Hello 6PUG! You must be surprised to see my name on an article that says “Underground Exclusive”, and I can’t blame you. I am not even a blip on the radar in the “real” Pokémon TCG world. My official tournament record stands at a perfect 0-0, I do not play on TCGO or go to any leagues, and my collection of cards fits in a box the size of my laptop.
However, what I do have is countless of hours of online testing experience through the free programs, Redshark and PlayTCG. Both of these simulators have provided me with the tools needed to build and play against anyone around the world, as long as they go through the trouble of the online deck building.
Redshark is pretty far behind the rest of the world, generally releasing an update for the newest set around a month after the set actually comes out. PlayTCG, however, is generally really fast with these, and had most of the scans implemented before they were even in the stores. This allowed me to get quite a lot of playtesting in while everyone else was still concerned with HGSS-EP, the format for Regionals.
I really wanted to get all the information I got from this to you all as soon as possible, but Adam and I both kind of dropped the ball on this one. He had offered me a spot to write in November way back in the summer, but since we hadn’t communicated since, he filled the month up and I had to wait for December. This is a bit frustrating, since I believe the major strength of the 6PUG comes from getting the information quickly, rather than getting the information at all.
However, I had quite a few things to say, and a lot of them have not been mentioned in previous articles. Sometimes this is just a different perspective on a certain deck, sometimes it’s a deck that hasn’t been mentioned at all. I obviously started testing the things that I knew were going to get attention, so those will also have most information in the article.
Understandably, most people wouldn’t put testing on PlayTCG on the same level as testing with their team. Everyone you encounter is a “random”, and if you are the one hosting the game (meaning you pressed New game, made it public, and waited for someone to join), you don’t even know the username of the person you are playing. It could be John Kettler, John Travolta, or Little Johnny for all you know.
But, it does generally give you a good feel of what works and what doesn’t. The real fine tuning of the deck would need to happen on a different ground, probably. On the flip side, though, if you test a lot with the same partner or team, you run the risk of their playstyles and deck preferences locking in the way you play your deck. Everyone thinks differently, solves problems differently, and therefore, plays differently. PlayTCG is more of an “open field” for testing, and I believe that definitely has its merits.
Before I start my analysis, I just want to thank Adam for giving me a chance. This isn’t a playground: many people are paying to read this. So what I’m going to do is try my best to give you an article I would pay to view. While I have no tournament experience, I am not new to playing Pokémon-related games in online tournament settings. In addition, even before I had UG access, I always felt like I was ahead of the curve, and often I recognize plays and ideas from UG writers from my own games.
As a hipster would say it, I hated ZPS before it was cool, and wrote about how it suddenly became good with Tornadus (and how Tornadus is the better early-game attacker of the two). I was playing around with Yanmega/Magnezone in HGSS-on while everyone else was on the Magneboar/DonChamp train. And I was working on Mew/Vileplume/Muk way before it was public. I’m sure I’m not the only one for any of these, but I do know what I’m doing.
Also, I started writing this article around halfway through November. It is obviously possible this article contains information you’ve seen elsewhere, like in Josh’s newest article. I think the slight double ups are forgivable since I’ve made sure there’s plenty of new information and ideas in here. The metagame develops incredibly fast. I’ve tried to keep it updated, while also keeping old ideas and thoughts intact just so you can see my thought processes where relevant.
Oh, and this article is long. I didn’t check, but it might just be the longest on-site. I don’t intend to make up for quality with quantity (I aim for both!). However, since this could be my only UG opportunity, I wanted to get everything I could out there that I could.
The basic idea of Vanilluxe, for the few of you who are unaware, is to immobilize the opponent’s Active with Double Freeze. Vileplume stops Switch and Super Scoop Up (which would escape the lock), and Victini turns your 75% chance of Paralysis into 93.75%. For those who have played the video game, the chance of not Paralyzing your opponent with Double Freeze and Victory Star is the same as getting a Critical Hit.
Here is the basis of the list I’ve been using.
Pokémon – 23
4 Vanillite NVI
Trainers – 24
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 12
Free Spots – 1
pokegym.netUnlike Beartic, Vanilluxe stops them from retreating out of your lock, meaning that barring a quadruple tails, whatever you are facing is going down. However, as you probably guessed, when that opponent DOES go down, your opponent has had all the time in the world to prepare something on the bench. But unless they are playing Magnezone, they will probably be unable to 1HKO Vanilluxe (as it has 130 HP, and Vileplume stops PlusPower), and you will be able to resume the lock right afterward.
So if everything goes according to plan, you will be trading one of these ice cone pairs for two of your opponent’s Pokémon. As long as your set-up doesn’t lag too much, this trade-off is going to end up with you as the winner.
Speaking of setting up, that’s one of this deck’s biggest mountains to climb. Setting up two Stage 2s is definitely doable, as The Truth and Gothitelle have proven, but unlike these two, you have nothing to park in the Active Spot that can take a beating. For the most part, you are stuck with the Babies to buy you time. Because of this, I’ve dedicated a ton of space to consistency.
Most of the deck is self-explanatory, but one somewhat unusual thing I have done is include 4 Oddish. Most people know to include at least 3, quick to point out that if one of your would-be 2 Oddish is prized, the other one is vulnerable to sniping. But I’ve rarely seen 4 Oddish recommended, which strikes me as odd. This deck runs a lot of frail Basics, and in addition, you want 2-of each of Vanillite and Oddish in play to protect yourself from Catcher. Running the maximum amount of Oddish makes you almost immune to Catcher, Prize issues, etc etc.
In addition, it reduces donk chances, and it allows you to start with one of your unevolved Basics more often (hopefully on your Bench), allowing your first Collector to grab a second copy as well as 2 of the other line. And of course, it can also be Communication fodder. I believe the main reason people don’t use more than 3 is because you have to retreat it initially, but you can generally afford to leave a sacrificial Oddish active while evolving things on your bench. There isn’t much you’d want to bring Active other than Cleffa, which isn’t too much of a hassle when you do have to do that.
You’ll also notice I used a very conservative Supporter line. No Sage or Juniper here. While they do help you to dig for your Rare Candies more easily, they will inevitably also discard valuable resources when doing so. For a fair amount of reasons, this matters even more than it used to.
The first reason is that beyond Vileplume and your first Vanilluxe, you have to start setting up replacement ones pretty much immediately, as they take multiple turns to get ready for battle. Not only do you need to evolve through the Stage 1 because of Vileplume, but they also take two attachments. For this reason, I have also included 3 Rescue Energy. I used to run Flower Shop Lady, but Rescue Energy is just much better.
The second reason is that you may end up discarding cards you don’t need right now because you have another one in your hand, and then there’s also probably one or two more in your deck…and then the turn you’re about to win, your opponent plays N, you end up in topdeck mode and you have much less outs to what they are doing. You could argue that you would also be discarding things you no longer need, but often enough, you don’t have a choice in the matter. You are on a clock early-game, and I have, often enough, been grasping at straws to get the one or two cards I needed. You’re relying on an 9-card combo (two Stage 2 lines, Victini, and 2 Energy attachments), after all, so there will often be difficult decisions.
The third reason is Durant. I’ll be talking more about him later (in fact, I can’t wait!), but suffice it to say that Juniper and Sage are like birthday presents to Durant.
But you should definitely use some Sage’s Training if that is your cup of tea. If you expect to face decks that will refuse to take the first prize (and there are a LOT of them now), it will obviously work out better than Twins. I recommend against more than 1 Professor Juniper no matter what though.
The other Supporter that may very well have its place in this deck is N. The main reason I dislike it is because if you play it after your opponent played their hand down, you could be helping them out a big time. Its doubled use as a disruptor is somewhat negated by the fact that your opponent’s hands will largely be either unplayable or unhelpful against Vanilluxe’s lock. I’ve rarely been in a situation where I’m thinking: “well, if my opponent has ___ now, I am screwed/saved”. This is partially theorymon, since I haven’t actually put N to use in Vanilluxe yet…but I also haven’t found myself needing it.
The one other thing that sticks out from the list is the Cryogonal. This is basically Bellsprout with twice the HP, for Water decks only. There’s little reason not to include a card like this on a deck that locks Trainers. It can stall early-game when you need set-up time, or mid-game if you didn’t manage to get a new Vanilluxe ready, and if you end up not needing it but find the opportunity, it can remove itself from the field with its second attack.
pokemon-paradijs.comYou even get to re-use the Energy, and pre-Vileplume, Communication it away for a card you actually use. It doesn’t happen much, but it’s these kind of niche uses that can save you from a game you would have lost, just because you managed to think out of the box.
Normally, I advocate 3 or 4 Communication and no Elm, even in Trainer lock decks, but this is the odd exception where you are expected to need to find some Evolutions, including Stage 1, even after Vileplume is up. For the same reason, you’re seeing a 4-3-4 line of the Ice Cream instead of 4-1-4 or 4-2-4.
As for ideas on what to put in the last spot (other than more consistency cards), I’ve seen Kyurem being thrown in here as some sort of back-up plan. Obviously he can function as a “big guy” to throw up in the front, but he’s quite a roadblock for yourself as well if you want to Eek, or you just want your opponent to activate Twins for you.
So, how does this deck play out, and how good is it? I do think it can set up (and “stay up”) consistently. Both Pokémon slow down the game tremendously, making it fairly easy to set back-up cones to keep the cream coming, and as long you use Rescue Energy whenever you can, and prepare a “staircase” of them on the bench, you should be able to trade 2 for 1 most games.
So I would say it’s decent, but I am very reluctant to call it Tier 1. It has several issues that it probably won’t overcome no matter how consistent or techy you make this list.
First off, even though you have a 93.75% chance of paralyzing them, that 6.25% chance of failure will come back to bite you at least once per game. To give you an idea, the chance of 10 consecutive Victory Star powered Double Freezes working is only around 52%. 20 consecutive ones comes down to around 25%. It pretty much has to go wrong eventually.
Your damage output per turn is actually really bad: as long as you only use Victory Star on a double tails (as you should), your average damage per turn is 50 (but in the real world, you will be doing 40 most of the time). Most things you face will take 3 hits to KO.
pokegym.netBecause of the slow set-up giving away easy prizes, and the large amount of turns it takes to take out all of your opponent’s Pokémon one by one, you will actually have a large problem with time. You don’t even have the aggressive or defensive options The Truth has, for instance. Donphan and Zekrom can both hold the fort with their huge HP, even without Vileplume if need be.
Although you do need to keep in mind that the deck can do more than Double Freeze. Not much, but there are some things you can do to increase your odds. First off, Vanilluxe has a second attack. It’s a vanilla one, 60 for WW, which you sometimes won’t be able to utilize because of Rescue Energy. But if you do find yourself with a Vanilluxe with WW attached, please use that to finish off things instead of risking the quadruple tails, and remember that it can 1HKO a Reshiram after it has used Afterburner on itself.
Vanillish, or “the Stage 1” as I sometimes call it, can attack too! When in a bind, feel free to use Ice Beam to stall – it has the same chance of paralysis with Victory Star as his evolved form has without (75%).
One other thing you need to keep in mind is that the Metal Weakness is actually going to matter. While I’m not in the camp that thinks Kyurem and Vanilluxe will scare Fire enough to make Metal a top tier play again, there is definitely some minor RPS going on there. Also, if you ever end up facing Steelix Prime, you might as well scoop.
The above approach is what I thought to be the only right one, but I actually ended up stumbling upon another one. Not until I had seen in action did I realize that it actually had potential. Unfortunately, this is where we dive into untested material from my side: I have played a few times against this deck, but never used it myself. The person I played hasn’t provided me with his list either, so this is merely my own interpretation.
Pokémon – 23
4 Mew Prime
Trainers – 25
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 12
A different flavor of ice cream, if you will. Instead of having to build up a Vanilluxe to use Double Freeze, you just See it Off with Mew. This allows you to focus more on Vileplume, and also gives you something to do with your Active Pokémon and its attack during the first few turns. Mew is infinitely easier to get back into play than Vanilluxe.
I omitted Rescue Energy because of the already complex Energy line-up, but Flower Shop Lady can get you a 5th/6th Mew if you’re lucky enough to have 4 Mews KO’d while still actually being in the game. If that actually ends up being a common scenario, I might throw in a few.
Using 4 Mew and 2 Vanilluxe instead of a 4-3-4 line of Vanilluxe frees up a lot of space. Space that has instantly been occupied by a rather thick 2-2-2 Kingdra Prime line. This is a very interesting attempt at solving the problem of being forced to take an opponent’s attack every time your opponent is ready to be KO’d. Instead of finishing them off with an attack, you try to leave them with 10 HP, take the KO with Spray Splash, and then paralyze whatever they bring up.
If you pull this off, all your opponent can really do about it is bring up something Double Freeze 1HKOs even with one heads, and all of that for just one shot at your Mew before the cycle starts over.
I brought this idea up here, but back then I was under the impression we had to choose between Vileplume and Kingdra. Now that I know better, I think I’m just going to sit back, relax and claim I invented this idea, and ask for royalties if someone ends up winning Worlds with it.
Of course, with Mew having only 60 HP, these Spray Splash KOs aren’t just a luxury but a must. This method is of course notably better versus something that would 1HKO both Mew and Vanilluxe (read: Magnezone), but it results in roughly the same outcome against almost everything else.
Still, it is much easier to get this combo set up because Mew is perfectly capable of fencing for itself for a little while with just Victini on the bench and Vanilluxe in the Lost Zone. Double Freeze can earn you some time to set up Vileplume, and then Kingdra.
What’s more annoying is that no longer is quadruple tails the only flip combo that can screw you over. For example, if your opponent has something out with 50 HP left, you will want to do 40, and then Spray Splash next turn. If you flip double heads, you will just end up KOing them, so you might be tempted to Victory Star…and that’s when you hit double tails, flip the table, and go back to playing Zekrom.
pokegym.netYou can see the list also has a Muk cameo, which I put in there as it is slightly more versatile than Cryogonal. If you can Sludge Drag an empty Magnezone and it doesn’t manage to get out of the Active Spot, you can start a paralysis chain on it and off it painlessly, hopefully having it die to either Spray Splash, or poison damage at the end of their turn.
The list can be tweaked to work in the other usual Mew techs (Crobat Prime, Zoroark, Jumpluff, that kind of jazz), but I think Muk is the only one that really makes sense as it still stops your opponent from attacking when done right. The one thing it would be good for is giving the deck an out in Sudden Death.
I didn’t list any specific draw Supporters this time.
Mew’s different typing can cause several headaches you need to be aware of. You’re going to be a lot better off versus Gothitelle of course, but at the same time you will have a hard time touching the Metals Vanilluxe already had troubles with (if you ever face a Steelix deck, just sign your match slip). Then again, you can stall very well with Double Freeze while the Spray Splashes do most of the work.
I’d like to round out the subject of Vanilluxe here. It is definitely not the permanent paralysis locker one might’ve thought it’d be, but it can hold its own. I just really question having to play by coin flips (even “reliable” ones) as well as the long time it takes to set up and actually take prizes. It is a deck that tests well in an untimed environment, but might just completely falter in actual tournaments.
Speaking of time issues, I like Durant! It is by far the most interesting Pokémon we have gotten in this set, perhaps the entire block. It’s a Pokémon that leaves absolutely no option for you to win other than to devour their entire deck. Several threads on every site have popped up trying to break this thing, finding that secret tech or thingy to make it work.
The key is to use something that doesn’t distract from Durant’s goal, but also doesn’t leave you completely hopeless when you are losing the prize-for-deck trade-off. A version of the deck that I was using that I was very convinced was the best way to go (and a lot of people are) is this one here. It’s definitely not bad, but it has some issues.
Pokémon – 6
4 Durant NVI
Trainers – 43
8 Draw Support
Energy – 11
pokegym.netThe biggest problem is this: Poképedia’s deck analyzer (which is not 100% correct according to our math wizard here, but it gives a good idea) has good news and bad news for us. The good news is, we have a 74% chance of starting with Durant. The bad news is that we have a 46% chance to mulligan, and a 74% chance of starting a lone Basic.
Around 12% of the time, that’s going to be poor little 30 HP Pichu. I will admit it takes some guts to run something like that and expect to avoid Zekrom/Tornadus donks all day, but I’ll get into adding more Basics in a bit after I go over the general flow of the deck.
But let’s say we don’t get donked, and instead we get to play an actual game. This deck’s game plan isn’t JUST spamming Devour, but it makes up around 80% of it. The other 20% is to try and prevent your opponent from KOing Durants fast enough.
You will usually need around 9 fully powered Devours to win the game. A deck essentially starts with 43 cards, but your opponent draws for their turn, shuffles his hand (which can include drawn prizes) in to draw more or less cards from it, searches cards, and if you’re lucky uses Energymite or Professor Juniper to save you a few turns.
There is basically two game stages with, or rather against Durant. One is where you try your best to get an attacker going to KO the ants as quickly as possible. The other is where you are KOing ants as quickly as possible. Your job as the Durant player is to keep your opponent in the first state as long as possible and warp him back to it if you can.
Some of the tactics deployed against Durant remind me a lot of those used versus LostGar. Both decks are disruptive, but not disruptive enough to stop something once it sets up. This can be a traditional attacker a deck was already planning to deploy, but sometimes, it’s actually something that is only getting away with attacking because YOUR Active is so offensively inept.
Case in point: I’ve had my Durant stare down a Totodile CL loaded with W Energy trying to Aqua Tail me into oblivion, because there was no point in 2HKOing with Feraligatr or trying a spread plan with Kyurem. Instead of a Reshiram, I have had my opponent bring up the Inferno Fandango Emboar and Heat Crash turn after turn, because why wouldn’t you?
pokegym.netOne of the biggest frustrations with this deck is having one or more Durant prized. This is why Alph Litograph TM, which I usually view as card #61 in many decks, is making an appearance. Rotom UD can just be gotten with the Collector that was unable to find your last Durant, but Alph Litograph you’ll have to draw or Twins into, which can be a pain. If you can’t do that, your only hope is “fishing” for that Durant with Mischievous Trick.
Remember not to use a card that shuffles your deck right after using Mischievous Trick unless it’s Dual Ball/Collector, and that you can actually peel the Durant off the top with Sage’s Training, Cheren or Professor Juniper to get it one turn early. If you can’t do either of those, you have to wait until your next turn and hope your opponent doesn’t play Judge or N.
The nice thing about Alph Litograph/Rotom is that you can now use your prizes as a toolbox of sorts to determine your next turn’s topdeck. Just remember to keep track of your prizes nicely, and that you are also taking something OUT of your deck that you might need.
Preferably, you want to start the game with a big Devour. But when you can’t, you might as well use Pichu’s Playground. Your opponent is only going to need one attacker during the game, so all Pichu really does for them is luring them into taking cards out of their deck to their bench, perhaps something you can Catcher later to stall.
To keep Durant in play, you use 4 Revive and 4 Junk Arm. I solemnly swear I do not like Flower Shop Lady as a card, especially now that we have Super Rod, but it is the only way to get Durant back under Trainer lock other than Rescue Energy, and I think it’s the least of these two evils. Trainer Lock decks are generally extremely slow and apply very little pressure on Durant early on (where are your Twins now?), so there is less of a need to revive Durant, but you definitely can run out of them. Try to discard Trainers early on when playing Trainer lock, and save your Pokémon Collectors for a change, as you may one of them to search out the Durant group later.
Twins seems self-explanatory for Durant for the same reason it is for Lostgar: you aren’t taking prizes ever, but your opponent almost definitely will. Most decks that compete with you for using Twins are Trainer lock decks that will eventually have to take the first prize anyway, with the exception of Electrode Prime decks (which do some of the work for you by doing that anyway).
N was actually really hyped for Durant because it’s supposedly really good when you’re not taking prizes and they are. However, I actually found myself wishing it was a Professor Oak’s New Theory really, really often, and cut this card more and more. Think back to the game states I noted.
Early on, if both you and your opponent are stuck trying to find things you need, you want to hand refresh yourself, but not them. The longer they are stuck, the more often you can Devour before they have taken their last prize. Later on, they have something set up that is taking out a Durant every turn (if they can’t do this, they will probably lose anyway). They will not need any cards to keep going, so all Ning them into 1-2 card hands does is actually making their deck thicker.
Now the exception here is if they DO need something, for example you Catchered out a heavy retreat Pokémon and they need a Switch or something like that. In those cases, N can be absolutely godly and buy you as much as 3-4 free Devours.
The one thing N (and Judge, but that card is now outdated) can do almost always fairly well is negate your opponent’s mulligan draws on turn 1.
On the topic of Eviolite and special Metal, despite some happy hypers claiming otherwise, you can’t expect Durant to tank. It’s just not possible with 70 HP. What these cards do help with are spread decks (hello Kyurem), and borderline surviving things such as Yanmega and Tornadus. For this reason, I have seen Defender being played (to stack on top of these), but I’m not a fan of that. I left them in this old list because I did test with this heavy count of 3, and they were not useless…but they are definitely a place to search for space.
pokemon-paradijs.comCrushing Hammer, Lost Remover, and Pokémon Catcher are your main disruptors. Each of them attempts to stop your opponent from attacking for a turn or more, or at least makes them look for a card and/or play it. Even if they manage to find it, chances are they had to use up cards to do so. None of these are failsafes.
Energy Search isn’t very exciting. Rarely will you use all 11 M Energy during a game, but you definitely want to hit that turn 1 Devour as much as possible. Energy Search thins your deck a little to make it easier to draw into Revive and Twins and such, in an emergency, can be Junk Armed for to get another Energy.
I think that covers the “Durant Durant” decks. There are some people that (very understandably) want to add additional lines of Pokémon to this deck. My favorite additional tech would be Weavile UD. Weavile is probably the best Durant tech for the following reasons:
1. Sneasel UD is the best evolving Basic currently in the format, with its nice 60 HP and free retreat allowing you to Devour turn 1.
2. Weavile discards a card from their hand. Worst case scenario, this is just one card out of their hand, but often it can get them stuck in a hole that gets you an extra free Devour or two. In addition, one of the best ways to beat Durant is to never ever play a card unless you have to, and instead hoard a lot of cards in your hand just to shuffle them back in with PONT, N, or even Judge. Weavile can get rid of those cards.
3. Because of the above, opponents might be tempted to use cards while they can if they see a benched Sneasel, even if it isn’t the optimal card to use.
There’s only two other non-Baby Pokémon I would use with Durant. One of them is Hypno HS. With Sleep Pendulum, you are effectively buying yourself a free turn 25% of the time, minus the percentage of the time that they are able to Switch or Super Scoop Up out of the way. In case you can’t tell, I’m not too big of a fan.
One of the main reasons I dislike Hypno is because both he and Drowzee have a 2 Retreat Cost, so you are pretty much forced to make room for Switch in your list as well. I don’t believe Switch is a necessity in Durant because everything in it right now has only 1 Retreat Cost or less, so I’d rather just pay the one Metal cost for those times I get a Rotom start than work in a card I probably won’t have when I need it to get that turn 1 Devour.
Drowzee does have a nice “Catcher” attack that drags something up and puts it to sleep, but it needs a Psychic (or a Rainbow), which is a bummer.
The other idea I’ve seen is Roserade UL. Like Hypno, it tries to stop your opponent from attacking by inflicting status. Roserade is more reliable in the sense that when you attach Rainbow or Grass, they will be confused…but on the other hand, confusion does not prevent retreating. Roselia is easier to retreat than Drowzee but will nonetheless prevent a turn 1 Devour more often than not, though thankfully Roserade is less of a Catcher target since you can just use the Energy Signal attachments to retreat it.
Of course, the fact that you had to attach to it to work (unlike Hypno) is a problem, since you will want to attach to your Durant quite often as well.
Hypno, Roserade and Weavile also have another problem in common: you don’t have any ways of searching out the evolved forms, so you might need to fit in Communications. Don’t get me wrong: Durant does have an enormous amount of tech room compared to a lot of other decks. You can easily remove Crushing Hammer, Lost Remover, some Pokémon Catcher, or some consistency cards. But is it worth the trade-off? I personally don’t think you gain any disruptive power this way, but the addition of extra Basics will go a long way toward preventing donks and mulligans.
Cleffa is absent from my list of recommendations because you honestly don’t need to Eek (seeing as how uncomplex your set-up is), and any turn you are Eeking is a turn you’re not using Devour. Just use Supporters to find your Durants, Revives and Metal, and you should be able to keep going. Mime Jr. CL would be a more interesting Baby tech that fits the deck’s goal, but that one card going to the Lost Zone doesn’t really make up for the fact that it’s competing against discarding 1-3 more cards.
I’ve also heard Spiritomb TM’s name being thrown around for the sake of Spooky Whirlpooling the opponent into a deck-out. I haven’t had the chance to try this out yet. Not much that can go wrong here other than starting with it and missing the power drop, but it will have its uses occasionally.
Up until here, that’s where I stood with regard to Durant up ‘till around a week ago. I always knew that I was going to add more Pokémon to Durant, I would be adding 3-3 Weavile or something among those lines. They stick with the theme of the deck, the name of the game, and they shouldn’t delay your Devours nearly as often as the other possibilities would. Go figure, the other day I was arguing with a friend that there was absolutely no way for Durant to beat Reshiphlosion, or any other Fire deck to begin with…and then he proved me wrong with a very, very unorthodox list and playstyle for Durant
pokemon-paradijs.comHowever, since both me and him are running a list like his in the upcoming tournaments, I don’t want to reveal the exact list. If it was just me, I definitely would. What I will say is that it does run a 3-2 Weavile line, which is marvelous for decreasing your chances to get mulligans and lone starts. Weavile definitely adds an extra “scare” to the deck. The moment you bench a Sneasel, you’re putting pressure on both their hand and their deck. Do I hold on to this Junk Arm, Super Rod, PONT, etc, or do I use it even though it’s not the optimal time?
Along with this Weavile line goes a tech Seeker, which is very useful for people who hold onto all their Basics but do bench a Typhlosion or some other Stage 2 to help their main attacker. Or you can Catcher the single mon on their Bench, and then Seeker their actual attacker, setting them back big time on Energy attachments. Seeker can also remove Rotom from play when you no longer need it, just so that it’s no longer a Catcher target.
I can also vouch for running an extra Rotom, and actually replacing some Metal with Rainbow Energy. It seems extremely odd, but you are really increasing your options and chances in areas you could never be before. Getting Rotom and a Durant prized is essentially good game. The Rainbows are there because, well, Rotom actually has an attack! Since people hold back so often when playing Durant, you gain the option of setting them back a lot by attacking their sole Reshiram, Zekrom, Tornadus, etc. Even just the threat of doing this can change your opponent’s normal plan to a less efficient one.
To make space for this, the obvious cards to cut are:
– Dual Ball. You really do not need four of them when a single Collector brings you where you need. They have some additional use (like checking what you put on top of your deck with Mischievous Trick), but it’s really not enough.
– Eviolite. As I said earlier, they help with borderline KOs and spread, but you don’t need 3. It’s nice to have the option though, and you can Junk Arm for it. Its main use is really to stop Kyurem from killing a lot of Durant at the same time, but it does need a lot of time to achieve this (about as much as it takes a regular attacker to take the same amount of consecutive KOs). So just put a special Metal and an Eviolite on your active Durant.
If you really have to, you can actually KO a Kyurem more often than not. Vicegrip does 60, and a Kyurem with 3 Energy attached takes 60 from Plasma Arrow. So if Kyurem either hurts itself with a Rainbow, or has an extra attachment through a DCE, you can KO it. If they have an Eviolite you’re up the creek without a paddle though, but people usually don’t bother with those when they see you play Durant, so they need to have access to it the moment you are showing your attack plan.
– Alph Litograph. With two Rotom and some clever use of searching cards, you don’t really need the awkwardness of this card. My main reason for cutting it was actually my low budget, but it is rather painful to have to Twins or topdeck for something that you have a high chance of not needing it by just “fishing” through your prizes.
– Pichu. With less Dual Ball, 4 more Basics (3 Sneasel and an extra Rotom), and a more disruptive approach, this card’s usefulness decreases exponentially. Generally, if you are able to get a Pichu, you would be able to get most of your Durant anyway. Pichu kills the possibility of Seeker disrupting your opponent, and also provides a rather easy Glaciate/Linear Attack prize.
So overall, there is a lot more to Durant than just Devouring turn after turn, and a lot of people seem to be unaware of that. Which is great news for Durant players…and that includes me, since the Durant deck I ordered arrived the other day. I didn’t just order Durant because it’s good, but also because it’s so cheap. Beyond the staples, pretty much every other card in it costs a buck or less, and some even go for 25 cents (Rotom, Durant, Crushing Hammer, etc), or you likely have them lying around somewhere.
It definitely does have its issues though that are usually out of your control: Durant prized, getting donked, and of course there’s the question whether you will be able to mill your opponent twice in a top cut match. It is one of the easier decks to play and play fast, so most of this time issue is reliant on how good your opponent is at stalling within the rules, and how lenient your judge is, etcetera.
The “auto-loss” to Fire is pretty bad, but with enough disruption it’s actually possible to get out alive. Between the clunkiness of the set-up of both Typhlosion and Emboar, the reluctance to play Sage’s or Roast Reveal, and the high Retreat Costs involved, you can actually get somewhere. Discarding their evolution cards goes a long way toward making a win possible. Remember that when you put a deck in topdeck mode, you have a much higher chance of discarding that card they need than they have of drawing it.
I would not recommend Durant to everyone, but you definitely need to playtest against it, and consider it, even if just once.
pokegym.netEelektrik is one of the very few evolving Stage 1s that brings something to the table. The only other ones I can think of are Metapod HS, and perhaps random things like the Pignite that accelerates Energy. Eelektrik is a very universal puzzle piece that can fit in almost any Lightning deck. The first thing I did with it was pair it up with Raichu Prime, simply because the synergy could not be ignored.
Raichu Prime is “almost good”, and always has been. It has a 120 damage attack which means it’ll at least stand a chance versus the regular high HP Pokémon, but on the other hand, it will have trouble overcoming Trainer lock just as much as Reshiram and Zekrom do. The attack is costly, but at least it has Energy acceleration. The worst part about it is definitely the 100 HP – we can deal with the Fighting weakness, especially because Donphan is not as common right now.
Before we had to keep dropping Pachirisu to keep Raichu going, but now Eelektrik makes it more of a long term Pokémon. A Raichu/Eelektrik deck plays a lot like Reshiram/Typhlosion, but with a different (not sure if better or worse) typing. Before we get into more specific experiences with this, let’s take a look at the decklist.
Raichu Prime / Eelektrik
Pokémon – 18
4 Pikachu BLW
Trainers – 30
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 12
I don’t think the Basic strategy needs a lot of explanation here, so I’ll get straight to the more intricate findings about this deck.
First off, you don’t need to try very hard to get Energy in the discard for Dynamotor. You can make it happen almost naturally with any of the discarding staples in this deck (which is why the focus is on those, rather than on more conservative cards like Cheren). The deck is pretty light on what it needs to get its first Mega Thunderbolt going: turn 1 Collector and turn 2 Juniper/PONT generally gets everything you need, which is absolutely great.
The problems arise past the first Mega Thunderbolt, as that’s when the similarities between this and Typhlosion will show up. Raichu needs 3 Energy, not 2, so basically you need two Eelektrike AND an attachment from your hand to break even. Thankfully, you can sometimes get ahead of schedule and keep more Energy in play than you need, which is one of the advantages of only having the Energy moved to your Active when you need it discarded. There is absolutely no reason not to Dynamotor at every opportunity, whereas Afterburner damages you, in addition to dedicating the Energy to wherever you put it.
However, while two Stage 1s is arguably easier to get out than a Basic and a Stage 2, getting out a new Stage 1 every time your old one is KO’d is a lot harder. You have to try and keep a Pikachu benched at all time because Raichu is so prone to getting KO’d, and you also have to find a new Raichu every time.
This is the first time in this article that we see Super Rod in action. I actually really like this card, but this is the first deck that can really make use of it. I’ve only ran out of Raichu once when I just couldn’t draw into Super Rod, but just the fact that you can recycle your Pokémon whenever needed is great, especially since Raichu simply can’t make use of Rescue Energy.
For all of my games with this deck so far, the tech in my list has been the other Cryogonal: Cryogonal NV 32, the one with Ice Shard. I feel this deck needs at least something to stop the Donphan, and WC for a 1HKO on Donphan felt reasonable, especially with Dynamotor. It does require running Rainbow Energy, which you can’t Dynamotor (but you can move it once in play!), but that has never gotten in my way.
What has gotten in my way is that it has been useless in every single other matchup other than Communication/Junk Arm fodder, and I recommend you dedicate this slot to Tornadus instead for a more familiar anti-Donphan. A single Tornadus might not be enough, so if you don’t trust Super Rod to do the job you might want to throw in an extra, and/or a Revive. Of course, you should keep in mind that Tornadus does not actually beat Trainer Locking Donphans whereas Cryogonal does…
pokemon-paradijs.comA big obstacle for this deck is the fact that Eelektrik is a sitting duck when dragged Active. Unlike Typhlosion, it can’t attach to itself once it’s up there, and its attack is also ten times as horrible. And that’s if it survives with its 90 HP. There is very little you can do about this, other than attaching to it in advance whenever you can, but once you are attacking with Raichu you have almost no time to do this.
One interesting choice I saw someone make was actually running Eelektross as a surprise so you can at least do something in an emergency situation, but I’d rather run an extra Switch.
Both Pikachu and Tynamo are very interesting Basics. Pikachu BW is definitely the best of them, having the option to accelerate itself on turn 1 if you got Energy in the discard for it, as well as actually having a viable emergency attack. Tynamo comes in two flavors: a 30 HP one that retreats for free, and a 40 HP one that has 1 retreat, and can paralyze instead of just doing 10.
I chose the 40 HP one, since discarding a single Lightning to retreat is something this deck definitely does not mind, and it allows you to actually bench Tynamo if you’re facing Kyurem, as well as require Kyurem to Glaciate twice before being able to KO it with Jirachi.
This deck worked well enough to get wins against randoms, but its batteries simply run out too quickly. Chaining Mega Thunderbolts is very hard against any deck that can 1HKO your main attacker, and you don’t really have a backup plan here. I have since moved on to a bigger and better Eelektrik deck, one that involves a lot of the other puzzle pieces as well.
np: Metallica – It’s Eelektrik.dec
Pokémon – 18
3 Magnemite TM
Trainers – 27
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 15
This is a testing deck that I’ve only started fiddling with recently, and it’s definitely far from perfect. I think there’s actually a lot of approaches and plans for this, many of which are right.
pokemon-paradijs.comZekrom/Magnezone has actually been a legit kind of deck ever since Tornadus came out to cover the Donphan auto-loss. The two Pokémon match each other very nicely in a way that reminds us of Reshiram/Emboar, one of them taking early prizes, and the other taking care of the 120 damage cap. Throwing Magnezone techs into an existing deck idea is definitely something to look out for with N in the format, and the fact that you’re already using the right Energy type makes you wonder why hardly anyone else is doing this.
Eelektrik obviously works tremendously with both Zekrom and Magnezone, as both of them have trouble conserving Energy as efficiently as possible. It makes the deck a true snowball effect deck, remniscent of Magnezone/Emboar, as it just keeps on getting more and more Energy in play. Thanks to Magnezone’s versatility compared to Raichu’s, Eelektrik has a much easier time keeping Energy on him in case he is dragged up.
The Double Colorless Energy definitely help with that too. These even make it viable to manually retreat a Magnezone (which is great during Trainer Lock). They make the 2 Switch look a little overkill, so if I were to tweak this list further I would probably cut down to 3 DCE or 1 Switch to see how it works. The main reason I didn’t do this for the list posted here is because I want to show you guys what I tested with, not what I think would work. The lists are a reflection of a work in progress, and can’t just be seen on their own without the explanation below.
I have actually spent most of the testing time for this deck with 4 PONT rather than the 3-1 split between N and PONT, but N is obviously the superior card here most of the time. I still really hate how N gives your opponent a fresh new hand when they might’ve been stuck, but the potential pay-off is just a little too big to ignore.
You can see I have a single copy of Pachirisu and Shaymin in here for the option of a Tornadus or Zekrom donk, but for most games they will just be unexpected utility drops that you search out with Pokémon Collector. They add yet another dimension to the already amazing amount of Energy manipulation in the deck.
The Donphan factor is as covered as it gets in this kind of deck. With 2 Tornadus, Revive and Super Rod, you should be able to stream these to some extent. I would still expect to lose due to Catcher shenanigans, but Tornadus is definitely not distracting from the deck’s focus at all. It can donk even better than Zekrom can, and it does a good job of conserving Energy already on the field. In case you couldn’t tell, Revive is also in there in favor of a fourth Magnemite and third Tynamo.
pokegym.netYou do need to try and take as many prizes as possible with Tornadus and Zekrom. 15 Energy should be enough for around 3-4 KOs with Magnezone, but those should definitely come last.
One thing you definitely do need to try to work in for at least a few games is Eviolite. I have 1 Eviolite in my actual current list that hasn’t done a whole lot yet, but a Zekrom with Eviolite is simply amazing once you get it in there.
Thundurus is missing in action in this list, but it is definitely good. Not a fan of going all-out 4 “I want to start with this” Thundurus, but 1 or 2 is fine, just like you’d play Skarmory in any kind of Steel deck. If you want to put it in I’d put it over one of the Tornadus, even though their function is not at all the same.
Conversely, I’ve seen people stick with just Eelektrik and Magnezone. As I said, there is a LOT of different ways to go about this kind of deck (under the strictest definitions they might not even be the same deck), but I do believe the option of taking prizes without Lost Zoning energy is marvelous. Kind of like how you run Reshiram in Magneboar just because you can get the Energy back and re-use it with Lost Burn, or how you try to get prizes with Yanmega over Magnezone in Prime Time.
Plus, by having an attacker that isn’t Magnezone, you are keeping your draw engine safe on the bench, forcing your opponent to use Catcher to take it out.
The absolute greatest thing about this deck is that it has so much going on at once. The correct start can just make it explode in field development in ways you might’ve seen when playing Prime Time. What I really like about it is that you can discard Energy very freely, unlike Prime Time, which really allows you to keep a lot more resources around. It is hard to explain how good this deck is without seeing it in action: you simply get so many of the possibilities of several different Tier 1 decks, merged into one deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comAnother approach is putting Eelektrik in ZPST, using it to conserve Energy better. Personally, I have no testing results for this one, but I’ve got at least one person vouching for it. It really takes a huge bite out of Zekrom’s speed, since you have to fit in Communications and all that, but in exchange you get a better long-term game. More Catcher vulnerability, though.
As versatile as Eelektrik is, I think this about covers all the Pokémon it’s compatible with. He might just be the most promising Pokémon in Noble Victories.
Chandelure is intriguing. Pretty much everyone I know had the same reaction to it.
“Wow, that is an amazing power. Wait, that attack…ugh. Maybe with Vileplume…or Dodrio? Maybe…Ferrothorn or some other kind of hit and run thing? It does have 130 HP…this is cool but it probably won’t work!”
Basically, you want to use the Power because using three Spray Splashes for the price of one is too good to pass up, but the attack seems completely worthless without Trainer Lock, and even then you’re being horribly, horribly slow. So for the second time today, we’re going to see a double Stage 2 Vileplume deck that isn’t Ross.dec.
This one, I haven’t used nearly as much as Vanilluxe, simply because the whole idea simply wasn’t working as well. But nonetheless, I’m going to show you just how far I got.
Chandelure / Vileplume / Dodrio
Pokémon – 23
4 Oddish UD
Trainers – 26
4 Pokémon Collector
Energy – 11
* The BW27 Promo is actually better since it has Call for Family, but that wasn’t available when I was testing (and still isn’t on PlayTCG). It is definitely better, though.
pokegym.netSo right off the bat, when I was writing this, I was thinking “Well, those PONTs should really at least have a run as N, and you could probably cut at least one baby and a Gloom to thicken the Dodrio line to 2-2.” That is not what I tested with, but it is where I would continue the road.
The Rescue Energy is an attempt to cover two bases at once, having your fourth Chandelure and Lampent without having to actually run it. If you ever end up having enough time to get out a fourth, you can probably only do it this way. The obvious drawback is that you don’t draw into the first Chandelure as easily.
This deck’s main problem is that it simply doesn’t pose a threat at all for several turns in. When you do get a Chandelure out with the outrageous PPC cost, it feels very good: you Confuse them under Trainer Lock which is normally very devastating, and you’re spreading 30 or even 60 (with Dodrio out). However, your opponent has had countless amounts of time to attach Energy, and will often be able to pay the Retreat Cost to get away from the lock the painful way. It seems that most of the time, your hard work of attaching 3 Energy and evolving twice is flushed down the drain before you have a new Chandelure ready to attack.
By far my biggest problem with this deck was the frustration that came with having to pass (or Eek) way more often than actually attacking. In the end, there’s only one thing I really liked about this: Lampent’s Inviting Lamp attack pulling out heavy Pokémon under Trainer Lock. It was very satisfying, but it also made me want to play Mew instead, and that’s a bad sign.
This would’ve been where the Chandelure adventure ended for me if it had not been for someone telling me on IRC that “non attacking Chandelure is totally legit”. I was asked to keep that quiet as the person who vouched for it planned to make a surprise splash with it at cities, but then I found an eleven page thread on it on HeyTrainer (note that registration is required and HeyTrainer is quite a cliquey community with absolutely no censoring whatsoever) and I figured it was too much out in the open for it to matter.
Both UG articles of last week talked about it, so there’s not much of a reason for me to explain that further. I can vouch for the fact that it works. It is something I really should have come up with myself considering how often my opponent ended up waiting for me to say “pass” – Cursed Shadow is so good, it might as well be an attack (and because of that, my brain thought it was). Being able to use that AND an attack is so unbelievably powerful, especially if that attack is “draw up to 7”.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy list isn’t very different from the one Josh posted. Instead of posting my entire list I’ll just post the differences:
I think I like 3-3 Dodrio better, but I also think having at least 1 Cleffa is nice for when you can’t just hit the Beach or just don’t really want to lay it down (vs Goth, for example). 3-2 Dodrio is probably not that bad, you definitely do want as many Basics as you can, especially since Chansey isn’t really something you want to start with. With Super Rod and Rescue Energy, having an “extra” Doduo is not a big deal.
-1 Pokémon Catcher
+1 Lost Remover
+1 Max Potion
I don’t know if the omission of Twins was on purpose, but I think it works too well with the deck to leave out entirely. You never have to take a prize – you can set up multiple KOs for one turn if you want. On the other hand, Twins is a dead card until your opponent does take a prize, and the amount of aggressive decks is falling, so it is definitely an understandable choice.
You don’t really need to hand refresh all that much with Tropical Beach out. Lost Remover is just more of an edgy tech (except it seems to have caught on in the public) that can often be a completely dead card, but when it works it just works so well.
pokegym.netI don’t even know why I didn’t have a Catcher in there. It becomes all the more accessible with Twins though. Switch, I think, is a must-have-4-of. It’s the decks focus card: basically a triple PlusPower or Spray Splash.
By the way, I don’t really want to make this look like “Mekkah rating Josh Wittenkeller’s list”. I’m just using his list as a point of reference, since it’s easier to make a comparison than to look at my list in a vacuum. Of the cards they differ, I would definitely recommend putting the Catcher, the Switch, a third Doduo and a Cleffa, and use the fourth N as draw Support. PONT vs Twins is a toss-up.
One more thing I want to say is that this deck, when played “normally”, will have a ton of issues beating Gothitelle and the Truth. You will not be able to overwhelm them or put pressure, and Tropical Beach might just help them more than you.
This is once again where Lampent comes to the Rescue (see what I did there) to pull Reuniclus or Vileplume active…from there, you are likely still unable to kill anything of theirs, but it takes off pressure. For actually stalling them out (deck out or time), you’ll have to include more Lampent and/or Rescue Energy, or even P Energy.
I have experimented a LOT with Kyurem, tried and fought almost every variant I could think of. The first one I tried is the hyped one that had a lot of luck in Japan: Cobalion/Kyurem/Electrode. I wasn’t a very big fan of this: Cobalion adds an extra Energy type to the mix to a deck that already has consistency issues, what with Energymite being so rather unpredictable.
In addition, the two just have very little real synergy. Kyurem covers Cobalion’s Fire weakness to an extent, but Cobalion’s game plan is much different from Kyurem’s. And it just so happens that I liked Kyurem’s game plans a lot better, so I ended up ditching Cobalion, freeing up a lot of space for all kinds of techs and toys. As far as I’m concerned, Cobalion can wait until Mewtwo EX is destroying our game as we know it.
Once again I was beaten to the punch with regard to posting the first list, but here it is nonetheless…
Pokémon – 14
3 Kyurem NVI
Trainers – 29
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 15
Free Spots – 2
pokegym.netThe thing about Kyurem is that it’s not immediately evident that it needs Energy acceleration, since unlike Reshiram it doesn’t discard Energy, and unlike Zekrom it can’t donk. But I think the correct way to describe Kyurem’s Energy needs is that it needs just a little extra, not a huge shower of Energy all at once. Electrode might not consistently be able to pump out a lot of Energy, but it makes a turn 2 Glaciate very easy to achieve.
As you can see, I’ve had the time to tech out this list quite a bit already. Let’s look at what stands out, from top to bottom:
Only 3 Kyurem. Instead of having a fourth 2 retreat starter, I chose to run Revive. Between that, Junk Arm, and Super Rod, I have never ran out of Kyurem before I ran out of prizes or Energy.
Not just 1, but 2 Jirachi. Jirachi is, for the lack of a better word, epic against Evolution decks. The odds of it getting prized, Electroded or otherwise discarded are just too huge, so I run two. Unlike Kyurem, Reviving a Jirachi doesn’t do much. It’s definitely a nice surprise for those who think they escaped the scary Time Hollow play when they see Jirachi hit the discard (for example, a counter KO after a first Time Hollow). Though those people should also be more ready for Super Rod…
1 Pichu. You dare to fill your bench when you know that Kyurem can put 30 on everything? Bonus points if you activate Twins for me when I want you to.
1 Shaymin. Sometimes you’re kind of forced to blow up an Electrode and get more Energy than you can really attach at the moment. Sometimes your opponent Catchers out a loaded Kyurem for an empty Kyurem, hoping to stall. Sometimes you actually need more Energy on Jirachi for the amount of prizes you were hoping to take. The single Shaymin gives you a ridiculous amount of versatility and options during a game.
3 Cheren. I don’t think this is too great of a Supporter anymore, but it has great synergy with Research Record. You can’t really afford to Sage or Juniper much with Electrode in the deck. I do think the ages of building cards in your hand with Cheren and Twins are over with N around the corner, but nonetheless I think it’s a good card for the deck’s slightly complex set-up.
Only 1 Eviolite. This card simply has not convinced me yet, and didn’t change a whole lot of magic numbers for me, particularly on Kyurem. You can grab it with Twins and recycle it with Junk Arm if it does matter in your particular matchup.
Energy line all over the place. 99% of the non-Water’s Energy’s usefulness comes from Jirachi. Double Colorless is a nice, semi-unexpected payment for a turn 1 Outrage or a retreat out of nowhere. 2 Psychic is about what you can expect to get in the discard before using Stardust Song, and the Rainbows are basically insurance if you flip tails or can’t get them there in time, while also fueling Glaciate, and occasionally providing a little unexpected edge to your Outrage damage.
Two open spots. What I’m running here at the moment are my anti-Metal techs. This sounds silly, but while I’m not liking it much, there is still a lot of people playing Cobalion out there. Even if it’s not an optimal play, you can’t really complain about losing to them just because you think it’s subpar! In addition, there’s the Durant threat.
I have used Victini NV 15 (V-Create) here in the past but never really got results with it since the only Metal player I ended up facing against was using Scizor Prime, which my deck…couldn’t touch (I ran no basic Fire, just 4 Rainbow). Currently I have it switched to 1-1 Suicune & Entei LEGEND but got no testing with it yet. I hate the fact that it’s a double prize (considering Electrode already brings you down), and that I still need a Rainbow to hit the Active with it. However, it will be able to KO 6 Durant in 6 turns, and it should definitely improve your Cobalion matchup at least from the auto-loss it’s at right now.
The big problem Kyurem has in general is of course facing Eviolite. For those who want to be extra-edgy about that, try out Tropical Tidal Wave. It’s flippy and does you no favors if you have an Eviolite in play, but I can definitely see it working. Of course, it’s a rather expensive card to try…it might as well read “Flip a coin. If tails, you wasted $68.” Still, if you’re not particularly afraid of Metal Pokémon but you do want to get around Eviolite (and Defender, actually), this could be a fun proxy to throw in.
I’ve found Kyurem, in particular this Kyurem, works best if you stay focused on Glaciate. Outrage returning KOs generally doesn’t do much for you unless it’s their only attacking threat. Instead, you have to think of as Glaciate as your rather long route to victory. Keep trying to chain those and eventually, prizes will fall into your lap by 2, 3 or even 4 at once.
pokegym.netN, Twins, Electrode and Kyurem form a very deadly combination that can completely turn the game around for you. There are a LOT of (new) decks that want to use Twins against you, but Electrode gives you total control over whether you or your opponent gets to use them. And because you are delaying taking your own prizes, N works marvelously to put your opponent in a corner. The single copy of Catcher provides a very cutthroat play where you can Catcher up something heavy and N your opponent into a whole lot of nothing, and proceed to make an enormous comeback. N didn’t really save the format from Catcher, it just made room for an even bigger trap.
This is the Kyurem variant that did the best for me in testing. It’s a pretty big contrast from most other lists I’ve posted so far, which seem to almost overkill in consistency. If you’re going to toy around with this variant it might be best to take a step back and see what techs work for you.
The other variants are ones I have less experience with, but nonetheless I’ll share what I’ve got. I did not bother trying Feraligatr Prime myself, and from what I’ve seen when playing against it, he is more distracting than helping. As I said earlier, Kyurem doesn’t really warrant constant Energy acceleration, he just needs to cheat the one per turn rule a little. So that’s when you change to Floatzel UL, but since Kyurem lacks Wash Out, you have to add Shaymin and/or bouncing cards. I wasn’t a very big fan of this when I tried it. It was vulnerable to Catcher, tight on bench space, and not very fast.
One idea I do like is instead of putting Feraligatr or Floatzel in a Kyurem deck, you put Kyurem in a deck that already has these. A deck such as Blastzel. One person I played against before NV was introduced was actually already experimenting with Suicune CL in his Blastoise/Floatzel deck. It functions as a semi-big Basic in the Active Spot that allows you to build your Bench behind it. You can fairly freely attach Energy to the Active, since most people are going to try and Catcher the Buizels or the Squirtles (whichever you have less of).
pokemon-paradijs.comSuicune normally has two Retreat Cost, but with a single attachment attachment it suddenly only has one, and with two it retreats for free. You let it stay there for however long is necessary and even spread a bit of damage, putting even the biggest Pokémon (such as Typhlosion and Magnezone) in range for Blastoise’s Hydro Launcher, while also generally keeping your option to use Twins intact.
Once you have a Blastoise, you can simply retreat Suicune and move the Energy it has to Blastoise with Wash Out. It was a nice piece of teching that I hadn’t seen before.
Now, Suicune’s attack and HP are completely inferior to Kyurem’s, so there’s little reason to use it now, even with that two Retreat Cost. Kyurem can definitely fill that big Basic role, it gives you some kind of a plan against Zekrom and Magnezone decks that isn’t scooping, and it can very easily come in after a KO on your Blastoise to Glaciate.
One deck I was really excited to write about was Yanmega/Kyurem, which I played with for quite a bit. Its main issue is definitely that Yanmega does not help vs its biggest troubles (things with Eviolite, things with lots of HP that hit very hard…so basically Zekrom). But since so much testing went into it, I might as well share my list. Overall, I liked it less than Electrode/Kyurem, so the list is less refined.
Pokémon – 14
4 Kyurem NVI
Trainers – 32
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 14
Aside from the whole Zekrom weak, Yanmega and Kyurem have great synergy. Yanmega acts as a pseudo-Energy accelerator, since it doesn’t require any attachments (same idea as Yanmega/Magnezone). Yanmega’s Linear Attack works very well before and between Glaciates, while also providing some sort of offensive presence. Sadly, Yanmega does force a hand size match which is why I felt I had to include 3 Judge even though N is the better card.
pokegym.netLike with Kyurem/Electrode, Jirachi makes a return for a powerful Time Hollow streak. We have the tech Double Colorless for 2 extra targets for Jirachi, or an Outrage/retreat on Kyurem, and a Lost Remover that can completely flip the game around. This card is getting bigger by the day, eating Cobalion’s special Metals and the DCEs and Rainbows that go on more and more decks for lunch.
The mix of the draw Supporters and the large amount of Energy could definitely be fine tuned a little more, though it is very important to get Energy drops on a Kyurem as often as possible. The singleton Twins is definitely not reliable, but ever since I have been playing HGSS-on I’ve always found including one of these in most decks a solid play – basically a topdeck of whatever you want if you’re in a bind, without actually relying on them as a way to get going. However, with the addition of more and more from-behind decks, it can easily be cut.
I feel that Yanmega/Kyurem is a legit way to play Kyurem, but not the best one out there. I’m feeling Yanmega becomes less and less relevant, and other than their offensive synergy, it doesn’t do a whole lot for Kyurem and becomes a dead card more often than I would like.
The other popular Kyurem spread decks generally pair it with Vileplume, either using it in The Truth or just on its own. Since I haven’t tried a lot of games with any of those, nor with Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND, while you’ve already been given quite some thoughts from other articles the past few weeks, I’ll stick to “ask the others” on that matter.
The one thing I’ve found in this regard is that Glaciating in The Truth is kind of icing on the cake (heh). Once you’re in a position to attach 3 Energy to Kyurem with Vileplume and Reuniclus on the bench, you’d probably win with almost any attacker as long as it doesn’t get 1HKO’d by anything they can play. I think I prefer the more versatile Truth lists over ones really focusing on Kyurem.
What I did do is try a few other Kyurem-related decks. More specifically, decks focused around Kyurem’s Outrage rather than Glaciate. One Pokémon I was particularly excited about was Landorus. With Landorus and the three Digimons, you can kind of recreate Donphan & Dragons, except with all Basics, leaving lots of room for techs. The downfall of this deck was (from my perspective) always Donphan’s 4 Retreat Cost.
I basically built a list based around getting a turn 1 Abundant Harvest and turn 2 Gaia Hammer as often as possible, allowing as much damage to hit both players’ boards as possible. However, getting this to work was quite a chore on its own, and then there’s the problem that the Dragons just take way too much effort to get to reasonable damage levels compared to the effort it takes for your opponent to KO them. Pretty much everything about the deck felt bad, and that’s why you see no list of it in this article.
Landorus is quite a disappointment in general, by the way. I obviously just had to try pairing it with Machamp Prime, since you can theoretically get a turn 2 Champ Buster for 100+ with it. A few games later and I was put back down with my feet on the earth. So much needs to go well at once for this to work. It makes me wonder why Machamp was ever considered good to begin with, heh.
Back to Kyurem, one last deck he fits in is that Six Corners deck published by TheDeckOut. I gave it some test runs but I’m not too happy about it. It is quite simply too reactive for my tastes. The Outrages, as well as Bouffalant and Terrakion’s attacks, all rely on your opponent coming to you. You can’t really be aggressive with this. Your opponent is generally in control of when something is going to happen, and can make sure he is ready for it when it does happen.
I understand that the idea is to make your opponent run out of resources, since the Pokémon are so hard to KO, but the reactive nature of the deck gives your opponent too much time to think about how to use their resources in the best way.
pokegym.netI’ve found one of the key parts of the deck being able to waste resources is by having an Eviolite attached to your Active at nearly all times, or they will simply deal a small slice of damage to knock you into KO range (and you have no way to punish them for it). Opposing Dragons are the best example of this.
Also, this deck has some serious Trainer lock issues. You’re putting no pressure on them, so they can take their time to set up, make half of your deck useless, and from there they can generally execute their main strategy.
This really sums up most of NV, but there is one particular deck that I’d like to bring your attention to that can catch you by surprise.
Most people don’t see this as a “real deck” anymore even though it got a lot of hype. There’s good reasons for that: Magnezone will be back in full swing, people might run even more consistency cards than ever because of N, and even with Victory Star, Sharpedo only has a 44% chance of eating your entire hand.
However, an incarnation of this deck that I encountered on PlayTCG has too much potential not to at least mention here. The following list received no playtesting and is just a starting point of what I imagine the deck should look like.
Pokémon – 22
3 Carvahna TM
Trainers – 27
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 11
Pretty much the only thing that needs elaboration in here is Bisharp. I did not like this card at all when I first saw it, and I got even more annoyed when people were hyping it as if it was a good attacker. I still don’t think it’s great, but I believe it is actually very, very potent in this deck (and decks like it).
The name of the game is to bring your opponent to a grinding halt, using Strip Bare to discard their entire hand as soon as you can. Weavile seems counterintuitive when you’re already attacking their entire hand, but it’s proven to work just because you don’t always flip double heads (not even with Victini), you don’t always want to Strip Bare, your opponent can topdeck their way out but still be stopped by one discard, etcetera. In addition, Weavile can Faint Attack babies like Cleffa on their bench that are just waiting to come out.
Where Bisharp comes in is reducing the amount of time they have to draw into something else. Sharpedo and Weavile are marvelous disruptors but absolutely worthless at attacking. However, they can do very small amounts of damage, and Bisharp’s 70-80 for 1 Energy is just perfect for being actually threatening when necessary.
You can apply the same kind of strategy with Ambipom, be it over Sharpedo or over Weavile, or along with them. Ambipom is more consistent than Sharpedo, but less rewarding. It still goes along well with Bisharp though, since again it does very tiny amounts of damage.
If you plan on testing this like I do, I would also recommend lowering the amount of N for other draw support. You don’t want to give your opponent a new hand every time you need one with this deck, but on the other hand, it is perfect to re-establish a lock, and if you draw into a Weavile after an N you should definitely be in good shape. I chose not to go with the Slowking GS route for this as you would need to incorporate Switch or Double Colorless, but that’s an obvious addition as well.
Some small things and trends that I’ve noticed or that I think will be noticed when more and more of this format is played, that don’t really fit anywhere else.
pokemon-paradijs.com– As noted before, N might just break the format even more just because we also have Catcher. The ability to make your opponent unable to attack or play cards is just too good.
– Magnezone will obviously see a spike in play. It will be interesting to see how this will relate to the playability of Donphan, who is at the same time being threatened by Kyurem.
– Holding onto game state altering cards (Catcher, PlusPower, etc) used to be a great conservative move. Now, it’s really risky because your hand can disappear at any time during a game. Decks built around getting a large hand through the use of Sage and Cheren might just fall apart completely. Holding onto cards such as PONT and Juniper, conversely, becomes a more attractive option as you need to have as many “outs” in your hand as possible.
– Information travels insanely fast. While it takes a little while for metagames to settle, I think it’ll be very hard to keep any good idea secret anywhere nowadays. So if you have a deck that you want to “try out” in a tournament setting, now is probably the best time, because if your idea is actually good, around 500 others probably have as well.
– With the large amount of slower and/or Twins-reliant decks, it is more important than ever to consider your options before playing, and learn the ways of “legal stalling” to steal yourself some wins in top cut.
– Pokégear 3.0 is your friend for getting a hand back that you lost to N. For that reason, be very careful when you have used N to bring your opponent back to 1. Within two draws, they will have 3 cards, which is the magic number for them to be able to Junk Arm for a Pokégear.
Mark A. HicksThere’s a lot more to say, but this article is honestly long enough as it is. I hope you enjoyed it, and got some ideas from it. I’m really honored to have an opportunity like this, to have my name somewhere next to great players like Chris Fulop and John Kettler. I tend to be very critical when I comment on articles (mostly non-UG ones, but still), so I always do my very best to write something I would comment positively on.
Anything you’d like to discuss, just give me some feedback in the forum thread. I really don’t want to just say “ask me anything and I will answer your question”, because I’m sure most of you are at least as good if not better at the game than I am. But…if there’s anything you’d like to ask, you can count on me giving you the best answer I can come up with.
Thanks for reading, and have a great season!
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