The Battle Roads season is now over and I was pretty excited to start my first full season of competitive play. I was able to participate in 4 Battle Roads across Eastern Wisconsin, which would be 1 more premier tournament than the entirety of my last season. I’d love to say I cracked the metagame and broke the format… but the format and Battle Roads season ended up following the Japanese Spring Battle Carnival pretty closely.
If you’re not an Underground member, Andrew Wamboldt’s article from August 9th was excellent in dissecting how decks rose and fell throughout these Japanese tournaments (which had the same card pool as our current format, save for First Ticket). The article correctly predicted that Garchomp/Altaria would quickly fall from Tier 1 and Darkrai variants, Hydreigon, and Eelektrik decks would rise as the clear best decks in the format.
With that in mind I started the season with Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI/Tornadus EPO/Mewtwo deck. I figured Bouffalant DRX and Fighting Variants would be in full force at the beginning of the season and Tornadus acts as a soft counter to both and a decent Non-EX attacker in general with his ability to preserve precious energy.
Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin – Chimera Hobby Shop
Here is the list I went to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin with:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 35
Energy – 16
BulbapediaThis list represents a last minute change, adding a Mewtwo EX and foregoing Random Receiver for extra Supporters. Unfortunately I went 3-2 losing to Kyle Marks (Darkrai/Hydreigon) and Kidd Starks (Rayquaza EX/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik) settling for 12th out of 28 Masters.
The Darkrai/Hydreigon matchup went as expected with me taking out 3 Deinos in a row with Tornadus. I was ultimately N’d into junk and was never able to recover. Kyle played it perfect and kept me from sealing the game. Kidd Starks got a hot start with Rayquazza DRX (with 2 Eels in play and Lightning in the discard on turn 2) and I never got going. His giant Mewtwos with Double Colorless Energy were too much for me to overcome and I lost.
That left a pretty bad taste in my mouth for Darkrai/Terrakion and I wasn’t sure what to do. I rebuilt the deck focussing on a streamlined Darkrai/Terrakion with Sableye, Random Receiver, and a pair of Enhanced Hammers to shore up the Mewtwo EX matchup. I ultimately decided for the next tournament I would change directions completely and play with RayEels. With only a week till my next tournament most of my testing was done on PTCGO, which in all honesty, isn’t the best testing grounds.
Kenosha, WI – Outpost Gaming
My list going into the Kenosha Battle Roads looked like this:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 32
Energy – 14
pokemon-paradijs.comI would consider this a fairly non-standard list. There are no Eviolite, no Tool Scrapper, no Skyarrow Bridge, and just 4 Pokémon that can actually attack. V-create Victini was included as a Sigilyph DRX counter. My goal was to just swing away with Rayquaza EX and 1-shot EXs. I ended the day at 4-2 (13th out of a massive 50 Masters) losing to Ross Cawthon (benching me on turn 2 with Rayquaza DRX) and Derrick Krenke (with an excellent Garchmop/Altaria/Stunfisk build).
There wasn’t much I could do against Ross. I started with 2 Tynamos and he went first opening with Rayquaza DRX and a lightning to KO my Tynamo. On my turn I N myself into 4 energy, a Switch, and a Super Rod. I extended my hand as there was nothing I could do. Ross was kind enough to offer me a “fun game” and he destroyed me again, with me taking a single prize. It was absolutely amazing to play against a player who’s Worlds deck I had just bought a year prior. Thanks Ross!
Derrick Krenke played his Garchomp/Altaria with a Stunfisk DRX tech. He went first and got off to a fairly straightforward start. I got off to a slow start and was never really in the game. Two of my 4 Prizes were from taking out his Swablus with Emolga’s Static Shock. Had I gone first I would have donked him (he opened with a lone Swablu), but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
An interesting trick he tried to play against me was hit my Rayquaza EX for 160. On his next turn he dropped a Stunfisk (which I had no idea he played) and Catchered a Tynamo. He would have taken 3 Prizes with Muddy Water that turn had it not been for Max Potion.
These two losses taught me a lot though. Rayquaza DRX is absolutely HUGE in the Rayeel mirror and should swing the Garchomp matchup closer to your favor. Additionally, Raikou-EX is really really good against Eelektrik decks in general. Catchering an Eel, palying N, and sniping a benched Pokémon changes games. So with 6 competitive games behind me I made some tweaks to the list and headed to the next tournament with just 3 changes (italicized below):
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 30
Energy – 15
- Not likely to be donked
- Thins the deck by 2 cards with CFF attack
- Free retreat
- 1HKOs Swablus
- Alternate weakness
- Preserves Ultra/Level balls for searching Eelektriks
- 1HKOs Registeel-EX
- Viable turn 2 attacker
- 100 damage for 2 energy is efficient (KOs Stunfisk, Sigilyph, Sableye, and Eelektrik)
- Searchable with Level Ball
Because I had a free-retreater in Emolga, I opted to not play Skyarrow Bridge at all. I skipped Max Potion as it didn’t win me a single game the week prior. I also skipped Eviolite and Tool Scrapper (I didn’t miss them at all the prior week) and just aimed to be as consistent as possible. Tool Scrapper is nice for sure, but you can play around Eviolite and 1HKO an Eviolited EX when you’re ready. I also added a Raikou-EX as an alternate attacker; I was unable to get my hands on a Rayquaza DRX for this tournement.
I feel 9 Lightning and 6 Fire is the correct energy line for RayEels, giving you plenty of opportunities to discard lightning energy early, and allowing you to find fire energy relatively easy. Lastly, I moved exclusively to the paralyzing Tynamo. I never found the 10-10 spread damage on the Dark Explorers Tynamo to be useful, even though it should be.
Ashwaubenon, WI – Gnome Games Tournament Center
With that, I’m off to Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin where there were 33 Masters, meaning top 8 would get points. Let’s go:
We both setup adequately enough and I take the first prize, taking down an Eelektrik. On the next turn he Ns me to 5, and I have the following hand: Switch – Switch – Switch – Energy – Super Rod. After surviving in top deck mode for quite a while I got going again and even the prizes at 3-3.
He Knocks Out a Rayquaza EX bringing the prizes to 1-3 and I power up Raikou. If I can hit a Catcher, I can bring his Eel active, and snipe his damaged Mewtwo EX for 2 Prizes. And then if he can’t switch out the Eel, I could Knock it Out with Rayquazza EX for my final prize. I N myself to 3 and whiff the Catcher. He was relieved as he was out of Switches and Double Colorless Energy (his Eelektrik would be trapped). He takes his final prize by sniping my Eelektrik with his own Raikou-EX.
After the match I realize I was out of Catchers anyway, meaning I had no way to win despite N’ing him to 1.
Round 2 – Samantha G (Finished 21st) Garchomp / Altaria / Walrein?
Samantha was a very nice girl with a fairly non-competitive deck. I initially thought she was playing Garchomp/Altaria and was dreading going 0-2 but I was able to Knock Out a Swablu turn 1 with Emolga and take my next 5 Prizes without much fuss.
Round 3 – Galen Wadzinski (dropped) Gardevior / Mewtwo EX
Galen has 2 children competing in Juniors, but he’s a fairly good Pokédad so this wouldn’t be easy. Like John Roberts II, he also played Klinklang most of last season, beginning with the release of Emerging Powers (Max Potion). He knows his stuff. However…
This game was awful. We both whiffed everything for the first 7-10 turns, him surviving off his Max Potions and me being forced to attack Sigilyph DRX with my Eelektrik. I eventually get a slight edge with board control and take a couple prizes with Rayquaza EX. He scoops when I have 2 Prizes remaining. A win is a win, but I really didn’t feel great with my 2-1 record. My deck was performing quite clunky and I needed to win out for a chance at points.
Round 4 – Brandon Zettel (dropped) Hammertime
pokemon-paradijs.comBrandon is a great player in the area (and his brother Austin is a previous Worlds competitor). Brandon had won the Gnome Games store tournament a couple weeks ago snatching himself a box of Dragons Exalted with his Hammertime deck.
I figured he’d be playing the same deck and doubted he played Terrakion so I was feeling confident about the matchup: I don’t play Special Energy, he can’t one shot me, and I can one shot him. He admitted at the beginning of the match that this was his most feared matchup which also gave me a little extra confidence.
The game plays out about like what you would expect, his Crushing Hammers slow me down, forcing me to always have a fire in hand, but never stall me out completely. I also had two Tynamos prized, meaning my Super Rods would be crucial until I finally frew some Prize cards.
The game comes down to the wire. He has to take 1 more prize, and I need two. Due to a previous N, his hand is small, and he needs his final Catcher to win the game. I hit his Darkrai EX for 120 with my fresh Rayquaza EX, but I have another Lightning and a Catcher in hand for the win (doing the final 60 damage on his now damaged Darkrai).
Brandon whiffs the Catcher and is left with a decision. He can hit my Rayquzza for 90, and put 30 on an Eel (bringing it to 60 damage) hoping I don’t have an energy to attack, or he can try to confuse me with Sabeleye. He went for the Night Spear. I attach a Lightning and finish off his active Darkrai for the final 2 Prizes in a nail-biting finish.
I finally climbed my way to the top table and am paired against Yoshi. I wasn’t quite sure what he was playing and half assumed he was playing Ho-Oh EX based on the previous evening’s league play. But he was playing a strictly anti-meta deck featuring Groudon EX, Terrakion-EX, Stunfisk, and Mewtwo EX.
I win the coin flip and accidently open with a Victini (I meant to open Rayquaza EX) and am forced to burn a Switch, attach a fire to Rayquaza EX, and Celestial Roar. I hit a Fire and a Lightning but my hand contains 3 Eelektriks and little else. Yoshi opens even worse with a Terrakion, no Switch, and completely whiffs an energy attachment for turn. I am forced to alternate between Celestial Roar and Dragon Burst and don’t see a Tynamo or Supporter until turn 4. Yoshi hangs onto his N knowing my hand is awful but hits a Bianca off his Random Receiver making his hand as unplayable (though larger) than mine.
We both get some half hearted setups. It’s my turn and we are tied up 2-2 on prizes. The rest of the game is actually somewhat confusing to me. He’s been locking my Emolga active with Stunfisk’s Rumble (I’m out of Switches) and my benched Eeletrik has 80 damage on it.
The TO is watching our battle and calls back to the head judge to see how much time is left. I pause and turn around to hear the response. Yoshi politely reminds me to play out my turn. As I’m Dynamotoring the TO calls time. I am turn 0. From my perspective he can lock my Emolga active until turn 3, where he can then use Muddy Water to Knock Out my benched Eelektrik for the win. We are both out of Switches and Catchers, so I don’t see how I win.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe head judge then calls time on his turn, and we both look at the TO to figure out when time was officially over. The TO determines it was on my turn. Yoshi studies the board, offers his hand, and concedes. I don’t argue with him and sign the match slip. Perhaps the Emolga had more damage on it than I remember, or perhaps the math worked out in a way where I would take a prize on Turn 2 and win sudden death. In his mind, had time been called on his turn, he would have won.
If it was a recorded match perhaps I could review and see what he saw (as I’m sure he was probably correct). But alas I squeak by with a win.
Round 6 Joseph S (4-2 Finished 5th) Darkrai EX / Hydreigon
After losing my first game, I win 4 in a row and find myself in a position to take a Victory Cup. I know if I win I should get 3rd, being the second highest 5-1 (top table was two 5-0s facing off, one will lose and get second place). I’m not sure how I feel up to this point. In Kenosha my 4 wins were of the definitive kind, with my deck setting up like it should, and 1HKOing EX’s as intended. Today, none of my wins were convincing at all.
My deck finally decides to wake-up. I win the flip and I Knock Out an eviolited Darkrai EX on Turn 4, and non-Eviolited Darkrai EX on turn 5, eliminating all of his energy from play, eliminating his free retreat, and worst of all, he was out of Dark Patches. It was just one of those games. I take my final prizes using Raikou-EX on his Sableye and my Rayquaza EX Knocking Out his Zweilous.
There was really nothing Joseph could do. He spent a few turns in topdeck mode while I set-up. He never takes a prize, while I hit all my beats, never missing a switch or a Fire energy.
So there we have it, I finished 3rd nabbing my first Championship Points of the season. They weren’t the most glamorous wins ever, but I clawed my way back from 0-1 to 5-1 and earn myself a Victory Cup. Let’s hope my deck cooperates with me across town for the Green Bay, Wisconsin Battle Roads the very next day.
Green Bay, WI – Gnome Games East
Sadly, there were just 31 Masters, meaning 5 rounds and a top 4. I went in with the same exact list as the day before as I can’t argue with a 3rd place finish. I figured the deck would have to run better than the day before.
pokemon-paradijs.comI was incredibly disappointed to play against Alex in round 1. I playtest more against him than any other person and Zebstrika is a giant pain if he wins the coin flip. He wins the coin flip. He doesn’t get a turn 2 Disconnect, settling for a turn 3 Disconnect but I’m left with a hand full of energy and no Juniper and his Item lock slows me down significantly.
During the game I do manage to lock and Eelektrik active and snipe two consecutive Eels with Raikou-EX, as well as taking out the third. But with the prizes tied at 2 a piece, he is able to get his fourth Eel in play and Knocks Out my Rayquaza EX with his Mew-EX (copying Dragon Burst).
During the final 2 turns of the game I had a Juniper and a Lightning in hand, but opt not to Juniper as I was waiting for him to play an N and I had few Supporters left. I really didn’t need anything so I played conservative. Had he whiffed the Eelektrik on the final turn I would have won. Perhaps I should have Junipered earlier to try and get an N for the prior turn. In either case, I start with a loss for the second day in a row. And with just 5 rounds I know my day is over before it gets started.
Round 2 Samantha G (1-5 Finished 28th) Garchomp / Altaria / Walrein / Milotic
I win the coin flip and donk a Feebas with Emolga’s Static Shock. Perhaps I should add that to the list of reasons to play Emolga. ;)
Round 3 Ryan Nemetz (dropped) Darkrai / Hydreigon
Ryan’s Pokémon career is coming to a close and I have yet to beat him in a Premier tournament. His particular deck was built by Yoshi Tate so I know I’m in for a good game. He wins the coin flip and gets himself a turn 2 Hydreigon but whiffs a turn 2 Night Spear.
My pre-game plan is to Celestial Roar with Rayquaza EX and take out a Deino or Zweilous on turn two with Dragon Burst. Unfortunately he gets the turn two Hydreigon so I need a different approach. I figure my only way to win this matchup is to deny him energy and Dark Patches. I level ball for a Victini on my second turn (already securing an Eelektrik and a full bench). Ryan was expected me to grab a second Eel with Level Ball and was surprised to see my tech Victini. I attach a Fire, Dynamotor the Lightning, retreat Rayquaza, and V-create his Sableye for an early prize.
My second and third prizes were from Knocking Out a Darkrai EX and I have just 3 Prizes to go. He sends up Hydreigon and Knocks Out my Rayquaza EX. This was exactly what I wanted, as I had a benched Rayquaza waiting and a R Energy in my massive hand. I Dragon Burst the Hydreigon (and he loses 4 energy just like that) and have just 2 Prizes to go.
I am a bit worried to take a cheap prize off a Zweilous as I don’t want to give his presumed Shaymin EX a chance to sweep the game. I’m forced to wait a turn to have enough energy (and a Catcher) to take down his Eviolited Darkrai EX for the win.
Round 4 Devin R (3-2 Finished 9th) Eelektrik / Tornadus EX / Raikou-EX / Mewtwo EX / Zekrom
pokemon-paradijs.comDevin is another good player from the area and I finally feel like if I win I could be in a position to earn some points. Devin wins the coin flip and starts with a Mewtwo EX and a Double Colorless. I start with a Rayquaza EX and he misses the donk. Whew.
On my first turn I’m able to put 4 Tynamos on the bench thanks to Emolga’s Call for Family and feel like I was really able to take away his first turn advantage. The game plays out fairly standard and we are down to 2-2 on prizes. I am completely out of catchers (discarding 1 on the first turn Juniper, Catchering 2 Eels, and Catcher-KOing a Raikou-EX). I know he won’t let me KO an EX for the win, and he has a Zekrom active with 90 damage on it. The only way I win is to Knock Out the Zekrom with a non-EX attacker (so he can’t take his final 2 Prizes with his Mewtwo on my damaged EXes) and hit whatever he has active with Rayquaza on my final turn.
I decide to do something very unconventional and attack him with Eelektrik, Knocking Out the Zekrom. If he takes the bait and Knocks Out my Eelektrik, I’ll be able to win the game with a Dragon Burst. He correctly doesn’t take the bait, Dynamotors to a benched attacker, and passes (waiting for a Catcher of his own, and depriving me of energy in the discard pile, as 3 precious energy are stuck on Eelektrik).
Thankfully, I top deck a Switch (I had 2 left in my 12-card deck). I retreat my Eelektrik to put energy in the discard. Dynamotor to Rayquaza, and play Switch for the win. I did have a bit of luck on my side however, as Devin never played a Pokémon Catcher the entire game.
Round 5 Joseph S (3-2 Finished 10th) Darkrai EX / Hydreigon
Once again I’m paired against Joseph S in the final round. Our game yesterday was not very eventful and I fear Karma won’t let me win again…
Joseph never sees a Supporter the entire game and I win without any trouble at all. To make matters worse, on his final turn, he finally Night Spears my Victini and draws an N for his first prize. I wonder what Joseph did to deserve such an awful game…
I finish in 6th with the worst resistance of the 4-1s. I was very disappointed we weren’t able to secure a 32nd player so I could play a 6th round and improve my resistance. But to my surprise, when I check the standings the next day on Pokémon.com, there was a late entrant. This gave us 32 players and I end up with 6 Championship Points thanks to the kicker. Sweet.
So ends the Autumn Battle Roads. I earned 16 points, never had a losing record (ending up 16-6), and have an above average 1738.93 Elo rating, putting my near the top in Wisconsin (though severly lagging in the nation). Despite looking bad on paper, I made deck choices based purely on play testing (rather than gut feelings), forgoing standard cards like Skyarrow Bridge, Max Potion, and Tool Scrapper for consistency cards like Emolga and more energy.
Unfortunately I won’t be attending a Regional this month due to a lack of funds, so I won’t be able to see how Emolga holds up against a larger player base. But give it a try, you might be surprised.