keijimatsu.deviantart.comAfter a full year of waiting, it’s finally Klinklang’s time to shine. When it was originally released, TyRam was the best deck in format, making its Shift Gear Ability mostly useless when you get 1-shotted by 75% of the field (Magnezone Prime and Reshiram BLW). Emerging Powers saw the release of Max Potion, another piece of the puzzle. Prism Energy was released in Next Destinies.
But it wasn’t until Darkrai EX’s release that the final piece of the puzzle fit in place. It doesn’t hurt that Hydreigon (Dragon Blade) has been doing well in Japan, putting the prize denial strategy front and center (shifting energy off your attacker, Max Potion the damage off, shift the energy back on). But Hydreigon gets to use Dark Patch, accelerating D Energy, and Klinklang doesn’t.
Then Andrew Taten posted his second place list over at 1HKO and I knew I wanted to play this deck. After testing his list against Zeels and Darkrai/Zoroark for 5 hours straight, I had to make some changes. I needed to streamline the Supporter line and boost consistency. I rid the deck of Collector, Juniper, and Twins, as they just weren’t performing well, and too many times ruined a Random Receiver. Here was the list I played:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
3 M – Basic
I upped the Smeargle count and went with a 4-4-4 N/Professor Oak’s New Theory/Random Receiver. PONT and N are the only 2 Supporters you really want in the deck, so everything else had to go. I swapped the Special M Energy for regular Metal in fear of Lost Remover, and dropped down to 2 Eviolite. I almost swapped the Eviolite for a pair of Bianca, but in testing Eviolite really messed up an opposing Tornadus EX and Mewtwo EX, so I left them in.
I haven’t been playing this game for very long, and this would be just my 3rd premier tournament. At this past Cities (January 2012) I used a slightly modified version of Jay Hornung’s Typhlosion/Magnezone list and finished 2-3. The inclusion of Juniper (and my lack of testing) proved to be the decks downfall. You can’t play Professor Juniper in a list with 2 Stage 2 lines. Don’t do it. Then in WI States I started strong with a 3-1 start with Esa’s Magneboar list, but after two tough CMT losses, I finished 3-4.
These two tournament failures taught me a lot about deck building. Not that the above lists are bad by any stretch. While Juniper gives decks speed, Klinklang doesn’t need that kind of speed. Twins can also be rather unreliable. And the above list is the result of those failures. So I went into Battle Roads with a well-tested, personal, list.
pokemon-paradijs.comThankfully I started first and was able to get some Basics out on the bench. If memory serves me correctly, Eli is able to get a turn 1 Blow Through and starts picking off my 60 HP Klinks. I also flip double tails on two consecutive Dual Balls. However, I am able to get out a Klinklang, and CMT has no way to 1HKO it and I know I’m back in the game.
I figured he played Terrakion after he played an early Energy Search, and this was confirmed when I saw a Terrakion sitting on the bottom of his deck after a sloppy shuffle. Still, I play Eviolite and Darkrai EX can survive a Retaliate. Unfortunately, after a PlusPower/Celebration Wind/Land Crush, I lose my Darkrai and ALL OF MY ENERGY.
At this point I’m ready to scoop and was wondering why the hell I played a Stage 2 deck in the current format. But something happens. The deck starts to work. My second Darkrai is prized preventing me from making the same error twice. I’m forced to just attack with whatever is active. The combination of Ns and Max Potion starts to work their magic (3 manual energy attachments later…), and I claw back from a 6-1 deficit to win the game with just 2 cards left in my deck, and I win with a Darkrai EX no less.
It didn’t hurt the table next to me had a Durant losing its first round, and I did NOT want to play against it. So I carried on against my better judgement praying I wouldn’t have to face it.
Vileplume UD / Mew Prime / Accelgor DEX / TechsRound 2 – Yoshi Tate (4-1, finished 3rd)
Yoshi literally lives a block from me, and I see him every Monday at league. In my opinion he’s the best player in the area (sorry Tyson) and until this past Monday, I had never beaten him. Thankfully, I had seen he was cooking up a new Vileplume/Mew Box deck featuring Accelgor DEX, but I was able to beat it with Robbie Ector’s Lilligant EPO list. Yoshi had changed his list a bit since league, adding in Unfazant BLW to deny prizes (when he Communicated in a Fliptini early in the game I was worried).
I go first and get my first three attachments onto Darkrai and am able to take multiple prizes. After the match he confirmed every N I used took away his Candy/Plume or Twins. During the entire game there was exactly one turn with Vileplume, which I promptly Hail Blizzarded (yes, it’s a word). He never sets up and I sweep 6-0.
Hauser (4-1, finished 4th) MirrorRound 3 – Alex
pokemon-paradijs.comI knew Alex played Klinklang EX because he sat next to me the previous match. I had no idea how to go about the Mirror, as I had never tested against it (and talking someone into testing the Klinklang Mirror is like talking someone into testing the Durant Mirror). I again go first and I am able to deny him Klinklang, what I perceived to be the biggest threat on his board.
He however, used Frozen Wings (Kyurem EX) turn after turn, removing my special energy from play. I see I’m going to lose this battle, as I can’t deal with his Kyurem EX and I decide to take a chance. I use Klinklang’s attack. Yes, it can attack. I get double heads (320 damage with weakness), removing 3 energy from his board, and the Kyurem EX.
He eventually sets up but time is called. I’m up 3-6 and its turn 0. Because he discarded so many of my precious few energies I’m in bad shape. I can’t do anything but retreat to a new EX and hope. Thankfully, on turn 1 he is not able to take a prize. I pass on turn 2 knowing he can’t take 3 Prizes on turn 3. I escape with a victory.
Round 4 – Andrew Reynolds (3-2, finished 6th) Darkrai/Smeargle, that’s it
At the beginning of this match, I’m at the 2nd table, and notice that the 3 Klinklang EX decks are at tables 1, 2, and 3. After starting the day wondering what I was thinking, I now realized I made the correct metagame call. I can’t help but smile.
Andrew is close to earning a Worlds Invite sitting at 41 Championship Points, so I know I have to play this game perfect. He starts first and is able to get a turn 2 Darkrai. This is the scariest thing in the TCG right now, surpassing last format’s turn 2 Thundurus. He successfully denies me Klinklang and I’m in really bad shape. I do make a bad misplay however, though I don’t think it mattered in the end.
I attach a Prism Energy to my active Smeargle, forgetting there was a Skyarrow Bridge in play. I would have been able to take out his active Darkrai EX (damaged from a pair of Tromps in-between Klinks getting owned) along with his benched Darkrai with my Groudon EX had I placed my Prism there. Ultimately I don’t think it mattered, but it was still a bad misplay and made me remember to slow down a bit and read the board.
It’s also worth mentioning he played Dark Claw. That meant he could do 30 damage to my benched Klinklang (Night Spear), and then 110 to take out (30+110=140) my Klinklangs. In hindsight, Special Metal would have prevented this entirely.
The Juniors and Seniors finish Swiss and it’s lunch time. I’m mildly annoyed that I have to wait at least 30 minutes to play out my fifth and possible final game. I purchase a pair of Monster Rehabs and slam one down and put the second in my bag.
Round 5 – Alex Bunker (3-2 finished 7th) Zeels
I’m paired up against Alex Bunker, who I watched pilot his Zeels deck to a top 4 finish at WI states. I actually feel pretty good against this matchup. I’ve tested against it the most, and Darkrai does the perfect amount of damage to take out Eelektrik. He’s also a pretty cool kid so even if I lose, I won’t be too disappointed.
I believe he starts first and on his second turn he has energy in the discard, two Eels, everything a Zeel player could want. But after stabilizing, I take out Eels on back-to-back turns, and combined with N, I shut him down and win the game. Unfortunately for him, he played Zekrom-EX (which during the lunch break I warned him was a bad move, he disagreed).
While he did take out a Klinklang with it, I was able to do 160 with Groudon EX, and then catcher an Eel and use Darkrai for 3 Prizes in one turn. Zeels really has to over extend to take prizes in this matchup. And when I mounted my comeback, he had 4 Junk Arms and 2 Catcher in the discard. There was nothing he could do.
So I’m 4-1, there are 24 Masters, and just a top cut of 4 for Battle Roads. There was a lone 4-0, and five 3-1s at the start of round 5 and I have no idea how my resistance will play out. I also know that 5 of the top 6 WI players, minus Pooka, according to Championship Points, are in the building.
But then I hear those magical words, “Kris, I need your deck.” I’m 4-1 and I’m stunned to find I’m the top seed with my opponents win percentage at 68%. I’ve never top cutted (I’ve never had a winning record in a premier tournament before… see above) and being at the top with something I spent so much time on (spent hours playing out my first 3 turns, writing down my energy drops, whiffs, tweaking, repeating, etc) I felt pretty good. My 3 Smeargle, 4 Random Receiver gamble wasn’t a gamble at all, it was the right call.
Hauser – MirrorTop 4 – Alex
cardshark.comThe Klinklang mirror match is the strangest game of chess you’ll ever play. You both play 4 Max Potions. You can 1-shot each other. But neither of you will let that happen. Klinklang can one shot a Kyurem EX. Kyurem EX one shots Groudon EX. Groudon EX (with a little help) one shots Darkrai. And you both play Mewtwo. The first order of business it to take out the opposing Klinklangs. But that’s easier said than done as Klinklang’s 140 HP is out of reach of all your attackers.
Additionally, Kyurem EX’s first attack discards a special energy card, and this deck has no energy acceleration.
Anyway, game one my opponent draws dead and I refuse to N him, lucking into my own PONTs. I get set-up efficiently enough and control the game. I take my last 2 Prizes by dropping a Mewtwo (first time), shifting 6 energies onto it to take out his 3-energy Groudon EX.
Game 2 both decks effectively work the way they are supposed to and we deny each other prizes for about 45 minutes when time is called. He has taken 2 Prizes (Darkrai EX I believe) and he has a Groudon EX active. In the beginning of the game I Portrait (Smeargle) into a Juniper (don’t play Juniper with Stage 2’s, seriously) which lost me my sole Kyurem EX. My only hope was a double heads with my Klinklang against his Kyurem EX. I fail twice.
We move onto sudden death and I don’t feel confident at all. I open with a Darkrai EX and know that I can’t drop anything else. He starts lone Klink. I start with 2 energy and an N in my hand. On the first turn I attach and pass. On the second turn I attach my second energy and N us each down to a single card. He is able to attach a second energy and a Klang. He flipped 3 paralysis flips in a row (he played the BLW Klink and Klang), but when he misses paralysis, I Night Spear to move into the finals.
At this point I feel rather crappy about my win. I had a decent opening hand, but Ning someone to one card on the second turn of the game is pretty awful. I’m still not sure if my 3-1 streak against Alex was luck, or if I had built a more consistent deck. In any case, I’m thrilled to be in the top 2.
Top 2 – Matthew Reynolds – Zeels
The following 3 games were simply the best 3 games of Pokémon TCG I’ve ever played. Matthew and I have never made the top cut before. And even though it was just a Battle Roads in Titletown USA, we were both really excited. Andrew also lives on the other side of the state, meaning his 2 brothers and a 3rd person were stuck waiting for another 2+ hours while we battled in the top cut.
I start the game with a Smeargle, Klink, and Darkrai, and PONT into nothing. He gets his Eelektriks set up and uses Mewtwo to steam roll me. I’m down 6-2 with a lone Groudon EX and scoop. Right after I scoop I realize I should have just played it out. Pat Fuge is a great tournament organizer and in the top 2 there is unlimited time, which is perfect for Klinklang EX.
I start hot and I take a fairly straightforward win. There really isn’t much to say. Zeels can’t one shot any of my EXs. I was patient, took out Eels, and used N. While the Zeel player will be tempted to play down their Tornadus EX, it’s not really their best move. While he has a powered up Tornadus EX (and flipped heads every time, preserving energy) with Eviolite attached, I can do 100 with Kyurem EX and then 70 with Darkrai EX for 2 Prizes. I take my final 3 Prizes with a single Night Spear.
I have to admit, I’m not feeling confident. He gets to go first. Tornadus EX and Mewtwo EX are rather annoying. Zeels gets to accelerate energy, has access to Super Rod, and when it gets a hot start it’s nearly unstoppable. Matthew goes first and gets a turn 1 Blow Through. No kidding. Before I even start the game I’m down a Klink. Turn 2, he Catchers another Klink. So it’s turn 2 and before I draw my second card I’m down 2 Prizes. Ouch.
Luckily I stabilize and am able to take down whatever he throws at me. I survive with just a Klinklang, Darkrai, and Groudon EX. While Tornadus EX resists Groudon, you can still do 100 to it with Groudon’s Giant Claw (70+100=170).
On the final turn of the game he is forced to pass with a lone Eelektrik and I win. After taking out 2 Klinks on the first 2 turns he only manages to Knock Out one more Pokémon and I win 6-3.
The window for Klinklang is probably rather small. Klinklang has a good match up against Zekeels. Klinklang had a good matchup against CMT. But Klinklang is also rather easy to tech against. Lost Remover is deadly and most Fire decks should beat it (Quad Entei-EX being the last remaining Fire deck). It also loses to Durant (99-1). Thankfully, Darkrai EX keeps Durant in check, and if Durant ever become popular again… Heatmor DEX is an easy tech.
Terrakion is good, really good, better than Groudon. If Groudon’s second attack did a base 90 instead of 80, it would be broken. But it doesn’t. The last format was dominated by CMT and Zeels prize racing. While Klinklang doesn’t have an alternate win condition (decking or Lost Zoning), prize denial is a really strong strategy. Be patient, your opponent will over extend themselves giving you the opportunity to sweep.
When Emerging Powers was first released, it was considered a bad set, sans Pokémon Catcher. But many cards have had their time to simmer over the past year: ZPS got Tornadus EPO, Gothitelle EPO 47 was a great archetype this past fall, and potentially again in the future. Thundurus EPO finally found a home after Eelektrik was released (staples in both the Thunderdome and Zekeels).
Virizion EPO is a great tech against Terrakion. Crushing Hammer allowed Durant to thrive. And Bianca will soon be a standard in every deck. It took a while but Emerging Powers finally proved to be a relevant set.
And of course, Max Potion.
Klinklang is a fun deck, so here is some strategy if you are going to play it. You’re safe to fall 3 Prizes behind. This will usually occur by them Knocking Out Smeargles/Klinks. At this point you should have Klinklang online and you are good to go for the rest of the game. They shouldn’t be able to take 3 more prizes and win; your EXs have too much HP. So don’t lay down any more Klinks/Smeargles (as tempting as it may be) as that will make their job of obtaining 3 more prizes a whole lot easier. Make them fight through your EX army.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe last thing I want to talk about is how to build Klinklang in general. While winning a small premier tournament doesn’t make me an expert by any means (I still have a lot to learn and experience) I can say I’m happy with my build, and would rather play it over Alex’s 4th place list.
He played 12 energy over my 10. 10 energy seems low but you can thin your deck so fast with Dual Ball, Heavy Ball, Random Receiver, and Max Potion, that drawing into them is more consistent than it appears. In my testing getting 2-3 energy attachments in your first 3 turns was at 90%. Also, don’t attach energy to your Klink at the beginning of the game (unless you absolutely have to retreat it to portrait). It will get Knocked Out and set you back a turn of attachments (with no way to get them back).
It also appears Alex played just 1 Smeargle (versus my 3). He played Copycat, which I don’t feel makes any sense after you N your opponent (though it’s good in the mirror), but there probably isn’t anything better after maxing out PONT/N. The 3 retreat Klink/Klang/Klinklang line works so well with Heavy Ball (who ever thought that would be good?) and Darkrai that to me it’s a no brainer.
While Klink BLW and Klang BLW have a nice stalling paralyze attack, I still feel the 3-retreaters create a more consistent Trainer engine (he played 4-2 Dual Ball/Heavy Ball). While I’m sure he feels he had a bad beat, I feel I had a more consistent deck.
The double heads was pretty clutch though.