Rising from the Ashes – Ho-Oh EX/Tornados EX Top 8 Cities Report

Since most of you don’t know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Zach Lowman and I’m from Virginia. I’ve had a Top 16 at Regionals, 1st and 3rd place at Battle Roads, as well as positive tournament records at most events that I attend.


I am also one of the regular judges in the Virginia area, so there is a tough balance between judging and playing that I strive to maintain.

This article will be on my second City Championship this season, the first being the Fairfax City Championship two weeks earlier. At that tournament I chose to play Blastoise/Keldeo and ended up only breaking even. I didn’t really touch any decks the week of Thanksgiving until I watched a Bad Deck Monday video featuring Aspertia City Gym.

I liked the overall idea of the deck, but not the list, and decided to toy with it. Largely there was some fluff-trimming and streamlining. When I had what I thought was a working build, I bounced the idea off my friend Thomas.

Within a few hours of tweaking we came up with the following list:

Pokémon – 11

2 Ho-Oh EX

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Tornadus EX

2 Bouffalant DRX

2 Terrakion NVI

1 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

3 Skyla


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Energy Switch

4 Ultra Ball

2 Eviolite

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search


2 Aspertia City Gym

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless

4 F

2 G

2 R

The idea was to create a toolbox-style deck that took advantage of some great Colorless attackers with the Aspertia and Eviolite combo. The oddest choice which I’ll change in the future is the Energy counts. Looking back I wish I had two more of any color in there to accelerate Rebirth, but not running them did offer a couple more spots for consistency cards.

pokemon-paradijs.comWhy no Landorus-EX? Most other Ho-Oh deck I’ve seen run Landorus and I gave serious thought to him. However, from playing in Fairfax I knew there was a lot of interest in Blastoise/Keldeo.

I don’t know if it had done well or I’d even face it today, but I was thinking there’d be a lot of it I didn’t want a dead attacker. Two Terrakion made more sense as a meta call.

Even with a great list in mind, I still wanted to play Blastoise/Keldeo, so I met with some friends during the week and tested a bit. The testing proved this list was flat out better than my Blastoise/Keldeo build, so I decided to go with it.

The ride up to Warrenton was a lot of fun even though it was long. The group I was with cracked a lot of jokes and we discussed a lot of strategy and ideas for the event. Luckily I had typed my list up the night before, as when we got to the venue it was already a long registration line and it kept me from second-guessing any of my choices when I handed in my list.

The normal crowd was here including Ben Potter and Michael Pramawat from The Top Cut, most of our State’s Top 10 players, and even a few Worlds players.

All in all it made for a pretty strong field to be playing against. I’d like to think lending a Landorus-EX to Ben Potter helped accumulate a little karma for the coming rounds.

There were 54 Masters, 6 rounds, and a top 8 cut with lunch break following round 2.

Round 1 vs. Jimmy Pendarvis (3rd PA Regionals) with Darkrai/Fighting

I know Jimmy recently aged up from Seniors and has been doing pretty well, so I was thinking here I am hitting the ground running. A strength and weakness of mine is I tend to set aside a player’s accomplishments aside from “They know what they’re doing.”

Well we set up and are laughing and joking along with the usual good luck and the game gets underway.

pokemon-paradijs.comI know early on I get behind eating some early KOs, but manage to catch back up with Retaliates and Land Crushes. I manage to come down to 2 Prizes with a Bouffalant Active with a DCE, a Ho-Oh with Fire on the Bench, and something else Bench-sitting.

Jimmy had not used a Supporter last turn, and he revealed no Supporters with a Random Receiver so I Sklya’d for a Catcher to set up for the next turn.

He had a Landorus-EX, Keldeo-EX with a Dark Energy, Darkrai EX with a Dark Energy, and a threatening Terrakion with two Energy on the field.

This is where I make a near misplay that likely would’ve cost me the game. I almost play my Pokémon Catcher to try and stall and then the Keldeo-EX suddenly jumps out and I realize that plan is not going to work. I threaten his Landorus-EX with Gold Breaker and pass.

On his turn he whiffs the Fighting Energy, Benches a Sableye, and Catchers something off my Bench. He Junk Hunts for Catcher and I think Energy Switch, to at the least have a Night Spear next turn.

On my turn I top into an Energy Switch allowing me to go back into Bouffalant play my Catcher and Gold Breaker his Landorus-EX for the game.

Really this game came down to the wire and could’ve gone either way. It was a well-played game by my opponent.


Round 2 vs. ??? with a Psychic Deck

trollandtoad.comHe starts with two Meloetta BCR and a Cresselia-EX and is going first. He plays a DCE to Cresselia-EX and more or less passes, as I recall. I drop a DCE on my active Tornadus EX but whiff the Stadium so I drop thirty damage on Meloetta. He uses Meloetta’s Psychic and benches a Trubbish with a Giant Cape.

I retreat Tornadus EX, use Tool Scrapper on the Trubbish, and use Mewtwo’s X Ball to KO Meloetta. He promotes his other Meloetta, attaches a Psychic to Cresselia-EX, and Benches a Mewtwo EX.

I drop a second Mewtwo EX, Catcher the Cresselia, and grab 2 Prizes. He returns the favor using Meloetta and evolving to Garbodor with Rescue Scarf.

I Tool Scrapper his Rescue Scarf and KO his Meloetta with X Ball. Eventually it comes down to Catchering and playing Double Colorless Energy on my Mewtwo EX, KOing his Mewtwo EX, then picking up the last Prize on perhaps Garbodor.


Lunch Break

Everywhere in the area is busy for lunch and since one of my friend’s rounds took a long time, we lost our chance to get real food, so I opted for trail mix and water from a pharmacy and went on with the day.

Round 3 vs. ??? with Mirror

It’s his Mewtwo EX versus my Tornadus and Mewtwo EX. The long and short of this game is turn 2 his Mewtwo goes down and turn 4 he hadn’t played another Basic, so two X Balls shot down his Tornadus EX.


Round 4 vs. Rahul Reddy with Darkrai/Fighting and Hammers

One of my friends who wasn’t able to make it to the tournament has a little rivalry going with Rahul, so I knew he was a solid player from what I’ve heard of him. Much like the first game of the day, Gold Breaker is probably the MVP of the game as well.


Toward the end I managed three Energy on Terrakion, had a DCE in hand, and was waiting on a way to get to his Darkrai for the last Prize. I draw into the Catcher, either via a Supporter or topdeck, retreat my Bouffalant, and drop the Land Crush for the game.

The game featured some important Hammer flips on his side, but Ho-Oh EX provided the recovery from the heads he did get.


At this point my friends were feeling certain about my top cutting, but I wasn’t ready to let up, so I went into the next round on my A game.

Round 5 vs. Aaron Sanyer with Dark Tornado and Hammers

This game was probably the closest all day. From the beginning I was slowly falling behind, but to be honest a Retaliate caused him to N my large hand of trash into a small hand of good stuff. From there I was able to bring the lead up to 5 Prizes left to 2 in my favor.

He brings out a Mewtwo EX that makes a pretty crucial KO on my Mewtwo EX, but I manage to get lucky and draw into my last Energy Switch to retreat my active back to the bench.

I had placed some damage on an Eviolited Darkrai earlier in the game and Catcher it up. My Terrakion managed to drop a Land Crush and win the game.

The topdecking of whatever it was to get me the last Energy Switch is what won me the game.

I was in a spot if that if I hadn’t topdecked I likely would have lost, but I needed one of about five cards left in a ten-card deck, so there was a pretty good chance of getting what I needed. Either way it was a well-played game.

Needless to say, we at least provided a good show for those who had wanted to watch the last of the 4-0’s still playing.


Round 6 vs Johnny Rabus with Dark/Fighting

zoetnetWe both missed lunch. We were both already in cut. Our record versus one another is 50/50, so rather than playing a long drawn out game and playing up to another three hours without food, we instead opted to dice roll to see who would win and have food together.

I won the dice roll so we sorted our decks and went off for lunch. Remember when I mentioned believing in karma? I feel whatever karma I had accumulated paid off at this moment.

We have some Tropical Smoothie and just chat about players we know and the surprise that I took this deck as far as I did.

Officially 6-0
Unofficially 5-0-Tropical Smoothie

Top 8 vs. Aaron Sanyer with Dark Tornado and Hammers

I’d like to say I broke the curse of the first seed, or that I don’t feel like it played any role in this series, but I can’t. I also don’t want to discount Aaron’s playing as he is the guy I had a close game with in Round 5.

My deck went from being a highly-functional deck to giving me the biggest series of Supporter, attack, and Energy droughts I had ever seen in playing this deck.

I managed to catch maybe one break in each of the two games we played, but it was the good old “day late and dollar short” kind of break. Again, I feel Aaron deserved to win as he played well and made the correct moves to take the victory.

I just wish I had managed to provide my opponent a better best of three, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Anyway, I managed to net 20 CPs bringing me up to 30 for this season. I had what was probably the best run of Swiss I’ve ever had in a pretty competitive playing field. I really enjoyed every game and had great opponents, all of whom congratulated me for going 6-0 knowing it wasn’t common for me to make top cuts.

I really feel I enjoyed this deck as it reminded me a lot of playing LuxChomp. The deck was well tailored for the meta with the cards I chose and it allowed me to play through a lot of tricky situations. I always feel like I do well when I play a deck that has that techy factor and I call my techs right.

Anyway, I may be playing up in Leonardville or Leonardtown up in Maryland next weekend, so if I do I’ll share my list afterward and if I don’t I’ll share it when I confirm I can’t be there.


  • My co-judges for doing a great job running the event
  • David Tuskey our PTO for running another smooth event
  • My friends who went with me for being amazingly supportive
  • My opponents who were good sports and enjoyable to play with
  • My deck choice for being all I wanted it to be
  • Great run in a tough meta
  • Shane’s Rib Shack
  • Pokémon Rusty “Oh I had been throwing them away”
  • Johnny Rabus for going on to win his first City Championship


Closing Remarks

If you ever want to talk about the game feel free to look me up on Facebook or on the forums and I’d be happy to give you thoughts, opinions, and feedback.

Reader Interactions

14 replies

  1. Sam Chen

    Congratulations on a solid finish in a tough field, Zach!

    I just want to point out to you that deciding a match through random means (as you did in Round 6) is against the rules and could lead to a penalty if a judge found out. Per section 10 of the Pokemon General Event Rules: “Match outcomes should always be the result of game play, except in the case of concession or penalty. Match outcomes determined by random means or by means of bribery harm the Spirit of the Game and are not tolerated by POP.”

    Source: http://assets9.pokemon.com/assets/cms/pdf/op/tournaments/2013/Play_Pokemon_General_Event_rules.pdf

  2. Sam Chen

    Also, I think you have a very solid list. I have a couple suggestions for perhaps improving your energy line. You currently play 4 DCE, 4 Fighting, 2 Grass, and 2 Fire. Those 2 Fire Energies are really not doing anything. None of your Pokemon need Fire Energy to attack!

    You could trying playing 2 Psychic Energies instead. Those Psychic Energies can be used to power up Mewtwo EX’s Psydrive attack in some weird spots where you may want to OHKO an energyless Mewtwo EX with your own Mewtwo EX. With the Ho-oh engine, it’s not that difficult to find your 2 lone Psychic energies to attach to your Mewtwo EX if you need it.

    Another alternative is to split your 2 Fire Energies into 1 Psychic and 1 Water. The 1 Water Energy allows you to bluff Keldeo EX, while keeping the 1 Psychic in there allows you to bluff Mewtwo EX’s Psydrive or even bluff Meloetta.

  3. Zach Lowman

    As a response to your first post:

    We know it wasn’t exactly the most official or correct way to end a game. However we likened it to players scooping to one another to make cuts which is a common practice. Largely we felt it was allowed as there was no problem from either Mr. Rabus or myself with the results of the match. I’m not saying it’s the right or wrong way to handle the match, but I feel it’s along the same lines as reading a report and seeing “I went ahead and scooped since we were both in cut anyway.” I’m just being honest about how we made that decision with the fact time was a factor in being able to get something to eat.

    Response to second bit:

    Thanks the list was a pain to get just right!

    The Psychic vs Fire is kind of funny that you bought it up. The original list had Sigilyph with Psychic over Fire and when Sigilyph got cut the Psychic went with it. The fire was a random choice solely for Rebirth. Ironically the list I made for this upcoming weekend features Psychic over Fire from testing where Psydrive was necessary for an easier hit and left an opponent out of the realm of XBall returns. My newer version also has Water energy for the Keldeo Bluff. I will say the list has undergone a big change for a couple things I just wanted to improve in general.

    The most notable being that there are two more energies just from there being a few turns where things would’ve gone faster if I hadn’t drawn into say a Switch. Energy Search is something I wouldn’t have minded squeezing in here, and it’s in a spot I’ve been toying with. Largely being 3 vs 4 Ultra Balls and adding the Energy Search.

    For anyone wondering- No Landorus EX was a meta game call. It was unnecessary, but had I gone X-1 at any point I would’ve been in a player bracket that a good amount of Keldeo EX/Blastoise in there. For sheer number of people using it I half expected to go up against a Blastoise/Keldeo EX at SOME point even if it wasn’t doing well. Terrakion was necessary for the amount of Darkrai I KNEW to expect.

    Right now my Saturday ride to a CC is up in the air. If it falls through I might get around to posting an updated list sooner rather than later.

    • Sam Chen  → Zach

      My point is that Fire is not needed for Rebirth. Ho-oh EX doesn’t need any specific type of energy to pull off Rebirth, just that there are three different types of basic energy. That last type of basic energy might as well by Psychic (for Psydrive), Water (to bluff Keldeo EX), or Lightning (to bluff Shiny Rayquaza).

      • Zach Lowman  → Sam

        @Thing 1- Totally agree with you on that.

        @Point 2- No no I think you misunderstood what I meant. At the time I made the list I just opted for two fire for the sake of a third energy type. In the newer version of the list I had actually already changed it, but just left what I actually played in the report. Thanks for the thoughts though!

        • Artur Mazzega  → Zach

          There is no point to opt for fire versus all other type of energy. Good you changed that already.

        • Zach Lowman  → Artur

          Oh there was reason… I happened to have pretty looking fire energy versus another type. It really did make sense in my head at the time. (Semi-sarcastic)

    • Sam Chen  → Zach

      The randomization to decide a match rule is not one that I necessarily agree with, but I understand the reason why it’s there. The goal of my post wasn’t to call you out, but rather to inform you that if a judge went strictly by the rulebook, he would actually have to penalize both players for doing that (typically a double game loss).

      Don’t get me wrong. I believe 100% that your intentions were good.

  4. Adam Miller

    Congrats on your good finish. I’m not sure where in VA you’re from, but there’s a city championship in Harrisonburg, VA this weekend. Just thought I’d let you know if you’re able to make it.

  5. Adam Miller

    Hey, congrats on your good finish. I’m not sure what area of VA you live in, but there is a city tournament in Harrisonburg, VA (right near James Madison University) this weekend which should be pretty good. Just thought I’d let you know in case you hadn’t heard about it.

    • Zach Lowman  → Adam

      Yeah very familiar with it actually! If it were on a Saturday we’d be going there, but it’s four hours each way on a Sunday from VA Beach area, so we’ll have to pass this time. Good luck at your event!

  6. Grant Manley

    I like the deck and that you got 1st seed in swiss. I got 2nd with the deck (different list of course) and made top cut as the first seed also! Admittedly, the field wasn’t as hard, but I did have to play against good players all day. My loss in top and swiss was actually to Fluffychomp! It can actually be a bit hard when they swarm Altarias and Mach Cut all the DCEs.

    • Zach Lowman  → Grant

      Thanks man! Congrats on using a similar deck and doing well with it. I could imagine that being a pain. I didn’t test the Fluffy chomp match up, so I don’t have any advice for that one other than just keep pounding em down! Haha

  7. theo Seeds

    Why 2 Fire and not 1 Fire, 1 something else? Or am I missing something?

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