That Was Fun: Jay’s Regionals Recap and Boundaries Crossed Commentary

@OurNameIsFunLast weekend I got back from one of the greatest and most fun Pokémon weekends I have ever had playing this game. At the start of Battle Roads I really hated the format, but by the time Regionals came around the format had really developed and come into its own. I still feel the format was very limiting, inconsistent, and luck based (like all Fall BR formats are due to the small card pool), however it was to a lesser degree than we have seen in years past.

The “short and sweet” articles seem to be going over well lately, so that’s my objective for this article. To give a quick rundown, I plan on discussing my Regionals preparation, how I arrived at my deck choice, as well as how the tournament went for me. Afterward I will run down 6 different list for Cities including Blastoise/Keldo EX, along with several different Dusknoir and Landorus-EX variants.

Lastly I plan on wrapping it up by talking about what I expect the Cities format to look like. It’s still really early to go too far out on a limb, but I’ll make some educated predictions on the expected meta.

Regionals Preparation

pokemon-paradijs.comAfter the first few weeks of BRs I saw how the format was developing and I realized that Terrakion NVI was the BCIF (best card in the format) due to nearly half the format being weak to Fighting, and outside of Shaymin EX, Grass never seeing any play. This changed my thought process from “What deck should I play for Regionals?” to “What deck can abuse Terrakion the best?” With Sableye and Crushing Hammer becoming increasingly more common I knew I needed some form of energy acceleration to avoid being caught in the “hammer lock.”

A combination of early hatred of the format and not wanting to spend money to travel when I didn’t need CPs (due to my guaranteed Worlds invite) led to me only playing in 2 Battle Roads. The nice thing was that the 2 BRs I played in were the last 2 weekends of the season, so I was able to play in a pretty well developed format.

For my first BR I ran a modified variation of the Ho-Oh EX deck I discussed in my last article. The only real difference was I streamlined the Pokémon to 3 Ho-Oh EX, 3 Mewtwo EX, and 3 Terrakion. In the end I finished 3-2 with both of my losses coming in games where I went 5-6 turns without a Supporter. A huge mistake I feel I made was I played 4 Bianca, when in hindsight I should have played 4 Cheren. The deck had a favorable Darkrai matchup, but with its inconsistencies I knew it wasn’t a deck I was going to play for Regionals.

The following week I ended up playing Darkrai EX/Terrakion, something I actually stole from our locals, but I was starting to see it appear more on a National level as well. I made a couple bad card choices with the deck and ended up with an amazing 2-3 finish. Despite the horrid showing I didn’t lose faith in the deck and instead realized how just 1-2 small card choices could make a huge difference in how its matchups played out.

I’ll be honest and say that the few weeks between the end of BRs and Regionals I really didn’t play test at all. This was due mainly to conflicting schedules with my brother and the fact that I felt like I could “cram” the day before.

On the Road

visions.mst.eduWe end up leaving late at midnight on Thursday and driving all the way through the night to reach Indy at 7 AM. The Holiday Inn was amazing and got us in our room as soon as we got to our hotel, which was hours ahead of when we were supposed to check in.

I slept till about 11 AM before getting up and seeing what was going on. I went next door where the rest of our group was staying and I saw everybody play testing variations of Eels, Ho-Oh EX, and Darkrai EX.

As much as I hate to admit it, I didn’t take this Regionals as seriously as I should have. The need of CPs for a Worlds invite really wasn’t on my mind and I was with friends I only get to see a few times a year. A majority of our deck building was “theorymoning” and in total I played less than 10 games with the deck. To be fair though, our “team” probably played 25 or so games with the deck on that Friday. We all felt the list was as consistent as it was going to get and most of the matchups, while fun to play, were really straightforward.

In the end this was the list we decided on and 3-of us ended up playing for the main event.

The List

Pokémon – 8

3 Sableye DEX
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
4 Crushing Hammer
4 Energy Switch
4 Dark Patch
3 Eviolite
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Enhanced Hammer

Energy – 13

9 D
4 F

When we got out there, all of our lists were within a few cards of each other and the final list as usual was basically a combination of our different decks.

The 4 Crushing Hammer and 1 Enhanced Hammer was really pushed on me by Andy Wieman and ended up being considerably better than my 3-2 split. I also credit Andy with the 4th Energy Switch, which looking back I was so stupid for not having in the first place. Playing the 4th F Energy over an Energy Search was Mike Lesky’s idea and it played pretty well overall.

I can see the argument for both, but the 4th Fighting really allowed me to play less conservatively with the F Energy and made Terrakion’s “Land Crush” far more realistic.

I really wanted a 4th Sableye and a Potion in the list, but Andy talked me out of both, reminding me how important the 3rd Eviolite was. In the end the 3rd Eviolite also ended up being the right call.

The Tournament

Round 1: Ray/Eels W
Round 2: Darkrai/Terrakion/Stunfisk W
Round 3: Ray/Eels L
Round 4: Zekrom/Reshiram/Terrakion/Regigigas-EX (aka Big Basics) W
Round 5: Ray/Eels L
Round 6: Ray/Eels W
Round 7: Terrakion-EX/Terrakion/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant W
Round 8: Zekrom/Eelektrik/Mewtwo EX W
Round 9: Terrakion/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX/Stunfisk (John Roberts) W

I end up finishing Swiss at 7-2 which was a huge relief considering the fact that I was bubbling for the last 4 rounds of the tournament.

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Playing John Roberts on the bubble was the highlight of my tournament. I ended up winning one of the closest games I’ve played in a long time. Late game I play N to put him at 1 and myself at 3. The 3rd Card I drew was Crushing Hammer to take the DCE off his Mewtwo EX. I then Night Spear for 2 Prizes that turn, and on his turn he brings up Mewtwo EX.

He proceeds to play Random Receiver and everybody watching the game just holds his or her breath. He starts flipping cards off the top of his deck till he hits an N. He plays the N to put us both at 1 and I ended up winning either next turn or the turn after with Night Spears.

After the game he was great guy and shakes my hand and wishes me luck. He smiles though and says the 1 card I N’d him to was Pokémon Catcher, and if I didn’t hit the Hammer flip he had game with Mewtwo EX by Catchering a damaged Darkrai EX on the bench.

In the end his tiebreakers were far better than mine and he sneaks in cut at 31st with a 6-3 record.

Top 32: vs. Andrew Reynolds with Ray/Eels

Game 1

BulbapediaI got really lucky at the start of this game as he didn’t have a Supporter after he played his first 1 or 2. The next 4/5 turns was me setting up and going after his Eels. I know he had 1 really big crucial Max Potion, though I don’t fully remember when it was. I really thought I had this game won when he didn’t have a hand early on, but he still had 2 Eels and Rayquaza in play. Over the next few turns he topdecked a huge Juniper and hit a Celestial Roar for 2 energy, which brought him into the game and let him win.

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Game 2

The 2nd game was looking pretty bad for me as well and I honestly thought I was done. I looked through his discard pile and I realized all 4-of his Pokémon Catcher were there as well as his Super Rod, 4 Fire, 4 N, and 3 Switch. I assumed at this point he had 1 Switch and 1 R Energy left.

This is when I switched up my strategies and I actually decided that I was going to try and deck him. He had 3 Prizes left and I believe 4 cards in his deck. I could ensure his last 3 Prizes were a Sableye, Terrakion, and a Darkrai EX… in that order. He had 2 attackers on his field (Raikou-EX and Rayquaza EX) and both of them required Dynamotor to attack.

The Raikou-EX could only KO the Sableye, and if I got him to burn his last Switch he would have to attack with Rayquaza, on the following turn retreat Rayquaza, and then attack with Rayquaza on the following turn again. This was a total of 4 if everything went picture perfect for him. However, if he had to Dynamotor onto his attackers that meant he couldn’t do it under his Eelektriks.

pokemon-paradijs.comI Junk Hunt for 2 Catchers and I think he realized what my plan was and smiled a bit. He draws to 3 cards left in deck and KOs Sableye with Raikou-EX. I Catcher Eel and pass with my Terrakion active. He draws and scoops as I don’t think he had the Switch this turn.

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Game 3

This was another game where he really never seemed to have a Supporter. He had a few really scary Celestial Roars, but unlike the first 2 games they really burned him this time, discarding key Items, Pokémon, and Supporters. I think out of the 3 times he used Roar he only hit 1 energy.

I realized in the first 2 games that he only played 1 Tool Scrapper and he played it this game turn 2/3 to hit 2-of my Eviolites. I took a gamble and passed on the Night Spear to get back the 2 Eviolites. I figured my board position was pretty good to justify waiting the turn. I also felt like if I could force him to have to KO 3 Eviolited Darkrai EX I had a really strong chance on winning the game.

It ended up being the right play and I was able to take out most of his Eels over the next few turns. The fact that he had to discard 4 energy per Darkrai really slowed him down and combined with his slow start I take the win.

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Saturday Night

applebees.com
Eatin’ good in the neighborhood.

We don’t get done with Top 32 till well pass 10:30 PM and I’m barely conscious from the long day and lack of sleep. I find out that both Greg and Emmanuel made T16 as well. So out of the 5-of us in our hotel room 3-of us made Top 16 and Andy barely missed it at 6-3 losing to both Greg and Emanuael (in the 2nd and last rounds of Swiss) on pretty dead hands.

We go and eat at Applebees and they were thrilled to have a party of 20 showing up an hour or so before they closed.

Andy does the bracket and I find out that I’m playing Greg in the morning in a card for card mirror. Normally I really enjoy playing mirror matches, but the truth is mirror seems to be more luck based than skill based right now. I gave Greg a hard time saying he was ironically probably going to win in the morning on Crushing Hammer flips. It was ironic because Greg strongly debated just dropping the Hammers from our list the day before.

Despite being lighthearted about the whole issue, we both knew the truth was the game was going to come down to Hammer flips and consistency issues.

I end up getting 5 hours of sleep, which seems to be my record for the weekend.

Top 16 vs. Greg with Hornung/Wieman/Greg deck aka Darkrai/Terrakion

Game 1

pokemon-paradijs.comThere was a point early in the game where I know if I don’t KO Greg’s Sableye he has the Night Spear next turn with several combination of cards. So I decided to KO the Sableye to take the energy off the board and make it harder for him to hit the Darkrai EX next turn. I N him to 6… whiff on the Catcher (I could have Catchered the Darkrai/Terrakion on his bench) and KO the Sableye.

To get the response he needed Tool Scrapper (2 outs), F Energy (4 outs), and Energy Switch (4 outs). He goes Scrapper, Fighting, Juniper for 7… Energy Switch… followed by 2 Dark Patches. Then Crushing Hammer… heads, Crushing Hammer… heads.

I went from 5 Energy in play to 0 and he went from 1 Energy in play to 4. This turn basically decided the game. I played it out for a few more turns, but he continued to apply pressure as I struggled to string anything together.

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Game 2

Greg actually opened really dead, but got me in this really weird Catcher/Crushing Hammer Lock. I burned through my deck trying to “go off” before he could top a Supporter. He flipped really well on Crushing Hammer (probably 70% give or take), which basically locked me out of the Darkrai EX till he finally topped an N.

pokemon-paradijs.comAt this point I looked through my discard pile and saw all 4 F Energy and we were both still tied at 6-6. I know this basically ends my tournament run, but I played it out for a few more turn till he got a Terrakion rolling and I simply didn’t have a combination of cards to deal with it.

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It was kind of a disappointing end to an otherwise great weekend. I loved the deck choice, but I couldn’t help feeling that I ran so much colder with the deck than most people. I didn’t hit a single Turn 2 Darkrai EX, but on the plus side I suppose I was right at 50-50 on my Hammer flips. It is what it is though, and overall it was a great weekend and it got me excited again about the format.

Victini Eels

I would say the biggest surprise of Regionals was the teched Victini NVI 14 in RayEels. I know for a fact Regional Champions Ross Cawthon and Ty Smith played a single tech copy in their lists.

The idea was since most Darkrai decks don’t play Switch, you play 4 copies of the Tynamo that can Paralyze the opponent and stall with it till you are set up. Between the Paralyze flip itself and Victini’s Ability you have a 75% chance of Paralyzing the defending Pokémon which can buy you critical turns while you’re setting up.

Boundaries Crossed – Interesting Cards

Esa talked about some of the bigger and most popular cards in the set in his last article, and instead of echoing “Computer Search is good” I’ll hit on some of the cards he didn’t discuss. I also want to hit on a few cards that I disagree with Esa on, but it’s still early in the format so who knows who’s right.

Vileplume

BulbapediaPersonally I don’t see Vileplume being a major deck in the format, but especially early during Cities I expect people to try and take advantage of it. I agree with Esa the only way to play the deck is as a toolbox deck. You use Vileplume to make all Weakness x4 and then you play a host of attackers that can 1HKO the main Pokémon in the format for little energy. The attackers used would most likely vary by area and region depending on what was popular. The deck will most likely run as few Pokémon-EX as possible to avoid giving up the 2 Prizes and instead hope to make 2-1 trades on the opponent’s Pokémon-EX.

The major issue I see with this sort of strategy is the attackers the deck uses need to score 1HKOs for only 1 or 2 energy, which isn’t always going to be possible. If you’re settling for 2HKOs rather than 1HKOs there is absolutely no reason to run an inconsistent deck when many other decks in the format can do the same thing.

It’s also going to be very hard for the deck to balance all of these attackers. Running only 1 or 2 copies of an attacker probably won’t be enough for the deck to win a matchup. Also, the more you tech for 1 matchup the more you take away from another.

The biggest issue I see though is going to be consistency for the deck. Vileplume itself offers no consistency help and can’t really be used as an attacker. The deck also needs to run such a wide array of attackers this is going to make it more difficult to get the right attacker up at the right time and of course is going to cause issues in the Energy lineup.

Bottom line is I just don’t see this deck working, but I wouldn’t cross it off your testing list because early during Cities it will see play.

 

Cresselia EX

I love the Ability on this card because healing 10 damage per turn can be really strong in combination with cards like Eviolite. I just really wish it had an attack that made it more playable. Honestly, if the attack was 90 for PCC it would offer so many more options, but needing 4 energy makes it near impossible to run it without acceleration.

Right now I’m testing it has a “1-of” in Hydreigon as it can 1HKO Mewtwo EX without being KO’d in return. Also it’s very realistic with Eviolite that an opponent would have to 3HKO it, which opens up a lot of plays with Max Potion.

Gold Potion

In a format where a lot of larger Pokémon-EX are going to be 2HKO’d by your opponent, having the card that basically reads “your opponent didn’t attack last turn” is huge. In our current format we see this a lot with Max Potion and in many cases even Potion can be game changing.

So while Gold Potion might just be the 2nd best card in the set, it takes a back seat to Computer Search in nearly every deck. Slower set up Stage 2 decks need the consistency provided by Computer Search, while even fast Basic decks like Speed Darkrai want the ability to dump D Energy and search out Dark Patches.

Another determining factor for me is I like how Computer Search is always a live card, while Gold Potion is situationally useful. It’s dead in the opening hand, and it’s dead if I don’t have damage on the board.

The last determining factor for me is the fact that I still run 4 Juniper in all of my decks, which means that nearly a 3rd of my Supporters force me to discard my entire hand. It quite possible that I would have to discard Gold Potion before I ever got to use it, while with Computer Search I’d be able to use it and then play the Juniper.

As I said, before the real sad thing is Gold Potion is the 2nd best card in the set, but it’s going to see very little play.

Skyla

BulbapediaThis card has gotten significantly less hype than I expected it would get, which is most likely due to it not being the amazing draw Supporter people were hoping for. The bottom line is though we really don’t have that many great Supporters in this format. If I had to choose between Skyla and a new hand card like PONT, I would probably go with PONT, but that’s simply not the reality of this format.

Decks play 4 Juniper, 4 N, 2-4 Bicana/Cheren with a couple Random Receivers for good measure because they have nothing better to play. In such an inconsistent format I have no problem playing 14 or even 15 Supporters and I think Skyla will help fill this role.

Something you guys all know about me is that I love to have multipurpose cards and cards that give me options, and Skyla does a great job at both of these. Early game I can use Skyla to grab a Level Ball, Ultra Ball, Rare Candy, etc. to help me get set up, while in the mid and late game it has a wide array of uses as you begin to need more aggressive cards like Escape Rope and Pokémon Catcher.

The most obvious synergy is between Skyla and Computer Search, which instantly allows you to turn a Skyla into any card in your deck. Despite all of these uses I want to make it clear that Skyla should not replace draw Supporters, rather it should be added on top of them. Once we have better Supporters in future sets I expect a decrease in Skyla, but for right now I expect to see it in decks ranging in the 1-3 copies range.

Also, I’m very sad we didn’t get a Full Art Skyla in this set during her “prime.”

Bulbapedia

Bicycle

This card has gotten a decent amount of hype, especially in combination with Sableye. I expect the card to see a fair amount of play early in Cities, but that it will drop off pretty dramatically by Winter Regionals.

The issue is regardless of what deck you’re playing it’s near impossible to get your hand to a perfect zero and then Bicycle yourself back up to 4. Even getting your hand as low 2 or 3 can be extremely difficult at times and often Bicycle is going to be a dead card.

I’ve thrown around some engines where you basically try and dump your hand and then play Bicycle. The issues that have come up with this strategy though are we simply don’t have enough discarding cards in the format and to fit 4 Bicycle in a deck I was cutting into my Supporter lineup to do it. By dropping my Supporter lineup I found times where I would have a Bicycle, but not a Supporter which really defeated the point to draw to 4 when I easily could have played Bianca to 6 or Juniper/N for a new hand.

Right now it’s possibly going to be a “1-of” or a “2-of” in Darkrai decks and most other decks in the format will straight up avoid the card. I really like the card and would love to be proven wrong about it, but I just don’t see it as a major player in our format.

Audino

BulbapediaBoundaries Crossed opens up a few more options for Special Condition decks like Dusknoir/Accelgor. Plus after its success at Regionals, I expect Fliptini to be a near staple in most Eelektrik variants. While I don’t think this card will see a ton of play right now, it could see an increase in play if we have a format where Special Conditions are common (perhaps if Victini/Eels becomes a real problem).

The downside is as a Basic Pokémon we have a small chance of starting with it. The pros are that it’s easily searchable and somewhat reusable with Super Rod. This is one of those cards I’ll eventually make sure I have a couple in my binder, but I’ll be in no hurry to get it.

Town Map

I don’t think a lot of players fully realize how broken it is to be able to know which Prize card you’re taking as it really allows your prizes to become a toolbox giving you the opportunity to choose the right prize for the right situation.

The downside is you really get no benefit from the card until you’re actually ready to draw a Prize card. The card does nothing to boost your consistency or your options in the early game.

The other downside to the card is once you draw your Prize card, your opponent has an entire turn to react before you can play the card. In these cases your opponent knows that you have a Pokémon Catcher or a Juniper and this can play a large part in deciding if they want to N you or not.

The decks I feel will benefit the most from this card are decks that want to get by with playing fewer copies of key cards or speed based decks that will have access to their prizes earlier in the game.

In the end Town Map is a card I would love to play in all of my decks, but in most of them other cards simply take precedence, which leaves it in the phantom “61st” spot.

New Decks

1. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Pokémon – 13

3 Squirtle BCR
1 Wartortle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo-EX
1 Regigsteel-EX
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Cresselia-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Cheren
2 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Ultra Ball
3 Super Scoop Up
3 Rare Candy
2 Eviolite
2 Level Ball
1 Super Rod
1 Computer Search

Energy – 14

10 W
4 Prism

BulbapediaI went with a pretty standard 3-1-3 Blastoise and 3 Rare Candy, which offers a consistent Blastoise without feeling like you’re hitting dead cards later in the game. The 3 Keldeo-EX is also for consistency purposes, because realistically you’re only going to use 2 over the course of a game, but prizing 1 would leave you in a bad spot and 4 just seemed like overkill. The rest of the Pokémon lineup are simply different Pokémon techs I have based on an “imaginary meta” and should be customized based on what you’re expecting to play against.

The Regigsteel EX allows the deck to pull off some interesting sniping plays and make it easier for Keldeo-EX to score 1HKOs later in the game. I only wanted to use it as a tech, so I only play 1 copy. The deck could also be built with a huge emphasis on Registeel-EX and play 2-3 copies (much like you saw with some Eel variants), but that’s not the way I wanted to go with the deck.

The 1 Terrakion acts as an easy out to Darkrai EX, Zekrom-EX, and Raikou-EX. Basically it allows the deck to easily 1HKO big threats without over devoting energy to Keldeo-EX. The 1 Cresselia-EX made the cut as a Mewtwo EX counter, but I also see a lot of synergy between it and Super Scoop Up.

 

2. Landorus-EX

The one thing this format has desperately needed is some sort of consistency Pokémon. In the past we’ve had Smeargle UD, Claydol GE, Chatot MD, etc. and while I don’t think Lunatone BC will live up to these cards, I think has the potential to see play in decks that can play around its Retreat Cost like Darkrai EX and Keldeo-EX/Blastoise.

Originally I got really excited and I misread the Ability as a Pokédex effect of “Look at the top 2 cards and put one of them into your hand.” While looking at the top 2 and put them back on top in any order is significantly weaker, just the ability to end your turn knowing what you’re going to draw next turn is huge. The biggest thing holding this card back though is its Retreat Cost of 3 which really limits the card to Darkrai decks, Fighting decks (that can attack with it), and decks that play high counts of Escape Rope/Switch.

The best combo (and probably also the most obvious combo I found with the card is Ether. While Lunatone/Ether can be worked into many different strategies, speed decks will get the most out of it. This brings me to the deck I’ve been working on which is a Speed Terrakion/Landorus deck.

Pokémon – 10

4 Landorus-EX
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Lunatone PLS
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Cheren
2 Skyla

 

4 Ether
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Heavy Ball
3 Eviolite
3 Energy Switch
2 Escape Rope
1 Computer Search

Energy – 15

15 F

3. Dusknoir/Flygon

I love Tropical Beach and I love the whole concept of being able to play your hand down and then play a Supporter and play your hand down again and finally end your turn with Tropical Beach. The problem is there haven’t really been any good decks in the format that let you take advantage of Tropical Beach.

Pokémon – 19

4 Trapinch BCR
2 Vibrava BCR
4 Flygon BCR

4 Duskull BCR
1 Dusclops BCR
3 Dusknoir BCR
1 Ditto BCR

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren
2 Skyla

 

4 Escape Rope
4 Rare Candy
4 Rocky Helmet

4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Computer Search
1 Super Rod

 

4 Tropical Beach

Energy – 0

 

BulbapediaThe synergy might be pretty obvious, but I’d like to think I had some originality with the list. The strategy is just to hit a Turn 2 Flygon (which is pretty easy with 4 Tropical Beach) and let it start spreading. An early Dusknoir is nice, but really not needed until the 3rd, 4th, or even 5th turn.

When I was originally throwing around lists for the deck one of the biggest roadblocks I ran into was the fact that both Flygon and Dusknoir have really bad attacks. Getting 4 energy under a Stage 2 Pokémon is simply not realistic in this format. I even threw around ideas of using Celebi EX to allow them to have more cost efficient attacks. However, Celebi-EX just offered the opponent 2 free prizes on the board and none of the pre-evolutions really offered any stellar attack either.

I then considered simply running the deck with no energy at all. The more I thought about it the more I thought that this idea might actually have merit after all. Instead of devoting 12-14 spots to energy I could devote them to consistency-based cards that would help me get Flygon into play early.

This plan really allowed me not to skimp on the Pokémon lineup and fit in the full 4-1-3 Dusknoir and 4-2-4 Flygon I was having trouble finding room for in other variations. The 1 Ditto is something I’m testing right now to increase my odds of starting Trapinch. In the future I could see myself running 2 or even 3 Ditto or perhaps even dropping it from the deck completely depending on testing.

Dropping the energy also really let me go full force with consistency cards. There are a total of 13 Supporters (11 draw and 2 Skyla) along with 4 Tropical Beach. This might be overkill, but what I was really aiming for was to be able to play both a Supporter and a Tropical Beach on the first turn of the game.

pokemon-paradijs.com

The rest of the Trainer lineup is divided up between consistency and disruption. The 4 Ultra Ball, 3 Level Ball, 4 Rare Candy, and 1 Computer Search are all in there to help hit a Turn 2 Flygon and hit more Flygon and Dusknoir in following turns. The 4 Escape Rope are to stop savvy opponents from trying to lock Dusknoir in the Active Spot, while the 3 Pokémon Catcher are to try and disrupt your opponent.

In the original list I actually had 4 Max Potion, but Flygon leaves the opponent little recourse than to simply power through it. This makes it difficult for the opponent to play around Rocky Helmet and since most of the time Flygon is going to be a 2HKO this is hopefully an additional 40 damage you can spread around.

A couple tips:

  • Always have 2 Flygon in play at a time, this way if one of them gets Knocked Out you can bring the benched one up and still get the spread between turns.
  • Unless you desperately need a prize that turn, normally I just like to put the Pokémon 10 HP away from getting KO’d and simply let it get Knocked Out between turns. This saves you 10 damage, which can be a big factor later in the game.
  • Since you fully control when you take a prize the deck has a lot of synergy with N.

Problems I’ve run into:

  • Smart opponents will limit their bench size to slow my spreading. If my opponent only has 3 Pokémon in play I’m only spreading 60 a turn. The deck really needs to have the opponent have a minimum of 4 Pokémon in play and 5-6 to really “go crazy.”
  • Garbardor. The deck sees so little play I really don’t think that it’s worth teching against, but the deck as is has zero outs to it.

4. Dusknoir/Accelgor

Pokémon – 18

4 Duskull BCR
1 Dusclops BCR
3 Dusknoir BCR
4 Shelmet NVI
3 Accelgor DEX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
1 Mew-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren
1 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
3 Rare Candy
3 Dark Patch
1 Computer Search
1 Super Rod

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

8 D

4 Double Colorless

BulbapediaThis is another Dusknoir strategy that I believe the Japanese have already come up with, but this time we use Accelgor instead of Flygon. The idea is that use Accelgor to Paralyze and Poison the defending Pokémon. Then on your following turn you move all the damage counter to one of your opponents benched Pokémon and repeat the lock. If you can constantly stream Accelgors its possible to stop your opponent from ever attacking. Think of it like a variation of the old Chandelure version, but rather in reverse. Instead of placing damage counters with Chandelure to Knock Out the active Pokémon you never let your opponents active Pokémon get Knocked Out.

This seems great in theory, but the deck does run into issues in real games. First off, stringing Accelgors together isn’t as easy as you think it would be. Especially later in the game with N it’s very easy for an opponent to disrupt you. Another issue is that switching cards like Switch and Escape Rope are going to be very popular. Even just 1 or 2 well-timed Switch/Escape Rope can cause this strategy to simply crumble.

When I was designing the deck I kept both of these issues in mind. The first was plain consistency (I can’t count how many times I said that word in this article), but the truth is I accept I won’t get Accelgor off every turn and I wanted to design the deck to maximize the number of times per game I would get it off.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe second part of this is when accepting I won’t get Accelgor off every turn, I want to give the deck other options besides just passing. For this reason I play 3 copies of Dark Patch and 2 copies of Tropical Beach. This either makes it easier for me to attack with Darkrai or allows me to reset my hand for the following turn.

I would love to run this deck with 3-4 Sableye as a starter, but the way the deck broke down it simply isn’t feasible room-wise. I’ve basically given up on that dream and instead now I would love to find room for a single tech copy of Sableye or perhaps even 2.

The Trainer lineup is where I always seem to run into issue when I’m working with Accelgor decks. My first draft always has 4 Level Ball, 4 Ultra Ball, 12 Supporters, 3 Tropical Beach, etc. Basically just about every card I can think of that will allow stringing Accelgors easy. Of course this is how I always seem to wind up with 45 Trainers when I have room for closer to 30. I would love to get a 4th Dark Patch, 2/3 Level Ball, and a 2nd Skyla in the deck (in that order), but with only 30 spots you can see how arrived at the numbers I did.

For the energy lineup you really can’t dispute the 4 Double Colorless Energy, however the correct number of D Energy is always open to debate. I’ve tried as low as 6 in the past and simply didn’t like it. I feel 7 is on the low end and 9 didn’t seem feasible room wise, so 8 was simply the happy, but acceptable medium.

5. Dusknoir/Darkrai EX

Pokémon – 13

3 Duskull BCR
1 Dusclops BCR
3 Dusknoir BCR

3 Sableye DEX
3 Darkrai-EX DEX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Cheren
1 Skyla

2 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch
4 Ultra Ball
3 Rare Candy
3 Eviolite
1 Computer Search
1 Tool Scrapper

Energy – 12

12 D

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the 3rd Dusknoir idea that we’ve been throwing around. I think basically everybody has come to the conclusion that Darkrai EX is one of the most powerful EXs in the format. It has a ton of Support and for only 3 energy it puts 120 damage on the field. What Dusknoir brings to the table is it allows you to control where that 120 damage is placed. This makes it very easy to set up multiple KOs and most importantly it makes sure that you’re not doing more damage than necessary to Knock Out a Pokémon.

For example if your opponent has a Terrakion active with 90 on it, by using Night Spear you’re placing 50 more damage on Terrakion to Knock it Out than you would normally need to place.

Another strategy is to simply use Dusknoir to take your KOs with its Ability than by using Darkrai EX. This opens up some nice plays if you can strand a Pokémon active (as discussed before) and simply constantly move the damage to KO bench Pokémon. Also with Dusknoir in play it’s near impossible for your opponent to ever be able to use Retaliate with Terrakion.

Other Pokémon could partner with Dusknoir and pull off similar strategies, but I just felt for the cost/damage ratio Darkrai EX had the most in the format to offer. It also has a lot of support in the format such as Sableye and Dark Patch.

pokemon-paradijs.comTo fit Dusknoir in the deck I really had to streamline the Pokémon lineup and cut out all other techs. This left us with 3 Sableye, 3 Darkrai EX, and 3-1-3 Dusknoir line. I didn’t play the 4th Duskull in this list because out of the three lists I’ve talked about I feel this one relies on Dusknoir the least. In both Flygon and Accelgor you basically need Dusknoir in play for the deck to work. This also makes Dusknoir a prime target for your opponent.

In this deck however, Dusknoir plays more of a supportive roll and the deck can still win without it on the field. I also feel this deck is more aggressive than the first two lists and can more easily Night Spear. The more aggressive you are the harder it is for your opponent to target your support Pokémon. If my opponent wastes his Catchers on Duskull instead of attacking my Darkrai EX, I’m probably sitting in a good position.

The Trainer lineup is pretty standard for a Darkrai-centric deck. The big difference is since the deck needs room for Rare Candies you don’t have room to play Crushing Hammers or Enhanced Hammers. I do want to note though the deck’s ability to play around Terrakion makes it easier to accept not playing the Crushing Hammer.

The biggest weakness of this deck is going to be Darkrai mirror since they have all of the same tricks you do, but they aren’t devoting 10 spots to playing Dusknoir. Dusknoir actually does have uses in this matchup, but not nearly as many as it does in other matchups like Blastoise/Keldo or Eels.

6. Speed Landorus-EX

Pokémon – 10

4 Landorus-EX
2 Landorus NVI
4 Aerodactyl DEX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren
1 Skyla
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 First Ticket
4 PlusPower
3 Escape Rope
1 Computer Search

 

3 Twist Mountain
1 Battle City

Energy – 12

12 F

pokemon-paradijs.comI fully admit I stole the original idea from Esa’s last article, but I made some changes to the deck to fix some of the things I didn’t like. This isn’t really against Esa, rather there is just a different direction I wanted to go with the list.

The first thing I didn’t like was if I wasn’t able to get a DCE then I gained significantly less benefit from going first. To justify running 4 Fast Ticket I have to make it worth my while and be near guaranteed to have a strong Turn 1. This is why I switched the focus of the deck from Tornadus EX to Landorus-EX and Landorus NVI. They offer a smaller “donk” factor than Tornadus EX, but overall offer stronger Turn 1 plays.

Landorus-EX can start spreading T1 and the deck runs a total of 7 discarding cards, which opens up a lot of Abundant Harvest plays for Landorus NVI.

I also played around with Esa’s Supporter lineup as well as I just really don’t like Hugh. I understand the theory behind going first and getting a Turn 1 Hugh off to instantly have your opponent starting at 5 cards. The problem is they choose which cards and usually out of a 7 card opening hand-discarding 2 of them isn’t too difficult. On their turn they can simply use a Supporter to refresh there hand.

I also felt Hugh conflicted with your own dead weight like Fast Ticket and would make it difficult for you to net cards with it. This is why I opted to play the more consistent Cheren to simply guarantee the 3 cards every time.

Since the Trainer lineup was already built around Fast Ticket and taking advantage of going first I made very few changes to it. I simply dropped the 3 Skyarrow Bridge and added in 3 Escape Ropes to allow the deck more versatility with Landorus spreading and opening up more options for my first turn.

I think 12 Fighting is the right number to ensure you open with 1 and have a constant stream of them throughout the game, but an argument could also be made for 13. In my opinion 11 is too low to ensure you’ll open one and at 14 you’re devoting too much room.

The Cities Meta

pokemon-paradijs.comCorrectly being about to predict how the meta will shift after a new set has released or even from tournament to tournament will have the greatest impact on your results. I can give you a list of amazing meta calls I’ve made as well as bad meta calls. There is also making a good meta call, but for a reason completely different than why you made it (playing 3 Mewtwo EX at Nationals when the top Eel decks switched over to it would be a prime example for me).

The first thing I always do is simply gather information from what I consider to be the “popular community boards.” I feel PokéGym is about the best showing of what the “average” Pokémon player is thinking. If I see a list really getting popular on The Gym it’s fairly safe to assume both everybody knows about it and it’s going to be pretty popular nationally.

I also like to use the deck help section on HeyTrainer and the non-Underground part of the SixPrizes forums. Both of these are usually farther ahead in the meta and lists than PokéGym is, so I usually assume this shows what the better players are going to be playing. Without too much self-promoting, I find SixPrizes Underground to usually be a head of the meta by a varying margin.

Underground is usually where a lot of my testing information comes from because it really allows me to see what is popular nationally. Oftentimes I find tech/ideas popular in other areas that are not popular in mine and vice versa.

 

The last issue I want to discuss before I actually start predicting the Cities meta is “shifting metas.” What is popular the first week of Cities might not be popular the second week. Sometimes a really powerful deck is discovered and it takes over the meta (Turn 2 Kingdra of ’09) and other times as one deck gets popular counter decks start appear. A prime example would be when Terrakion saw a huge increase in play midway through Spring BRs last year to deal with Darkrai EX. It’s difficult to predict these, but it can be done both on a local and national level.

The 3 New Decks

Looking over the new set I think a lot of current decks will be updated with BC, but I only really see 3 new decks entering the format: Dusknoir variations, Landorus-EX variations, and Blastoise/Keldeo-EX decks.

Blastoise alone in the meta will make certain decks near unplayable such as Ho-Oh EX. I expect Blastoise to be very popular the first few weeks and then take a step back. It will still be a Tier 1 deck, but I expect its play will drop off slightly after the first few weeks and the “hype” dies down a bit.

I think were also going to see a very unique relationship develop between Blastoise, Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX that will constantly evolve over Cities. If Darkrai EX becomes very popular we’ll probably see an increase in Landorus-EX, which in turn will cause an increase in Blastoise. I think these changes will be subtle and more on a local level based on what won the previous tournament.

BulbapediaTo get a better idea of what to predict your local meta will be playing, I would go to prerelease and league and seeing what people are trading for. Of course people are going to travel for Cities, so they are going to be larger than just your area, but this gives me a good starting point.

For the first week of Cities I would say the best play would be Blastoise/Keldeo-EX or a Darkrai EX variant since I feel they are the most well rounded. Dusknoir can really struggle with Darkrai EX and Landorus-EX can really struggle with Blastoise. Once you kind of gauge the popularity of these two decks then you can see if they are smart metagame plays.

Conclusion

With Cities possibly making up exactly half of a Worlds invite points, it’s fairly safe to assume they are going to get very competitive. I also expect them to be much larger than we have seen in years past. Hopefully this also means that will see another marathon or two popping up as well. The game is certainly continuing to grow and tournaments are getting more competitive.

Even with all of that in mind this will be the easiest year to qualify for Worlds we’ve had ever. Regardless of how you’ve done so far this year literally anybody could be in a position to qualify for Worlds after Cities.


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