Fulop’s Korner: 13,000 Words Under the Sea

en.wikipedia.orgHello again everyone. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything for the site, but I’m glad to be back and getting another opportunity. I’ve been excited to get a chance to dive into the new format finally, leaving the old HeartGold & SoulSilver cards behind. My favorite part of any given year in Pokémon is right after rotation where everyone is on the same page and no one really has a clue what is going on.

Sure, some decks will survive rotation and port over fairly well. Some decks are pretty obvious (Garchomp Altaria was pretty much gift-wrapped to us, it doesn’t take much work to figure that combination out) and some decks are known due to the coverage of events in Japan where these cards are already being used.

One of the interesting things to note with this rotation is that things will likely change less than in some prior years. We’ve seen one of the largest power creeps in the history of the game over the past year or so. As a result, the newest cards, which are still all legal, had pretty much taken over last year’s HS-on format. This means that most of the cards that mattered last format are still here for BLW-on.

pokemon-paradijs.comMost of the cards that rotated are all support cards or draw power. As a result, we have an idea of what cards will be duking it out still, we just have to incorporate the newly released sets Pokémon into the mix. What we don’t know is exactly which draw engines will work, and what concessions must be made due to certain utility cards being rotated.

The biggest changes will be the loss of the following cards: Professor Oak’s New Theory, Junk Arm, Twins, Shaymin UL, Smeargle UD, and Vileplume UD. These all had seen tons of play in a number of decks. Junk Arm is probably the card that will be most missed, followed by Smeargle. These cards played a vital role in how decks were constructed. (If Smeargle wasn’t so popular, do you think a 4 Supporter CMT deck would still Top 8s US Nationals?)

One other ommission of note is the loss of Special Metal Energy and Special Darkness Energy. We have pretty much always taken these cards for granted, and I actually am not 100% sure of this, but this may be the first time the cards have not been Modified legal since their release in Neo Genesis.

Now, since I briefly went over a few of the biggest “losses” we’ve taken, let’s look at the highlights of the newest set, Dragons Exalted. These are some of the major gains we’ve gotten:

There are a few other cards that are fringe playable, but those are the main highlights coming out of Dragons Exalted. So when approaching the new format, you have to take into account what cards we lost, and what ones we just gained. The harder part is then evaluating what cards lose value due to cards lost, and then what cards that were previously unplayed gained enough to suddenly be useful. Let’s look briefly at the decks that were “tier 1” at the end of the last format at the World Championships.

  • Speed Darkrai
  • Darkrai Mewtwo/Darkrai Mewtwo Terrakion
  • Zeels
  • CMT
  • Klinklang
  • Vileplume Accelgor
pokemon-paradijs.com
aka Trash Claw

So now let’s do the “port over” test! Speed Darkrai loses some of its tools (Junk Arm and Smeargle) but is still feasibly a real deck. Darkrai Mewtwo decks didn’t lose anything critical to their viability, so that’s still on the table. Zeels lost very little at all, and should continute to function as a tier 1 deck.

CMT is dead on arrival with the loss of its namesake Celebi Prime, so we can clearly cross that one out. Klinklang didn’t lose anything really, and can be carried over. Vileplume Accelgor lost Vileplume UD AND Mew Prime, so if Accelgor lock is going to work, it will need revamped pretty heavily.

Now, we have to look at what cards from the new set give us obvious new deck types.

  • Hydreigon
  • Garchomp

These two cards alone pretty much give us obvious decks to build around them. Hydreigon gives us an alternative to Klinklang, and Garchomp pairs with Altaria to give us a deck that I keep subconsciously compairing to Dragtrode from the 2005-2006 era. Of course, the main reason I subconsciously do that is due to Gabite basically being Dark Dragonair, but the decks do seem to play rather similarly.

One of the cards that immediately jumps out as being viable again is actually Emboar BLW 20. We have access to a few new attackers that pair well with the card, and more importantly, the format has slown down quite a lot. Just playing even a few games with decks in this format will showcase how much slower things have gotten. As a result, I feel like some Stage 2 Pokémon are now perfectly viable. Emboar, Garchomp, Hydreigon, and Klinklang all look promising.

Considering how things went last year, I am impressed to see the return of Stage 2 Pokémon at all. Admittedly, outside of Garchomp, these are all utility Pokémon being used to make your all basic attackers better, but it is at least a start.

I did a write up in more detail about the cards which are leaving Modified, and all of the current cards that are legal and moderately playable just for the sake of reference, but it got pretty long and drawn out so it got cut from the article. Nonetheless, while I do admit a lot of it was redundant and fairly obviously, I feel like it had some good analysis and at least made up for a comprehensive viewing of the playable cards in the current format, so I’ll be posting it in the forums sometime after the article goes live.

Deck Lists

BulbapediaNow let’s get to the point in the article everyone is looking for. Deck lists. Now, I don’t think anyone knows the best lists yet, but here are the main decks I’ve been working on so far. They are:

  • Garchomp Altaria
  • Zeels
  • Hydreigon
  • Klinklang
  • Gothitelle Accelgor
  • Speed Darkrai
  • Emboar
  • Garbodor

There are a few other deck ideas I’ll touch at near the end which are a bit more in the theoretical portion of design, but I feel like they bring up some interesting ideas and are worth discussing. I also want to give a huge shout out and thank you to Jim Ferrell for helping me with some lists, and for providing a great mind to bounce ideas off of during my testing process so far.

Jim is a great player and true innovator when it comes to deck design, having been a very successful and competitive player frist in Ohio and then in North Carolina from the early 2000s to what I believe was 2006-2007 before he took a hiatus from the game. Jim was one of the very first players me and my brother tested with back in 2002 when we really started to take the game seriously alongside my friend Brandon Miller.

I can’t say enough how thrilled I am to have Jim playing the game again, and his return has really done a lot to spark my re-interest in Pokémon. I want to, in particular, give him credit for the first Zeels list I included, and also on the Klinklang and Hydreigon lists. I’ve bounced a lot of my Emboar ideas off of him as well. Now without further ado, here are some lists:

Garchomp Altaria

Pokémon – 21

4 Gible DRX 87
3 Gabite DRX 89
4 Garchomp DRX 90
4 Swablu DRX 104
4 Altaria DRX
2 Emolga DRX

Trainers – 28

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
4 Bianca/Cheren

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Level Ball
2 Ultra Ball/Pokémon Communication
2 Max Potion

Energy – 11

6 Fighting

4 Blend WLFM
1 Water

pokemon-paradijs.comWell, I’ll be honest, there isn’t a ton to say about this deck. This list is pretty standard. The two cards I am unsure of are Cheren vs Bianca. Some split of the two is even reasonable. I’ve had moderate success with both, and the jury is still out. I THINK I’d go with Bianca though. Ultra Ball vs. Pokémon Communication in this deck is another close call. I’m at Ultra Ball right now as I’ve played more games with that, but Poké Comm has been testing really well and I think since this deck is so full of Pokémon that Comm may be superior.

Max Potion has been alright in this deck. I’ve seen lists without it, but even just for healing damage spread attempts on Altarias, I like the card a lot. I’ve won games as a result of it, which is always a good selling point for me with a deck. I’m trying to avoid running any Super Rod, as I really dislike the card and find it clunky, which is why I maxed out the full Altaria line. If you really are determined to fit in Super Rod, a Max Potion and an Altaria can be cut.

I’ve looked into trying to add Terrakion to the deck, but it forces you to run Exp. Share (a card I do kinda like in this deck anyway) and Switches, so it’s a huge commitment. I don’t think it is necessary. As for the Emolga’s inclusion… I really dislike the card, but without it, I was forced to run 8 Pokémon. All 8 being completely frail, and easy to pick on. I think that 10 may even be too few, but I’m not sure what else I’d want to add. A 3rd Emolga? A Rayquaza DRX for mirror match? I’m not sure what I want.

Also, the Energy can be changed too I’m sure. The 4 Blend WLFM are certainly in for sure. 7 Fighting 0 Water, 6 Fighting 1 Water, or 5 Fighting 2 Water are all viable options for the Energy too. I haven’t logged quite enough games with the deck to notice the subtle differences between the counts.

Zeels

Zeels 1.0

Pokémon – 15

4 Tynamo NVI 38
4 Eelektrik NVI
3 Registeel-EX
2 Raikou-EX

2 Zekrom NXD

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca

 

4 Max Potion
3 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite
2 Switch

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 14

10 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

One of the things I’d want in this deck is a 3rd Switch. The deck is pretty much all about abusing snipes, and damage spread without giving up any kills due to Eviolite and Max Potions. I think that I’d like to at least try and run a Mewtwo or two in here as well, but I’m not sure either. I think a Lightning Energy and possibly an Eviolite or Skyarrow Bridge are expendable and can go toward Mewtwos or a 3rd Switch as well. I’m presenting the list as he provided, though, as I haven’t gotten to play enough games to really offer an opinion on changes I necessarily trust.

Zeels in general has a lot of cards available to it. You could still be running a Tornadus EX if you keep the Skyarrow Bridges in. You can also try Zekrom EX, and of course the Mewtwo. Now, I had a slightly different approach I was working on with Zeels, and that is to try and use Rayquaza EX, a card I think is one of the best in the format at the moment. I feel like with Prism Energy and Blend Energy that we can run a bit of a toolbox around Dynamotor. Here is my rather opposite approach to the deck.

Zeels 2.0

Pokémon – 17

4 Tynamo NVI 38
4 Eelektrik NVI
2 Rayquaza DRX
2 Rayquaza-EX DRX
2 Zekrom NXD
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Raikou-EX
1 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 28

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
4 Bianca

 

4 Ultra Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Switch
2 Max Potion
2 Eviolite

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 15

8 Lightning

4 Prism

2 Fire
1 Blend WLFM

The idea here is that Rayquaza EX is able to have its way with a lot of decks. I need some way to beat Garchomp Altaria decks, so I’m running Rayquaza DRX and Zekrom EX. The Rayquazas give me a nice early game to try and put the deck on the defensive, and Zekrom EX is really good at sweeping up the game once it gets going. It is sadly weaker with DCE, but it still gets the job done.

It is also necessary for gust and killing Klinklang and Hydreigons as well. If the matchup needs more work, you can add in an additional Rayquaza DRX to offset that. A 2nd Terrakion is reasonable too, but would probably mandate a 4th Switch.

I feel like the 8 Lightning Energy is as low as it can go. The other 7 Energy are a bit more negotiable. I feel like a traditional Zeels build may not hold up to the more powerful decks in the format anymore, so I wanted to experiment with adding direct counters to the decks I think will be begin. Rayquaza and Zekroms give me a huge degree of power, and the rest of the deck is full of silver bullets to help give it an edge against decks which could be problematic.

Hydreigon Darkrai

Pokémon – 16

4 Deino NVI
1 Zweilous DRX 96
3 Hydreigon DRX 97
3 Darkrai-EX
2 Sableye DEX
2 Registeel-EX
1 Shaymin-EX NXD

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca
2 Cheren

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Rare Candy
3 Max Potion
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Dark Patch
3 Eviolite

Energy – 12

7 Darkness [Basic]
4 Blend GRPD
1 Prism

pokemon-paradijs.comHydreigon is a deck I’ve done a lot more work playing against than I have playing with it, as for some reason the deck just doesn’t appeal to me, and no it isn’t just due to my anti-Darkrai sentiments (which do exist). I love that this is a deck that can make use of Sableye, as it is a very good starter and utility card. It is hard to really know where I want to be with the utility Trainers. Max Potion, Pokémon Catcher, Dark Patch and Eviolite are all good, and I could see any of them as a 2-4 of.

I think I want to take Max Potion up to a 4-of, but I am really not sure what I would cut to make this happen. I went with a Bianca Cheren split here more to see which I like better, although either one may end up being better than N, which could go down to as low as a 2 of.

One of the big things to note for me is that unlike with Klinklang, you really do value Blend Energy higher than Prism. You will likely be doing a reasonable amount of attacking with Hydreigon, unlike Klinklang, and Prism doesn’t fulfill its Energy costs as a non-Basic. I also like Catcher more in Hydreigon than with Klinklang, which is a less aggressive deck, and which has more spread attacks available to it.

Shaymin EX is a great anti-Fighting card, which is great because you do use Darkrai to attack quite a bit. The really nice part is that you really do mix up your type weaknesses as well with this deck. Darkrai is weak to Fighting, Registeel Fire, and Hydreigon Dragon. This makes the deck as a whole difficult to exploit, which is a trait I certainly love.

I haven’t really begun to fully explore the various potential attackers the deck has available to it, but so far I’ve been really happy with the ones we have in the list. I again want to give some credit to Jim Ferrell for his contributions to the list, although I have made a few alterations to what he originally was working with.

Klinklang

Pokémon – 16

4 Klink DEX
1 Klang DEX
3 Klinklang BLW

1 Klinklang DEX
3 Registeel-EX
1 Groudon-EX DEX
1 Kyogre-EX DEX
1 Darkrai-EX
1 Kyurem-EX NXD

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca
2 Cheren

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Max Potion
3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Eviolite
2 Switch
2 Ultra Ball

2 Heavy Ball

Energy – 12

4 Metal – Basic
4 Prism
4 Blend WLFM

pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike Darkrai, this deck is a bit slower and really needs to rely on avoiding getting KOs scored against it. As a result it gets the full 4 Max Potion treatment for sure. The deck is also pretty focused on being able to spread damage around. Registeel and Kyogre EX are all great for abusing benched Pokémon. I also feel like with Registeel that Kyogre is less necessary and downright cuttable.

The card I really do like at the moment though is Kyurem EX. It discards Energy in some of the tougher matchups, and its 120 damage swing is actually very good once Registeel and Kyogre spread some damage. It was always too weak compared to other big attackers before, but the deck gets in positions where 120 just starts one shotting everything by mid to late game. It also provides a nice Metal Weakness tank, as a lot of decks will not be able to exploit that. Even Registeel EX is like 4-hitting it past an Eviolite, so it can definitely be one of your primary tanking targets in a lot of matchups.

I’m trying out Heavy Ball over a full set of Ultra Ball here, mainly just to see if I like how the card plays. It hasn’t been bad so far, but I do want to run Kyurem and Darkrai. Colin Moll mentioned in one of his articles that using Darkrai just off of Prism Energy seemed risky but turned out to be really helpful, and I was skeptical at first but upon adding the card have been really impressed with how well it helps to smooth the deck out. It isn’t even unrealistic to build up to attack with it as the game goes long.

One of the cards I’d like to try out in this deck, and in Hydreigon is Mewtwo EX. I feel like I like having access to the card, and you can dump energy over to it to clean up at the end of the game. It is a bit of a liability running just one Mewtwo because it forces you into a losing position if you do get stuck in a Mewtwo war (so you have to really pick and choose your spots with it), but it also feels really awful for them to swing up with a Mewtwo and for you to be unable to answer it.

Mewtwo may actually just be a trump in the mirror, as a lot of the builds I’ve seen just have no way to one-shot Mewtwo, so if it gets like 7 Energy on it, its just going to plow through everything. 7 Energy is a lot, but a few turns of no KOs and it isn’t out of the question at all. I’d say its just better than the “bad” Klinklang as it serves a similar role, but I like having a non EX attacker with Klinklang. It may eventually get the axe, but right now it’s intriguing enough for me to want to try it.

One of the things I like about both of the Energy Trans decks is how they can really support any number of different attackers. If Prism Energy allows you to splash a Darkrai into this deck, who knows how far you can push the boundaries of tech inclusions. I bet I could easily get away with a Shaymin EX in the deck if I wanted to. I’d rather work on making the deck more consistant and streamlined first before I focus on getting greedy though.

Gothitelle Accelgor

Pokémon – 22

4 Gothita EPO 43
1 Gothorita EPO 46
4 Gothitelle EPO 47

3 Shelmet NVI
2 Accelgor DEX

2 Munna BLW
2 Musharna NXD
2 Mew-EX
2 Darkrai-EX

Trainers – 26

4 Cheren
4 Bianca

2 Professor Juniper
2 N

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Rare Candy
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Pokémon Communication
1 Super Rod

Energy – 12

4 Blend GRPD
4 Darkness [Basic]
4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comI’ve seen some other people write about this deck, and it seems really convoluted to me, but the basic idea of it is that you Mew EX to copy Accelgor to “status lock” them, then promote Gothitelle, so they can’t Switch out of it. It is like a poor man’s Vileplume UD. This requires that you end up having a Darkness Energy on Gothitelle to be able to free retreat it off of Darkrai’s Ability so you can keep sending up Mew or even the actual Accelgor if you somehow miss getting Mew back.

The deck clearly requires a ton of set up, but once it gets there, it provides a semi-hard lock. Unlike with Vileplume and Chandelure NVI, the deck is no longer able to use the candle’s Ability to regular KOs properly, so a lot of times you’ll end up getting smacked around, and that really hurts my opinion of the deck. Even if you could fit Chandelure in (I feel like you could be SUPER greedy and do it) you can’t get it active since you have to swap to Gothitelle between turns.

I just feel like the deck will end up having enough random things go wrong with it that it will underperform. It will go down a ton of prizes by the time it does set up, and then just due to either not being able to maintain a steady flow of DCEs, or because it is stuck taking kills which allow return KOs, or any number of problems, the deck will sputter out.

I know some people who are really high on the deck, but I’d be nervous to play it. It seems super slow and inconsistant, and unlike with the Vileplume list which could get out Chandelure to really control the game state, I just don’t feel like its inevitable “hard lock” is quite uh, “hard” enough to warrant all of the trouble.

I could be proven wrong, but the deck seems gimmicky and forced. It just strikes me of players wanting to port over a deck they liked from the prior format without it really having all of the tools necessary to stay at a tier 1 level.

Speed Darkrai

Pokémon – 8

4 Darkrai-EX
4 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
4 Bianca
3 N

4 Random Receiver

 

4 Dark Patch
4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite

3 Crushing Hammer
3 Enhanced Hammer
2 Energy Switch
2 Switch

Energy – 12

12 Darkness [Basic]

pokemon-paradijs.comI never liked straight Darkrai decks, and I can’t say I really do now either, but my friend has been playing a deck similar to this and has been doing decently well with it. I couldn’t pull the trigger to ever playing it, and I’m pretty sure there are just strictly better “Darkrai” variants available in the format, but it is a deck I’ve played a decent number of games against and am at least familiar with it enough to include it in the article.

I do like that it is probably the best Sableye deck, as you are filling your discard pile early with good, recurrable Items. This is also one of the few decks that I like Random Receiver in. I feel like maybe I want an additional Switch or Energy Switch, but I’m also not entirely sure which I’d go for, or if it is even necessary. I’m also unsure of the Hammer split, as Crushing Hammer is universal, but needs a flip, and players can play around Enhanced Hammer.

A card I am unsure of is PlusPower. I absolute can’t judge how good or necessary it is in here until I learn more about the way matchups play out and how relevent they end up being. I guess Dark Claw is a reasonable consideration in here as well.

It is difficult to test all of the different decks that are popping up in a format like this, so I apologize that this is a deck that I have really neglected, simply because I don’t think the future of it is quite tier 1. It hasn’t tested very poorly at all actually, but I just think it will fall farther and farther behind as the other decks become more and more fine tuned.

Emboar Decks

Ok, now Emboar offers a huge challenge. There are a ton of ways by which to take this deck. I really like Rayquaza EX, but I feel like the deck has a ton of viable attackers. They are:

  • Mewtwo EX
  • Reshiram BLW
  • Reshiram EX
  • Bad Boar
  • Rayquaza EX
  • Registeel EX
  • Regigigas EX
  • Entei EX

A lot of these attackers really want DCE to be good. My originally plan was to build a deck specifically to abuse Rayquaza EX, but I wound up kind of shifting that over into this instead because I was having issues getting pummeled by N. This fits in 4 DCE so that the deck is a little less Emboar reliant. I can get an aggressive Mewtwo going early, or a turn 2 Registeel even without Emboar, and I can sweep from there with Rayquaza or a 2nd tanked Mewtwo.

I tried an N or two in the deck, but the card is so bad in here that I couldn’t even bring myself to run the 1 of miser’s copy to try and steal games off of. Anyway, here is my list.

Version 1

Pokémon – 14

4 Tepig BLW 15
1 Pignite BLW 17
3 Emboar BLW 20
2 Registeel-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Rayquaza-EX DRX

1 Reshiram NXD

Trainers – 30

4 Bianca
4 Professor Juniper
3 Cheren

2 Cilan

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Ultra Ball
3 Energy Retrieval

3 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Pokémon Catcher
1 Max Potion

Energy – 16

10 Fire
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning

pokemon-paradijs.comI like the Pokémon quite a bit. I wouldn’t mind a 2nd Reshiram. I was even considering trying a Virizion NVI. I know the Virizion has a small window of use early in the game, but I feel like 10 Basics is still low even with the format being slower. Just padding the Basic count a bit is something I’d consider to help with the starts.

Now you’ll notice I’m at 16 Energy. The deck discards a LOT, so you really do want a lot of them. I originally had tested running 4 Cilan and 4 Energy Retrieval, and while this actually played pretty well (once you had Emboar out, Cilan was one of your best Supporters) Cilan past #2 ran a bit dry of Energy a lot. 2-3 seems better. I had to trim some just to fit enough of the other cards too.

I went with a 3-1 split for Retrieval and Super Rod, which may not even be correct. I originally tested with 4 Rayquaza EX, hoping to use its first attack on turn 1, but I ran really cold on ripping Energy (I ran 16, and think I went 2 for 24 on using it). So this build is trying out only 1 Rayquaza as something to grab once you are set up to clean up with. Decks besides Dragons can’t one shot it, so it’ll likely get a bunch of prizes at the end of the game. Cilan allows you to get away with only running 2 Lightning and still using Rayquaza EX.

The Trainers I am a bit less certain on. I have 5 spots devoted to Switch, Catcher, and Max Potion. The “safe” play is 3 Switch, and I wanted to at least try the other two trainers out. I had 2 Catcher originally and didn’t use it as much as you’d think. Generally you want to just nuke what they are attacking with. I don’t think I’d run more than 2. I think 2 is perfect, but I’m unsure what cards are expendable. I’d like 2 Max Potion too, really. The deck is pretty tight though. I’d need to log more games before I know what to get rid of to try and fit more of those cards in.

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother card that is REALLY good is Super Scoop Up. If I ran it, I’d want the full set of them. Any less than 4 makes it unreliable due to how flippy it is. If I ran 4, I’d be ok with 2 Switch. So I’d have to cut 1 Switch and the Max Potion and 2 other cards (no clue what) to fit them. Maybe I could go down to 15 Energy to get 3 in there. I haven’t played with SSU yet but in theory it seems really strong and I’d like to at least give it a test run.

Now, one thing I still hate is how weak the deck is against N, and how none of the Supporters are even appealing at all. I also have issues getting a quick enough Emboar because I can’t get to Rare Candy quick enough. Now, this next deck has not been played yet, and is purely theoretical but I think it is very outside of the box, and something that really could be good. It could be a total flop, but since I don’t get very many articles anymore, I’d rather at least include the rough idea of it opposed to leaving it out for awhile.

The approach I wanted to try is to run less of the bad Supporters, and add a 3-3 Musharna line. Once Emboar gets out, almost every card becomes good. I wanted to try and run Cilans, and Cherens, and just work toward building a huge hand size. These Musharnas are also going to be good N protection. If my opponents want to start killing them, more power to them, it prevents them from killing my attackers and my end game is going to be better than theres.

Here is an extremely rough list, and I encourage people to give this a try because I think it has a high upside if it gets tweaked.

Version 2

Pokémon – 19

3 Tepig BLW 15
1 Pignite BLW 17
3 Emboar BLW 20

3 Munna BLW
3 Musharna NXD
2 Mewtwo-EX
2 Registeel-EX
1 Rayquaza-EX DRX

1 Reshiram NXD

Trainers – 26

4 Cheren
3 Bianca

3 Cilan

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Pokémon Communication

3 Energy Retrieval

2 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Pokémon Catcher
1 Max Potion

Energy – 15

9 Fire

4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning

I’d like to try 4-4 Musharna, and ovbiously I’d like a 4th Tepig, and 4th Bianca, and 3rd Switch, and well, a lot of cards. I’d have to see if the boost in consistency is worth it in the deck. I could just be wrong. I’d like to not have to cut cards like Max Potion and Catcher to make this work either. But maybe it is necessary.

Garbodor

BulbapediaOne of the cards that is sure to be good, but that is hard to build around is Garbodor. A lot of decks in the format rely on Abilities, either for Energy acceleration like Emboar or Eelektrik, or for utility purposes, such as Klinklang, Hydreigon, or Darkrai EX. Even Garchomp Altaria relies on Altaria to get Garchomp’s damage output in the range of being viable for a Stage 2 attacker.

My friend tried out a Garchomp Empoleon Terrakion deck (without Empoleon) and I got to play some games with and against it, and Garchomp was extremely underwhelming without the buff to its damage, despite what still seems like reasonable stats for an aggressive Stage 2 attacker.

The main thing that went to show me was that if you can keep Garchomp Altaria off of being able to use Altaria, it has a very hard time competing against the other real decks of the format. We can either try and kill the birds, or simply lock them out with Garbodor, which means the card pretty much impacts most of the decks in the format.

I’ve seen a few Garbodor lists floating around, but let’s look at the list of attackers who might pair well with the card:

The Dark Duo

pokemon-paradijs.comThe main strength your attackers need is obviously that they can’t be too nerfed as a result of not having access to any Abilities. Now, of course you scream “Darkrai!?” when you see the card at the top of my list. Yes, Darkrai has an Ability, and it is one that makes the card quite strong. That doesn’t necessarily mean the card can’t get by just on the basis that it has a very strong attack.

It also has access to Dark Patch, a form of Energy acceleration that isn’t shut off by a lack of Abilities. The other strong point is that he is a Dark type Pokémon, which means you get to run his good partner in crime, Sableye.

Sableye is downright silly with Garbodor. Decks are generally restricted to one Energy attachment per turn. As a result, cards like Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer are very effective and locking them off strong attacking plays. Sableye lets you keep getting them back, and if they aren’t able to really attack you for only one energy, you reach a point where you more or less lock them out of the game energy wise.

Junk Hunt requires Dark Energy to attack, so if you do run Sableye, it means you have to run at least some Dark Energy, which lends itself toward Darkrai, or at least running an attacker that is pretty light on colored Energy commitment so you can fit Dark sources into the deck.

Sableye also lets you get back Pokémon Catcher. Catcher works very well alongside the Energy Removal play because even decks which can attack cheaply often have targets on the bench you can bring active that are hard to retreat. This means you can even wipe the Energy off a one Energy attacker, such as Garchomp, and drag up even Altaria, and they can’t retreat and attach to attack in the same turn. Decks which normally rely on Darkrai to retreat 3+ retreat costed monsters face an even worse problem as they have to deal with those raw retreat costs past Energy Removal lock and Catcher.

Sableye also serves the purpose of getting back the Tool cards you run so you can always have copies of them to keep on Garbodors. I know a lot of players will aggressively try to kill Garbodor to get access to their Abilities back.

Terrakion EX

BulbapediaMoving on from the Dark type options, we have Terrakion EX, a card that has some hype to it, but seems hard to find a home for. It isn’t fast and it doesn’t have access to any form of acceleration to help get it powered. Admittedly, it IS its own acceleration once it gets to three Energy, letting you rain Energy into play at a frightening pace that will likely let you take over a game.

The fact that the card is beefy with a hard to exploit Weakness and offers a non-Ability form of Energy acceleration makes it an interesting pair with Garby. It also benefits from being arguably the game’s best type at the moment, Fighting. This gives it an advantage over Zeels and Darkrai decks right out of the gate.

Terrakion does have a few problems working against it though. First, its second attack only dumps basic Energy into play. It requires that you run a good number of Fighting Energy just to fuel its attack cost, so it makes it difficult to run other types of Energy. You can’t get away with running a lot of Prism and Blend Energy to run a more assorted array of attackers. You can run a few, and make those your attachments for your turn, and just dump Fighting with the attack, or you can pick a secondary type to run basic copies of in order to Pump-up Smash them into play too.

Terrakion also really needs to hit 3 Energy to start going. If it gets a slower start, or faces a really aggressive opponent and they can deal with Terrakion before it can get attacking and score a KO on it, it’s not too hard to wipe your board of Energy and put it so far behind that getting the flow of Energy started becomes almost impossible. Terrakion EX, in this role, is also very weak to Crushing Hammer, and if a deck like Darkrai, or Darkrai/Garbodor can start hitting those early before you get going you can just get locked out pretty hard.

Of course, once you do start Pump-up Smashing, the game gets broken wide open, but you definitely do risk a couple turn window where you can just get crushed (get it?).

Rayquaza EX

BulbapediaMoving beyond Terrakion, I wanted to address Rayquaza EX. I’ve had a couple of people mention trying a “turbo Rayquaza EX” deck out, which is pretty much just 4 of the card, hoping to use Celestial Roar to attach a bunch of Energy the first turn, and then alternate the rest of the game between Roaring and Dragon Bursting. The deck uses Eviolite, Max Potion, and Super Scoop Up to deny prizes while it hits for huge bursts of damage every few turns.

I’ve had differing results with how viable this strategy is, mainly because it comes down to how well you hit off of Celestial Roar a lot of the times. I pretty much run terribly with it and just end up discarding all my Supporters, but I can see how hitting 2-3 Energy off of that turn 1 would be pretty spicy.

Unfortunately, even if that approach is “viable” against a majority of decks, it simply can never beat Garchomp Altaria due to them one shotting you for only one Energy, so I pretty much gave up testing what was looking like a promising fringe strategy because even if I got it working very well, it was going to have a legitimate autoloss to one of the most popular decks.

That being said, if it did work, I don’t see why it wouldn’t pair well with Garbodor. The overall approach is the same, you just end up taking your opponents down to your level of having to attach an Energy per turn, only you get to Roar for more. The problem is, this doesn’t solve your Garchomp issue, and you also have to jam your deck full of Tools and garbage (Garbodor!) that will in turn force you to reduce your Energy count, further weakening Celestial Roar.

Now, since this build is much less demanding on you having a turn 1 Celestial Roar every game, mainly due to you already having non-Rayquaza EX Basics, you can run some Rayquaza DRX to hopefully give you game against Garchomp. They take for granted that they can Gabite into a massive field of Pokémon, and if they can’t, you actually have a reasonable chance of being able to KO a few Garchomps with your TAG TEAM of Rayquazas and being able to steal games vs them.

I don’t think you can make the matchup favorable, but just making it winnable at all goes a long way toward making such a deck idea viable if it does well vs the rest of the field.

Cofagrigus DEX

pokemon-paradijs.comNext up is a really gimmicky idea, but one that I hope ends up working out. Cofagrigus from Dark Explorers has innate synergy with Garby. Not just because it has no reliance on Abilities, but because it keys off of the large number of Tools you already will be running. I actually was looking at Cofagrigus for the Professor Cup at Nationals. The deck I had brewed up for that event was the standard Ninetales HS / Cinccino BLW deck, only with Cofagrigus and a bunch of Tools to deal a lot more damage.

Admittedly, he was a Basic then, and everything had 100 HP more or less, but the card still was performing very well. (I didn’t participate in the Professor Cup because it was over multiple days, and I preferred hanging out with my friends. I didn’t want to have to commit more than one day to that tournament, and I really hope they don’t make it a multi day event this year, but I’m sure they will.)

Cofagrigus’s attack also uses Colorless Energy, allowing you to run DCE, and also, Dark Energy, which lets you get access to Sableye. You can theoretically fit Sableye, Cofagrigus, and Darkrai all into the same list.

Kyurem EX

Next up on the list is a card I’m not too sold on, but one I feel warrants a look. Kyurem EX is a beefy attacker with solid damage output and a good Weakness. It also pressures opponents with its first attack threatening to remove Special Energy cards. This works well with the Energy Removal theme.

It also shares a Blend Energy with Terrakion EX’s Fighting type, so it become a reasonable partner in crime for that approach. I’m not sure if the card will ever actually be worth including, but it’s something worth looking at.

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Options

Beyond these, pretty much any Colorless attacker is worth looking at. Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX, Regigigas EX, and Registeel EX are all able to attack for Colorless Energy and abuse DCE, so if you did build a Dark themed lists with say, Darkrai, Sableye, and 4 DCE in it, you can run any of these supporting attackers alongside that.

Tornadus EX forces you to play Stadiums, which is pretty annoying when you already have to overload your deck with Tools, so it may not be the most space friendly. Mewtwo isn’t a hard KO if they run Mewtwos of their own, so tanking a Mewtwo without Energy acceleration becomes sketchier, but its pretty good against rival Mewtwos at least.

Regigigas is a hard hitter once they have to push past him, but he’s kinda slow, and his Fighting Weakness really hurts him. Registeel seems absolutely awesome as he can definitely take over a game. I think he is a great pair with Garbodor because you are slowing other decks down to the point where its spread attack really adds up. I think any build that does run DCE is almost obligated to run at least 1 Registeel.

Registeel is a card that I originally thought was going to be insane before I realized Special Metal Energy had rotated. I then wrote it off as not good enough, and now I’m pretty much back to it being awesome again. It has really overperformed for me in pretty much every deck I’ve put it in.

Tools

BulbapediaNow that we’ve gone over some of the Pokémon we can pair the card with, lets look at the Tools. We have access to:

There are more Tools in the format, but those are some of the ones worth looking at. First and foremost, I feel like Giant Cape is just an automatic inclusion. You can put it on Garbodor, and it gives him 120 HP. This leaves him outside of the KO range of Garchomp’s 2nd attack, which is crucial. It isn’t AS good as Eviolite on your Basics, but it certainly isn’t awful either there.

Eviolite is worth running as well, assuming you plan on attacking with Basic Pokémon. It doesn’t prevent damage to a Garbodor if attached to it, but it can still be attached, fulfilling its Ability’s requirement, even if it prevents no damage. The same is true with Dark Claw. You can choose to run Dark Claw if you run Darkrai, but I’m still not sold on it being better than Eviolite there.

Exp. Share seems like an awesome choice too. You have no Energy acceleration, so the extra attachment is huge. I think this is a mandatory 4 of inclusion in a lot of Garbodor decks. Rescue Scarf is interesting as well, as it lets you get back Garbodors if they do kill them.

Now that we went over this a bit, let’s look at a sample list or two.

Garbodor Darkrai

Pokémon – 12

3 Trubbish NVI
3 Garbodor DRX

3 Sableye DEX
3 Darkrai-EX

Trainers – 39

4 Bianca
4 Professor Juniper

2 N

3 Random Receiver

 

3 Eviolite

2 Exp. Share

2 Giant Cape
1 Rescue Scarf

 

4 Crushing Hammer
3 Enhanced Hammer
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Dark Patch

3 Ultra Ball

2 Switch

Energy – 9

9 Darkness [Basic]

Garbodor Terrakion EX

Pokémon – 12

3 Trubbish NVI
3 Garbodor DRX
3 Terrakion-EX
2 Registeel-EX
1 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Bianca
4 Professor Juniper

3 N

 

4 Exp. Share
3 Eviolite
1 Giant Cape

 

4 Super Scoop Up

3 Switch

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Ultra Ball
2 Heavy Ball
1 Energy Retrieval

Energy – 14

10 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

I’d include a Cofagrigus list, but I only have some theory about it so far, and haven’t gotten to play any games with it, so I won’t blindly butcher some list just to have one in the article. I’ll have one finished eventually and will post it in the forums when I do, but I figure the idea alone was worth including here at the very least.

If you know anything about me as a player, you’ll know I become very opinionated toward decks fairly early on into a format. Right now, we have a wide open field of decks that leave me questioning exactly which ones will filter into the first tier. I will likely narrow it down to three to four viable decks by the end of Battle Roads, and probably a best deck or two shortly after.

I really do feel that most formats only have a couple of real choices, even if there are decks that look “close to as good.” I am very picky with what I suggest people to play. Likely more so than any other writer on this site. It bothers me to have so little clue as to what the absolute best decks are.

Noteworthy

pokemon-paradijs.comThere are a few overall lessons I can draw from my testing though. The first is something everyone has kind of noticed: the Supporters are awful. This does limit just how greedy we can be with deck lists. It also makes it so there is a lot of variance with starts. Relying on a deck to have to be fast seems sketchy, because a lot of hands simply won’t be that fast.

Some hands will be, but others can’t put out that degree of speed and those decks seem streaky. That is something that has bothered me too. Because some hands end up really good, but most are average or weak, when one player “God starts” it leads to some lopsided games. It makes me wish that we had more reliable draw because it was a trend that was bothering me.

One of the other things I noticed was that a lot of decks were very weak to one hit kills, but not a lot of decks were able to deliver them. That makes me feel like Rayquaza EX can exploit a hole in the format. Clearly Rayquaza is hard to build around, but I am certainly trying.

I think one of the decks I like right now is simply Garchomp. I’m not sure its the best deck, but I really like how it is consistant. Gabite really makes the deck reliable, and while engines are still unrefined, having that as an advantage is important to me. We’ll get better draw cards eventually, but the meantime we have some of the worst options for consistency I’ve seen in a very, very long time. (I think the last time it was this bad, we were Delta Drawing.)

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In Closing

I’m going to be honest with everyone at this point. It is Monday night, and I spent all day writing this whole thing in one sitting because I wanted to make sure I had as much time as possible to actually log in a bunch of games with the new format. So far I have really enjoyed the way the format plays, and the metagame field does seem rather wide open.

Once PTCGO multi-player goes back online, I hope to become very active on there. If I can get past the fact I am technologically inept, I’d like to start doing semi-regular streaming on there. My name on there, of course, is Ruiner, for anyone interested. Nonetheless, I am physically and mentally exhausted at the moment, and sadly, will be sparing you some clever or witty or even just fitting closing. I promise, to make it up to you, that my next article, whenever it is, will have a doubly good closing to it, to compensate.

Right now I am extremely motivated to be testing Pokémon, so anyone who wants to maybe play some games, or even just chat about the current format, hit me up on Facebook, as I’ll be more than willing to play or chat. Hopefully some of my input has helped you out, as right now, I think everyone is going through the learning process together, and I personally find that a blast. I hope everyone else is enjoying it as much as I am.


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