knowthyplace.wordpress.comI decided that it would be better to take a different approach with this article. I have gotten a lot of requests to go into detail more about how to play certain matchups, as opposed to just offering up new lists and updating otherwise re-hashed information. The problem with giving advice on how to approach matchups as a whole is that strategy, particularly in this format, is far more about your opening and starts than it is about what deck your opponent is using.
Before, you’d have overarching strategies you would try to incorporate into a game plan, but the format is so far developed and unforgiving that you are more forced into playing very reactively to what you and your opponent have. The player with the better start gets to attempt to dictate a proactive plan, whereas the player with the weaker start has to do their best to keep up and try and find a means to stabilize and make a comeback.
Most of the decks in this format have a “mirror match” feel to them, even if the decks are in fact different. Sure, CMT, Zeels and Terrakion are different decks, but they play primarily the same in the end. Hit fast, and hard, and play the same game plan.
As a result, it is difficult to give a traditional “Deck A vs. Deck B, here is how you play the matchup” type guide in this format. You can try; I know I have, and others have as well, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really tell you much.
But I still want to focus more on playing and in-game tactics for this article, than on decklists. So what I will do here is what I did last format (or would it be two formats ago due to the mid-season break due to Sableye?) when I showcased a game of LuxChomp vs. Vilegar.
This time, I will be using one deck, my personal favorite, Zekrom Eelektrik, and jamming it against the field. I’ll be going in depth over the thought processes I have during the games, and hopefully showing more about how to play the different matchups than I would be by giving broad generalizations that most players who have played the matchups at all could likely have figured out. My gauntlet is going to be against the following decks:
I will be requesting particular matchups in my testing, but I will not know the lists I am playing against beforehand, as it will better simulate a real tournament experience by going into a game blind. On the other hand, I am at a bit of an advantage knowing what matchup I will be against when starting, but I will do my best to consciously avoid taking advantage of prior information when it comes down to things like which Pokémon I open with, whether I bench additional Pokémon, and such.
Here is the Zekrom Eelektrik list I will be using for my games:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 30
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
pokemon-paradijs.comAlright, so a few changes from before. I decided to cut Super Rod entirely from the deck. The only matchup I really felt it was that great in was Durant, and I am beating that anyway more often than not, so I felt like it was overall unnecessary. The format has gotten so fast that a lot of games don’t go long enough for it to be useful. I haven’t missed it yet, and it may still be worth including, but for this run of games, it is out.
I am running 3 Pokémon Catcher, less because I think it is entirely correct, and more because I feel like people will complain too much if I use a list with less of them, so in this case the masses win. On a semi-related note, I am at 1 Level Ball and 1 Pokémon Communication, as I see the perks for both, and I only have 2 spots for that “role” of card, so I’m taking the easy way out and going one of each.
One of the spots I am unsure of still is the Cleffa slot. I want it to be a free retreating Basic, and am currently torn between Cleffa and Tyrogue HS. Tyrogue seems better in mirror, is pretty good as an aggressive start, and is an alternative lead when Thundurus is either unavailable, or not a great option. On the other hand, I like Cleffa as a good fall back plan for bad hands, and something to rely on as a consistency crutch. With the heavy N count, and the amount of N other decks play, I want a way to be able to draw out of the card mid to late game if necessary, so that was really the tie-breaker over Tyrogue here.
Cleffa also convinced me to go with the 3-1 Collector/Dual Ball split. I originally was going to be trying out a 2-2 split. I still feel like Collector gives the deck its best starts, but Dual Ball is good after other supporters, so both have their benefits. I know Dual Ball is the more popular route in a lot of areas, but I still think the strength of a Collector start is too good to pass up. Cleffa also works well with Collector because you can get access to all of your Tynamos/attackers you want, while also getting to play your “Draw Card” in Eeeeeek to refill your hand.
I’ve gone into detail before about how I like to use a thinner “toolbox” approach to my attackers rather than running redundant copies of openers like Thundurus, so Pokémon Collector’s value goes up there too, allowing me to fill my bench with Tynamos while also fetching my preferred attacker. Dual Ball averaging 1 Pokémon at a time simply doesn’t comply as well with how I try to play the deck, whereas Pokémon Collector helps this particular build flow a lot better.
The fact that Pokégear can grab Collector increases its value as well, so I feel like no less than 2 Pokémon Collector is necessary in this deck, and as you can see, I am at 3 at the moment. The original playset still may be better, but at the moment I am experimenting a bit. Decklists are rarely ever “finalized” and you’ll get to catch a glimpse of my ongoing playtesting against these decks.
First off, I will be playing mirror match. Well, not definitive mirror match because I will not be playing a card for card copy of my deck, but just against Zeels.
Zekrom Eelektrik vs. Zekrom Eelektrik
- Tynamo NVI 39
- Zekrom BLW
- Tornadus EPO
- Pokémon Collector
- Pokémon Communication
- Pokémon Catcher
- L Energy
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a pretty good hand, assuming I do not prize my Cleffa. I decide to open with Tynamo, and bench a Tornadus. If I knew the matchup, I would be playing down the Zekrom opposed to Tornadus, as Tornadus is a pretty bad card in this matchup. Yet it is a one Retreat Cost Pokémon that is useful in most other matchups, and due to that Retreat Cost, it can become a Cleffa on my first turn to give me a real hand.
That is the primary reason I chose it as my 2nd Pokémon, as if Tynamo does get killed, it gives me Cleffa. My opponent starts with 2 Pokémon as well.
I win the flip, and my opponent shows two Tynamo as his Basics. I go first and draw a PlusPower. I play Pokémon Collector, grabbing a Tynamo, a Cleffa, a Mewtwo EX. I could use this as a chance to get 3 Tynamo into play, but because I am forced to Eeeeeeek, and bench a Tornadus early in a matchup it is bad in, I don’t want to lock up my bench too much yet. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get the 3rd Tynamo down. I won’t be able to get 3 Eelektriks out quick enough to see any benefit from benching the third one early like this.
I bench the 2nd Tynamo, attach a L Energy to Tornadus, and use Pokémon Communication to shuffle Mewtwo back into the deck, failing to find. First off, I opt to lead with Tornadus because I went first, and can likely pick off a Tynamo with it. It also spreads my energy around, and if they do kill my Tornadus, it frees up my bench. I don’t want to lead with Mewtwo, despite Collectoring for it, and Zekrom likely doesn’t yield a turn 2 kill.
Thundurus is a fine open here, but I’m forced to Eeeeeek so I can’t charge it. Tornadus is a good lead on the play, and he’s already benched, so he seems like the perfect choice. I “waste” the Communication because I’d rather have it in the discard pile here. When you run a lot of Junk Arms, you “cheat” by burning cards. If I want to optimize the odds of a turn 2 Eelektrik, I have a far greater chance of drawing one of my 4 Junk Arms than I do the one Pokémon Communication.
There are downsides to this, such as having to burn a Junk Arm, but it does give you more live draws for a key card later on. It also thins the deck if you want to draw other key cards, although that isn’t a huge factor in this decision.
I retreat Tynamo for Cleffa and Eeeeeeek. I flip heads for Sleep, and out of order, draw my hand of 6. I draw the following:
This hand is great. It gives me the turn 2 Eelektrik, and also a turn two Tornadus attack. I would like a Catcher in this hand, as the odds my opponent leaves Tynamo active is pretty low. He draws, and plays a Dual Ball, getting two tails.
He Junk Arms away a L Energy and a Tornadus for Dual Ball, getting one heads, and grabs a Thundurus. He uses a PONT, drawing 6 cards, and benching a third Tynamo, and attaches a L Energy to Thundurus, retreating Tynamo and attacking, grabbing a 2nd L Energy out of his deck and attaching it.
I take Eelektrik, and Zekrom, discarding the other 3. I bench Zekrom, and evolve both Tynamo into Eelektrik, using double Dynamotor to put two L Energy onto Zekrom. I attach the L Energy from my hand onto Zekrom, and retreat the Cleffa for it. I could have also tried to get a kill with a Mewtwo if the Zekrom play didn’t pan out off of Sage.
I could have Junk Armed away the drawn L Energy for the Pokémon Communication to shuffle in any Pokémon I could get off of Sage. In this deck, having Communcation as a Junk Arm target also gives me access to a good target to get to dump energy into the discard.
This means I could Dynamotor to Mewtwo, attach the DCE, play the PlusPower, and X Ball would take out Thundurus. The problem is, it leaves me open to a return kill by Mewtwo, and I don’t want to make that happen yet.
Without Super Rod, I really don’t want to be the initiator of Mewtwo wars, especially since it favors him in terms of prizes. If I didn’t get the Zekrom play here, or a Catcher, I think I may be forced to try it anyway, but I’m glad I wasn’t forced to. I take the KO with Bolt Strike, taking 40 damage, and drawing my Shaymin from my prizes.
My opponent promotes a Tynamo, and plays a Dual Ball, getting two heads, grabbing two Mewtwo EXs. He benches them both, and attaches a DCE to the one. He plays an N, shuffling his hand back into his deck to draw 6, and I get the following 5 cards:
He draws his 6, and kills my Zekrom and takes a prize. I promote Cleffa. I draw for the turn, and get a Pokémon Collector. I luckily get to be on the favorable end of this Mewtwo war. I play Pokémon Collector, grabbing the two Mewtwos, and a Shaymin. I don’t really see myself needing anything else in the short term, but Shaymin always gives me pretty unpredictable plays.
I may actually have messed that up, as revealing that I run the somewhat unconventional Shaymin takes a lot of the surprise value out of it. On one hand, I have access to the use of Shaymin, but it may have benefitted me more to not show the Shaymin and have him walk into a play where it can give me a win.
I attach the DCE to Mewtwo, and Dynamotor an energy to each Mewtwo. I retreat Cleffa for the Mewtwo with 3 energy, and X Ball for the return KO. Once you get one Mewtwo attacking, putting at least one energy on a second one is safe because they are better suited to just kill the first one, and it almost exclusively means they are forced to use a Mewtwo, meaning you benefit from the energy off the 2nd Mewtwo in that exchange.
There are some rare scenarios where it is wrong to do it, but this isn’t one of those, and it requires you have a good reason to avoid doing it. I use X Ball to take the KO on his Mewtwo, and he promotes Tynamo.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe draws, and plays down a 2nd Mewtwo EX, and attaches a DCE to it. He plays down N again, shuffling my hand back into my deck and drawing 5. This is one of the points in a game where N is the most powerful. Getting 5 cards is plenty, whereas sticking me with only 3 can definitely derail my game.
Unfortunately for him, I have the ability to retaliate with Mewtwo with just what I have in play due to Dynamotor. This is one of the reasons I feel Zeels is such a strong deck. Other Mewtwo based decks run the risk of clunking in these exchanges, especially near the end of the game. That isn’t an issue here.
My hand off of N consisted of:
For the turn, I draw a PlusPower. I use Dynamotor twice onto Mewtwo, and I attach to Tornadus. On one hand, I could use Juniper (or Pokégear for a different Supporter) to try and get access to extra cards. On the other hand, I’m keeping my Supporter density higher by holding them in case I do get hit by an N. It also gives me the appearance of having “drawn dead” off of the N, which makes it very hard for an opponent to pull the trigger on using N on me.
There are two cards I’d want to hit here: a Pokémon Catcher or a Junk Arm. An Eviolite makes it very hard for Zekrom-EX to kill Mewtwo with PlusPowers, and Catcher is obviously my win condition for the next turn. If I’m fishing for these, playing a Supporter is a good play. If I whiff on them, then I can still hit a second Supporter use the next turn.
I choose to use Juniper, as I prefer having the ability to draw into a second Supporter use to get a Catcher, as if he does return KO my Mewtwo, I could be in trouble without a Catcher. One of the tiebreakers here is that my opponent has already played multiple N against me, so the odds of him having another are lowered. If he had played none, then I feel like I have to really go out of my way to play around them.
Now, let’s say I was to play defensively and I try to bluff a dead hand here. To further enforce my image of weakness, I’d play Pokégear, and “fail to find” a Supporter, or at the best, grab a Collector, which is “weak” or pointless to my win conditions.
pokemon-paradijs.comI use Pokégear, and grab a Pokémon Collector, before using Professor Juniper. I don’t want to draw the Collector later, so “thinning the deck” of it is good. Juniper gives me the following cards:
I Junk Arm away the Eelektrik and the L Energy for an Eviolite, which I put on Mewtwo EX. I use X Ball for the KO, and draw a Tynamo and a Pokémon Catcher. My opponent draws, plays a Sage’s Training, and I reveal the Catcher and PlusPower for the game now that he doesn’t have the chance to use N to disrupt my hand.
The crazy thing this game shows off is that my start was substantially better than his, and at the end of the game, if I didn’t have a Catcher, there was a good chance I just lose that game. The games are closer than the prize count appears at times. Zekrom-EX can be crucial in these matchups, especially toward the end, in spots like this. Anyway, the next matchup we have is against CMT.
Zekrom Eelektrik vs. Celebi Mewtwo Tornadus
For this matchup, I opted to play against my good friend Amelia Bottemiller, who piloted her CMT deck to a top 16 placement at Oregon States, and to a 3rd place finish at BC Provincials. We end up playing 7 straight games, with all 7 of them being completely illegitimate.
All 7 ended with either one of us getting first or second turned, or with one player drawing no Supporters. Finally, on our 8th game, we actually managed to get one that went the distance and gave us a match worth reporting.
I draw my opening hand, and see the following cards:
I mulligan the hand, and shuffle up. An interesting thing about this format is that I don’t feel like I mind mulliganning very much. With the decks being primarily Basic oriented, it is pretty easy to get a good start, so the one card difference doesn’t often make the difference between a weak start, and an explosive one, like it could when decks were trying to piece together a powerful first turn with LuxChomp, or Gyarados, or trying to develop a turn 2 Gardevoir or Empoleon.
Games are much more decided by who goes first, so if I mulligan, even a few times, and go first, I feel like I still have a huge advantage. My second hand turns out to be the following:
I opt to open with Zekrom, over Tynamo. Going first, opening with Tynamo is certainly better, but on the draw, there’s a good chance it gets killed and I’m in the hole with a pretty slow start. This is a bit of a judgment call, actually. The issue comes down to whether I want to give myself a better start off of opening with Tynamo and drawing into Cleffa/Level Ball/Dual Ball/Collector/Poké Comm.
On the other hand, if I don’t draw it, all that I do is give her a quick kill option. If my start is going to be slower, I’d rather not be down in a deep prize hole. Mewtwo gets a quick, easy kill on me, and I’d be stuck with Zekrom active anyway.
If I do go first, and don’t draw a Cleffa out to allow me to Eeeeek, then I either leave Tynamo active, allowing it to almost assuredly die, or retreat for Zekrom and still end up in the same spot, and have Tynamo as a Catcher target. If I open Zekrom, it can’t be turn-oned, and worst case scenario, I’m a turn behind on retreating for a Cleffa, but without potentially giving up a prize so I’m not even THAT far behind.
pokemon-paradijs.comAmelia starts with one Basic, and we flip to see who goes first. I call tails, and I win, so I get to go first. She flips over a Virizion EPO, and I draw for the turn, plucking a Pokémon Collector. Guess I should have opened with Tynamo then, eh? Well, I decided to open cautiously, so even though I would have been rewarded for gambling, I’m stuck working with what I have.
I use Pokémon Collector, and grab a 2nd Tynamo, a Cleffa, and a Shaymin. I have a Tynamo prized. I already have Zekroms, and a Mewtwo, so Shaymin allows me to Celebration Wind energy to Mewtwo if she pulls off Catcher onto Tynamo the next turn. It almost requires me to play a PlusPower or DCE to make it worthwhile, but I don’t see myself playing down a Zekrom-EX yet, since my start is slow.
I bench both Tynamo, and attach my L Energy to my active Zekrom. If I lose a Tynamo on the following turn, that’s fine; it allows me to bring up the second Tynamo, attach an energy to Zekrom, and retreat for Cleffa. I’m not sure if I’d rather have the energy in play, and not have to retreat Zekrom, or let her hit Zekrom, and bench my Tynamos on the following turn before Eeeeeking. Due to the Shaymin in the list, I really value energy in play, especially on a huge HP Pokémon like Zekrom. I pass the turn.
Amelia draws, plays a Dual Ball, getting 1 heads. She grabs Celebi, and benches it. She plays Switch, bringing it active, using Forest Breath to attach a G Energy to Virizion. She plays a second Switch to bring up Virizion, and then uses Catcher on my Tynamo.
She plays an N, which I’m ecstatic over. Since I played a Supporter, including a strong one in Pokémon Collector and benched my Tynamos, it showed some sign of strength in my hand. I’m not sure how good she took my hand as because I did grab a Cleffa, on the other hand.
Odds are N was the only Supporter she had, but even if that is the case, it isn’t worthless to analyze whether or not your decisions can influence a players decisions. This is particularly important when trying to convince an opponent not to, or to, use an N on you. Representing hand strength or desperation can be an important skill.
N gives me the following cards:
Amelia attaches a G Energy to her Virizion from her new hand, and Giga Drain’s my Tynamo to death, taking her prize.
I promote Tynamo, and draw another L Energy. I play Dual Ball, grabbing a Tynamo, and benching it after getting one heads. I Junk Arm away two L Energy for Dual Ball, but get two tails. I attach a L Energy to my active Zekrom, and use N, getting a new hand of 6 and giving her 5. I draw:
I attach Eviolite to Zekrom, as it makes it that much harder for a Mewtwo to be able to come out of nowhere and kill it. The synergy with Bolt Strike is obvious as well. I usually like to save it for Zekrom-EX, but since I’ll be leading with Zekrom here as an attacker, there is a good chance it gets killed, and I can Junk Arm for the Eviolite back later. I retreat Tynamo, and promote Zekrom, hitting Virizion for 20. If she uses Giga Drain, it only hits me for 10, and healing her 10. If she uses the big attack, it puts me in range of being able to Outrage for the kill.
She draws, and uses Catcher on Tynamo, and benches a Celebi. She plays PONT, drawing 6 new cards, and benches a Mewtwo, before attaching a G Energy to it. She uses Giga Drain on Virizion, KOing another Tynamo and setting her ahead at 4 Prizes remaining to my 6, putting me in quite the hole.
I promote my third Tynamo, and draw for the turn. Just in time, I draw a Pokémon Collector. Now I have a bit of a conundrum at hand. On one hand, I can Zekrom Virizion, but that doesn’t do a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. I just stay further and further behind in the exchange. I’m already down two Tynamo, which means it’s going to be difficult to keep up the exchanges the longer the game goes.
The big “gamble” play I can make is to play Catcher on his Mewtwo. If I do that, and get Pokémon Communcation, Level Ball, Shaymin, or Junk Arm off of my N, I can Celebration Wind to Mewtwo, and get the kill on her Mewtwo. This ties prizes up, and gives her a random 4 card hand without a benched Mewtwo.
Having played the matchup a lot, I’ve gone with the conservative approach enough times only to realize that doesn’t usually end up well for me in this spot. There are a decent number of cards I can pluck out of the 6 cards off of N, and I think hitting that gives me a far better position to play off of than just hoping to play into a casual exchange that is going to likely leave me too far behind.
I bench the Mewtwo, and play Catcher on her Mewtwo, before playing my N, drawing me the following lovely hand:
Well, that gambit didn’t pay off at all. This pretty much seals my fate, but I still know I can steal games as a result of late game Ns, so there’s no point in giving up. I’ll have to get lucky from here, but I still need to give myself the best position to capitalize on any luck.
I retreat Tynamo for Zekrom. I evolve Tynamo into Eelektrik, and bench Zekrom-EX, and use Dynamotor onto it. I attach a second L Energy onto Zekrom-EX, as the plan is to smack Mewtwo for 20, and next turn, I can Collector for Shaymin EX and be able to do 150 damage with Zekrom-EX.
If she uses Catcher to kill something, I can Celebration Wind the energy off of Zekrom onto Zekrom-EX for the kill. If she doesn’t, I have Dynamotor plus the energy in my hand to pull off the KO.
She draws, plays a Mewtwo on her bench, attaches a G Energy to her Virizion to take it up to three, and plays a Catcher on my Eelektrik. That is one of the major strengths of this Virizion over the newer one. If you choose to ignore it, the ability to swing out for 100 midgame opposed to just resetting to a 40 cap is huge.
It kills Eelektriks, and against Tornadus and Thundurus, with a PlusPower, can score the KO. Of course, off of the N, she also has the Juniper, refilling her nearly depleted hand. She Junk Arms away a Dual Ball and a G Energy for a Switch, bringing Virizion active, and killing my Eelektrik.
pokemon-paradijs.comI draw, after promoting my Zekrom. I draw a DCE, which is huge for my Zekrom-EX later. I play Pokémon Collector for a Cleffa, a Mewtwo, and my Shaymin. I bench the second Mewtwo, as it doesn’t really matter since she has 3 Prizes left, and I already have one Mewtwo benched.
If she kills one, then the last kill can be any of my other Pokémon. I attach the L Energy to Zekrom, and use Bolt Strike to take out Virizion, taking 20 damage past my Eviolite. My first prize, luckily, was my Tynamo.
She promotes Celebi, and attaches a DCE to her Mewtwo. She plays a Pokémon Catcher on my Mewtwo. She uses Forest Breath to her Mewtwo as well, plays a PlusPower and a Skyarrow Bridge, and plays a Professor Juniper. She plays Junk Arm for a Dual Ball, getting a heads, grabbing Shaymin and Celebration Winds enough energy onto Mewtwo to get the kill on mine, going down to 1 Prize.
I promote Zekrom-EX, and draw a Professor Juniper. I play the DCE onto my Zekrom-EX, and play down my Tynamo. I’m in an obviously bad spot, but I see a thin line of plays which could theoretically win me the match. She’s already used up 3 Catcher and 4 Junk Arms, so if I get the kill on Mewtwo here (off of a PlusPower and a Junk Arm, for example ) I am in a spot where she is going to have issues 1-shotting this Zekrom-EX.
In addition to that, I can retreat it, and have Zekrom on my bench ready to do a lot of damage. If this works out, I have enough turns to “soak up” hits and not give up the last prize and ideally start to make a comeback. I need 2-3 turns depending on what I draw in order to make the full recovery for a win.
I play Juniper, drawing the following cards:
pokemon-paradijs.comI play the PlusPower, and I Junk Arm away the L Energy and the DCE. I need my only Supporter, and the Junk Arm is very important to possibly winning. It’s actually a tough call between the DCE and the L Energy at this point, but Eelektrik will net me the same amount of energy as the DCE by next turn, except it won’t cost me any energy attachments, so if I draw one off of my prizes, next turn’s draw, or Sage, I am even in output that DCE gets me. I discard the DCE for my attack and kill her Mewtwo for 2 Prizes, which are Tornadus and DCE.
She promotes Celebi, and benches a Tornadus, using Forest Breath on it. She plays a Professor Juniper, before playing a DCE on her Tornadus, retreating her Celebi for it, and hitting my Mewtwo for 80. She moves her G Energy back to her Mewtwo.
I draw a Switch, and attach a DCE to my Mewtwo. I play Sage’s Training, and get a PlusPower and a Sage’s Training. I discard Switch and Tornadus for a Catcher, bringing up her Mewtwo, and retreat using her Skyarrow Bridge to bring my Mewtwo up after evolving Tynamo to Eelektrik, allowing me to Dynamotor to it. This put me at enough Energy to KO her Mewtwo, tying us at 1 Prize each, and her without a Mewtwo.
She draws for the turn, before playing a PONT, and 2 cards in she gets the last Catcher, allowing her to secure the win.
Well, this game didn’t go particularly well, but I felt like I managed to give myself a chance to make a comeback. In retrospect, I’d like to address some of the “gambles” I took throughout the course of the game.
In victory or defeat, it is important to look back at a game and analyze what could have been done better, or differently, and see if different lines of play could have changed the outcome. A lot of times, this results merely in very abstract theorycrafting because plays can change the course of a game entirely, but it is very useful none the less.
In this case, I feel like I made the safest call with opening Zekrom. Obviously, with a stronger hand, I think opening Tynamo there is a fine play. If someone were to open Tynamo here, I don’t even know if I could call that play incorrect. It felt wrong to me at the time, and in retrospect, it might have been correct. That being said, I think in a vacuum, I make the same play I did in a tournament scenario every time.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe Mewtwo gamble is a bit of a tighter call. I could have made some pretty good progress on keeping her energy in check and taking Virizion out of the equation. Especially seeing how I was at 1 Prize at the end of the game. That being said, when analyzing games in retrospect, you have to take into account that information is not perfect. You don’t know how flips, or draws will go.
I think the upside to hitting the Shaymin is too good to overlook, even though we know I missed it. Now, when looking at this from a deck construction standpoint, the inclusion of Dual Balls over Collector would have benefitted this line of play. I’m not going to say it makes Dual Ball a better inclusion, but when you’re on the fence on an issue, noting scenarios like this are important for weighing the sides later on.
Amelia did do a pretty good job of hitting her Catchers, and a steady stream of Supporters across the game. I started off getting rolled pretty hard as a result, but this game could have definitely been a lot tighter if she had a bit of misfortune throughout the turns. I hit a few really questionable hands as well, but had enough to work with to keep making plays.
If I had been on the draw though, I certainly get crushed this game. It goes to show just how powerful the opening flip can be. I ran a bit chilly all game with a bad open, and still had a respectable showing almost exclusively because of that edge. Well, ok, the other part is because Amelia was forced to use a lot of Catchers and Junk Arms early, and I was in a position to wall for a few turns with Zekrom-EX at the end when she was out of gas.
I don’t disagree with how she played her game at all. She needs to press the advantage, and did so, and got enough of an edge off of it. It would be interesting to see how the game would have played out if I just took the kill on Virizion early on, as that was the most questionable line I decided to take.
That being said, had I gotten the kill on Mewtwo that turn, it turns into more of a traditional Mewtwo war, so I could very well have just lost off of that too. I wish I could have seen how it plays out, as knowing whether it would have won me the game or not would say a lot about whether my gambit was correct in the first place. I’d appreciate input on this in the forums. (This will be this article’s Regigigas debate.)
Zekrom Eelektrik vs. Durant
Now, I technically know I am playing against Durant here, and unless they are running Mewtwo and Double Colorless Energy (a trick I think is both not very popular, and not very good) they are unable to turn one me, so I could just bench Tynamo and be safe from getting first turned, while keeping an extra card in my hand to eventually return to my deck.
Yet since I am trying to start the games with as little knowledge as possible about the matchup I am playing against, I wound up opening with Cleffa, and benching the Tynamo. They are both equally able to get turn-one’d, but because my hand had some legs to it, I decided that I’d rather lose Cleffa than a Tynamo, as there was a decent change that I would just never end up using Eeeeeek in the first place. Dual Ball plus a PONT meant that there was a good chance I would set up.
My opponent mulliganned, revealing that they were, in fact, playing Durant (much to my surprise!) and I opted to take a mulligan, drawing a Level Ball, after placing out my prizes. My opponent drew their new hand, and placed down two Basic Pokémon, and we flipped for who gets to go first. I call tails, and, of course, the dice shows a giant six, so I’m on the draw this game.
He flips over an active Durant NVI, and a benched Rotom UD. He draws, and plays a Special M Energy on his active Durant before playing a Level Ball. He searches his deck, pulling out a Durant, but takes his time leafing through his cards in order to take stock of what cards are prized.
To save time, I have him just look at his prizes, and shuffle them up and replace them in a new order. It saves time in playtesting, even if it is a bit unrepresentative of the time you have to figure out your deck in an event. Personally, I prefer it as a short cut in testing to save time, but the closer to an event I get, I start running “official” games.
pokemon-paradijs.comThat just means we actually time it, play turns, maintain expected pace, and obviously can’t do the prize “cheat” in that type of environment. As long as you’ve been playing in a lot of events during the course of the year, you shouldn’t have much of an issue staying in “tournament shape,” but I like making sure I’m up to snuff headed into any given event, because playtesting can really skew things.
The prize checking is one thing, but you also get so familiarized with the decklists, play styles, and tells of certain players that you aren’t getting the same environment you would at a real tournament. If you have the chance to play in any “warm up tournaments” prior to a bigger event, I recommend it as it helps you shift back into the right mindset after weeks or months of playtesting.
He replaces his prizes, benches Durant, and uses Junk Arm to discard a Basic M Energy and a Lost Remover to play a 2nd Level Ball. Lost Remover is pretty bad against Eelektrik decks, despite technically hitting Double Colorless Energy. I wasn’t sure the exact contents of his hand, but I can imagine a ton of cards that have more value than Lost Remover in this matchup (which should be obvious due to my benched Tynamo) and the Basic Metal energy are usually fairly expendable.
He follows up with using Rotom to randomly replace one of his prizes. I can’t necessarily take that as a sign that he has a prized Durant because he never played a card that could get him a 4th one from his deck, and he could know that he has other crucial cards prized that he’d rather try and get back into the deck.
He was forced to bench the card to avoid potential turn one kills in the first place, so he could certainly just be trying to get extra value out of it by “fixing” his deck a bit. The odds of this happening in an actual tournament I’d say is lower because most people just casually check their decks for a few key cards, like certain 1-ofs, and in this case Durant, but since he knows the exact 6 cards, if he’s got say, 5 supporters stuck in there, or a few Junk Arm, I could easily see him trying to free some of those.
On the other hand, he hasn’t gotten to his 4th Durant yet, so he would risk prizing it on accident, but if that turns out to be the case, he still knows what card the Durant is, and can just get it the turn later, so it’s a fairly negligible risk. He Devours my deck for 3 cards before passing the turn over to me. Devour hits a L Energy, an Eelektrik, and a Junk Arm. Not a particularly great set of cards to have milled, but it could be worse.
I draw a Tynamo for the turn. I lead off by playing Dual Ball, the card which has the most variance to it, so I can craft the rest of my turn around what it gives me. Unless there is a particular reason to play things in a different order, cards with variable results are the ones I like to lead with before figuring out the rest of my turn.
pokemon-paradijs.com Dual Ball nets me one heads, which is pretty well above what it usually gets me. (I flip a lot of double tails with this card.) I search through my deck, and also decide to just do the “prize cheat,” revealing the following cards to be prized.
I shuffle them up and lay them back down randomly, before taking a Zekrom out of my deck. This deck has a pretty strong Durant matchup as long as I can keep my field limited. If I open with Mewtwo, or Zekrom-EX, then I have a bit of an issue as it opens them up to being able to abuse Catcher to slow me down.
If I open with Tornadus, or Thundurus, or Shaymin, it’s not ideal, but their one Retreat Costs are manageable. If I can isolate my field to free retreaters, a Zekrom, and eventually a few Eelektrik, I find this matchup to be extremely favorable for Eelektrik Zekrom. Opening Cleffa and Tynamo gave me a very good start, even though they went first and managed to get 3 Durant out on the first turn.
I bench Zekrom, attaching a L Energy to it. I debate attaching an Eviolite to the card, before finally deciding it is worth attaching. On one hand, you are playing down a card which is unnecessary in the matchup most times because they are not attaching you, and it wastes one card that can be shuffled back into your deck to prevent decking.
On the other hand, it keeps you out of range of various “surprise kills” that Durant likes to incorporate against Zekrom, since it is an acknowledged problem card. It keeps you out of range of getting killed by a Prism Energy on Rotom.
On that note, if my opponent DOES have the Mewtwo plan in their deck, I face a potential problem if they use it on my Zekrom since I know my 2nd one is prized, but I can likely transition to Mewtwo at that point, as I’d have to use Bolt Strike three times to be in X Ball range. Mewtwo’s return kill leaves me at 1 Prize, which I should then be able to snag fairly quickly. I just needed to make sure to make keeping a Mewtwo in my hand/deck a priority just in case.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt is an unlikely scenario to have happen to me, but with the start I have, I can acknowledge that if the game goes as standard, that it should favor me, especially with 4 N in deck to restore my deck. I just need to make sure to play around any of the more obscure scenarios which put me in danger of losing.
When you can identify yourself as being in a favorable position in a game, the key thing to do is to think out the lines of play which your opponent could make or draw into that let you lose that advantage. A lot of good players win games they should lose by following these thin outs, and have their opponents not do anything to actively reduce the odds they work.
It isn’t a huge edge, but it’s something you can do to try and increase your net win percentage. Nonetheless, I play the Eviolite down on Zekrom, knowing that when these decks have these sorts of starts, I generally have a fairly comfortable amount of cards left in my deck by the end. That one card is unlikely to make or break me decking, and well, if it does, I’ll have to re-analyze the spot and decide if it was incorrect to do, or just an unfortunate conclusion despite solid play.
It’s easy to look back on a spot and say it was wrong because you lost and it played a role in the loss, but that’s not always right. A lot of times it is correct, as you are playing to the most likely way a game plays out, and good play can still punish you if the game takes a different route.
I’m actually at crossroads here, as I’m not sure if it is correct to use PONT this turn, or not. On one hand, my hand isn’t particularly great, but I will be cutting into my own deck size if I use it and I don’t have a whole lot to draw this turn in particular that will benefit me. Ideally I want to get access to some Eelektriks on the next turn. If I can get a turn 2 Zekrom attacking, I’ll be in great shape, but if I can’t, I’m still not in awful shape.
I end up using PONT, mainly due to the fact that an Eelektrik was already milled by Devour. If he hits a 2nd Eelektrik off of his attacks soon, I could be in a bit of trouble. This is one of the downsides of cutting Super Rod; if you happen to get unlucky and have an opponent really mill a large number of the same card, it can really hurt you. As a result, I go for PONT, and get the following hand:
pokemon-paradijs.comI play Level Ball, grabbing an Eelektrik, knowing it’s safer in my hand than in my deck, even if, by leaving it in my deck, I am technically increasing the odds I draw a copy naturally, letting the Level Ball then become the second copy. In any matchup besides Durant (or a deck featuring Trainer lock, of course) this play would likely be incorrect, but things change when milling cards is involved.
(Interesting slang history: The term “milling” in regard to decking an opponent stems from the Magic the Gathering card “Millstone” which would discard 2 cards off of a players deck each turn. The card was quite popular, to such a degree that “milling” an opponent became a common term in all TCGs! But back to the game.)
I leave Cleffa active, opting not to Eeeeeeek because I have Eelektrik in my hand, and the rest of the hand isn’t particularly awful either. If he hits a Crushing Hammer on Zekrom, then I won’t be attacking with it the next turn, but if he doesn’t do that or Catcher up Zekrom to make it impossible to Dynamotor to, I’ll be attacking for 120 next turn, and I’m not willing to Eeeeek into a greedier hand than that.
I guess since I don’t have a further draw Supporter, not using Level Ball and Eeeeeeking is another realistic play, but I think the line I went with is fine, if not a bit safer. Eelektrik and Zekrom with energy is usually all you really need for this matchup since I don’t have any Catcher targets on my bench.
My opponent draws, and immediately plays Pokémon Catcher, bringing up Zekrom. I’m not sure if me showing him that I had an Eelektrik for the next turn forced his hand into bringing it active or not, but I think it’s correct for him to do it anyway. Any time a Catcher can likely add an extra full turn to my clock it is getting its value worth, especially in this matchup where Catcher isn’t nearly as usual due to my free retreat, and energy acceleration midgame.
He plays a Basic M Energy on his benched Durant, and thinks for a moment, suggesting he either has a Crushing Hammer, or a Supporter he could play. If he had a Supporter like Juniper, N, or PONT, I can see him opting not to play it because he could either have a few other really good cards, but his hand wasn’t that large, so that seems less likely than him gripping a Twins, which I can definitely see him not wanting to put back into the deck, or discard.
He ends up using Rotom to swap his next Prize card down the line, before Devouring me for 3. I flip over the top cards, getting rid of another Junk Arm, a Professor Juniper, and a Mewtwo EX. (Again, seeing the first Mewtwo go down makes me feel the need to get the second one in my hand as quickly as possible to avoid it milling too in case he does kill my Zekrom.)
pokemon-paradijs.comI draw for the turn, and ironically draw into that Mewtwo. Actually a bit of a weaker draw because I could have Collectored for it, but it saves me the effort I guess. I have two lines of play here. I could try and get greedy, getting Shaymin out of my deck, and evolve into Eelektrik on my bench and Dynamotor, then use Celebration Wind to take a prize.
This is greedy, as it gives him two good Catcher targets in Shaymin, and an Eelektrik with a low amount of energy in the discard and in play. When I have no Supporters besides Collector to get access to cards, I don’t want to get something stuck, which I would be particularly vulnerable to if I took that route. I don’t see the advantage to being greedy here.
The line I do go for is to just attach a L Energy to my active, and hold my Eelektrik. I want to force a Crushing Hammer this turn. He hasn’t shown a lot of draw power yet, or a Crushing Hammer the past turn, so this seems safe. He could have been debating the Hammer, as it can be correct to save them for one big turn, but I think this turn had a big enough target on it that he likely would have used it.
If he has a Supporter, but is protecting a card like Twins, I’d love to force his hand to get rid of it to force him to chase the Crushing Hammer. If that is the case, and he does have Twins, which based on his play, and mannerisms, suggests he may, I certainly don’t want to overextend into the Shaymin play and give it to him while I’m vulnerable without a Supporter.
At this point, I look back and have to debate if the Eeeeeeek would have been better. I end my turn by using Outrage for a very threatening 10 damage due to Durant’s Special M Energy.
My opponent draws, and plays a Crushing Hammer. He flips, and gets tails, sparing me a pretty compromising position. He thinks again, and uses Rotom to swap the top card of his deck, before Devouring me for 3, discarding a L Energy, a Switch, and a Professor Juniper. I don’t mind these mills at all: In fact, it got more Lightning into my discard pile, and I’d much rather be drawing to Junk Arms than the one Switch, so by milling it, he just increased the number of cards I can draw as an answer to attempted Catcher disruption.
I draw for my turn, drawing an N. I attach my DCE to my active, and debate playing down Eelektrik. It doesn’t do a ton here, and I like having an all free retreat bench. I could start using Dynamotor, but I’m pretty well forced into playing it on my Eelektrik itself, and it still becomes a target. Nonetheless, if he wants to chase after my Eelektrik here, I think I’m ok with that.
It may be safer to hold it, though, so I hold off on pulling the trigger, and choose to just use Bolt Strike for the Knock Out, taking 20 damage beyond Eviolite, and taking my prize, which happens to be the Zekrom-EX. Not as good as a normal Zekrom, but at least it gives me another attacker.
My opponent promotes the Durant from his bench with the Basic Metal energy to the Active Spot. My opponent draws, and slams down the 4th Durant, and plays down the Twins I suspected that he had. He shuffles the two cards into his hand to prevent me from knowing which cards he may play were ones he searched for. He plays a Revive on the Knocked Out Durant, and uses Devour, getting rid of a Pokémon Catcher, PlusPower, and 2 L Energy.
I draw for the turn and draw another N. Because I am going to miss an energy drop, I am pretty well forced into playing one of my N this turn. Because I’m doing that, it’s as good of time as any to evolve a Tynamo into an Eelektrik. I evolve, and play N, giving him a new hand of 6, and me the following 5 cards:
Well, that went pretty well. I slam down the second Eelektrik, and attach a L Energy to my active Zekrom, “overloading” it, just so that if he plays a Catcher, he can’t realistically strip it of enough energy for it to be relevant. I use Dynamotor to put a L Energy on each of my Eelektriks. I didn’t bother attaching manually to either of them, as whichever one has less energy gets the Catcher, so there is no point.
I mean, in the very long term it could theoretically matter, but it seems very unlikely here that it would come into play. One thought that did cross my mind is to hold the energy in case he uses Catcher on an Eelektrik, but I don’t see him making a greedy push like that right now where a Switch, Junk Arm, or Double Colorless Energy just blows him out. I know I don’t have a way to escape it, but I don’t see him picking his spot here to try and capitalize.
pokemon-paradijs.comI also get to take a prize, and I have 2 energy stuck in there (admittedly, if I were in a tournament and time was an issue, I don’t see myself counting the energy in deck when searching my first turn with Dual Ball, so this is a perfect example of having information I would have in an untimed game, but might not in a tournament setting), so I have a 2/5 chance of drawing an energy anyway.
Worst case scenario I have to use Juniper, which isn’t great, but something I could afford to do, rather than lose, of course. For a Plan B, it isn’t terrible. I KO Durant, and my prize is a L Energy. See, everything works out!
My opponent promotes a Durant, and plays a Revive, bringing the newly KO’d ant back to the bench. He plays down a Special M Energy and an Eviolite. Eviolite doesn’t really do anything, but it makes sense with his next play; a Professor Oak’s New Theory. He definitely doesn’t want to draw the card in his 6, so it thins the deck and increases the density of good cards left in the deck for him to draw out of.
Eviolite has no downside for him, so all he’s doing is getting rid of a bad draw. He pauses, as if debating something, and I assume it would have to be regarding Catchering an Eel, but he opts to just use Devour instead. He mills away Shaymin, a Pokémon Communication, a Double Colorless Energy and an N. The N in particular is an issue, because it is my best means to stave off decking.
I draw a Tynamo for the turn, and use Dynamtor to put 2 L Energy onto my bench, one on each Eelektrik. I hold the one in my hand to be a bit more reactive with as my field was pretty safe. I use Bolt Strike again, as Eviolite puts him outside of Outrage range, and my prize this time is Zekrom.
My opponent draws, and used Junk Arm to discard a Pokémon Collector and a Level Ball to play Revive, and then plays a Twins, and plays a Prism Energy onto his newly promoted Durant. (For sake of the report, if I forget to mention he promotes Durant between KOs… he does.) He uses Devour, milling a Pokémon Catcher, L Energy, and two Sage’s Training.
I draw the third Sage’s Training (I SO shuffled! Although the other two weren’t actually the last cards milled from Devour.), and I Dynamotor two energy onto each Eel, and use Outrage to score the kill on Durant, and take the Double Colorless Energy as a prize.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy opponent promotes Durant, and draws, looking over his hand. He plays a Crushing Hammer on my active, flipping tails, and plays a second one, discarding a L Energy. He plays a PONT, shuffling his hand into his deck. At this point, my energy is so developed that Crushing Hammer is pretty much irrelevant so thinning the deck of them may as well be the best use for them.
There is a point where I hit a threshold of energy that they can’t disrupt and it becomes a straight up race. He draws his hand, groans, counting my deck, and scoops, revealing his hand to have not had an energy to use Devour with. I was fine anyway, but whiffing the energy certainly sealed the deal.
In recap, because he went first and got a good hand, and because I wasn’t able to attack for the first two turns, he was actually in an alright spot to be able to steal that game if things went slightly differently. I got somewhat lucky being able to get to my Eelektriks so easily, but that was one of the few types of Durant games where they are able to almost race me when I don’t start with a bad Pokémon on my bench.
Zekrom Eelektrik vs. Terrakion
pokemon-paradijs.comWell, this isn’t a particularly great hand, but the fact I know this is going against mono-Terrakion isn’t going to matter much, as the universal “start” with this hand is to play down both Tynamo. I assume Pokégear is going to net me a Supporter, but if it doesn’t, I (hopefully, assuming it is not prized) have access to Cleffa as a last ditch fallback plan.
Now, the general plan for this matchup is to try and stem the bleeding and focus more on set up than really just keeping up a prize exchange, unless your start is really good. If I go first and hit well off of the Gear, I could definitely see this being the type of hand where I can try and be the aggressor, or try and maintain an exchange game at the very least.
If that falls short, and I learn pretty quickly on whether it’s a viable route toward victory or not, I switch gears and try and set up a chain of N plays to really disrupt their hand and try to sweep with a Mewtwo EX at the end of the game. Ideally I can try and get an Eviolite for that, but that’s never too reliable, but it also isn’t entirely necessary.
I call tails as usual (PlayTCG has gotten me addicted to calling Tails… because if there is anything that site does well besides crashing and/or sucking, it’s rolling tails for going first) and get to go first. I open with my two Tynamo, opposed to my opponent’s… you guessed it… Terrakion. At this point, I’m actually a bit bitter he never mulliganned once, as my hand is a few cards away from being very strong on the play, and because, well, that deck mulligans all the time.
I draw for the turn, and hit a second Pokémon Collector, effective a dead-draw. This actually leaves me with an interesting choice. I can either lead with Pokégear, or with Pokémon Collector. If I lead with Collector, I think the deck of 3 Pokémon cards; increasing the odds I hit supporters off of my Gear.
On the other hand, what I hit with Gear could impact what I get with Collector, namely a potential Cleffa, so there are pros and cons to each scenario. The increase in favorable odds coming from thinning the deck toward Gear seems minimal enough that I’d rather craft my Collector around what I get with it.
The interesting part about this particular position is that while my normal inclination is to Gear first, I actually think it is incorrect here. Why? Because I don’t want to actually bench a ton of Pokémon right here. Because I plan to leave space open for Mewtwo and Shaymin plays later, I’d rather just bench a few Tynamo, and a Tornadus. As a result, I can afford to “waste” the 3rd Collector slot on a Cleffa anyway, because there is no hypothetical better card I would rather grab right now.
I play Pokémon Collector, and grab a Tornadus, a Zekrom, and a Cleffa, and shuffle up. I play Pokégear next, revealing a Pokémon Collector (they love me) and a Sage’s Training. I take Sage here, and bench Tornadus and nothing else. (I could definitely see myself going with an aggressive Zekrom in the near future, but if he wants to buy time by Catchering it early, I’m not about to offer up that bait.)
pokemon-paradijs.comI attach my L Energy to Tornadus, but leave it on the bench. This lets me Dynamotor to it, and I know he just runs 4 Terrakion. This is a bit of an unfair “information” edge, as Terrakion could be played it any number of decks as a splash, but I guess a few rounds into a tournament, you generally have some degree of knowledge as to what people are using. If I was literally going in blind, I may promote Tornadus so I don’t get Switch and Tyrogue’d/Mewtwo’d.
I pass the turn, and my opponent draws. He plays Heavy Ball, and searches his deck for a… Terrakion! He benches it, and slaps an Exp. Share on it. I’m not sure that’s really a necessary play, because it leaves it open to a Catcher, which can buy me time to set up, but I know he knows I play Shaymin, so if I do get an Eel out and a discarded energy, and a PlusPower, that Zekrom I grabbed does threaten to bench him.
It’s a pretty unlikely occurrence, but I guess I wouldn’t want to get benched like that. It seems like it’s a really weak threat, whereas leaving yourself open to that Catcher can be pretty rough. That almost guarantees since I put my opponent as being a strong player, that he has a Switch in hand.
People talk about getting “reads” on plays all the time. Most of the time, you don’t just have a magical feeling, or you don’t pick up on physical signs. Most reads stem from interpreting the way they play their game. When a player does something potentially risky like that, it gives you a good idea as to what their other cards could be.
Anyway, he plays a F Energy on his active Terrakion before passing the turn. I’m not sure whether to take this as him not having a Supporter or not. People are often way too aggressive with playing them. Especially in decks where you are not rushing to get evolutions into play. You are restricted to an energy a turn, and all of your Pokémon are Basics.
Don’t burn your Supporters for no reason. You are thinning your deck of them for later when they may matter, and it certainly hurts you with late game Ns where you want a high supporter density in your deck. There really aren’t many cards he could need, so holding back on a Juniper or PONT or N here makes perfect sense from him, so I will not go into my turn assuming he’s stuck.
In some matchups, if you can get a sign that they have a very weak hand, it’s a green light to press on very aggressively. You can justify overextending in situations like that. This doesn’t come close to signaling weakness.
savagechickens.comOn the other hand, as a player, if you get into positions where you don’t need to play Supporters, and it doesn’t hurt your position, you can definitely trick a player into overextending, and leaving themselves open.
Anyway, I draw for the turn, and it’s a Pokémon Collector. Again. I shuffled the third one back into the deck, and it rears its ugly head yet again. I play Sage’s Training, revealing the following cards: Double Colorless Energy, L Energy, Eelektrik, PlusPower, and Professor Oak’s New Theory. On one hand, had I played the energy last turn on Zekrom, I’d have the opening for the elusive turn 2 kill on Terrakion.
The problem is, because he benched the second one with an Exp. Share, I don’t even like that play. It requires I go Supporter-less, as I need to grab the Eelektrik and PlusPower and discard the PONT, and he likely gets a return kill on my Zekrom.
It leaves me with an Eelektrik, but I really dislike my plays from there. I take the DCE and the PONT because, sadly, I don’t have energy in my hand to turn the Eel into an attack, and as much as I hate giving up an Eelektrik like that ( especially without running Super Rod ) I feel obligated to do that.
There is actually a weird line of play that I could do here as well, and that is taking Eelektrik and DCE. I can attach the DCE to Tornadus, and then evolve Tynamo, and Dynamotor onto Zekrom as I bench it, then bench Cleffa and Eeeeeek. It develops my board the most, but applies almost no pressure to him.
This is actually a bit of a judgment call, as there are a few ways to play this spot, but I actually like benching Cleffa here, as getting the energy in play gives me a great shot at Shaymin/Mewtwo-ing sooner rather than later. Eelektriks, and energy, die pretty quickly in this matchup, so the more energy I can get in play before forcing the exchange the better.
I wind up taking DCE and Eelektrik, and do that exact line of play. I do hate having Cleffa on the bench, as one of the things you try to work toward at the end of a game here is to not having a pile of low hit point Pokémon for them to Catcher once you start the N war. You ideally have just Mewtwos and like, Tornadus, but that’s not something that happens often.
The fact it is pretty much a pipe dream doesn’t matter though, you want to recognize that it is your ideal end game state, and you should strive to establish it whenever possible. Don’t compromise your game chasing it, but if you can work toward minimizing the guys on your bench in order to avoid giving them outs to cheap end game prizes, you’re better off.
You don’t mind them early on, though: any time they are killing irrelevant Pokémon, they are ignoring Pokémon which have energy on them, and are threats. A great way to sneak Tynamos and such into play is on a turn when they are almost obligated to attack the active due to it providing a threat.
Anyway, I end up Eeeeeeking, and draw:
I definitely can get behind this hand, it gets me my second Eel out, and I have a Supporter. Catcher is actually pretty worthless in this matchup when I’m on equal footing with them, as their active almost always has the most Energy on it, and well, they only have Terrakions. I flip for Sleep, and stay Asleep. It could buy me a turn, but odds are I’m losing a Baby-Eel.
My opponent draws, attaches a Fighting to his active Terrakion, and sure enough, Baby-Eel eats a Catcher. He then plays a PONT, and shuffles his hand in, before sending my Double Colorless Energy to the Lost Zone with a Lost Remover. I’m actually likely to lead with Zekrom here, so I’m not that heart broken by this play, but I do hate losing the DCE for later Mewtwo use. He KOs my Tynamo, and I promote Cleffa. I draw for the turn, drawing a PlusPower.
I was kind of expecting to need to N and hope to mize one, but this simplifies things quite a bit. I use Level Ball, grabbing a Tynamo, benching it, and using Junk Arm to discard a Pokémon Catcher and a L Energy so I can Dynamotor to Zekrom. I play the PlusPower down, use the 2nd Level Ball to grab the 4th Tynamo, and bench it before N’ing him to 5, while drawing the following:
pokemon-paradijs.comThis hand is pretty sketchy, but Sage keeps it live. That last Collector is literally haunting me. It was great to open with, but if it was a Dual Ball, I’d have burnt it by now, just to get it out of my deck, so I guess there’s a downside to Collector being a Supporter: I can’t waste it to stop drawing it.
I retreat Cleffa, and Zekrom Terrakion for a KO, taking a Professor Juniper as a prize. This is actually awful, as it’s completely counterproductive with how I want to play this matchup. I can’t Juniper without benching a Mewtwo or two, and I really prefer to not bench them as I don’t want them to be able to pre-emptively smack them.
I need to get maximum value out of them fully tanked, and I don’t want to have to Celebration Wind to them when they are already near dead. On the other hand, if I can rid his field of energy by being super aggressive, it may be worth it, although I don’t think so. There are very few spots where I’m willing to Juniper there, but it is certainly possible. A Junk Arm would have been far better there.
He moves a F Energy to the next Terrakion, and plays down a Rescue Energy on it. He Junk Arms for a Heavy Ball, getting another Terrakion, discarding a F Energy and a PONT. He plays Professor Juniper, and shakes his head.
I take this as him missing an Exp. Share, which has to be the only card he aggressively needs to hit. Without drawing a 2nd copy, if I can get a turn KO here, I wipe the board entirely. Admittedly, I’m not sure if I can get that kill, but it sure would be nice. He thinks for a moment, before taking the return KO for 180 damage on Zekrom.
I promote Cleffa again, and draw an Eelektrik. Now I am stuck facing a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, I can get greedy and play either Juniper or Sage. Sage lets me hold back Mewtwos, but gets me less relevant cards, as my current hand was pretty worthless, so 7 new ones would be great.
Juniper is pretty much going all-in on pressing the attack chasing a kill here and hoping to at least get something good off of it. If I use Sage, I can’t really get a kill off of anything, but I don’t force myself to bench the Mewtwos.
First things first, I evolve a Tynamo into the 2nd Eelektrik. Now, if I had an additional bench space, I could hypnotically Shaymin the energy off of Tornadus and onto Mewtwo, which would give me another out to try and score a KO here. I need to get 5 energy, or 4 and a PlusPower, onto the Mewtwo.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe more I’m playing these games, the more I feel like I need to get Super Rod back in here. I run into a lot of spots where I’m restricted by my plays because I can’t afford to lose certain cards like this. This is why every series of games is a learning experience. I’ve been pretty happy with this list overall, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have room for growth, and I think this Super Rod gambit may have been a mistake.
Now, I end up “going for it” because I want to see how it plays out if I’m not able to set up my more conservative end game. The Cleffa on my bench is actually really hindering my options, especially since I put 3 Tynamo down. On one hand, benching the “3rd” Eel was great because it prevented him from killing the one, and locking me at 1 Eelektrik in the long run, but now that I did get the Zekrom kill and he ignored the Eels, I’m stuck with a limiting number on my bench.
It’s hard for me to get the actual 3rd Eelektrik out, so now I’m somewhat stuck because it, and the Tornadus, and Cleffa, are clogging my bench. Even if I bench one Mewtwo, I’m forced to Juniper one away and I’ve only taken 1 Prize so far, so if he is able to keep this a legitimate exchange and keep up on energy, then I may not have enough good attackers.
Nonetheless, I bench Mewtwo like a maniac and Juniper my away masochistically. I feel like I somewhat mishandled my bench situation from the get go, aiming to go aggressive, and since I did, I’m a bit committed to that. This is a learning experience, as if it backfires, it may prove that it’s better to just be a bit more defensive, no matter how good my start appears. I have 2 Eelektrik in play, meaning I need a DCE and PlusPower, (or Junk Arm) or a Lighting and DCE, or Lightning, Eelektrik, and PlusPower.
I draw my 7 and get:
pokemon-paradijs.comWell, we’re really good at this game. The odds of “getting there” weren’t good, but we did it anyway. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I double Dynamotor to Mewtwo, play my DCE, and Junk Arm away Dual Ball and N for PlusPower, and my opponent feigns throwing up in his mouth. I guess I deserve that.
Cleffa retreats Mewtwo comes up and I KO Terrakion leaving him without any energy in play. I had a choice of discarding N or Juniper against him, and usually I love late game N in this matchup, but in this case, he has a lot of prizes left, and I’d rather just get the reliable 7 cards in this spot. My prize is a Sage’s Training.
My opponent promotes his Terrakion, still pretending to wretch, after taking the KO’d Terrakion back to his hand due to Rescue Energy. He re-benches Terrakion, and attaches a Fighting to his active. He plays a Junk Arm, getting back Lost Remover to get rid of my DCE from Mewtwo, and playing PONT. He draws, and goes to Catcher an Eelektrik, before taking it back.
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really do anything there, outside of protect my Mewtwo and give me more options. There’s a chance it gets stuck, but it’s unlikely, as I have a decent sized hand and haven’t shown weakness. I discarded a Supporter, so he has to know I still have one. You have to put me on having a DCE or Switch at that point. If I do have Switch, all it does is get 2 additional energy on Mewtwo. He plays an Experience Share on his benched Terrakion a turn too late, and passes the turn.
I draw for the turn, getting another L Energy. I don’t think I can get another kill off of Mewtwo this turn, and if I do, he still gets to hit me back for 90. I play Sage’s Training, revealing the following cards:
pokemon-paradijs.comI take the DCE and the Eviolite. I’m still not able to get the 1-shot, but I do get to slam down the Eviolite which is huge! It makes Mewtwo a 3 hit KO unless he has 3 PlusPower. He hasn’t used any yet, but it’s still hard to do. I play the Eviolite on Mewtwo.
I’m stuck in an interesting spot here. I can either attach the DCE to Mewtwo here, and do 100 damage, or I could retreat and use Tornadus. I know he has a Catcher, so he can still hit Mewtwo, but it forces him to burn one. He’s only hitting for 30, so in turn 10, so it’s almost better.
At this point, I can definitely see the game coming down to whether he hits enough catchers at the end game or not. As I said, he’s used a decent # of Junk Arms so far, so if I make him burn Catchers here too, and he’s stuck chasing the 3 hit kill on Mewtwo, I could really chase him in a circle where I can retreat and he can’t close the deal with bringing it back up for that kill and just rob him off those prizes.
On the other hand, this way Mewtwo hits harder than Terrakion, but it’s not incrementally relevant.
I end up retreating Mewtwo, and use Dynamotor onto Mewtwo twice to restore its energy count, and put the DCE on Tornadus, hitting for 80, sending the Lighting back to Mewtwo.
Now, I draw the following:
Well, that hand absolutely sucks. I mean, I get Eelektrik which is good, but my energy count at the moment is pretty well established. Shaymin is pretty much a dead-draw at this point too. He thinks, and hits my Mewtwo for 20. I like that he recognized the math behind killing this Mewtwo, and knew that getting the PlusPower damage down when he could was important.
It’s counter intuitive to how you’d normally play PlusPower, but with N, and having to shuffle his hand in, there was a good chance he wouldn’t be able to get access to 3 at the same time, so getting them down at any point at all matters.
I draw a Pokémon Catcher, and go into the tank a bit. First off, I evolve the third Tynamo into Eelektrik. I KO Terrakion with my Mewtwo with 3 energy, but I almost feel like it is a missed opportunity. Mewtwo then takes 70, going up to 90, and if he has another Terrakion with an Exp. Share, Mewtwo is dangerously close to getting killed.
If he does get the kill there, I’m left with a Zekrom and a Zekrom-EX as attackers to shore up my last 2 Prizes, if I draw them. (Zekrom needs a PlusPower too.) I choose to instead attach a L Energy to Tornadus, and retreat Mewtwo, using Dynamotor 3 times to put him up to 4 energy total.
I take the KO with Tornadus, moving the Lighting back to Mewtwo to take it up to 5, threatening a 1HKO next turn no matter what. This stresses his Catcher and Junk Arm count even further, and nets me a higher overall energy count on Mewtwo.
He draws for his turn after attaching a F Energy to Terrakion as a result of Exp. Share, and plays a Professor Juniper. He plays Heavy Ball, getting a Terrakion, and plays an Experience Share on it. He attaches a Rescue Energy to his active, but doesn’t have Catcher, and is forced to hit Tornadus for 90 due to Ruins of Alph.
This pretty much seals the game as Mewtwo is in full tank mode, and he’s unlikely to be able to deal with it. He didn’t have a Junk Arm in hand, and he’s going to need to get an Experience Share next turn with only one left, or not be able to deal with Mewtwo at all.
I draw for my turn, drawing Zekrom. I attach to the active Tornadus, and retreat with the newly attached Lightning, which I Dynamotor back to it. I take the KO on the active Terrakion, and get N off of it.
He promotes Terrakion, Exp. Sharing over to it a Fighting, and returning Terrakion to hand due to Rescue Energy. He draws, plays a PlusPower, and plays down an N, but scoops when seeing his 4 card hand offered no Exp. Share or Junk Arm.
The other matchups that are somewhat important are Terrakion/Tornadus/Mewtwo, Donphan/Mewtwo, and Reshiphlosion, but I didn’t have time to do write ups for all of those matchups. The seven highlighted decks are a pretty good representation of what the metagame currently looks like.
pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the decks I feel is well positioned, but is very untested, is a type of “ZPS” deck. It has access to Mewtwo EX, Tornadus, Zekrom, Zekrom-EX, and Regigigas-EX as attackers, plus is faster than Zeels, and can possibly overpower CMT as well.
One of the cards I think is very good in the deck is Super Scoop Up. This is a deck that can really take advantage of the high Hit Points of the EX cards, because with SSU, you re-use Pachi and Shaymin, but also can “reset” hanging EX cards, making it so your opponents almost have to 1-shot them or Catcher around them entirely.
I saw a ZPS deck do well at both Michigan and Oregon States, despite not getting much attention. It feels like a different approach at an already proven force in this format (Mewtwo and big basic support, basically), but it has a potential for a faster start than even CMT, and can keep up with the big hits like Zeels.
It’s a bit clunkier potentially, but I think that people have undertested the deck and a good list isn’t very readily available. I think this is a deck better suited for Regigigas than CMT is, especially if you go with a Super Scoop Up route.
This list is EXTREMELY raw, and hasn’t even been programmed into PlayTCG or sleeved up before, so take it with a grain of salt as I’ll admit to brainstorming this while writing this article. I want a deck that has the ability to be both aggressive, and powerful, but also tank a bit better to abuse SSU and Eviolite.
These numbers can be switched up, but I’d like to at least start the testing with a higher emphasis on them. Here is what I’d start with:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
I’m probably missing some things, but I like the idea quite a bit. I’ll chime in on the forums if I have any breakthroughs with the deck, or if it turns out to fail the test entirely. Hopefully it gives you guys something fun to work with until Regionals.
I think the most important thing you can take from States is that the breakout card is Exp. Share. I’m not entirely sold on the decks people have built using it yet, but the groundwork has been laid. Cards which otherwise lacked a sort of energy acceleration that it would require to be viable are not worth reconsidering. Even simply looking at a shell similar to the old “Six Corners” deck and tossing in Exp. Share is a decent starting point.
Zeels, for example, is pretty weak to Kyurem NVI, so there’s a weakness to attack in that matchup if you’re feeling innovative. We know what the metagame looks like now, so if there are ways to attack it, I imagine now is the time to find it.
I hope everyone enjoyed this different approach at an article, and was able to take something out of it. Feel free to chime in with questions and opinions in the forums regarding how the games wound up played! Good luck at Regionals!
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