‘Sup guys. It’s been a rather interesting journey this past few months, with the release of two very strange sets, the benefits of which are still in the air. Anyway, I’m not one to make small talk, even if it’s been a long while since I wrote an article.
en.wikipedia.orgAs some of you may know, I’m one of the few players living in the Far East. The Regionals I participated in was located in my home country of Singapore on the first weekend of this month, comprising of players from around the region, some coming from as far as Philippines: a first for our area.
The decks I tested centered around either Darkrai EX or Dusknoir BCR. The very first deck I tested out was Empoleon/Dusknoir, and it was actually pretty good. I scrapped the idea early on because a T2 Empoleon was hard to come by, and it simply folded to Keldeo/Blastoise, which I believed to be the meta alongside Darkrai variants. This was before I learned of a similar deck that won Regionals.
On the morning of Regionals itself, I heard rumours that there was going to be a strong showing of Landorus/Tornadus EX aka White Tea from the Malaysian team. As a last-minute measure, I threw out half my attackers (all Fighting) and threw in Mewtwo EX and DCE to prevent a bad matchup against Tornadus EX.
My final deck of choice was Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Dusknoir BCR. The tournament had 110 Masters and was to have 7 rounds of Swiss with a Top 16 cut.
Table of Contents
(Click to be taken directly to that section and press back on your browser to return here.)
- Regionals Report
- Post-Tournament Analysis
- A Different Approach – Empoleon
- Return of the Brainless Speed Decks
- Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em
Round 1 vs. Boon Kiat (Eelbox)
I started with Duskull, which was never good for a secret tech. I searched out a Mewtwo EX and started targeting Tynamos while building up Darkrai EX, until all that was left on his field was a Zekrom-EX, Rayquaza EX, and Mewtwo EX. He did not set up anything else, and I swept soon after.
Round 2 vs. Richard (Hammertime)
This game was pretty straightforward. We both had decent starts, although I started with Mewtwo EX, putting me at an early disadvantage. Fortunately, he did not seem to include Eviolite in his deck, and only hit one out of three Hammers. No Enhanced Hammers appeared.
He did, however, seem to pull out Dark Patches and Energy at will, and targeted my Duskulls who refused to evolve. It came down to either me winning the game that turn via Catcher or him the next.
I dumped my hand to draw a fresh seven with Juniper. I whiffed my Catchers, but not the Computer Search.
Round 3 vs. Adrian (RayEels)
This game gave me an incredible heart attack. He had a good start, but could not discard any Energy early game, which was scant consolation considering my own poor start. I was down 5-2, and looking at his setup, I knew that Sableye was my only hope.
I KO’d a Rayquaza EX the next turn, after which he gave me a scare with a charged up Raikou-EX he had been hiding in his hand to damage Darkrai EX, my only viable attacker (he had a Mewtwo on the bench).
I finally got Dusknoir out and decided to stall him with the same tactics as earlier, benching Darkrai who was now near useless and using Mewtwo instead, as Knocking Out the active Eelektrik would allow any of his attackers to take his last Prize.
He didn’t get the Energy to retreat, nor did he play a fourth Switch. I sealed the game two turns later.
I was pretty stoked, as it was very rare for me to go three straight matches without a loss. Which most probably means that my next game would end up with me losing.
Round 4 vs. Dominic (White Tea/Garbodor)
Energy drought. ‘Nuff said. Only Prizes I took were a Trubbish and Garbodor with the Mewtwo I started with, and after it went down, nothing else went up. I couldn’t even get an N to stall him either.
Round 5 vs. Shane (RayEels)
I started targeting his Tynamos ASAP with Mewtwo EX, and it almost descended into a simple Mewtwo war soon after. Because I had focused so much on his Tynamos and my Mewtwo, I hadn’t had anything else set up. We were at 4-5, but his defenses weren’t letting up with two Mewtwo EXs on his field.
All his attackers were devoid of Energy at that point except for the active Mewtwo EX with a single Fire Energy.
I chose the latter.
He played Juniper, evolved the Tynamo, dropped a Tornadus EX (WTH?!), retreated, and dragged out my Duskull for the game. Never saw it coming. I don’t think anyone else would have either.
Round 6 vs. Kennard (Quad Sigilyph w/ Mewtwo EX)
Round 7 vs. Nazri (FluffyChomp)
Kennard the Quad-Sigilyph player went on to win the tournament, so hats off to him for being the bravest player that day. I ended up 27th out of over a hundred players, so it’s not too bad, although I was hoping to get some CPs this tournament.
What probably ticked me off that tournament was how nearly everybody was playing to counter Keldeo/Blastoise, but only three or four players actually played the deck. Also, one of the biggest MVPs that day was Empoleon, with at least five players with a record of at least 3-1 by half time, and one in the Top 8.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt seemed like a mockery to all those shelling out big money for Landorus-EX, only to get shot down by a one-dollar card. It hit me especially hard because it was the card I was considering seriously before I switched over to Darkrai EX.
Also, it was amazing to see how a simple concept like Quad Sigilyph could go all the way to win. With 90 HP and one Retreat Cost, all the deck needed was Level Ball, Eviolite, and Skyarrow Bridge to tear down the competition.
His only losses were against a Kilnklang toolbox and White Tea in the Swiss Rounds, and he won versus the latter in the finals with a score of 2-1.
The deck proved once again how we need to shift away from our reliance on EX-Pokémon. While they are the strongest Pokémon in the game, the risks that come with it need to be properly addressed, and with Plasma Storm only a few months away, we will have yet another anti-EX to worry about in the form of Klinklang PS.
One other thing I picked up on during the tournament: namely, the focus on Tornadus EX and its effects on the meta.
Before I focus on that, let’s analyze the main concepts of the top-tier decks and their attackers. We have:
- Darkrai variants
- Tornadus EX/Landorus-EX variants
- White Stuff
Breaking down the main attackers, we have the following:
Clearly, the big boys have taken over. There’s hardly any space for a non-EX to get into the limelight. The best of them, Terrakion NVI, has been relegated to a tech, while Empoleon is unpopular.
The only exception is Bouffalant DRX who acts as a hard counter to any EX-Pokémon, but does only 60 damage otherwise. We can see why a Quad-Sigilyph deck, while unconventional, can easily win against any of these decks, who can withstand a Sigilyph or two, but not four.
Countering the meta has always been the focus of the top players, so we will first look the Weaknesses of the most popular cards:
- Fighting Weakness – Darkrai EX, Bouffalant DRX, Raikou-EX
- Grass Weakness – Keldeo-EX, Blastoise BCR
- Water Weakness – Landorus-EX, Ho-Oh EX
- Psychic Weakness – Mewtwo EX
- Lightning Weakness – Tornadus EX
- Fire Weakness – Shaymin EX, Virizion
- Dark Weakness – Dusknoir BCR
- Metal Weakness – Kyurem EX, Kyurem NVI
- Dragon Weakness – Rayquaza EX, Hydreigon DRX 97
Off the bat, we can tell that there’s no benefit in using Fire or Metal types to counter a Weakness. Psychic and Dragon types are unfortunately weak to themselves, so it’s more a case of countering itself than countering the meta (think Mewtwo wars). That leaves us with the remaining five types: Fighting, Grass, Water, Psychic, and Lightning.
What this means is that, if we were to use Weakness as a means to counter the meta, we would have a whopping five different types to consider. The only deck in format to be able to do this is Ho-Oh EX toolbox. But what if we tried a different approach?
A Different Approach – Empoleon
One of the decks I played around with prior to Regionals looked like this:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
The core concept is similar to Ho-Oh EX toolbox, except Empoleon also acts as an engine that can attack as well, and abusing the fact that Empoleon cannot be 1HKO’d by most major decks (Keldeo-EX needs five Water Energy on it), thus preserving the Energy to freely move it around later to a more appropriate attacker like Shaymin EX or Terrakion.
Landorus-EX and Virizion function as starters who can deal early damage, while Emolga functions as a free retreater, excellent when switching attackers after a KO.
The given decklist isn’t the best, I admit, but it gives an idea of how a one-Energy attacker can be used to hold Energy before distributing it to other attackers later in the game. For example, we can use Landorus-EX instead of Empoleon. Keldeo-EX would then be used as the Water type, which can be powered up using DCE.
And along with DCE, Zekrom BLW can then be included to abuse Outrage against opposing Empoleon and Tornadus EX, neither of whom can 1HKO Zekrom.
Now we will look at a different point of view: Evolutions. These are generally Bench-sitters. Listing them along with their Basic forms, we have:
- Hydreigon (Deino)
- Blastoise (Squirtle)
- Eelektrik NVI (Tynamo)
- Dusknoir (Duskull)
- Roserade (Roselia)
- Empoleon (Piplup)
Their Weaknesses are all different of course, but except for Roselia, they all have one common problem: they have 60 HP or less.
Simply put, all of them fall to Tornadus EX who, by the way, has a non-existent Lightning Weakness. Put two and two together and you get the best early attacker in the meta now.
Pokémon – 13
1 Empoleon BLW Promo BW56
Trainers – 37
Energy – 10
High amount of retreating ability allows for a possible T1 Blow Through, and Empoleon somewhat takes care of the damage cap problem at times. The lone promo Empoleon is there for kicks, and can actually be pretty effective in any part of the game to continually stall your opponent by removing their Energy.
Return of the Brainless Speed Decks
Now we return our focus to Tornadus EX. As mentioned previously, Blow Through pretty much steamrolls over any pre-evolution Basics. The core of the deck looks like this:
Pokémon – 3
3 Tornadus EX
Trainers – 29
Energy – 4
Free Space – 24
pokemon-paradijs.comSimilar to the later concept of CMT, the idea is to get a T1 Blow Through, and consistently follow up on that. The key concept is that besides Raikou-EX and Rayquaza EX, nothing can 1HKO a Tornadus EX, and that possibility drops after factoring in Eviolite and Aspertia Gym; even Raikou-EX needs a PlusPower.
And it has Resistance to Fighting, an increasingly common type.
The core engine centers around Skyla and Computer Search. A T1 Blow Through is achieved by having a total of three pieces: Tornadus EX, a DCE, and a Stadium card. A Tornadus EX start is easy enough with high counts of it, and the remaining pieces can be searched using Skyla and/or Computer Search.
The rest of the deck then depends on the meta or play style.
The original idea was to throw in the two best starters of the game and just plow through. This was especially efficient against Dark-type Deinos and Darkrai EX. Also, a snipe of 30 puts any bare EX within KO range from Land’s Judgement. Recommended in Darkrai-filled meta.
The best counter for Keldeo-EX. Like Tornadus EX, it can use DCE, and its attack power only grows from there. It also 1HKOs Tynamos, and so is best suited in a meta filled with Keldeo/Blastoise and Eelektrik variants.
It also allows abuse of Sableye, although the presence of Landorus-EX has made this option less desirable, even with Tornadus EX’s resistance.
This functions more as a more efficient way to continuously use Power Blow than an actual support Bench-sitter, although with its inclusion, you can throw in Zekrom BLW to shore up the mirror match.
Zekrom itself can use DCE for Outrage, and in the early game, easily hits back Landorus-EX with the same amount of damage, as well as provide an excellent counter against Sigilyph.
The danger is having a lone Tynamo up front, opening yourself up for the donk.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis option is one of the newer ones to enter the radar. Roserade pretty much gives you the power of Computer Search in a Level Ball, and gives the deck even more consistency than before.
Plus, Roserade itself has the ability to Paralyze, and able to do a full 100 to Keldeo-EX. Throw in Fliptini and you have a perfect staller and Tornadus EX that never discards, allowing you to freely set up more attackers on the bench.
Typical of speed decks, the damage output is somewhat lacking. Barring lucky flips from Power Blow, PlusPower is the only thing that allows you to break the 170 barrier in two hits in the mirror match and against Mewtwo EX and Keldeo-EX.
Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em
For the players whose journey is at end and already awaiting the next set, and for those who are practical about their card’s worth, this short section is for you. Thanks to Adam for the title XD
Cards to Let Go if You Have Extras
- Pokémon Communication
- Level Ball
- Heavy Ball
- Crushing Hammer
- Exp. Share
- Skyarrow Bridge
- Prism Energy
- Double Colorless Energy
- Hydreigon DRX 97
These cards are mainly listed due to rotation, but may also be because of future cards that will replace them eventually. I expect the Plasma cards to have a huge effect on the meta, similar to the SP era.
Cards to Hold on to or Procure
These cards are mainly due to hyped cards in upcoming sets, and may or may not be valuable in the future. For more information why… well, just keep in touch with the Japanese sets. Or future previews of Plasma Storm.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be able to predict the future. These are my own suggestions to members of my own play group based purely on theorymoning using knowledge of the Japanese meta. Please follow your own judgement if you have any doubt.
BulbapediaWith several Cities to go, the metagame seems to have settled down slightly, so now is the best time to read your local meta and decide your next play accordingly.
Also, while I don’t expect it to burst into the scene like QuadBull, do watch out for Quad Sigilyph. It is probably the biggest news in this report, and there will probably be a lot of readers out to test it. Don’t be taken unprepared; it is very, very disheartening to play against it.
See you next month!