Cards in Command – Underrated and Overtaking Cities

Hello world. My name is Dylan Lefavour. You might know me as the World Champion from 2008. Or you might not know me at all.

Don’t worry, I’m not insulted. It was in Seniors after all. No offence to any Seniors out there, but I admit it, Senior World Champions haven’t always been that memorable.

Now, not a lot of great Seniors (yes sir, there are in fact great Seniors!) have moved on to become great Masters. Curran Hill, Mike Diaz, and David Cohen are just a few names I can pick out that did something great in Seniors who would still be a tough match for even the most seasoned Masters players. I’d be flattered if you put my name among them.

I’d be more flattered if you knew me from when I lost to Justin Sanchez in the top 4 of the most flip-infested Nationals format of all time, but that too I feel is unlikely.

Anyway, I’m a high school senior and seasoned writer, although not with Pokémon TCG specifically. I’ve had some minor experience writing for another TCG site, ProPokemon, and you might have read posts by me on various forums as Victory Bell, or on 6p as V_B.

As nice as that experience with writing was, school took over during my freshman year. Now, I hope to share some of Pokémon knowledge with the world (or at least before I head off to college.

Maybe I’ll play Nationals and New England Regionals, hoping to pull off some Tom Dolezal type success – I don’t know. But regardless of what happens, 2013 will likely be my last year searching for Championship Points.

Here’s what I have to share with you today: a look at a tiny handful of the best-positioned cards in format (in my opinion of course) now that Cities are in full swing. And as everyone looking for Championship Points knows, Cities are an opportunity to get a full half of the 400 Points needed for a World Championship invite.

Table of Contents

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1. Tropical Beach

pokemon.comHere’s a surprise, and an expensive one at that. I believe that this card is the fallen star of Pokémon TCG right now. It was once great (and still is) but it has yet to have been rediscovered by the masses.

This card is truly something special. In the same vein as the old Call Energy, it is a Stadium that lets you refresh your hand in exchange for an attack.

This is quite underwhelming to be honest, but unique it certainly is. Mainly, this card adds an extra element to the new Supporter Skyla.

One problem with Skyla is that most players have had to give up what were traditionally spaces for card drawing Supporters in their decklists to fit in copies of the card.

Now, most of us probably know how powerful Skyla is. The ability to grab a Trainer in a deck like Keldeo (I refuse to call it anything referring to Ponies) is a huge boon to early-game consistency where getting Rare Candy turn two can make or break your game plan.

Yet, as Murphy’s Law dictates, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And anyone who played Rare Candy in the past months has probably realized that Skyla does not always equal turn two Blastoise/Hydreigon/etc.

That lone Skyla opening hand is likely to happen eventually. It’s easy to write this off as not being a big deal. Simply play Skyla and grab another Supporter card, it isn’t that difficult.

Yes, that is one way to go about it, but what about grabbing Tropical Beach with that Skyla? Beach is reusable, and you can use its effect the turn you play Skyla, and then follow it up with another Supporter you might draw with Beach’s effect.

Although more efficient than using two Supporters to get the end result of one Supporter, this works better in certain decks than others of course.

Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is one of the better users of Tropical Beach in general, as it suffers from a late-game N. Beach allows the Keldeo-EX player to hide behind a Pokémon for a turn and refresh his or her hand, hopefully getting the Catcher to win or whatever is needed.

Tornadus EX decks are other fantastic users of the card, and in my opinion, the very best at the moment.

In fact, I took Tornadus EX decks with Tropical Beach in them to two second-place finishes in Cities so far, and I can put my highest confidence in how good the card is in these types of decks. It fulfils three major combined roles otherwise occupied by other cards.

The first, Tropical Beach serves as Stadium number three next to Aspertia City Gym and possibly Skyarrow Bridge. This contributes to an obvious increase in consistency as far as turn one Tornadus EX frequency (due to having another Stadium to draw) as well as an increase in deck consistency through Tropical Beach’s effect.

BulbapediaSecond, Tropical Beach is, as I said above, valuable in that it can be used along with Skyla on the first turn to get a slow hand out of a hole.

You’d think at first that such a fast deck would not want to be using Tropical Beach turn one and you’d be right. However, every deck draws bad hands at some point.

The Tropical Beach itself can serve the Supporter role if no other Supporter is present in the opening hand, or it can be grabbed with Skyla to both put a Stadium into play as well as draw your cards. If you draw a hand that would let you attack the first turn, you likely aren’t forced to Skyla for a Supporter anyway.

Finally, Tropical Beach can get the Tornadus EX deck out of a bad late game N. Like in Keldeo-EX decks, this deck often needs some Trainer Cards to use as gas to finish out a long game. Typically Pokémon Catcher. I mean, how often have you heard, “I would have won if he didn’t N me out of the Catcher!”

This deck runs quite a few big Pokémon you can hide behind, and if they are using N that effectively on you, the opponent is likely to not be in a position to win the turn after you use Tropical Beach anyway.

These extra cards can help you finish the game with a Catcher, Energy Switch, or a big Land’s Judgement (one of the most underrated attacks in the game I might add).

There are several situations where Tropical Beach does nothing to help you out of losing via N, but if you have a card that helps against certain late-game plays involving N which also is a Stadium to fuel Blow Through, having it can’t hurt.

Now, there are a few caveats to using Tropical Beach. Here are two I’ve been asked when playing with it. Feel free to ask me any questions about any of my card choices here by the way.

1. Your opponent benefits: True. Tropical Beach can help your opponent quite a bit if you N them or if they have a bad hand. However the best decks to use Tropical Beach typically don’t like using N to deny their opponent’s cards anyway.

Although Beach can help your opponent, you can decide when to put it into play and you have the first chance to use it.

For example, early game when you draw some cards, your opponent usually has to respond or risk being at a disadvantage due to the cards you just got. Because you are ultimately in control of what happens with Tropical Beach, the user typically can use it to a greater effect.

2. It conflicts with Aspertia City Gym: In Tornadus EX decks this can be a problem you usually have to address in game. Really, it just depends on how you manage Tropical Beach in the mid- to early game.

For example, if you use it early as a setup crutch, you can simply get your Aspertia City Gym and replace Tropical Beach with it. That usually locks Aspertia City Gym in for the remainder of the game.

Late game is when things get tricky. It really depends on the game state as to how Tropical Beach hurts you or helps you. You can play it down late game as protection from N when you are winning, but doing so also eliminates the extra 20 HP bonus on your Colorless Pokémon.

It’s just a matter of taking this into account before you windmill slam your Tropical Beach into play over an Aspertia.

Tropical Beach is in my opinion the most overlooked Stadium card in the format.

2. Colorless Pokémon and Aspertia City Gym

Okay, so this article is all ready to be sent off and up goes an article all about this Aspertia City Gym. Shucks. Anyway, this is probably all covered in Mike Diaz’s article in detail, but I’ll go over what I think of this card.

In short, I think this Aspertia is the best Stadium card in format.

Tornadus EX was a very big card for awhile, but the funny thing was, it got smashed by a Bolt Strike or even a Volt Bolt, both attacks coming from what were prominent Lightning Pokémon: Zekrom and Raikou-EX. Notice how I said “were.”

trollandtoad.comTornadus EX got a fantastic new partner in the latest set however, Landorus-EX. Since both cards have made huge splashes at Cities mainly because the combination of the two can take on much of the existing format.

I’d go so far as to say Landorus-EX is probably the sole reason that Tornadus EX is even played! Decks including Tynamo and other Lightning friends are severely hurt by the turn one Hammerhead attack of Landorus-EX.

Much like the myriad of turn one decks that focus on getting one attacker out quickly that were popular in past years, Landorus-EX can attack early and has a powerful secondary attack that makes him a serious threat to any Pokémon-EX if left undisturbed.

Being a Basic Pokémon allows Landorus-EX to attack with unheard-of consistency, and due to being a Fighting type that spreads damage, Landorus-EX has become the bane of Eelektrik decks everywhere.

Not surprisingly, the lack of the strongest Lightning-type enabler (Eelektrik) in the metagame has allowed Tornadus EX to flourish as a card.

Asperita City Gym only makes Tornadus EX and other Colorless type attackers even stronger.

Colorless is probably the perfect type to take advantage of any HP boost. Bouffalant DRX synergizes perfectly with Tornadus EX decks. Most people know how much power Zekrom packs, and it becomes even more dangerous with Eviolite.

pokemon-paradijs.comNow, picture that same Zekrom with two horns, an afro, an Eviolite that can’t be removed always attached, and the ability to abuse Double Colorless Energy. That’s one strong Zekrom. Except its name is Bouffalant.

20 more Hit Points really does a lot. This boost allows Tornadus EX to survive 2 Night Spears from Darkrai most importantly, and takes it out of range of being hit with 30 from Night Spear and then hit with a Dragonblast for the Knock Out.

Either way, your Tornadus EX probably will never be Knocked Out in two hits from the most popular attacking cards being played right now aside from Keldeo-EX and opposing Bouffalant.

Bouffalant is taken out of the 1HKO range of almost every relevant Pokémon the opponent could be using via the Aspertia City Gym bonus.

An Eviolite in addition to Bouffer makes the Buffalo tantamount to an Pokémon-EX, if not an impenetrable wall of pure afro! Outside the relevant Fighting types, only Shaymin EX, Rayquaza EX, and Keldeo-EX can realistically hit for the 160 damage to Knock it Out in one hit.

This might even just be defensive overkill. Aspertia and Bouffer should cover Bouffalant just fine.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe Fighting Weakness has always been an issue with Terrakion floating around, and even more so with Landorus-EX existing.

However Landorus-EX existing helps Bouffalant in a somewhat unexpected way. With so much Landorus-EX, decks with Lightning attackers are severely weakened.

Lightning is the Weakness of Tornadus EX, the card that protects Bouffalant from Fighting types. With Lightning less popular, Tornadus EX really has a chance to shine with the boost from Aspertia City Gym.

The strength of a non-Pokémon-EX that can Knock Out a Pokémon-EX single handedly is truly fearsome in this EX dominated format, and I believe that the only two which can do so consistently are Eviolited Zekrom and Bouffalant DRX.

Bouffalant is even more adaptable and less type restricted than Zekrom.

The card was strong before, but the extra 20 Hit Points from Aspertia City Gym allows Bouffalant to easily swipe away from Zekrom the title of best non-Pokémon-EX in format and Tornadus EX covers its Weakness to Fighting perfectly.

Pokémon – 10

3 Landorus-EX
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Tornadus EX
1 Bouffalant DRX
1 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren
3 Skyla


4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Switch

3 PlusPower
2 Max Potion
2 Ultra Ball
2 Energy Switch

2 Eviolite
1 Computer Search


2 Aspertia City Gym
1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

9 F
4 Double Colorless

This is a list very close to what I did well with week two of Cities and I’d endorse it. This is my favorite way to use Colorless cards with Aspertia at the moment.

3. Sigilyph DRX
Credit to y-uuki!

This card is the bane of my existence, I hate it so. In my opinion, this card was inferior to Mewtwo EX in Darkrai/Hydreigon for a very long time. But now I’ve completely swung the other way.

It gives anything with Tornadus EX a very hard time, and I know that from experience, but you really have to be destroyed by this card for yourself before you really realize how good it is.

I’ll avoid commenting on how it does against Ho-Oh EX decks because although I know it’s been popular and successful, it hasn’t been so in my area, and I know little about how Ho-Oh EX decks run.

The common single Bouffalant or Terrakion is not a viable answer to this card because your “answer” is likely to either be blown up by a Dragonblast or it is likely to be Knocking Out a Sigilyph after the Hydreigon player has already moved the Energies away.

It is very strong against Keldeo-EX decks as well as powering up a Blastoise to Knock Out a single Sigilyph frankly isn’t what that deck wants to be doing with its energies.

Sigilyph is stronger than Mewtwo EX or Cresselia-EX in metagames that include lots of the above decks, especially against unprepared opponents.

4. Keldeo-EX

trollandtoad.comI said I’d be talking about older cards in the title, but I really wanted to say something about Keldeo-EX here too.

Unless you’ve been living under a boulder for the last… for a really long time, you probably know all about Keldeo-EX and all that is typically thought to be good with it.

But I’m not talking about in decks where Keldeo’s Sacred Sword is the focus.

Keldeo is a fantastic tech in many other decks that don’t include W Energy in their 60 cards.

Keldeo-EX is just a great utility card and it also can freely attack against things like Landorus-EX without fear of being 1-shotted. This card is especially good in Hydreigon decks.

With Keldeo-EX in play, there is no need to bench and endanger a Darkrai versus a Fighting deck due to Rush In. It can potentially 2-shot a Landorus-EX with a Prism Energy attached, a strategy that meshes really well with the cards already staple in Hydreigon decks.

Pokémon – 15

3 Deino DRX 93
1 Zweilous NVI
3 Hydreigon DRX 97
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Sigilyph DRX
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Dark Patch
3 Max Potion
3 Rare Candy
3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

7 D – Basic
3 Blend GRPD
2 Prism

Open Slots – 2

Now, someone out there is probably thinking how stupid this kid is to think that Prism is playable in a Hydreigon deck alongside a limited Blend count.

However, such a Hydreigon deck has already won two New England Cities piloted by Alex Frezza, a player who isn’t all that famous, but is similar to Con Le in skill and play style.

Prism Energy and Keldeo-EX help a great deal in stopping Landorus-EX decks to a point where I’m considering teching for the Hydreigon deck this coming weekend; however I’ve found no good way to do so yet.

Prism Hydreigon is one of best upcoming decks in the current format in my opinion. Hydreigon got a lot from the new set, the biggest boon unarguably being Computer Search, but Keldeo-EX is pretty high up on there too.

What Colin said at the beginning of his most recent article is very true. Theoretically, Hydreigon would be the best deck in format if it could stay consistent while including all the techs it wants to.

The toughest part is balancing consistency with techs, and so far, playing Prism is the most successful way to do so.

Keldeo-EX is quite good in Eel decks and regular Darkrai decks as well for Step In, partially eliminating the need for Switch in Eel, and eliminating it completely in Darkrai. With a Darkrai EX in play and a Keldeo with a Darkness on it, you effectively have access to a Switch whenever you want it.

The best part is, Keldeo is only one card, while Switch needs several copies to be effective in Darkrai decks as more than a counter to the Victini/Thunder Wave combo.


Anyway, thanks for reading my thoughts on some cards! I hope to be back soon. If you enjoyed a sample of what I have to say, hit the big green check mark on the left side of your screen. Not the red one on the right! That one is bad!

In the mean time, bust out those Kinaras, Menorahs, Christmas Trees, Taylor Swift CDs, and have a wonderfully politically correct holiday season!

Dylan Lefavour

Reader Interactions

10 replies

  1. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    I love the fact that you wished everyone a ‘politically correct holiday’ . . . next to a picture of the least politically correct Pokemon episode of all time :)

  2. Danny ComradeDannyC

    Do you think a Tornadus, landorus deck might work?

    • Dylan Lefavour  → Danny

      Most certainly sir. I got 140 points with Tornadus/Landorus over the last 5 cities I went to. Just don’t mess with it much, the deck doesn’t need a whole lot of techs and stuff to work. Hammertime is a bad matchup, but most every other common deck is winnable.

  3. Amanda Kovs

    I had no idea Hydreigon was playing Prism until my first Cities in Cambridge. I adjusted my hammers list to have more enhanced hammers and took Freeza by surprise in Lexington. Haha. It’s still a pain in the butt, and I think it gives Hydreigon a huge advantage.

    Great article, and I hope to see more from you in the future! :)

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