We’re already down to the last week of Battle Roads and we’re only a couple weeks out from Nationals. My plans for this article are twofold. First I’m going to talk about what you can do to improve your chances for success at Nationals. I’ve done my best to make this section pretty straightforward as I wish to avoid including a lot of “filler content.” However, I’ll gladly go into more detail or answer any question in the forums and hopefully we’ll get a good discussion going.
I just ask you guys keep in mind that ideas which may be common sense to you might be completely new and useful information to somebody else, and vice versa. So maybe you will only be able to pick out a few tidbits of information, and somebody else might learn a whole bundle of tricks.
Secondly we’ve got some requests to look at the Klinklang EX deck that made a mark on Battle Roads, so I plan on covering that as well. I’ve come up with a few different ways to run it and look forward to sharing them with everyone.
When covering decks I also want to make it as well rounded and applicable to everybody as possible, so I’m also going to cover how I play against the deck. It doesn’t matter if you love the deck or hate the deck, it sees enough play that you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re sitting across from it at Nationals.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that everybody wants to do well at Nationals this year, especially with the top 4 getting paid trips to Hawaii. I’m personally a big believer in play rogue decks and rogue strategies, but only when they work. Playing something rogue just for the sake of playing something rogue makes about as much sense to me as playing a meta deck just because it’s a meta deck.
When Dark Exployers first came out I messed around with a few rogues like Mew Prime/Accelgor DEX/Gardevoir NXD/Vileplume UD, and more recently I’ve tested Eelektrik NVI/Terrakion NVI, along with a few other random decks. As soon as I began to feel like these decks weren’t good enough or consistent enough, I dropped them from my testing. My playtesting time is really limited and I don’t have time to mess around with decks that I consider dead ends.
Sure in the past this has caused me to give up on great decks to quickly, both Yanmega Prime/Magnezone Prime and Typhlosion Prime/Reshiram BLW come to recent memory. However, I still feel overall if you’re on a limited time schedule it’s better to have more focused testing on decks you could see yourself playing.
Which brings me to my next point… right now we’re about 2 weeks away from Nationals. This means that you should probably start narrowing down your deck choices. I’m not saying you need to have your 60 card list filled out right now, but you should be narrowed down to 1 or 2 deck choices. Let’s say you know you want to play Darkrai EX for Nationals. You should probably have it narrowed down to 1-2 variations, Darkrai/Tornadus and Darkrai/Hammers for example.
Both of your lists don’t need to be set in stone, but you should be mostly decided and just messing around with a few spots. If you’re not at this point now, I would try to be there at least a week before Nationals. This will allow you to maximize your playtesting time with a deck you’re going to play at Nationals.
A lot of people think this format is very luck based, which it is, but at the same time there are a lot of in game decisions that must be made. One little mistake could be the difference between winning and losing. The more comfortable I feel and the more games I’ve logged with a deck, the less I find myself making little misplays. I really feel good, strong playtesting is going to be huge for success at Nationals this year.
The number of people out there that are will to drop the money to have tier 1 decks, but not put in the time is simply astounding. There is simply no such thing as having a better card pool than the competition at this level. Anybody who is spending the time and money to travel to Nationals is going to play the deck they want.
I just want to quickly go over some little things I like to keep in mind during testing.
1. If your deck has issues with time, make sure you’re playing timed games.
I feel this is just such an important skill for everybody to have, but in this format realistically only a handful of decks will go to time. If you do find yourself going to time, get used to testing with 30+3 and 60+3.
2. Make sure you’re rotating who is going first.
I’ll be honest… normally when I playtest, we’ll play a best of 3 set and then take a break. However, the best way in my opinion is to simply switch who goes first each game. This allows a person to get used to both playing first and second and in many cases this means playing from a head or behind. The best of 3 approach does this to an extent as well, but it can have one person playing first more than the other.
3. Playtesting Group
screencrave.comI know many people prefer to keep their playtesting group very small and I can certainly relate. However, I just can’t stress enough how important it is to playtest against different players and different decks. Playing against the same person or small group repeatedly has several problems. You get very accustom to certain lists and certain player’s playstyles, which in some cases can lead to skewed results.
Unless you are playing a top secret rogue deck or have a major tech you don’t want anybody to see, you will gain a lot more from last minute testing. Sometimes they hold a large modified tournament the day before Nationals and this is by far the best place to practice (though I don’t think they had it last year). The open gaming area is also full of players and occasionally you can find some really good players that are up for a game.
4. Testing Techs
A lot of the time I’m feeling good about a deck, but I’m just unsure about 1 or 2 last spots. Let’s say for example I’m thinking about dropping a Professor Oak’s New Theory and adding in a 3rd Switch. When I’m adding in the 3rd Switch, I’ll add in a reverse holo version or a different art (2 BLW and 1 HS for example). That way I’ll know when I’m getting my “new” Switch and it will allow me to look at the game and decide, “Would I rather have a PONT or a Switch in this situation.”
I find this extremely useful if I’m considering dropping a consistency card for a tech card or if I’m considering dropping my energy count. Those two things are major decisions that will affect how consistent your deck is.
The Sad Truth
How you perform at Nationals is going to be due to things that can fall into 1-of 2 categories: things you can controls, and things you can’t control.
I also want to introduce one of the hardest concepts for me to accept with this current format. Making the smart call and making the right call are not always going to be the same call. Let me explain this with an example. My opponent has a 4 card hand and only 1 Prize left.
They win the game off of a Catcher, so the smart play is to N them to a 1 card hand. This takes away their Junk Arm out, and you probably lose to a Supporter regardless. They might not have had a Catcher or Supporter in their previous hand, but they end up drawing one off of the N.
This would be a situation where despite making the right play you ended up losing the game. This is also only 1 example, but I find similar situations coming up all the time. I find it very frustrating as a player, but there really isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. Just continue to make smart calls and hope for the best.
Things You Can Control
Understanding the difference between the things you can control and the things you can’t is critical for success. If I had a $1 for every time I heard someone use the words unlucky to describe a loss, I probably wouldn’t be heading into work tomorrow. Many times even good players blame losses or a bad tournament on luck rather than trying to find the root of the problem. A majority of time the actual cause can be found in one of two things: deck building or playing.
hellocrazy.comMaybe you went to a tournament and missed top cut because you got donked 2 rounds and finished 3-2. The reason you got donked was due to a combination of your low Basic count and/or the low Hit Points of the Basics you do play. Let’s say you are playing Zekrom/Eelektrik and your deck is already tight on space, so you can’t add more Basics and of course you have to play Tynamo.
Now you could of course drop all of your Junk Arms and Pokémon Catcher and add in more Basics. This would most likely stop you from getting donked except in rare cases. However, this would end up losing you more games than you’re currently losing due to being donked. So by playing Zekrom/Eelektrik, we are accepting the fact that we are occasionally going to lose by getting donked.
An even better example might be that of “flip cards” like Super Scoop Up and Dual Ball. You might lose a game because you flipped all tails on SSU or Dual Ball, but this is an inherit risk in playing “flip cards.”
What I’m trying to say is when making certain deck choices and cards choices it’s important to understand the inherent risks that come along with them. In these situations you need to weigh both the pros and cons of playing these decks or techs. Does the benefit you get from these cards outweigh the risks associated with playing them? You can’t always prevent games where you get donked or lose because you flip all tails, but it is important to understand why it is happening.
The other concept going along with this is the fact that nobody plays perfectly. Games these days have so many small in game decisions that have dramatic consequences on the game. Junk Arm discards, which Supporter to play, Catcher targets, etc. are all examples of these decisions.
thinnerandwiser.wordpress.com Regardless if I win or lose, I can normally come up with a few points in the game where I feel I could have either played better or made a different choice that could have impacted the game.
If you’re consistently having problems with a matchup and they are close games, start paying a lot more attention to these little in game decisions. Even 1 minor misstep can easily cost you a match and perhaps a shot at top cut.
Things You Can’t Control
As a competitive player, one of the hardest things to accept is the factors outside your control. You can’t control what matchup you get paired up against or if your opponent gets a turn 1 Darkrai before you even get to draw. This leads me to try really hard to limit the amount of factors in a game that I can’t control.
First, I prefer to play decks that I feel give me the most 50-50 matchups against the field. I’m perfectly fine playing a deck that doesn’t have any auto-wins as long as the deck doesn’t have any auto-losses either. I refer to decks that auto-win certain matchups, but perform horribly in others as high risk-high reward decks. While there are some pros to playing decks like these, I feel they just leave you too much at the mercy of the pairings.
Also if I’m going to play a flip card, it has to have a huge impact on the game such as Super Scoop Up, or Pokémon Reversal last season. I’ll almost never play a deck that relies on a large amount of coin flips. There are always going to be luck and factors in this game outside of your control. This is why it is so important to not slip up on things you can control like deck building and misplaying.
However, I feel like the amount on luck in this game versus the amount of luck that people believe is not the same thing. There is a reason why the same people keep doing well year after year, regardless of the format.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe concept for the deck was taken from the Japanese winning Nationals deck. The deck used the Hydreigon from our next set (which allows you to move D Energy around like Meganium Prime does with G Energy) and Darkrai EX. Once Darkrai EX got damaged, Hydreigon would move all of the energy off of Darkrai EX and then use Max Potion to heal it. Essentially what the deck did was create a lock that forced the opponent to have to 1HKO the Darkrai EX, otherwise it would be healed.
Now obliviously we don’t have the new Hydregion, but we can create a similar situation using Klinklang BLW along with Rainbow Energy, Prism Energy, and of course M Energy. The advantage of using Klinklang BLW and all the Special Energy is it allows us access to a whole host of possible EX attackers. The deck has a lot of strengths and weaknesses, especially taking in to consideration our current format.
What I want to do is really break the deck down and look at some different variations, as well as some different tech choices that the deck can have. At the same time though, I’m going to be very realistic with you about the deck’s strengths and weaknesses.
Starting off, the strengths of this deck are that it has a whole host of big Basic attackers that it can utilize. This makes the deck very easy to adapt for different metas and for player preference. The deck also creates a lock which forces your opponent to be able to 1HKO your Pokémon, otherwise you simply move the damage off of the Pokémon, heal it, and then move the energy back.
Since all of the variations I’m going to show you play 4 Junk Arm and 3-4 Max Potion, you can pull of this combo off up 7-8 times which is considerably more than should be necessary to win the game. Despite not playing Vileplume UD, the deck at times has a very “Ross” like feeling. This is certainly a deck that players who like to “lock” their opponent are going to be drawn to. With Darkrai EX being as popular as it is, Solosis BLW is simply too vulnerable and too hard to set up to be played… so you can almost think of this deck as Ross 2.0.
knowyourmeme.comAs for the weakness of this deck to be bluntly honest… I don’t like combo decks. What I like are decks that have good synergy. What I mean by this is I don’t like decks where I have to have pieces X, Y, and Z in play for the deck to properly work. Ross is probably the best example right now of a combo deck in the current format. For the deck to work properly, you need to have in play Vileplume UD, Reuniclus BLW, and a powered up attacker. If your opponent is able to stop you from meeting any of these 3 conditions, the deck simply falls apart.
What I prefer are decks that have good synergy, which are basically cards that work well together. This can either be the entire deck or little combos within the deck, and a good example would be Zekrom/Eelektrik. There is very obvious synergy with Eelektrik allowing L Energy acceleration and playing Pokémon that can use L Energy. The deck is much weaker without Eelektrik, but the deck still can win even without it in play.
An even better example might be Smeargle UD and Skyarrow Bridge. Smeargle is not a dead card if you don’t have Skyarrow Bridge in play, as after all you can still use Portrait to get an extra Supporter. On the other side of this, Skyarrow Bridge isn’t a dead card without Smeargle in play because it still lowers your Retreat Costs and in many decks gives a lot of their attacker’s free retreat.
pokemon-paradijs.comNow when they are both in play, you can use Portrait for an extra Supporter and then free retreat the Smeargle. Both cards have uses in their own rights, but work very well when played together.
Currently I think the biggest weakness the deck has is that it relies heavily on Special Energy cards. There really is no way around this as the deck aims to use both Klinklang’s Ability and a range of attackers with different Energy requirements. This makes the deck incredibly vulnerable to Lost Remover, which can create varying levels of problems.
Lost Remover may just set you back a turn or a well timed one could do worse damage. A few well-timed Lost Removers can leave the deck in a very bad spot. I’ll talk more about strategy and playing the deck in a bit, but I want to mention just how important this makes hitting an energy every turn in the early game.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the strengths and weakness of the deck, let’s go ahead and take a look at what I consider “my standard” or “straightforward” list.
Pokémon – 16
4 Klink DEX
Trainers – 34
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Random Receiver
Energy – 10
pokemon-paradijs.comThe first thing I want to note is that with the Pokémon we play the highest Retreat version of all of them since then a majority of the deck can be grabbed by Heavy Ball. Along with the 2 copies of Dual Ball and 2 copies of Ultra Ball, that gives us 8 outs to grab a majority of our Basics. Heavy Ball in combination with Ultra Ball gives us 6 outs to grab Klinklang. Lastly 2 Dual Ball and 2 Ultra Ball gives us 4 outs to search Smeargle and Darkrai EX. How well the Balls overlap with each other and how many outs they offer is something that I really like about this deck.
I think a majority of the Pokémon lineup is pretty straightforward, but it does allow some flexibility. Namely in the number of copies of Smeargle we play, as well as which EXs we base the deck around. In the techs section I’ll talk about some other Pokémon to consider and why they ultimately didn’t make my cut.
The Trainer line I think has a ton of room for personal preference choices. A majority of my choices were based around consistently setting up early game and keeping the lock established late game. Looking over the lineup, the 3 things that stick out most are probably only 3 Max Potion, 2 Catcher, and 2 Eviolite. The first thing is the deck is very tight on space, and while all 3 of these cards will help you once you are set up, they don’t do much to get you there.
This is why I considered higher counts of the Balls more important than higher counts of these tech choices. In combination with Junk Arm, this still gives you the ability to play 7 Max Potion, 6 Catcher and 6 Eviolite. Max Potion is going to be your most common target which is fine. Once you have the lock in place, you really don’t care what Pokémon you KO as long as your opponent can’t 1HKO you.
Going along with this, since your Pokémon aren’t supposed to get Knocked Out once you have the lock in place, playing higher counts of Eviolite would be more about the higher chance of drawing into them than an actual need for them.
pokemon-paradijs.comLooking at the Energy, you can see that the deck plays 10 total and you should also note that they are all Special Energy. The reason for the lower Energy count is because the deck should be “protecting” these Energy whenever possible. Once you establish the “lock,” your Pokémon should rarely be getting KO’d, thus your Energy are safe.
Also in a normal game, you’ll lose 1-3 Pokémon while your “establishing” this lock, which mean realistically your opponent only has to KO 2 Pokémon-EX which makes the 10 Energy plenty. That’s not to say you can be stupid with your Energy, but we’ll discuss playing and protecting your Energy in a bit.
Despite it being a major weakness of the deck, there is really no way around playing all of the Special Energy cards. The 4 Prism Energy and the 4 Rainbow Energy are in there, so every Energy card in the deck is capable of being moved by Klinklang. I could play Basic M Energy over the special ones, but this won’t make the deck any less vulnerable to Lost Remover, and you already have an auto-loss to Scizor Prime.
I feel that Scizor Prime is worth a mention, but as a card that has never really seen competitive play, it’s not something I foresee as an issue. The Special Metal are also very useful against Darkrai players who want to start throwing 30 on the Klinklang forcing you to either waste a Max Potion/Junk Arm or risk a Catcher KO. The Special Metal forces them to target the Klinklang 3 times (20×3=60) versus only 2 (30×2=60).
The second way that I’ve come up with to really run the deck is based around running a heavy Twins count. The 2 builds are very similar, but there are some key differences.
Pokémon – 15
4 Klink DEX
Trainers – 35
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Heavy Ball
Energy – 10
pokemon-paradijs.comI actually really like the Twins build of this deck since this format is so fast; I really don’t see a ton of reason in trying to compete with its speed. You’re certainly not going to win the speed race with Darkrai EX, so it’s not really worth trying to.
The biggest thing I don’t like about this build is the fact that it can’t play Random Receiver, and instead the deck has to opt for Pokégear 3.0. This did make switching Collector to Dual Balls a really easy switch for me though. However, I don’t like the randomness that comes with Pokégear 3.0 vs. the safety I feel with Random Receiver.
What I really like about the Twins version is I feel that it’s a lot easier to come back into games where you’re considerably down. Twins makes it very easy to search out Eviolite, Catcher, and Max Potion, which can all be key cards in making a comeback.
Writing a deck tech section this time around is far more interesting, just because of the sheer volume of cards that the deck can accommodate. It can basically play any Basic in the game, while the Trainer lineup allows a minimal amount of flexibility as well. These are some of the choices I considered and then why I ultimately decided against them.
The deck could easily support the card since it plays 4 Rainbow Energy and 4 Prism Energy. The deck runs such a fast array of important Trainer cards that you have ample good targets mid game. Why I ultimately decided against it was the deck the just doesn’t burn through itself as fast as Darkrai. This means Sableye won’t be useful till you get out of the first few turns of the game.
Once you’re in the latter stages of the game, you have the Trainers that you want to grab out of the discard, but you don’t want to give up the turn to attack. Darkrai also runs a lot of “comeback” cards like Dark Patch while Klinklang doesn’t, so Sableye felt like a “win more” card.
4th Rare Candy vs. 1 Klang
pokemon-paradijs.comThis was a big debate in the Pokémon lineup for me since the Stage 1 is just so slow and it usually gets KO’d before I get a chance to evolve it. I ultimately decided to keep it in because Item lock still sees enough play to warrant the spot.
The Stage 1 is also searchable which I like, but normally it has to be a really slow game on both sides of the table to get the first Klinklang through the Stage 1. Normally the Stage 1 only comes into play when I’m going for my second Klinklang.
1 Mewtwo EX
I know a lot of people originally ran a copy of the card to counter opposing Mewtwo EX. In fact, this deck is one of the few decks in the format that can actually use Mewtwo EX’s second attack (yes, I swear it has one). Discarding the Energy hurts, but it allows Mewtwo EX to KO an opposing Mewtwo EX and then drop down to 2 Energy, making it harder for the opponent to get a return KO with another Mewtwo.
However, the most compelling reason to play the card I found was in the late game I could simply shift all of my Energy onto it and swing for a considerable amount of damage with X Ball. I think of this as “going all in” and I found it great for getting my last prize or as an act of desperation in a game I was out of.
The reason I didn’t play the Mewtwo EX was because I felt like it was highly unlikely my opponent was ever going to get enough Energy in play to really have an opposing Mewtwo EX be a threat.
The list was actually very tight on space as well, and I felt the 2nd Groundon EX and Kyurem EX were far more important attackers for the deck than the 1 Mewtwo EX. The 1 Mewtwo EX and 4th Max Potion are currently my 61st and 62nd cards.
This would mainly be used as a tech against mirror as I can’t really think of any other major threat in the format that is Fire-weak. If mirror is giving you trouble, it might be something to consider, but currently I feel Kyurem EX does a pretty good job at handling mirror. Kyurem EX is also far more well-rounded and useful in other matchups which I just don’t feel Entei is.
1 Shaymin EX
pokemon-paradijs.comI liked how the deck could easily incorporate Shaymin as well as get it powered up in 1 turn. The reason I ultimately abandoned Shaymin was due to its low Hit Points. The entire purpose of the deck is to “tank” large HP Pokémon-EX and stop my opponent from taking prizes. It’s not uncommon at all to be down 4 or 5 Prizes before making a comeback.
I know 110 HP or even 130 HP with an Eviolite is a lot, but it’s not outside that range of a realistic 1HKOs for the opponent like the 180 HP or 200 HP Groudon EX. Once I have the lock established, the last thing I want to do is hand my opponent the game on a silver platter.
Another approach I thought of taking with the deck was to play Tropical Beach. You could either play 1 tech in conjunction with Twins in the Twins build, as the deck can as access to an easy way to search out. Or play 3 in the more standard one for the increased chance of opening with it (now think of it more as Gothitelle EPO 47).
With Skyarrow Bridge seeing so much play, there is actually an advantage to running a counter Stadiums and dead copies are always Junk Arm bait. The deck could also play a higher count of Ultra Balls alongside Junk Arm to empty the hand out.
The reasons I decided against it was because the deck really relies on N to punish overzealous opponents and Tropical Beach would effectively make that impossible. The other reason was because the deck simply can’t deal with discarding resources, which makes it hard to play the higher Ultra Ball count I feel this variation would need.
On the plus side though, I just checked eBay and a handful of Tropical Beach have recently sold for under $50. This is considerably cheaper than the $75+ it was at the start of the year.
Playing the Deck
One of the biggest things to get used to when playing this deck is the feeling of playing from behind. Many of the big decks in this format revolve around fast starts and early pressure. This deck however is perfectly content with going down 2, 3, or even 4 Prizes before it starts making a comeback. I know I’ve used this analogy a lot in this article, but you really need a “Ross”-like mindset for playing this deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe ideal starter in the deck is going to Smeargle by a large margin and 2nd best is probably Klink because you can easily switch to Smeargle. None of the EXs are bad starters, it’s just that you have to get Darkrai EX into play before you can retreat them back to the bench. At the start of the game, like with all support Pokémon, it’s very important to bench a minimum of 2 copies of Klink. Playing them down 1 at a time just makes them very easy Catcher targets for the opponent.
An important factor that I always keep in mind when playing the deck is that it runs only 10 Energy. Now if you manage them properly this should be plenty, but it is something you really need to watch. All of the deck’s main attackers take approximately 3 energy to attack, which means it’s very important to get an Energy drop every turn.
I like to attach my Energy to large Pokémon-EX since my opponent can’t 1HKO them and they know I can simply retreat them with Darkrai EX. If this isn’t possible, I try and put it on a Pokémon my opponent doesn’t necessarily want to KO.
For example, I wouldn’t put it on a Klink because this would make it an overly appealing of a target. Instead I might attach it to a Smeargle, so in this case my opponent would have to choose what the more important target is; the Klink or the Energy.
Now switching gears (no pun intended), when playing against the deck, if your opponent only has 1 Klink, go after the Klink over the Energy. If your opponent has 2 Klinks in play this becomes a harder decision. If you feel they will probably get a Klinklang out next turn, go after the Energy. If you feel it’s very unlikely they will get the Klinklang, go after the Klink and then the 2nd one on the following turn.
If you’re not sure if they will be able to get the Klinklang or not, then go after the Energy. This is of course very general advice and may differ depending on what deck you’re playing and how well your deck can deal with the lock.
When moving Energy around for Max Potion, be very careful where you move them. Remember that Prism Energy provides every type, but only while attached to a Basic Pokémon. So if you move it to a Klinklang, it changes to C Energy which stops it from being able to be moved off. Also keep this in mind when you’re attaching them from your hand.
If you attach it to a Klink and then evolve it later, it’s still going to change into a C Energy. This is also something real big to watch out for when you’re playing against the deck as well. When you get into the heat of the game, it’s little things like this that slip peoples’ minds. I know you hear me use this a lot, but little misplays cost big games.
The last big thing I want to cover is when and if to drop Darkrai EX. There are a lot of Fighting decks in the format due to the abundance of Darkrai EX. If you’re not playing against a Fighting deck, getting and establishing the lock is far easier. If you are against one though, it becomes a bit more of a challenge, since even with Eviolite most Fighting decks are just a PlusPower away from 1HKOing a Darkrai EX.
For this reason I never drop Darkrai EX until I find it 100% necessary and I have to have the free retreat. Whenever possible I also try to follow it up with an N to lower the odds my opponent has the Catcher or Catcher/PlusPower combo. What a smart opponent is going to do is realize that you don’t want to drop Darkrai EX and Catcher up your Klinklang. This leaves you with two viable options.
First you can drop the Darkrai EX and then retreat the Klinklang EX back for another attacker. This really only works if you’re able to knockout whatever your opponent is threatening you with. Your other option is to simply go aggressive with Klinklang. I know it sounds stupid, but his attack isn’t bad. I don’t like the coin flips, but you should be averaging 80 damage per turn.
You also can use the same strategy of moving energy and playing Max Potion to keep Klinklang alive. This is usually the best option you have on the table when playing against a Fighting deck. If you do drop Darkrai EX, play like you’re expecting that your opponent has the KO because there is a good chance they do.
Playing Against the Deck
pokemon-paradijs.comPlaying against this deck falls into two categories: before they get the lock and after they get the lock. Your main goal should always be to try and stop them from getting set up. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and they won’t be able to get a Klinklang out before you Knock Out all of their Klinks, or they’ll only bench Klinks one at a time. However, you’ll probably not get this lucky against good players, bar a bad start from them.
Once they get set up brings us to the second part which is once they have the lock. At this point the game becomes race for them to beat you before they run out of Junk Arm and Max Potion. This requires you to put a consistent amount of pressure on them, and if you don’t, this makes it considerably easier for them to conserve resources.
You can also attempt to go after their support Pokémon like Darkrai EX and Klinklang. However, unless you’re scoring 1HKOs, they’ll be able to free retreat them back to the bench and you’ve done nothing to deal with the actual threat. At least if you hit the threat this forces them to have a Junk Arm or Max Potion.
I know we talk about this every month, but the last card that can really shift the balance once they have the lock in place is N. Late in the game, using N to put them at a small hand and then putting pressure on them significantly decreases their odds of having Junk Arm or Max Potion.
This isn’t always an end all solution though because they can still free retreat the Pokémon to the bench, bring up a new attacker, and then switch all of the Energy to it. This forces you to have a Pokémon Catcher to bring back up the damaged Pokémon for the KO. This isn’t the best strategy, but late in the game if they have the lock in place I often find this is my only chance to win.
Now normally I like to write a long matchup section and talk about different opens and strategies against each major deck out there. This is a lot harder to do with this deck than with other decks like CMT and Zeels because when playing this deck, I noticed how my strategy really didn’t change much from one matchup to another. Since my deck was so much slower than the rest of the format, I didn’t really care what my opponent was trying to set up.
Plus a majority of the time I was too slow to stop them, even if I did. It didn’t really matter if they got set up as long as I got the lock in the end. I also don’t feel like the deck has any real “bad matchups” in the current format besides maybe Durant. I never sat down at the table and thought I couldn’t win.
If you personally I find yourself struggling with a matchup, take another look at the tech section we discussed earlier and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Both Shaymin EX and Mewtwo EX are probably going to be your biggest 2 EXs to consider depending on the matchup giving you problems.
I was feeling very under-loved this month as nobody sent me a question. I normally scout around the SixPrizes forums for one, but I actually saw this one on PokéGym. I’ve seen this come up a lot and thought it would make a great question. The user’s name was deashira here was his question:
“I know Pokémon Catcher is a great card, but is it worth running four of them in one deck?”
Nowadays people just seem to throw Pokémon Catcher in their decks and not really think about why they are running the numbers they do. I feel this happens with a lot of different cards, but Pokémon Catcher just seems to be one of the more common ones.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe answer to how many Catchers to run is obviously going to depend on the deck, but 2-4 seem to be the most common numbers. I think I’ve only ran 1 copy in 1 or 2 decks in the past, and this was due to the deck being a slower deck and playing a high Twins count.
Decks that play only 2 copies normally fall into one of two categories: slower set up decks, or decks that really don’t care what they knockout. In many cases it’s a combination of both. Magnezone Prime/Eelektrik during Cities and the Klinklang EX deck I talked about in this article are about the only 2 examples I can think of off the top of my head.
This leaves us with most decks deciding if they want to run 3 or 4 copies of Pokémon Catcher. In our current format it seems to be less of an issue of not wanting a 4th Pokémon Catcher and more or less do I have the room for a 4th Catcher. Between 4 Junk Arm and 3 Pokémon Catcher, a player has access to 7 Pokémon Catchers over the course of a game.
A stronger argument can be made that playing the “8th” Catcher, if you will, is less about feeling it’s needed and more about seeing it early. Decks that are built to go off turn 1 like CMT are most likely going to play the 4th Catcher. Decks that are designed to go off on the 2nd and 3rd turn (what I would consider most Darkrai variants) should most likely play 3 Pokémon Catcher.
This is of course open to debate, but the question to ask yourself is do you feel at a disadvantage if you don’t have a Catcher in the opening hand. I think most CMT players (speed version anyway) are going to answer yes, while most Darkrai players are going to answer no.
goodreads.comWhatever number you run, you should be able to make a case as to why you run that number. Explain to a friend very you feel you should run the number you’re running, or pretend you and I are talking and explain to me why your running this number. This isn’t just Pokémon Catcher, but this is something you should be able to do with all cards in your deck.
It’s very common where I’m sitting at 61 or 62 cards or I want to try and add a tech into my deck. In these cases I literally explain to myself out loud why I’m playing each card in my deck and why I’m running that many copies. I know this should really stupid, but it really gets me to evaluate a lot of my decisions.
[Editor’s Note: I usually write pros/cons down when I’m having trouble making a decision and that seems to help a lot too.]
This is another deck that I’ve seen popping up in top cut at different National Championships. It’s been stealing top cut spots here and there, and last year’s United States National Champion Justin Sanchez even had enough faith in the deck to play it at Battle Roads. It also seems most of our articles lately have been pretty neglecting Stage 2 decks since this format is so fast.
This forces Stage 2 decks to either be extremely fast as well, or counter the meta. In the case of Empoleon/Terrakion it’s really a combination of both. I’ve already talked about a slower Stage 2 deck, so I figured this article would be good one to also hit on a faster Stage 2 deck.
Pokémon – 16
4 Piplup DEX
Trainers – 35
4 Professor Oaks New Theory
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 9
pokemon-paradijs.comI think pretty much everybody knows by now just how much I love Smeargle and have to play it in just about everything. The great thing is this deck just so easily incorporates Smeargle as well. This format is so fast, there is simply no way we can play little 1-0-1 techs or even 1-1 techs, and we need the high Basic count for Empoleon. I feel both the 4-1-4 Empoleon and 2 Terrakion are needed and these numbers shouldn’t be messed with.
The reason I went with only 2 Terrakion was you absolutely don’t want to start with it. Also between 2 Terrakion and 1 Super Rod you shouldn’t need a 3rd. I could see an argument for 2 Shaymin, but I simply didn’t think it was necessary.
I feel really good about both the Pokémon lineup and the Energy lineup for this deck, but it’s the Trainer lineup I don’t feel comfortable with. Strong openings are everything in this format, so I would love to have a 4th Collector, a pair of Ultra Balls, and a 3rd Catcher. However, I just don’t see that happening with so many other cards needing higher counts more.
I know I’m probably going to take some heat for playing Pokémon Collector over Dual Ball. It’s mainly a player preference I think, but unless I feel Dual Ball is a considerably better play for the deck, I prefer Collector. In a deck like this, if I want to hit fast, that means I also need to fill my bench fast. Collector also allows me to grab 2 Piplups and a Smeargle early game and both Shaymin and Terrakion later in the game. It also has a great amount of synergy with Pokémon Communication, not to mention deck thinning.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe other thing I would like to address is the low number of draw Supporters in the deck at 9, as well as the 1 random Copycat. The 2 reasons for this are of course room, and the deck simply has so much built-in Pokémon draw support between both Smeargle and Empoleon. Once the deck gets rolling it’s very easy to burn through the deck and playing a Supporter every turn become less mandatory.
As for the 1 Copycat, to put it simply I wanted a 9th draw Supporter and it was the best option I saw. Most of the time it should act as a PONT and net you 5-7 cards. As for other Supporters, I didn’t want to discard with Juniper, 1 Cheren is pointless, and the hands are too big later in the game for Bianca to make any sense. The main reason most decks don’t play Copycat is how bad it is late in the game with N going off. This deck handles late game Ns probably better than any other deck in the format, so the 1 random Copycat shouldn’t hurt.
Also note the very low Energy count in both this deck and the Klinklang EX deck. For Stage 2 decks to be fast enough for this format, we have to devote a lot of spots to our Trainer lineup. I really think any Stage 2 deck that has to devote more than 10-12 spots to its Energy lineup is probably not going to be a viable choice.
pokemon-paradijs.comNationals is only few short weeks away and I’m certainly excited to get out there and see everybody. Right now it’s looking like my plans are to get out there either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. I’ll probably try and take advantage of some last minute tournaments to get some good testing in. I’ve got one more article this month which comes out at the end of June just before Nationals.
Being the last article before many people most important tournament of the year, I feel a certain amount of responsibility. I started a topic on the forums asking what you guys wanted out of it, so please weigh in on the discussion as I’ll probably start writing it in a few days.
The final thought I want to leave on is go into Nationals ready and prepared with a deck you feel comfortable with. At the same time though, don’t get so swept up in the competition that you forget to have fun. If you’re a veteran of this game like me, then the competitors are close friends that you’ve literally grown up with and only get to see once or twice a year.
If you’re a newcomer then take the chance to make some new friends. Nationals and Worlds are some of the best opportunities to make really close friends and have some great adventures, both Pokémon and non-Pokémon. Every year I meet and become friends with new people, and every year Nationals and Worlds becomes more fun. If nothing else, at least come up and introduce yourself to me.
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