Painting KandinskyHello SixPrizes Underground. I am humbled to be writing for you once again. This article will be a mash-up of sorts. There will be some individual card analysis, some deck analysis, early season deck rankings, and a little discussion about the new tournament structure.
This previous season I was in an interesting spot. I was busy enough that I often could not devote an entire Saturday and/or Sunday to Pokémon, but not so busy that I couldn’t playtest (evenings during the week and weekend were free). Well, since Nationals (and a little before) my free time grew, and thus, I have been playtesting even more. Since I am not going to Worlds, this playtesting centered around the Black & White-on format. Hopefully, that translates into some sort of insight.
First, and foremost I want to talk about cards soon to be rotated. I know by now this seems to be an old hat, but I want to give my take.
As an aside, you can virtually never have too many opinions on a TCG like Pokémon. In today’s information laced world, I would contend that being able to digest info is key to being a successful player. Our lives are getting busier, but information is more readily available. You can be a competitive player working mainly with information found online; you just need to know how to utilize the information.
By now we all know the big ones the format is losing. However, after extensive playtesting, here are my top five lost cards.
1. Junk Arm
Pokemon ParadijsTo me it is not even close. In a format with a lot of broken (or nearly broken) Items, Junk Arm went from a bit player (in the SP days) to game breaking. Once the first of any Item card hit the discard, you essentially had access of up to seven more copies of said Item card. That means you could have used up to 8 Catchers, PlusPowers, or Rare Candy, in one game. Absurd!
2. Vileplume UD
Allergy Flower has been useful from its debut in the game. You should read this Vileplume obituary to fully grasp the reach of Vileplume. However, at its bitter end, Vileplume was a premier driver of creativity. It allowed cards like Accelgor DEX, Chandelure NVI, and Mismagius UL to thrive. It gave bench sitters a safe haven.
In my (rather small) opinion, Professor Oak’s New Theory was the absolute best Supporter in the format. PONT fit in any deck. Obviously, Juniper drew more cards, but nothing compared to the balance of draw power and resource conservation PONT provided. It will be sorely missed.
4. Shaymin UL
Again, while SP was ruling the day, Shaymin UL flew under the radar. However, Celebration Wind would not be held down. Eventually this Energy moving monster became a near one-of in every deck.
Twins also fostered creativity in the previous format. Basically, meta decks are aggressive decks and most non-meta decks are a tad bit slower. That means you would normally fall behind, and thus, you needed a powerful card to help get back into the game. With a guaranteed two cards, Twins was the perfect Supporter to get you back into the game.
Pokémon Collector (would be much higher if not for the proliferation of Dual Ball towards the end), Celebi Prime, Magnezone Prime, Sage’s Training, Rescue Energy, Smeargle UD, and Cleffa HS. In all honesty, there are a ton of cards leaving the format and a 6000+ word article could be devoted to all of them. So, I apologize if you disagree with my top 5, but the comment section would be a great place to have that conversation.
Pokemon ParadijsThe first and most obvious implication of the cards rotating is a loss of speed. This loss of speed is mostly due to the loss of PONT. Simply put, nothing truly replicated the power of this card. N has a similar up side in the early game, but after one prize, N begins netting you fewer cards than PONT. Cheren is nice, but does not dig very deep. Bianca could be like the next PONT (and will likely make its mark in most decks), but it will rarely net you more than four cards.
Second, you would think bench sitters would be at more risk and powerful Items would break the game with Vileplume leaving. Additionally, you would tend to assume the loss of Twins would cripple setup decks. And again, you would think the loss of Sage’s Training would also lead to weaker setup decks.
However, the opposite appears to be true. Evolution and setup decks are poised to make a comeback in the next format. Some of these decks will be Empoleon DEX, Garchomp DRX 90, and Hydreigon DRX 97 (but more on those later).
Why? If the tools that have enabled setup decks to work are gone, why will setup decks work better?
1. Decks will be less consistent.
Junk Arm enabled fast decks to work over the early game with unprecedented consistency. Once you played a Random Receiver, you essentially had 12-15 outs to hit a stream of Supporters and keep rolling along. Additionally, you had four more outs to hitting crucial cards that enabled early pressure to continue without ceasing.
2. Deck lists will be less flexible after the rotation.
In my article about deck building, I talked about a concept known as overlap. Flexible decks often have high overlap. In the past format, Junk Arm created overlap in decks because it doubled as any Item card once the first card was played. Essentially, every deck loses four slots for any given Item card function.
That means, for example, if you run high retreat Pokémon (without Darkrai EX) you will likely need three to four Switch, instead of two to three. The same goes for cards such as Eviolite, PlusPower, Catcher, Super Rod, etc. This effect will reverberate through your deck and force you to play more copies of out cards and less copies of tech cards.
3. Deck building will take more skill.
Pokemon ParadijsBecause Junk Arm will be rotated, you will have to make difficult choices. For example, at one point in time Troll decks were forced to decide between Exp. Share and Eviolite. However, some people would play both, but only one or two copies because it could be Junk Armed for.
4. Games will take more skill to win.
Yes, I understand there was some skill in choosing which cards to discard with Junk Arm and it took a many players a while to figure out you could grab a Item card you discarded to pay for Junk Arm as long as there was a pre-existing Item in the discard as the theoretical target for Junk Arm. However, Junk Arm was extremely forgiving.
Too often I saw someone else, or myself, do something similar to this: Catcher a Pokémon, realize I Catchered a sub-optimal target, Junk Arm to play Catcher again, and then top it off with the Juniper I intended to play anyway.
I do not want to bore you with this information because I am sure it has and will be covered by anyone and everyone who writes Pokémon articles. However, I cannot stress how important the loss of Junk Arm is and how much it will affect the game.
Now for the deck discussion! The top three decks here probably will not surprise anyone. I have a feeling there are some decks out there that will rise to fame because the format is still young and there are some interesting cards waiting to be broken. Unfortunately, I have not broken any of those cards yet, and this article is designed to prepare you for the early portion of the new season.
Thus, this list is what I consider to be the top four decks you need to be prepared to face during Battle Roads. For each of these sections I will lead with a list and then an explanation. We’ll start off with deck #4 and work our way down to #1.
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 27
Energy – 11
I wrote about this deck as well. That means I am not going to do an in-depth analysis right now, but there are a few things to discuss.
Pokemon ParadijsFinally, our little flying squirrel found a home. When I first began testing this deck, I maxed out Emolga to maximize my openings with Emolga. Then I completely took Emolga out of the deck because I wanted more trainers (Max Potion). However, Emolga serves two very important functions in this deck.
First, it is a buffer against Rayquaza DRX. It is the only Basic in the deck that is not donkable by Rayquaza. Second, Emolga forces your opponent to waste a Catcher to take a prize off an important Pokémon. Do not underestimate the power of forcing your opponent to “waste” resources getting the prizes they want.
Anytime a Pokémon can attack for a single Energy, Max Potion should be considered. Here, Garchomp’s high HP and single Energy attack is optimal for Max Potion. Forcing a typical 2HKO into a 3 or 4HKO can be devastating.
I find it extremely hard to talk about this deck in an overview. It really is the most straight forward deck of the new cycle. The basic idea is to get the first Gabite into play early and then abuse its Ability to set your field up by turn three. Then you swing for a lot of cheap damage.
Why It’s Ranked #4
Well, when there are new formats often the most consistent decks that are strong and easy to play perform well. That means everyone needs to get plenty of testing in against and with Garchomp/Altaria. In addition to this being a new and consistent deck, it features the brand new Dragon type and a fan favorite (Garchomp).
Of course, it does not hurt that this deck has an excellent Energy to damage ratio. It can swing for 60-120 for a single Energy.
Why It Might Be Too Low
Simply put, this deck is difficult to mess up. Not only is the deck difficult to mess up, it is very consistent in attacking no later than turn three. That alone will propel it to the top of many tournaments in the fall.
Why It Might Be Too High
BulbapediaSimple decks are always exploitable. When a strategy gets too linear, it can easily be countered and lose to more skilled players/decks. Garchomp is no different.
Additionally, as Hydreigon and Eelektrik based decks evolve, Garchomp will struggle to keep up. The inability to OHKO big time Pokémon (Mewtwo EX, Zekrom EX, Darkrai EX, etc.) may also catch up with Garchomp.
Finally, for a non-control deck, attacking on turn three is actually one turn too slow. Garchomp may get online turn two (especially if you run 4 Rare Candies), but turn three is the most likely turn. Unfortunately, attacking on turn three will often put you into a one or two prize deficit.
Ultimately, it was difficult for me to include this deck. To be honest, the more I test the less effective this deck becomes. I think early in the season this will be played by a lot of people, however by Regionals I would expect this deck to see a bit less play.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 33
Energy – 14
This list is loosely based on the Battle Carnival winning list. I stress the idea of loosely though.
BulbapediaIf you are going to play Rayquaza EX, I believe it needs to be a focus of the deck. Two copies virtually guarantees you access to Rayquaza EX over the course of the game. Rayquaza EX is a card similar to Magnezone Prime that may hit for extremely high amounts of damage at almost any time. It gets to deal 60 damage for each Lightning Energy (or Fire Energy) attached to Rayquaza EX, then those same energy must be discarded.
The obvious idea is to power up Rayquaza EX with Eelektrik. Having two Rayquaza EX allows you to have one on the bench (for Dynamotor the next turn) and one attacking/discarding Energy one the current turn.
The non-EX version is good for several reasons. First, it is a win condition against Garchomp. It will take prizes from the first turn onwards in that game. Secondly, it is your Sigilyph counter. Its second attack, for [L][R][C], OHKOs the EX hater.
Still the best counter to Mewtwo EX is Mewtwo EX. My testing shows that Mewtwo EX is not going anywhere anytime soon.
You may have noticed my preference for four Eelektrik. In a normal Zeels build, the fourth Eelektrik is merely a luxury. Zekrom and Mewtwo EX (Zeels main attackers) do not discard Energies to attack. That means you only need to power up the fresh Zekroms and M2EXs and then Eelektrik becomes less important. In a Rayquaza EX (or Raikou EX) focused deck, the fourth Eelektrik is nearly mandatory in my opinion.
In those decks, you are constantly discarding Energy that must be recovered on the next turn. That means keeping at minimum two Eelektrik on the field at all times is a must, and three is great. Well, playing four Eelektrik helps to protect from bad prizes and early KOs on the Eel.
Pokemon ParadijsIt is crucial that you draw into enough energy to make this deck run. If you hearken back to MagneRock, that deck played 18 Energy (enough to OHKO 6 110+) Pokémon. Well, this deck is similar in Energy requirements except it needs two distinct types of Energy at any given time. Getting Fire and Lightning in play early is crucial, thus, I have high counts of both.
Emolga is missing from this deck. (Notice the trend?) Rayquaza attacking for 40 against virtually anything is stronger than Call for Family.
Why It’s Ranked #3
If you have not caught onto the trend yet, a version of this deck won a Battle Carnival. With more information between Japan and the rest of us, victorious Japanese decks are often overplayed here. This one will be no different.
The deck is really a Zeels deck that is slightly clunkier, but has a much higher damage cap. To survive in this format, a deck needs a few things: 1) a Mewtwo EX counter, 2) a way to OHKO either Hydreigon or Darkrai, and 3) a way to fight off Garchomp/Altaria. RayEels delivers in all three facets with the three attackers.
Why It Might Be Too Low
Rayquaza EX. Anytime a single card has the potential to OHKO anything in the format, the deck has potential. Unlocking that potential is another story.
Why It Might Be Too High
Consistency is always a key. Of these top four decks, RayEels has been the least consistent deck in my personal testing. Getting to an early Rayquaza is not difficult as long as it is not prized (which would be a very good argument for adding another, if you can find the space). However, hitting enough Energy at the proper time can prove to be a challenge.
Secondly, although you have most of the required answers for the format, all of your Pokémon are weak to popular types. Games can degenerate into simple prize trades very quickly.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Obviously, this list is very close to the winning list from one of Japan’s Battle Carnivals. Actually, the only noteworthy change in the list is trading one Sableye for one Registeel EX.
The deck ultimately functions like Klinklang EX. However, there are some key differences. First, Hydreigon may be a little bit faster because you can abuse Dark Patch. That is a positive. Second, Hydreigon is limited to Psychic, Fire, Grass, and Darkness types. Compared to the HS-on Klinklang EX, that is a negative. However, we can only do what we can with what we have.
BulbapediaThis is your Mewtwo EX counter and win condition against anyone who is foolhardy enough to only play EX Pokémon.
I know of several players who are still extremely adverse to this card, and I am not sure why. With a fall in Catcher, it is safer than ever, and nothing can end a game like Shaymin EX. Even more, the pure Fighting decks, or Mewtwo EX/Fighting decks, can wreck Hydreigon decks by keeping Darkrai EX off the board.
Shaymin EX is the answer to all of those pesky Terrakions and Terrakion EXs. Due to Weakness, your opponent needs to only take two prizes before Shaymin EX begins to OHKO un-Eviolited Terrakions (either one).
The Japanese list ran two Darkness Deinos and one Dragon type. I have moved over to all Darkness Deinos because of Rayquaza DRX. Getting donked is no fun, and this helps prevent losing on the donk.
I want to play the Darkness one because of Rayquaza, but the first attack here is just too good. In a pinch, Zweilous can instantly add two Energy to your field. It has 90 HP, so Rayquaza needs a PlusPower to take the OHKO with its first (and more common) attack.
Anyone who watched John Robert’s mastery of the US National tournament knows that he relied on spreading damage (with Kyogre EX, Darkrai EX, and even Groudon EX) as much as he relied on big OHKOs. Registeel EX continues along that vein in this deck. Terrakion can cripple your board (if you are missing Shaymin EX) when you take KOs. Registeel EX gives you a way to play around taking KOs and walking into KOs from Terrakion.
Furthermore, in this deck Registeel will not die easily due to Max Potion. This means you may get off four, five, or even six Triple Lasers. That quickly becomes an absurd amount of damage.
BulbapediaOne noticeable exclusion is Emolga from Dragons Exalted. Well, this deck has Sableye as an opener to reuse the Ball Engine early and often.
Why It’s Ranked #2
Again, the Battle Carnival results demonstrate that Hydreigon is a very good deck that can devastate a field once the lock is set up. Because of this lock, Hydreigon is unlikely to lose often to random.dec. Ultimately, my testing showed this to be the second best deck that beats most things more often than not.
Why It Might Be Too Low
The lock is so devastating that it can win any game even when down four or five prizes. Furthermore, Zeels needs to hit Zekrom EX at the right time to finish Hydreigon off. If Zeels fails to hit Zekrom EX, Hydreigon often wins the game.
Why It Might Be Too High
As with any lock, Hydreigon takes skill to play. Because this is an “early season” power ranking, most players may not have adequate testing in with this deck. The lack of testing may lead to many misplays and the results may falter. Poor early season results will make many sub-elite players shy away from any deck.
Additionally, the deck is slow by format standards. If you cannot get Hydreigon into play, you likely lose the game because straight Darkrai EX will not cut it. There is a distinct possibility of losing because the deck simply is run off the board early.
Finally, a death knell to Hydreigon is losing your Blend Energies early in the game. If you are forced to discard Blend energies early, Terrakion, Terrakion EX, and Mewtwo EX just destroy your field.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
If you read my last article on Zeels, you will see the list is very similar. I will not bore you will my all inclusive thoughts on each card here, but I would like to talk about the differences and a few other things.
Raikou EX/Zekrom EX
Pokemon ParadijsFirst off, I want to make one thing clear. I believe that Eelektrik decks have essentially split into three different and distinct variants. First, there is a more traditional Zeels build (like this one). Second, there is a Rayquaza focused deck. Third, there is a Raikou EX focused version that focuses on streaming Volt Bolts over and over again.
Streaming Volt Bolt is strong, but I would rather have more variety in my attacking lines. Raikou EX is in this deck to threaten the entire board effectively despite having only four Catchers available. Because Raikou EX is not the feature of this deck, only playing one copy has been just fine.
Zekrom EX is what puts this deck at the top of the pile for me. Darkrai EX/Hydreigon (coming soon) will be played a lot. Most people I have talked to have looked into adding Terrakion NVI into Zeels to counter this deck. Their reasoning is that you must OHKO Pokémon in that deck to finish off the game.
They are correct, but Zekrom EX is more than capable of OHKOing Hydreigon. I have found that taking out Hydredion is more desirable than taking out Darkrai EX because the deck loses its ability to effectively heal its Pokémon.
Currently, there are two Mewtwo EX and four Eelektrik. If Mewtwo EX is continuously played at a high level, my first change would be to reduce Eelektrik to three and increase Mewtwo EX to three. When games devolve into Mewtwo wars, the deciding factor is often who has more Mewtwo.
DCE is useful in many ways. First, it powers up Mewtwo EX. Second, it powers up Zekrom EX. Thirdly, it acts as a Switch for Eelektrik, Zekrom, and Mewtwo EX.
To be honest, I am leaning towards the PlusPowers and Eviolites. However, Tool Scrapper is a fun card that can help in several matches. For example, Darkrai/Hydreigon might tech in Giant Cape to get Hydreigon out of OHKO range of Zekrom EX. But to be honest, PlusPower and Eviolite have both proved more useful in my early testing. However, if Garbodor becomes popular, Tool Scrapper will get the nod.
BulbapediaI know most people will put Rayquaza into virtually every deck that runs Lightning or the appropriate Blend Energy. The big benefit to Rayquaza is that it nearly rolls Garchomp/Altaria by itself. The down sides are more numerous. First, it has a three retreat cost. Opening with Rayquaza in the wrong match is no bueno. [L] for 40 is not that strong against non-Dragon types. Second, discarding cards in a deck that already discards a lot of cards is undesirable. Third, its second attack needs Fire Energy and that forces Zeels into a less consistent Energy line.
Thundurus, on the other hand, is very strong against many decks. It is good against Garchomp. Actually, it is only marginally worse than Rayquaza. It is very good against Empoleon. The list really goes on. Most importantly, Thundurus gives Zeels a unique advantage: virtually guaranteed turn one Energy acceleration. Not many decks can accelerate energy to the field on turn one. Getting energy into play is often the name of the game, and Thundurus tends to take the cake.
Emolga is not included in this deck because an optimal turn one will be either a Charge or an attack from Rayquaza.
Why It’s Ranked #1
Well, a list very similar to this one won a Battle Carnival in Japan. That automatically puts it towards the top. Additionally, in my testing this deck returned the most consistent results across the board. It can struggle with Darkrai EX/Hydreigon if you waste DCEs early. If not, streaming Strong Volts for OHKOs on Hydreigons may tilt the match up in your favor.
Additionally, not many decks have the ability to attack with Zekrom BLW. I personally feel Zekrom BLW is absolutely the best non-EX attacker in the game (including Terrakion NVI). An Eviolited Zekrom can go toe to toe with virtually anything in the game. Additionally, Zekrom EX really crushes Garchomp. Thundurus (and/or Rayquaza) will take one or two prizes in that game and then you take two more with Zekrom EX. I know they get two prizes for KOing Zekrom EX and you likely took two prizes with it, but their board is normally wrecked after that.
Finally, Zeels responds to N better than almost any deck (save Empoleon, but Zeels is really good against Empo) in the format. The ability to abuse N to its fullest is not an attribute to be overlooked.
Why It Might Be Too High
BulbapediaI honestly believe it is not coincidence that in the Japaense A league Terrakion EX + Stuff is prevalent and Zeels is not as prevalent. Those decks hit Zeels very hard and can prove extremely difficult to take out. If Terrakion EX + Stuff becomes extremely popular States Side, then Zeels might be in trouble. But alas, this list is about which decks you need to be prepared for.
Now those top four are out of the way, let me stress those are the top four decks I expect to see play this fall. Those are not necessarily the four strongest decks out there. I do feel they are all in the running for the best deck, but the more I test the more I find and the less sure I am about my previous results.
I aim to be honest in every single article, and this article caught me in a re-evaluation period. I believe 100% that any of those decks can (and will win) some Battle Roads. I also believe those will be the most prevalent decks. Thus, it was important for me to talk about those specific decks.
Do not fear though, this next section is about the other decks I am having some success with.
Why do we look at certain decks and not others? Well, all TCGs have rules. The official rules are in a rule book. Additionally, once you play the game for a long period you get a grasp on “unwritten” rules. Under the unwritten rules heading, I would include things like damage ratio, alternative win conditions, etc. However, typically the best decks try as hard as they can to “break” those rules.
For example, here are the rules the previous decks break.
- “You may only play one Energy per turn” (Eelektrik NVI, Dark Patch, Terrakion EX)
- “Once you play an Energy it stays attached to that Pokémon” (Hydreigon DRX 97)
- “Once you discard a card it stays there” (Eelektrik NVI, Dark Patch, Sableye DEX)
- “Unwritten damage to Energy cost ratio” (Garchomp DRX 90)
- “Only Trainers search for stuff” (Gabite DRX 89)
I know some of these “rules” may seem to be an overreach, but this is just another perspective to utilize when evaluating cards. For the rest of this section we will look at decks I really like in the format and apply broken rules to the decks.
This is the first of two Emboar decks I really enjoy.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
- One Energy per turn rule
- Discard rule
This deck is similar to MagneBoar with Rayquaza EX taking the spot of Magnezone Prime. The unlimited damage is extremely useful in many situations.
Pokemon ParadijsObviously, this is the main attacker of the deck and is powered up through Inferno Fandango. However, because Rayquaza EX needs to discard Energy for damage, the deck needs ways to recover the Energy. Otherwise, Rayquaza EX is a splendid attacker that can OHKO anything in the format while only being extremely susceptible to the new Dragon type attackers (mainly Garchomp and Rayquaza).
Since Rayquaza EX discards Energy, Entei EX is a splendid way to retrieve the Energy. Entei EX deals 90 damage (2HKOing anything) and recovering Energy for Rayquaza EX. The two seem to be an excellent pair. Pulling the Energy back from the discard is one of the keys to making this deck work.
I would prefer to play two Mewtwo EX, but one tends to suffice. You do not really want to get into Mewtwo wars, but having one Mewtwo EX to counter other Mewtwo EXs in a pinch is useful. Also, Emboar is one of the few decks that could, theoretically, drop a huge Mewtwo EX out of nowhere.
We all know and remember the Emboar hype when Black and White came out. We also all know how it largely fell flat until it was paired with Magnezone Prime and won Worlds. The reasons why Emboar largely flopped included: 1) A high retreat cost, 2) being too slow, 3) Junk Arm + Catcher, and 4) difficultly recovering Energy.
Now, Emboar (and any Stage Two) has a shot being a successful bench sitter because Junk Arm is gone. That forces your opponent to be more conservative with his or her Catchers.
Additionally, Entei EX is a great way to recover energy from the discard. This reduces the “clunkiness” of Emboar decks because you can use a Pokémon instead of Items and Supporters.
Pokemon ParadijsAlthough Entei EX is a great way to recover Energy, Rayquaza EX still forces a player to play Trainer based recovery. I started out testing with three Energy Retrieval and one Super Rod, but too often I needed to grab a Rayquaza EX from the discard. Super Rod works for both Energy and Pokémon, so a 2/2 split is the way to go.
I am more uncertain about this card than any other in the deck. Normally, Rayquaza is used for its first attack. However, the second attack is the main attraction in this deck. There are not enough Rayquaza or Lightning Energy to utilize Dragon Pulse for early game pressure consistently. However, Shred deals with Garchomp, Altaria, and Hydreigon very nicely in the mid to late game. The second attack is also very useful against Sigilyph.
I honestly believe this Emboar variant, with more refining, may be a very strong (and relatively unexpected) option for Battle Roads.
|Pokémon – 15|
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
- One Energy per turn rule
- Discard rule
Let us look at the differences, I am not nearly as big a fan of Super Scoop Up as Colin. I do not like flippy cards and try my best to avoid flippy cards that are not vital to a decks success. There is nothing worse than flipping all tails (or head depending on what you want) to lose a game.
The expected success rate of four Super Scoop Ups is two heads per game. The success rate on Max Potion is 100%. So, on average, both his (very nice version) and my version will expectedly heal a Pokémon twice per game. However, this version only requires two cards to hit the twice per game healed level. That leaves two other card slots open.
The biggest hurdle facing Emboar is getting the Supporter counts correct. Juniper is risky because you might have to discard valuable resources. Bianca is tough because you do not have a ton of ways to discard energy.
I also included Entei EX to recover Energy from KOs and Blue Flare.
Ultimately, this deck is strong. I feel it might be very successful because it does not rely on taking OHKOs. With only four Catchers available per game, it can be difficult to take the crucial KO at the optimal moment with any deck in the new BLW-on format. I have played far too many games already where hitting a Catcher one turn too late costs me the game.
This deck does not heavily rely on Catcher, and instead is more of a bonus when you hit one. Otherwise, you can spread early and bring anything into KO range for Entei/Reshiram/Mewtwo.
I am not going to give a list for this deck because it should be obvious and easy to create one from the Emboar list, just replace the Emboar line with Eelektrik, Reshiram with Zekrom, and add some flexibility to the Trainers.
To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure which version (Emboar or Eelektrik) I like best. Either way, Registeel EX is VERY good. Do not sleep on this card.
- One Energy per turn rule
- Discard rule
Pokemon ParadijsBefore Adam gave me this spot, I had been working on an Empoleon article. So, this archetype section is going to be much more in depth than the other decks in this section. Here is an edited down version of what I had on tap.
I want to be very upfront with one particular reader/contributor, Colin. This first list is going to be very similar to his list. I recommend going over to here and here on CeladonCityGym.com to read his takes on Empoleon.
Also, please bear with all of us writers as we are getting new format information out. There will surely be overlap on the articles, but getting more perspectives on the same deck is never a bad thing. It is ultimately up to readers to read and synthesize the information in a meaningful way.
Again, the beginning of this article will be geared towards getting newer players acclimated to the core pieces of the deck. Then a walkthrough of different options will be presented.
This is the final evolution of a Gen IV starter. It weighs in at a sturdy 140 HP, owns a Lightning Weakness, and a [C][C] retreat. Empoleon also has an Ability and an attack.
Dive Draw, the Ability, allows you to discard one card from your hand and then draw two cards. Command Attack is a Water type clone of Mass Attack from Jumpluff. It states that for each Pokémon in play, both yours and your opponents, Empoleon deals 10 damage. That means under normal circumstances you attack will max out at 120 damage.
Fortunately, we only have one of each these Pokémon in the meta. Thus, these 60 and 80 HP fragile cards are necessary.
And… that is the core of the deck in addition to some Water Energy.
- Draw one card per turn rule
- Unwritten damage ratio rule
This list is very close to Colin’s list.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Obviously, the Empoleon line is heavy and we have Water Energy, but what about the other stuff?
Pokemon ParadijsAside from filling your bench, Virizion pairs really well with the deck’s “draw a ton of cards” mantra. It also helps you achieved the turn two Empoleon by drawing more cards. Emolga is the other option for this slot. Emolga (with Call for Family) helps to populate your side of the field to power up Attack Command.
However, it is very fragile and is useless in the mid to late game. Virizion’s 110 HP makes it very difficult to kill off early. In the late game you can Double Draw out of an N without fearing an auto KO coming your way.
Finally, against Zeels (this deck’s bane) you can Leaf Wallop Tynamos and then attack bigger things later. However, we have to build our deck around Virizion being the preferred starter.
Since we want to be able to use Leaf Wallop, we need some form of Grass Energy. We can use Basic Grass, but then your options for other things are limited. With Prism, any Basic is theoretically open to you. Leading to…
Empoleon draws a ton of cards, but it also needs to discard quite a few cards. Since we have the Prism, it makes sense to try out Junk Hunt. Overall, it is an OK play than every-once-in-a-while at the end of the game after N.
In the Virizion version of Empoleon, Cheren is very good. Optimally, you have your seven opening cards, three from a turn one Cheren, two from a turn one Double Draw, one from your turn two draw, and three more from a turn two Cheren. That means you have seen at least sixteen distinct individual cards before the end of your second turn. Also, it is superior to Bianca because this deck does not play its hand down to less than three that often (if at all).
Pokemon ParadijsN is one of the best cards in the format, period. Empoleon is one of the best decks to utilize N. This deck has a cheap attack and built in draw. You cannot ask for much more to capitalize on N. So, run four.
In all actuality, I have been moving away from Random Receiver in every deck that does not have Sableye and all of my Empoleon builds (not just the one with Sableye). The reason is that the other two Supporters, Juniper and Bianca, are sub-par in Empoleon.
You do not need (or want) Juniper because your resources are precious and you are already very fast. Bianca is sub-par because your hand should virtually never be below three (which is the breakeven hand size for Bianca to be as good as Cheren).
Therefore, Random Receiver is in the deck to retrieve with Sableye and guarantee using the two optimal Supporters in Empoleon.
At this stage in the game, I find myself starting each deck with four Switch (except Darkrai). I want to see how decks work when you can get the Pokémon in the correct position at any given time. With Virizion as the preferred starter, you want to be able to get it active for optimal turn ones. Switch facilitates all of that.
Some people prefer Level Ball in Empoleon because of the built in discard and a fear of decking out. I prefer Ultra Ball because I want a guaranteed Pokémon. I would even consider going to a 3/3 Ultra Ball/Communication split.
Overall, this is a solid starting place to go with Empoleon, but I feel this list will not get it done in a competitive tournament.
Obviously, the biggest threat to Empoleon is the lightning types, and not having a way to OHKO Darkrai EX in Darkrai/Hydreigon. The most common answer to this conundrum is to pair Empoleon with Terrakion.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsAs you can see from the list, Terrakion really makes the deck clunky. With a proper amount of consistency cards added into the deck (Switch, Exp. Share) you do not have room for things like PlusPower or Tool Scrapper to deal with Eviolite.
Even more, Terrakion is very dangerous to play because it can get Catcher stalled and you only have four outs to moving that Terrakion.
However, this deck (with the Fighting Energy) gains access to Stunfisk DRX. This is important for a few reasons. First, Stunfisk is excellent at KOing Tynamos like there is no tomorrow. Additionally, spreading 20 damage can be crucial for setting up Pokémon with difficult amounts of HP.
For example, Eelektrik has 90 HP. Well you can snipe a Tynamo for 20 and then Eelektrik will have 70 HP. That means Empoleon can take out Eelektrik without needing Pokémon on your opponent’s bench. Additionally, Rumble can be useful to lock un-aexpecting Pokémon into place. Even when decks run 4 Switch, it is relatively easy to lock things active.
I know Terrakion seems like a good idea, and perhaps I’m wrong, but I think Empoleon may have to accept a loss to Zeels. There are times where over teching a deck can ruin the decks good matchups while not really helping with the bad ones. Due to the space constraints, this deck is still very susceptible to Zeels.
With Terrakion in the deck (and the necessary cards like Switch), you lose space for cards that Terrakion will need to be successful. The deck simply does not have much room for PlusPower and Tool Scrapper.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
With two (or even three) Aerodactly, Virizion becomes a very viable attacker. Leaf Wallop deals 60-70 for [G][C]. If your opponent fails to move Virizion out of the active position, Leaf Wallop will then deal 100-110 damage. That is an extremely respectable amount of damage.
Additionally, Empoleon can deal up to 90 damage independant of your opponent’s amount of Pokémon. Against decks like Darkrai/Hydreigon or Eelektrik, Empoleon will likely deal 110-130 damage per turn.
This deck did manage to top cut a Battle Carnival. Here is my take on the deck.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
Pokemon ParadijsI know, most of you are thinking this will never work. You may be correct; however, hear me out.
The idea behind this deck is to lead with Empoleon and take a prize or two, but more importantly you need to use your Catchers to force your opponent to burn any switches he or she may have put down on the decklist sheet.
Then, you want to hit a N that leaves your opponent with 2-3 cards. Then you launch into an Accelgor strategy, aiming to Deck and Cover lock your opponent.
You may notice the inclusion of Juniper in this list. Normally, I despise Juniper in evolution decks in the BLW-on format. However, with this deck we want to run our deck down extremely low. Actually, it is no problem to essentially deck yourself. If you achieve that, you can use Mew EX for Deck and Cover and then get the cards back into your hand with Diving Draw.
The deck can be a little inconsistent, but if you hit it correctly, you can Deck and Cover to take the last few prizes. Ultimately, those are the prizes Empoleon struggles to take.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 30
Energy – 14
I really do not know how good this deck is because I just started testing with it. However, I figured I would add it to the list. In theory it should be a fairly strong deck because Empoleon will always be a solid base.
The idea here is simple. You want to open with Virizion and begin using Double Draw to set up your field. Then you want to use Empoleon in the mid game to take some prizes. However, and more importantly, you want to use Diving Draw to discard Ho-oh and as many types of energy as possible.
In early testing, there are several cards this deck could use. First, the deck could use Eviolite/Giant Cape to protect Empoleon and/or Ho-oh. Second, the deck needs more switch to get Empoleon out and into the active position. Third, because of space there is no room for Super Rod or Energy Retrieval.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
- One Energy per turn rule
BulbapediaThere are two optimal starters in this deck. First is Stunfisk. Similar to the Empo/Terra deck, Stunfisk is very strong against Zeels and is useful to spread 20 damage to a multitude of other decks. Terrakion EX will do 50 damage on turn two, and follow that up with 90 damage and energy acceleration on turn three.
The rest of the Pokémon are in the deck for a variety of reasons. Registeel EX is useful for spreading damage and setting up Groudon EX. Groudon EX is useful to OHKO Darkrai EX with damage.
Terrakion EX + Stuff is a very good concept. The problem is figuring out the correct other Pokémon to benefit from the Energy acceleration.
An alternative line up for Terrakion EX + Stuff could be:
The metal menace is not dead… yet. However, Garchomp may do this bad boy in.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
- Stationary energy rule
The question remains, why would you play this over Darkrai/Hydreigon. To answer that question we need to consider what Darkrai/Hydreigon does better.
- It can abuse Dark Patch. This realistically allows you to attack on turn two.
- It has Sableye to recover resources.
Are those two advantages really that important?
Well, both decks should be considered control (or lock) decks. In those types of decks, it is not as important (compared to aggro decks) to attack ASAP. In reality the difference between attacking turn two and turn three is not major. The larger concern is Enhanced Hammer. If EH is widely played, then Darkrai/Hydro becomes the better deck by far due to Dark Patch.
Secondly, Sableye is nice, but this deck theoretically can utilize Durant to get resources back.
The other difference between Hydreigon and Klinklang decks is the available types, dictated by the Blend Energies. Hydreigon gets to utilize Psychic, Fire, Grass, and Darkness. That opens up Shaymin EX, Darkrai EX, Entei EX, Sigilyph, etc. Klingklang gets Lightning, Water, Metal, and Fighting. This blend allows easy use of Kyogre EX, Kyurem EX, Registeel EX, Cobalion, Groudon EX, Terrakion EX, Terrakion, Zekrom EX, etc.
What are the assumed best/most played deck in the coming format (at least early on)? Garchomp, Hydreigon, and Eelektrik decks is the correct answer. Well, Hydreigon is weak to Dragon types (so Garchomp counters Hydreigon for you). Darkrai EX and Eelektrik decks are weak to Fighting (hello Groudon/Terrakions).
Additionally, every Pokémon in that list, sans Darkrai EX and Cobalion, have a retreat cost of CCC or higher. That is actually a good thing because the deck can rely on a heavy Heavy Ball count. Relying on an unconditional Pokémon search card can be a huge advantage in this format.
Again, this version of KK EX tends to focus on spreading damage and then wrecking shop with Groudon EX. You can use Kyogre EX on turn three to Dual Spash targets or Registeel EX to Triple Laser your opponents. Then when the time is right, you can move onto Groudon EX for some huge Giant Claw attacks.
Overall, I like the types available to Klinklang, and I think the type advantage allows KK EX to remain (at minimum) semi-competitive. However, the success of KK EX will hinge on how much Garchomp is played. Garchomp discards Special Energy, and that can kill Klingklang. If Garchomp gets taken out of the format (a possibility by Regionals because I feel it struggles against other good decks), or at least sees a reduced role, Klingklang may be able to see play then.
Now, these decks are not the only viable decks. There are several others that can compete in the coming format, but alas I do not want to bore you with 25,000+ words when this is supposed to be a simple preface to the BLW-on format. However, the other decks include:
- Gothitelle/Accelgor (see John’s latest article)
- Hammertime (it is not dead, and maybe stronger)
- Mew EX/Zebstrika NXD/Aerodactyl DEX (Disconnecting for 60-70 damage makes all the difference)
- Gothitelle EPO 47/Gardevoir NXD
- Ninetales DRX/Amoonguss NXD
- Possibly Garbodor DRX
You are probably asking yourself, “why would someone put a ‘bottom tier’ section into a UG article?” The answer is that it is important to play as many decks as you have time to play.
The reason why you should play decks (even sub-par decks) is multifold:
- Often “sub-par” decks aim to capitalize on unique niches in the format. These niches tend to be the places that can be exploited by rogue decks.
- Every new format creates new and interesting decisions. For a bad deck to realize good results, each and every decision is magnified. Bad decks need a near perfect game to stand any chance against good decks. Thus, playing with bad decks forces you to learn these decisions/interactions inside and out.
Again, the risk of being having a latter slot is that some of the stuff you have been working on for weeks literally gets released right before your article. So, I edited a lot of the section on this deck out.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
First, I like having the 4-4-4 Aggron line because getting off multiple Toppling Winds is crucial. Also, do not be afraid to attack with Lairon in a pinch.
Second, I like one of the Dragon Exalted Durants to get resources back. There is literally no reason not to run one. You still have three other Durants to Devour with.
No Catcher? Yep, there are two reasons for this:
- Darkrai is around a lot, so Catcher stalling is not as useful as in the past.
- You are not proactively attacking your opponent.
The reason why you should play is “bad deck” is to learn the ins and outs of milling in the current format. Also, this deck is an interesting exercise in picking the appropriate Trainers. Most people will automatically put 4 Catcher into any deck, when that is not always the best option. Here, we are not attacking targets so Catcher does not help achieve our goal of attacking the deck.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsOftentimes this deck comes up inferior to a pure Terrakion EX + Stuff deck. However, this deck does have some unique features.
Most noticeably, Excadrill knows Dig Uppercut. This attack deals 50 damage (100 to most Lightning and Darkness types) and allows you to return a card from the discard to your hand, all for [F][F]. This attack is one of the few ways you get to retrieve any card from your discard (Durant).
The ability to retrieve cards gives Excadrill a few advantages. First, you can burn resources with less worry about losing them for good. Second, you are semi protected from N.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 39
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsIf you recall, I once wrote about a Tornadus/Kyurem/Kyurem EX deck a while back. This is the reincarnation of that deck. Ultimately, the deck functions similar to a Troll deck, but this is not hitting for Weakness. This deck is made to spread like a champ.
The idea is to open with Tornadus to soften up Targets on your opponent’s side of the field. Then you move energy from Tornadus to Registeel EX or Kyurem and do a lot of spread damage.
This deck is ultra consistent with sixteen Supporters and very thick lines of every card it plays. The idea is to utilize this consistency to your advantage and punish your opponent when he or she fails to get set up. There is nothing worse than staring down a turn two/three Kyurem and being held to a clock.
For example, Eelektrik players know that if he or she does not get Eelektrik out the turn after your first spread attack, he or she will likely never successfully get Eelektrik out because you can spread them to death.
This deck teaches you how to play with an Energy conservation deck. It lacks an accelerator and must keep Energy drops on the board as long as possible. Also, the deck teaches you the ins and outs of utilizing spread attacks in the current format.
The point here is to keep an open mind and play with as many different decks as you can manage. Playing a multiplicity of decks is absolutely the best way to learn any format inside and out.
I actually expected Pokémon to divulge more information by now, sadly they have not. However, we can talk about the changes we currently know of.
Pokemon ParadijsSurely, everyone by now knows that Battle Roads will not have a top cut this year. Here are the potential positives:
1. The events were growing and the venues need events to finish in a timely manner. It is very important to keep good relations with venues because when a TO loses a venue it can be hard to find a suitable replacement.
2. Battle Roads should become less competitive with this decision. Initially, they will likely be more competitive because good players will bring their absolute A game because losing one game means you are out of the chance to win. However, I think this will frustrate players to the point of not caring about BRs. That will hopefully lead to less competitive events and that is important for the game to grow.
However, as it stands there are negatives:
A. Right now, we have to assume Championship Points will be awarded at BRs. Well, that means people will miss points on resistance alone. I know this happened some because the 5th or 6th person used to whiff on the top cut due to resistance. However, now 2nd and 3rd will be based off resistance.
B. The events were growing and most people wanted an expanded top cut, instead we got no top cut. It is frustrating when P!P does the exact opposite of what the player based desires.
Overall, I would urge patience on the BR development. We simply do not have enough information to determine if this is good or bad.
If you have been under a rock, I have news for you. There will be three Regionals this year. Again, there are positives and negatives. Here are the potential positives:
1. You have a major tournament in every format this year. Each time a new set is released the format shifts. Sometimes the shift is huge (last year) and sometimes it is small. However, I have always felt anyone who wins an invite to Worlds should have to prove himself during all the formats of the season. Having three Regionals will allow the most well-rounded players to take home the invites.
2. For players with the money and time, getting to see your friends more is always a good thing.
And the negatives:
A. The “haves” gain more than the “have nots.” Look, I understand that players want the game to be more legitimate. Having big tournaments more often absolutely makes the game “more legitimate.” But, without proper prize support it is not worth it to go to more big tournaments. Ultimately, adding another “must-go-to” event makes it so that the people with more money and more time have an inherent advantage at getting to Worlds.
Overall, I feel the negative vastly outweighs the positive. If P!P wants to be considered a legitimate game (like MTG) you must have better prize support. Taking support away from some tournaments to add more tournaments is not the way to achieve legitimacy. P!P seems to want it both ways. In my opinion, it is time to stop expanding the number of tournaments and start increasing the prize support again.
Again, this seems to be a poor compromise to me. Many players (including a lot of Americans) wanted Worlds in a foreign country. Specifically, we wanted Worlds in Europe or Japan. Instead, they give us Vancouver.
I have nothing against Vancouver, but I am failing to see how this furthers the game. It is still on mainland North America. So, Americans will still flood the tournament because access is relatively easy for Americans.
P!P did nothing to make the event more accessible to the Europeans or Japanese.
It seems P!P wanted to be able to say, “Look we are holding Worlds outside the USA.” But, P!P wanted to retain all the advantages of having it in the USA. Moving it to Canada was not a bold move, it was a tentative move.
Go big or go home P!P.
I hope none of you missed the live stream of the finals. It was awesome to get to see the action live. However, there are a slew of points I want to make:
1. The commentators were terrible. If P!P wants to grow the game through live streaming, they desperately need to get knowledgeable commentators. It was brutal to listen to. Some of the better ones were “Trash Claw,” “Professor N,” “Professor Orc,” and “Meowtwo.” Additionally, they were too busy talking about random stuff and missed some very important parts of the game.
2. The stream will grow the game. If you were keeping track of the #pokeworlds hashtag on Twitter, there were quite a few comments similar to this on there:
I want pokemon swag. Or to learn to play. This game looks insanely fun. #pokeworlds
— Conrad Bigfoot (@samdavisboyhero) August 13, 2012
When we get people paying attention to the game, it will grow. The game is too good not to grow.
3. Are we ready for all of these live streams? In baseball, there is extremely limited use of instant replay. A large part of this limited use is that the officials’ union wants to protect the officials. If instant replay is added, the officials might be exposed as being wrong more often. They might get showed up. Having live streams is similar.
(Understand this is not “ripping” on either player. There were a ton of nerves and most of us could not have played as well as they did in that situation.)
pokemon-paradijs.comThere were mistakes in that final match. Those of us sitting at home can easily see the mistakes (or at least very risky/questionable plays) when we are experiencing zero nerves. For example, Harrision should have known that his Shaymin UL was prized because he had looked through his deck several times. Heck, the very first time he looked through his deck he should have known that the second Shaymin was prized, and he could have avoided the Mewtwo wars.
He could have KO’d Igor’s Mewtwo EX on the first turn instead of loading up Mewtwo EX to OHKO Darkrai EX. By loading up the Energy, he was inviting the return KO and he took a huge set back when his field was cleared of energy. Taking the KO on the Mewtwo EX with a simple DCE would have forced Igor to come up with Mewtwo EX + DCE + PlusPower to take the responding KO.
A lot of people were quick to point out these mistakes, misplays, or risky plays last night on Twitter and many message boards. Are we ready for that level of scrutiny? Most of the comments were not meant to be ill-willed, but if the player on the stream is extremely sensitive, he or she might take great offense to all of this analysis.
With live streaming, every move is watched and analyzed by (likely) thousands of people. Each one of those people has his or her own opinion about the correctness of each move made. Many of those people will voice those opinions.
Are we ready for that type of analysis and coverage?
I certainly hope we are, but only time will tell. It would be a shame for P!P to stop streaming events because the masters players cannot take heat.
Finally, congratulations to Igor Costas for taking home first place and doing Portugal proud! Congratulations to our very own Jay Hornung for making Top 4! I know we were pulling for you Jay. Congratulations to Harrison for taking second! Ultimately, congratulations to everyone who made Worlds and performed well!
Please, if you enjoyed this article remember to hit the like button. I would be more than honored to write again for the UG, and your support is the way to make that happen.
Also, agree or disagree, I would love to hear from you in the forums. I am more than willing to engage in conversations, or even civil debates, with you. I love the interaction.
… and that will conclude this unlocked Underground article.
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