As promised, here is my second installment in my highly popular mailbag column! I had a lot of questions this time around so I apologize in advance if I didn’t get to yours. I also tried avoiding questions that had been asked in my previous column, so be sure to check that one out if you haven’t already.
Before we get to the questions though, I thought I’d write a little something about my final Battle Road of the Autumn series. This will probably be the last article that I’ll get out before Regionals (personal things popped up and I don’t think I’ll have the time to do a Face of Modified, all apologies!), so I’ll try to include a few thoughts on the metagame as well!
Seattle, WA Battle Road
en.wikipedia.orgBecause Washington is littered with both gamers and game stores, it’s not uncommon for two Battle Roads or Cities to occur on the same day in different parts of the state. This time around there were events in both Seattle and Marysville, a smaller town north of Seattle. I generally don’t like traveling further north than Seatown if I can, so I opted to hit up the closer event, at Blue Highway Games.
Because of the nature of the spread events, we had exactly 16 players, just enough for top 4 to receive Championship Points. Unfortunately, this would mean that one player at 3-1 would miss the cut, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
I’m playing Darkrai/Hydreigon with Shaymin EX, no Sigilyph, and a heavy focus on consistency.
Round One: Jonathan Anderson w/ Rayquaza/Eelektrik
John is a nice guy, and someone that’s been playing for a bit, but has recently returned to the game. I don’t know all too much about his past but I know he’s qualified for Worlds before and is generally regarded as one of the better players in our area. He’s been on Eelektrik the entire season so I have no reason to assume otherwise at this juncture.
I go first, and from the beginning the game is a mess. He has no Supporters for the longest time and, although I don’t get a super spicy setup either, it still feels awkward to win in such a way. He finally has some hope as he sets up a Raikou-EX, but unfortunately he goes something like 0-4 on Thunder Fang flips throughout the game. I am able to get everything I need online and take the game before too long.
Round Two: Sorina Radu w/ Darkrai/Hydreigon
pokemon-paradijs.comSorina is actually one of my very best Pokéfriends. I met her at Cities last year after she (accidentally) slow-rolled a Sableye donk, and ever since then we’ve been friends. She dated my roommate, has stayed with me for multiple events and overall is a fantastic person. This year she’s starting to take the game more seriously as she moved back to the Pacific Northwest and has a solid group of people to test and travel with.
This game wasn’t the best either. She gets an insane set up from the beginning while I struggle to get a single Hydreigon online. It’s not a complete blowout as I manage to gain some board presence by the end, but it turned out to be futile as she just got their first. I can’t really complain about the loss as I like Sorina a lot and she played well, it’s just how it goes sometimes.
Round Three: Courtney Crouch w/ Garchomp/ Altaria/Terrakion
pokemon-paradijs.comCourtney is one of my favorite people in the game. He fits the definition of Pokédad perfectly. He has a daughter who plays in the Junior division and, while he is a solid player and always plays good decks, he legitimately enjoys the game more than almost anyone I know. In a field of hyper competitive players stressing about their records and telling bad beats stories, it can be refreshing to play against and talk to someone like Courtney at events.
This was one of the most insane games I’ve ever played. I open Shaymin EX with an otherwise reasonable hand, but he absolutely goes off due to the consistent nature of his list, and has multiple Garchomps and Altarias online by turn 2. I tried to fight back but it’s not long before he has taken 5 Prizes and I’ve taken zero. At this point I’m assuming it’s pretty hopeless, especially as he plays Terrakion, but I’m not one to scoop until I absolutely have to, so I calculate my odds and play it out.
He has a very thin deck, and I know he still has two copies of Pokémon Catcher within it. Either of those cards win him the game, as my field is two Darkrais each with 160 damage on them, and a damaged Hydreigon. I’m able to kill two Garchomps in one turn, and then search out Shaymin EX to clean up the rest of the game. At a certain point he has a Terrakion online with the Catcher in his hand, but unfortunately cannot draw an energy even after a Juniper.
I don’t feel like I got overly lucky in this game as I did set up a turn where I could KO the two Garchomps and buy myself time, but I definitely think I should’ve lost that one.
Round Four: Michael Chin w/ Terrakion/Darkrai
pokemon-paradijs.comMichael is a very good, consistent player who unfortunately hasn’t had as much time to play as he would’ve liked during the past few seasons. He’s a part of Team X-Files so I know that he’s always going to have a solid list and know how to use it. At this point the X-1s are Tyler Ninomura who is playing up vs the lone X-0 (Matthew Oslakovic), Paul Johnston who is playing vs Michael Burke, and Sorina Radu who is paired up with David Cohen. I didn’t have time to do all the math at the table, but I was pretty sure that if I won and Paul won I would be in, and if Paul lost I would be out. Stress!
This game is pretty standard. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know that I made a mistake on the second to last turn of the game. I have the option of either Night Spearing his Terrakion for 70 and hoping that he doesn’t have a Tool Scrapper or a Catcher to outright win the game on his next turn, or I can retreat to Sableye and use Junk Hunt to buy back a Catcher and a Random Receiver, guaranteeing me the win if he doesn’t have the N.
I know he has at least one Catcher left in his deck and figuring that I’m dead to it any way, I decide to go with the latter line of play. In hindsight there was nothing he could’ve done if I had opted to flood his field with damage, and it was definitely the correct choice.
Obviously he has the N, and Ns me to one, Knocking Out my Sableye and going down to 1 Prize. Even more obviously, though, I peel a Blend off of the N, and then draw my lone Shaymin EX to KO his Terrakion for game. I’m not even going to pretend lady luck didn’t shine down on me today. Thank you based god.
The standings go up, and it looks something like this…
- Matthew Oslakovic w/ Rayquaza/Eelektrik
- Tyler Ninomura w/ Rayquaza/Eelektrik
- David Cohen w/ Zekrom/Eelektrik
- Kenny Wisdom w/ Darkrai/Hydreigon
Unfortunately my good friend Paul Johnston comes up short at 5th place, which is a real shame as Paul is legitimately one of the nicest and most kind people I’ve ever met in life, much less Pokémon. He was definitely more deserving of the Championship Points than I. Alas, TOM is a cruel mistress.
I finish the Autumn BR season with 32 Championship Points (Two Top 8s and Two Top 4s), which I feel is a solid number, if a little low. I definitely feel more confident at this point in the season then I did last year, and I’m making getting a Worlds invite my absolute number one priority this season. Hopefully I’ll be able to rise to the top and all of you can read about it and help me along the way!
As in my previous article, I’m just going to be copy and pasting (and editing for spelling and grammar, of course!) questions that you, the readers sent me via email, social media, or the comments section here. Without futher ado…
Q: What do you think are some of the most overrated cards in the format?
pokemon-paradijs.comOverrated is difficult to judge as most cards that legitimately aren’t good just don’t see play, but I guess if I had to pick one overhyped/overrated card I’d go with Garchomp. It’s not that anyone still thinks it’s the nuts, but there was a time when people certainly did, and obviously that didn’t pan out very well, heh. I don’t think really think that there are many cards that people overrate at the moment, though.
Q: Underrated cards. This format. Go.
– Lane Tower
Right now I’d have to say that Stunfisk DRX is my number one underrated card in the format. I haven’t had much chance to use him in much but I’ve tried putting him in pretty much everything that runs F Energy and I think there’s something there. Maybe this is a bad answer as I don’t have concrete evidence of Stunfisk being good but it wouldn’t surprise me if something starring the little mud fish did well at tournaments sooner rather than later.
Musharna DEX is another one that I just don’t think people see the value in. We played it in our Mew/Accelgor deck at Nationals and, while it’s an obvious super star there because of it’s synergy with Deck and Cover, I think it should be seeing play in a lot more decks. Any Emboar deck that’s being brewed, for instance, should be playing a somewhat thick line of this guy for N coverage.
Anyone that remembers my fondness of Lost Remover can probably guess that I’m a huge fan of Enhanced Hammer in this format, even if fewer decks rely on special energy than before. Along those same lines I’ve always wanted an excuse to play Drifblim DRX, but unfortunately it’s never seemed worth the space in anything I’ve tried thus far.
Q: Opinions on Boundaries Crossed?
This brings up a topic that I’ve touched on before, but would like to discuss further, something that I call the Future Focus Fallacy (a better name probably exists, for what it’s worth!). The FFF states that a player can get a jump start on the metagame by testing with future sets, or even testing theoretical future formats weeks or months in advance. While I can the advantages to doing this at certain times, I think that it’s only useful or acceptable when…
A. You have absolutely nothing better to do. There are no more tournaments to play in, your friends have already solved the format entirely, your local Boys and Girls club is full-up on volunteers, etc.
B. You know every single card in the next set (or know for sure what the rotation is going to be) either by number crunch or having the physical set list in front of you.
C. There is not a big tournament still to be played in the old format where a new innovative deck could pop up and turn the metagame on it’s head.
Unfortunately, a time where all of these things are true is about as rare as David Cohen performing well at a non-San Diego World Championship.
All in all, I think it’s quite silly to speculate on a future format and is a plain waste of time. If The Truth can be broken in 24 hours, a Cities format can be solved in several weeks, no need to focus too much on the future and get wrapped up in what might be.
However, I don’t want to leave you hanging, so here is a brief lists of cards that I think deserve to be tested in Boundaries Crossed…
Vileplume, Charizard, Cresselia, Landorus-EX, Flygon, Raticate, Escape Rope, Hugh, Virbank City Gym, Gold Potion, Celebi-EX, Blastoise, Keldeo-EX, Dusknoir, Ditto, Stoutland, Bicycle, Ether, Skyla, Computer Search.
I haven’t given much time to this format, but those are the cards that I’m going to start testing immediately after Regionals. Excuse me if I missed anything.
Q: What do you think of the overall health of the format?
The format is fine right now, in my opinion. There are a decent amount of decks that span a fairly wide price range, and there’s enough complexity to not just make the matchups all rock/paper/scissors. There are a few interesting cards (and a lot more coming in Boundaries Crossed!) and enough interesting interactions to keep the format fun and interesting throughout all five weeks of Battle Roads.
Not the best format I’ve ever played in, but certainly better than last years, which as far as I can tell was comprised entirely of blank cards with big numbers on them.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals? I dunno something like…shuffling in a Starbucks?
– Matthew Oslakovic
The joke is Matt and I once went to a Starbucks before a tournament to get coffee for our girlfriends and shuffled our cards there. At the end of the day he won and I got fourth! :D
As far as actual pre-game rituals though, I don’t really have any. I used to have a Luxray Bandai Kid (a type of toy) that I would put next to my playmat, but I think I misplaced that in Hawaii. I also have a number of neat/personalized cards (a 3-D Shinx, a Luxray GL with the art of a Voltron and my face on it, a DCE w/ a Padomon painted on it, etc.), but I generally don’t want to take up enough space for those types of things.
The only thing I am guilty of is picking a song to be my “song of the tournament” that I listen to exclusively between rounds and before the tournament and such. I got it from MTG Hall of Famer Brian Kibler, and although I admit it’s probably nothing more than a placebo affect, it does seem to keep me more focused and make each tournament feel like a fluid experience.
Q: Thoughts on Fast Ticket? Playable? Game breaking? Total garbage?
I think it’ll be fantastic in the right decks, but what those decks are remains to be seen. It’s no secret that going first in this format is a huge gain, and there have to be some dedicated aggressive decks that are willing to have four otherwise dead spots in their list (especially with all the discard outlets available at the moment) for a chance at a donk, to evolve first, or to just generally get things going first. I haven’t tested with anything in Dragon Vault or Boundaries Crossed yet, but I’ll definitely report back on my findings when I know more.
As far as whether or not it’s game breaking, I think it’s fine. Like I said you have to be willing to dedicate four slots which most of the time are going to be literal blanks in your deck, and even if you do get to go first you could always just run bad end up not doing a whole lot with that extra advantage anyway.
Q: What are your Top 5 favorite Pokémon cards of all time?
– Jonathan C.
Hmm, this is a tough one, but here’s what I’ve come up with after a few hours of thinking on it. Going to separate it into Pokémon, Trainers, and Supporters as otherwise the list would be far too unruly.
Mind you that there are probably 5-10 more cards that could make this list, especially in the Pokémon category, but I think that’s a good overall view of my tastes.
And with that, I need to go pack for Regionals. I hope that all who sent their questions in enjoyed getting them answered, and if I didn’t have time to answer yours I apologize, feel free to email me again and I’ll answer privately when I get a minute.
If you see me in San Jose this weekend feel free to say hi!