recovery, this move isn’t a good idea for them. All we have to do is set up another Kyurem and get the revenge Knock Out with Glaciate. Without an Energy accelerator, they have a much harder time getting another Kyurem set up than we do.

Finally, we’ve got SEL, who can snipe any Reuniclus they do manage to set up. Once they lose Reuniclus, their chances of winning go right out the window. If a Ross.dec can’t tank, can’t get set up and the Trainer Lock doesn’t hurt its opponent at all, there’s no way they can win. Just like against The Truth, we’ve got so many ways to apply pressure to their field that eventually, they just collapse.

Kyurem/Floatzel/Shaymin – Slightly Favorable/Favorable

I think this deck is the weakest of all the Kyurem variants I’ve heard discussed. I can’t think of any advantages you have when you play Floatzel instead of Feraligatr. It’s not really faster because you need to have multiple Floatzel in play. You’re just as vulnerable to Pokémon Catcher, but now they can 1HKO your Energy accelerators much easier. Also, you’ll need to be dropping a hoard of Shaymin throughout the game if you want to keep attacking with your Kyurem.

pokebeach.comSince I doubt many spread decks are running Seeker, you can expect your opponent to be running 2 Shaymin and about 3 SSU. First of all, Vileplume prevents them from reusing Shaymin, so their Energy acceleration will die pretty fast. In addition, each Shaymin or Floatzel they have in play is an easy prize. It won’t be long before you completely wipe out all their support Pokémon. After that, you’ll have little trouble taking the game.

I’m sure at least a few people will say I’m underestimating this deck, but I really can’t see this deck going anywhere. It has very few strong match ups and a lot of bad ones. Combined with its consistency issues, this is one of our most desirable mirror matches.

Kyurem/Electrode/Cobalion – Slightly Unfavorable

This match up isn’t unfavorable because Electrode is such an amazing card that turns the mirror into an auto-win; it’s mostly because of Cobalion. I’ve included a section dedicated to Cobalion below, so you’ll find more detailed information on playing against it there.

The hardest part of this match up is the second or third turn. This is usually before you’ve completed your set up and haven’t been able to start attacking yet. On the other hand, there’s a strong chance your opponent’s already activated an Electrode (thereby shutting you off from Twins) and is starting to attack, if they haven’t already.

Because of their faster set up time, your opponent will have started taking prizes before you’ve completed your set up. More often than not, your number 1 priority should be getting out Vileplume. It’s vital that you shut off those Catchers and Eviolites asap. In addition, with Research Papers unavailable, “Energymite” won’t be as effective of a way for your opponent to set up their field.

If your opponent’s got a few Cobalion charged up, you’ll need to get access to Twins as soon as you can to get SEL in play with a R Energy. Twins is the only card in this deck that can search out Legend pieces or the R Energy, so once your opponent uses an Electrode to get a Cobalion charged up, just chump block with an extra Oddish or Totodile until your opponent pulls ahead in the prizes. Once they do, you should be able to get SEL in play which you can then use to 1HKO their Cobalion.

I chose to go with a R Energy over a Rainbow Energy because the damage counter is a huge drawback. It lowers Kyurem’s HP to 120, which we all know is a magic number in Pokémon. That damage counter actually caused me loose games by putting my Pokémon with 1HKO range for my opponent’s Zekrom and Reshiram. Since both of its attacks have a C Energy cost in them anyway and the majority of my Energy are Water, I decided to try a R Energy out. I haven’t looked back since.

pokebeach.comNow, I’d jump back a bit, all the way to the first turn of the game. This is one of the few match ups where you probably don’t want to use Playground. Since you’re facing a deck that’s Pokémon are almost exclusively Basics, Playground let’s them set up their field way to quickly. Except in emergency situations, try to use Collector to get the Basics you need.

Okay, let’s get back to the present here. Assuming you can fend off the Cobalion swarm, you’ll still have to deal with the Kyurem. However, once your opponent realizes they’re up against a Kyurem deck, most of their resources probably went to getting Cobalion going. About 75% of the time, SEL will be able to effectively handle the Cobalion they get set up. As soon as that’s done, get it out of the active slot right away. It’s Water Weakness means you’ll be Knocked Out by Kyurem fast.

Thankfully, our greatest advantage over them is in the late game. Our deck is set up and is attaching Energy and locking Items like there’s no tomorrow. The Kyurem war is a little like the Garchomp war. The Pokémon best suited to handle a Kyurem is another Kyurem and the player that runs out of “responses” first generally looses the game.

In the late game, once your opponent’s used a few Energymite, Electrode is a lot weaker. Their deck is getting low on Energy and they discarded a lot of resources early game with Electrode, which is starting to catch up with them. Basically, you’re just buying time until they run out of Energy and you can then proceed to win the game.

Normally, this match up could easily pass as Slightly Unfavorable/Unfavorable. Instead, it’s much easier because of a few factors. First of all is Electrode’s dependency on luck. While you can do things to increase its accuracy, there will be times when it gets 0-1 Energy. Not only do you get a Prize card for next to no benefit to your opponent, but they also just discarded 6-7 cards from their deck, which will hurt in longer games.

This match up may get harder in the future as players learn how to play the deck better and discover techs that aid its problem match ups. But right now, we’ve got enough outs that if you know how to play the match up, it can be won.

Kyurem/Feraligatr – Even

pokebeach.comThis is probably the closest thing to a true mirror match you’ll come across come Cities. There might be a few other Feraligatr/Vileplume builds, but I don’t think it will be too common of a play. Like any mirror, the winner of the game usually goes to the person who can get more main attackers set up faster than their opponent. In this case, the winner of the Kyurem war wins the game.

Both players will be running Feraligatr, so the Energy acceleration you and your opponent are using are identical. You’re running a 3-1-2 Vileplume line, which is likely to slow your set up time. Vileplume is 4HKO’d by Glaciate, so you’ll really need to take advantage of those four turns where your opponent can’t play Items.

Also, a quick turn 2 Vileplume can be a great way to take control of the game early. If your opponent doesn’t have a Feraligatr set up yet, shutting them off from Rare Candy and Pokémon Communication is huge. With a little luck, you’ll be attacking 1-2+ turns ahead of your opponent. At this point, you’ve just given yourself a huge lead.

One of the most important factors in this game will be the numbers. You’ll constantly need to be making calculations, to figure out if it’s best to use Glaciate, to damage your opponent’s entire field, or Outrage, to get a KO on a Kyurem, at any given time. If you struggle with planning multiple turns in advance, this could be a tough match up for you to play.

In addition, you’ll really want to use SEL in this match up. As soon as you’ve used Glaciate twice, drop SEL and Torrent Blade your opponent’s Feraligatr. Once they loose their Energy acceleration, within just a few turns you’ll see them start to struggle. Beware, however, that your opponent may be running SEL as well, so you’ve got to be prepared for the exact same thing.

Fisherman is pro here. Being able to get those four W Energy back is huge and let’s you power up at least one more Kyurem.

Also, be careful about when you’re putting Kyurem in play. Generally, you’ll want to wait as long as you think it’s safe before dropping a Kyurem onto your bench. Every turn that it sits there when it isn’t yet needed is another 30 damage. However, if you’re planning to use Outrage for a lot of damage, letting a Kyurem sit on your bench and collect damage can be a very effective tactic.

Finally, you may want to consider attacking with Feraligatr. It’s attack has a lot of synergy with spread decks, so Feraligatr can be a great clean up attacker. But like I’ve mentioned multiple times already, you’ve got to be careful about bringing it active. If you loose it too early, you’ll be at a major disadvantage.

Like any mirror match, the winner of the game is generally the one who gets set up the fastest. Vileplume puts us at a speed disadvantage, but also gives us the option to disrupt their set up as well. So overall, this game is right around 50/50.


Next, I’d like to discuss some particular cards that you might come across at Cities. Some of the cards listed below will be new releases from Noble Victories while other are techs you’ll need to know how to beat.

Rocky Helmet

pokegym.netThis card can cause trouble. One major benefit of Vileplume was that it shuts off PlusPower, which meant most attackers in the format couldn’t 1HKO Kyurem. However, if they manage to slip this on one of their Pokémon before the lock comes up, since Kyurem doesn’t 1HKO Pokémon very often, your opponent’s going to get 3+ uses from a single Rocky Helmet.

However, I’m thinking this card won’t be a huge problem to overcome. First of all, most ZPST decks, as well as some Reshiram builds, will opt to run Eviolite over this card. It’s always a good thing when problem cards for your deck are overshadowed by other, easier to deal with cards.

In addition, the decks that do run a Rocky Helmet will face a dilemma. If they run a high count, their consistency will suffer. If a deck is inconsistent, it probably won’t make it into the top cut as it won’t have won enough games. On the other hand, if they only run a few copies, they probably won’t have one to get in play before Trainer Lock comes up.

If you’re facing a Rocky Helmet attached to anything that can’t do 110 damage, it’s far less of a threat. Use Glaciate, take two damage counters and whatever damage their attack does to you, then use Outrage for the KO.

I don’t see this card as a huge problem as Eviolite is sure to see more play in most decks.

Cobalion NVI

It seems the general consensus is that anything running Cobalion is an auto-win against Kyurem. While it can cause problems for Kyurem-based decks, especially ones that focus on tanking with Reuniclus, it’s far from a game ender. In fact, I think the Kyurem/Cobalion relationship is very similar to the one that SP and Machamp had last season.

As soon as Unown G left the format, people were saying that SP was in a lot of trouble, even going so far as to say that SP is a dead deck because it auto-losses against Machamp. This ended up being far from what actually happened.

SP players got smarter, learned how to play against it and discovered techs that could defeat it. It wasn’t long before a strong LuxChomp list could actually beat Machamp consistently. Combined with the fact that Machamp had pretty gnarly match ups against the rest of the format and it’s no wonder Machamp didn’t win Worlds.

Kyurem has its problems with Cobalion, no one is denying that, but I do think there are a lot of ways that you can play around it. Vileplume is a big help here as it blocks your opponent from spamming Eviolite onto their Cobalion.

In fact, Eviolite is actually one of the biggest reasons why Cobalion is so hard for Kyurem to deal with. Normally, you could be stacking Glaciate damage on their Cobalion each turn, so by the time it’s charged up and ready to attack, it’s got 60+ damage on it. But between Special Metals and Eviolite, you’re lucky if Glaciate is doing 10 damage a turn to Cobalion.

If you want to beat Cobalion, you’ll be hard pressed to do anything more than weaken it with Kyurem. You’ll want to get SEL in play asap and start sniping Cobalion. You can 2HKO them and they need three turns to get one charged up, so if they aren’t playing Electrode, it isn’t too difficult to make sure they don’t get more than one Cobalion going in a game.

Now, how to deal with that lone Cobalion. Once its active, Torrent Blade can’t hit it, so you’ll need to have a game plan to deal with a Cobalion once its active and attacking. Just for this purpose, we run a R Energy to power up “Bursting Inferno.” Thanks to SEL’s Fire typing, Bursting Inferno’s 80 damage output is more than enough to 1HKO a Cobalion with just about anything on it.

pokebeach.comA word to the wise, you probably won’t be able to snipe Cobalion AND use Bursting Inferno to Knock Out a fully charged one. When they first attack with Cobalion, it’s important that SEL isn’t active or it will receive 80 damage and won’t be able to attack. You’ll have to Retreat it and stall with something else, which is not ideal. You don’t want to be giving your opponent a free prize.

One other note, you’ve got to watch out for Cobalion’s first attack, “Energy Press.” Since it does 20 damage plus 20 more for each Energy on the defending Pokémon, if Kyurem’s got three Energy on it, Energy Press scores the 1HKO. If you’re planning to use Glaciate, you’ve got to be prepared that your opponent may be able to get the KO with Energy Press the following turn.

The final option available to us is attacking with Feraligatr. While it only gets the 1HKO if Cobalion already has damage on it, it can be a strong follow up to Glaciate if they just KO’d Kyurem. Be aware, however, that his attack requires WWWW to attack AND he’s got a CCC Retreat Cost, so you definitely want to have a Fisherman in hand before you bring this guy out.

This format is very unique in that there appears to be no single BDIF. In almost every format, there is a clear BDIF. In 2010, the format was dominated by LuxChomp. In 2009, it was LuxBox and 2008 had Plox. In the 2011-2012 format, there’s not really any deck in particular that’s separating itself from the pack as the ruler of the format and I don’t see NV changing this.

However, I’m predicting more TyRam at Cities than ever because it’s a great deck to take into an undefined metagame as well as having a strong match up against one of the most hyped cards, Cobalion.

Overall, I’d say that Cobalion is a good weakness to have. It has an auto-loss against what’s sure to be the most popular deck at Cities and since it’s such a new arch type, you can be sure there will be a lot of under tested, flawed lists being played.

Bellsprout TM or Mew Prime + Muk UD


One of the reasons we run Vileplume is to shut off Pokémon Catcher. It’s impossible to win if your opponent keeps dragging Feraligatr active and Knocking it Out (or just leaving it active). Sure, you can run a high Switch and Junk Arm count and a lot of Energy recovery, but eventually you’ll whiff on one of these cards. And all of this is assuming they don’t use Bolt Strike/Blue Flare + Double PlusPower for the KO. I knew pretty early on that a sure-fire solution to Catcher would be needed to make the deck work.

However, Bellsprout and Muk are two cards that can get around Allergy Flower since they aren’t Trainers. They cause problems because act just like Pokémon Catcher. To make matters worse, we can’t even use Switch because of Vileplume, so our only option is to manually Retreat.

Thanks to Rain Dance, it is possible to do. However, if we’re forced to do it multiple times, we’ll certainly run out of Energy to keep attacking.

I’m not worried about Mew. Since it’s got bad match ups against just about every popular arch type in the format, and with its best match up, Gothitelle, becoming less and less common in the tournament scene, I’m definitely not expecting Mew to be a huge force at Cities. Also, it has a nasty Cobalion game, which is just another nail in its coffin.

Bellsprout could be a little more of a problem. With “set up” decks slowly becoming less of a major force in the competitive scene, Bellsprout becomes less and less useful. However, there will be some decks that will still run it.

One of the most common decks that I’ve seen run Bellsprout is Tyram. After they use “Inviting Scent,” you’ll have limited choices on how to proceed. Since Glaciate is just short of being able to kill a fresh Bellsprout, you’ll need to consider other options. You want to Knock it Out asap so it can’t use Inviting Scent again. One way you can do this is to actually attack with Feraligatr.

Mukpokebeach.comWhile getting the four Energy to attack might be tricky, when you take into account you’ll need three to Retreat it anyway, it isn’t that much of a stretch. Also, you’ll be Knocking Out Bellsprout so it can’t attack again. Then, next turn, retreat Feraligatr, hopefully play a Fisherman, and continue the game.

The real trouble is if it’s got a Rescue Energy attached to it, which will let your opponent bring Bellsprout back once you KO it. This is certainly less than ideal, but again, your only real options are to try and 2HKO it with Glaciate if they don’t/can’t bring it up right away or 1HKO it with Feraligatr or potentially SEL.

If they decide to instead drag up Vileplume and try to break the Trainer lock, it will be a lot easier on your Energy resources. A single Fisherman nullifies having to Retreat Vileplume twice.

Bellsprout is a definitely irritating, so if its popularity increases, a hard solution will definitely be needed. But for now, I’m thinking it won’t see enough play to cause me much trouble.

Hydreigon NVI

While Hydreigon has received a certain degree of hype, it hasn’t been anywhere the level of cards like Cobalion, Kyurem, Fliptini, etc. My gut is telling me this card will be the dark horse of Cities and do at least somewhat better than people are expecting. Take from that what you will, but that’s the feeling I’m getting.

So, if that does prove to be the case, we’ll need to know how to play against it. Hydreigon can dish out huge damage to both your active and benched Pokémon. Combine that with its huge 150 HP and we know that we can’t just 5HKO it with Glaciate.

While Hydreigon can use Double Colorless Energy as a means of Energy acceleration, they’re still looking at an average of three turns before they can start attacking. This means we’ll have a few turns to be hitting Hydreigon with Glaciate before its ready to go.

Once they bring it active and start attacking, you’ll want to Knock it Out as soon as possible. Outrage can be a solid way to do this. When Hydreigon uses “Berserker Blade” on Kyurem, you can generally get the revenge KO with Outrage as it’s likely to have collected some Glaciate damage by now.

To help get Hydreigon set up faster, some people are trying out cards like Feraligatr or Typhlosion in their builds. This didn’t actually help them that much in this match up. Because they’re now running multiple Stage 2 lines, they don’t get fully set up until a few turns into the game because of Trainer lock. Meanwhile, since I’m running a deck that’s strong under Trainer lock, I’m getting set up much more quickly and can be using Glaciate before my opponent is ready to attack. In addition, Hydreigon/X decks have performed poorly againsty fast decks like ZPST, Stage 1s or TyRam.

Always pay attention to Hydreigon’s remaining HP. You want to run them out of attackers as soon as possible. Since Hydreigon’s a Stage 2, you’ll only need to KO a few of them before their deck runs out of steam. Keep an eye out for the Special Darkness drop, as it will let them 2HKO Kyurem.

Durant NVI

The final card I’d like to discuss is Durant. Like a lot of players, I didn’t think this card had a chance at tournaments. I didn’t think it’d do much better at Cities than a modified Theme Deck would. But after a friend of mine begged me to try it out, I obliged. I threw together a list and played a few games with it. I lost the first few games, but just as I was about to give it up, I learned that dinner would be a little late that night. Bored, I decided to play one more game. I won that game.

pokebeach.comAfter I played that game, I kind of just sat there for a moment thinking WTF just happened? I was actually able to mill my opponent out of cards (in about 30 minutes, I might add). To add to my shock, my opponent was playing a very strong list that made it into the Top 32 at Regionals that I helped build.

So, I decided to play a few more games (due to budget constraints 85% of my testing is online) against random players on PlayTCG. While I only won about three of the dozen games I played, I was surprised it was able win any.

I’ll tell you right off the bat that I’m not crazy about how the deck plays, so I didn’t really spend much time working with Durant after that. However, I’m glad I at least gave it a shot. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have tested out the match up at all and could have end up being blindsided against it at Cities.

Kyurem struggles against Durant because it can’t 1HKO their Pokémon. The way to beat Durant is to Knock Out six of their Pokémon before they can discard all the cards in your deck.

The key here is to start attacking and taking Prize cards as soon as possible. To do this, you’ll really need to have a fluid game plan. Since you don’t want to be using a ton of search or draw cards like Sage’s Training, you’ll need to base your strategy according to what’s in your opening hand.

Some games, you’ll need to attack with Feraligatr and 2HKO their Pokémon until you draw into what you need. Others, you’re better off trying to destroy their field with Glaciate.

Your ideal attacker is Suicune & Entei LEGEND. Getting this guy set up with a R Energy makes taking those Prize cards a cake walk. However, you’ll have a tough time getting this card set up early in the game, which is when an attacker is needed.

Now, many people have been led to believe that you shouldn’t play a single draw or search card as shrinks your deck little by little. However, you can’t just not play these cards or you’ll never get set up. You need to accept that in most games, you’ll need to use at least one of these cards. The best one to use is PONT, since it doesn’t shrink your deck (assuming you had around six cards in your hand) and gives you access to six new cards that are hopefully what you need.

It’s important that you’re keeping track of the number of cards in your deck at all times. Every time you draw a card, search your deck or have cards discarded via “Devour,” knowing the maximum amount of turns you have left before you run out of cards is a crucial piece of information to have at all times.

Something else I’d like to mention is Time. In my testing, it was very, very difficult for Durant to win two games in top cut. You all know the drill. It can be a viable strategy to take your time in the game. Since they don’t collect a single Prize card, they have a near guarantee of loosing any game that time is called in.

To make something clear, I am NOT telling you to break any rules. Slow play aka stalling is illegal and is I am definitely not encouraging you do that. However, one of the strongest weapons in your arsenal against Durant is to take the fully allotted time for each of your moves.

I know that some people have moral objections to taking longer than not rushing your turns. They feel that you shouldn’t manipulate time and that it isn’t good sportsmanship. I will say right out that I’m somewhere on the fence of this issue, which is why I’ve come up with a morally sound workaround.

The way it works is to play cards that you don’t need to. For example, let’s say that you’ve set up your field and are collecting prizes cards. You’ve got a Totodile and a Pokémon Communication in your hand, but you don’t need any Pokémon from your deck. Play Communication anyway. Don’t try to drag it out, just play it at the speed you normally would. Doing this a few times in a game can eat up just enough time so they are one or two turns short of discarding your deck.

I don’t think it’s wrong at all to do because you’re making moves at the standard speed. All you’re doing is using cards that aren’t necessary to your overall strategy, which you 100% have the right to do. And again, I’m not forcing anyone to do this or saying they won’t win if they don’t. It’s just an alternative method that I thought those of you who think stalling the clock isn’t fair play may be okay with using.

Durant’s biggest advantage is the surprise factor. When you don’t know what you’re up against, it can steal games. As long as you put in some time to test this match up, you don’t need to worry much about Durant ending your Cities run.

Possible Changes

For this last mini-section of the article, I’d like to touch upon some potential changes you could make to the list I’ve provided above. While these are only some of the many ways you can “upgrade” this deck, they’re a few ideas I’m considering.

Bouffalant BLW 91 This card provides an effective way to get knock outs on your opponent’s Pokémon that Kyurem has trouble taking. Even though we don’t run DCE, Feraligatr provides the necessary Energy acceleration so you can surprise your opponent with a KO they might not have been prepared for. With Kyurem lowering your opponent’s Pokémon’s HP, Bouffalant will be able to get revenge KOs on just about anything.

Bellsprout TM For the same reason this card causes us problems makes this card the solid card to consider. The main reasons I’d consider adding this card is to help against other Kyurem/Feraligatr decks. It also helps against the occasional MagneBoar deck and provides a nice edge in the MegaZone match up.

Jirachi CL & DCL These cards are very strong in spread decks as they both offer ways to manipulate the damage I put on my opponent’s field and help me score knock outs that I might not be able to get otherwise. I’m not sure I can fit it in, though. This deck’s consistency is already pushed pretty far and I feel like these cards would just push it over the edge.

Blissey Prime Now this is an option that I found to be very interesting. Strongest in the mirror, it also provides a nice way to counter Yanmega when it tries to snipe Vileplume. As soon as they put get 80 damage on it, drop Blissey and revert them back to square one. Odds are, as soon as I drop Chansey, they’ll stop trying to KO Vileplume, so it’s an effective way to make sure the Trainer lock stays up against decks running Yanmega.

But again, I’m not sure if the deck can run even a 1-1 Blissey line and stay as consistent as it is now. I’m definitely working on it, though.

+1 Gloom UD This is a lower priority on my list, but I’ve considered upping the Gloom count to help against Gothitelle. Once they get their lock up, it becomes much harder for me to get Vileplume in play. Adding in another Gloom would really help to alleviate this problem.

Dodrio UD One potential solution to Bellsprout and Mew/Muk is Dodrio, which would reduce ‘Gatr’s retreat to C and ‘Plume’s would be free. But right now, I’m not sure if either of these cards are popular enough to warrant Dodrio’s inclusion. If either/both of these cards increase in popularity, this card would be a very good counter.


This article ended up being way longer than I originally planned. What started out as a short 4k word article slowly turned into the 13,000 word behemoth you see before you, so I’m hoping I didn’t ramble too much.

I know that I didn’t cover every single match up or card out there, but I tried to include anything and everything that I learned in my testing. Like I said, this should only be the starting point. It’s up to you to take what’s here and run with it.

Kyurem/Vileplume/Feraligatr is a fun deck that’s proved itself to be a contender by having a lot of strong match ups and very few bad ones. Like I said in the beginning of this article, I’m not going to try and convince you how every single person should be running this deck. I tried to be as informative as possible, but now you have decide for yourself just how far this deck can go.

As a parting question, would you guys be interested in reading more articles with a “proactive” match ups section (aka more How to School the Competition articles)? I wrote articles following this concept on a few big decks last format such as LuxChomp, Gyarados and VileGar. I was wondering if there’s any interest on articles like that for this format.

Like always, feel free to post your questions and comments below!

Signing Off,

Dakota Streck

Reader Interactions

33 replies

  1. Willy Doehring

    Awesome article! I love Kyurem and am very happy to see such a great article on it. Great job!

  2. theo Seeds

    great article! The only disagreement I can think of is that you aren’t using my favorite totodile:

    good article though.

    • Dakota Streck  → theo


      Yeah, I thought about using that one, but I just couldn’t live with the CC Retreat Cost. I also liked the other Totodile because of its splash attack, which can do 10 damage for W. I have actually used that attack a few times to do that last 10 damage for the KO :P

      • theo Seeds  → Dakota

        I remember playing Samurott/Feraligatr with that Totodile. I think I did 130, 110, 90, 90, and 70 damage. It is the era of basic pokemon! And it’s a gothitelle counter. If you play Dodrio then the retreat cost is less of a problem.

        And it is always pro to use attacks off of basic/stage ones that are put in to evolve for knockouts if it won’t get A: KOed in return or B: stuck active afterwards.

  3. Alex Holdway

    This article is so stupid that it’s smart.

    13,000 words? Why you hatin’, player?


  4. Julian Chen

    Rain Dance can’t help your Vileplume against Bellsprout or Muk, it only allows you to attach water energy to water Pokemon.

    And Feraligatr cannot power Hydreigon as well. Emboar can.

    • Dakota Streck  → Julian

      That was my bad :P
      Rain Dance can help you in a way, though. Since you can keep powering your Kyurem without needing to use your Energy attachment each turn, if you know they’re playing Bellsprout, you can attach an Energy to Vileplume early, so if it is dragged up, you just attach another and retreat.

      • Anonymous  → Dakota

        I think Bellsprout with rescue enrgy would seem to give this (and any lock deck) terrible fits. Losing that Vileplume is a terrible thing.

  5. lynxdrag

    Good semi informative article.  The testing can not be said of anything unless it has been tested in a Tournament situation or in a string of games at least 5 long against many different players and deck variants  so you get general consensus of how people will play it and if it can work in those situations since yes ZPST and Tyram are fairly easy moves to predict there is still those players who will through you a curve ball.  Also you are not saying your weakness like a turn 1/2 N against you or a Turn 1/2 Judge which does happen a fair bit.  You area also saying this has many options but unless they are against a fire deck you have 1 attacker that can hold out and thats only if they do not have a Coballion surprise.  I am a player who will attack with Typhlosion if needed.  Attacking with Feraligator is only good if they have damage on them and if not its not that good unless playing against fire.  Attacking with Vileplume is ok but only if you get tails and they can not retreat.  Assuming the SEL is not prized and you can get it out its ok but than you need to load it again and still comes to the same thing….Disruption hurts.  It might be just me but the deck is ok but an N or Judge against you will hurt.  Do not forget there is still the few who will use a random Sharpedo in a dark deck with fliptini.  This is just my opinion of course but it is not unfounded.  Otherwise good article.  Love the information on the other cards.

  6. adam schorr

    Can you explain how you got your matchup ratings?  You didn’t mention anything about testing, and it looks like a whole lot of theory.  In my testing, Kyurem can’t beat Cobalion.  Not “slightly unfavorable” or “unfavorable”, but “nearly unwinnable”.  Two Cobalions with Eviolite and 1 SP Metal is basically gg, and that’s very very easy for that deck to do.  I haven’t tested TyRam, TyRamDra, or ZPST against Kyurem enough to make a full judgment, but I’m not sure your theory matches what I’ve seen in practice.

    • Dakota Streck  → adam

      Since Kyurem English scans first appeared on Pokebeach, I spent about 10 games a day testing it out. About a week and a half before Regs, I learned I wouldn’t be able to go, so I was able to devote 15-20 games to testing out Kyurem.

      Like I said, everything in the article has been tested, tested again and then tested some more by me as well as with some help from my team.

      Cobalion is certainly hard, but generally, if you’re able to OHKO 1-2 of them (which is where SEL and the fire comes in), you can win. In most of my games, my opponent was able to get about two set up each game (with Electrode) and sometimes a third much later in the game, (usually manual charging).

      Yeah, nothing in the article was theory, it was all actual testing results (except where I said otherwise). I can definitely understand your reservations, if you just showed me all this information before I had tested it, I wouldn’t have believed half of it either.

      All I can really say is test it out yourself and see. I’m pretty confident you’ll find agree with most, if not all, of what I said.

      • Martin Garcia  → Dakota

        I have severe doubts about the kyurem/electrode/cobalion match up.
        Even if SEL manages the first KO on cobalion with twins, something possible thanks to feraligtr, i doubt if you will be able to play twins at all in the first place, at least until its far too late.

        One electrode can cut off your tiwns for about 3 turns, not to mention a second one, sure being two prizes ahead seems nice, but when y0our are not set up and have to rely on twins to det out vileplumes and such, you realize it isnt.

        Add to the mix a second cobalion hitting for 80 and stopping SEL from attacking, and i really dont see how you can turn that game around.

        As a final note, the way you want to deal with this match up might not be an exclusive cobalion fight.
        This deck has to play a lot of weak basics for evolving, and i trust you know they will be easy targets for opposing kyurems.

        Its not even necessary to start attacking with cobalion right off the bat, with twins out of the picture thanks to electrode, you can take your sweet time and attack with kyurem, all your opponent has to do is use two glaciates, and that will take care of any basics you play, except for kyurem itself, which without feraligtr, wont go anywhere.

  7. Aaron Minjoot

    One heck of an article. Took me a couple of hours (or more, depending on how many PTCGO games I had in between :P) to finish it fully. Kyurem is my new fantasy deck and I’m trying it out with ‘Gatr as well, without Vileplume for now. One problem was the draw factor. Without access to Tropical Beach I had to steadily increase my Supporter count till taking out techs like Kingdra and a 2nd Jirachi. Did your deck have any draw problems?

    • Dakota Streck  → Aaron

      At first, it was an issue when I was running about 14 consistency cards. However, now that I run 19 supporters in all (17 of which are consistency supporters) plus Tropical Beach. To answer your question, No, not anymore, not with the high supporter count.

      • Aaron Minjoot  → Dakota

        17 seems just right. Though I’m running the deck with no Vileplume, so it may be a tad different. Thanks for the reply though. :)

  8. andrewgn12

    I tested Kyurem, Cobalion, electrode. The way I build it is with 4 kyurems and 3 cobalions, It has a great matchup against tyram more like 50:50, kyurem is such as great card that you can catcher any cyndaquils and kill it instantly with an aditional 30 damage to your opponents entire bench.
    The same goes to emboar, but beware of RDL though, need cobalion to goes against it

  9. Steven Nilsen

    I started by writing the Plume was not needed… the more I thought about the bad matchups, the more I realized its worth a shot.   Thanks for the analysis – its worth pondering.

    • Dakota Streck  → mike

      Like I said in the article, the extra damage counter really hurt. Whenever I attached it to Kyurem, it put me in OHKO range of Zekrom and Reshiram. “Glaciate” costs WWC, so if needed, I could still use the Fire Energy to fuel my attacks, but with no damage counter.

  10. Grant

    why would you not consider Crygonal (Icy Chain) over Bellsprout in your possible techs?
    In Water decks the snowflake is infinately better then Bellsprout because with 80HP it can live to potentially use its ability again.

  11. Tom, Linda and/or Connor Progi

    This article was very informative, thorough and helpful to me. Yes, I think I would like more “How to School…” articles. Thank you.

    • Dakota Streck  → Tom,

      Thanks man, glad to here it! More will be on the way, although there might be a bit of a delay before the next one.
      thanks again!

  12. lgayman

    Just out of curiosity, what do you run if you want to run this deck and don’t have (and can’t get) Tropical Beach?

    • Dakota Streck  → lgayman

      Normally, Cleffa is your best bet, but in this case, you might be better off going with another draw supporter. TBH, I haven’t thought about it  a ton because it’s not an issue for me, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Another Rare Candy is an option, too.

  13. Grant

    Whats the importance of a 3-2-3 Gatr line as opposed to the typical 3-2-2 line which Ross decks play with Reuniclus.
    I dont see the extra Gatr as all that important especially if you cant Candy into it because of the Vileplume lock

    Also how often are you discarding key pieces with Sages?  WIth no reecovery options (no FSL, cant effectively play Junk arm/Super Rod under trainer lock) do you ever find yourself accidently discarding a Fisherman, ESL piece that you find out to be vital for later in the game?

    • Dakota Streck  → Grant

      I run the 3-2-3 lines as primary a weapon against The Truth. Assuming your opponent finds out you’re running Vileplume early, neither player will be going for the lock, so I found being able to get a quicker Feraligatr more consistently in those matches is a big help.

      Discarding key pieces with Sage’s isn’t generally a huge problem because most of the time you’ll either be choosing that piece to bring to your hand or you’ve already got the evolution in play.

  14. lgayman

    One more thing: I’m trying to play a Kyurem deck using Magnezone instead of Vileplume (since I don’t feel Kyurem’s “punchy” enough). Problem is, I have troubles with the set-up. What might be a good list for that?

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