pokemon-paradijs.comNationals in Singapore has ended, and so are my dreams to attend Worlds yet again.
There hasn’t been much for me to write about since my last article, and I was initially very reluctant to write a report about my own Nationals since I didn’t do very well. Plus, I strangely failed to qualify for Ninja Warrior (google it) despite doing well in the qualifiers, adding to my depression.
However, I figured maybe someone might find a few of my tips useful for their own Nationals. Besides, I’m pretty sure a few of them are new to several of you.
To begin with, let’s start with my deck of choice: CMT.
Pokémon – 10
2 Tornadus EX
Trainers – 38
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
You can tell by the higher-than-usual amount of PlusPowers and switching ability that this deck is built for speed. The idea is to get a T1 Blow Through, if not Power Blast, and taking a Prize every turn. The Terrakion NVI is an unfortunate need due to the high amount of Zekeels and Darkrais I expected on the day itself. I tested the idea since DEX was released, and liked it more than my Quad-Entei and Zekeel.
pokemon-paradijs.comOne might argue that, with so many Zekeels expected, having a high Tornadus EX count is counter-productive, and normally I would agree. But playtesting suggested otherwise, especially when the easiest way to KO Eelektrik NVI is via Power Blow. The key is to take a fast lead, and there’s nothing faster than SAB/Blow Through combo to tear apart Tynamos.
This is the exact list I brought to my Nationals; however, it is not THE list I had wanted to bring.
The exact list that I had wanted to bring had a one-card difference, not very critical, but could have made a big difference in at least one of the matches I lost.
Lesson 1: Always recheck your list before submitting
Admittedly, it is a strange card to be in a CMT deck. But the purpose of Energy Search was to get out F Energy for the surprise Terrakion Retaliate, and Energy Exchanger does the same thing despite needing an Energy card in your hand in the first place. This drawback is negated by its benefit: it allows you to search for DCE, allowing for a much easier T1 Blow Through or X Ball, and carries on for the rest of the game.
I realized my forgetfulness only in my second game, and obviously by then, it was too late.
With that, let’s get to the actual report.
He started first with a Zorua and a Darkrai EX, attached an Eviolite to Zorua DEX 69, D Energy to Darkrai EX, and passed. I got my T1 Blow Through via Celebi Prime and KO’d Zorua with a PlusPower. Another Zorua appeared, and I KO’d that. A third Zorua appeared, promptly KO’d.
Finally, on the fourth turn, he found his third Energy to Night Spear my Celebi Prime. I dropped a Shaymin UL to move all my accumulated Energy cards to Mewtwo EX to KO that lone Darkrai EX with nothing on the bench.
He didn’t pull a single Supporter the whole game. And he wouldn’t have for several turns later either.
Game 2 vs Benny (Zekeels)
It’s like Arceus decided to play a trick on me after my win earlier. Despite having an excellent hand for a T1 Power Blow, I didn’t start first, and was promptly N’d to a horrible hand. I literally whiffed on everything the whole game, from Catchers to Energy to Supporters, while he had three eels out followed by an Eviolited Bolt Strike for a 2-Prize lead by turn 2. Needless to say, it was a blow out.
Lesson 2: Arceus is not fair
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how consistent your deck is, there will still be times when your deck simply fails like a theme deck, as my first two games proved. You can have a very thick Supporter count and maxed-out copies of everything and you will still whiff on everything you need. It happens to even the best players, and personally, I don’t think there’s anything you can do against it except try your best for the rest of your games.
And as the rest of this report proves, starting first is a very big deal.
Game 3 vs Shawn (Klinklang EX w/ Vileplume UD)
I take comfort in the fact that this deck generally does not play Mewtwo EX since they often can give up too many prizes for them to risk losing the game via a revenge X Ball. Still, it is a very tough game to play when half your deck consists of trainers.
I start second (again) and he begins to set up his board with Klinks and Oddishes, along with Darkrai EX for the free retreat. I was obviously unable to access my Terrakion AND two F Energy to take out the Darkrai early, so I opted to take a cheap prize via Blow Through while I load up my bench with energies (especially DCE), hoping to drop a Shaymin UL when Kyurem EX rears its head.
pokemon-paradijs.comAfter taking 3 Prizes, he finally took the bait and dropped Kyurem EX, and I promptly retreated to a Celebi and continued loading up energies. He moved three Energy cards to Kyurem EX, but used Frozen Wings, which was a strange move. He did, however, use N on me to drop me down to three cards.
I drew my next card: Shaymin. Top deck FTW.
Since he could not get the revenge X Ball (there was another Mewtwo EX and a Terrakion on my bench primed and ready, locking out two attackers), I promptly retreated Mewtwo EX after he promoted Cobalion, and both of us played to a stalemate with neither of us giving up another prize any more until time was called, giving me my second win.
Game 3 vs ??? (Kumis.dec)
The only game I started first. He had a lone Cleffa. I got T1 Blow Through. ‘Nuff said.
Lesson 3: Do not play Baby Pokémon
pokemon-paradijs.comIt’s not so much of being donked as the fact that Tornadus EX, which is as common as Terrakion itself, can KO babies without needing any additional support. Is it not bad enough that even the 40 HP Tynamo and Oddish can be donked via X Ball? It’s also another reason not to play the 30 HP Tynamo any more. At least Celebi Prime and Smeargle needs a bit more effort to be donked.
Oh, and Terrakion can also KO babies on turn 2. Just a heads up.
Game 4 vs Jeremy (Hammertime)
The best game I played the whole day, also the only game with the biggest “misplay” to happen.
We both had good starts, although I started second yet again, with my Celebi facing his Smeargle and Tornadus EX. He did not get the T1 Night Spear, while I opted to go for his Darkrai EX while preparing the surprise Terrakion. I left the Tornadus EX alone because I knew it wasn’t much of a threat. While he eviolited his Darkrai EX in anticipation for my Terrakion, having 3 PlusPowers in my deck meant I could draw into them at will. He hit a fair amount of removals, but not enough to stop my attacks.
It came down to the wire with me at 1 Prize and him at two. He had used N on me, and I drew into a Junk Arm, followed by Catcher. After I counted seven Supporters in his discard pile, I promoted Smeargle and used Portrait, and saw… three Random Receivers. Which was all he played.
And that was when it happened.
With Smeargle now useless, my opponent went through my discard pile to find ten Supporters, but no Random Receivers. I went through my discard pile as well after that, and was disappointed at the lack of a Random Receiver. He had decked himself out, although he managed to buy a bit of time by drawing into Super Rod on his last prize.
With a four-card hand (two Catchers, a Junk Arm, a G Energy) and desperately needing to win that turn, I went through my discard pile, hoping for inspiration, and I found, stuck behind another card was… Random Receiver.
Howling in dismay, I played it, netting a Juniper, but getting neither the Energy Retrieval nor the DCE, but there was a PONT I could have used if I had only used the Random Receiver one turn earlier.
Lesson 4: Use new matte sleeves
The sleeves I was using was Ultra Pro Matt, and although matte sleeves are famous for not sticking together, extended play can till cause it to stick together due to water or oil from your hands. Having your cards stick together, or in my case, a crucial card stuck behind another card, can be devastating when you are under intense pressure. Which brings us to our next lesson…
Lesson 5: Keep track of what you have discarded
pokemon-paradijs.comEven though I was careful enough to make sure I have a Random Receiver in the discard pile, sometimes the pressure of an intense game can cause you to lose track of the game progress. In this case, I should have remembered that there was no way I would not have discarded a Random Receiver: it would be just too careless, especially when players are starting to play high counts of N.
On a related note, it is also very important to keep track of how many Energy cards, Supporters, Catchers, and Junk Arms you have used. The purpose of thinning your deck is so that you are able to more easily draw into crucial cards you need for the mid and late game. You are much less likelier to whiff on such cards when you know of the probability of getting them.
One friend of mine has a unique way of doing this: he would regularly stack up all the similar cards together so that he could tell at a glance what was in his discard pile and plan more easily.
Game 6 vs Joey (Zekeels)
Remember lesson two? I started second again for the fifth time today, hence failing to get the donk. I knew Joey’s deck rather well, and his high Zekrom count was not something my deck was built to deal with without some much needed speed.
Fortunately, both of us got off to a relatively slow start, with KOs coming in every 2-3 turns. I had the prize advantage when he could not continue the Mewtwo war. Time was called, and I won with a close shave.
Game 7 vs Bee Ping (Zekeels)
Guess who started second, with a lone Shaymin and dead hand to boot? The only saving grace was her slow start. I hate Arceus.
Four Dual Ball tails later (what the Arceus?!), I took an odd KO via Energy Bloom and PlusPower, and finally got my engines running, but not without great sacrificing. I tried targetting her Tynamos, but the Zekroms soon needed to be checked.
At that time, I had planned to start a Mewtwo war, setting up two fully powered Mewtwo EXs, but she never took the bait. Until today, I still felt that I had made the right play at that time. However, my prize lead led to me being N’d down to one card, and she KO’d my first Mewtwo while still on Zekrom mode. I got out of it easily, but I could not draw into my own N, and she promptly evolved the revived Tynamos, dropped a Mewtwo and took the game.
Thinking back on that last game, if I had a chance to do things differently, I would ignore Tornadus EX entirely and take advantage of her slow game by loading up Mewtwo EX and targetting only the eels. I guess I was too worried about my lack of resources: two Catchers just to keep Shaymin alive, and two Junk Arms and a Catcher discarded after drawing into my first Supporter of the game, a Juniper.
It really is very hard to play a proper game with so many resources gone after only three turns into the game, so the fact that I could actually draw 5 Prizes was already a miracle in itself.
Throughout the course of the tournament and the weeks prior to it, there were a few other observations I made.
Seeker is a dangerous Supporter to playLesson 6:
pokemon-paradijs.comMy initial Quad-Entei deck had two Seekers in it, but as time progressed, I encountered, and barely avoided due to ignorance, several times an extremely unique but dangerous situation only possible now: Seeker donk and board disruption.
What makes this possible (slightly far-fetched, but still possible) is the high amount of Smeargles, Switches, and Ns played in decks right now. Especially susceptible are decks who tend to have a small bench count and Truth variants.
How it happens is simple enough: being able to Portrait two to three times, or even more with the resulting Seeker-ing, allows you to use Seeker that many times, after which you can simply use your own N or Judge to shuffle everything back into the deck. Then simply KO their active Pokémon and you are looking at a very serious board disruption.
Truth variants, or even Klinklang BLW/Meganium Prime/Mismagius UL variants generally won’t be benched out, but in the early game, this kind of board disruption is even harder to recover from. They generally don’t have Energy acceleration, plus without a big enough bench, they can be forced to pick up their Oddish or other evolving Basics, preventing them from evolving and setting up.
I reiterate my point: it sounds far-fetched. But it is not impossible. And it is very, very deadly.
Lesson 7: Quad-Entei is a serious threat, in unexpected ways
I have to admit I feel very proud that an idea I thought of can actually grow into a serious contender in the top tiers. But the manners it can win is something not even I could have imagined.
Quad-Entei is a tank. This means that it can sit pretty and never die while it slowly hammers on your defences. What this also means is that, in a timed tournament, it is very possible for you to lose by time. Unlike other tanks involving Stage 2s, Quad-Entei does not give up any cheap prizes at all, bar the random Smeargle, Shaymin, Terrakion, or whatever non-Entei Pokémon-EX is in the deck.
Also, with decks now focusing on speed, Quad-Entei can very easily deck you out as they heal away all your efforts. It is very easy to use up a shocking amount of crucial resources just trying to keep up with Entei-EX. Be very wary of your depleting resources.
The problem with these two situations is that they are very effective tools in the Swiss rounds AND in top cut respectively. I have seen first hand in my own Nationals of both situations occurring (one took 2nd place), so be careful of them.
By the way, I believe most of you already know this, but good Quad-Entei lists play Mewtwo EX as well, so loading up Mewtwo is no longer a long-term solution.
pokemon-paradijs.comUnbelievable? Believe it.
Again, why this works is because of the way the current meta works: reliance on Smeargle. It works roughly the same way as Judge last season: cut your hand down to size, and let your opponent use Portrait on you.
Incredibly effective early game, by the way.
The best users of this trick are decks with a built-in engine, which sadly narrows it down to only Empoleon users, or the few TyRam faithfuls using Ninetales HS. Still, it’s a good trick when you yourself are in a rut, forcing your opponent into the same situation, thus buying you some time.
Something else that has been on my mind, but have yet to test, is the idea of Durant NVI paired with Sableye DEX. The popularity and effectiveness of Energy removals has gone up thanks to Esa’s winning Hammertime deck, but I imagine the idea can work just as well, if not better, in Durant decks.
Thanks for reading this report, and I wish all of you the best for your own Nationals.
May Arceus not troll us.