Hello and welcome to Part 2 of Under the Scope (click here for Part 1). Today I will be finishing up my review of City Championships by covering the pre-Next Destinies tier 1.5 decks, and then I will be plunging right into my analysis of the ECC metagame and what this means for States, as well as my deck of choice if States were tomorrow.
Tier 1.5 Decks
Electrode Prime Variants
pokemon-paradijs.comElectrode Prime decks were the initial hype decks of Cities, with the first version centered on using Cobalion and Kyurem. I never liked them, as I hated having to gamble on getting the Energies I needed with Energymite. But, if the deck ran hot on Energies it could almost instantly win.
The decks quickly evolved from the initial build once the metagame settled, focusing on Lightning decks, causing Electrode to add in Terrakion NVI. Lastly, this deck was forced to fix a bad matchup, Durant, so it evolved to add in Landorus NVI as a primary/secondary attacker. Some builds also ran Reshiram and V-Create Victini too.
This deck did get some upgrades from Next Destinies. Prism Energy gives the deck access to eight “Rainbow” Energies, which makes the deck more consistent. It also works relatively well with Mewtwo EX; it can get a huge boost in Energy acceleration in one turn, making Mewtwo a bigger threat. Lastly, Level Ball can also work its way into the deck as it can search out Electrode Prime, but it doesn’t get your Basics so it may not be much of an upgrade.
The deck also can work well with Shaymin EX; you can accelerate the process it takes for the card to do big damage, which can lead to some surprise wins.
Unfortunately, despite these possible upgrades, the deck did awful at ECC. It got just one spot in the top 32, losing immediately to Durant.
The list at the ECC ran the CoKE version with Kyurem EX as another attacker, but I prefer the LaKE version, so that’s the list I provided.
This list focused on Landorus and tries to make sure it can beat Durant. With the high amount of Rainbow Energy I can still run the Cobalion, even though it isn’t a primary focus.
Pokémon – 15
1 Cleffa HS/CL
Trainers – 33
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 16
1 M – Basic
Strengths: The deck is very versatile and can put a lot of different attackers in. The deck is also very hard to beat if it runs hot on Energymites.
Weaknesses: The deck can whiff on Energy and it gives up prizes in order to get acceleration. It also can run out of steam quickly, if it doesn’t get multiple attackers set up off of the Energymites.
pokemonandfootball.deviantart.comTyRam is the most relevant of the three Tier 1.5 decks from last format. The lists stayed pretty stagnant throughout Cites; you could add Eviolite or Rocky Helmet, but it didn’t get any considerable upgrades. It was still cheap to build and very consistent.
However, TyRam did bring about a second deck, TyRamZone, which basically added in Magnezone Prime to current TyRam builds to deal with Trainer lock and big Basics. The deck also benefited from having a very strong Durant matchup.
Both of these decks benefit from Reshiram-EX and Pokémon Center, making it so that your Afterburner damage doesn’t become as relevant. These decks also didn’t do that great at ECC; none of them made it past the top 32.
Here’s my current list for TyRam. I haven’t experimented too much with TyRamZone as I feel that Zone/Eel is better for Magnezone.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
3 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Strengths: The deck remains consistent and is relatively cheap. It also now has an answer to some Trainer lock decks. Lastly, it has a fantastic Durant matchup.
Weaknesses: It has some issues dealing with being unable to 1HKO other EXs, and it doesn’t have all-around good matchups anymore.
Ross aka The Truth
pokemon-paradijs.comRoss, similar to TyRam, kept its moniker of being good, but extremely hard to play. Unfortunately, some of the cards best suited to handle it got more popular during Cities. The format also became more punishing to bad starts, and Kyurem entered the field. That being said, the deck wasn’t incredibly popular.
Now fast forward to the ECC where Mewtwo EX donks six of their Basics and is in almost every deck, and it becomes easy to see why the deck only got one top cut spot. It did get a complete makeover as a lot of lists are also running EX heavy and trying new ideas to keep the deck afloat.
I’ll be honest, I do think that the deck might be falling off the wayside right now as I haven’t heard of too many people testing it with great results. It is still very slow and slow starts are becoming more of a problem in the format.
I actually don’t have a list for this deck, mainly because no one in my testing group is playing it and because I don’t think it’s that good of a play.
For those of you who don’t know the ECC, or European Challenge Cup, is an event similar to US Regionals in Europe. It took place two weekends ago with about 230 Masters and was the first major tournament using the HGSS-NDE format.
The results (with my number crunching) are shown below; also note that we don’t know one of the top 32 decks. The winning deck was a Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus piloted by David Booij. Congrats to David on winning this huge event with what was the most hyped deck.
|Deck||Top 32||Top 16||Top 8||Top 4||Top 2|
|MegaJudge aka Magnezone/Yanmega||1||1||0||0||0|
The first thing you’ll notice is the emergence of three main decks:
pokemon-paradijs.comI don’t know all the cards in every deck, but based on The Gym results Eelektrik was played in more of those top cut decks than Mewtwo EX was. Zekrom BLW was also heavily used while Zekrom-EX wasn’t as used. Lastly, I grouped a lot of the decks as “variants” because there were some subgroups in those top three decks, but I felt that they all fell under the same branch of deck type.
The second thing is what you don’t see, there weren’t many decks other than those big 3 to go far in the tournament. The Mew Box got top 8 and the MegaJudge (yes, the deck still exists) got into top 16, as well as a Durant.
The tournament seemed to be polarized by those 3 decks and I think that is what you will see at States. In my testing those have been the 3 best decks, and they set themselves away from the competition. I won’t say they’re as ahead as Gyarados, VileGar, and LuxChomp were last year, but they’re trying to do that.
In light of the different variants of each deck, I will now be dissecting each variant, giving some strengths and weakness, as well as my best crack at a list for each of them, and then I’ll finish it off with the surprising Mew Box deck that got into the top 8.
ECC Deck Reviews
This was the most popular deck at the ECC; I covered it in conjunction with ZPST in Part 1. It definitely stayed in the tier 1 range and at the moment is probably the front runner for best deck in format. Overall there were five variants in the top cut at ECC (if you count Zekrom/Eel and Zekrom/Eel/Mewtwo as different) and there were some significant differences in all of them.
Zekrom-EX/Eel/TerrakionVariant 1: Thundurus/Mewtwo/
merum-sb-blueolimar.deviantart.comThis was the undefeated deck after the Swiss Rounds and it got all the way to the top 8 of the event. One could argue this isn’t a Zekrom/Eel variant as it might not have ran Zekrom BLW (which I’ll be assuming it didn’t based on the results), but it didn’t fit anywhere else and it plays relatively similar to Zekrom/Eel anyway.
This deck ideally would start with a Thundurus to get off a turn two Disaster Volt and take the prize lead. The rest of the deck then focused on countering what his opponent played. If they were Lightning type, he would try to counter with Terrakion; if it was a Mewtwo EX his Mewtwo EX came into play, and if Zekrom-EX or Thundurus could score a KO he would use them as they aren’t necessarily surprise cards.
This deck seems to be more of anti-metagame deck than anything else and it countered the meta well. Zekrom-EX could KO anything in the top cut that couldn’t be KO’d by Terrakion or Mewtwo. By running Thundurus it is also good at punishing your opponent for a relatively slow start.
Looking at the results it lost to a vanilla Zekrom/Eel deck in the top 8 after winning ten straight rounds. The deck was definitely a solid metagame call and could be something that you would see at States.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 29
3 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
Strengths: Is excellent at handling almost any Pokémon in the format and can change its game plan quickly because of its type advantages and speed.
Weaknesses: If it runs into something it hasn’t teched for it will have problems. It also has a decent amount of bad starters (two Terrakion and Zekrom-EX), and lastly, the deck runs less Lightning than a normal Zekrom/Eel so that could also be a problem.
Variant 2: Zekrom/Mewtwo/Eel/Pachirisu/Shaymin
BulbapediaThis is the “hybrid” version that I touched on; it tries to keep the speed of ZPST, but add in the late game consistency of Eelektrik. The deck also lends itself to run Mewtwo EX as it can hit for 60 turn one and it counters other Mewtwo EXs. This deck also was covered so it is easier to piece together a list.
This deck tries to have an edge by being able to steal games much better than a regular Zekrom/Eel. It can easily overpower an opponent and it can also make better use of Level Ball. These lists also offer energy manipulation with Shaymin, which with Mewtwo EX in format becomes more valuable. By moving Energies around, it makes it harder for your opponent to plot Mewtwo EX KOs.
This was actually the number 2 seed going into the top cut and it also lost in the top 8 to a vanilla Zekrom/Eel. Combined with the result of the number 1 seed, it lends itself that being more consistent in mirror is more important than your “techs.” I’m not sure if that is 100% true, but it is a result to keep in mind.
This is my best crack at his list; I tried to piece it together from the Gym thread.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 27
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
You’ll also note the Smeargle tech. This is something that people have been thinking about as it works well with Skyarrow Bridge; if you can hit a good Supporter it is an amazing card. It can also get you out of dead hands as well. My main problem is that it can ruin a hand, but if there’s a risk of that it isn’t advisable to use Portrait.
Strengths: Fast and has late game with Eelektrik. It also has the ability to steal games.
Weaknesses: Smeargle can sometimes be bad for you and it doesn’t have as much straight-draw as the other Zekrom/Eels usually will. This is because it has to focus some resources to reliably get the turn one Zekrom or Tornadus with Pachirisu and Shaymin.
Two of the other three variants of Zekrom/Eel were covered in Part I and I wouldn’t change my list for them (Zekrom/Eel and Zekrom/Eel/Mewtwo are pretty much the same thing) so I will move on to what was the surprise deck of the tournament-
Variant 3: The Revenge (Rise) of Zebstrika, Zebstrika/Zekrom/Eel/Terrakion
pokegym.netFirst some back story on what was the surprise card: Zebstrika NDE.
Zebstrika is basically a reprint of good old Manectric ex, which was a tier one deck for a while with Mew ex, and it won Worlds. I noticed this when I saw Zebstrika, but I didn’t think anything of it. It just seemed like it wouldn’t work; not enough Hit Points, and 40 damage didn’t seem damaging enough. Luckily, I did pick up a couple on the off chance someone figured out a way to play it, and that didn’t take long.
Zebstrika’s first attack is disruptive; it does damage and causes Item lock. With Gothitelle and Vileplume seemingly falling off cliff at every turn, this card became the most used Item locker in top cut. Its second attack does an 80 damage snipe and discards all Energy, which normally would be awful, but this card is blessed and is a Lightning type. This means it pairs extremely well with Eelektrik as it charges up the next Zebstrika. It is also the only Pokémon that deals an auto-Item lock for an attack and at the moment it has the best sniping attack.
Lastly, the card fills the niche in the deck of having free retreat, making it easier to abuse Dynamotor; you don’t have to think as far ahead if you have a free retreater to abuse. Zebstrika also is searchable through Level Ball, which allows the deck to use that card as both Stage ones in the deck can be searched out by it, lessening the need for Pokémon Communication.
I definitely think we should have seen this coming, but maybe it’s a fluke. I would still be trying to test this version of Zekrom/Eel because you’ll want to know how to beat it. Although I will note that only one of the them in top cut got out of the top 32.
Also as a side note, there was another Lightning Pokémon from Next Destinies that has seen a rise in play, Zapdos NDE. Zapdos is used for its 50-damage sniping attack, the best sniping attack on a Basic, and I heard it was used in one of the top Junior or Seniors lists. You could also use it for its second attack, but generally it would be better to just attack with Zekrom.
Now onto my guess at this list:
Pokémon – 17
3 Zebstrika NDE
Trainers – 29
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
The list is a bit awkward as I tried to incorporate in the Terrakion; I think I actually like just going more turbo Zebstrika without the Terrakion, so I tried to give the deck a dual focus on the two of them. I also cut Tornadus completely as with Zebstrika, you need a fair amount of L Energies to do the second attack. Cleffa could also probably be cut in favor of a third Zekrom, a second Terrakion or a Thundurus. I definitely think this is a cool deck and it is something I want to work on for States.
Strengths: It was the best Item lock deck at ECC. It also has a wide array of strategies it can use to affect matchups, and it can use Terrakion for mirror matches. The deck also has a very unique matchup in “quasi” mirror matches: by having Trainer lock it can Catcher up an Eel and then lock it up there with Disconnect; this can be crippling in the mirror and allow this deck to stall for a turn or two.
Weaknesses: It relies heavily on two low-Hit Point Pokémon and come States in the USA it may not have the surprise factor it had at the ECC.
Overall I would say this deck is a cool deck, but that the surprise factor of it will wear off by States and it may not do as well. I would definitely suggest testing and having a strategy to get around Zebstrika though.
That’s it for the Zekrom/Eel variants. These decks were by far the most successful at the tournament and the only way it could have been sweeter would have been if they had beaten the vaunted Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus deck in the top 2. I would expect that at any given State Championship you would face about two or three these in Swiss rounds (in a seven-round tournament) and there would be several in the top cut.
The next set of decks was my personal favorite for CC’s but has fallen out of favor with me-
MagneEel was a deck I covered extensively in my last article and it was able to reassure me that it is a tier one deck with its solid showing at the ECC. The deck didn’t really have any earth-shattering variants; they were either your typical MagneEel with Zekrom, some tossed in Zekrom-EX, or they played Terrakion, a popular counter to Lightning at the event. I’ll discuss the Terrakion variants as I have already discussed the typical variants in my previous article.
Variant 1: MagneEel w/ Terrakion tech
This is a deck that gained some ground at the very end of Cities. The thought was that in the mirror it could allow you to go aggro with Magnezone and then use Terrakion to sweep up your prizes, which it could do in any matchup, but particularly in the mirror it was annoying to constantly burn three energies to get KOs. Another interesting aspect is that you can run Revive and use the revived Terrakion to KO whatever KO’d your previous Terrakion which is a very neat thing to do.
I messed with the deck a little bit, but never got it to the point where I would play it over the typical MagneEel lists that I was running. But with Lightning being such a prevalent force in this new metagame, it is probably worth trying to use this version instead of the usual MagneEel variants.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 29
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
Overall the list doesn’t change that much from a traditional MagneEel list; you just swap out the Zekrom for Terrakion and then add in some Prism/Fighting energies. For the time being I’ve been leaning toward Prism Energy in most of these lists because I still want L Energies if I don’t need my secondary attackers.
Strengths: Almost unlimited damage output and is still the best deck at abusing N. It also comes equipped with the anti-metagame card of choice, Terrakion.
Weaknesses: It still needs to run Switch which is still annoying, plus the threat of a Zebstrika and Catcher combo on an Eel is very scary. It is also a tad slower than the Zekrom/Eel variants.
That wraps it up for the Eel decks, but before I move on to the other major decks I just want to address a deck-building idea I have had for a while.
That idea is Cilan. You’ll see that almost all the lists I opted for the Prism Energy over the Basic Energy type. This is because the Prism is better unless you play Cilan. Cilan is the Pokémon Collector for energy. I have been testing with the card and so far have had great results, and it allows you to tech other types in more consistently and makes your opponent flip to remove your Energies.
Currently it is a 1-of in a lot of my lists, but I didn’t want to mess with that idea when trying to guess other players’ lists.
That was just something I wanted to mention. Now, onto the biggest surprise deck of the ECC:
This deck, similar to Zekrom-EX/Thundurus/Eelektrik/Mewtwo/Terrakion deck, is a deck designed to counter the metagame. The deck uses three Pokémon that will attack: Mew Prime, Yanmega Prime and Terrakion.
Mew Prime is the most versatile of the three, as it cans See Off Pokémon and then use their attacks. This particular Mew Box ran three “See Off” attackers: Chandelure NDE 20, Crobat Prime, and Jumpluff HS.
This deck’s essence is very similar to the YMCA deck that I covered around BRs time, but as the metagame has shifted, so have the attackers. This deck also has more access to attackers as it can now run Prism Energy and Rainbow Energy, so it’s not as restricted to the amount of Energy types in can run. In YMCA most of the attackers used DCE and the deck also didn’t have to met such high damage barriers.
Chandelure NDE 20
pokemon-paradijs.comThis was a card I discussed as an upgrade for Chandelure/Vileplume, but not in this deck. Chandelure can actually be used for both attacks in this deck. The first attack does 30 damage to the Active and two Benched Pokémon. It is extremely good at decreasing KO numbers for the other attackers and letting the deck make some surprise comeback wins. It also partners well with Yanmega Prime.
The second attack is the attack that helps Mew counter Mewtwo EX. For a R Energy and a Colorless it deals 80 damage and Burn. The downside is that you have to discard the Energy, but that’s nearly irrelevant as Mew Prime almost always gets KO’d the next turn regardless. Since Mew Prime is Psychic it hits the Mewtwo EX for weakness. For a PlusPower, it has a guaranteed 1HKO on a non-Eviolited Mewtwo EX, and for two PlusPowers it has a guaranteed 1HKO on an Eviolited Mewtwo EX.
This card is extremely helpful at countering Mewtwo EX, the biggest hype card in the format. The Burn damage can also be useful, but at that point you are reliant on coin flips… and well I don’t like those.
This is an interesting See Off card; it is primarily used for its poison attack (as Chandelure ND has a better version of its sniping attack). The poison attack was originally used for Yanmega mirror matches as by doing the Poison their Yanmega Primes were easily put into 1HKO range, but now it is used to soften up their attacker and steal KO if they retreated in hopes that they wouldn’t be KO’d.
It is also good at countering Mewtwo EX as it forces them to retreat, or they became a much easier KO target via Chandelure or Jumpluff.
Crobat Prime is also the ideal See Off target when facing off against Durant. This is because of his poison which essentially 2HKOs Durant while allowing you to also do a 30 damage snipe elsewhere. It is also helpful that both attacks cost just one energy, however if Crobat Prime is prized our next See Off target is also somewhat effective at beating Durant.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the last See Off target and is used to give the deck a near auto-win against Durant. It is also used KO Mewtwo EX.
First, the card is a pretty obvious Mewtwo counter. For one Energy it does Mass Attack which does 10 damage times the number of Pokémon in play. The math (including weakness) ends up working out that you need nine total Pokémon in play to KO a non-Eviolited Mewtwo EX without PlusPower.
If you have a full bench means that your opponent only needs to have three Pokémon in play, which is hard from them not to have, especially if they don’t know you play this as a See Off target. With PlusPowers it becomes extremely easy to KO Mewtwo EX.
The secondary reason is that this card is a solid Durant counter. You know that they’ll almost always have four Pokémon in play; if you can fill up your bench with free retreats (Mew Prime, Yanmega Prime, Yanma and babies) you are doing 100 damage which can KO a Durant without Eviolite. With Eviolite you need to use PlusPower or use Yanmega Prime/Chandelure to soften them up for easier KOs.
Those are the See Off targets for Mew Prime and now I’ll cover the other attackers.
Yanmega Prime is a card that has literally fallen off of a cliff in recent months, but at the ECC it had moderately good showing: it was used in two decks and both of them got top 16 or better. For this deck Yanmega is simply an incredibly aggressive attacker that softens up Pokémon for Terrakion and Mew Prime to chew up. It also gives the deck a reason to run Judge and slow the opponent in that regard. Lastly the card is very good when it goes first in this format as it 1HKOs the most popular evolving Basic Pokémon: Tynamo.
Terrakion is a card that has already been mentioned a ton in this article and the reason is simple: it 1HKOs Lightning Pokémon. In this deck it can also serve the purpose as a desperate “See Off” target as with Retaliate, Mew can 1HKO Mewtwo EX.
Pokémon – 16
3 Yanma TM
1 Chandelure NDE 20
Trainers – 31
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
That was the list I was able to come up with (but note that Mees’ list has now been posted on The Top Cut). I can’t say I like my list , but it was based on speculation as I couldn’t fit the amount of draw or Energy cards I wanted. I also like to try to run 2-of my See Off targets as well. I also would like to have more PlusPowers and the fourth Catcher as this deck wants to be as aggressive as possible, but I’ll settle on this list for now.
Strengths: It is a surprise deck as you have a lot of options when it comes to See Off targets. It also has free attackers and is very disruptive with Judge and N included in the list.
Weaknesses: Low Hit Point attackers, can have some prize issues, and has no built-in Energy acceleration.
That’s the last of the ECC decks, other than my favorite one, and those lists aren’t as tested as my next one.
My States Deck/ECC Winning Deck
This is the deck that won the ECC. David already posted his list onto PokéGym, so there’s no need for me to try to guess it. Instead I’ll be talking about my own thoughts on the deck and my current build.
I’ll start by saying that this is my deck for week 1. I haven’t had any bad matchups in testing (I’m 50-50 or above against every deck so far), and I’ve been tweaking and improving it as I go along.
I also like the “techier” version more than the straight consistency version that David used to win. I like being able to have an answer to almost everything, but clearly David’s thought process worked and he won the event.
I’ll post my current list and then I’ll explain everything about it and add in some thoughts on cards that I’d like to put in, but I just can’t find room for:
Pokémon – 13
1 Shaymin EX
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
2 Pokégear 3.0
Energy – 15
4 Celebi Prime: Celebi Prime is a pretty much always a 4-of in this deck, but I honestly hate having to devote four spots to this card. It is your Energy accelerator and your ideal opener and you almost never play down more than two in a game. These guys usually just turn into Junk Arm fodder because your opponent doesn’t have time to KO them as you are constantly applying pressure and taking prizes.
I’ve been considering cutting this guy down to three and I can’t pull the trigger, but it is something that could happen. If I cut this card I would add to another “consistency card’ and that would likely be Virizion or the fourth PONT.
3 Tornadus: He is your other solid opener and is either a 3-of or 4-of in this deck. I opted to run three because I wanted to run some other attackers in my list, meaning I couldn’t find space for the fourth. It is a solid attacker against most decks, anything not Lightning really, and he conserves your energy while attacking. There’s no reason to not run at least three of him.
2 Mewtwo EX: He’s the guy who KOs everything else. Honestly I feel like two is the perfect number; three is only good in the mirror match and you almost never want to start with a lone Mewtwo EX as everyone is playing Mewtwo EX and will get a quick prize lead on you. If you know that mirror will be heavy in your area I would recommend the third.
2 Terrakion: He’s another solid attacker, used only to counter Lightning types and that’s it. He gives me an easy response to a Magnezone or a Zekrom, which is important in the format. I wouldn’t say you need him, as the four retreat is a huge burden throughout the game. I’m also running the two because I don’t want to have a game where I need him and then my 1-of is prized.
1 Shaymin UL: This tech is pretty self-explanatory; he lets me manipulate Energies which are incredibly crucial as the deck doesn’t much built-in recovery (no Typhlosion Prime or Eel to get the Energies back) and it makes responses easier with Mewtwo EX. It can also move Energies off of Mewtwo EX to avoid it being KO’d. I love the card in here, plus it has just a one retreat, so it’s not a burden to the deck.
1 Shaymin EX: This is a card I’m still a little bit unsure of in the deck. Ideally he is your last attacker and takes the last prize or two that you need. Unfortunately because he is an easy to KO EX, he’s generally an awful opener despite Synthesis and the one Retreat Cost. However, the combination of this card with N is just too good for me to pass up on and has led me to several wins in testing, but in a lot of games in turns into Junk Arm fodder.
The other awkward thing is that while this deck can really abuse the card in most aspects it generally want to rush the opponent in the prize race, meaning in a lot of games you will just blow your opponent out of the water and you won’t even want to see Shaymin EX (unless you’re like me and love looking at the FA picture) because they won’t have taken enough prizes to make him relevant.
As much as I like this card, it is barely making the cut into the list right now as I’ve only used him about 15% of my games and I don’t know if that spot would be better served as another consistency card.
3 Pokémon Catcher: I’ve never been a huge fan of three Pokémon Catcher, but this deck could be the exception as it sometimes doesn’t hit the “higher tier” of damage if the opponent isn’t playing down a ton of energies. I still haven’t had an issues using only three, but four in this deck could work.
3 Switch: I really want four of this card in here, but I could only fit in three. A lot of builds (such as David’s) can run fine with two, but this build, because it runs Terrakion, needs at least three. The card helps in letting you abuse Forest Breath more, especially if you can’t hit an early Skyarrow Bridge.
2 PlusPower: I just recently added in the second PlusPower over the fourth PONT because the list needed to be shored up for mirror (even though it was 50-50 in it) because running only one PlusPower and one Eviolite means that you will always be working harder than your opponent to KO Mewtwos.
pokemon-paradijs.comBeing already shorthanded at running just two Mewtwo EX it was a pain to deal with, I could still win a lot of games as I don’t go Energy-dry as much due to the Cilan, but it is always annoying to have add another Energy just to do 10 more damage. It also helps with potential donks as well.
2 Pokégear: This is a card that I want to run more of, but due to my stubbornness of keeping techs in the deck I can’t. Paired with the four Junk Arm it gives you more out cards late game and can shore up some nasty beginning hands. I wish we had gotten Random Receiver as that card is a lot better in my list as it doesn’t run too many Supporters but I can live with this for the moment.
1 Dual Ball: This is something I just started testing. I’ve been staying away from flippy cards due to my awful luck with them… but it’s Junk Armable and with several people recommending it to me I’m going to give this card a shot. I wouldn’t ever make my whole deck reliant on four of this card, but a 1-of and two Collector I can live with.
1 Eviolite: This card is also close to being cut; it’s pretty much only good in the mirror and even then it won’t prevent KOs if they have energy. It’s literally only in here because if your opponent figures out that you don’t run it, they can take advantage of that and use it as a weakness. I won’t say it’s close to being cut, but it’s only used because running zero can be so bad at times.
1 Super Rod: This deck doesn’t always need recovery, but I just like having this guy as a crutch, especially since I run multiple tech cards and Energy types, I just haven’t been able to run as well without it. The major reason it is still in my list though is because it helps out a lot in the Durant matchup, which is always a deck I don’t want to face and have a poor matchup against.
4 Professor Juniper: Incredibly aggressive decks run four of this card.
3 PONT: I just recently have begun trying out running it as a 3-of, but in general you want four of this card. It’s hard for me to quantify how much consistency a fourth PONT adds over running the extra damage the 2nd PlusPower has on the impact of games. That’s what testing is for and I’ll update with some posts/another article once I figure out. I tested about 60-70 games overall with various versions of this lists, so hopefully I’ll get an answer by the end of the weekend.
2 N: This is the last draw card in the deck and I run just the two because it is a hindrance to you a lot in the midgame. I like it only for the endgame and pairing it with Shaymin EX/another attacker because you don’t need more resources to take your prizes as you generally have them mapped out as your energy accelerator is quick and gets the energies on board. I could see running three or four as a consistency crutch but I just don’t feel its good enough in the deck to warrant it.
1 Cilan: This is one of my controversial spots in the deck; I’m basically running it over a fourth PONT or a fourth “get basic Pokémon” card. The reason is simple: it lets me get out my Energies more consistently and in a fair amount of situations it is just as good as a draw card. This deck gains more damage the more Energy it has in play because of X Ball and therefore this card can add damage late game.
It also is nice early-game starter as it becomes really easy to get a turn one or turn two Mewtwo EX/Tornadus going as I do not have to worry about whiffing on Energy. Lastly, it makes it easier for me to access Terrakion, since I’m not currently running Prism Energy.
8 Grass: I honestly want to run nine of these, but I can only find space for 15 total energy so I’m at eight grass. With Cilan the eight-count becomes consistent, but nine is definitely preferred.
4 Double Colorless Energy: I like to donk, I play three Tornadus, seems pretty easy to explain.
3 F Energy: I’m running three because it almost guarantees that I’ll have two in my deck so that I can either Retaliate twice in one game or get a Land Crushing Terrakion setup, which is a huge pain for Eelektrik decks to deal with. I’m running Fighting over Prism because I am running Cilan.
So that’s my current list for EXCT. I really enjoy playing the deck as it has a lot of even-to-good matchups, and not too many awful matchups because it can quickly overwhelm your opponent. This brings me to my next point…
A Skilled Format
Mark A. HicksThe format is a lot more skilled based than the previous four (MD-BLW, HS-BLW, HS-EPO, HS-NVI) in actual game play. I sincerely believe that the top three decks in the format (Zone/Eel, Zekrom/Eel, and EXTC) all are the best decks, but that a good player running the right deck can beat them. I also have found that EXTC and Zekrom/Eel to be the best decks in the format, but they can be beaten if the player misplays or does something silly.
Going second still is a disadvantage, but I have found it to be a deficit that can actually be overcome, unlike the previous formats where if you went second you almost needed a miracle to happen in the mirror match or an “even” matchup to win.
I’ve also found EXTC and Zekrom/Eel to have a lot more depth than I originally thought they would, and am glad that I’ve decided to just go hard on play testing as these decks have a lot of in game decisions to make and the game state can change so drastically (especially if Mewtwos begin countering Mewtwos).
I’ve also decided that while I hate Mewtwo EX in terms of what it has done to the metagame, it essentially has shrunk the window that Stage Twos (and even Stage Ones) have to setup, and thus has shrunk the metagame. In terms of gameplay, the card has added a decent amount of depth, as Mewtwo wars have become extremely relevant and knowing when to use the PlusPower, drop the Eviolite, or just attach a ton of Energies is tricky.
The format is also filled with a decent amount of “dark horse” decks, I’ll be listing them, in no particular order and doing a quick snippet on each them. No decklists though, sorry!
Reshiboar: This deck has been on the rise ever since Reshiram-EX came out, and as now the deck can run a bit more consistently as it doesn’t to devote as much space to Energy recovery. The same old problems are still haunting the deck, but things got better. I don’t see it as a true contender, as it still has a ton of issues setting up, even with Cilan, but people will play it and it is worth testing against.
MagneBoar: My pet deck. I haven’t gotten it to work, but if some does this deck could become a quick riser on any tier list. It is slow, but if it “God” starts it can’t lose. I’d watch out for this deck and be a bit stressful to play against.
Goth/Gardy: Goth has seen a bit of hype. It is caught in the crosshairs of the Mewtwo wars and it might just benefit. You’ll also notice that I’ve cut the Reuniclus from this snippet; every legitimate deck can deal 130 to a Goth now, so it’s not relevant to move damage around. This deck could also run Leavanny NVI to improve matchups. I’m not sure how great this deck can be, but it can KO Mewtwo EX and has Trainer lock, so it might see some fringe play.
MegaJudge: This deck got top 16 and I think that goes to show how great a turn one Judge can still be. Yanmega and Magnezone still complement each other well, but it just seems too slow. I don’t consider it much of a threat to be honest, but then again no other deck are still running Judge; it’s all about N, so maybe…
Six Corners: This is the last dark horse that I’m going to give some credit to, and it is deserved. The deck saw a ton of play in my area, but then it died out. I think it is losing due to the lack of Energy acceleration which makes it worse than Electrode decks, which do the same thing. I still feel like in the hands of a great player it is a solid deck.
My Advice to You for States
My advice (even though I didn’t follow it perfectly for Regionals…) is three fold.
1. If you haven’t already done so figure out what deck you are playing for the first week of States. At this point you want to worry about fine tuning your main/best deck for the format, and not just trying to simultaneously improve several “solid” decks. If you do this, your top three decks or so will most likely have better lists than someone else’s top three, but your top deck (the one that matters) is likely to be a little bit under-developed.
2. Get into a solid testing group. This should have probably have happened already if you are serious about doing well, but if it hasn’t, you need to find some testing partners. I can’t stress how much I feel that testing has helped me improve this year, especially since my current testing for States has been fantastic as I have several close testing partners and they all are very good with very good lists.
Another thing is that I would recommend is going to some pre-States tournaments if your area has them. I find it to be beneficial as it lets you widen your “testing” area, even if only for a short period of time. You also know that they will probably be playing one of their top decks, if not their best, if they have to put money down to get prizes in the tournament.
3. Last, but not least: play your best decks. Just play the deck that you are most comfortable with; for me that is Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus, but even though people are saying that EXTC and Zekrom/Eel are the BDIFs, they can still be beaten if you don’t feel comfortable with them. There are a lot of solid deck choices out there if you can solidify a list and get the right matchups.
Especially among the top quartet of decks (Zone/Eel, Zekrom/Eel, EXTC and Durant), they all have relatively even matchups and the more skilled player comes out on top most of the time. A crucial misplay can still ruin your chances (especially a misplay with Mewtwo EX damage calculation), and so I think that by just playing what you feel works best for you out of those four will be what gives you the best results. (Note: This was the advice I didn’t follow for Cities…)
Anyhow, I’m going to conclude this article by giving you my projected tier list for States:
- Zone/Eel variants
- Electrode variants
- TyRam variants
- The Truth
- 6 Corners
Everything else I pretty much consider to be a very dicey calls for States, and even some of those tier 2 decks I don’t feel are that solid.
Good luck to all of you at States and hopefully this article will help your bring home some Trophies. See ya soon, as my next article will be the first of my (hopefully) trifecta of States Reports!