Gary Potter – Part 8 – The Trainer’s Discourse

Hello again everyone. After a lovely month off (I wasn’t scheduled for January… contact your local representative/Adam Capriola to prevent this from happening again) I’m back and chock full of deck ideas, thoughts on the newest set, and what I think will be the best play headed into the flurry of State Championships starting up at the beginning of March. The new set introduces quite a few new, powerful cards, a number of which can spawn potential new archetypes.

Using What We Learn from Cities

theriotrocks.orgBefore we get into that, we should recap the big decks which emerged from the City Championships, so we have an established metagame by which we can approach incorporating the new set into. This is always important when looking for ways to use new cards. It allows us to make the easy “upgrades” to established decks, simply by updating them. That is the easy part.

Once you do that, it’s time to make an estimate as to which of those decks stand out as the most powerful, and judge which decks lose the most ground. Based purely on updating lists, most of the decks don’t really lose a whole ton of ground, or gain much, usually. Sometimes you’ll get a card that really just breaks an archetype wide open, but this is fairly rare.

Once you make the “obvious” changes, you can jam a few games, get a feel for the updated interactions, and then, build the “obvious” new decks. Pokémon is not a very subtle game when it comes to card design. In general, cards that will have decks or strategies built around them are easy to spot. 90% of most Pokémon sets are entirely useless cards, and the strongest ones are so far and away better than the others that it’s easy to zero in on them.

Most cards aren’t too hard to build around (Emboar BLW 20, for example, was pretty self-explanatory) so throw a list or two together for those stronger cards. Then, try and make a good educated guess as to whether the composition of the best old decks, alongside the newcomers, leave any holes in the format that otherwise previously Tier 2 or weaker decks may be able to capitalize on.

The Three Types of Decks

three-stooges.comGenerally, a new format is made up of the three types of decks I addressed above. You have the “port overs”: previously successful decks that either stay strong, or get stronger as a result of obvious new additions. Next, you have the new set all stars: cards that just came out, but are obviously going to be used in a big deck. Every set has the new hyped cards, and the hype exists for a reason. They are strong enough to build around, and generally are so hyped because, hypothetically at least, they should be well positioned to compete against the “old format’s” archetypes.

For reference, I know a lot of people like to say that a format really “changes” when sets rotate each year… like, we currently have the 2011-2012 format… but really, for practicality’s sake, a format really changes every time the card pool changes. Technically every time we get as much as a new promo card, but really, the big changes stem from new set releases because they introduce a large card pool, including at least a substantial number of powerful cards.

The 3rd type of deck are the “metagame decks.” These are easily the hardest types of decks to build, and even for experienced deck builders and strong players, it is difficult, if not even unwise, to attempt right out of the gate. These are decks that are able to capitalize on the resultant metagame supplied by the first two pools of decks.

Therefore, in general, you have to do enough testing to flesh out the first two sets of decks before you can begin to work on new options which capitalize on them. These decks are very reactive in nature. As a result, you really need to know what you’re reacting to before you can reliably come up with a plan.

Why You Shouldn’t Play the “Best” Deck

pokemon-paradijs.comEven if you go as far as to spend weeks testing the new format, and coming up with what you feel are the best decks, and can come up with your personal brew that you feel is well positioned against the decks you find to be the best, it is still a bit unsafe to try and pilot that deck. You can’t expect what you find to be the BEST decks to be what everyone else finds… even if, at the end of the day, your findings are generally correct.

The first weekend of States, I expect to find a lot of subpar decks, and a very confused metagame. You’ll find a lot of deck selection choices which, by the end of the 3rd weekend, would seem like silly choices.

This brings up the issue of playtesting “inbreeding,” which is a very difficult fallacy to escape from. If you test with good players, you end up coming up with very good decks fairly quickly, and at a certain point, you begin “upgrading” them to beat your other best decks, to the point where your own testing metagame actually accelerates above and beyond what you’ll actually see out of other players. While on one hand, this makes it so that your decks are likely better tested and more streamlined then other players, it can also leave you a bit more vulnerable.

You end up hedging your bets, and making deck construction compromises to skew your deck toward beating decks and strategies that many players may not even end up playing. You really need to be playing one level above your opponent. I know this type of theory is huge in poker, where what strategies work best against a strong, knowledgable opponent aren’t the best ones to use against weaker opponents who play differently. It is a bit more difficult to apply in a TCG though.

In poker, you have to identify what level your opponents play at, and just adjust your play accordingly. Every hand is played with the same 52 card card pool. In Pokémon, though, you have to preemptively build your card pool before an event, being prepared to face all levels of players. You can’t simply switch gears from opponent to opponent because you have your pre-set tools to work with for the whole tournament.

Case and Point

pokemon-paradijs.comI’ll use an example from the 2008 format. With the release of Secret Wonders, the big decks all seemed to revolve around Blissey MT. It was paired with Electivire DP, Lucario DP, or even just on its own. There were a number of other decks, but the metagame revolved around Blissey, and decks that beat Blissey. Now, as we all know, the “deck to beat” for that format wound up being Gardevoir SW/Gallade SW.

Yet for the first almost month of Cities, the first wave of events with SW legal, very few people played GG. The events were still dominated by Blissey-centric decks. (I was the first player in Ohio to use GG, and went undefeated in 2 straight Cities before people started to catch on and use it as well.)

Now, assume you did heavy testing in this format, and QUICKLY identified GG as the best deck. You have 3 more weeks worth of testing to do, and you and your team jam another hundred-plus hours of games, and find the decks which beat GG.

You update your GG decks for mirror match, and even build a really strong Banette SW deck which throws up a 65%+ win rate against your best GG builds, which is huge since GG was literally destroying all the Blissey decks, which you then ruled out as a viable choice. So the first week of Cities rolls around, and you sign up with the Banette deck which just steamrolled your entire gauntlet of viable decks, all based around your new found, advanced GG metagame.

And if this happened and you rolled into the first week of Cities, you then get crushed by all the Blissey decks, and play vs no GG at all. Your findings weren’t WRONG… GG WAS the best deck, and it DID wipe out all of the Blissey decks. Banette WOULD turn out to be a perfectly viable counter to GG. All of your findings were very accurate. You were just too far ahead of the actual metagame.

Something to Think About

pokemon-paradijs.comNow, this is clearly an extreme example, and more often than not, the gaps are not this wide. Yet it is clearly something you need to consider when deciding on deck choices. You need to plan for the metagame you expect WILL show up, not the metagame you feel SHOULD show up. It’s a tough guess to make with unknown formats. By the time you have an established metagame by weeks 2 and 3-of States, deck choices become more clearly, but that first week is always a bit of a gamble.

This is why playing reactive, metagaming deck choices can be too risky to be advised for the first week. For a wide open format, you often want to play a straight-forward, powerful deck. Play something that will just overpower weaker deck choices; play the “best deck.” In 2004 this was Blaziken. In 2005, this was Rock Lock. In 2006, this was LBS. In 2007, this was Metanite, in 2008 this was Gardevoir/Gallade, and so on. These are the decks with the most powerful, pro-active game plans. They started off the formats as being the best decks, and eventually, they get kept in check as players build decks with beating them in mind.

This didn’t make the choices bad, but it kept them from being head and shoulders above the rest of the field. For the first week of States, you want to be the guy playing the streamlined, fine tuned “best deck.” As the metagame evolves, there are plenty of reasons to shift away from those decks as people prepare for them, and build around them, but in a wide open field, full of players who are unsure of what to play (this includes even the best players… no one is THAT confident going into their first tourney of a new format) you want to be playing the deck that has the most degenerate, game breaking Plan A possible.

Cities Recap

Now, let’s take a step back a bit, and review the outcomes from Cities. Before we can make an educated dive into the new format, we need to see what port over decks we have to work with. Here is a list of all of the decks which saw substantial play through Cities. Certain ones wound up being better, or at the very least, more played, by the end of the season, but it’s important none the less to at last acknowledge those that fell out of favor, to escape the whole theory of inbreeding.

Sometimes, the decks left behind are still strong concepts that got “hated out” of the format by how the metagame progressed, and if those changes are no longer as prevalent in your new metagame due to a focus on new threats, those decks may find themselves a field where they are once again viable. When decks are condemned back to a Tier 2, or Tier 3 status, you should take note of what conditions and factors are PREVENTING them from rising higher because sometimes the metagame will shift and those issues wind up being non-factors.

“Bad decks” can certainly become good again with very minimal changes to the metagame’s deck pool, so even if you write off a deck, go back and revisit it, at least in theory, and reconsider from time to time.

  • ZPS
  • Reshiphlosion/TyRam
  • Six Corners
  • Vanilluxe Vileplume (VVV)
  • EelZone/MagEel/Thunderdome
  • Durant
  • Zekrom Eels
  • Gothitelle
  • The Truth
  • Electrode Prime variants
  • Chandelure
  • Typhlosion Magnezone
  • Magneboar
  • Emboar Reshiram
  • Stage 1s

Alright, this should cover pretty much all of the decks which saw play during Cities, even the ones that quickly became obsolete. I’ll first “write off” the ones which made little impact during the season…

  • Gothitelle
  • Magneboar
  • Emboar Reshiram
  • Stage 1s

Let’s figure out why!

Decks You Can Write Off


youtube.comGothitelle NVI saw a number of problems rise up with the release of Noble Victories. First off, it had a fairly hard time dealing with Durant NVI, a deck that wound up becoming the surprise MVP of the middle of the Cities season. Durant, with Resistance, and M Energy, and Eviolite, required Gothitelle to attach an absurd number of energy to actually score KOs against a Durant, and by the time it did, the amount of cards milled was huge.

Gothitelle builds also relied pretty heavily on cards like Twins, which Durant cut off, so their slower setups often became even further nerfed. Reuniclus BLW, and all associated cards became blanks as Durant circumvented them altogether with the alternative win condition it strived for.

In addition to Durant issues, Gothitelle didn’t like Cobalian NVI. This Pokémon was very hard for it to kill, and could “lock” Gothitelle down, forcing it to retreat and burn off precious energy attachments. Plus, if Gothitelle did get enough energy in play, it fell victim to Cobalion’s first attack.

The fact that a number of Durant builds splashed this guy, and the inclusion of it in decks like The Truth and even some Chandelure NVI builds made it such an overarching presence that even if Gothitelle was able to incorporate some counter measures, it made so Gothitelle would end up struggling to stay viable, opposed to a deck that was beaming with reasons as to why to play it.

Electrode Prime decks also became a very big issue for Gothitelle because they used Cobalion and also Kyurem, which could lock them out of Reuniclus altogether. With Kyurem often swinging on the second turn due to the Twins disabling Electrode, you’d find yourself in a position where you couldn’t ever get Reuniclus out, and would just lose. Even when you did, the 30 spread attack would threaten a ton of damage, and your healing options could be overrun. Paired with the presence of Cobalion, it became very difficult to keep up with the deck.

You wound up on the receiving end of bad matchups against Trainer lock decks as well. The Truth would eventually orchestrate a setup where they could use Outrage on one of their dragons to 1HKO Gothitelle. The inclusion of Cobalion made it worse. Vanilluxe NVI would Paralyze lock Gothitelle. Chandelure’s Lampent could keep Reuniclus active, and a Chandelure’s Ability use, plus attack, actually one shot a Gothitelle.

I know that Ross Cawthon had piloted Gothitelle to the finals of Cities out in WA during the latter part of the season, though, so perhaps he made some innovations which made the deck more viable. Perhaps they had an example of a very inbred metagame, where the decks being played wound up leaving an exploitable gap for Gothitelle to capitalize on.

(I know that ZPS saw a ton of success toward the end of Cities there, which is, in fact, weak to Gothitelle, so that could have been a justification for using it. Whether Ross has his invite locked up for Worlds this year or not, I’ve always trusted his metagame calls. He rarely uses a subpar deck choice, so I can’t imagine it simply being a “mistake” on his part. Or maybe someone bet him he couldn’t win with Gothitelle. That could be it too.)

Stage 1s

pokemon-paradijs.comWell, I’d hope this should be obvious. Noble Victories not only flooded the format with even more monstrous huge HP Basics, but also released Eviolite. How you can expect Stage 1 Pokémon to compete past these Pokémon which not only outclass them on their own, but can also abuse Eviolite is beyond me. Yanmega Prime and company simply can’t keep up damage wise, or in terms of durability.

That being said, you pretty much had decks like Electrode and Six Corners pop up to fulfill the same role. You had decks full of fast, durable, multi-typed threats to basically play the aggressive rock-paper-scissors type advantage decks. I’m really not sure how Eviolite was a good idea, design wise, but whatever, it’s legal, so we have to accept it.

Right now, Basics are so much stronger than evolutions as it is, they really didn’t need to print a card that furthers that gap. Even the best Stage 2 Pokémon can barely compete, and I’m not sure where the gap for a middle ground Stage 1 template is. In order for Stage 1 Pokémon to be viable, they have to be notably better than the Basics, especially with Eviolite now.

With Stage 2s being weak as it is, there’s no gap for Stage 1s to fit in to stay better than Basics, without utterly outclassing Stage 2s as well, meaning the power creep is going to get further jammed down our throat, or evolutions are going to just progressively get worse and worse. They don’t even seem to be trying anymore, with all of the EX cards being Basics now.


Magneboar suffers from a few issues. First and foremost, it requires you to jam a lot of cards into your list to make it work. You need to run 15+ Energy, plus get a lot of Pokémon out. Pokémon Catcher can stall you, meaning you need to run a lot of Switches as well. You’re stuck fitting a lot of answers into a 60 card deck, while also being forced to run a lot of Pokémon and Energy, and it really stresses your resources. When the deck runs right, it beats pretty much every deck.

The deck has a few other big issues though. It is bad against Durant. Every resource is so crucial to the deck’s success, and every Devour is crippling. Even if you try the RDL plan, it’s so hard to make it work. You have a pile of huge Retreat Cost Pokémon for Catcher bait, and HAVE to aggressively bench things to make it work. You can get lucky, hit a lone Tepig start, and just power out an Emboar with no bench and be good to go, but this is rare.

In order for the deck to have any sort of consistency, it needs to run Twins and Tropical Beach, both cards which are really bad against Durant, so its engine doesn’t lend itself to setting up that Emboar position in the first place.

You also have issues against Vileplume UD. The Truth isn’t a terrible matchup due to your damage output and high energy count, but decks like Chandelure are really rough. Lampent NVI pretty much locks Emboar active, and you just can’t keep up, especially without Trainers. Two Chandelure lock out Tepig and Magnemite drops as the game progresses, and Chandelure’s status conditions can be brutal too.

As embarrassing as this is, you have issues against ZPS and Six Corners too. Well, sometimes. I actually kept running into spots where I’d just run out of Energy! Even with 15, its so hard to deal enough damage to kill all of their Basics. With Eviolite, you’d often be stuck in spots where, with Lost Burn, you need to discard 3+ Energy for every single KO. I’d get really strong board positions, and just run out of gas because I couldn’t reliably get the last few KOs. Those were very frustrating losses, but just goes to show you how absurd all these legendary Basic Pokémon have become.

Emboar Reshiram

This deck has a bit of the same problem as Magneboar. The biggest issue, actually, turns out to be that you simply are inconsistent. The original idea was to cut Magnezone to trim down on the number of Stage 2 Pokémon to streamline the deck, and all you ended up doing was having to re-allocate those spots to consistency cards to make up for the loss of Magnetic Draw, and you wound up short a powerful attacker.

The deck actually turns out to be generally less consistent than Magneboar, which seemed counter intuitive at the time of this decks design, but turned out to be true. It also showed weakness to N, as unlike Magneboar, you had no protection against it, and unlike Reshiram decks, you actually need a constant influx of cards to keep powering your attackers. It managed to keep vulnerabilities from both of those decks, without really having any of the strengths they offered to keep viable.

Now, let’s look at the decks which seemed to stay viable.

Viable Decks

Reshiram Typhlosion

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a deck that did well enough at Battle Roads and even managed to win Great Lakes Regionals. The deck certainly lost power as the Cities season progressed, saw less and less play, and I even debated tossing it in with the decks that took too big of hit to stay viable, but it seems like the masses still like to default to it. It’s cheap to build, easy to play, and when it sets up much faster than an opponent, it can be difficult to beat. It also has the best possible matchup against Durant, a deck people seem to hate losing to, so it has some strengths.

It won enough Cities and placed in the top cut of enough to still consider it relevant, although the “120” damage cap really hinders it. With Eviolite out now, 120 often turns into 100, which pretty much forces the deck to play a 2HKO game plan, which really doesn’t do the deck very many favors. Typhlosion’s attack actually really makes the two hit kill game plan gain some strength, as it forces players to strain their energy attachments.

The fact that the deck pulls its resources from the discard pile makes it so that the deck is rather resilient to N, and also allows the deck to use it, which is one big benefit. The deck didn’t actually change too much in terms of construction, but the way it plays vs the metagame has actually shifted rather considerably.

Typhlosion Magnezone

We addressed how Emboar Reshiram and Emboar Magnezone fell out of favor and viability. I also touched on how Reshiram Typhlosion grew weaker than it has been in quite some time. I’m not actually sure who the innovator of this deck was, but the first person I saw piloting it was Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich. I think this turned out to be the natural progression of the “Big Fire” decks.

Unlike Emboar Magnezone, you have recurring energy acceleration. You aren’t forced to run all of the energy recovery cards, and your Reshirams and attacking Typhlosions give you a less complex form of attack. You aren’t nearly as reliant on Magnezone to do the dirty work, while you benefit from it’s potential 1HKOs and draw power.

pokemon-paradijs.comTyphlosion is a lot less exploitable than Emboar, even if it is less powerful. Typhlosion gives you a solid enough Durant game plan as well, and doesn’t give leave you super vulnerable to Catcher either. Assuming you are conservative with your Magnezone evolutions, you have a better game against Chandelure than Emboar Magnezone would, too. (I still feel as if that matchup is bad for you though.)

Unlike Reshiram Emboar, you have an actual draw engine. You aren’t crippled by N, and are less likely to hit a mid-game resource drought. Unlike Reshiram Typhlosion, you aren’t hurt by the damage cap. Your Magnezone lets you break the 120 barrier, which can be huge vs certain matchups.

That being said, you have certain compromises you have to make compared to the other decks. Typhlosion adds damage to your attackers, so vs decks like ZPS, you are forced to take enough damage that your otherwise beefy Stage 2s end up in easy 1HKO range. Magnezone’s otherwise safe 140 HP gets whittled down to 130, or 120, which takes away a lot of the strength.

You don’t have quite the 1HKO exchange potential of say, Magneboar, and likely lose that matchup heads up pretty badly. You are less streamlined than say, Reshiphlosion. You are still forced to fit a lot of cards into the same deck, so things do have to give.

Also, unlike Magneboar, or Reshiboar even, you can’t just recklessly keep up 1HKOs. You DO need to get out multiple Typhlosions, plus say, Magnezones, to keep up a huge string of KOs, so against bigger HP threats, you’re not quite able to pump out the huge damage Lost Burns, and are eventually stuck falling back on Reshirams. This isn’t awful, but just a limitation. This is probably the best of the Fire decks available at the moment, although it hasn’t really seen nation wide play yet.


pokemon-paradijs.comOk, let’s just cut to the chase on this one. It is, in my opinion, either the best deck in the format, or at least one of the very best. One of the best traits about this deck is how it just straight up wins a lot of its matchups without many complications. Certain decks just have absolutely no game against it, regardless of how well they start. If your deck stumbles, or gets a slower start vs Durant, it is very hard to win as well. Durant steals so many games in lopsided fashion.

To make it worse, very few decks “auto-win” against it. To top it off, it is one of the best decks available to “outplay” people with. You actually wind up with a lot of options for being able to work your way out of bad situations.

On that note, it does have a few weaknesses. First, it can sometimes beat itself. Prize issues or uncharacteristically slow starts can really hamper it. Some matchups can just crush you with their strongest starts too. Zekrom based decks are very difficult to beat when they set up without needing to use many resources quickly. Against ZPS, it is very challenging to beat a T1, or even T2 Zekrom.

You also have an interesting interaction with the Trainer lock decks. On one hand, they are slow, and give you plenty of time to start the mill. On the other hand, they lock you out of all of your Trainers, and most importantly, your Revives. I’ve seen very conflicting reports as to how these matchups end up interaction, and I guess it really does depend on builds.

One of the other issues Durant seems to have involves time issues. The deck isn’t BAD in time per say, but in games which do go long, it can’t win on tie-breakers. This isn’t really an issue in Swiss, especially if you play fast, but in top cut if a smart opponent plays at a methodical pace.

(If you play fast vs Durant, you’re doing it wrong. You can play at a slower pace without being anywhere close to “stalling,” and that matters a lot at making it so a potential Game 3 doesn’t finish. Assuming you can take a game in Swiss vs Durant to 25 minutes reliably, plus the 2-3 minutes for shuffling and set up between games 2 and 3, you can make it so Durant has to win both games 1 and 2 or pretty much lose Game 3 on time.)

Mark A. Hicks(Even if each game only takes 20 minutes, you’re leaving Game 3 with 15 or less minutes to finish. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me Durant doesn’t have matchplay time issues, but if your stance requires 3 games to all take less than 20 minutes each, I’m not sure how that is possible, really.)

This doesn’t make Durant a bad choice… this is effectively the same issue plaguing any of the Trainer lock decks, or setup decks. It’s a hit you accept with the deck choice in exchange for the decks other strengths. Just don’t try to write it off as being a non-factor, as it is one. It’s merely a more than acceptable calculated risk.

One of the downsides Durant had toward the end of Cities was that people really started to gun for it. The metagame shifted pretty quickly around it. Durant became one of the primary role players for the format, and people stopped playing decks which couldn’t beat it almost altogether. ZPS, Eel Zekrom, etc, all spiked in popularity, and the deck started to struggle a bit.

This doesn’t make Durant much worse, especially in the grand scheme of things, it just means you have a justification for why its success started to tapper off a bit toward the end of the season outside of it “being weaker than assumed.”

Its strength going into States will likely be very dependent on how much respect it gets. If players acknowledge it as the best, or one of the best, decks, and build with it as a focus, it will likely perform well, but not exceptionally. If people get caught up in the hype of all the new cards, it could be extremely well positioned.


pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a deck that gained a ton of strength with Durant being such a factor in the format. ZPS has one of the best matchups against the ants, and is really good in matchplay too. The deck’s weakest matchups got a bit filtered out of the metagame as the format matured. It still benefits from the fact that its best hands are unparalleled short of maybe Magneboar, and it punishes clunky starts. It’s the king of intangibles in this format, and its “fair” games are far from weak too.

Eviolite really gave Zekrom a ton of strength. It’s doubly favorable interaction with Bolt Strike is so powerful. With Defender, 1HKOs on this card are almost impossible to score. The damage output is massive as well.

Due to time issues, and Durant, it seems like most of the Trainer lock decks have been kept in check, which removes a good chunk of the format which gives this deck fits. I know people have, at times, thrown in cards like Bellsprout TM to try and disrupt Vileplume decks, so those matchups can be combatted a bit if they get more popular.

Zekrom Eels

This is another Zekrom based deck, clearly, but it exchanges speed for the ability to always pump out renewable attackers. Eelektrik NVI keeps the game plan going, but often your starts are significantly slower. There are pros and cons to each deck, but I actually feel like ZPS is the slightly strong deck leaving Cities. The decks Zekrom struggles against can be combatted with speed, but if your accepting a turn 3 Zekrom as the norm, there are a lot of matchups you struggle against.

Your Durant matchup is also weaker, although I don’t feel like its unfavorable. Eelektrik is an annoyingly aggravating Catcher target, but with DCE and ideally Dynamotor’d energy on them in the first place, it’s fairly manageable. That being said, I really feel that there are plenty of hybrid options that haven’t been fully explored.

You could run a ZPS list with say, 2-2 Eelektrik in it for the mid game, hoping to keep the speed while maintaining some of the longevity that the Eel version offers. I know a common argument against a thinner Eel line is that they get Catchered and killed, cutting off your acceleration, but Zekrom, once powered, is pretty self sustaining.

Unlike say, Magnezone, it doesn’t dump its energy, and if they are killing your Eels, your Zekrom stays safe and you are able to keep up on energy that way. Toss in the acceleration options of Pachirisu CL and you aren’t at a huge handicap, if any at all, if they do go Eel hunting.

Magnezone Eels

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother Eel based deck, with a nice, unlimited damage output. The deck also has N immunity, and gets to abuse the card rather well. ZPS, without Eels, is rather weak to N (that is an advantage Eel Zekrom has over it… better N interaction). You also have a bit stronger of game against decks with 130+ HP, especially the tanking Trainer lock decks, as you can actually score one shots on them.

The biggest downside the deck has is that first off, it isn’t terribly fast, and secondly, it is really hurt by an opponent cutting off your Eel supply. Unlike Zekrom, which keeps attacking every turn at no energy cost, Magnezone has to keep Lost Zoning energy, so if an opponent ignores it and kills Eels, you eventually just grind to a halt no matter how good your board position was otherwise.

I’ve seen builds that run a thinner Zone line, and higher emphasis on Zekrom, even to go as far as to run a few PlusPower and Eviolite. I like Eviolite in there, as I feel that some ability to shift into a “Zekrom Plan” really helps to stem off some of the exploitability issues this deck otherwise has. I like being able to lead with a non Magnezone attacker, to help myself build up a better presence and not leave myself dry of on board energy because I’m pressured into having to start the game with a pre-mature Lost Burn, an issue I found myself facing quite a lot with this deck. (Any excuse to use Magnezone is an excuse I’ll take… it’s still my favorite card in the format.)

The deck suffers from a weaker Durant matchup as well, but I found that the more I let the deck focus on Zekrom, the better game I had against it. The deck was giving me “Magneboar” issues against Six Corners at the start of my testing too, where I just couldn’t Lost Zone enough energy despite having otherwise favorable board positions. The more Zekroms, the better the matchup grew for me.

The deck seemed to see less and less play as Cities progressed, because it fared worse against Durant than other Eel/Zekrom builds, and the other Zekrom decks perform alright against it by killing off your Eels, although I still think Magnezone Eel is a favorite in those matchups.

Six Corners

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother deck that I feel could be tossed into the “no longer a valid choice” list, I feel that the deck isn’t so much “dead” as it pretty much just evolved into other decks. By that I mean, by the end of Cities, I feel like it, and Electrode/Cobalion/Kyurem merged. The original idea was the simply abuse all of the different typed huge Basics, relying on rock-paper-scissors relationships and huge Basics.

Unfortunately, as decks evolved to accept they had to deal with all of these Basics, opposed to the far lower hit point totals of the pre NVI metagame, the deck held up worse. Without good energy acceleration, it fell behind a bit. The deck’s damage cap prevented it from dealing with Durant, because it couldn’t one hit them, and it was certainly not fast enough to get enough of a jump to offset it.

The deck relying on Rainbow Energy to power many of its attackers was a big hindrance as well. Lost Remover in particular hurt the deck. With its popularity waning, and better options popping up, lets just skip to the next deck…

Electrode Prime Variants

Originally, the deck was simply revolving around Cobalion NVI and Kyurem NVI. It eventually tossed in Terrakion NVI to deal with Zekrom and Magnezone, and eventually the deck switched to Landorus NVI to help beat Durant. Many lists added Shaymin UL from the Six Corners approach, so you’ll notice how the deck pretty much branched out to incorporate more and more different types. It ended up taking the strengths of Six Corners, and merged it with Electrode to give it some speed, and ability to keep up on energy drops.

I feel that Virizion NVI and the dragons from Six Corners were simply dead weight. I get that they gave you more options, but they took up space, and didn’t positively impact enough matchups to warrant inclusion when the deck could have energy acceleration. Electrode just seems to be so much faster and give the deck some stability.

The Truth

pokemon-paradijs.comVileplume Reuniclus decks seemed to fall out of favor, for a number of reasons, although I’m not quite sure the deck is entirely unplayable. Durant is a pretty annoying issue, but again, you can cut off their Trainers. None the less, if I’m expecting Durant to be a huge factor in the metagame, I’d rather be playing a deck with a GOOD matchup against it, opposed to feeling “I can sometimes squeak it out.”

If I’m willing to accept a rough matchup against the deck, I’d need a lot of other strong selling points, and I don’t see those with this deck at the moment. The decks it preys on aren’t popular enough to give the deck enough strengths.

Besides Durant issues, you have to deal with Magnezone being able to score 1HKOs too. Chandelure’s Lampent is a major issue during set up, and Reuniclus is far less appealing when the deck can just toss 60 damage anywhere out of no where, and I certainly don’t want to be on the Truth’s side of that matchup. The deck still also has time issues.

It is quite good against ZPS, and Eel Zekrom, though, so there are certainly decks it can deal with pretty well. I’ll toss out a bit of a spoiler here, but it gains some nice tools with the new set too.


Chandelure is one of the bigger decks that emerged out of Cities as being a top deck. The deck capitalizes on the strength of Trainer lock, with the added benefit of Lampent being able to lure up weak targets. The deck is able to abuse the fact that a lot of decks can’t do 130 damage past Trainer lock, or deal with the fact that you can spread damage all over the bench without tacking prizes. The Twins and Tropical Beach engine gives it access to draw power that a lot of set up decks even as the game progresses because the deck gets to “cheat” past needing to attack.


pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a deck that started off as being popular at the beginning of the Cities season, but fell out of favor. Both this and The Truth seem to have been judged as weaker than Chandelure. That doesn’t mean they are bad deck choices, just that in the current state of the metagame, that Chandelure is the lock deck of choice. As decks shift, that can certainly change, so these decks should still be “on the radar.”

The biggest issue this deck seems to offer is that it sometimes just beats itself. If you flip poorly, you are in a lot of trouble. Even with Victini NVI 14, you stand a 6.25% chance of whiffing. The idea of denying KOs with Trainer lock still feels better suited with Reuniclus. I’d rather establish a “hard lock” then hoping the flips hold up. Even though the odds are low, I don’t see the upside of playing this over something that strives for the same thing WITHOUT having to put the lock on the back of coin flips.

By the end of Cities, I find myself thinking there are really four “Big Decks” that I’ll classify as my person Tier 1:

I know the 2nd one is a bit of a cop out, but the decks are fairly similar in terms of execution, and the approaches have so much overlap that I’m lumping them together. If it makes you feel better, we can make it 5 decks, and break up ZPS and Eel decks. When trying to approach the new cards, we have to look at those “big decks” as the ones we need to take into major consideration.

Next Destinies

Now let’s look at the new set. I’ll break it down card by card, but first, I want to address EXs as a whole, and the impact I feel they will have on the format.

The key thing you need to realize with EX cards is that they will be giving up 2 Prizes. A lot of the format’s matchups thus far have been very exchange based. Games are won in a tight race for prizes much more so then by maintaining a superior board presence, as many formats in the past have been. This means that you’re going to have to expect to at least “break even” off of your EX cards. So you need to approach the cards with taking 2 Prizes off of them.

If you aren’t able to do that, then your opponent is going to score a profitable exchange off of your use of them. It sounds pretty obvious, and it simple, but it’s a rule you really can’t overlook when your trying to think of applications for the cards.

Therefore, one of the biggest issues EX cards have are going to face are their x2 Weaknesses. If an EX card gets big enough, it won’t be too hard to tech the rock to their paper. Magnezone Prime also really messes up the exchange rates, as for an admittedly large 4 energy cards, it can Lost Burn for a KO. I like using EX cards as supplemental attackers, but they are very difficult to build whole decks around.

I feel like you never really want to lead with EXs, or even have them stuck on your bench so much because they are big targets. If you can present a series of attacks, where you can insert your EX cards into favorable points in that exchange, you can really benefit from them, but if you’re stuck on the defensive, and your opponent is in a bit more control of the exchanges, the EX card have proven rather subpar.

I had been testing a Celebi Prime deck with Mewtwo EX and Regigigas-EX, and the deck was performing very well when I was able to control the pace of the game, but performed far worse when I was forced to play by my opponent’s rules.

The other thing which EX cards have done is break the damage parameters. Decks could reliably count on being able to 1HKO everything if it could hit 150. Bad Boar, for example (I will soon be changing its name to Worse Emboar) used to be a huge card just because it could basically one shot anything. Now, EX cards can survive that hit, so you need to take that into consideration.

More importantly, all of these Basic decks now have a means by which to hit for 150 damage. This means decks like Chandelure and Gothitelle which relied on being able to not get one shotted without PlusPower, are in for a rude awakening. But let’s get to it card by card!

Mewtwo EX

pokegym.netI’ll start out with the most hyped card in the set. The fact that Mewtwo gets to abuse DCE to power itself out of no where is its most powerful trait. It’s efficient as an aggressive, opening attacker. It also gains strength because it is a great counter to powered up attackers. The fact that, for a reasonable number of energy (all things considered) Mewtwo has the ability to do a capless amount of damage. Decks such as ZPS, Reshiphlosion, and Electrode can now break the 120 damage mark, all with a splashable Basic.

The implications this card has on how decks are built will be huge. Decks relying on 130+ HP Pokémon not being KO’d outside of decks using Magnezone now have to accept that a Basic Pokémon can break their HP ceiling. A deck like Eel Zone or ZPS now can do more than 120 damage past Trainer lock, so the decks which could use those matchups as a secure, safe win once set up no longer can do that.

The biggest thing Mewtwo has going against it, is actually Mewtwo. Mewtwo is powerful enough that you can legitimately build a deck around it. Let’s be honest, ZPS using it in place of Zekrom as a primary attacker works quite well. It does 40 damage for a DCE, and if you get Pachirisu turn one, you can do 60-80 damage. By the time you need to do more, you can easily hit 100+ damage on turn two. Emboar can abuse Mewtwo easily, using it as a primary attacker. Eelektrik can power it as well.

With 170 HP, it should survive for more than a turn and take more than 1 Prize, so the Prize trade-off ratio would hypothetically be good. The problem is if you rely on it on your primary attacker, you are in a lot of trouble against a deck that just splashes one or two as a counter measure. If you open with Mewtwo to attack, and take 1 Prize, they counter with their own for a DCE. You’re stuck committing all of the initial resources, but they get the cheap kill.

It makes it so that you almost can’t make a proactive deck focused on making Mewtwo your main attacker as a result. Even if your “second Mewtwo” is your ideal counter to their counter Mewtwo, you need 3 energy to counter their DCE… and then they can just counter with a DCE… and you wind up on a really unfavorable series of exchanges.

Mewtwo also has issues against Magnezone. Magnezone can 1HKO it for 4 energy (not the easiest, at least not with Eel… with Emboar it is a lot easier) and Mewtwo needs SEVEN energy to retaliate since Magnezone strips itself of energy with the attack. Cobalion is a bit of an issue too, not just because it has Resistance and is a very difficult to KO, but also because it can lock it out of attacks (forcing an awkward retreat, or Switch) and its first attack can blow up a Mewtwo with a lot of energy attached to it fairly cheaply.

pokegym.netMewtwo also is pretty weak against Durant. It needs 5 energy attached to kill even one Ant with an Eviolite, and will get picked on by Lost Remover and Crushing Hammer, so by the time it reaches the threshold needed to get kills, way too many cards are likely to be milled.

I see Mewtwo being a hugely format warping card, none the less. The card has huge upsides as being just a small addition to a deck. I feel that decks need to run at least a copy of it just to offset opposing Mewtwos. You need to respect its raw power and plan accordingly. Mewtwo is strong on its own, so it is far from a “dead tech card” even if its primary purpose is to beat other Mewtwos. It is a great attacker in a lot of positions.

Decks which need to break the 120 damage cap will love this card, even if they just use Mewtwo as a secondary or tech attacker. In any deck with energy acceleration, this card is too good not to run. The deck also loves Shaymin UL, where otherwise spread out energy can be shifted onto it to make a nice, huge cannon out of no where.

I want to break away from strategy for a second and address the price of this card. Currently, the card is selling for 60-80 dollars, which is absolutely unreal. I actually see its price holding for quite a bit of time. Everyone is scrambling to get it for Cities, and almost every serious player will want at least one for their deck. If we look at Luxray GL LV.X and Uxie LV.X from prior years, values, around States and Regionals, for such huge chase cards, actually HAVE been able to hold value at these levels.

I actually expect the value for a normal Mewtwo EX to settle at 40, with the full art being 50-60ish perhaps. A bulk of the cards value at the moment stems from simply needing a copy to play, so the gap in value from a FA and a normal one likely won’t be as pronounced as it has been with other full arts.

In the long term, I expect the card to settle at around 30 dollars, once the set is in wider circulation. Unless you really doubt you can get more of them, I’d look to sell your Mewtwos for another over 50 dollars if you get the option.


pokegym.netThis is one of the other more hyped cards, and for good reason. It fits effortlessly into a number of well established shells. This is a near automatic inclusion in ZPS, Magnezone Eels, and Eel Zekrom decks. This offers more strength with the Zone-less builds in that it breaks the 120 damage cap. This shatters Chandelure and kills any non EX “wall” in Vileplume decks. This, alongside Reshiram-EX, makes it so cards that previously relied on 130 being “untouchable” are in serious trouble. Chandelure, and Gothitelle, for example, lose even more ground.

180 HP is tough to crack, although Fighting Weakness is unfortunate because it leaves him wide open Terrakion NVI, although Eviolite helps to offset that a bit and forces them to have a PlusPower.

In Eel decks, the 2nd attack is a bit unwieldy, just because you are forced to dump off two energy. It means you either play a DCE (ideally) or use a Switch to re-power it, or skip a turn of being able to hit for 150 damage. Clearly this is nitpicking, but it does make things a little awkward.

This card actually gets my vote for the 2nd best EX card in this set, although a majority of that strength stems from the fact that type wise, it is the best fit into already strong archetypes. It’s such an easy fit as a 1-of, MAYBE 2-of, into a number of already Tier 1 decks that it helps to cover the weaknesses of.


Well, it isn’t quite as good as Zekrom… it fits into a weaker type, but also has a pretty bad drawback with its 2nd attack. One of the things which keeps EX cards as being viable is the fact 170+ Hit Points protect them from being one shotted. The fact that 50% of the time you’re reduced to a very 1HKO-able 130 Hit Points really takes it into the range of being a strong liability.

Now, the default combination for this card is Emboar. It’s probably the only way to realistically run it in the current format. I tried a lone copy of it in Magneboar, and was actually underwhelmed with it. I could see a straight Emboar deck getting more attention again, using this, and Mewtwo EX as attackers alongside Reshiram BLW, but I’m not sure if it is good enough.

The deck I got to test with using this card ran it with Eviolite and Victini to re-flip its second attack. With an effective 200 Hit Points, and a 25% chance of only smacking itself for 30 (this leaving it with an effective 170 HP) the card actually becomes a lot more threatening. The deck also ran Max Potion, so if it doesn’t get one shot, you could Max Potion it, and re-power it, either manually, or with say, a Fisherman to get all of the energy back. Credit to Amelia Bottemiller out of WA for the Reshiboar testing.

pokegym.netReshiram benefits from one thing, the fact that Water is a very under-represented type. The only Water type seeing play is Kyurem NVI, and it isn’t the best card at exploiting Weakness due to its low focused damage output. Therefore the tanking of Reshiram-EX is actually a fairly valid approach.

Unfortunately, the deck runs into the issue that the new “HP cap” is actually 180. You can’t one shot Mewtwo EX, or Reshiram-EX, or Zekrom-EX, or really any non-Shaymin EX. It’ll be interesting to see how prevalent those cards end up being, but I’m not entirely sure Reshiram will be able to rise above being a “good card” and become a great card.


This is a card that has gotten some pretty hefty hype as well, and I’m actually just not a very big fan of it. On its own, I feel it is slow and not that threatening. It’s stuck again with an unfortunate Fighting Weakness, and its damage output is really low. The only way that it is able to put out enough damage to be good requires it to also be able to get KO’d. Zekrom-EX and Reshiram-EX can one shot it if you “Raging Hammer” for 30 or more extra damage, which makes it such a questionable attacker.

The two big applications for the card I’ve seen have been as an attacker in a Celebi Prime style deck as an attacker, and he is very average in there. He’s slow and clunky, and as I said, the damage output isn’t very great. I’ve seen him as a “tank” in The Truth, but that seems questionable to me. 180 HP is obviously fantastic, but I’m not sure how he is any better than either dragon EX. Using Raging Hammer is counterintuitive, as if you want to do any real damage with it, you actually just strip it of its tanking ability.

It’s the same reason I wasn’t a big fan of Zekrom or Reshiram in the deck before. If you Outrage for legitimate amounts, you just end up getting killed. Otherwise, he caps at 80 damage (assuming 160 HP is the “safe” cut off for tanking, since 150 is the highest natural damage outside of a huuuuuge Mewtwo attack, or Magnezone…so you use the first attack for 60 and take 20). I’d rather use Reshiram-EX or Zekrom-EX.

From a pure tanking standpoint, I actually think Reshiram-EX is better. Its Weakness is the most friendly to deal with. Zekrom-EX has the highest safe damage output, but the deck runs low energy as it is, so I’m not sure I’m sold there. Reshiram-EX having a basically non-existent Weakness is really nice.

I just don’t see the drive to use Regigigas as a big attacker. Its best role is to score the “last kill,” letting you dump 130 damage on it and break through an EX to end the game before any chance of retaliation can occur. It may be ok for that role, but at the same time, I’m not sure if such a “win quicker” condition justifies the spot. Also, the same role can be fulfilled by…

Shaymin EX

pokemon-paradijs.comI’m actually a really big fan of this guy. Its second attack deals huge amounts of damage, and can allow you to “come back” from losing if they have any EXs in play very easily. Once they get down to 1 Prize, you do 180 damage, so you’re killing pretty much anything. On the other hand, you’re extremely fragile, so you really want to be closing out the game with him. Shaymin is obviously just a 1-of inclusion, since it has such a specific role.

In any deck with any sort of energy acceleration, Shaymin can be powered up out of no where. In any deck with Shaymin UL, the same ends can be met. Now, I’m a fan of Shaymin in a deck like Magneboar or Eel Zone where you’re able to score a lot of KOs early, but need a low resource expenditure KO or two at the end of the game once you’re lower on energy. Magneboar, for example, runs out of energy or Magnezones to kill with at the end, so having a Basic to “snag” the final prize or two easily is a really nice thing to have.

The card also is a great one of in either ZPS, or in any sort of Celebi type deck (or in Electrode). I’ll use an “ideal scenario” to illustrate how powerful this card can be. If you can power him out in one turn, and drop an Eviolite, Pokémon Catcher, and N in the same turn, you’re able to “protect” Shaymin with 130 HP, kill one of their Pokémon which can do 130 or more, and give them a 1-2 card hand.

This SHOULD make it very difficult for almost any deck to then kill Shaymin before it scoops up 2 Prizes. In a deck with say, Magnezone, those cards aren’t that hard to assemble, seeing how, by the end of the game, Magnezone decks have generally decked themselves anyway. Seeing how Shaymin’s “last prize KO” value warrants its inclusion in the first place, the fact that such more powerful plays exist for it only make it more promising.

The really awkward part about the card is the fact that it requires Grass energy. This “shouldn’t” be an issue because you can use Prism and/or Rainbow Energy, but it ends up being more of an issue then you’d think. The “big decks” you’d want to try him in are Magneboar, Eel Zone, Eel Zekrom, and ZPS… all of the decks which can power it out quickly.

Also decks which sometimes want that extra “power” hit at the end of the game as resources get depleted. Yet all of these decks aren’t very fitting for Prism Energy.

ZPS and Eel decks all need piles of L Energy, either for Pachirisu, or to recur with Eelektrik. Emboar decks obviously need a ton of R Energy. These decks also want to be running DCE. So between the DCEs and the high emphasis on necessary Basic Energy of the non-splashable type, running the needed 3 or so Prism to reliably get Shaymin powered at the end of the game is actually a struggle.

I’m not sure how much Shaymin will get played, but I think it has a huge upside. It could end up being a bust, but it could be a very powerful card. I’m optimistic about the card’s future even if it takes the format a little bit of time to flesh itself out before we are able to figure out the best way to use it.

Kyurem EX

pokegym.netWell, this one is a pretty easy one to write about. I’m pretty sure this card is just bad. It has an alright Weakness (Cobalion messes its day up) and a lot of Hit Points, but its attacks are very underwhelming for being an EX. The first attack is pretty good, but not enough to make the card appealing enough to build around. The second attack is fine, but 120 is no longer as powerful as it once was as Hit Points creep up.

The biggest strike against this card is that Water is a weak type in general. It isn’t terribly splash-worthy, and the only “good” potential pairing is Feraligatr Prime, alongside the other Kyurem, but that deck has a few too many flaws regarding its viability in the format as a whole to really stand out as an option right now.

It does gain a lot of strength if you’re able to put pressure on them with Glaciate, where that “120” becomes an effective 150, or 180 once Hit Points are reduced. Unfortunately, once that happens, you may as well be attacking with Feraligatr Prime anyway, as the “gap” in strength of attacks isn’t great enough. Unless something drastic happens, I see this card being the worst of the EXes in this set.

Amoonguss NDE

This is an interesting card. Obviously, its only strength stems from its Ability. Any time you get such a potent effect without a coin flip or an attack, it’s at least worth looking at. Seeker hasn’t seen a ton of play in decks lately, but being able to loop even just a 1-1 line. The deck I see the most potential for this guy in is actually Durant, where the common strategy is to not bench much, therefore their “attack” is almost exclusively their active.

This makes the status conditions very potent. The card could also be pretty strong with in a Trainer lock deck, where it can’t be Switched out of. I’m also not sure if the upside of it is powerful enough. It takes up a bench slot, and 2 out of your deck, for an isolated use. I’m pretty sure that its likely only application is in Durant, but even there it becomes a bit of a Catcher target.

Chandelure NDE 20

This is an interesting card. I’m not sure it is better than the other Chandelure at all, to be honest. The first attack pumps out a LOT of damage for one R Energy. It’s very synergistic with the deck’s modus operandi. The problem is, you’re cutting into other resources. You really want a thick line of the other Chandy. Looking purely at opportunity cost, you lose both a net 30 damage from losing an Ability use, but you also have to attack, costing you a use of Tropical Beach.

The biggest issue is also involving energy. You already need P Energy (a decent chunk of them), but you also need Rescue Energy. Trying to stuff R Energies into the deck too becomes very challenging, especially in a deck used to not having to allocate many spots to energy as it is. The upside is clearly very high, so a one of may be worth trying, especially since 1-2 Fire sources can be grabbed with Twins.

Having a Fire source attacker is very good against Durant as well, and the powerful 80 shot is pretty good. It may also give you a pretty strong alternative game plan for sudden death type scenarios. I’m not ENTIRELY sold on the card, but it’s certainly at least worth trying to test.

Basculin NDE

The best card in the set. And the most masculine.

Gardevoir NDE

Gardevoir is a fun little card. Its Ability has great synergy with two really good Psychic type Pokémon: Mewtwo EX and Gothitelle. Unfortunately, both of these Pokémon are a bit exposed. By doubling their energy count, it leaves both very vulnerable to Mewtwo EX, who, with Weakness, is effectively doing 80 damage per energy attached. So while the synergy is certainly there, I’m not sure that the end game it offers is even good enough to be all that promising in how the format is looking to shape up. Mewtwo EX is going to make Psychic a very volatile type in the near future (well, really, for as long as it is legal in rotation).

The biggest problem right now, with this card, is that I hate using Stage 2 Pokémon in a “support” role. With how fast the format is, and in a format with a card such as Pokémon Catcher, I am really unwilling to devote a large portion of my decks strategy toward a Stage 2 when I’d rather be a more aggressive deck.

One one hand, Gothitelle is a very strong card. It also protects Gardevoir. Yet it gets crushed by Mewtwo. The “best route” to take would then to use my own Mewtwo to kill that Mewtwo, but then I’m stuck in a spot where, not only did I break my Trainer lock, but I fall victim to a 2nd Mewtwo. I’m not willing to say with 100% certainty that a deck like that couldn’t work (it might!), but it certainly seems improbable.

A card which seems somewhat useful in a deck like that would be Leavanny NVI. It takes away the Psychic weakness and also is protected by Gothitelle from Catcher. The problem is, you wind up with so many Stage 2s in the deck that it’s likely to be way too clunky or slow. You do get access to Twins, but even then, I’m not sure that’s enough. The fact that Gothitelle will still get taken out by a Zekrom or Reshiram-EX, or even a Mewtwo EX with 3 energy (with 2 energy, Gothitelle, due to Gardevoir, will have 4 effective energy) is a big deterrence for me.

Musharna NDE

pokegym.netThis card looked like it would be an all-star when I first read it when it was spoiled. Honestly, the more I look at it, the less and less I like it. It’s not quite as good as say, Uxie LV.X, because it doesn’t put the unwanted card on the bottom of your deck. It’s still fairly good, but not as good as I’d hoped. The other issue is, the card can become a really annoying bit of Catcher bait. It has a worthless attack, and offers very little besides some card advantage.

The format is unfortunately quite fast. Allocating cards strictly to consistency cards, which require a substantial amount of work to get out in the first place, are a bit counterintuitive. The amount of resources and effort given up to get Musharna in play in the first place for the minimal repayment it gives you back makes it underwhelming. I can’t seem to think of any decks right now that really make me want to play the card.

That being said, the card isn’t BAD. I’ll use a good comparison though. It isn’t much better than Noctowl HS. It digs you a card deeper the first time (and every time after you use a shuffle effect), but Noctowl really sees NO play. I just don’t see Musharna being better enough to really make me want to play it. If a deck eventually turns up that runs one, I wouldn’t be astounded, but I also wouldn’t be surprised at all if it never sees any play either.

Prism Energy

This card is obviously incredible. Decks like Six Corners, and Electrode would struggle to balance all the types they’d like to play, only having 4 “wildcard” energy, so having 4 additional copies, which do no damage when attached, only helps to solidify the deck’s energy base.

I addressed this a bit before, but the only “big issue” is that decks are really big into running Double Colorless Energy at the moment, and a lot of decks, hoping to maintain the ability to have energy acceleration, also have to stuff themselves full of basic energies.

So while the card’s power level is clearly high, it is a little bit awkward to fit into some of the previous existing archetypes, which need a high concentration of certain basic energies for their accelerants to key off of. Electrode decks, or any sort of “Six Corners” approaches will obviously love this card though. A deck like The Truth will likely run 4 of these as well (maybe like 4 DCE, 3 Rainbow, 4 Prism?).


pokemon-paradijs.comThis card is pretty weak, in my eyes. None of the cards that previously let you get energy ever really saw play. Interviewer’s Questions has seen no play. Cyrus’s Conspiracy and Roseanne’s Research had the added utility of being able to get energy, but I see no reason to devote any of my Supporter slots in deck, or Supporter use per turn, toward a card that can only get energy. Perhaps there could be a deck that runs a ton of different types that would want to run this, but right now we have Rainbow AND Prism Energy.

I guess a deck like Emboar could make use of the card, but mid to late-game, you’d be better off playing playing Fisherman. I could actually see it being useful in ZPS if you went with Dual Ball or like, Level Ball to get Pachi/Shaymin to help with your starts, but I’m still not sure how it would be much better than Interviewer’s Questions, a card which has already failed the viability test.

Skyarrow Bridge

Now this is a card that should see some play. The two cards which really gain strength directly off of this are Celebi Prime and Smeargle UD/CL. Celebi Prime showed promise back when we had access to Unown Q MD, and now, we have a card which replicates the same effect for the card. Celebi would normally need to sit active for multiple turns to offset the fact that you’d be spending energy to retreat it and such. Now, it can be promoted between every KO, so its value jumps up drastically.

Smeargle also had strong synergy with Unown Q. I can see it going back to being a 1-of in decks with Skyarrow Bridge, but I’m not sure that you’d ever want to add Skyarrow Bridge AND Smeargle just for Smeargle, but Smeargle seems like an automatic inclusion if Skyarrow Bridge is already a consideration.

The card has more subtle uses with easing Retreat Costs, but I’m really not sure I’d be spending deck slots on a Stadium just for such a subtle effect. At what point would it become better than having a Switch? You’d have to be getting so much extra value from Skyarrow Bridge for it to matter. How many successful modified retreats would you need to accomplish with the Stadium out in order to make it a safer play than Switch? Probably not enough to make it better than Switch in most decks.

Level Ball

pokemon-paradijs.comThis card is pretty sweet. I run it alongside Dual Ball in Durant. I can see it being interesting in ZPS if you want to fetch up Pachi or Shaymin, maybe over Dual Ball, but I’m not sure. In evolution decks, all of your Basics should have under 90 Hit Points, but the decks would rather run Collector over a Dual Ball OR Level Ball. At the end of the day, in some decks it could be quite good, and if you aren’t too keen on flipping for Dual Ball, it could definitely be a possible upgrade, although the changes seem more lateral than anything else.

Heavy Ball

Well, this card doesn’t seem bad. Like, it reads well enough, but we’re in a format with so many good search cards. It seems unlikely that I’d ever run this over Pokémon Communication or Ultra Ball when it comes out. It’s way too selective, and even decks that do run a lot of high Retreat Cost Pokémon (such as Emboar, and Magnezone) would still rather have access to their Basics with a Pokémon Communication.

Exp. Share

This is an interesting card. Ironically, the card was printed first in, I believe, Neo 4 as EXP.ALL, and it saw absolutely no play. Actually, I think it saw LIMITED play in like, some Dark Muk builds, but that barely counts. In terms of current applications, the card seems pretty powerful. I could actually see it being useful in a deck like ZPS, or any of the big Basics decks.

Unfortunately, it is then competing with Eviolite. I’ve tested both, and I see a lot of promise in Exp. Share, but I’m NOT convinced it is better than Eviolite in those decks. It’s bad in any sort of Trainer lock decks, and it’s probably not worth it in say, Durant, so it’ll be interesting to see if it ends up proving to have enough value in the basic decks to cut into the role that Eviolite plays.

Now for the Decks…

Overall, I feel like the set is pretty strong, offering a lot of different cards that should at least have a decent impact on the format. What decks have I found to be the best so far? Well, I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but the decks putting up the numbers have been Eelektrik decks and Durant. Both Eelektrik Magnezone and Eelektrik Zekrom have been doing quite well for me. Durant has been preying on a lot of the newer decks still, although they have been going really 50-50 against the Zekrom decks still.

The matchups have been super streaky though. One night, I went 5-1 against Zekrom with Ants, and the other night, I went 2-4 against it, with the lists being the same. I’m going to include all of the lists I currently have, in addition to potential changes.

I have actually put in a lot of hours testing this new upcoming format, far more than I have since heading into Worlds, and even then I haven’t gotten a chance to test all of the ideas I’d love to try out. I’ve gotten to play with every archetype, and against them, but there are ideas I’d love to try out in all them that I haven’t gotten to try yet. I’ll include suggestions for some things to try out in the decks after each list, and my general opinions on the decks.


Pokémon – 7

4 Durant NVI
2 Rotom UD
1 Mime Jr. CL

Trainers – 42

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Twins

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper

2 N

1 Flower Shop Lady


4 Junk Arm

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Crushing Hammer

3 Revive
3 Eviolite

3 Level Ball
2 Dual Ball
1 Lost Remover
1 Alph Lithograph FOUR

Energy – 11

4 Special M
4 Prism
3 M

Durant’s biggest gain from Next Destinies is Level Ball. I’m still torn between it, and Dual Ball, so I have a split on it at the moment. I’m sure eventually a 4-1 count will be correct, but until I figure out my preference, I’m running both to get a larger sample size.

pokemon-paradijs.comI’m not even a fan of Mime Jr., but it’s an extra free retreat Basic, and it’s also able to mill a bit, especially if you stumble for a turn. Anything to help you start with an effective turn 1 Devour is good. Rotom starts are pretty awful.

I started running more draw Supporters, but actually found myself being flooded by them, as mid-game I wound up using Twins almost exclusively. N seems so powerful in theory, but it actually wound up restocking my opponent’s deck far more often then it disrupted them. I’ve seen lists with more Lost Remover, but it’s been dead in so many matchups for me, so I’ve cut it down to one, as with Junk Arm; that’s plenty from what I’ve seen.

The card I somewhat like at the moment is Amoonguss NDE for this deck. If you run a 1-1 line, you’d probably want to either add a Seeker or a Switch. Possibly both. I addressed why I like Amoonguss above in the analysis of it. I’d seen people run Weavile UD in lists before, and I kind of like that, as Sneasel UD is a free retreater (and thus a good opener) and it can also strip hands of a crucial N, Flower Shop Lady, Super Rod, PONT, or other deck prevention card, and also get rid of a DCE/Switch that can prevent your Catcher plays from being good stall tactics.

I’m actually running 11 Energy, which may be too many, but I’m paranoid and hate having to use Twins to get one. The card I’m liking less and less is Eviolite. Most of the time, players use Zekrom, or other big hitting Basic to kill Durant, so most of the time, I just get one shotted anyway, regardless of Eviolite. People are better equipped to fight Durant now, so Eviolite’s strength has dropped in my eyes. Perhaps Exp. Share is better in here because it lets you cut down on your energy a bit.

I know some players like to try running a Cobalion NVI as an attacker in the deck, as a way to prevent decks from not benching back up attackers and such, but I think Amoonguss serves the same role without requiring energy attachments to be a threat. On that end, I’m not sure if either of them is even necessary. Amoonguss? Seeker? Switch? Weavile?

Eel Zekrom

Pokémon – 17

2 Tornadus EPO
2 Zekrom-EX
2 Zekrom BLW
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
3 Tynamo NVI 39
1 Tynamo NVI 38
4 Eelektrik NVI
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Juniper
3 Sage’s Training

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
1 N


3 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Communication
2 Switch
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Eviolite

1 Super Rod

Energy – 15

11 L
4 Double Colorless

This is another one of the decks I really like at the moment. Between Zekrom BLW, Zekrom-EX, Mewtwo EX, and Tornadus EPO, you have plenty of powerful attackers, all with plenty of synergy with Eelektrik. I’m not entirely sure the full 4-4 Eel line is necessary, and 3-3 may be sufficent.

I would like to fit a 3rd Pokémon Catcher to the deck, as I feel the card is really important in the new format. This is really just a port over from the previously successful Eel Zekrom decks, only gaining access to a number of new good attackers, and being able to crack the 120 damage barrier, which was one of the deck’s biggest handicaps. As a result, that alone should push the deck far above its prior standing.

I’m not sure if I want to run PlusPower or not. On one hand, you hit the 120 and 150 damage markers well enough, and it’ll be very difficult to ever break to the 180 (or worse, 200 with an Eviolite) to hit the next relevant level of 1-shotting. If you want to run say, 2 PlusPower (and I just recently started testing without them, most of the testing was done with -1 L Energy, -1 Eelektrik, +2 PlusPower) then I certainly wouldn’t blame you.


Pokémon – 12

3 Tornadus EPO
3 Zekrom BLW
1 Zekrom-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Pachirisu CL
2 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Sage’s Training

2 Pokémon Collector


4 Dual Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Junk Arm

3 Eviolite

2 Defender

2 PlusPower
1 Super Rod
1 Switch

Energy – 15

11 L

4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comZPS is still a strong deck, and I feel that the speed edge it gets is really good against the EX decks. Going back to what I said about being able to dictate the attack exchange, I feel this is the best deck at doing it. If you can be up 1 to 2 Prizes by the time they get going, you are very well off.

The list isn’t all too innovative, so I’m not going to go deep into what ZPS does, and I’ll give you all benefit of the doubt. I will address the key choices though.

I had been playing 3 Catcher for a while now, but I feel like you really want to run 4 now. Controlling what you get to hit is very, very important now. I want access to a turn one Catcher as often as possible. If you are going to be the aggressive deck, you really want to be as disruptive, and fast as possible. You need to fully embrace your role and focus on it.

The other card I run 2 copies of now (up from the 1 I reduced it to before NDE) is Defender. The idea is pretty simple. You want to be able to do Bolt Strike without taking any damage. If you drop both, you escape the 150 damage KOs of both Reshiram and Zekrom-EX.

PlusPower is a card that I not only cut back on, but one that I may not even play at all in the long run. 130 is no longer the benchmark I need to be able to hit. I’d rather rely on using Catchers to get the cheap KOs, and then “finish” with Zekrom-EX for the real kill(s). I’m not entirely sure if that’s the best approach, but it is certainly one that has been working for me so far.

pokemon-paradijs.comNow, another idea is to free up 4 spots to add in a 2-2 Eelektrik line. You could cut a Catcher, the PlusPowers, a Defender (or both?), and maybe a Junk Arm or an attacker if you want to try to squeeze them in. The additional Basics are nice, especially since the Tynamo we’d play is the free retreat one. (I think that we can definitely embrace that one, as Kyurem is seeing less and less play, so the 30 HP matters a lot less.)

If you add Eelektrik, you could shift some of the draw Supporters over to an N or two, since you become a lot less hand reliant once you get an Eel or two online. You could also go with an additional Collector over a Dual Ball (and as I said earlier, if you prefer not flipping, you can go with Level Ball over Dual Ball perhaps. I’m sticking with Dual Bal though) since it gets you Baby Eels.

You could also try to find a way to squeeze in Shaymin EX and Prism Energy, but thus far, I haven’t been able to fit them yet. As I said earlier, I want to embrace speed, so I have to keep my Lightning count high. Shaymin DOES do a great job of closing out the game though, which works really well with the “steal cheap Catcher KOs” plan, so I would prefer not to give up on it.

If you opt not to go with Eelektrik, it’d be interesting to try a few Exp. Share, but they don’t really let you play the Eviolite/Defender play, so you get to adjust your game plan a bit that way.


Pokémon – 24

4 Litwick BW27
4 Lampent NVI
4 Chandelure NVI
3 Oddish UD
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD

2 Doduo UD
2 Dodrio UD
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 27

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Twins

4 N
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Sage’s Training

1 Flower Shop Lady


3 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Communication


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 9

6 P

3 Rescue

First and foremost, I really don’t like Chandelure right now. I feel that it doesn’t hold up under the pressure of the new EX cards damage output, nor their ability to soak up a huge amount of damage. Chandelure is one of those big decks that I think RELIED on their ability to wall past most attacks. Losing that is going to hurt it quite badly.

The deck remains fairly standard, but I think there are a few ways to take it. I wouldn’t mind running a Blissey Prime and maybe a Seeker or two to heal, but I’m not sure it’s needed, and space is a bit tight.

The other big change I mentioned before is the inclusion of the new Red Candle. If you do that, obviously you cut one of the old Candles, and you have to cut into the energy to fit some fire, or MAYBE a Rainbow Energy or two. I don’t think you can cut into the Rescue Energy, because the candles get killed at a much faster pace, so replacing them needs to happen more often.

The Truth

Pokémon – 21

3 Oddish UD
2 Gloom UD
2 Vileplume UD
3 Solosis BLW
2 Duosion NVI
2 Reuniclus BLW
1 Chansey HS
1 Blissey Prime
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Kyurem NVI
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 28

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Sage’s Training
2 N
2 Seeker
1 Professor Elm’s Training Method


3 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Communication


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless
4 Prism
3 Rainbow

Note from Adam: Hey everyone, I was having some major technical difficulties with the article and this point and had to post the remainder to the forums, which you can see here. Please remember to click the Like button if you enjoyed the article and want to see more from Chris!

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