So it’s only been two weeks since my last UG article and here I’m again with another article. I’ll try to make the most out of my second article of this month, because this month may be last two-article-per-writer month in SixPrizes Underground due the increased numbers of new Underground writers. I hope you have enjoyed every single one of my UG articles so far and I hope you will enjoy the even more versatile offering of UG writers in the upcoming months as well!
Anyway, just as promised in my last article, today I’ll be talking about Fighting variants. (At this point I want to thank TechnoLegend for the simply brilliant title of this article.) Last time when I discussed Fighting-only variants, it was mostly talk about Terrakion NVI and the format didn’t have that versatile range of Fighting variant decks.
However, thanks to Boundaries Crossed and the new format things have changed and are about to change even more and Fighting variants will become one of the most played decks in the new format.
The wide range of Fighting decks I’ll introduce in this article will probably please everyone, no matter if you enjoy Stage 2 decks, speed decks, or even lock-based decks. This article will have it all while at the same time concentrating on Fighting-type, which is the most common Weakness in the format. Sounds legit? Yes it does and it certainly is.
In this article, I’ll first go through why Fighting is and has always been such a strong type in the Pokémon TCG. After that I take a look at the competitive Fighting Pokémon of this format (which all happen to be Basics – not so surprisingly) with a heavy focus on pros and cons of Landorus-EX.
After that I start rolling at you all the playable Fighting variants of this format and explain some in-depth thoughts about them. Last, if at the end of this article you still aren’t convinced to play Fighting decks, I’ll reveal how to counter Fighting with your very own deck. I hope you enjoy!
filb.deSo, why an article only about Fighting Pokémon? The short and easy answer would be: since they are so good! However, the interesting question is “Why are they good?” – not “Are they good?”
If you have been a SixPrizes Underground member for a long time, you probably remember that this isn’t my first time writing an article based on Fighting Pokémon.
Since I’ve already analyzed a lot of Fighting Pokémon in the “No Lightning without Fighting” article, I encourage you to at least take a peak at that article before reading any further in this article.
The last time I wrote an article about Fighting decks, Quad Terrakion was a new thing. Landorus was also released and these decks were doing ok in tournaments. A lot has happened to Fighting between these two articles.
First came Dark Expolorers which brought Groudon EX, which was played in Klinklang EX – mainly because of its good typing. Then came Dragons Exalted which unleashed the power of Terrakion-EX. Fighting decks became real Tier 1 contenders thanks to the Energy acceleration of Terrakion-EX.
Last and least came Boundaries Crossed. However, the best Fighting Pokémon that was released in Boundaries Crossed thankfully isn’t as awful as the set. In fact, the card – Landorus-EX – is so good that it’s the very reason why I’m writing this article.
The metagame is weaker to Fighting than ever – and that says a lot if you investigate the history of Fighting Weakness in the past formats from my previous article. Almost everything in Tier 1 is Weak to Fighting and there are only a few playable Pokémon that give a real headache to Fighting Pokémon.
Fighting has been getting more and more new attackers and ways to victory in every set, and you could say that Landorus-EX will be the climax of Fighting-types – if they make a Fighting Pokémon in the future more powerful than Landorus-EX, it will be the most broken card in the format.
The Power Players of This Article
I took a quick look at Landorus-EX in my last article, but since Landorus-EX is the star of this article, it’s important to look deeper in the card. I already said that it will be a very popular card, very expensive card, and most importantly a very successful card, but I also said that it won’t be the BCIF (best card in the format). What makes Landorus-EX so good (but not too good)?
The type of Landorus-EX is the main topic of this article. I already explained why Fighting-type is good, so there is nothing to add to that. Fighting is no doubt the best type in this format and it’s one of the biggest reasons why Landorus-EX is SO ridiculously good.
Landorus-EX has 180 HP. Even in this format, where big EXs are more of a norm than an exception, it’s still very good. Everyone knows just how difficult Darkrai EX is to 1HKO if you don’t hit it for Weakness, and the same applies to Landorus-EX.
Not only does Landorus-EX have 180 HP, but it also has Resistance to one of the most common types of this format – Lightning. It’s a double nightmare against Lightning-type decks.
Landorus-EX can attack with one energy. High HP combined with low Energy cost attacks equals Max Potion. Unlike cards such as Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX, Landorus-EX doesn’t as easily lose access to attack when you Max Potion it.
C. Early Pressure / Donking
Hammerhead is THE early pressure attack in the upcoming format. Thanks to Landorus-EX’s type, it can donk starters like Tynamo and Deino NVI. With one PlusPower it can also donk any 40 HP Pokémon or even Ditto BC on T1.
The reason why the early pressure that Hammerhead puts on your opponent is so big is because it hits 30 to the bench as well. So, whenever going first, Landorus-EX can destroy any Stage 1 or Stage 2 decks before they have a chance to evolve their Pokémon. It’s able to kill two Deinos in 2 turns, and three Tynamos in 2 turns (thanks to Catcher).
trollandtoad.comDonking will also have a big role in the upcoming format thanks to First Ticket – if the Tier 1 metagame stays the same. Of course no big EXs are donkable, but as long as you want to play decks like Hydreigon or Eelektrik, Landorus-EX will always be there to haunt you. Whenever you open with that lonely Tynamo or pair of Tynamos, or even with 3 Tynamos, you’re screwed before the game even starts.
D. 1HKO Factor
I don’t really get why PCL puts all the good things on one Pokémon at the same time when there are cards like Watchog which are virtually unplayable. Landorus-EX reminds me of Gardevoir SW in a way, because Gardevoir had good typing, great attack and one of the most broken Poké-Powers ever released.
However, this wasn’t enough for PCL, because they decided to make Gardevoir LV.X, which retreated for free with its Power and was able to take the a guaranteed last prize with only two Energy. And yes, the story continues, they also decided that Gardevoir’s partner – Gallade – was able to 1HKO anything in the format!
Ok, Landorus-EX isn’t as good as these 3 cards combined, but it still has high HP, super typing, a broken first attack and then – *drumroll* – an attack that is able to 1HKO almost any big card in the format. Most importantly, attacking 150 is optional and you may save it for later.
Calling Land Judgement as a 1HKO-factor attack may be bit misleading, because it works the best when you have softened the Pokémon with Hammerhead’s 30 first. After that Land Judgement is able to 1HKO ANY competitive Pokémon in the format. (And no, Black Kyurem EX isn’t competitive).
However, you’re still able to 1HKO cards like Hydreigon or Blastoise even without Hammerhead. Also, it’s good to notice that you’re able to 1HKO Eelektrik with Land Judgement even without discarding the Energy!
E. Countering “The Big 2”
When I say “the big 2,” I of course mean Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX. It’s pretty obvious that Landorus-EX is good against Darkrai EX since Darkrai EX is Weak to Fighting and an Eviolited Landorus-EX combined with Max Potions is something you don’t even want to touch with Darkrai EX!
But how come is Landorus-EX good against Mewtwo EX? There are two reasons for this. First of all, Landorus-EX hits with its main attack for only one Energy, which makes it difficult for Mewtwo EX to deal heavy damage to it. Landorus-EX is practically impossible to 1HKO with Mewtwo EX.
However, there is one more thing to Landorus-EX. If you hit 150 with Land Judgment, you’re forced to discard every Fighting energy on Landorus-EX. If you have ever played with Mewtwo EX against Raikou-EX, you probably know just how difficult it’s to deal with an energyless Raikou-EX.
If you hit them with X Ball, you only do 60-80 damage. And if you’re able to hit more, they’ll just Max Potion and they won’t even lose any Energy.
This same concept works with Land Judgment, you just discard all the energy off the Landorus-EX (and 1HKO probably some Pokémon in the progress) and then Landorus-EX becomes not-so-tempting target for your opponent’s Mewtwo EX, because your opponent knows that his attack will probably go in vain.
It may be surprising, but it’s good to understand that even though Landorus-EX is a great card, it has its own weaknesses and it isn’t even a near-perfect card. Here are the reasons why Landorus-EX will never be as played or expensive as Darkrai EX and Mewtwo EX in their days of glory.
A. Lack of Energy Acceleration
Energy acceleration is very important in this format even though Landorus-EX can hit with one energy. The lack of Energy acceleration would have been a con even if Ether was released, because even though Ether helps a lot, it isn’t as good as the other Energy accelerators of the format. Just compare Blastoise and Eelektrik. What would the format look like if Eelektrik was a Fighting-type Pokémon?
filb.deThe lack of Energy acceleration has been a curse for Fighting type forever. There have always been random ways to Energy accelerate your Fighting Pokémon, but in the end, the best ever F Energy accelerator was Trapinch, so it tells a lot about the situation…
However, Fighting has always been a very good type, so the lack of Energy acceleration balances the speed and power of Fighting-type Pokémon – just like in the current format.
Immobility, just like the lack of Energy acceleration, has always been a problem to Fighting Pokémon. Landorus-EX has a Retreat Cost of 3, so you don’t really retreat with it that much. However, why should you if it’s so good? Since it isn’t that good against cards like Tornadus EX.
The immobility will become a problem whenever your opponent has a deck that you don’t to attack against with Landorus-EX. If you don’t run anything that gives free retreat to your Landorus-EX, you should probably always play 4 Switches in your deck.
The high Retreat Cost isn’t entirely a bad thing. It makes Heavy Ball useable with Landorus-EX and with Pokémon that you usually combine Landorus-EX with, Heavy Ball becomes very good. You’ll notice that many lists of this article will include Heavy Balls.
As said, Fighting has been getting more and more powerful with each set. Terrakion-EX was one of the first good Energy accelerators ever for Fighting-type Pokémon. Regirock LA is probably the only Fighting Pokémon that is better in Energy accelerating than Terrakion-EX.
Terrakon EX was the most played Fighting Pokémon before Landorus-EX was released, and it will still stay very playable due its Energy acceleration attack.
One thing that will keep Terrakion-EX very popular is its second attack. It’s one of the only attacks on Fighting Pokémons that hit through the Resistance. This makes a difference, because the easiest way to counter Fighting has always been using Pokémon that have Fighting Resistance (there are lots of them).
Landorus-EX very quickly becomes useless if your opponent has a Fighting Resistant Pokémon as their Active Pokémon and you aren’t able to Catcher anything else. However, with Terrakion-EX, you can still do a decent amount of damage only with 2 Energy.
One of the assets of Terrakion-EX is also the regular damage output. When compared to Landorus-EX, Terrakion-EX is worse in the few first turns, but in the mid and late game it’s better than Landorus-EX. Terrakion hits 50 and 90. Landorus-EX hits 30 and 80. You may think that the 10 damage differece is small, but when it comes to cards like Darkrai EX – the difference between 160 and 180 damage is huge.
It would seem that by looking at the damage outputs only, Terrakion is better than Landorus-EX, but the fact is that the early pressure is usually what makes or breaks the games in the current format. I’m not especially happy where the format currently stands, because whenever hitting T1 30 is a realistic possibility, there is something wrong in the game.
Apart from its attacks, Terrakion-EX is pretty much a replica of Landorus-EX. It has a huge retreat (4, which is even more than on Landorus-EX) and 180 HP. However, the Weakness of Terrakion-EX isn’t the same as Landorus-EX’s.
Ok, pure Water decks are still pretty difficult matchups for decks that have a strategy based around Landorus-EX (which 99% of the Fighting decks will have), because not only does Landorus-EX becomes a free prize to Water decks, but its attacks aren’t that good against 180 HP Lightning-weak Pokémons.
pokemon-paradijs.comTerrakion is the last Fighting Pokémon that can be considered as “good” in the current format. The reason why it is good is simple. It’s a non-Pokémon-EX able to 1HKO Darkrai EX with only 2 Energy. That’s pretty much its only function in Fighting decks – be an ok attacker, which gives only a 1 Prize to your opponent.
However, without proper Energy acceleration, Terrakion can become a real nuisance to you. For example, if you happen to play it on the bench at the wrong time, its huge retreat and inefficient attacks will be able to give your opponent an optimal Catcher victim if they want to buy turns.
So whenever playing Terrakion, you must be more than certain that you’re going to need it in a few turns.
Stunfisk DRX / Landorus NVI / Trash4.
I’m not being pessimistic about the playability of the other Fighting Pokémon – I’m just being realistic. Stunfisk was playable before Landorus-EX, but now Landorus-EX is pretty much a Stunfisk on steroids, so Stunfisk has lost its place.
Some may say that Stunfisk has still a place in their decks because it isn’t an Pokémon-EX and its second attack is great. Well, let me say this – you pretty much win or lose the game in the first few turns with the Fighting Pokémon, so it doesn’t really matter if Landorus-EX gives your opponent one or 2 Prize cards.
Landorus is bad because Fighting decks need to be fast as they won’t stand a chance in the late game against set-up Tier 1 decks like Hydreigon. Energy acceleration is cool, but it isn’t cool enough when it comes to Landorus.
The cards which I refer as trash are the rest of the format’s Fighting Pokémon. There are some fairly interesting cards theorymon-wise like Archeops NVI, but as I want to keep the discussion competitive, I don’t even want to mention the name of some of these cards. *coughgliscorcough*
Landorus-EX / Terrakion-EX / Terrakion1.
Pokémon – 7
Trainers – 40
Energy – 13
Strategy and Card Decisions
pokemon-paradijs.comThis deck is the mother of Fighting decks. It combines all the good Fighting Pokémon of the format even though they have almost no synergy between them. And what’s the result? A truly competitive deck.
As I’ve stated many times (and will state later on in this entry), early aggression is the main key to victory with Fighting decks. In this list, I’ve tried to make it as consistent as possible. It’s not over-concentrated on getting T1 Landorus-EX, but let’s just say that with the help of 4 Switches, 4 Heavy Balls, 1 Computer Search, and 14 draw Supporters, it happens a lot.
The great thing about Landorus-EX in this deck (and in a lot of decks) is that it needs almost no resources after you attach one F Energy to it. You’ll notice that you’ll be using the 2nd attack of Landorus-EX seldom and that after the early damage has been dealt to your opponent with Hammerhead, it’s time to give the stage for Terrakion-EX.
Terrakion is pretty much only a statistic in this deck, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this deck in the tournaments even without Terrakon, because – after all – it’s the most horrendous opener. The optimal number for Terrakions in this deck is probably one. If you don’t play any Terrakion at all, you’ll notice that you’ll miss it a lot.
The only other notable thing in the list is Town Map. I’m not a fan of Town Map, but I think this deck has space for it and makes a good use of it. It’s usually those last Catchers/Energy Switches/etc. which make the game for aggressive Basic decks like this.
The decks plays 4 Catchers for a reason – it needs 4 Catchers to win the game. The faster the decks are, the more vulnerable they are to prizes. Just look at Uxie donk and remember the games when you prized 2 Uxies.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt’s a Fighting-type deck – that’s always a positive thing! To be honest, the deck is in all its simplicity so simple that the straightforwardness of the deck is its only asset together with the Fighting type.
This deck is probably too simple for a mature metagame and mature players in Masters division, but I see this deck wreaking havoc in both – Seniors and Juniors age divisions.
It’s a Fighting mono-type deck. Mono-type is something you must avoid to the very end if you want to be highly competitive, because the counters for monotype decks are usually too easy to find.
When this deck faces its first Eviolited Tornadus EX, it could just give up the game immediately. That is if the opponent is wise enough to play the matchup through Tornadus EX and doesn’t try to express his deck’s core-strategy (like setting up 3 Eelektriks on the bench).
Fits a metagame which…
…is full of anti-metagame decks and Eelektrik decks without proper teching against Fighting decks. The problem of monotype was, is, and will always be that there are usually universal solutions against them. A single Shaymin EX wreaks havoc against this deck. So does a single Tornadus EX.
This deck is very strong – if you are very certain that your metagame’s main Weakness will be Fighting. However, if it isn’t or if you’re predicting wrong, things won’t go your way no matter what you do with this deck. It’s a perfect example of a deck that is high risk and high reward.
Landorus-EX / Garchomp2.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
Strategy and Card Decisions
pokemon-paradijs.comI deeply enjoy this deck because it pretty much counters all the most popular decks simply with two Pokémon. Landorus-EX gives the deck huge boost in the early aggression while hitting Weakness of Darkrai EX, Deino, and Tynamo.
Usually, mono-type Fighting decks will have some issues with Darkrai/Hydreigon when the Darkrai EX player starts using their Hydreigons and Shaymin EX for attacking. Thanks to Garchomp, your opponent needs to think this strategy over.
While you put early pressure on them with Landorus-EX, you’ll be able to setup Garchomps on your bench. The greatest thing about Garchomp is that it sets up itself unlike all the other Stage 2 Pokémon in the game. One Gabite is enough to set up your all Garchomp lines on the bench because its Ability is so good.
Thanks to Hammerhead, Garchomps are able to 1HKO all Hydreigons with only one Energy unless they Max Potion the 30 damage off their Hydreigons. This really isn’t worth the Max Potion, so Hydreigon players are in huge trouble when deciding on what to do when they have damaged Hydreigons on their bench.
I love this deck because it’s such a unique deck in the format. This deck is probably my favorite Landorus-EX variant of the current format (because Ether wasn’t released). It can win games with attacks that require only one Energy, but at the same time it also abuses Stage 2 Pokémon as well as the big EXs.
The synergy between Blend Energy is also pretty obvious when it comes to Landorus-EX and Garchomp – they are the perfect partners.
Garchomp not only counters the Dragon type Pokémon of the format, but also the biggest nemesis of Landorus-EX – Tornadus EX. Tornadus EX is by far the biggest problem of Landorus-EX and it works the best with DCE, which Garchomp is able to discard with – once again – only one Energy. This deck is all about great synergy with low Energy requirements.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe only negative thing I have encountered with this deck is facing the big HP Basic decks that don’t run heavy counts of Special Energy cards. If they run a lot of Special Energy cards, Garchomp is able to cause the decks a lot of trouble to them, but if they are for example straightforward Fighting decks with only 3-4 DCE, this deck will have some trouble against them.
This deck has cheap Energy costs and it’s aggressive. This however, comes with a price. The deck’s maximum damage output is limited. It’s true that you MAY be able to hit 150 with Landorus-EX once or maybe even twice during the game, but you can’t rely your strategy on hitting with Land’s Judgment.
You need to get the lead in the game with the early aggression of Hammerhead, and if you aren’t able to succeed in getting the lead with Hammerhead, you’ll have a tough game ahead of you.
Fits a metagame which…
…is swarming with Tier 1 decks such as Eelektrik and Hydreigon variants. This is a real Tier 1 counter-deck with great matchups against anything else but big HP Basic EX decks. The deck has a lot of space and I believe this will see play in the City Championships because it can abuse Landorus-EX very well, even without Ether. That’s something only a few other Landorus-EX decks can do.
Pokémon – 6
Trainers – 42
Energy – 12
Strategy and Card Decisions
pokemon-paradijs.comIf pure beatdown is a strategy, then that this deck’s strategy. However, there is more to the strategy than just attaching Energy and hitting. In order to be successful with a straight beatdown deck like this, you need more to it.
In this deck, I’ve focused on huge amount of Energy manipulation cards. Even though Ether wasn’t released, this deck can still manipulate Energy a lot with Trainer cards like Exp. Share and Energy Switch.
The deck’s strategy is aggressive and straightforward. In fact, it’s SO straightforward that I’ve focused completely on hitting and not at all on healing or endurance of these Pokémon. This deck wants to engage a prize race, which it wants to begin.
Without Ether, it isn’t realistic to try to win games if you let your opponent to setup in the first few turns and that’s why pressure must be put from T1 onwards and you can’t really stop it at any point.
In order to keep the pressure on your opponent, you need to play correctly with this deck. One of the easiest mistakes which is usually done with decks like this, is to play Pokémon that you don’t need at that moment on your bench.
If you have a 3-4 Energy Mewtwo EX as your active Pokémon and Landorus-EX on your bench with one energy, you don’t want to play a second Landorus-EX on your bench, unless you attach Energy to it. This is due the fact that Landorus-EX is a huge Catcher target.
When you want to be hitting for more than 30, playing Landorus-EX on your bench without enough Switches/Energy Switches in your hand will cost you games, because 30 damage isn’t what I consider as pressure on T3 onwards.
pokemon-paradijs.comThere are 3 very good EXs in the format. This deck combines 2 of them. In the current metagame of the Pokémon TCG, this seems to be a winning concept – even if the cards have no real synergy between them. I believe this deck is no exception. It’s aggressive, hits to the most common weakness of the Tier 1 (Fighting), and is able to engage a prize race or even a Mewtwo EX war.
Every single deck wants to play by its own rules. This deck is very good at forcing the opponent to play by its own rules, because it starts to control the game from the T1 onwards.
To abuse this strategy even further, I have also tested First Ticket in the deck, but at the moment I’m leaning more toward the list without First Ticket due its consistency. With the First Ticket list, I very often missed the cards I cut from the list.
Straightforward rarely equals versatility. And versatile is the last word I would use to describe the deck. The deck wants to force the opponent to play by its rules and when it succeeds in it, all is well, but when it fails in it, the whole game comes crashing down.
If you go second and are only able to hit as late as T2, you are already in trouble. This could justify the use of First Ticket.
Fits a metagame which…
…is full of Eelektrik variants. This deck is very close to a mono-type deck, even though it’s a dual type deck. It’s the best against Fighting-Weak decks, and its biggest problems are against Fighting-Resistant decks. The early aggression with Mewtwo EX is never as good as the early aggression with Landorus-EX.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
Strategy and Card Decisions
pokemon-paradijs.comI would like to point out one thing above anything else about this deck – it will be a real Tier 1 contender. Landorus-EX gives Garbodor its much needed strong starter which is searchable via Heavy Ball. Stunfisk was a good card, but the difference between 20 and 30 damage in a metagame where most Basics have 50 or 60 HP is huge.
As everyone is probably familiar with the strategy of Garbodor – locking Abilities – especially the Abilities of Hydreigon, Darkrai EX, and Eelektrik – there is no need to analyze Garbodor that much. When it comes to the card decisions, the Tools are the most interesting thing in Garbodor decks.
The Tools you want to choose for a Garbodor deck should always help the attackers more than Garbodor. I’ve grown to like Exp. Share a lot with Landorus-EX in my test games because it gives me the additional Land’s Judgments I want to have available in the late game. T
he other very strong contender with Exp. Share is Eviolite. I believe most people play maximum Eviolites or Giant Capes in their Garbodors, but I believe in power of Exp. Share. However, as you can see, I play also Eviolites, because they are good.
Rescue Scarfs are mainly for Garbodors, but it may also help you if you want to engage in a Mewtwo EX war for some odd reason that may occur during the game.
I’m not a fan of Registeel-EX. I never have been. However, in this deck it might be justified to play Registeel-EX because if you can lock anything to the Active Spot, you can snipe the bench with Registeel-EX.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is highly effective against for example Hydreigon/Darkrai EX, where you can lock the Hydreigon to the Active Spot. If they don’t draw into Tool Scrapper, you’ll win the game single-handedly with Registeel-EX. This also works against other Darkrai EX decks that depend on Darkrai EX’s Ability to retreat their high retreat Pokémon.
Not only is it good against Darkrai EX, but also against Blastoise/Keldeo, since it relies on Keldeo-EX’s Ability in order to retreat Blastoise. They don’t play any Switches either, so dragging Blastoise to the Active Spot and sniping with Registeel-EX will give you the much needed edge for an otherwise difficult matchup.
The good sides of this deck come from the anti-metagameness of this deck. Garbodor shuts down Abilities while Landorus-EX has a good typing. Mewtwo EX is as broken as it has always been, and by combining these ingredients into one deck, we get a very strong deck – especially against the most played decks.
As said earlier on in this article, Landorus-EX hitting T1 is able to unbalance Eelektrik variants’ setup, so a deck which hits T1 with Landorus-EX and shuts down Eelektrik that get to play is obviously a real nightmare for Eelektrik. Even with the right kind of techs, Eelektrik decks will have big trouble against this deck.
Most Hydreigons aren’t prepared to play with solo-Darkrai EX, which gives you a huge edge. Not to mention that shutting down the Darkrai EX gives them so little mobility that it’s almost an auto-win for you if they don’t run any Tool Scrappers.
pokemon-paradijs.comJust like with every anti-meta deck, this deck too has issues with decks that it isn’t designed to counter. A deck with nothing but hitters – no Abilities – makes the whole Garbodor line of this deck completely useless. As you very well know, when every 7th card you draw from your deck is a dead card, you will probably have some serious problems during the game.
However, that’s just the risk you take always with anti-metagame decks. That’s what leads us to the next question.
Fits a metagame which…
…is full of Tier 1 decks – obviously. If you’re wondering what I consider as Tier1, my Tier 1 consists of these decks:
- Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
I don’t like putting too much weight on Regionals results when considering the tiers for City Championships because there will be lots of Cities – the metagame of Regionals and any other big tournaments always differs a lot from the “mass tournaments’” metagame.
The Tier 1-of Cities will mostly consist of Eelektrik and Hydreigon variants with a bunch of different Fighting variants in them. Darkrai EX decks will probably see a sudden decrease in popularity thanks to Landorus-EX.
However, as said, Garbodor makes life difficult for Darkrai EX as well, so Darkrai EX decks aren’t a problem for this deck either.
How to Combat Fighting…
As I don’t want to give you a one-way picture of Fighting decks in this format, it’s important to know the other side of Fighting decks. How can you fight against them if they are designed to beat especially your deck? Here I’ll introduce the ways to combat the Fighting decks with the most popular decks.
…with Eelektrik Variants
pokemon-paradijs.comFirst of all, if you haven’t yet given up playing the 30 HP Tynamos, now is the time. Landorus-EX will 1HKO 2 Tynamos in one turn if you run the 30 HP Tynamos, so you really can’t take the risk.
After all, you should have stopped playing the 30 HP Tynamos when Darkrai EX was released! As much as I would love to have good Tynamos against Landorus-EX, there really isn’t any except with…
I don’t really know what to think about this tech. The purpose of Victini in the Regionals was to get an extra flip at Paralyzing Darkrai EX to stall since they don’t run Switches. This may be worth the shot even against Landorus-EX, because in the end the deck only runs 4 Switches, so they don’t always have the Switch in their hand.
I wouldn’t count on Paralyze against Landorus-EX, but in the worst case scenario it might give you the a much needed extra turn.
3. The Right Techs
Now this is something very interesting. What are the right kind of techs against Fighting variants? First and foremost, there is Tornadus EX. This card already works well in any Eelektrik build and now it just got a lot better since it eats Landorus-EXs for breakfast. It 2HKOs Landorus-EXs, whereas Landorus-EX isn’t even able to 3HKO it back.
The best bet against Tornadus EX is Terrakion-EX, which is able to 3HKO Tornadus EX while Tornadus EX is able to still 2HKO Terrakion-EX. If your metagame is swarming with Fighting decks, consider putting 2 Tornadus EXs into your deck – it isn’t even an overkill.
The second best tech against Fighting decks is Mewtwo EX. It’s a very strong attacker in a deck like Eelektrik where your opponent has to decide what Pokémon to hit – the Pokémon that attacks – or the Pokémon that accelerates the attackers.
The combo between Eelektrik and Mewtwo EX is one of the most irritating ones from the opponent’s perspective and against Fighting deck it’s no different. Probably the best thing about this is that if they run a straight Fighting deck without Mewtwo EX, your Mewtwo EX can quickly turn into a 1HKO machine that single handedly wins the game.
Third, there is Ditto. There are a lot of mixed opinions about Ditto, but soon I’ll be writing an article about it to my blog where I’ll explain it thoroughly. Ditto is also a part of the next thing on the list.
4. Quantity and Quality of Basics
You don’t want to open your games with a lonely Tynamo. Most of all, you don’t want to open the games with 2 Tynamos! In order to prevent the odds of starting with Tynamos, you need to increase the amount of other Basics in your deck.
Here’s where Ditto steps in a very useful manner. Ditto is the easiest way to increase your Basic count if your deck already has 2 Tornadus EXs and you have all the techs you want to have in the deck. Ditto has 70 HP and even though it’s 1HKOable with PlusPower + Hammerhead, I’ve noticed that this 10 HP gives it a huge edge.
The best thing about Ditto is that it isn’t situational unlike many other tech cards. You can play Ditto on your bench against any deck and you won’t regret it. Why would you, since you can whenever turn it into anything you have in your hand?!
It’s often said that quality trumps quantity, but in this case we want both – a lot of Basics and mostly Basics that are good in every single matchup.
What I think is the best thing about Tool Scrapper is that it’s the ultimate Theorymon counter card. I’ve written in this article many times that Pokémon A XHKOs Pokémon B. However, Eviolite can turn all those numbers around.
With Eelektrik, you can’t afford for Tornadus EX to 3HKO Landorus-EX which happens if they have Eviolite attached to them. That’s why you must increase the numbers Tool Scrappers if you want to combat the Fighting decks.
One Tool Scrapper isn’t nearly enough when your opponent’s rolls over you with an Eviolited Landorus-EX with Garbodor on the bench. If you don’t react to the increased need of Tool Scrapper, you’ll get steamrolled by every anti-meta deck.
Not only you must have the right cards in your deck, but you must also know what to do with them. If you’re facing a Garbodor deck and don’t for some reason run enough Tool Scrappers (2 or more), is it really prudent to play any Tynamos on your bench as Eelektrik will be useless unless you are able to get rid of their Garbodors?
When facing a Fighting decks, you must be able to figure out an answer for these kind of questions in the early parts of the game before you’ve messed up your only chances for the victory by just playing badly. You must always think every situation individually and the only way to get better in playing by instinct is to play, play, and play some more games.
…with Hydreigon Variants
pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike with Tynamo, you have an option between Fighting-Weak and Dragon-Weak Deinos. Which one to choose is a very intriguing question, especially when you don’t know your metagame completely that is.
It’s good to remember that Rayquaza DRX is still out there 1HKOing your Dragon weak Basics, so no matter which Deino you play; you’re still vulnerable for a possible donk.
If the metagame is unknown, my favorite split is 1 Fighting-Weak Deino and 2 Dragon-Weak Deinos. The reason for this is that you don’t want to be fully Weak to one type, and even though Rayquaza is still out there, hitting with Rayquaza always comes with a cost to your opponent.
It’s so much easier to justify attacking with Landorus-EX as it’s the righteous opener of the deck, while Rayquaza is a horrible against anything but Dragon-Weak Pokémon.
Eviolite is still one of the key cards against Fighting decks. The thing about Fighting decks is that they don’t NEED to play Tool Scrappers. They may play them, but sometimes the temptation for that one additional card is too big to leave any Tool Scrappers in to the deck. Especially against Terrakions, Eviolite is much needed on Darkrai EX. One Eviolite makes all the difference between 2HKO and 1HKO from Terrakion.
That is if they don’t have PlusPowers, but just like with all theorymon, you can keep on going forever. The main thing is with Eviolite you may be able to save your Darkrai EXs – and without Eviolite, they’re guaranteed to 1HKO you. Why give any easy prizes?
I would advise playing 2 Tool Scrapers in Hydreigon, but I believe that one Tool Scrapper MAY be enough. You have Skylas and Computer Search searching you cards and Sableye recycling them, so one Tool Scrapper may be enough.
Once again there are many “buts” to it. If they are able to lock your Hydreigon when your Tool Scrapper happens to be in the discard pile, if your single Tool Scrapper is prized, etc. Playing copies of one is always risky and I don’t know if this is a risk anyone wants to take.
4. Shaymin EX / Tornadus EX
pokemon-paradijs.comShaymin EX is already played in Hydreigons and you already know that it’s the best card against Terrakion and Terrakion-EX due its typing and Resistance, but what about Tornadus EX – does it have a future in Hydreigon?
I believe Tornadus EX is a good option for Hydreigon. I don’t believe it will become a staple like Shaymin EX in the deck, but I do believe that it will be somewhat played. Unlike Shaymin EX, it isn’t a strong attacker, but a tank against Fighting decks. This is something that works very well with the overall strategy of Hydreigon.
Do Fighting decks even want to attack Tornadus EX since it can only be 3HKO’d and whenever it has been hit 2 times, Hydreigon just Max Potions it? Tornadus EX is by far one of the most interesting options for the new age Hydreigon, as well are…
I’ve have been thinking about this for a looooong time. The problem with Shaymin EX is that it doesn’t hit to Landorus-EX’s Weakness which is Water. The problem with Tornadus EX is that if your opponent has Eviolite attached to it, the game quickly becomes very slow and you aren’t able to get any real benefit from Tornadus EX.
Keldeo on the other hand is very interesting mainly due the fact that it’s very situational. It works almost only against Landorus-EX and it would require Hydreigon to play Prism Energy. Prism Energy has potential in Hydreigon, because the only Pokémon that can’t abuse Prisms is Hydreigon.
However, sometimes you do want to attack with Hydreigon as well. Or do you, if you have enough techs? This is a very interesting case – can Hydreigon become a real Tech.dec or is it better to stay with consistency?
Keldeo also brings something very valuable to the deck – Switch. In fact, you can play Keldeo-EX in Hydreigon even if you don’t attack with it. It’s a Pokémon Switch in your deck. Whenever your Pokémon is affected by any effect of attack or Special Condition, you can just use Keldeo’s Ability, switch it to the Active Spot, move Energy to Keldeo and retreat the former Pokémon back to the Active Spot.
This is something that will win you games and shouldn’t be overlooked as a tech option. If you play Switch in your Hydreigon, try Keldeo-EX out and see if it works even better than the Switch in the deck! After all, you can use it every single turn.
…with Darkrai EX Variants
pokemon-paradijs.comHammers is the doom of every deck that has no REAL Energy accelerators. Unfortunately for Hammertime players, this isn’t the case anymore. Before Landorus-EX, you could prevent the Fighting decks doing you any damage with pure Hammer spam, but now that Landorus-EX is causing massive damage with only 1 Energy, you can’t rely only on Hammers.
Or can you?
However, that will take a while and they will probably be able to draw a prize or two, so you must have nerves of steel to do that in a tournament.
You never know what kind of surprises your opponent’s deck may include, so Hammerspam is always an interesting move. Fortunately, it’s often a very effective strategy.
Tool Scrapper gets rid of their Energy acceleration and possible Eviolites, which opens a shot for you to get a 2HKO on every single of their Pokémon with Darkrai EX. It’s very important to get rid of Eviolites before attacking for the first time, because 70+90 equals for 160, which isn’t enough for neither Landorus nor Terrakion.
If you happen to hit an Eviolited Landorus-EX with Darkrai EX, all hope is not lost. You can still attach a Dark Claw to Darkrai EX, Tool Scrap their Eviolite away and 2HKO them with 70+110 damage. Also, as stated earlier, your Eviolite is the way to turn the theorymon 2HKO war around. The player who has more control over Tools has an edge in a Darkrai EX vs. Fighting EXs matchup.
General Weaknesses of Fighting Decks
I already looked at how to combat Fighting decks with the most popular decks, but there are also weaknesses that apply to Fighting decks in general. Even though they have an upper hand against most of Tier 1, they still aren’t a dominating force in the metagame.
This means they must be weak to something. And they are. In fact, they have a lot of weaknesses and weak spots that explain the moderate success of them. Here are the most usual ones.
As just discussed, Hammers are a real problem for Fighting decks as long as they don’t have any real Energy acceleration like Ether. You are able to recycle 2 Hammers back from your discard pile with Sableye and hitting 50% heads is enough to ruin the whole game of Fighting decks.
However, I want to emphasize that Hammerspam is a dangerous route to take. Your opponent can and will N you after Junk Hunt. If you aren’t able to get Hammers back to discard pile after the N, your whole strategy comes crashing down.
There is also no such thing as “halfway Hammerspam.” If you start unlimited Hammering, you should also finish it. If you change your strategy midway the game, your opponent will have the prize lead and you’ll have tough time coming back from it.
Hammers + Sableye can’t be applied to every deck, but with those decks where they can be played, Hammerspam is a real effective strategy against the otherwise probably matchup (D Energy usually equals Fighting-Weak Pokémon).
pokemon-paradijs.comI can’t stress enough just how good Tool Scrapper is against Fighting decks. It’s good because you are able to discard Eviolite and thus 2HKO them. It’s good because you can kill their only way of energy acceleration by discarding Exp. Shares.
It’s also the only real way to get out of the Garbodor lock. Thanks to the rise of Fighting decks, Tool Scrapper is no more just a mere “ok” card, it will become a staple for anyone wanting to win tournaments.
Blastoise / Keldeo
Blastoise/Keldeo isn’t a Tier 1 deck – as long as Landorus-EX isn’t a dominating force in the metagame. Blastoise/Keldeo will be played, but it won’t see that much play because one of the main things which makes it good is its typing.
Landorus-EX is Weak to Water. That’s almost 50% of what made Blastoise/Keldeo so good in the first place. Blastoise/Keldeo will struggle against the rest of the metagame, but as long as Landorus-EX is around, so is this deck.
In the end, Blastoise/Keldeo wipes floor with straight Fighting variants. Some people will be very keen on this deck because it has potential in the City Championships and especially in the long run, because when Ether is released Landorus-EX will become even more popular. The popularity of these two decks will go hand-in-hand.
Random matchups – the most dreaded thing of every single anti-metagame deck. How about facing a Tornadus donk with Garbodor variant? Not good. What about facing a random Grass deck with healing capabilities with any Fighting variant? You know where it leads.
However, once again it’s good to remember that it would be exaggerating to say that Fighting decks are ALL about countering the metagame. They aren’t and they do work as their individual decks even though they seldom have any synergy between each other.
Strong and fast Basic attackers are everything you need in order to success in the current metagame and that’s something Fighting decks do better than any other deck.
And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about Fighting decks going to City Championships! Cities will be interesting, but to be completely honest, I‘m not nearly as excited about the upcoming format and metagame than I’m usually when going to Cities and a whole new set is released. Boundaries Crossed was a lackluster set and there is no way of denying it. However, I’m very happy how well this article turned out even though I had some anger management issues considering BC while writing this, haha.
I’m sure that you’ll be facing every single Fighting variant introduced in this article in the Cities. I already pointed out that the Garchomp variant is my favorite, but when it comes to mainstream success, I’m most certain that the Garbodor/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX is the deck to beat. It has strong matchups all over the field and it’s relatively easy to build.
If you should pick one of this article’s decks to test, I would encourage you to test playing Garbodor and especially playing against it.
As always, if you thought this was a useful read prior Cities, remember to “Like” the article. I’ll miss these two-article months, but on a positive side, I have more time for my other activities and for my blog!
Due my frustration for Boundaries Crossed, I’ll probably be playing the same deck for the whole CC season. I won’t just yet reveal what I’m going to play, but I can reveal 2 things about it: it has good matchups against the mono-type decks introduced in this article and its worst matchup is Eelektrik variants. Did you figure it out already?
I’ve seen some great conversation in my past two UG article discussions, and I hope this trend keeps on going. I’m always more than happy to engage a conversation with you guys, so don’t hesitate to comment on anything!
Thanks for reading!
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