Hello again everyone! I’m a little bit exhausted as I write this (well, finish to write this… I’m writing the intro and tweaking a few things after writing a majority of this last week) as I’m currently in Olympia, Washington, staying at the one and only Kenny Wisdom‘s place.
I’ve been sleeping on his couch for the past week or so, getting some time to test, and well, FREEZE, as he keeps his place so cold that I can’t really begin to describe it with words. Instead, a brief story should suffice:
Step 1: Buy 2 energy drinks from gas station freezer. Quickly drink one.
Step 2: Leave 2nd energy drink on table. Forget about it for roughly 8 hours.
Step 3: Rediscover said energy drink, colder than when I bought it.
Anyways, outside of fulfilling my desire to sleep in an ice box for 2 weeks, I made the financially irresponsible decision to take the trip out to Washington to see my friends, and also to play in Grand Prix Seattle for Magic: The Gathering, which was the 3rd and 4th of March, also known as the past weekend.
Due to a combination of nerves (I’ve played TCGs for a decade and a half, and they never really go away; I’ve just about gotten over them with Pokémon… with Magic, and my general lack of confidence at the game, I pretty much couldn’t sleep), and my already screwed up sleep schedule, I netted about 3 hours of slumber before myself, Kenny Wisdom, Amelia Bottemiller, Isaiah Middleton and Tyler “Shuhei” Ninomura drove down to the Tacoma Convention Center.
Now, this Grand Prix was a Sealed event, and my sealed pool was rather atrocious, but I managed to start off 6-0, before losing the next two rounds, and finally securing a victory in the 9th round of day 1 to qualify to play in day 2.
I sleep even less than Friday night, stumble my way back to the convention center, and am “ready” to do my first of two draft pods on the day. Long story short, I end up finishing 4-2, enough to finish 41st out of 1159 players. This made me 200 dollars and I got my first Pro Point, so I consider it to be a victory, especially seeing how I opened such a suspect sealed pool on the first day.
WikipediaThe downside to this “good run” I had over the weekend is that I am now exhausted, feeling a bit sick, and curled up on Kenny’s couch with my laptop putting the finishing touches on this article. My funds for the trip are already drying up a bit, meaning I’ll probably end up having to sell off some cards in the next week or so if I plan on eating food beyond ramen noodles and water.
This weekend, I’ll be driving down with 2005 National and World Champion Stuart Benson to go to Oregon States. Anyone who will be there, feel free to say hi! It’ll be nice to see a new crowd of people. I won’t be playing, and I guess they have enough judges, so I’m really just going to have fun and cheer on my friends.
If anyone is interested, I’ll be selling Pokémon cards. I won’t be liquidating them, but I can give some pretty nice discounts on what I have if you’re interested. (I don’t own anything from the newest set, so no EXs, but I have plenty of things before that.)
Anyways, as I’ve been playtesting, I’ve pretty much narrowed the format down to a couple of decks. In my last article, I wrote that Zekrom Eels and Durant were the two best decks. While these are still 2 of the 3 best decks in my opinion, I actually have another deck that I feel is a bit better than Durant: Celebi Mewtwo. The more I’ve tested it, the better it’s gotten as I refine its list.
Durant is having issues beating both Eel Zekrom and Celebi at this point, so I’m actually giving it its own little “tier 1.5” status. I really don’t care for any other deck besides the two I mentioned a moment ago, as the rest are either too slow, or not powerful enough. Those decks are the best aggressive decks in this format, and by a significant margin in my eyes.
There are other decks which may actually be a little bit better than Durant, but those are generally just decks that perform in such a way that they are just worse than Celebi or Eel Zekrom. Durant at least offers a viable, unique game plan that isn’t just a weaker offering of what better decks do.
I feel there may be a viable Vileplume UD deck in this format, but it’s really hard to get one to work properly without a fully developed metagame. For instance, I know what MY metagame is, as in, I know the decks I feel are top tier, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else while end up playing what I feel they should.
Hypothetical metagames are very different than the actual ones early in a “new” format, so playing a deck that requires you to be reactive and likely “counter” specific types of threats, such as Vileplume, make it very risky to play them. I prefer pro-active approaches. I know I’ve discussed this before, and I may be beating a dead horse, but it’s so important to know.
Before I get into a few of the “tier 2” or rogue approaches, let’s cover the big players first:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 33
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 15
Let me preface my analysis with this: If I were playing in one of the State Championships in the first week of the events, this would be the deck I would be fielding. If you read back through my prior articles, I paid little attention to the deck as a whole, and certainly did not include it in my list of the top two decks, slots which I gave to Eelektrik Zekrom and Durant.
Pokemon ParadijsI actually really started logging more and more games with this deck simply because I got burnt out of testing Eel mirror matches, and well, let’s just say that testing with Durant, once both players are familiar with basic Durant tactics (from both ends of the spectrum) not only yields little new information, but it just gets aggravating.
As much as I legitimately enjoy the deck, and the fact that there is finally a deck that has a viable alternate win condition (especially since Lost World turned out to be a bust) it doesn’t make the deck very fun to playtest with. Every time my opponent gets 3 or more straight Crushing Hammer flips, or mills 2 Junk Arm and a Super Rod off of one Devour, it just makes you want to hit something.
I don’t mind it so much in a tournament setting, but man, for the sake of testing it makes you want to do something else entirely very quickly. Three Durant games into the last testing session we had, and we quickly quit to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl. So when I wanted a different deck to jam some games with, I borrowed my friend’s Celebi Mewtwo deck, and experienced far better results than I initially expected. After winning a few games early on for a morale boost, I realized a few very basic things about this deck:
I know initially I felt like PlusPower wouldn’t find a good place in this deck. It seemed like it would be incrementally irrelevant sice you had a hypothetical “limitless” damage output with Mewtwo. I generally liked PlusPower more in decks that couldn’t hit a key number naturally (Reshiphlosion, ZPS, etc.) and tend to disagree with it in decks that can otherwise hit that number.
I saw at Nats last year some players running the card in their Yanmega Magnezone lists, and I disagreed with it on a fundamental level (and for reference, I still do) and I felt like the same theory applied to this deck.
The biggest interaction with the card stems from dealing with rival Mewtwos. Let’s be honest: once one player leads with a Mewtwo, it pretty much runs the entire game down. It’s just a series of KOs from Mewtwos. A DCE on a Mewtwo vs another Mewtwo with a DCE is 160… therefore the PlusPower winds up being crucial in this deck to keep up with KOs, especially when you can’t hit the “3 energy” count of a DCE and a Grass always. Plus that guarantees a return KO. This forces them to either devote 3 energy for a kill, or have their own PlusPower.
Let me use this as a brief excuse to write about Tornadus, another card I felt was going to lose value with the new set, but apparently I was incorrect about. It’s a great lead attacker in this deck, ideally drawing out whatever attacker you want to lure out to start the Mewtwo exchanges with. PlusPower is huge with this card for two reasons: it lets you 2-hit a Mewtwo EX, and it lets you kill an Eelektrik in one shot. Both of these maximize the card’s mid-game value.
I opted to include Terrakion as an additional safety net against Lightning decks in general, be it Magnezone, Zekrom, or whatever you face. The PlusPower lets you secure a guaranteed OHKO against even an Eviolited Zekrom EX (or Regigigas EX, even though that card is rather bad).
Now, let’s talk about Eviolite. The first thing I came to accept with this deck is that it does NOT have inevitability in a lot of matches. The Eel decks, the longer the game goes, have a much better ability to power out attackers. If you start off slow, let them get ahead and set up, it becomes a very challenging game state. LUCKILY (and let me mention I feel that is the matchup is favorable for Celebi) you are generally the faster deck, by at least a turn.
I want to run as many cards to help augment the role I’ve accepted. I’m not saying Eviolite is unplayable. I guess my previous “terrible” is an exaggeration, but I certainly don’t really like the card. It is a very reactive card, and doesn’t help to press the advantage. If the deck does what it is supposed to, you just keep up with the exchanges, KOs disregarded.
Generally, decks are either going to 1-shot Mewtwo (with another Mewtwo, or Magnezone, etc.) or 2-shot it. The number of times Eviolite actually changes the number of turns it takes for an opponent to kill Mewtwo is very rare. Admittedly, Mewtwo with an Eviolite makes it so that a PlusPower and DCE doesn’t get a return KO out of Mewtwo, but a 3rd Energy still gets the job done. A DCE plus one Eelektrik gets the KO, a Celebi’s Grass plus a DCE does it. A Junk Arm with a PlusPower gets the job done.
So yes, you CAN win a matchup off of sticking that Eviolite for maximum value, but it really only changes the match if they plan on scoring the KO with EXACTLY that one PlusPower. Now, this may happen more than I give it credit for, but I hate banking on plays that force opponents to “not have it.” Plus, those turns that they don’t have it, they can Catcher around that Mewtwo, and get a KO, and set up the KO for the following turn more than likely.
Pokemon ParadijsDecks that don’t one shot it, generally will be using Zekrom, Reshiram, or some equivalent to do two hits of 120, which turns into 100 and 100, which makes Eviolite worthless. Now, it does help against a Tornadus two shot, and I guess it is solid against a deck like Electrode which has a lot of lower damage attackers, but they do have the Mewtwo plan.
So rather than run a card which has a small chance of making a difference, I run the more proactive cards (Catcher and PlusPower) and more draw power and consistency. Since the “worst case scenario” is them simply maintaining the Mewtwo exchange, and that’s an exchange I feel comfortable this deck can win. I don’t feel Eviolite is a necessity at all.
The one card I actually do feel it works well with is Terrakion. Jumping to 150 effective HP does matter against Zekrom decks, but again, I’ve liked my results against them anyways. If you want to hedge your bets a bit more there, Eviolite does help.
If you want to add 1-2 Eviolites, you can, but I know a lot of people who just see a pile of big Basics in a deck and just throw Eviolites in reflexively, and let me tell you right now that it is wrong. That doesn’t mean you can’t run them; just that they are a luxury card. Decks have plenty of room for such luxury cards, just realize they are not mandatory inclusions, and that a lot of times those spots can be better spent elsewhere.
I chose to go with the max Catcher count (to make your Tornaduses their most potent, and to capitalize on your speed) and a high PlusPower count, but I know some people who have run a card like Lost Remover. I’m not entirely sold on Lost Remover because while it does weaken your Mewtwos, I’ve seen most games where your opponent either loses to your Mewtwo outright, or they start using their own Mewtwos against yours, at which point Lost Remover is irrelevant.
There just aren’t a ton of matchups where I’ve felt the games don’t devolve into a wild KO exchange for a lone Lost Remover to feel that useful. I’ve also seen it unleash some brutal blow outs too, so the card isn’t unreasonable; I just choose to shy away from it.
I’ve also seen a Seeker or a Super Scoop Up included in the deck. This lets you save a damaged EX, re-use Shaymin, or give you an out to a potentially bad game state if you open with Shaymin, Shaymin EX, or a Terrakion. (Terrakion starts vs Durant are pretty un-winnable).
Pokemon ParadijsAnother card I like in here, but don’t currently have, is actually Tyrogue CL. You can get so many cheap kills on Tynamos with it. As I mentioned previously with my old ZPS lists, the card gets better the more PlusPowers you have, and now that we are up to 3 and 4 Junk Arm, it makes Tyrogue especially dangerous. A KO on a Magnemite turn 1 isn’t unreasonable at all.
The other reason I like him is that you do want to pad your Basic count a bit. As a deck that does benefit off of quick pressuring starts, you don’t want to open Shaymin EX, Shaymin, or Terrakion. So having a “blank” free retreating Basic isn’t even bad for the deck’s modus operandi.
Let me address another reason why I initially wasn’t sold on this deck: its Durant matchup. There was actually a very simple strategy I entirely overlooked at first, simply assuming the matchup was a gross disaster. Shaymin EX is an all-star. The first 2-3 turns of the game for me generally involves me promoting it, and using its otherwise overlooked first attack.
This lets you jam a ton of energy onto your Mewtwo, to the point where you should start OHKO Durants pretty quickly, almost regardless of Crushing Hammers. The attack seems unusuable simply because you can’t usually expose a 110 HP EX to the active position simply to accelerate a bit. Yet against Durant, they can’t kill it, so it’s a free source of acceleration.
Don’t get me wrong: just because of this, you don’t auto-win Durant or anything. I’ve gotten it to the point where you do win as long as they don’t get really strong Devours, or hit an extremely strong chain of Crushing Hammers. Sadly, I think this takes the matchup to ABOUT 50-50, which is FAR better than the near auto-loss I had originally mistaken the matchup as.
Due to Durant’s decrease in popularity, bad Zekrom matchup, and lack of success at bigger tournaments before States such as the large European event held recently, I am more than thrilled to write the matchup off as a coin flip.
The other game plan against Durant is to simply open with Tornadus, take early prizes and then transition to a mid-game Mewtwo plan. This becomes challenging because Tornadus leaves itself very vulnerable to Lost Remover, so you want to bench a 2nd one which you then move the energy to, and hopefully can play a 2nd DCE on it if they do hit the Remover on your active. Tornadus actually does some pretty heavy damage here, as with 4 Catcher, you can pick on whatever ant doesn’t have Eviolite on it.
PokeGymThis brings up an embarrassing option: Regigigas EX. I know the card was originally in most lists, but man, I played so many matchups and literally never even used the card. Good opportunities never presented themselves. It actually seems really strong against Durant, as you can start scoring kills for 3 energy, opposed to the necessary 4-5 on Mewtwo, so with Shaymin EX you can get a safe number on it pretty quickly, even to the point where it almost becomes energy removal proof.
I’m not sure if adding the card to add extra security in this matchup is worth it, but it’s definitely an option. It is another really bad opener, and I hate adding that, but if you really hate Durant, go ahead and run it.
The reason I opt for Fighting over Prism in this deck is actually due to Durant too. Generally the card is just used to power Terrakion. Prism did offer the very rare 120 shot out of Mewtwo, but not falling victim to a Lost Remover seemed to make it easier to tank a Mewtwo, so I made the switch. Being able to be grabbed with Super Rod is a small, but semi-relevant edge as well.
One of the things I love with this deck is that it gets to use Shaymin EX. It’s a great cleanup hitter, and this is basically the only deck that can reliably power it up. It often fulfills the role of the 3rd Mewtwo, which is why I only run 2 at the moment. Three may be safer, and help with offsetting the bad starts, but so far 2 has been fine with Shaymin EX and Super Rod, especially if you’re smart about acknowledging when you need to start sniping prizes with Tornadus if your Mewtwo situation is grim.
The Supporter count is always open for debate, and really comes down to personal preference beyond the obvious 8. I love Sage’s Training, so I run 2, and I like one N just because it can be great at stealing an otherwise likely lost game state at the end of the game. Plus, just having the one copy makes it so players can’t safely hoard hands and be super greedy. A 2nd N isn’t unreasonable either, but I definitely don’t feel like anything beyond that is a good idea.
Another card I was sour on at first, but over-performed for me when I borrowed a copy of the deck at league is Cilan. I hated it in theory so much, to the point I would have never even bothered to test it, but it played quite well. Credit to Carl Scheu for that one, even if I don’t even up including the card in the final list.
Pokemon ParadijsOne of the decks I have seen people trying to work with to counter this deck (and one I haven’t really seen SUCCESSFULLY used) is Mew Prime. It is a pretty good counter to Mewtwo EX, but it is a bit slower, and kind of clunky. It, in itself, doesn’t do much to beat Durant or Zekrom, so you’re forced to jam a bunch of answers into its shell, which makes you a very reactive, silver bullet style of deck since you don’t offer a very proactive game plan against the format.
You aren’t inherently powerful; you’re just playing the counter game, which is very difficult to do with a still open format. Nonetheless, people are dead-set on beating Mewtwo, and this is at its core a Mewtwo deck. I know Esa used a list with just Celebi and Mewtwo at the ECC, which is narrowly faster than my build, but the loss of something like Tornadus makes it a challenging game to try and beat Mew Prime. Tornadus tips that matchup in your favor for sure.
That build also does not run Terrakion, which really helps to tip the balance of power against Eel based decks. It is particularly useful against Magnezone Eelektrik, a matchup which is otherwise fairly challenging for you. I’m not going to say this is the best possible build for the deck, but I will say it is the best list I’ve been able to find and develop so far. Next up, let’s look at Eel Zekrom, and then Durant.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 29
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
Eelektrik Zekrom is an interesting deck. At its core, it’s pretty much just a deck full of various utility attackers that get fueled by the energy manipulation of Eelektrik. You can diversify well enough that you don’t need to run a terribly thick core of main attackers. Zekrom is your main guy, but Zapdos, Tornadus, Thundurus, and Zekrom EX all have their uses. With Cleffa and Tynamo all having free retreat cost, you can definitely maintain some pretty reactive openings, which is something I like.
Pokemon ParadijsNow, let me bring this up: Some people don’t like to run all 30 HP Tynamo. I understand the dangers. You could be killed by Tyrogue, Chandelure NVI, and even worse, you can get entirely locked out of Eelektrik by Kyurem NVI’s Glaciate. These are all legitimate concerns, but these cards are seeing less and less play. Against the decks people have been using, and the decks they talk about using, the 30 HP Eel is just so much better.
If you have reason to expect the cards that capitalize on the 30 HP, or are just overly paranoid and want to play super conservatively (my loaded words aside, you can feel free to fear every option, as I said, we have a fairly open metagame), you can run a bit of a split. I’m more comfortable with the perks given off by the free retreat, and I’ve become a bit of a gambling addict with this game, as you need all of the little advantages you can get in this format.
It also makes Thundurus a viable inclusion. It’s pretty weak past the first turn, so if you don’t open with it or the free retreaters, it offers VERY diminishing returns as the game progresses.
Let me address the “Pokémon Communication vs Level Ball” debate. I know a lot of people love Level Ball in this deck, and it is pretty good. At the same time, I really like Pokémon Communication with all of the thin Basic lines. I think Level Ball is a fine inclusion, but you need to run them alongside Communication, not in place of them.
The Supporters are again a bit up in the air. The two best ones, being that you need to get Lightning discarded early, are Juniper and Sage. Unfortunately, you want draw cards that don’t throw all of your cards away due to Durant, so you’re forced to run some shuffle effects as well, as a concession to try and keep that matchup favorable.
N is also a surprising good card, as you hit a certain threshold where your deck pretty much functions off of what you have in play, so its disruptive nature (and the fact it is basically a PONT early game) makes it too good not to play. I like the one Pokégear because it turns into “5” Pokégear thanks to Junk Arm once you do see it. I’m not sure it’s a required card, or even if it’s better served as an additional Supporter, but it is definitely playing well, and I’ve Junk Armed for it a number of times, so I do feel there is substantial benefits off of it.
One of the debates I’ve been having with Tyler N. while I’ve been here has been Dual Ball vs Pokémon Collector. It’s a debate that I think Collector wins, but not one that’s entirely lopsided. Pokémon Collector reliably fills your bench, giving you plenty of different attackers mid-game, letting you craft your ideal series of exchanges. But more importantly, it lets you fill your bench with a ton of Tynamo early, which is huge especially if opponents start to apply pressure and kill them off.
Pokemon ParadijsDual Ball has the benefit of being playable alongside your Supporter for the turn, which is certainly huge. (Tyler argues this speed advantage offers a mirror match advantage, but I also feel that you get a huge mirror edge from being able to get MORE Eels out quickly.)
One of the perks of Pokémon Collector is also that you can get it with Pokégear. I’ve seen lists with 2 Gears, and once you get such a presence of the card in your deck, padding your Supporter count is always beneficial. Last format, turn 1 Collector was so crucial that we started adding Gear to decks initially mainly just to hit that card aggressively.
Obviously the format is very, very different now, but the theory is still applicable. If you want to hedge your bets, a 2-2 split (or 3-2 split if you want to find room for an additional copy!) seems reasonable.
Next up, the luxury cards. Now, these aren’t exactly “unnecessary” inclusions, but they are cards that you can run 1-4 copies of, and are very flexible. Pokémon Catcher as 2 may be incorrect. I certainly wouldn’t go below 2, but 3 is definitely possible. PlusPower is the opposite. I have 2, and I can see 1 copy, but not 3. (PlusPower is quite good in Mewtwo wars though.)
Eviolite as one seems pretty correct, as it is really good with Zekrom and Zekrom EX in the matchups you use it. It’s not as underwhelming as it is in Celebi. Perhaps two is better, but it’s currently the 61st card on the cutting room floor.
Switch as a 2 of is pretty mandatory. I don’t think you can run less, and 3 is definitely excessive. By running a nice split of these cards, you get extreme value out of your Junk Arms. Diversity when you have access to cards like Junk Arm/Item Finder/VS Seeker is so strong. It also makes it very difficult to play against you.
Looking at the Pokémon, a 4-3 Eel line is standard (some run 4-4, but I see Eels dying as Tynamo a majority of the time, plus if they start killing Eelektrik midgame, they aren’t wiping energy off your attackers, so it seems like a fair trade off). Two Zekrom has been good, but I’d almost like 3. It’s your main attacker in the beginning of the game (well, often middle, but let’s go with hmmm… early middle?) Let’s look at the “opening” attackers though!
Thundurus: He gets energy into the discard pile quickly, and is a reliable turn 2 attacker, whether you have a DCE or not. I’m not sold on him entirely, as with 4 DCE in the deck (and Eels for your best starts) you can likely accomplish the same goal with Tornadus most of the time.
Tornadus: A good turn 2 attacker, and someone who is a good lead attacker against an EX as it conserves energy. It also is one of your Fighting counters, which gives it value. I feel like Thundurus’ narrow speed gain (and being less valuable in mid-game as it discards an energy opponent to benching it) doesn’t necessarily make up for not offering Fighting resistance, so a 2nd one of these guys may replace Thundurus in the long run.
Zapdos: Zapdos is another Fighting resistant Pokémon, and its strength is best against other Lightning decks, oddly enough. You snipe Tynamo and Magnemites, or babies with it (and generally other Basics that evolve too). It is also good against Vileplume decks that leave vulnerable Basics down as you can kill them without Catcher. It is, in some matchups, your 3rd Catcher, only it offers Fighting resistance, and can be searched up with Collector and Communication.
This isn’t a “selling point,” but an additional advantage: it’s 2nd attack can matter. There are some games where you’re losing, but if you can miraculously do 150 or 200 damage, you win. You CAN make the “big gamble” and flip for the best, which while it should never be Plan A, at least gives you a possible out. I’ve used it far more than I’d like to admit.
Mewtwo: Ok, Mewtwo is a concession to the fact you kind of need/want it to beat other Mewtwo. Plus, you’re a deck running 4 DCE and energy acceleration, so it is independently strong. Shaymin really makes it that much better as you can get it fully tanked out of no where without leaving it as a liability on your bench.
Zekrom EX: This guy (alongside Mewtwo) helps you break the 120 damage cap that Zekrom otherwise suffers from. You rarely need more than one, and he fills his role perfectly. He kills Chandelure, Magnezone, Eviolited Basics, etc. This card really took this deck to the next level.
I’ve actually used it as a great counter to Mewtwo with PlusPower too. Doing 170 and discarding a DCE makes it nearly impossible for Mewtwo to win the exchange with a return KO. (It is also a reason I feel Celebi should run Terrakion.)
PokeGymLooking at matchups, this deck has a raw degree of power, and it’s hard to stop once it gets going. You need a way to beat it outside of just hoping to win exchanges, as it has a ton of one-shot potential, a near unlimited energy output, and good non-EX attackers. It’s also fairly fast. Not amazingly so, but faster than most decks who hope to fully set up and play a power game (Emboar Magnezone, for example).
Therefore you need to be really fast (Celebi) or you need an alternate game to play against them (Durant, or maybe a Vileplume Reuniclus lock).
Celebi often comes down to your starts, and levels of techs. If you can do the PlusPower x2 play with Zekrom EX against Mewtwo, you can be in good shape. If they then have Terrakion, it becomes tough. I feel like without Terrakion (if both players run a decent count of PlusPowers) the matchup is very close, but Terrakion pushes it over the edge.
Zekrom has the best Durant matchup shy of Typhlosion. You don’t need a lot of resources, and you can hit a point where their disruption doesn’t even hurt you. I’ve definitely seen Durant beat the deck a number of times, but it is certainly a bad matchup for the colony. By keeping your field Tynamo/Eelektriks and a Zekrom (or two as the game progresses perhaps) you offer an easy KO on them, and generally win that race.
I feel like Celebi has an edge heads-up against Eel Zekrom, albeit not a huge one, but Eels do better against Durant, and have a bit higher overall power level meaning it’s probably got a slight edge against the field. I feel like both decks can win an event, and I would choose Celebi just because I prefer the edge against the other best deck.
FakeMakeTAlright, let’s be honest. This deck doesn’t change very often. The shell is fairly standard. Unfortunately, a lot of the decks people seem to be using are inherently good against Durant. The projected metagame seems a bit hostile towards the deck as a whole, so I’m pretty sure I can remove it from my top 2 choices for States. the deck is still fine. Don’t get me wrong. It just seems like it sits on pile of 50-50 matchups, and I hate playing a deck like that.
I want to be able to say why my deck is good, not why it isn’t bad. Durant is still on the cusp of viability, but compared to other decks, I just don’t see the traits that lure me to the deck. If you feel more comfortable with Durant than any other deck, or it’s putting up better numbers for you than any other deck, by all means use it.
The one card I feel you need to run though is Battle City. It is very crucial towards being able to keep up with Celebi. Without it, they can basically fill their bench and be immune to Catcher. Mid-game, ideally after milling additional copies of Skyarrow Bridge, or tricking them into discarding some, you can cut them off the card altogether and un-blank your Catchers.
In addition to this, the extra cards you draw off of it are certainly helpful. If you are chaining Twins each turn, you actually do start to run lower on cards in hand, so adding some extra cards to your grip makes a big difference. I don’t know if I’d run more than 1 Battle City, but 2 certainly doesn’t seem out of line. Here’s my current list.
Pokémon – 5
Trainers – 45
Energy – 10
4 Metal [Special]
Durant doesn’t really gain much from the new set, and is in a very similar position to where it was at the end of Cities. On one hand, it didn’t gain anything, but it also fell off the radar a bit. Everyone is gunning to beat the EX decks, so any time a deck is ignored, it often becomes more viable. That isn’t entirely true with Durant because the manner in which it wins is so annoying that people go through extra effort to make sure not to lose to it.
That said, most people don’t give it enough credit, and these extra efforts often fall far short of what you’d need. This is also a good deck to default to if you can’t get your hands on any Mewtwos in time for States. (Although if you take this game seriously, there is no excuse for not paying to get the cards you need. The same was true with Tropical Beach. It sucks paying so much for them, but the rest of the cards in this game are dirt cheap, so it’s not that bad.)
I have mainly been focusing on these decks and a few rogue innovations, none of which really panned out, but I know there are other decks which may be considered by others, so I’ll go in a far less deep analysis of those real quickly. I should have lists for most in my last article.
These decks didn’t show they had what it took to compete with the other decks, so due to being either far too short of appearing viable, or just having obvious fundamental flaws, most of the lists did not make it much farther than what was already given.
Electrode: Well, I really liked this deck for Cities, but now, not nearly as much. You’re not doing much that Eels or Celebi can’t do. The deck is entirely outclassed if it doesn’t fire off a good turn 2 Energymite, and when it does, it seems to just be on par with the other decks. It’s definitely a perfect example of performing a game plan (slew of accelerated Basics), but just doing it worse than other alternatives.
Sure, you get access to a few more types, but it hasn’t proven to be too beneficial, or to let it keep up with the other decks.
Typhlosion: Same thing as above, just worse than Eels. Not very much is weak to Fire besides Durant (which Eels already beats), so the upside to this deck is just not there. I wouldn’t want to do 10 damage to all of my Pokémon to attach energy to it with a Stage 2 when I could do the same thing without damage via a Stage 1. You lose the Fighting weakness, but when you’re just exchanging KOs, it rarely matters. I think there would need to be a substantial metagame shift for Typhlosion Reshiram to be better positioned than the streamlined Eel Zekrom.
Magnezone Emboar: Alright, I love this deck to death. But it isn’t good enough. The main issue is, it absolutely cannot beat Durant. Literally cannot. You’re not that strong against the other decks, and you’re so weak to Catcher picking apart your field. You can win in spite of it, and if I could have played in a CC without the threat of Durant, I feel like I could have gotten it good enough to win the event, but that doesn’t make it a good call.
Magnezone Eelektrik: I thought this would be better than it is, but the fact that decks can aggressively focus on killing Eels while you destroy your own energy supply cripples you. At least Zekrom Eels keeps all of its energy drops. Zekrom EX, Terrakion, and Reshiram EX being able to one shot a Magnezone once all of the Eels die make it very hard for this deck to keep up.
The fact it requires a Stage 2 makes it very difficult for it to ever be the aggressor, so it falls behind a lot. N is its best strength, but so many decks are self-sufficient without needing a big hand (plus N to 2 ALWAYS gives them a Juniper or PONT without fail) makes it so it isn’t even enough of a selling point.
The Truth: It’s slow, and damage has grown higher. 150 is easy to hit, and while you can tank with the 180 HP Basics, the fact that every deck can run Mewtwo really is off-putting as they can eventually just tank to the point they can hit 180 damage. They are faster than you too, so they go up prizes before you can start a hypothetical Mewtwo war. There may be a way to make it good, but I think every deck having Mewtwo (plus Durant being a challenging matchup to approach) is bad for it.
Now, let’s look at a few cards I think are fairly well positioned in this metagame even if I can’t find a good home for them. Some of these may never pan out, and some may be quite the hit, but if they are, I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
Kyurem NVI: This card is still strong. It is great against all of these Eelektrik decks as Glaciate adds up fast. It is good against Durant as a lead, especially if they cannot get to Eviolite and/or Special Metal Energies. It’s actually been pretty good against Mewtwo Celebi too! Spreading 60 is awesome, killing Celebis, and setting Mewtwo down to a very manageable 110 HP. With an Eviolite, Kyurem’s 150 HP actually requires 4 energy plus a PlusPower, or 5 energy.
This actually stresses them a bit. I saw this as a selling point for Electrode, but it was just not good enough. Feraligatr Prime can’t beat Durant, although it may actually do ok against the rest of the metagame. It just seems like such a gamble to use Stage 2s at all anymore, that I haven’t brought myself to be able to focus on testing Gatr Kyurem. It’s another interesting “I can’t get Mewtwos” meta call. I even debated looking at cards like Floatzel UL with Shaymin UL as a way to accelerate the energy.
Zebstrika NDE: This card saw a bit of play, but I feel the “Zebstrika deck” isn’t tier 1. I think it falls a decent degree short, especially when you have people learning how to play against it. That being said, it seems like it could show promise as a tech, or against Durant. If you ran Mew Prime for example, you can See Off the zebra, start 2-hitting Ants, and lock them out of more at the same time.
This becomes a bit of an issue if they run Flower Shop Lady, and I hate devoting a full strategy to HOPING a deck doesn’t run a perfectly reasonable card. Locking Items for key turns seems ok as well, but I’m not sure that it’s good enough to warrant inclusion, but the card is actually interesting.
Yanmega Prime: This card went from being format defining to unplayable in months, but it may be decently positioned again. It kills off Eels aggressively, and can set up KOs on EXs. It is hard for Mewtwo to OHKO, requiring 5 energy. I’m not sure it’s going to be good enough, but it could be.
Donphan Prime: Another card that has been tested as an anti-Mewtwo measure. It’s also really good against Eel decks. The card has been playing far better than I assumed at first, when it was more of a joke idea. It’s missing something, but due to its strength against Eel decks, and being hard for Mewtwo to kill, it may be alright.
The problem is Donphan’s hypothetical strength stems almost exclusively from the fact that I’m accepting a format with 2 viable decks, and the more and more decks deviate from those two, the worse it becomes. Therefore, unless we see a legitimate 2 deck format, I can’t justify doing the extensive testing it would take to make it work where there are better decks to focus on.
I think it will be interesting to see how the next few weeks of Cities winds up playing out, to see how everyone’s predictions about the metagame turn out. At the very least, States are always a blast, and I can’t wait to just go, without any pressure, and watch the tournaments play out.
For me, I take just as much enjoyment from watching Pokémon tournaments as a “spectator sport” as I did playing in them. I’m actually going to be doing my best to try and bring everyone coverage from Oregon States, so hopefully I’ll be updating regularly from the event (assuming they have WiFi) at the very least, and I’ll be looking into doing videos, interviews, and possibly more on site.
I’ll go on record and say that I’m fairly confident that a majority of States will be won by either Eel Zekrom or Celebi lists. (I know, “bold prediction.”) I actually hope to be proven wrong, as I’d love to feel like I just “missed something” and that the format is more open than it has tested tobe. So good luck at States, and hopefully everyone does well!
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