Well, the final tournament for this format (HS-NXD) has come and gone. Before we look into what lies ahead, let’s take a moment to look back at the results from Spring Regionals 2012. Here are two different tables to consider:
|Deck||1st Place||2nd Place||3rd-4th||5th-8th||9th-16th||17th-32nd|
|Terrakion/Landorus (with or without Mewtwo EX)||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Terrakion (with or without Mewtwo EX)||0||0||0||3||0||4|
|Feraligatr Prime/Kyurem NVI||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Terrakion/Tornadus (with or without Mewtwo EX)||0||0||0||3||1||3|
|Kyurem EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion||0||0||1||0||0||0|
This first table shows where the decks fell in comparison to taking down top spots. Based on this table, clearly the best deck was Zeels in all of its forms and iterations (more on that later). The only other deck to take down a Regional was Durant. This might be the ant’s last hurrah, but it made sure to go out in style. That is it. Only two different decks won. That is quite a phenomenal thing to think about.
|Deck||Top 32s||Top 16s||Top 8s||Top 4s||Top 2s|
|Terrakion (with or without Mewtwo EX)||7||3||3||0||0|
|Terrakion/Tornadus (with or without Mewtwo EX)||7||4||3||0||0|
|Terrakion/Landorus (with or without Mewtwo EX)||3||3||1||0||0|
|Kyurem EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion||1||1||1||1||0|
This table shows the aggregate number of Top X round appearances by each deck. The interesting thing here is that CMT really commanded a lot of tournaments with sheer number of top cut spots until the Top 4 and Top 2 rounds. It had 12 more Top 32 spots than Zeels and maintained that advantage until the Top 4 round.
By this table, it is clear the top two decks are Zeels and CMT.
Anyway, I won’t stick on this topic too long. I just thought these two tables would be a nice way for people to reference the information. Let’s move on to some random ins and outs of the current data.
Zeels v. CMT
Let’s talk a little about the dynamics of this matchup. Zeels has the advantage over CMT when both people are playing “base lists,” but why? In no particular order:
1. Zeels can run Mewtwo EX just as easily, and in some cases better.
This is a point that everyone knows, but I really feel is overlooked. Mewtwo EX is so easy to get rolling in Zeels. You can drop one and Dynamotor away. This is especially true in the mid to late game. CMT can easily drop Mewtwo EX and DCE, but there is a lot more work that CMT has to do in getting that crucial third energy onto Mewtwo EX.
You need the energy in hand, you need Celebi on the field, and you need a way to get Celebi out of the active. In Zeels, you simply need to drop Mewtwo EX and DCE. The only other things you need are Eelektriks on the field and energy in the discard. That is a much simpler scenario to pull off.
2. Zeels has access to a more diverse set of attackers, and they are often stronger than Tornadus.
Let’s see… in Zeels, you can easily run Zekrom BLW, Zekrom-EX, Regigigas-EX, Tornadus EPO, Thundurus EPO, Tyrogue HS, Bouffalant BLW 91, and Mewtwo EX. In CMT, you can easily run Virizion (EPO or NVI), Regigigas-EX, Tornadus EPO, Tyrogue HS, Shaymin EX, Bouffalant BLW 91, and Mewtwo EX. Comparing the two lists, Gigas, Tornadus, Tyrogue, and M2EX cancel each other out. That leaves M2EX with Shaymin EX and the Virizions.
Well, Shaymin EX is a very complicated card that requires a lot of planning throughout the match to pull off successfully. It is also tend to be limited to a late game role. Zekrom-EX is very powerful, relatively simple to use, and is powerful throughout the entire game.
Virizion EPO is great against Eelektriks, but will be 1HKO’d by Zekrom. Virizion NVI gives you more early game pressure, but the card advantage is easily offset. Again, Virizion NVI is easily 1HKO’d by Zekrom. Finally, Zeels has Thundurus that can put immense pressure and a near guaranteed KO on turn two on the field. CMT does not have an equivalent self-sufficient attacker.
3. I feel the CMT players I watched/heard about took decklists not geared toward beating Zeels.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy main point in this section is the general lack of Regigigas-EX (and to a lesser extent Shaymin EX) in the CMT lists, and the relatively high amount of Virizion EPO in the lists. Basically, Virizion seals the Terrakion match and it does get 1HKOs on Eelektriks.
I 100% believe Regigigas-EX is the stronger play against Zeels. There is nothing (take a second to think about that) that can easily handle a Gigas EX in Zeels. Yet, Gigas can also 1HKO Eelektriks for a more agreeable energy requirement, [CCC], and only 1 PlusPower. So, in my opinion, players were utilizing a less optimal resource to counter Zeels.
I know that Gigas is susceptible to Fighting type decks, but when it can help your worst matchup (that is also the BDIF) you should take that risk.
4. Zeels is less susceptible to N than CMT.
I really feel the power of N is still not realized by the player base at large. Yes, there are players that “get it,” but I think too many people might not.
Interesting Things in CM(T)
There were several interesting developments in the CM(T) world.
1. Virizion EPO
When Terrakion took down a State title, the originator was adamant that Terrkaion was not at a severe disadvantage to CMT, and I think he did so correctly. Well, then CMT players went looking for ways to counter an anti-meta deck. I (along with surely others) did toss out the idea that Virizion EPO could likely turn that game into an “auto-win.” I think that was largely a correct speculation.
Then people tried to over rationalize the inclusion of Virision EPO. So, they told themselves (see above description) that Virizion would help in the Zeels game with a way to 1HKO Eels. I think this was a disservice to themselves. In my opinion, Shaymin EX is at least an equal counter to Terrakion as Virizion EPO. Shaymin has a more manageable energy cost and resitance. It also does not have to be the late game for Shaymin to be useful against Terrakion.
Shaymin EX is also potentially useful in every game. Yes, it can be a liability, but CMT is a gambler’s deck anyway. It either works or it does not. Shaymin EX is particularly useful against Zekrom-EX in the late game. It is literally the only tool the deck has to land a 1HKO on Zekrom-EX, and the deck builders should take that into account.
In summary, I think that Shaymin EX is a better counter to Terrakion, but people opted for Virizion.
2. Kyurem NVI
This is an interesting inclusion that made it to the top four. I am merely speculating on this, but it seems that Kyurem helps with the Zeeks match. Ideally, you can set it up in two turns and then all 30 HP Tynamos and the babies are not safe. Furthermore, it requires more work by a Zeels player to 1HKO than Tornadus, so you might get multiple Glaciates off in time.
The important thing to remember is that all of CMT’s normal attackers run on C energy requirements. So, it is not that difficult to tech in another energy type. As long as you keep the Grass/other energy split nearly even you will still get mileage out of Celebi.
3. More people dropping Tornadus and focusing on Celebi/M2EX
There were several decks that made the top four which dropped Tornadus all together. I completely understand the idea behind this. I also completely support the idea that you need healthy count of alternative attackers, or you need to only go Celebi and Mewtwo. Pick one and focus on it completely.
I personally think that a multitude of attackers is beneficial to CMT players. I think you need copies of Tornadus, Regigigas-EX, Shaymin EX, or Bouffalant. When you limit yourself to Mewtwo, and only Mewtwo, you are making the game much easier on your opponent. All they have to do is take a prize with a non-EX and then win the Mewtwo EX war.
Personally, I think that some type of split between Tornadus and Regigigas-EX as the main alternative attackers is the way to go. Both give early game advantages. Tornadus helps against Fighting decks and Regigigas is very good against Zeels decks.
The Importance of Non-EX Attackers
BulbapediaI really feel a key to this format is getting the ultimate mileage out of your non-EX attackers (especially M2EX). The perfect example of this is Pooka. If you want to learn a lot about playing this game you should watch his matches from the Wisconsin Regional.
On a tangent, I think that if Nationals were to be tomorrow, he would likely be the odds on favorite to win it. As Ness says in the video, Pooka is the best at the fundamental exchanges in the game. He gets that the name of the game is to simply take 6 Prizes before your opponent. Too often we get sucked into “our strategy.” We are so focused on setting something up, that we forget to just take a prize that turn.
When you watch his games, you should take note of how reserved he is with his Mewtwo EXs, the only EX in his deck (no Zekrom-EX). There are prizes to be taken every game with non-EX attackers (even in CMT) and you should take those prizes.
This ties back into the Celebi/Mewtwo discussion. You really want to have alternative attackers because they are not huge liabilities and they allow you to dictate the pace at which your opponent takes prizes. This is a crucial and fundamental aspect of the game right now.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe original revenge killer in this format. That is what Bouffalant is. It is also one of the cheapest and most versatile attackers in the game. It really is a shame that we continue to neglect this card, especially since Zeels is so popular.
This card is as splashable as Mewtwo EX and is as powerful (and maybe more valuable) as M2EX against the BDIF. Pooka has played this card consistently since Nats 2011 and most of us let it fall off the radar.
For CC it does 90 damage if your opponent took a prize on the previous turn. Well, if they used a Zekrom without Eviolite, you just 1HKO’d a Zekrom with Bouffalant instead of Mewtwo. If they used another attacker all you need is a Catcher to take out an Eelektrik on your turn. You can also use Tyrogue to do 30 damage to Tornadus, Thundurus, Terrakion, anything with 120 HP or less and then get the Revenge KO after they KO your Tyrogue.
Bouffalant is a great card that often gets overlooked, but it helps in the prize exchange. It helps keep the game moving along. It helps you take prizes when you normally could not. I think we might have missed a little on this one.
Which two cards were virtual locks in every deck before the rotation? Azelf LA and Uxie LA. Uxie was obviously for the draw power, but Azelf was to be able to search you prizes. There is a hole in most decks right now that could use a prize searcher. I was thinking about this last night while I proceeded to lose with Troll to CMT w/ Kyurem. I had the game pretty secure until he took out my Mewtwo EX and my other Mewtwo EX and Revive were in the prizes.
If I had been able to draw into the Revive or Mewtwo EX I probably would’ve won the game. Well, there are two cards capable of filling that void: Alph Lithograph FOUR and Rotom.
pokemon-paradijs.comAlph Lithograph was widely considered at the turn of the rotation, but largely rejected. First, you cannot search the card out. Second, at the very beginning of the HGSS-on format decks did not have many techs. They were ultra-consistent one or two trick ponies with thick Pokémon lines (TyRam, DonMega, MegaZone, Etc.). You were not super reliant on cards that you only played one or two of. Therefore, your prizes often were not crucial.
However, now decks are leaning back toward techs. Many CMT lists run 1-of attackers (Gigas, Tyrogue, Kyurem, Shaymin EX) and Zeels runs even more lines of thin attackers. So, perhaps the time has come for more prize manipulation to enter back into the game.
Rotom seems to fit that role nicely. It is easily searchable. With Skyarrow Bridge seeing play, it gains free retreat and is not a huge threat to be stalled. Yes, it is an easy prize, but in today’s meta that seems to be a moot point. First, there are cheap prizes in any deck and you can simply not play it down. Second, there are a ton of huge and powerful attackers that absolutely must be dealt with. This means that often times the Bench-sitters are safe by virtue of being a lesser threat.
Now, with Rotom the goal is to discover what your prizes are and retrieve the ones that are important. This works in more decks than just Durant. You are simply trying to give yourself more information and to increase your odds of either putting the card you need into your deck or draw it from your prizes. By turn three you can easily know what half of your prizes are and that gives you a 33.3% chance of drawing the correct prize (or 66.6% chance of drawing the needed card when KOing an EX). I believe there might be a larger article coming out online concerning this topic, but let’s just look at a simple idea.
pokemon-paradijs.comYou have 6 Prizes (A, B, C, D, E, F) to start a game. Say you hit double heads on Dual Ball and you get to look into your deck. You see one of your two Mewtwo EXs, 4 Junk Arms, 4 PONT, and 4 Catcher. You do not see a Revive or the second Mewtwo EX, but you do see Rotom. So, you grab Rotom and M2EX. Then you Trick on your first turn, exchanging prize A for the top card.Then next time you go into your deck you only see 3 PONT. Well now you know that prize A is PONT and prize A is not M2EX or Revive.
On your next turn you Trick prize B, then you look into your deck and see 3 Junk Arms. Now you know that prize A is PONT, prize B is Junk Arm, and neither are Mewtwo EX or Revive. That means that you have a 50% chance of drawing the prize you need (2 of the 4 other prizes are the ones you need). Once you start taking prizes your odds go up and your information increases. So, once you get two or three Tricks off you should know what virtually all of your prizes are.
Rotom is obviously more skill intensive than Azelf, but you get the same information within two or three turns.
Better Late Than Never
Moving on from the Regional recap, I wanted to toss this section in for you all. I was hoping to get these ideas out there before Regionals, but I will just get them out now. Nearly all of these lists would change with Dark Explorers, but the ideas could remain the same.
These decks are at varying levels of development. Also, all of this portion was developed pre-Regionals.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis deck has been around for a while (and seen moderate success), but no one has really talked much about it on this site.
Lilligant EPO: This is a 90 HP Stage 1 that attacks for G. Bemusing Aroma does 20 damage and allows you to flip a coin. If heads, your opponent is Paralyzed and Poisoned, and if tails, the Defending Pokémon is Confused. Heads is preferred, but getting a tails is not the end of the world.
We obviously want to pair this with Fliptini. With Fliptini there is a 75% chance you will get to Paralyze and Poison. If you hit tails (25% chance) there is only a 50% chance the next turn your opponent will be able to attack (.25*.50=.125). So, even with tails, your opponent only has a 12.5% chance of attacking you. All told, you have a 82.5% chance of escaping your opponent’s turn unscathed. Not terrible odds.
A sample list looks like this:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 28
Energy – 12
You want the EPO Petilil because you can Paralyze with it. [Editor’s Note: 3rd place tournament report using this deck can be found here.]
I feel like in this format hand disruption has been neglected. I also think that is a crying shame because we have several great disruption tools.
Team Rocket’s Trickery: Let’s take off our Pokémon hats for a second and approach this card from a different point of view: card advantage. At first glance, drawing 2 cards seems really bad. However, drawing 3 tends to be good enough to make it into a lot of decks (Cheren). However, Cheren nets you a +3 card advantage and so does TRT. TRT simply nets you a +2 and your opponent a -1. So, from your perspective the advantage generated is the same.
Put back on the Pokémon hats, this game is chalk full of draw/refresh cards. That is the main reason why a -1 to your opponent does not seem very good. Well, if you can find a deck that controls your opponent’s hand (eliminating the draw cards) the -1 becomes very attractive. Hopefully, we can find such a deck.
Judge: Both players draw 4. This is a fantastic opening play. If you can Judge and then get your hand back up you have taken the lead in the game.
Slowking CL: You get to control your opponent’s top deck. This is a spectacular card that no one wants to exploit. If you pair this with other hand disruption, you can lock your opponent in cruddy stuff all game.
Beheeyem NXD: For P you get to remove one card from your opponent’s hand.
Ambipom TM: You get to remove two cards from your opponent’s hand for [CC] and do 20 damage.
Sharpedo TM: The ultimate gamble. If you hit double heads for D, your opponent discards his entire hand.
Weavile UD: Claw Snag has always been a fun Power.
The question remain… is there a playable deck in this mix?
1. Sharpedo Lock
The obvious idea behind this deck is to hit an early Strip Bare and then punish your opponent. Also, the EXs are fantastic cheap attackers to go with Sharpedo.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
6 D – Basic
Furthermore, even if you miss the Strip Bare, you can attack with Mewtwo EX and try to take prizes. Then once your opponent is down to 1 or 2 Prizes you can get a Slowking set up. You play N, then use Second Sight to control their draw. You can play down Shaymin EX and Exp. Share to get Shaymin EX going quickly.
The deck is risky, but maybe not as much as people think. It gives you two opportunities to establish a lock. If you are really lucky and hit the turn two Strip Bare, you should have the game on lock down. If not, you can still hit the N + Second Sight combo late in the game. The Sharpedo is more of a gimmick in this deck. If it works, great, if not, you can stay afloat with Mewtwo EX and then lock your opponent down late.
2. Beheeyem Disruption
Beheeyem NXD is an 80 HP Stage 1 that allows you to choose a card from your opponent’s hand and put in on the bottom of your opponent’s deck. This seems to pair really well with Weavile. That card allows you to choose a card from your opponent’s hand and discard it. These two seem to go well with Judge and Team Rocket’s Trickery. Let’s look at a list.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 28
Energy – 11
The idea is to go with Beheeyem and Weavile early while using Slowking to control your opponent’s top deck. The optimal play is a turn two Judge followed by a Weavile drop and a Beheeyem attack. That will get your opponent’s hand down to 2 cards and you get to specifically choose one of the cards to get rid of. You can also use Beheeyem from NVI to wrack up damage against Zeels once you control their deck situation.
Then you can safely use Mewtwo EX to attack their field. Then in the late game you have Shaymin EX to attack with.
pokemon-paradijs.comWe all know how important DCE and Rescue Energy is in this format, and we know that Prism Energy and Rainbow Energy also see play. Well, Scizor might be able to do something about it.
I think this deck needs to be played as a pseudo-rush deck and you should utilize Skarmory as your starter.
Skarmory UD/CL: This is an 80 HP Basic that is resistant to Psychic. That also makes it very solid in that it will not get donked. Then for M you get to use Steel Coat to search your deck for another M and attach it to one of your Pokémon.
Scizor Prime: This is a 100 HP Stage one. Its Body prevents damage by Pokémon with Special Energies attached. Its attack does 30+20 for each M Energy attached to Scizor. If you use 2 M Energy to pay for the attack, you are doing 70 for 2.
The idea is obviously to use Steel Coat on turn 1 and then attack with Scizor on turn two.
Let’s look at a list.
Pokémon – 16
1 Cleffa HS/CL
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
6 M – Basic
4 Metal – Special
2 Fighiting Energy
pokemon-paradijs.comI guess you could stay away from using Skarmory, but you want to get energy onto the field fast. Also, you want to decrease the odds of starting with Terrakion and using Skarmory to bend those odds into your favor is a great approach.
This deck can go toe to toe with CMT because of CMT’s use of DCE, Scizor’s body, SP. M Energy, and Scizor’s resistance to M2EX.
It does struggle against Zeels, but if you can get three energy onto Scizor early you can 1HKO Eelektriks and four energy allows you to 1HKO Thundurus/Tornadus.
Tangrowth CL/Mewtwo EX
The main draw to this deck is Tangrowth’s second attack, Plow Over. For [GCC] you do 30 damage and flip a coin. If heads, the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed. If tails, you put one energy attached to the defending Pokémon into the Lost Zone.
Tangrowth’s first attack is useful, but ultimately underwhelming.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Drop It Like It’s Hot (Chandy/Tales)
I know this is not a novel idea anymore. However, this deck is quickly growing on me. I really think it can be at least semi-viable in the current format. Here is my list:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
pokemon-paradijs.comFirst, this deck is a lot of fun to play. It requires a ton of thought through the entire game. I think it matches up fairly well against Zeels and CMT. Note that fairly well does not mean 50/50 or better, but likely no worse than 45/55.
Against Zeels you can clear the field of Eelektriks (or Tynamos) in no less than 3 turns. That is huge. Against CMT it only takes two turns to remove Celebis from play.
I have debated long and hard about adding another attacker. The best fit in here is Mewtwo EX, but that is abandoning the idea behind the deck. More testing in needed, but overall I think that is a solid list to start with.
Well, thank you for sticking with me in this topsy turvy article. I have long since learned my lesson and realize that I am not very good at dedicated set review articles, but hopefully I’ll scrounge up some time right after the first set of Dark Explorers prereleases to get a deck idea and update article out before Battle Roads.