pokegym.netHey everybody, and welcome back so soon! Being fortunate enough to have your support and win an extra article this month from the “top writers” poll at the end of last month is great inspiration for me to get out some great content. However, trying to write articles in consecutive weeks with only a small amount of development since usually isn’t.
“Nothing happened last week”, I thought, so I started testing as much as I could over Thanksgiving break and started narrowing my thoughts on which decks including Noble Victories decks I liked the most. I ended up writing an in-depth article on a single deck that I enjoy the most right now, something I haven’t done for a while. Coming toward the end of my analysis, I felt like things were a little bit shorter than usual.
I’m not one to automatically equate quality with quantity, but after talking about over half a dozen decklists last week, and honing in to just one this week, things inevitably felt a little more shallow. I needed something else to talk about to beef the article up and provide you guys with some better information around the field.
Then, suddenly — and I know I can’t be the only one — I made this face.
WHEN ON EARTH DID CITIES START?
Having an extra tournament right in-between the usual Battle Roads and City Championships would inevitably create the feeling of being “rushed” between each event, but I was legitimately caught off guard when I realized that several City Championships in the US (I know other countries have begun theirs already a little bit in advance) began their first weekend after Thanksgiving.
With just 2 to 3 weeks between Regionals and what is likely the most important tournament series of the year (Championship Points-wise, anyway), it’s more pressing than ever to take a look at what decks are consistently doing well, and what new concepts are worth preparing for.
City Championships — What’s Winning?
Unfortunately, due to a sentiment expressed by Frank Diaz that I heavily agree with here, we don’t have a heavily dedicated “What won Cities” thread anywhere on the internet yet. One of the greatest tools that I’ve ever been able to use in finding my way around different metagames is PokéGym’s “What Won” thread, but the recent required submission and approval for each new thread has really slowed the system down.
I get that occasionally we’ve had a few bad apples here or there that don’t update the main page as frequently as desired, but at least we still have a thread open before the events actually start! I’ve always liked it best when a simple thread is open for everyone to post, and the people interested will compile the statistics themselves. As somebody who loves to scour the internet to make personal charts and data with all the most recent info, I’d rather have the thread up than have some dedicated threat approved by the moderators.
Also, to be completely honest, the “what won” thread for Battle Roads was compiled horribly. What’s the point of approving a thread if you have to release late info, and the compiled info isn’t good in the end?
Despite my complaining though, there is at least SOME information to go off on the internet across a few websites out there. You could arguably note that because there is no dedicated list on the internet yet, you guys as readers will benefit the most from my compiled list so far. Thanks to my love of making these charts, here’s everything I could find on what has won City Championships so far:
1st Place Finishes
2 “Speed Spread” — Likely Kyurem/Electrode, both run by the Diaz family, so I’ll update when I figure out what the general build was for sure!
2 Ross (1 w/ Coballion, 1 w/ Beartic)
Top 4 Finishes
8 Ross.dec (3 w/ Coballion, 1 w/ Beartic)
4 “Speed Spread”
2 “High HP Basics + Electrode”
While this list doesn’t seem that extensive, it was a royal pain for me to assemble using the limited amount of resources that we have (what won posts, tournament reports, etc). With just one or two big weekends of City Championships across the globe so far, be advised to NOT take this sample as a picture of the global metagame.
Rather, just use it as a guide to see which decks have done well somewhere in the world, and also to see the kind of impact Noble Victories is having on our metagame. Here are a few things I took from my list gathering so far:
1. The same decks that performed well at Regionals are going to perform well still.
pokegym.netWith ample results of ZPST, Reshiphlosion, and Yanmega/Magnezone, you can still expect the tried and true decks to continue to do well. Many people are going to feel uncomfortable playing new lists without having concrete results for them yet in these first few weeks.
In many cases, the safest play for an upcoming tournament with a new set is just taking the established deck and adding the new Trainers/Supporters that fit your needs (in this case Eviolite, Rocky Helmet, and N).
2. Slower decks can thrive again.
Like I said last week, Regionals was not a great format for the slower setup decks. Cities, however, is an excellent frontier for it! A surprising amount of Ross.dec variants have cropped up in the reports that I scoured, and I’m not surprised at all to see slower builds seeing some success again.
If you feel like there’s a Trainer Lock deck out there that you’ve always wanted to pilot, but feared factors like Swiss and time, use City Championships to give yourself a shot with one of these decks. I know I’m probably going to. : P
3. Noble Victories is already making an impact.
I’m happy to say that nearly every build I presented in my last article has top cut across my list so far — not bad over just one weekend! It goes to show that Noble Victories has a lot of strong concepts that are capable of shaping up, and potentially breaking the stale format that we have. I’m not saying that the new decks are going to destroy the way we play Pokémon cards (maybe next set : P), but it’s nice to see that new concepts are holding up.
Check back to my last article if you need early some stock lists to test decks in this format. Magnezone/Zekrom/Eelektrik NVI is currently doing extremely well considering the small sample size I took.
With that info, I wish you guys the best of luck over the course of these City Championships. With plenty of playable decks out there, things are bound to be more fun and interesting than ever before this year. Best of luck to those of you with an event in the next few weeks! As each week develops we’ll have a closer and closer picture on the true best decks of the format, so stay tuned on 6PUG articles to come!
BulbapediaWith Thanksgiving coming to a close and December rapidly approaching, what better way to celebrate the holidays than with the ice-type Pokémon, Vanilluxe?
I’m sorry guys, that was awful. I tried to resist the urge to say something stupid along those lines, but just couldn’t. I’m slowly finding myself victim to “I thought Vanilluxe was stupid because really, whose idea was it to make an ice cream Pokémon, but now it’s slowly growing on me because ugh it’s so darn cute” disorder, and I’m finally succumbing to the frozen treat’s delightful charm.
Side effects have included pet naming each stage of the evolution as Big/Medium/Small Cone (I’m actually going to call them this in the rest of the article because it takes less time), quoting every movie/TV line that involves ice cream, and actually having fun while playing.
Wait, what? Fun…in my children’s card game? What is this madness?
While I could easily talk about Magnezone/Eelektrik/Zekrom, a deck that is rapidly approaching status of “tier 1” deck based on the first week of results alone, I’m just not testing with it as often because it isn’t as fun as Vanilluxe. Mag/Eel/Zekrom (or “Big Lightning,” as I keep calling it) is definitely a strong deck, but it’s not something that really requires an in-depth analysis because it’s just a conglomerate of the best Lightning cards in the format.
Vanilluxe, on the other hand, has required a lot of thought in both deckbuilding and playstyle that I haven’t had to tap into for a long time. Simply put, I’m inspired by trying these new decks!
I haven’t done an in-depth look at a decklist in a long time, but I’m trying it out again to let you guys know the thought process behind this deck so far. Here’s what I’ve got currently:
“Ice Cream Man.Dec”
Pokémon – 24
Trainers – 24
Energy – 12
Here’s an analysis of everything that’s in the deck!
pokegym.netI talked about this decision a bit in a long post that I put in the forums for my last article, but the concept still carries over from my last build. Teddiursa offers a 75% shot at Trainer Lock early in the game with Fliptini in play, which is perfect for allowing yourself the time you need to set up a Stage 2 attacker that attacks on 2 Energy.
Hitting multiple “Fake Tears” over the first 2-3 turns of the game can shut your opponent out considerably, which alone makes him a very fun experiment so far. He does take one of your early Energy drops, but it’s an Energy well spent. He also bumps your Basics count to 14, which makes me feel much more secure vs. the potential of a Zekrom donk.
Is he absolutely worth 4 slots in the deck? I can’t for sure say “yes,” but I can say that he’s won me enough games to keep trying him in the deck.
Why no Ursaring Prime?
Because he simply takes up deck space and isn’t integral to the deck’s main strategy. He can hit decently heavy, but hitting power doesn’t mean much when Big Cone can simply lock the biggest attacker out for a near auto-KO. Ursaring doesn’t apply any real pressure against your opponent, and he requires both a DCE and a rainbow energy to start hitting efficiently. Big Bear just doesn’t fit well with Big Cone.
4 Small Cone
Because Big Cone is the main attacker in the deck. With Victini in play you can hit for 20 damage more often on one energy, but that’s about all worth mentioning.
3 Medium Cone
pokegym.netBecause under Trainer Lock once the Vileplume sets up, evolving your cones up manually is the only way for you to continually get attackers out. Running 3 ensures that you can create plenty of evolution lines at once. Also, his 2 Energy attack functions as a nice mini version of Big Cone’s attack. With Victini in play, you can still hit 75% chance for Paralysis, which can be a solid lead-in to Big Cone mid to late game when you can’t get set up completely.
4 Big Cone
Now the main attacker of the deck instead of that wimpy 3-2-3 line. The idea behind big cone is that once it hits the active Pokémon with Victini in play, you’ll almost always knockout your opponent’s active Pokémon over the course of a few turns. (I’m not 100% sure, but I think your odds of missing a double freeze off the 4 total flips is something like 8%.
Either way, I’ve played 30 or so games with the deck and have only had this happen one time). The 130 HP is nice, but not fully effective until Vileplume is in play to prevent both Blue Eyes White Dragon Reshiram and Red Eyes Black Dragon Zekrom from dealing enough damage to Knock you Out in one hit.
One thing I talked about in my last article is how I wasn’t crazy about you only being able to deal reactive knockouts for prizes. However, this is a little bit farther from the truth than reality. Vs. most decks, A single Big Cone can score 2, 3, or more reactive KOs depending on how developed your opponent’s field is, and how well they coped with the Trainer Lock. Only Coballion and Magnezone can 1HKO you (for 3 energy apiece), and of those 2 threats the Magnezone is suspect to early trainer lock.
The second attack also Knocks Out any Fire Pokémon with less than 130 HP remaining. Cool.
I also should not have to remind you that Big Cone is two scoops of frozen amazing.
pokegym.netA great aid to the deck in both establishing Teddy’s Trainer lock and also Big Cone’s Paralysis lock, Fliptini is (pun intended) the cherry on top. The count that I keep debating on for the deck is between 2 or 3. It’s not a great starter, and only 1 out of around 100 games will you prize 2 of them. Because of this, I’m settling for the healthy minimum of 2.
Because any less and you can lose your shot at Vileplume to an early Yanmega snipe, and any more puts you into some clunky starts.
Could definitely be upped to 2 if I could find something I was comfortable cutting. For now, I find myself evolving to Vileplume via Rare Candy 7-8 time out of 10, so I axed the second gloom for space.
Shuts the opponent out from Trainers for likely the entire game. This gives you all the added benefits that we’ve previously seen, such as no more easy Catcher prizes, and no more Rare Candy to see many more Stage 2 options. In addition, you get the crucial bonuses of blocking most 1HKOs on Big Cone, as well as leaving them with minimal options for escape when Paralyzed (they can no longer play Switch). While not every matchup requires a Vileplume be out for the full game, every matchup benefits from it.
Because it’s still the best out in the game for hand refresh, and Tyrogue has been out of style since Nationals.
4 Communication/4 Rare Candy
Fairly standard in a Vileplume build. Allows you the flexibility to grab evolutions early and evolve them quickly, while also not leaving you very susceptible to your own Trainer Lock once you get Vileplume rolling.
Because almost every deck needs 4; especially setup decks.
This is probably where I’m least confident in the build. I’ve tried a lot of different combinations, and I’m not sure what works best.
Twins is strongest early game when you fall behind, but can be a dead-draw during setup and late game. I upped the count to 3 because of the strength that Twins into Rare Candy + Vileplume/Big Cone can be.
Sage’s Training is the best draw Supporter for this deck in my opinion. You run a lot of things that are crucial to the deck, but can be burned into the discard mid game (extra Teddys, Vileplume pieces after the first, Trainers after Vileplume hits, etc). Digging deep to find crucial cards is the best way to add draw into a deck that has no internal source of it.
pokegym.netN is strong because as you set up slower, you’re bound to fall behind in prizes most games. N still functions as a PONT for you early game, but could provide the effect of Judge or worse on your opponent as they pull ahead. It’s a solid draw and disruption option packed into one.
My brother is currently running a 4 Sage, 4 N, 4 Juniper draw line that goes for speed. He gets setup as often as I do, so I can’t overrule that his version is inherently “worse” just yet. Try both ways and see what suits you!
Is an alright number. I’d actually rather see a 13th Energy in the build rather than cut to 11, because providing a constant 2 Energy to your attackers all game can eat up more energy than you’d think.
Needed for Big Cone rescue. Once Vileplume is out, you’re evolving those lines up one by one. No better way to do that than get the entire 1-1-1 line back after each knockout!
That’s the full deck and each of its components. Your ideal start is Teddy and another basic that can evolve on the bench. After a Collector, having a Teddy, Victini, 2 Oddish, and a Small Cone is your ideal setup, with a second Small cone usually coming in the next turn or so. As you hold a Trainer lock with Teddy on your opponent, working your way up to Big Cones and Vileplume to seal the deal. Always keeping room for the development of at least a second Big Cone is important, so that you can constantly apply threats for the rest of the game.
pokegym.netUnlike most decks, this one is very challenging early game rather than late game. Late game your strategy is Double Freeze followed by Double Freeze with a side of Double Freeze. Anyone can do that. The challenge is getting your ideal setup — slowing your opponent while building your slow attacker efficiently, while also utilizing the Teddy.
Once you develop good habits for setting the deck up safely, you’ll find yourself winning a lot more games. The best part about the late game is that while you now have the easy part (doublefreezedoublefeezedoublefreeze), your opponent will be confounded in frustration trying to find a way to break your unstoppable ice cream madness.
Here are how most of the main matchups have gone for me so far, along with analysis:
This matchup is favorable, and that alone makes this deck relevant already. Reshiphlosion does a lot to play into the matchup favorably for you. The first is that they set up on average at 3 turns before they start Blue Flaring, which gives you ample time to start developing their board. The second is that their entire deck is Water weak, giving your Big Cone access to fast knockouts without immediate response. The third is that the deck isn’t fantastic once Trainer Lock hits, and slowing them down with Vileplume is usually all that you need to really go off with Big Cone for the win.
One thing to look out for is Typhosion’s attack discarding Energy. If you’re careless with your Sage’s Training, you can run out by the end of the game. Otherwise, Reshiphlosion presents a fairly linear game plan to stop you, and is pretty easy to read.
This matchup is fairly even to slightly favorable. Early Teddy flips are crucial, locking them out of necessary Dual Balls for setup and Catchers for prizes. If you can establish a Trainer lock long enough to turn out Big Cones, the game is yours as long as you finish before time is called. They possess no option to 1HKO you, which means 2+ prizes per big cone once you get rolling.
pokemon-paradijs.comLike I mentioned in the comments section of my last article, though, if they get crucial early knockouts you can sometimes find yourself too far behind to compete. Bellsprout TM techs also really make your efforts in producing a Vileplume a waste. It’s not a completely common tech, but it’s definitely one that can make the objective of turning the Prize trade in your favor even tougher.
Slightly unfavorable. Yanmega is trouble vs. your Oddishes. Magnezone is one of the few things in the format that can 1HKO you. Combine the two and you’re left with a challenging uphill battle based on how well you can set up. Sporting an early Trainer Lock is crucial in denying them access to as many Zones as you can, and the Big Cone can sweep from there.
Leading with Teddiursa and locking them while building your own Vileplume is a strong option — it prevents you from a bad board spot where the Yanmega player can Catcher one Oddish, KO the benched Oddish and force you to waste an Energy getting your lone Oddish back to the bench or remain stuck while your opponent wrecks havoc on your field. While Magnezone can 1HKO a Cone, they’ll likely only be able to do this 2 times per game or so, so plan accordingly.
Late game, your opponent will be forced to try and KO you by exchanging 2 Yanmegas to your 1 Cone. If the Prize trade is close enough, hitting your opponent with an N can be enough to leave your opponent with too small of a hand to match you — forcing them to give up an additional Prize card every turn they can’t attack.
While they possess a lot of options to make your head hurt, MegaZone is not an unbeatable deck for you.
Vs. “Big Lightning” (Magnezone/Eel/Zekrom)
pokegym.netMore even than the last matchup, actually! Despite the fact that they can pump a lot of energy out to Magnezone — they still are limited in Zone count if you establish a Trainer Lock. They get a Zekrom rolling turn 2 at the very fastest, and even then that’s still easier to deal with than an early Yanmega. Once you get set up, you’re taking 2-3 Prize trades for each Big Cone, and the game is yours.
One dirty trick to watch out for though is them finding ways to create their own positive prize exchange. One way I found when testing my brother is to lead with Magnemite and try and hit heads on a Thundershock flip. If you hit heads, then Big Cone is Paralyzed and left with 110 remaining HP — leaving it open to a KO from Zekrom. It’s not rocket science, it requires a flip, and it only saves them 1 Prize, but it’s still something to look out for. Otherwise, it’s a very winnable game overall.
This matchup is entirely based on what your opponent runs in their variant. A traditional Donphan/Zekrom/SEL Ross deck will get rolled once you start hitting them with Double Freeze. Even if they can get out Reuniclus and move damage—they’ll be moving damage the entire game and eventually run out of capacity. While they can turn Zekroms into 1HKOs on you by moving enough damage—you’ll win almost every complete game that you play.
Because this is usually a favorable matchup for you, your only problem is making sure you play quickly and set up as efficiently as possible. You don’t really have to bother with trainer lock in this game, so spending all your resources into Cone production is recommended.
The reason I say that it “depends on the build” is because many Ross decks are using Cobalion in their lists to take advantage of a similar kind of attack-denying power that you have. While Metal Weakness used to mean total immunity from problems in your life, it at least now means one card could pose some problems.
Battling with Cobalion is more like the “reactive prize” theory I talked about in my last article. They 1HKO you. You Knock them Out over slow and painful death. They require 3 Energy to set up, but will likely have enough time to get all of those Energy out in time because of how slowly you 1HKO things. If they have Gothitelle, that just gives them even more time.
pokegym.netAltogether, you should expect a loss most of the time, even if in a real, complete game you could outlast their Cobalions with your Big Cones because you play Rescue Energy. Being realistic though, I could see a complete Reuniclus/Cobalion vs. Big Cone/Vileplume game going for over an hour pretty easily.
Fairly even. If they hit a fast Kyurem off Electrode, you can find yourself in huge trouble right away. Not only are you denied access to Twins, but you’re going to be in a world of hurt if you can’t get both Big Cone and Vileplume out ASAP. I haven’t had as many games as I’d like to declare myself a master of the matchup, but a lot of games I find myself trying to ditch the Vileplume plan altogether.
Every Oddish you lay down gives them access to a fairly easy prize — something that will eventually catch up to you. If you go straight for the cones, you can at least limit them to taking less prizes early in.
Mid to late game, the game is yours if they fizzle out. They spread your entire field for 150 damage over 5 turns of Glaciate, but if you get Double Freeze off early enough, it’s questionable that they’ll be able to hit all 5 Glaciates off in time. Because you’re taking slow knockouts, you actually might find yourself hoping to hit a double heads on Double Freeze. Every time you do, you can follow it with a Frost Breath for the 60 damage 2HKO — giving them less time to set up 3 Energy on the next Kyurem.
If they run Cobalion in the mix, things can definitely get worse for you and tip to unfavorable, but it still depends on how well they set up on the electrodes early in. Not my favorite matchup so far, but it never feels like I’m out of the game right away.
pokegym.netEven. They set up really quickly and start milling you right away, which puts you at a rushed spot already. Ideally you set up a Vileplume and a Big Cone and send each of the 4 Durants to the discard without option to revive, and you win. Unfortunately, because they’re pounding 4 cards out of your deck at a time, you need to setup asap or die.
Using Medium Cone if it’s your only option isn’t a terrible choice either—whatever you can do to slow the flow of ants because they mill you is a strong option.
While it might seem like you can wait a little before you get Vileplume out, you really can’t. You need to block revive, catcher, and crushing hammer asap before they lock you out of setting up.
That’s about all my experience so far with Vanilluxe (yes we can call him by his real name again since I’m done talking about the deck). It’s an enjoyable deck that seems to be pretty strong against most of the metagame so far, and I’m fairly confident that it could be a strong early-weekends City Championships play.
As each week moves on, people might try and tech for you by playing Cobalion, or even adding weird techs like Unown Cure. Whenever one deck starts giving people trouble, they’ll find a way to gear things to beat you as each week moves on. However, we’re early enough in the Cities metagame where people still aren’t completely used to playing against Vanilluxe and being pParalyzed to death. Reshiphlosion and Zekrom — the two most popular decks still — have lost to my build so far more than they have won.
Taking advantage of a new deck and beating the old decks that have hogged the metagame forever is extremely satisfying. It’s like they had it coming to them. But most importantly, it’s just fun to play new decks—and fun is something I haven’t truly felt in this game for a long time.
Until next time, good luck at City Championships! If you happen to Double Freeze your way to victory, let me know. ;)
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.