Well, I did not really play in that many competitive tournaments this season and I did not Top 8 US Nats. That means I will not be attending Worlds.
In other words, for most intents and purposes, I have finally and completely moved onto working with the Black and White-on format. I would like to think of this article as a WAY–TOO-EARLY-INTRODUCTION to the new format.
Preparation will be a key to doing well early in the format. Also, I know people have been clamoring for a BLW-on article. So, here it goes.
What Did We Lose?
I’m not going to go through every single card the format loses by eliminating the HGSS-CL sets, but I do want to point out some of the bigger (and game changing) losses.
Obviously, Junk Arm allowed any player to reuse Item cards from their discard at the cost of discarding two cards. This paired really well with Juniper and PONT because you could play your hand down to 0-2 cards and then replenish your hand.
The implications of the text on Junk Arm were vast. Junk Arm essentially allowed a deck to play up to 8 copies of any given Item card (once the first copy of the actual card hit the discard). That gave decks three things:
It made decks faster because the ability to play a Catcher on turn 1 and then follow up with 7 “outs” to get a Catcher on turn two allowed basics (or fast attackers) to put immense pressure on their opponent for the rest of the game.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt made decks more consistent, simply because decks had greater access to the core strategic cards needed to function. It made decks more flexible because the pilot could run one or two copies of any given Item card and still reliably get that card when needed.
Without Junk Arm, decks will be limited to 4 maximum Catchers, 4 Dark Patches, etc. That will force players to be more conservative with those crucial Items. Also, decks will be forced to run three or four copies of any given Item that is vital to the deck’s function to remain consistent. That, in turn, makes lists “tighter” and removes their capacity for more tech cards.
Finally, I know several people who feel Junk Arm was a very skill intensive card, but I actually feel the complete opposite. In my opinion, it was too forgiving. With only four copies of any given cards (unless you run the new Durant, Sableye, Recycle, etc), each play is crucial.
That is going to give an inherent advantage to the players who can recognize the optimal moments to play certain Item cards. Whereas with Junk Arm, you could literally Catcher up the wrong Pokémon, then use Junk Arm again to get it “right,” and then just play Juniper like you intended to all along.
This card should also be toward the top of most players’ mental list of changes to the game. With the removal of Vileplume, the ability to Item lock from the bench is lost. That means, instantly, the remaining Item locking decks lose power. This is because for Gothitelle EPO 47 or Zebstrika NXD to work, they must be in the active at the end of your turn. That means they will be at risk of getting blown to smithereens by your opponent’s attack.
In my opinion, Vileplume was great for the game. It balanced all of the broken Items. This was especially true with the presence of Junk Arm (for reasons already listed). Vileplume, toward the end of the format, was a driver of creativity and kept most players from doing crazy things like maxing out Random Receiver and skimping on Supporters.
I know most people hate seeing the opposing player flip over two Oddish (so did I), but I think it was important for all players to at least have to factor in a strong Item lock deck.
Ah, my favorite Supporter for most of the season. In general, this is the first or second best Supporter in the game as far as early game speed goes.
Nothing approximates what PONT did in the current format in the next format, as far as the spoiled cards go. PONT was a basically zero risk, six card reward Supporter. N is close, but there is always the huge chance of helping your opponent early in the game by getting him out of bad hands.
Juniper is a little bit higher risk higher reward card. Bianca is actually a close facsimile because you can play your hand down to 0-3 cards and then push it back up to six. Finally, Cheren is nice but ultimately a bit inferior as far as speed goes.
For the first half of the season, Cleffa was by and large the “go to” crutch Pokémon. The ability to get out of bad early game hands for zero energy is excellent and the amount of cards drawn, six, was very high.
In the coming format, there are some Pokémon to pesudo-replace Cleffa, but there is nothing as potent that only takes one card slot. Plulse and Minun allow you to draw 8 cards, but you need one copy of each and an Energy to pull that off. Other Pokémon include: Darmanitan NXD (Stage 1), the monkeys (Basics and only draw one), Virizion NVI, etc.
There is nothing that even comes close to replacing Portrait. The ability to use a Pokémon crutch and attack in the same turn is nearly unheard of. Case closed, nothing comes close (right now).
Losing both Cleffa and Smeargle means decks lose a consistency crutch. Again, to make up for this loss, decks will need to run higher counts of cards to insure it is easier to draw into those cards.
pokemon-paradijs.comConversely, we might see a reappearance of set up Pokémon. There are several cards in the coming format that allow the player to search for additional basics for one energy and kick start their field development. These include: Elgyem, Lapras, and Emogla.
This little guy has been a mainstay in most decks for most of the last season. Celebration Wind is a nearly broken Power when it is splashable into any deck. We will have Energy Switch to approximate Celebration Wind, but I don’t think I need to tell you how inferior Energy Switch is, especially without Junk Arm.
Other notable cards rotating:
- Magnezone Prime (best pure draw Power)
- Typhlosion Prime (best Fire acceleration)
- Sage’s Training (deck thinning)
- Engineer’s Adjustment (4 draw is actually pretty good in comparison to what is left over)
- Twins (big time comeback card)
- Ninetales HS/CL (good draw support)
- Fisherman (premier Energy recovery)
- Pokémon Collector/Dual Ball (fast search)
- Celebi Prime (fastest Energy acceleration)
What Does It Mean?
pokemon-paradijs.comIn my early testing, these cards rotating actually mean the format is slowing down a touch and evolutions are slightly more playable.
The format will slow down for several reasons. The combination of losing Junk Arm, Cleffa, Smeargle, PONT, etc. will lead to fewer explosive starters. Furthermore, the loss of Junk Arm will all but eliminate turn one Night Spears simply because you only have 4 ways to get energy from the discard and the probability of hitting two in one hand with three energy and a Darkness Pokémon is very low.
The loss of those cards mean you will have access to fewer cards in the early turns. Again, that means to hit the cards you need, you need to run higher counts of each card.
Thus, because of the format losing some speed, Evolutions and gernerally Bench-sitters will be safer. Each deck will only be able to use Catcher four times (save Durant, Sableye, Recycle, etc.). That means your Bench-sitters will be targeted less during a game and the probability of your opponent having a Catcher in hand is also lower.
If you deck is strong enough and has several attackers in play, Bench-sitters like Venusaur DEX, Musharna NXD, etc. might see more play to help with consistency. Overall, they will be safer that previously on the bench and with the loss of good supporters and search cards, their abilities become even more potent.
Overall, the loss of these hallmark cards might really open up the game play in different directions.
Deck Idea Introduction
Now that we have that section out of the way, what are some decks that could see play?
When a new format spurned on by a rotation is upon us it is important to have an open mind about deck archetypes. Some of the old types (Zeels) are likely to survive, while some new archetypes are bound to appear.
In this section of the article I am going to talk about deck concepts to get your minds rolling on building new decks. I might or might not (most of them not) provide a SKELETON decklist. I will, however, provide a conceptual overview of the deck and the potential I see in each deck.
By this point in time, we all know what Eelektrik decks do. I think Eelektrik will remain a viable player in the next format. The obvious concept behind this deck is to use L Energy from the discard and Dynamotor to power up attackers quickly and provide consistency moving forward.
The question becomes how will this deck change. Personally, it think Zekrom NXD with Eviolite is still extremely strong. Mewtwo EX is obviously going to continue to be a solid attacker. The two main cards I would like to talk about are Rayquaza EX and Raikou-EX.
By the end of the season (the Top 8 at US Nats) we were already seeing the emergence of Raikou-EX. It is an inherently strong card that many people overlooked in favor of a simply Catcher + Zekrom combo. Well, now Zeels will be limited to four Catchers per game.
pokemon-paradijs.comThat directly increases the importance of Raikou-EX. The ability to snipe for 100 anywhere on the field is a pseudo-replacement for the missing Catchers. Do not be surprised if many lists begin seeing two Raikou-EX to go along with Zekrom and Mewtwo EX.
This would have been the high dollar early chase card if not for the Fall Tin announcement. Its attack is similar to Magnezone Prime’s in that it has potentially unlimited output. The drawback to this card is that it will easily be countered by the Garchomp/Altaria deck. So, relying heavily on Ray EX will be a huge risk, and simply one that a deck like Zeels does not need to take.
Darkrai EX/Hydreigon DRE
Most people have likely seen that this deck won the Japanese World’s Qualifying tournament. So, let’s look at that list:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
8 D – Basic
4 Blend Energy PRGD
Basically this deck works like a different Klinklang EX deck. The new Hydregion works like Klinklang except with D Energy. Sableye takes advantage of retrieving Item cards. Shaymin EX is the late game attacker, and Darkrai EX is the main attacker.
Sigilyph will be an interesting card, and one that keeps people from merely running a deck with only EX attackers. Its Ability prevents all effects of attacks, including damage, done to Sigilyph by EX attackers. It can also 1HKO Mewtwo EX most likely for 3 Energy. Its attack, for PCC, does 50 + 10 for each Energy on the Defending Pokémon.
It is partially limited compared to Klinklang because the new Blend Energy is not the same as Rainbow Energy. So, the type of the attackers are more limited. Whereas, Klinklang could literally run any type of Pokémon to cover all weaknesses (theoretically).
Ninetales DRE/Amoonguss NXD
This deck is an upgraded version of Leafeon CL/Amoonguss or Roserade UL. It is also more potent.
The new Ninetales (presumed) has an attack that does 20 + 50 for each status condition on the Defending Pokémon for a single R Energy. Amoonguss NXD has an Ability that inflicts two status conditions on the Defending Pokémon when it comes into play. That means Ninetales can do 120 damage for a one R Energy.
In addition to doing a good amount of damage, Ninetales has the Bright Look ability that is the same effect as Catcher (or Luxray GL LV.X). That means this deck can effectively run four “Catchers” and keep the board under constant pressure.
With all the part to the combo being at 90 HP or less, the entire deck is searchable with Level Ball. Also, Big Cloak can help increase the HP of your Pokémon by 20, getting them out of the Night Spear 90 range. Because Ninetales only requires one Energy to attack, Max Potion becomes another appealing card.
Finally, it is likely we get Devolution Spray and that is what will make this deck click. That Item allows you to remove the top evolution card from one of your Pokémon and put it back into your hand. That will allow this deck to theoretically use Amoonguss’ Ability 8 times in one game or Ninetales’ Ability 8 times.
Garchomp DRE/Altaria DRE
BulbapediaThis is one of the more straightforward decks in the coming format, but those decks normally do well.
Garchomp is a Stage 2 Dragon type that does 60 damage + discards a SP Energy for one F Energy. Altaria is a Stage 1 Dragon type that increases the damage output of all other Dragon types by 20 and is stackable. That means with 2-3 Altaria in play, Garchomp does 80-120 for one energy.
This is another deck where Large Cloak and Max Potion might see play.
Overall, this deck just needs to built with think lines for maximum consistency. Otherwise it should be pretty simple to figure out.
Empoleon + Weakness Attacker
Because the format slows down, Empoleon will become more viable. This is especially true because Empoleon is a very strong card on its own. It has a great attack and built in draw power. Again, with a solid amount of HP and cheap Energy requirements, Max Potion becomes an interesting option in this deck.
The real question becomes what to pair Empoleon with. Currently, I am still leaning toward Terrakion NVI. Terrakion covers Empoleon’s bad matchup (Lightning) and effectively attacks for FC. We have seen this deck around for a while, so I will not bore you with a tome of words here.
Personally, I feel this might be the only viable Item lock deck in the format early. Obviously, players such as Kettler had success with Accelgor in the last format. So, why not going forward?
Pairing Gothitelle with Accelgor gives the deck some interesting option. The deck can still utilize Items such as Catcher and PlusPower to control when Pokémon are KO’d. Add in Darkrai EX and Gothitelle gets free retreat.
The main question for me is whether or not to use Mew EX (presumed) in this deck. Mew-EX allows you to utilize any attack on your side of the field with Mew-EX. That means you can simply have an Accelgor sitting on the bench and use Mew to attack with Deck and Cover. Mew-EX is inherently easier to retrieve than Accelgor because you are only search for one Pokémon.
Emboar BLW 20 + Attackers
pokemon-paradijs.comEmboar’s Inferno Fandango Ability in inherently strong and by extension deserves to be looked at when new sets roll out. The good thing about Emboar is that Pignite and Emboar are searchable with Heavy Ball, and so are many of the attackers that could be paired with Emboar.
Obviously, for Emboar to work, it needs a good set of attackers to power up. So, what are the options? Obviously, we can utilize Reshiram BLW for a solid base attackers. However, with the loss of Fisherman, attacks that discard energy are difficult to sustain. Registeel EX (presumed) is another intriguing option. For CCC it snipes 30 damage to 3 targets. This could be an effective way to set up KOs.
Mewtwo EX is a good partner for Emboar because you can load up absurd amounts of energy very quickly allowing for ridiculous X Ball plays. Entei-EX is another solid option because it does a consistent amount of damage and can retrieve Fire that other cards (Resihram BLW, Rayquaza EX) have discarded.
That means Rayquaza EX is under consideration. It’s potentially unlimited damage output is clearly attractive. Reshiram-EX is a possible attacker and so is the Bad Boar. Likewise, Regigigas-EX and Tornadus EX are possible additions.
To retrieve some Energy we still have Energy Retrieval and this is a deck that could greatly use one of the set up Pokémon. Toss in a heavy count (four) of Switch and there might be something to Emboar.
This deck really does not change much from last format to the next format. I also feel it was overlooked. Entei did win Canadian Nationals when paired with Mewtwo EX. Basically, you want to load up on Entei and use lots of healing cards. Then you can use its second attack to flood the field with energy. Pretty simple deck.
DarkArk (Zoroark Rush)
I feel that Zoroark will be comparatively stronger this coming format that it was previously. The ability to do 80-120 on turn two is a consistent set up is going to be very good. The other thing about Zoroark is that it can run on DCE and not Darkness. That means you can save your Dark Patches to set up secondary attackers on the bench while wailing away with Zoroark DEX.
Also, because of Celebi rotating, Zoroark’s biggest nemesis (Tornadus EX) takes an early game hit. The turn 1 100 damage has become a less likely occurrence, guaranteeing Zoroark will last longer. The key to getting this deck to work will be getting a bench full of Darkness types early.
This is starting to drag on (3100+ words already) so I will only take conceptually about one more deck. Ever since Kansas States, it has been one that I have gone back to a few times and messed around with.
Darkrai EX/Cofagrigus NVI 46/Musharna NXD
pokemon-paradijs.comOriginally, this deck worked with Kyurem EX/Vanilluxe NXD/Cofagrigus/Musharna. The concept was to wail away with Kyurem EX. Then when it got close to being KO’d, you used Slippery Soles to retreat into Cofagrigus and used Damagriiigus to move the damage from Kyurem EX to the opposing Defending Pokémon. This healed your attacker and kept the Energy on the board.
Well, why wouldn’t this work even better with Darkrai EX? With Darkrai EX, you do not need the clunky Vanilluxe line to have free retreat. Also, you can now utilize Dark Patch to get more energy on the board.
You can still use Darkrai EX to tank and do damage. Then if your opponent cannot 1HKO Darkrai EX (which is largely rare, especially if you are playing a heavy count of Eviolite) you can simply retreat into Cofagrigus and move that damage to your opponent.
In theory, this is stronger than playing Max Potion because you do not need to discard the energy from the field that is difficult to recover. You are turning your opponent’s attack damage against them while healing your field. Furthermore, you can use Big Cloak (presumed) to bump Cofagrigus’ HP up to 110.
Finally, with two very dangerous attackers on the field (and the lack of Junk Arm) Musharna may be more viable at a draw mechanism because people will be more hesitant to waste a Catcher on Musharna. You could even play this with Prism and Kyurem EX to cover your Fighting weakness.
Other Decks to Work On/Keep an Eye On
Remember we are trying to keep an open mind to all possible decks at this moment.
- Round (Seismitoad NVI, Wigglytuff NXD)
- Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI/Mewtwo EX
- Terrakion EX based decks
- Mew-EX decks (I cannot wait to dive into this toolbox card some more)
- Ho-Oh EX decks
- Quad Groudon EX
- Mono Fighting
- I feel this archetype might get a huge boost with Terrakion-EX. Now it has the Energy acceleration is has desperately needed. It hits very hard across the board, so it might not even be relegated to the anti-meta status it currently holds.
- Tornadus EX/Aerodactyl DEX
Anyway, I hope this was a decent introduction article to the rotation and the new format. Again, I apologize for not including more decklists. However, I wanted to get people thinking about possible combinations moving into the new season. This has not been a comprehensive article, but rather a platform for players to begin the process of moving on.
Finally, some self-promotion coming, I started a Pokémon based Twitter account. If I have time, I plan on just talking tips, strategies, deck choices, deck building, tournament updates, etc. on my new account. Follow me @airhawk06.