Hello all, Alex Hill here. Today I want to talk about the new format and let you all in on the things I’ve discovered. Cities are way too close and I feel like they’ve really crept up on us this year.
I’ve been testing the new format for a few weeks now via the MSU Pokémon League and PlayTCG, and I really think that Boundaries Crossed adds a lot much to the format, making a healthy run of City Championships in the cards. Here’s what I know:
1. Blastoise/Keldeo is a contender.
ebay.comThis has been my top assertion and for whatever reason, it’s a very controversial one. My friend Evan has been using this deck for as long as we’ve tested the Boundaries Crossed format. He started with a bad list containing no techs, and has changed the list to include Mewtwo EX, Kyurem NVI, Cilan, etc.
However, no matter the list he has used, and no matter the decks he has played against, the deck always holds its own and often wins. The deck is just flat out consistent. Between Keldeo’s “Rush In” and Squirtle’s “Shell Shield,” it gets around snipe damage and Catcher stalls, the two most annoying things for a Stage 2 deck to have to deal with.
Once the deck gets set up, it just runs. Theoretically, the deck could work very well with just 1 or 2 turns of having Blastoise in play. It’s that good. It also has options in Mewtwo and Kyurem for the situations you might need those cards, and the deck could even run Super Scoop Up and Max Potion. This is a Tier 1 deck in the format with no doubt in my mind.
Last night when Pooka was streaming some PTCGO games, I had a conversation with some people in the chat about the deck. Most people (like many of the “pro” players) were divided. Some people thought it was BDIF, others thought it was trash.
It really depends on the decks you play against with it. If you play against a Darkrai variant, you’re more likely to like Blastoise/Keldeo. Keldeo has unlimited damage output and isn’t disturbed by Darkrai’s Resistance like Mewtwo, and Darkrai does 90 damage, period. I’ll get to this matchup more later.
However, when playing against decks like RayEels and Empoleon, Keldeo doesn’t seem as unstoppable. RayEels (or any deck that can 1HKO Keldeo) is very capable of holding its own against Keldeo. When you dump the Energy from their field, and especially when you can N them to 2-4 cards at the same time, you can very easily win the game.
Or, if you get rid of their Blastoise, and then eliminate their Energy, it’s a bad match for the Keldeo player. My friend JW also showed how Empoleon really shines against Blastoise/Keldeo because of the Prize trade. Keldeo doesn’t always 1HKO Empoleon, but Empoleon easily 2 shots a Keldeo.
If both players are able to stream their main attackers, the Empoleon player would be likely to win as the Keldeo player needs 5 Energy on a Keldeo to get the 1HKO and stay even in the prize race.
We won’t know how well Keldeo will truly do until a few weeks into Cities (which is nice for those players going to marathons next month), but I believe that it will definitely play a part in the metagame.
2. Darkrai decks are still very strong.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is not anywhere near as controversial as my statement about Keldeo. The combo between Computer Search and Sableye DEX is often way too good, and can lead to some real “god starts” when they both exist in a starting hand.
I’ve personally been testing a Darkrai/Hydreigon variant and I definitely like it. It has a few problems, and bad starts are unfortunately common. If you don’t get 2 Deino in play the turn before you prepare to set up a Hydreigon, you probably won’t set one up.
We already knew that, but with Landorus-EX, Rayquaza, and even Keldeo being fast enough to strike on turn 2 at the latest, it’s increasingly common to watch your Deino get Knocked Out prematurely.
trollandtoad.comEspecially when your opponent can Skyla for a Pokémon Catcher, these games go downhill fast. The deck has a fine line between being overteched and being consistent, and maybe I’m just not finding it yet.
Darkrai/Hydreigon (and in theory, all Darkrai decks) has a fairly bad matchup against Keldeo. Again, maybe it’s my list, but I lose way more often than I win. I’ve played my friend Evan at league a good handful of times, and I’ve played random people on PlayTCG.
Basically, as long as the Keldeo deck sets up by turn 3, it wins. Most of the time, they will Knock Out my Deino before they evolve and I have nothing at all that I could possibly do. However, I have gotten those “god starts” and started attacking on Turn 2-3 where I win by either denying their Blastoise or just by straight beatdown and disruption with N.
The main problem is what I already referenced before. Keldeo can 1HKO Darkrai and Darkrai has no shot to 1HKO a Keldeo. All they have to do is take out a fully charged Darkrai 1 turn, and a Hydreigon the next turn, and you basically just scoop. Max Potion is often a dead card, as they either 1HKO Darkrai straight up, or they take your Hydreigon out so you don’t get the benefit of removing all of the damage without the drawback of losing your energy.
No matter how I look at it, I don’t see this being a winnable matchup for Darkrai decks.
3. Expect your opponent to have whatever you don’t want them to have.
This was one of the hardest things to get used to in this format. With Skyla and Computer Search being our first real consistent search power, it is a lot easier to get the last card you need in a combo.
RayEels can get the R Energy (and discard Lightning at the same time even), Keldeo can get the Pokémon Catcher, Darkrai can get the Energy Switch, Hydreigon and Empoleon can get the Rare Candy, Eelektrik can get the Switch, the list really goes on and on.
No longer is it a good enough strategy to Catcher something up and say “Now, I win next turn if my opponent doesn’t draw a Switch.” Most decks now have 2-3 of the card they would need, plus a Computer Search, plus 2-3 Skyla, more than doubling their odds to get whatever card they need.
This does promote consistency in many ways and really leads to games coming down to skill rather than luck as well. Sour grapes are less plentiful as one wouldn’t lose as much due to failing to hit an Energy/Catcher/Energy Switch or whatever. However, my only complaint about this is that it can lead to some one sided games.
When one deck sets up and the other starts a bit slower, the deck with the slower start will often just get killed. For example, I was using my Darkrai/Hydreigon deck against Keldeo. They got the turn 2 Blastoise and took all of my Deino out by turn 4 and I just lost from there.
They wouldn’t have been able to get all of my Deino if they didn’t have Skyla to get out their Pokémon Catcher. Skyla also lets your opponent use a Supporter to help set up instead of using N if they know you have a bad hand to also win a one sided game.
And those are pretty much the only things I have to share about the Boundaries Crossed format. Anything else to be learned about the format is basically just specific matchups with your specific deck.
There are always some specific niches to be discovered such as learning that Paralyzing a Keldeo-EX forces your opponent to have another Keldeo and at least 3 Energy to attack that turn (which, after an N, especially to 4 or less cards, is a decent play).
So, I encourage you all to simply test with the new cards especially since Boundaries Crossed is out on PTCGO and there are plenty of people for you to play against.
Metagaming and Testing
What I want to talk about now is an idea called “metagaming.” Ray Cipoletti talked about it in his last article and it really got me thinking. The way I see it, metagaming is playing in a certain way to beat the decks you anticipate playing against.
Now, obviously that’s how the whole game is supposed to work. I play whatever deck I think can win, and if it has an auto-loss or just a generally bad matchup against something I think I might play, I either change my deck or adjust it so I can beat whatever deck I wouldn’t normally be able to.
However, what I’m seeing is that “Cities metagaming” is different. In this internet age, the winning deck for almost every tournament around the country (and even around the world) is posted online, either on PokéGym or The Top Cut.
Then, either the next day or the next weekend, players will play that deck if they like it, or whatever counters it best. In that way, it is especially applicable for marathons since there is a new tournament every day. This leads to some very interesting scenarios because if one is able to stay one step ahead, they can sweep the field.
For instance, say a Darkrai deck wins the first tournament of a marathon. That night, everyone tests Landorus as a counter to Darkrai but you come up with a sweet Keldeo deck that beats both Darkrai and Landorus and win the next day.
Then, everyone starts trying to beat Keldeo and the cycle keeps going. So, long story short, the local metagame is very important during Cities as the same players will likely be at all of tournaments in an area.
Now, the problem is, I’m not sure I agree with how some people are metagaming. When I go into a tournament, I play either the deck I like the most, the best deck in the format (which is very subjective, I know), or the best deck I can play based on my cardpool. The process of testing that allows me to pick this deck can be very lengthy, especially before a set of major tournaments. Thusly, I started very early as did many of my friends.
However, about a week ago, I posed a question to the Top Cut and asked them what they thought the best deck would be for Cities. Pooka’s response was to ask the other members a question along the lines of, “Well, has anyone started testing?” This really got me thinking, and led to the idea for this part of the article.
The big question is, how much are people actually testing, and how much are people simply looking at results from tournaments as their “testing”?
I want to inject a bit of disclaimer here. I do not mean to attack anyone in regards this issue, especially not the Top Cut guys. I understand that the cards were not even out on PTCGO which is where many people are conducting their testing these days. Also, some people could probably look at Cities as not starting until mid to late December when the marathons start as that is the most important part for those people.
However, in this internet age, I feel that the value of testing has become depreciated. The results from every tournament conducted around the world (spare some in Japan and a few small ones elsewhere) can be found on the PokéGym and/or The Top Cut websites. Not only can you see what deck wins, you can also see the other decks from the top 4-8 finishers (in the case of Cities).
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a poster will even submit the results from the individual games within the top cut. With that information, you can go to any number of websites and get a decklist for the deck in question.
This is not always a bad thing, as it focuses the skill in the format to playing ability rather than simply deckbuilding. However, it does allow players to almost fully disregard testing in some cases and pick up a halfway decent list for whatever deck is doing the best in 5 minutes flat.
Also, I don’t mean to say that metagaming is unnecessary. You don’t want to walk into a tournament with your Emboar deck while 50% of the people are running Blastoise/Keldeo. Knowledge of the local metagame is always something that you want to be aware of, especially during Cities. However, strive be the person who defines the metagame, not the one who just follows the trend.
Finally, I’ll leave you with my Darkrai/Hydreigon list I have been experimenting with and a little bit of analysis of it.
Pokémon – 15
1 Deino NVI 77
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
8 D – Basic
I admit, this list was inspired by Colin Moll’s article on 10/24, especially the Deino split and the Cresselia. Cresslia EX is a fun tank that you can throw up against anything with a limited damage output, slap on an Eviolite, and buy a turn or two where you don’t have to use Max Potion. It’s especially good against Terrakion decks.
Also, running the Dark Deino is no longer a safe play with Landorus-EX in the picture, but since Shiny Rayquaza is popular as well, you have to run both and hopefully you get the choice throughout the game of which one to use. I run the Dragon Deino with Guard Press as it allows you to survive an X Ball in some cases.
My personal touches were the Virizion EPO, Prism Energy, Bianca, and decreased counts of some other cards. I was trying out the Virizion as a Keldeo counter, but while it’s very good in theory, it’s actually not that good in a game. True, a Keldeo needs 5 energy to KO a Virizion with Eviolite, but that’s not too difficult with Computer Search, Cilan, Energy Retrieval, Super Rod, etc.
Most of the time, that Keldeo will rid your field of Energy, and with 1 Catcher, they KO your Hydreigon on the next turn. It was a good idea, but I don’t like it anymore. I added the Prism to make sure I could always attack with Virizion when I needed to.
pokemon-paradijs.comAlso, I was finding myself needing a lot more hand refresh, especially after using Ultra Ball and/or Computer Search on turn 1. This is when I added a few Bianca and it was really making the deck more consistent.
One of my main problems with the deck is the balance between teching and consistency. I would like another Deino, Rare Candy, Max Potion, Ultra Ball, and even a Super Rod, but knowing what to cut is very diffcult as so many cards in this deck are important.
For this reason, along with the bad Keldeo matchup, I have mostly scrapped my ideas for this deck for the time being and moved on.
Thank you all for reading! Feel free to comment if you have any problems with what I’ve said above or any questions. Also, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss anything or want some deck help or something.
Be on the lookout for a “State of the Metagame” review in a few weeks (ironic, I know) and some Cities reports from me. I’ll be attending 5-6 in the MI and IN areas between Thanksgiving and Christmas so hopefully I’ll do well at a few!