“ETC”: Europe, Testing, and Correcting

With the results of the recent European Challenge Cup tournament, the competitive environment in North America is now shaken up somewhat. From the freshman outings of two new decks, to the latest in techs, the metagame is now coming full circle. What does this all mean? Today, we will try to dissect that question, attempting to understand why the top decks did well, and what this can mean for the rest of the world.

This isn’t the only subject that I will be addressing, though: I also have several play-testing results to share with you all, thoughts about various techs for States, suggestions for planning your trips, and a new, finalized top ten list. We have a lot to talk about, sure, but everything discussed here should help with your State/Territorial/Provincial experience, and make for the best time and the best results.

European Challenge Cup Analysis

The European Challenge Cup (“ECC”) had some very interesting results this year, showing not only how some of Europe’s best play the Pokémon Trading Card Game, but what a large-scale tournament using a BLW–NDE format really looks like. Given that, coverage of this event makes perfect sense right now, considering that much of the world (including areas in Europe itself) will be playing State, Territorial, Provincial, and Regional Tournaments soon.

To begin, we should take a quick look at the top 32 Masters Division top cut placers. Thanks to Pokégym, The Top Cut, and all those who reported to them for getting out a complete list of names, as well as a nearly-complete list of decks they used.

  1. Stian N. (Thundurus EPO/Terrakion NVI/Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik NVI)
  2. Tom H. (Zekrom/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik)
  3. Mikael J.
  4. Anders L. (Cobalion NVI/Kyurem NVI/Kyurem EX/Terrakion NVI/Electrode Prime)
  5. Maxime R. (Zebstrika NDE/Mewtwo EX/Zekrom-EX/Eelektrik NVI)
  6. Isto J. (Zekrom/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik NVI)
  7. Robin S. (Zebstrika NDE/Zekrom/Eelektrik NVI/Techs)
  8. Simon E. (Chandelure)
  9. Matteo L. (Celebi Prime/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EPO)
  10. Christian G. (Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik NVI/Terrakion NVI)
  11. Pablo M. (Zekrom/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik NVI)
  12. David B. (Celebi Prime/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EPO)
  13. David M. (Donphan Prime/Dragons)
  14. Simone S. (Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik NVI/Zekrom-EX)
  15. Gawein W. (Typhlosion Prime/Magnezone Prime)
  16. Joshua V. (Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik NVI/Zekrom-EX)
  17. Alex S. (Zekrom/Eelektrik NVI)
  18. Esa J. (Celebi-EX/Mewtwo EX)
  19. Alessandro C. (Celebi-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EPO)
  20. Mees B. (Mew Prime/Chandelure NDE 20/Crobat Prime/Jumpluff HS/Yanmega Prime/Terrakion NVI)
  21. Björn R. (Zebstrika NDE/Zekrom/Eelektrik NVI/Techs)
  22. Matijs M. (The Truth)
  23. Benjamin B. (Thundurus EPO/Terrakion NVI/Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik NVI)
  24. Miguel G. (Zebstrika NDE/Zekrom/Articuno NDE/Eelektrik NVI)
  25. Jouni L. (Zekrom/Eelektrik NVI)
  26. Marco E. (Durant NVI)
  27. George B. (Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik NVI)
  28. Fin L. (Yanmega Prime/Magnezone Prime)
  29. Gunter van R. (Durant NVI/Shaymin EX)
  30. Tord R. (Magnezone Prime/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrk NVI)
  31. Steven M. (Typhlosion Prime/Reshiram BLW/Reshiram-EX)
  32. Cristophe C. (Durant NVI)

Once you pick apart the decks, this top cut field then translates into the following breakdown of decks:

  • 11 Zekrom/Eelektrik variants (One 2nd, one T4, three T8, one T16, five T32)
  • 5 Magnezone/Eelektrik (one T4, two T16, two T32)
  • 4 Celebi/Mewtwo EX variants (One 1st, three T16)
  • 3 Durant (one T16, two T32)
  • 2 Chandelure (one T8, one T32)
  • 1 Electrode variant (T32)
  • 1 Donphan/Dragons (T32)
  • 1 Typhlosion/Magnezone (T32)
  • 1 The Truth (T32)
  • 1 Yanmega/Magnezone (T16)
  • 1 Typhlosion/Reshiram (T32)
  • 1 Unknown (T32)

Finally, from these statistics, I can derive a few assumptions, conclusions, and opinions about the field, as well as the resulting metagame…

Eelektrik was represented in a very big way

pokemon-paradijs.comAlthough none of them took the first place title for this tournament, half of the top cut is represented by Eelektrik variants. Of that half, 9/16 went on to win at least one top cut match, 6/8 comprised the elite eight, and 3/4 made the final four. This shows me that regardless of the first place result, it is clear that the most successful card of the day was Eelektrik, and all of its variants.

Zekrom/Eelektrik saw a great variety in techs

Of the Eelektrik/big Basic variations, there were two camps: one with consistency-oriented builds and another with considerable teching. Now this is typically the case with all decks, but I want to point out some very interesting issues pertaining to how the two performed – issues that usually are not crystallized to this extent.

First, tech had a far greater showing than the more standard builds. Of the 11 top cut lists, six of them either featured the cumbersome high-retreater Terrakion, or the Item-locking Zebstrika. In fact, it was these decks that seemed to shine through during Swiss the most, with 3/8 of the top eight going into the top cut being of this kind.

Second, and perhaps more telling, is the fact that of the two teched lists, one form clearly prevailed, while the other did not. Whereas the Terrakion variants continued to excel in the top cut, placing second and fifth, all of the Zebstrika lists collapsed, since none advanced out of the sweet sixteen. To me, this can mean one or more of the following:

1. Editing the core formula of a deck is riskier than a simple slight edit. Although Terrakion is by no means useful in all matchups, and can seriously hinder a Zekrom/Eels list if it is your starter at inopportune moments, it is simply less space used than a 2-2 or even 3-3 Zebstrika line. In its day, Disconnect was a powerful attack, but is it really worth up to 10% of your whole list?

pokegym.netWhile it could possibly be used as part of a larger strategy, such as luring Mewtwo EX out of dampening the effectiveness of a Stage Two list, it still stands that 90 HP on a stage one is uniquely brittle in this format. You ought to receive some very special bonus for this disadvantage, and it seems like what Zebstrika offers is a mixed bag to an aggressive deck like this.

2. The other high-performing decks had other strong points to them aside from the techs. If you notice, both of the Terrakion builds also had Thundurus as a starter: an interesting, albeit common play used to accelerate L Energy discards by aggressive Disaster Volting early game.

3. Terrakion is just really good in the mirror, or against Zekrom/Eelektrik variants in general. As true as the other two points are, I believe that this could be the biggest individual reason why these two lists excelled at the ECC. In the United States or some other metagame with more Durant or pure Fighting than this, I would suspect a less focused build to suffer somewhat; however, Terrakion was an awesome metagame call for the many Eelektrik mirrors, and appeared to be just the best overall tech option.

Finally, beyond the showings of teched builds, it appears that the regular “super consistency” builds ended up somewhere in the middle, mostly performing at a respectable level. This is the sort of list that was piloted by both Tom Hall and Pablo Meza, who both finished in the top eight of the tournament thanks to high counts of consistency cards, Smeargle UD, and heavy attacking options.

Before we move on, let’s take a brief look at my ideas for what those Zekrom/Eel variants could look like –

Version 1 – Zebstrika Focus

Pokémon – 17

2 Blitzle NVI

1 Blitzle NXD
3 Zebstrika NXD
2 Tynamo NVI 38
2 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 29

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


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

Energy – 14

10 L
4 Double Colorless

Version 2 – Basics Focus

Pokémon – 15

2 Tynamo NVI 38
2 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Thundurus EPO
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Zekrom BLW
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 31

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Sage’s Training


4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Pokémon Communication
2 PlusPower
2 Switch
2 Eviolite
1 Super Rod

Energy – 14

7 L
4 Double Colorless
2 F
1 Prism

(Note: the Thundurus decklists at the ECC apparently ran a tech Absol Prime to help put any mirror attackers within range of 1HKOs, regardless of Eviolite. Because I personally feel tight for space, I did personally not include it, but I encourage you to give it a try.)

Despite all of the variety seen in Eelektrik lists, though, we also have a more unfortunate sign from this tournament…

There is a significant lack of diversity in the sweet sixteen and beyond

pokemon-paradijs.comNotice something interesting? Out of the sixteen highest-placing decks, a whopping 15/16 are either new decks with plenty of strength and hype, or slightly older archetypes with a good track record (Durant and Magnezone variants).

Perhaps this is just what I should expect out of what is effectively a continental championship, although it is strange that this season, as varied as it is, would feature one tournament with a less diverse top cut than even many events in the Gardevoir/Gallade era, where cards like Torterra, Leafeon LV.X, and even Blissey MT (weak to Gallade’s Fighting type) could do well.

So if the vast majority of higher-performing decks were expected, then what about the 16th one? “What was that deck all about?” you might wonder.

That, my friends, was Mees “Meesie” Brenninkmeijer’s insane “Mew Prime/Yanmega Prime/Terrakion/Chandelure/ Crobat Prime/Jumpluff” rogue. More of a metagame deck than anything, the strategy at work here is to use Mew and Terrakion aggressively in most situations, Lost Zoning the proper targets for the matchup. Let us go over my take on it:

Pokémon – 18

4 Mew Prime
4 Yanma TM
3 Yanmega Prime
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Chandelure NXD 20
2 Jumpluff HS
1 Cleffa HS

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Copycat
3 Judge
3 Professor Juniper


4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Communication
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 PlusPower
2 Pokégear 3.0
1 Lost Remover
1 Switch

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Rainbow
2 P
2 G

Despite seeing at least one list of this kind try to get away with one Chandelure, I think that the card’s ability to raise both Mew and Yanmega out of the Pokémon Prime ghetto is enough to warrant two copies. The odds of it ending up in your hand are too high otherwise, although you could play a tech Relicanth CL instead.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe Trainer line should look fairly typical for a Yanmega variant. I still carry over the tech Lost Remover from my YMCA list for many of the same reasons as I had earlier, especially given that Tornadus is now even more of a thorn on your side. I also facilitate that previous build’s consistency line with Pokégear 3.0, making for a more reliable out to hand equalizers. Last on the Trainer front is max Communication, which we need because of the importance of several See Off targets in a game.

The energy is what I am least confident about in this list. I feel like a whopping 4 Prism and 4 Rainbow almost always guarantees you the energy that you need for a given situation; however, it also seems like you could accomplish the same thing without making yourself overly vulnerable to Lost Remover. I might try four less Rainbow in exchange for two Fire and two Psychic – a total that should keep up my odds of a turn two Flame Burst after a See Off.

As for my opinion of the deck itself, I think that it is a really clever play to make in a metagame full of Mewtwos and Fighting-weak cards. It also gives its player a ton of options, and you also enjoy a surprisingly good Durant matchup: just See Off a Jumpluff, load your bench, and hit for a near-guaranteed 1HKO every turn. To be fair, however, I have yet to test this deck nearly to the extent that I would like, so take this build (and to a lesser extent, the above commentary) with a grain of salt.

Mew/Chandelure fun aside, what about the winning deck? Well, I think that:

Celebi/Mewtwo EX did extremely well given its representation in the top cut

I can’t say for sure how many Celebi/Mewtwo variants were at this event, yet it is clear to me that for what little made top cut, they excelled. With a combined 8-3 record in match play, and the only deck to pull off a positive matchup on the day against Zekrom/Eelektrik.


Whether players simply preferred Eelektrik, or couldn’t access Mewtwos, the showing from this deck is the definitive, real-world proof to show that CMT and all of its variants are real decks. I expect it to have an even stronger states showing, so do not be surprised to see several versions win states.

Seeing as how Esa is a writer for Underground, I don’t really find it necessary for me to talk about his list (plus, I reckon that he explained everything you need to know between his “THE Deck” article/tournament report). However, I will say that I consider CMT to be the better play for week one of States, as well as arguably any metagame not featuring the very first Next Destinies tournament of the season.

Those without Mewtwos are prone to hard counter it, and with the results of the ECC, I fully expect my “beware of counters” warning to be even truer come game day.

What about the winner’s list? Well, it’s not that different from the one I posted last week, the differences being:

-4 Pokémon Collector
-1 Cleffa HS
-1 Shaymin EX
-2 Seeker
-1 Super Rod

+4 Dual Ball
+1 Tornadus EPO
+2 N
+1 Skyarrow Bridge
+1 G Energy

pokemon-paradijs.com15% may seem like a big difference, but when you account for the interchangeability of Collector and Dual Ball (more guaranteed setup + options vs. high risk/high reward), it’s really a difference in late game and early game options. Nevertheless, the early game options are very substantial: the third Skyarrow Bridge means an easier early KO, and a slightly higher grass count means a more effective Forest Breath. (Who thinks up the names of these Poké-Powers? Is that even an accurate translation?!)

The one thing that will keep this list going strong is the Shaymin UL. Thanks to this card, you can keep attaching without fear of making your setup too vulnerable, as well as having a way to answer the Mewtwo mirror without falling behind on attachments. I wish this build ran some sort of Pokémon-EX healing, even if it were just one Super Scoop Up, but it’s an effective list that functioned very well, and is yet another reason why Mewtwo prices are not dropping as much as they could otherwise.

Given everything discussed above, the European Challenge Cup was not too full of surprises. Still, the rest of the world needs to see this as a preview of things to come, because it will undoubtedly impact many of the bigger and/or more competitive metagames.

Playtesting, Playtesting, Playtesting

What? Do you think this article is only theorymon, doves, and rabbits out of hats?

For the past article and a half, I have been putting various proclamations about the metagame, but when it comes down to it, your best conclusions come out of testing out scenarios in actual games. Plus, there is always room to be a sharper player in any given format, and I see playing against a wide variety of decks as the best way to get savvy fast.

playtcg.meTherefore, I decided to play a couple games on PlayTCG a day for about a week, and chose a few of the more interesting games to be featured in today’s article. The match write-ups are all thorough, ranging from moderate detail to an almost exact play-by-play account of what happened. Also, each section will include as much justification for the in-game choices I make, and a brief discussion on how both players performed – always an important thing to factor in when gauging a matchup, or else your feel for it becomes skewed.


Why PlayTCG? Because I know virtually no one who plays Redshark, Apprentice doesn’t have an NDE patch, PTCGO’s glitches and incomplete card pool do not reflect the metagame, and recording the blow-by-blow history of a real life game is too cumbersome.

Why random opponents? To give you all a taste of the various ideas out there, and to give myself some more diverse experiences than I would against my usual network of testing opponents (I am not on a team). Plus, it’s really just good manners to keep the identities of your opponents in this sort of thing anonymous, especially when you are analyzing their play in the game.

Why such diverse decks on my end? So that I can give a variety of my possible states choices a good workout, and so that I can catch any possible flaws or issues in the lists before they ever get played in a tournament.

That all said, we should now check out some results!

Game One: CMT VS Kyurem/Electrode/Mewtwo

List: an almost card-for-card copy of my version included in “Life, the Universe, and Everything,” the sole difference between one less Super Rod for a third Skyarrow Bridge.

Opening Hand: {Tornadus EPO, Double Colorless x2, PlusPower, Pokégear 3.0, Pokémon Collector, Pokémon Catcher}

I lost the coin flip. He then drew and proceeded to Collector, grabbing two Mewtwo EX and a Voltorb (benching the latter two). He later attached a DCE to the Mewtwo, passing afterward.

I then started my turn, topdecking another Pokégear, and am then forced to choose between attempting to grab new draw Supporter or playing the Collector in hand. I opt for the Collector because I knew that I would need to set up a turn two KO play on the Mewtwo EX if I wanted to leverage the board in my favor. So I make my choices: Cleffa (hand replenishment and guaranteed free retreat), Celebi (potential later game energy accelerator/possible bait for a turn two Mewtwo kill), and Mewtwo itself.

I bench the first two, but choose to hold onto the Mewtwo EX because I know that at this point, there is an uncomfortably decent probability he’d be able to Knock it Out the following turn via increased energy via Electrode, and I’d be down a Mewtwo. Also, since my list is pretty consistent, I feel safe against the threat of an N. So instead of rushing into anything this turn, I just attached one of my DCEs to Tornadus and pass.

Subsequently, he set his bench up a bit more with duplicate Voltorbs, blew up an Electrode Prime via Energymite (as predicted earlier), and dumped tons of energy onto his Mewtwo in the process. He then grabbed Twins, set up his play for the next turn, and passed.

The next turn, after drawing an N, I made my move: benched Mewtwo, attached DCE to it, Catchered up the energized Mewtwo, and then proceeded to N him into a net gain of two – a seemingly questionable play, but I needed to draw into a Switch or Skyarrow Bridge to conserve my DCE. This is also sensible when you remember that his hand is set up however he wanted it to be thanks to Twins, and since one of the seven discards from Energymite was also a Twins, I figured that this would kill his potential chain.

pokemon-paradijs.comOff the N, I drew:

{Eviolite, Skyarrow Bridge, Celebi Prime, Tornadus, Pokégear}

Exactly what I needed. I dropped the Skyarrow Bridge, retreated into Mewtwo, benched an Eviolite to Cleffa so that it would not get Knocked Out due to Glaciate, and then revenge killed his Mewtwo (I opted not to bench the duplicate Tornadus/Celebi out of fear of both bench clog and Glaciate, and to hold onto the Pokégear so I could have a bit more hand buffer in case of an N). My 2 Prizes were a Professor Oak’s New Theory and a third Double Colorless.

He then promoted a Voltorb, used Super Rod to get his energy back into his deck, played his own N on me. My hand became:

{Grass, Mewtwo EX, Tornadus}

He then benched a Mewtwo, played Eviolite on it, evolved the active Voltorb into Electrode, and Energymited again, netting me a Collector. This time, he received a measly one energy card (Prism) for his efforts. Surprisingly, rather than just let the Mewtwo sit on the bench, he brought it up, manually attached to it, and deals X Ball to my own Mewtwo for 160. The next turn, I just used the Collector I drew off of Energymite, and then fetched my Shaymin UL to Celebration Wind for the game.

So with a measly fourth of my deck, as well as three turns, I drew all six of my prizes!

What I did right: For such a fast and furious game, I would say that I handled most of the threats with the care necessary to win a Mewtwo slugfest. I also felt like one of grayer plays I made, benching the Cleffa, was a good way to balance things out in case he N’d me into a horrible hand (the biggest weakness to my approach on the first turn).

What I could have done better: I can’t say for sure whether it was or the best to keep my bench space open or to thin out my deck in the event of an N, but something felt really weird about both the Celebi and Tornadus being in hand. In hindsight it may have been the more optimal move to bench one, rather than both or neither.

Also, the Cleffa benching is considered a “gray” play for a reason: it could have potentially come to haunt me as his final prize drawn on the game. However, between the Eviolite and the potential for Seeker later on, I felt like my ground on this front was covered.

What he/she did right: Despite the Energymite choices not making a whole lot of sense to me, my opponent in this game was careful enough to not rush in with a Mewtwo, seeing as how he/she knew that I had one sitting in my hand from the Collector. Also, the player took advantage of the fact that I did not Eeeeeeek, and must have known that I had a pretty strong opening.

What he/she could have done better: Why load all that energy up on a Mewtwo only to be revenge killed the next turn? My first turn Collector may have given me a nice set of options against my opponent, but why did this individual have to practically give me three free prizes? If you are playing an Electrode variant, you have to make every move count; otherwise, you may lose in a fantastic manner.

Game Two: Durant VS Mewtwo/Celebi/Tornadus/Regigigas-EX

List: Approximately the same as the one posted in “Advancing Archetypes,” only with Smoochum instead of Cobalion.

Opening hand: {Juniper, Crushing Hammer, Metal – Special, Rotom UD, Junk Arm, Pokégear, Catcher}

I win the opening flip, and am greeted by two Tornadus – uh oh! I top decked a Durant, but still need more, so I Pokégear my way into a Collector, subsequently using it for two Durants and a Smoochum (my fourth Durant is prized!). So I Mischievous Trick away my upper-left most prize, attach special metal to Durant on the bench, and pass.


He draws, gets a single heads on Dual Ball for Celebi Prime, and I instantly know what I’m in for: CMT! So he later attaches a Grass, uses Professor Oak’s New Theory, and passes.

I draw the Level Ball that was in my prizes the last turn, and then proceed to use Crushing Hammer twice, netting a tails-heads in that order. I then M-Trick, use my Level Ball to find no Durant, attach, retreat, and mill three.

Surprisingly, his turn is not very action-packed either, although he Junipers into a new hand, grabbing a Grass and a Regigigas-EX! Interesting…

So I draw, top deck a Collector, attempt Mischievous Trick for the third time, and again whiff on my Durant. I mill three.

My opponent attaches a Double Colorless to his Regigigas, uses another Professor Oak’s New Theory, hits Skyarrow Bridge on the “river” (the last card he drew), and then brings up the Gigas to KO my Ant.

With a hand of no draw, but just support cards, I Lost Remover the DCE, M-Trick for the FOURTH time, and mill three. Unfortunately, he has a DCE sitting in his hand ready to go, as well as another Professor Oak’s New Theory. He KOs my ant for a second prize.

I top deck a Level Ball, M-Trick for the fifth time, and my Durant is STILL not there! Fortunately, I played a Pokégear at the start of the game, so I use it to grab a Twins, and then use that to grab two cards: a Lost Remover to slow him down, and a Juniper to set myself up with a string of attempted disruption cards next turn.

Unfortunately, I never do slow him down: he has on that same turn a Switch and two Grass to charge up his Gigas all over again, leaving me stranded and without options. By the time I saw my prized Durant (#6), it was too late, and I had fallen way behind. I lose the game with him having four cards left in his deck.


What I did right: You can’t really screw up too badly with Durant, and – needless to say – I didn’t. At the same time, I felt like my “play moderation” was done just right; that is, I was conservative and careful when I needed to be, and very liberal when the game was fading away.

What I could have done better: Between multitasking and just a plain inexcusable lack of focus (the number one killer of games), I felt like I slipped up a little on my Mischievous Tricking. Because I was overeager to get my Durant out on that Collector turn, I whiffed it, when what I should have done was wait to see if it was prize number six. That way, I would have enjoyed at least two-three more discarded cards against him, and increased my odds of winning.

Even though I think I probably would have still been off by a card or two, I would have felt better about the way it ended.

I can’t really beat myself up too much, though, since I played my Lost Removers and Crushing Hammers optimally, and did what I could given the bad start plus prized Durant: without either of those happening, I probably would have won. Nevertheless, now that lists are becoming more competitive, my decks should be in a constant state of revision, and something like this makes me really want to play Black Belt again.

What he did right: He played his tech well, and utilized it in exactly the way that you should. This was not a very technically complicated game on his part with a lot of decision-branching, but part of winning is just keeping your advantage, which he did by transitioning from grass/DCE attachments to just all grass.

What he could have done better: Honestly, there was not much I would have done differently other than maybe hold onto one or two of the Pokémon that he benched (around four total). When every card counts, benching two Celebi and two Tornadus is really not the optimal thing to do. However, he played well enough to keep his lead intact, and never lost it.

Game Three: Magneel VS Bisharp NVI 76/Tyranitar Prime

List: an older version of the build featured in “Life, the Universe, and Everything,” featuring no Double Colorless (Rescues) and no Zekrom-EX (an extra draw card).

Opening hand: {Magnemite, Magneton, Eelektrik, N, Pokémon Collector, Junk Arm x2, Lightning}


I lose the coin flip, and face off against an opening Pawniard NVI 75. He draws, attaches a basic dark to it, Communications a Bisharp away for a Larvitar, Cilans for three basic, and then hits me for 10. I then start my turn, Collectoring for a fairly bland set of choices (one Magnemite and one of each Tynamo), subsequently attaching the Lightning to Magnemite so that I can switch out of a potential Bisharp KO next turn (I brought up a 40 HP Tynamo).

On his second turn, he promptly candies into a Tyranitar, evolves to Bisharp, and refreshes his hand with Professor Oak’s New Theory. He followed this up with a second attachment to Bisharp, and hit me for 30 via Night Slash.

I responded next turn with a retreat into Magnemite, evolving the non-damaged Mite into a ‘Ton, an Eelektrik, and then N. My new hand is as follows:

{1-1-1 Magnezone, Catcher, Rescue, Junk Arm}

I evolve my damaged and active Magnemite to a Magneton, thereby squaring me away on the Pokémon front. I then Dynamotor to the benched Magneton, and settle with a 20 damage hit on his Tyranitar.

His next turn, my opponent dropped two Rocky Helmets, and I instantly realized the complete strategy of this deck: spread, wear down things with Rocky Helmet, and then make easy kills with Bisharp. Since I realized that the Bisharp is actually the most potent attacker against me, I promptly Catchered it up, which prevented him from KOing anything the next turn.

This led to just another Darkness Howl, and eventually his setup began to crumble. Granted, my severely damaged board made for many ripe KO targets, but I had just enough resources to secure knockouts for the rest of the game.

What I did right: For one, I actually know what all of these cards do, having been a huge Tyranitar Prime fan since its release. I also built a Bisharp deck for DP-NVI extended a few months back, so I know how fast one of these things can kill you. It’s this knowledge that made the game so much more bearable on my end, and is perhaps the main reason why I won.

What I could have done better: Overall my playing was sharp, but I should have settled with evolving my undamaged Magnemite instead, despite its lack of energy. That way, I would become less vulnerable to Rocky Helmet, and force my opponent to actively Catcher things.

What he did right: My opponent definitely kept up the pressure, and made good use of his first two turns. He capitalized on a monstrous setup, and made me work for my win.

What he could have done better: This is the “least recorded” of my three games, although I can say that a Twins or two could have been done better. On the other hand, Twins is arguably the most skill-intensive trainer card in the format: it is basically a “get back into the lead free” ticket. You just have to use it optimally, and treat every choice you make with considerable care. Even seemingly insignificant things can make all of the difference (although I suspect these were more crucial, such as not grabbing a Double Colorless Energy or Darkness sp when he should have).

A Revised Top Ten List

After further testing, as well as a bit of inspiration from the real world (non-theoretical) results out of the European Challenge Cup, I am ready to post my finalized States top ten. Originally I was going to save this for the forums, but now that I have a second article slot this month, as well as some new play-testing results, this is the perfect time to do it. Besides, what’s bad about having any “final” project turned in early?

As a reminder, here were all of the 5/5 and 4/5 decks from “Life, the Universe, and Everything”:

1st: Magnezone/Eelektrik
2nd: Magnezone/Typhlosion
3rd: Mewtwo EX/Celebi/Tornadus
4th: Electrode Prime variants
5th: Durant
6th: Typhlosion
7th: The Truth
8th: ZPST
9th: Six Corners
10th: Chandelure
11th (top ten snub): Zekrom/Eelektrik
11th (top ten snub): Gardevoir/Mewtwo

I feel like all twelve of these decks are very capable of winning State Championship events in any age group. This is the reason why it was so hard to make my initial list, and why I’m actually revisiting it one more time before States.

1st: Magnezone/Eelektrik
2nd: Mewtwo EX/Celebi/Tornadus (+1)
3rd: Durant (+2)
4th: Zekrom/Mewtwo/Eelektrik variants (+7)
5th: Typhlosion/Reshiram (+1)
6th: Electrode Prime variants (-2)
7th: The Truth
8th: Magnezone/Typhlosion (-6)
9th: Six Corners
10th: Chandelure
11th (top ten snub): ZPST (-3)
11th (top ten snub): Gardevoir/Mewtwo

Down Decks

Magnezone/Typhlosion took a massive fall from grace, albeit for good reason. The fact of the matter is that it is monstrously difficult to setup two stage two Pokémon, especially when you whiff on Pokémon Collector or Twins at the wrong time. The deck is still very capable of doing well, and I imagine that careful planning and tech should keep it afloat; however, for now, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board with this favorite of mine, and exile it to the lower end of the top ten – as well as lower its competitive rating to 4/5.

I’ve lowered Electrode Prime variants, albeit just slightly. These can do some fantastic things when they go off, but a bad Energymite can really devastate a game, leading to a bit too much variance than a top five deck should have.

ZPST has fallen off the map. Testing has shown that despite the early game advantage, Zekrom and Magnezone both outgun you with superior resources, and that an overwhelming percentage of the top decks win against ZPST, the exceptions being rare and far between.

Up Decks

Zekrom/Eelektrik is the only build to move up substantially in my top ten list. In my previous article, I describe its main strength as “balance,” but underestimated the speed value it still has. It may not be as fast as Celebi/Mewtwo or ZPST, but with a deck full of basic attacks (and Stage Ones in the Zebstrika variant), it becomes painfully clear how effective the deck really is. Granted, you have some serious Fighting issues that are perhaps more severe than those suffered by Magnezone; however, it definitely deserves more praise than it received in the preliminary list.

To be honest, I’m sure a tiny shade of this is just me being reactive from the ECC. Still, I think this is more of an extension of how difficult it is to rank decks in a relatively open format like this one, and how easily you can underestimate something.

Several decks move up simply because of the lower rankings for Typhlosion/Magnezone and ZPST. I still won’t budge on my number one for now, though: even with the sheer speed of Mewtwo, Magnezone can keep up, disrupt, and even act as a pseudo-Zekrom/Eels when it needs to. The strength of Magnezone is one of the only things that can stop Pokémon-EX this March, and I am confident that it should happen at several locations around the world.

With the right recovery and N count, it should be able to combat the entire rest of the top five, and is not nearly as easy to metagame against to achieve an auto-win.


With that last edit to my top ten list, we are again at the end of another article. As for what’s ahead? Although there will not be any “March 1st” update due to the “final” top ten being listed today, I will be posting a major two-for-one report over my experiences during the first two weekends of State Championships. Like always, thank you very much for reading, if you enjoyed today’s article, then I would appreciate it if you choose to “like” it. (Feel free to like my last one this month, too!)

I am very excited for this upcoming series of State Championships, and intend to play in the following: Oklahoma; Texas; Missouri (possibly New Mexico). So if you have not met me before and are going to be in one of those areas, be sure to say hello at some point.


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