Marathon Mania: Tales from Texas

After a long hiatus from both the game and SixPrizes, I was happy to partake in some City Championship tournaments. Specifically, I attended and played in five events, garnering Championships Points from all of them.


In balancing out studies and Pokémon, I decided to pursue a “new” play-style of sorts: play the easiest, yet “strongest” deck I could.

For Regionals, that was Darkrai/Terrakion/Hammers: It gave me speed, power, disruption, and a very healthy dose of draw and consistency. Although the deck remained good, I knew that I needed a change with Boundaries Crossed.

blastoise hydro pumpBlastoise/Keldeo-EX looked obvious enough, but it was so much more than “the obvious deck.” It was efficiency, some of the best raw strength I’ve seen in years, and – with the right card counts – able to set up when it needed.

But getting to that point required enough draw and search, so rather than go with the “standard” Super Scoop Up build, I instead went with a consistency list. One that, more or less, looked like what I settled on for the marathon…

Pokémon – 12

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 33

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
2 Bianca
2 Cheren


4 Rare Candy
4 Ultra Ball
3 Energy Retrieval
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Computer Search


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 15

14 W
1 Double Colorless

List Commentaries

4-0-3 Blastoise

I went back and forth on several aspects of the core Energy acceleration line, but ultimately settled on a quasi-pyramid build, featuring heavy amounts of the top and bottom lines, as well as zero Wartortle.

From the very beginning I wanted several outs to both Squirtle and Blastoise; yet at the same time, I quickly recognized how useless Wartortle can be, as you never truly have time to play it in most games.

Sure, it might be nice in a couple of Item lock matchups where you cannot use Rare Candy, but for the overwhelming majority of time, the ‘Tortle will just get in the way of a better-utilized space, such as a draw or search card.

Keldeo and Mewtwo Counts

Mewtwo_in_armor giovanniBulbapediaI’ve pretty much had three Keldeo-EX from the beginning, giving me a “full game’s” worth of the card (i.e., 6 Prizes). Getting to two Mewtwo, however, came over the course of the marathon.

Whereas the single Mewtwo in the first list (my winning list) was simply a way to smooth out Prize exchanges and counter opponents’ Mewtwo EXs, I quickly began to want it desperately throughout all of my Mewtwo-heavy matchups.

Although correlation in the tweak may suggest a lower performance, I actually think that this is just what I needed to keep going toe to toe: Super Rod is much too risky in the late game without searching, and Revive is generally a terrible dead-draw.

Supporter Line

From the beginning, I knew that it had to be “heavy.” As in lots of draw, lots of search…Basically, everything to keep me safe from a dead hand.

The verdict is out yet as to whether or not I’m happy with the exact splits, but I do know that with the quantity of 19 hard and soft draw (12 raw draw, 2 Tropical Beach, and 5 soft draw in the form of Skylas and Computer Search, which search out the aforementioned) I got out a turn two Blastoise shockingly consistently both in testing and in real life.

I’m happy with four Juniper because in both early and late game scenarios, drawing into or searching for one is a lifesaver.

N is similarly strong in the early game, even if you do occasionally have to abandon some interesting hands with Rare Candy in them (i.e., you give up the opportunity of potentially topdecking a Blastoise).

But my most significant and unusual split is the 2/2 Cheren/Bianca. Over time, I realized there were things I liked about both: Cheren would do a better job of triggering awesome Blastoise starts, especially after usage of Tropical Beach, while Bianca was yet more insurance against N, and had great synergy with Ultra Ball.

Multiple times I would find needing one or the other, so it was rough abandoning either. Thus, I arrived at this conclusion.

However, one notable diversion on Blastoise is not to run N, and instead use a line full of nothing but straight draw (meaning the replacement of four N for two Bianca and two Cheren). I thought about doing this, especially since I loved Cheren and Bianca so much.

Still, I found two reasons why this wasn’t the right choice for me: one, it’s the only way Blastoise can obtain a come-from-behind win; and two, if you play it right, N is just as good as straight draw, giving you a net gain of 4-6 cards. It does create that awkward “N away a Candy or Blastoise” situation I was talking about earlier, though, but it is worth that discomfort.

Put simply, my count on Skyla will not be changing. Having effectively nine outs to both Rare Candy and Blastoise every game is the ultimate key to my list’s consistency.

Nevertheless, we can’t help but forget Tropical Beach! With two, you will almost never have a situation where you would fail to search out draw power. Although I’ve seen players get away with only one in very competitive marathon venues, I would not recommend it.

Item Split

ultra-ball-dark-explorers-dex-102pokemon-paradijs.comAt this point, the four Candy and Ultra Ball, as well as single Computer Search, should be obvious: They help get out what was a previously untouchable concept. Prior to Boundaries Crossed and Skyla, I’m not sure how good this deck would have been, but I can tell you that having maximum counts on both helps a ton.

I occasionally considered a 3/1/1 Ultra Ball/Heavy Ball/Level Ball split to make every aspect of the Squirtle line fetchable via Skyla and without mandatory discards, but I quickly found that one extra to be better used in other areas, such as the rest of the draw, attacking, and Energy in this list.

I also considered a 4/1 Ultra Ball/Level Ball split, but throughout the whole marathon, I only had one single issue with getting and keeping Squirtles into play. Therefore, I do not play it, but if this is a major issue with your build, consider it as a possibility.

I ran three copies each of two very important cards, which are Energy Retrieval and Pokémon Catcher. I found myself constantly needing both of these, so why the relatively low counts on them?

First, it was again a balance of draw and utility: I wanted to get set up, and avoid several of the dead-draws that plague a stage two deck in this format, yet at the same time have pretty much what I need in both at least 90% of games.

Secondly, I determined that drawing into them would rarely be a big issue, as I had four Skyla and one Computer Search to function as five more outs to each.

Yet in spite of all these tweaks and fine points, perhaps the most shocking thing here is the lack of, well… “anything” non-essential. From the get-go, I just wanted a Blastoise list that got out, did what it needed to do, and ended the game from there.

This approach to the build helped far more than hurt, especially in a marathon setting, because I got to see my entire strategy unfold in an instant, and very rarely have to handle completely unplayable hands. Nevertheless, it was a little annoying not to have some instant heal option.

Thus, while I would not overdo it, consider teching in a single copy of Max Potion if you would like the “feel” of a list like this, yet still some options. There is definitely the space, especially around the slot of the second Mewtwo or the Cherens and Biancas.


double-colorless-energy-next-destinies-nxd-92pokemon-paradijs.comI bet at this point you guys have seen a wide range of Energy lineups, so a split like this should not be too surprising. Generally speaking, 14 raw Water and three Energy Retrieval give me all of the fuel in a game that I’d ever need or want, especially against other Pokémon-EX decks.

The single copy of Double Colorless is strange, though: via using Skyla to fetch Computer Search, I can chain it on a consistent basis, giving both m Keldeo and Mewtwo some solid attacking power on the first turn or two.

I run no more than this because I would rather not interfere with the W Energy lineup any more than I must. Plus, I feel that an over-commitment to Double Colorless takes away from one of this deck’s strongest selling points, which is a ton of control in Mewtwo exchanges.

…So that’s my slightly unusual, very still very consistent build of Blastoise, explained in fairly elaborate detail. But how did my tournament experiences go?


Round 1 vs. Adam G. (Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX/Terrakion NVI)

At first, I could see very little of the Fighting in this deck, almost tricked into believing that it was a “Quad Mewtwo” or some silliness. Double Colorless whiffs on his part, plus a stellar start on my part, gave me a decisive victory.


Round 2 vs. Theme Deck Hybrid

mewtwoHow a theme deck was 1-0 is beyond me, especially in this sort of competitive venue. At any rate, he got out a fast Mewtwo, Knocked Out one guy, but was quickly met with a response-Mewtwo, which swept the board and got me the game.


Round 3 vs. Big Basics

This was like Ho-Oh, but lacking any Energy acceleration. I just used Pokémon Catcher to bring up things with Energy and had a field day, but something told me his hand was severely lacking – particularly in the mid-game.


Round 4 vs. Ho-Oh

Starting lone Squirtle, I was Knocked Out on the first turn by a pretty elaborate no Supporter hand: Starting Ho-Oh, he Ultra Balled a Ho-Oh and single Fighting away for a Mewtwo; benched the Mewtwo; attached Double Colorless to it; used the discarded Ho-Oh’s Rebirth for Heads and the Fighting; Energy Switched the Fighting to Mewtwo; dropped Switch, and ended it from there!


I would later get my revenge…

Round 5 vs. Klinklang

klinklang-black-white-blw-76pokemon-paradijs.comHe went aggressive with a Keldeo, but my Mewtwo was able to 1HKO it on the third turn, quickly punishing this aggression, as well as sending him down three turns of attachments.

He made an attempt at a comeback, but having discarded Klinks earlier really hurt him, giving me the unique opportunity to Catcher and kill the Klinklang to leave him completely vulnerable to any real surprise Shaymin options near the end.


Round 6 vs. Hydreigon

Super-fast, powerful start on his front, with T2 Hydreigon and Verizion KOing my lone benched Squirtle. I had to dig myself out of a serious hole after that, but after getting out a Blastoise around turn four, I took out both his Verizion and Hydreigon.

This ended up working very well for me, because He had discarded two Candies, used a third, and already played his Computer Search. The rest of the game was him with a haphazard setup, trying to angle his way back in. Unfortunately for David, I was able to pull a comeback and win on Prizes.


Round 7 vs. Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX/Bouffalant DRX

Whereas the fast jump this deck can get on Blastoise can be problematic at first, I was able to stabilize my setup relatively quickly this game, and maintain a nice exchange of Pokémon-EX with my opponent.

At some point to avoid getting benched, he made the fatal play of benching a Landorus-EX, which meant an immediate two free Prizes via a 220 Secret Sword, as well as the game.


Top 8 vs. Ho-Oh (Round 4 Opponent)

Game One

ho-oh pokemon colosseumserebii.netHere, we had a pretty furious exchange of EX attackers. Throughout, my opponent did a great job of keeping his Ho-Ohs off the board at all costs, but I was always able to hit for 110 without much more of a response than the occasional Super Scoop Up heads (made moot by my ease of getting six energy onto a Keldeo after an initial three energy hit).

Still, it basically came down to who scored the first 1HKO: I did, and from there, I kept the momentum chugging along. Although he swept in with a Shaymin EX near the end, I’ve found that the card – unless delivered at the perfect moment at the end of a game – is an easy target.

That’s just what it was, as it got 1-shotted by my third and final Keldeo.


Game Two

This game was much like the last one, but due to a couple terrible hands on both of our parts, we had to dump resources in order to stay in it.

Because of so many lost cards such as his Catchers/Energy Switches/Switches and my Energy, we ended up having one of the most bizarre late game scenarios: a “defensive Catcher” on my part (i.e., Catchering to stall the opponent’s setup), yet at the same time I could not attack him, but for those lost Energy!

From there, we had a really strange spot where we were tied on Prizes, and he just…decked out.

2-0, 7-1

Absolutely crazy game. Although I’m not a big fan of this format, it’s matches like this that keep me coming back for more.

Top 4 vs. Ho-Oh

Game One

shaymin-ex-full-art-next-destinies-nxd-94pokemon-paradijs.comMy start this game was absolutely insane: turn two Blastoise with a Mewtwo doing 200 to opposing Mewtwos. Furthermore, he missed the return-KO on that Mewtwo, giving me yet another turn to get ahead.

Naturally, Mewtwo players getting aggressive like I did have to prepare for rougher N drops, which is just what happened. This allowed him to make a monstrously good comeback against me, but I was able to pull it out anyway, capitalizing on that early lead, plus a couple careful energy drops to let me get around his Sigilyphs.

I would later find out that his Shaymin EX was prized this game. Had he had it available, things might have been considerably different, although based on the trajectory of the game, I’m not sure if it would have been enough to win it for him.


Game Two

It was a floppy start on my part, and although I was able to get out a Blastoise around turn three, there wasn’t much to show for it in the face of multiple Mewtwo EX. I quickly conceded this one.


Game Three

My opponent’s bad whiffs plus Blastoise’s typically stellar start blew him away. I made a tear that never looked back.

2-1, 8-1

Finals vs. Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX/Bouffalant (Round 7 Opponent)

Game One

professor-juniper-dark-explorers-dex-98pokemon-paradijs.comDue to a really awkward start involving my only two non-Prized Blastoise being in a Juniper hand, I was stuck burning multiple turns hoping for a topdeck, despite the fact that I had a draw card right there!

This was by far the most awkward situation I had ever been in with Juniper, but after going down 3 Prizes, I drew into the reasonable “out” of a Rare Candy, used it to evolve one of my many Squirtles, and get the comeback rolling.

From there, I quickly Knocked Out Mewtwos and Bouffalants, sealing the game without no more than a bit of opposition from N.


Game Two

None of the awkwardness of the last game occurred, but I believe that he had an exceptionally awesome early start with X Ball, Double Colorless, and multiple PlusPowers.

My notes on this one game are lacking, but I recall one very crucial moment: despite the early start, I had gotten even on Prizes by defeating the intiial Mewtwo with a Keldeo, and by vanquishing yet another benched Landorus-EX with Catcher (why he did this is anyone’s guess).

Yet despite having many draw and Energy left in the deck, his two card N destroyed me, and gave him the opportunity to land four uncontested hits for game. I Beached multiple times here but shockingly, every one of them except the last was met with an N, too!


Game Three

After starting 3/3 on Mewtwo, my opponent finally started Landorus-EX! And unlike any of the shenanigans of the previous two games, I took this early Prize lead with me until the end of the game, becoming the Fort Worth City Champion.

2-1, 9-1, First Place

As soon as I won, it was off to home again! After all, playing a marathon is tough business, and if you don’t stay well-rested, your tournament performance is bound to suffer later on down the line.

So in a blink of an eye, it was…


Game 1 vs. Mirror

squirtle-boundaries-crossed-29pokemon-paradijs.comAlthough this opponent and I are known for having some truly memorable matches, mirror tends to be quite…unmemorable. I killed his Squirtle and he couldn’t recover – there’s really nothing else to say, sadly.


Game 2 vs. Ho-Oh

Clunkiness here or there. I could have killed his Sigilyph but got response-KO’d by a Mewtwo. Several Mewtwo shenanignans on his part both at the beginning and the end sealed the deal for him; that is, one turn he made a very improbable Mewtwo KO with a small hand, and on another hit exactly what he needed off of a Beach draw to win.

I had N as 2/3 of my last 3 Prizes, needing to draw one of them to counter this very Beach draw…But did not draw the right Prize.


Game 3 vs. Hydreigon

He had a really bad hand; I had a really good one and steamrolled his list promptly. It’s annoying how much of the game comes down to this right now…and by turn five or six, as well.


Game 4 vs. Eelektrik variant (Round 6 Opponent Day One)

I turn Knocked Out his lone Tynamo on turn two.


Game 5 vs. Ho-Oh (Round 4/Top 8 Opponent Day One)

blastoise boundaries crossed 31ebay.comUnlike my previous games against this Ho-Oh player, we really didn’t have too much of a game here at the start: we both again had bad hands, and had to work with the weird options the Pokégods gave us. Once I got a Blastoise running around turn four or five, though, it was over rather quickly.


Game 6 vs. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

Really close game. A powerful start going first on his part, plus lots of whiffs on my part, hurt badly (namely, missing water energy drops when they were near statistical certainties).

However, some weird plays with Blastoise near the end saved me, as I was able to get enough Energy on it to charge through an Eviolited Darkrai…Yet just enough to avoid a Mewtwo 1HKO!


Game 7 vs. Rayquaza/Eelektrik

In this game, I mulliganed an astounding six times, as well as went second! Fortunately for me, two equally bizarre problems on his board kept me in the game: one, he discarded three of his Pokémon Catcher on Dragon Pulse; and two, he did not see a Supporter until turn three!

Nevertheless, the six extra cards gave him an extra resource buffer, especially seeing as how my Blastoise did not show up to the party until turn four.

Eventually he started rolling again, and from there he obtained a slightly small lead over me. I made some plays to abuse the utter lack of Catchers on his front, but the late start and 2 Prize deficit made it way too hard for me to come back from his swarm of non-EX attackers (multiple Rays and multiple Zekroms), as well as his ever-present threat of Rayquaza EX.


season2_ep5_ss4 squirtle pikachupokemon.comI wait around for a while, hoping to see a favorable top cut result…However, Resistance came back, and I fell just short: 11th. Granted, I was happy just to receive the kicker points, but it’s a little frustrating to see such a good performance in a competitive field rewarded so lightly.

Although I avoided “name dropping” here, over half of my schedule in this event were previous World Championship competitors, including two who played this past year, as well as everybody’s favorite undefeated National Champion, Martin Moreno (who, by the way, went on to win the tournament after beating me in Swiss, narrowly sneaking into cut at eighth).


Round 1 vs. Mewtwo/Landorus/Terrakion

All he had was a single Mewtwo, which I benched…on turn four.


Round 2 vs. Klinklang (Round 5 Opponent Day One)

Unlike the last game with this gentleman, which was more of a win due to one critical response after a few turns, I started blowing through stuff rather early (turn two). He made a solid comeback, but never quite made it the whole way.


Round 3 vs. Zekrom/Mewtwo EX/Eelektrik

zekrom-next-destinies-nxd-50pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike most of my games with Zekrom, I had some strange exchanges here: Naturally when there was still a window of opportunity, I went for his Tynamos/Eels here. This worked out pretty well, except for how brutal all of his Ns were against me.

Unfortunately, my N didn’t stick anything: even though I in all probability had the game with my last N, bringing my opponent down to two, he ended up drawing into his two remaining Catchers, allowing for a back-to-back hit on one of my Mewtwos.


Round 4 vs. Virizion/Sigilyph/Ho-Oh/friends

Thank goodness I started first this game! What was looking to be a very bad matchup for me turned out to be a very good matchup for turn two Blastoise, allowing me to plow through his attackers with no contention, and he never really caught up in attachments despite running Ho-Oh.


Round 5 vs. Blastoise mirror

Good exchange here. I made a potential mistake by discarding a Juniper, anticipating draw or more energy off of my Beach. This ended up leading to me hitting a dead hand, causing a failure to capitalize on his rather awkward, mediocre start.

It remained awkward, but what made matters problematic was that I whiffed on the Energy needed to 1HKO an opposing Keldeo. These two factors led to me having to play come-from-behind the whole time…

But I caught up, my Ns hurt pretty badly, and his resources were spent terribly trying to defend against me. However, what really did it for me was his only Mewtwo being one of the last Prizes.

I lucked this game out, and probably didn’t deserve the win after that Juniper flop. But still, I’ll take a break when I can get it.


Round 6 vs. Hydreigon

He had an absolutely horrible start, and it remained horrible, despite having many hard counters to me (Verizion, Sigilyph, etc). The magic of Hydreigon gave him a glimmer of hope near the end, but lucky draws kept it secure for me at 6-3 Prizes.


Round 7 vs. Klinklang (Round 7/Finals Opponent Day One)

I benched his Keldeo and Klink…on turn four.


Top 8 vs. Quad Sigilyph

Game One

sigilyph-dragons-exalted-drx-52pokemon-paradijs.comHere, I had a really awkward hand that required me to burn Catchers just not to be overrun, but that ended up being a moot point as he N’d my very mediocre hand away into a Blastoise setup.

I tore up Sigilyphs with five Energy Stoises, kept the exchange tight, and never over-committed with one Stoise unless I was ready to draw more prizes via Mewtwo exchanges.

Getting up on his Energy attaches was crucial to the win.


Game Two

This time around, it was my opponent who had the awkward hand, and I set up stoises absurdly fast (yes, plural…As in three). I misplayed by dropping a second energy on an active, Catchered ‘Stoise prematurely out of N paranoia to set up a KO with it. This ended up instead giving him a turn via a 2HKO.

But it didn’t really matter at all in the end because my setup was far too balanced at that point, and I ended up having an answer to all of his attackers. I remembered him whiffing DCE pretty terribly here.

2-0, 7-1

Top 4 vs. Zekrom/Mewtwo/Eelektrik (Round 3 Opponent)

Game One

eelektrik-noble-victories-nvi-40pokemon-paradijs.comFast exchanges. He went first. We Mewtwo warred. I whiffed at one crucial moment; he didn’t.


Game Two

I went first. I Mewtwo/Keldeo warred. Didn’t whiff too badly at all, but he did.


Game Three

Fell behind fast, but got back in due to some lucky draws. EX exchange was balanced, but when I N’d him into one, he topdecked the Catcher he needed for game.

1-2, 7-2, Third Place


Round 1 vs. Ho-Oh (Round 1 Opponent Day One)

Like all of my other Ho-Oh games, it came down to a furious exchange of attackers. Unlike most, though, he ran an interesting Rayquaza Dragon Collection tech. This threw off the Prize exchange mildly, but in the end, I was still able to win the game by one “possession” (i.e., a difference in 2 Prizes scored by a Pokémon-EX).


Round 2 vs. Rayquaza/Eelektrik

Going second, I suffered a turn two loss at the hands of the mighty Rayquaza EX!


Round 3 vs. Ho-Oh (Round 2 Opponent Day Two)

ho-oh ex dragons exalted drx 22pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike the previous game, which was all about his endless stream of Mewtwo EX beats, I met him at every point, getting the knockouts I needed at every turn, including the exceptionally difficult five Water Hydro Pump to respond to Sigilyph with Eviolite.

If I recall correctly, he was also forced to bench a Ho-Oh to get more Energy that turn, giving me the perect window of opportunity to Catcher it up for a kill to clean up the game.


Round 4 vs. Rayquaza/Eelektrik

Despite having no Supporters early on, I had a turn two kill on Tynamos going first, as well as a pretty convincing turn two Blastoise giving me the backup I’d need later on.

Unfortunately, this drought would last for pretty much the whole game, giving him a really unnerving shot at a comeback, and with the drop of his Gold Potion on a hurt Ray EX, took me from a 4 Prize card lead down to just one.

Luckily, though, I top decked an Ultra Ball right when I needed to, grabbed a Mewtwo EX, Deluged to it, and free retreated via my opponent’s Skyarrow Bridge, and used it to finish off a damaged Rayquaza EX.


Round 5 vs. Hydreigon (Round 6 Opponent Day Three)

virizionpokemon-paradijs.comThis game was eerily similar to my sixth game on the first day. The one crucial difference, though, was that my opponent’s momentum never dropped, because after his first hit with the Virizion, he never looked back.

I tried a bunch of tricky plays to work my way back into things, but they required far too many lucky outs in order to be feasible (e.g., drawing a hand of a Retrieval, three Water, and Catcher on N).


Despite being 3-2, I decided to finish the day out, and maybe finish with either good points or even a top cut!

Round 6 vs. Darkrai/Chandelure

Normally, a matchup where I have multiple easy knockouts with no Eviolites to get in my way would be very easy. However, my opponent stunningly got out a turn two Chandelure NVI using Cursed Shadow, as well as a turn two Darkrai using Night Spear! To top things off, my Blastoise was one turn too late, showing up turn three…Uh-oh!

However, like many fast starts, his fizzled quickly after the initial surge of power. It took me a couple hits, but I was able to get rid of his Darkrai, which at that point had drawn 4 Prizes thanks to Cursed Shadow and bench damage.

This was luckily all that it took for me to get back into the game, and so for the next few turns I would simply draw Prizes off of a setup full of half-baked Chandelures, all the while carefully avoiding the benching or promotion of anything that could suffer a surprise knockout.

Eventually, this panned out for me, and I made a very vicious comeback to finish the game.


Round 7 vs. Sigilyph/Darkrai/Hammers

800px-Damon_SigilyphBulbapediaAn interesting deck piloted by a top Oklahoma player, this would have given me some serious trouble but for the fact that my Blastoises never seem to go dry when up against Sigilyphs.

Despite some decent Crushing Hammer flips on my opponent’s part, this was my game to lose, as I only missed a single beat when he N’d away a Pokémon Catcher of mine.


I wait for final round standings to show, and what else but…11th at 5-2, again! Despite losing to two 6-1 players, as well as having only one opponent finish negative on the day, my 62% win resistance was not enough to even get me close to the cut. So for the second day, a whiff on resistance stung.


At this point, I should note that I did not play out any more full events with Blastoise/Keldeo: I skipped day five entirely, and showed up late to day seven, only to lose in the third round at 1-1 to Jeremy Jallen, the guy I beat in top four.

Both games that day were pretty mediocre, with my win being due to a turn two bench-out, and my loss being due to never seeing a Blastoise until turn seven or eight on account of constant Catcher kills.

Thus, with a New Year to enjoy, and a mother’s birthday to celebrate, I left the event early.

Blastoise: Closing Opinions, and Thoughts for Regionals

jerry springer final thoughtsBased off of what I saw both in and out of the marathon, I’m convinced that the position for “top deck” is doubtlessly split somewhere between Blastoise, RayEels, Speed Darkrai, and a super-solid Landorus/Mewtwo build.

Darkrai in particular surprised me in more ways than I thought it would (see below), but at the same time, I still like Blastoise a ton. Although it troubles me how much of a target the deck has on its back, I was surprised at how magnificently it dealt with supposed “counter decks” throughout the week. Luck or not, I believe against these concepts I went a very good record, if not entirely undefeated.

At this point, I don’t know for sure if I’m going to a Regional Championship for the winter. Still, I’m considering a couple possible tweaks here or there to get the deck ready for the event if need be:

A. Max Potion

Even in just a 1-of quantity, its ability to turn around games is simply extraordinary, and could be yet another saving grace in major come-from-behind wins. I prefer it over Super Scoop Up due simply to how horrible the flip is to cope with.

B. 13 Water, 4 Energy Retrieval, 1 Energy Search, and 1 Double Colorless

energy-search-black-white-blw-93pokemon-paradijs.comAfter the marathon, I decided that a Water lineup like this – pending no injury dealt to consistency – may very well be the ideal way to run the deck. I hate having a hand clogged full of Retrievals early game, which is precisely what running four threatens. However, it’s a great card at all other points in the game, and makes opposing Ns that much easier to recover from.

As for the Energy Search, it was a feature in the Day One list, being used to turn Skylas into weak Cilans of sorts.

C. 4 Ultra Ball/1 Level Ball

A little bit more testing against the fastest, most dangerous decks may net me the results I want, but after that final loss to Jallen, I’ve thought about running just a shade more Squirtle search. I don’t like the idea of turning a universal search card into one that would fetch just Blastoise (i.e., cutting an Ultra Ball to make the 3/1/1 line possible), but I really want to get double Squirtle out as often as I need.

All things considered, I will probably use Blastoise if I go to a marathon tournament: it’s fairly easy to play, has all the raw strength I could have dreamed of in a list, and can keep up with any deck in the format.

Of course, though, I had one last thing I wanted to do at the marathon before calling it quits, and that was…MAKE A NEW DECK!

Day Six

800px-RB25 garbodor mangaBulbapediaMy fifth and final “true” experience of the marathon was a fun experiment with Garbodor. Apparently this concept has been floating around in Colin Moll’s Celadon City Gym, but it was news to me when I thought it up. So I decided to make my own take for the present format, as it seemed very much “busted” by Skyla

Pokémon – 12

3 Trubbish NVI
3 Garbodor DRX
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
3 Bianca


4 Crushing Hammer
4 Ultra Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Dark Claw
2 Dark Patch
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Eviolite
2 Rescue Scarf
2 Switch
1 Energy Search
1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

Energy – 8

8 D

Although I won’t be going into as much depth as I did with Blastoise (this was a spur of the moment concept), I would like to share a few general thoughts about the build.

DarkraiEXDarkExplorers631. The Pokémon split worked fine. Although the Super Rod made me think I could get away with running only two Darkrai, having their presence in this count was very reassuring. Otherwise, you really have no viable attacking option!

2. Consistency is just a little too low. All it would’ve taken to be much better off was one or two more draw cards, but in more than one game, I feared for my life that “the dead hand” would come to get me.

3. Six Tools is perfect for Garbodor. It’s just enough so that you hit them pretty much every time you need to, especially with the assistance of Skyla and Computer Search.

At the same time, though, you can play them in such a way that you force the opponent into some very uncomfortable Tool Scrapper players, such as having two discard two tools on Garbodors, yet leave a Darkrai Eviolite untouched.

This really puts the pressure on your opponent to use their Scrappers perfectly, and with a hypothetically “infinite” supply of them by virtue of Sableye, you could always assure the lock.

4. Two Enhanced Hammer was nice for the hypothetical auto-wins against Hydreigon and Klinklang, but I rarely got to enjoy their use as much as I did Crushing Hammer’s. The times I did, though, were when I specifically meant to search them out, such as with Skyla. Thus, I’m beginning to think that a single copy is all I need.

5. Its matchups against most of the “top decks” are insanely good. Other than the occasional fit of bad luck, or running into an insane list utilizing way too m any Tool Scrapper, you have some convincing games against Eels, Blastoise, and Fighting decks (more on how to beat those later in the article).

Round 1 vs. RayEels (Round 3 Opponent Day One)

garbodor dragons exalted drx 54pokemon-paradijs.comBetween his mediocre hand and my stellar Garbotoxin lock, he really didn’t have a chance here. I just burnt him out of Switches, forced him to use his single Tool Scrapper, and swept the game from there.

While I had to fear the possibility of an early Rayquaza EX rush, this turned out to be a moot point, as he realized the very real threat of decking out caused by that move against my list.


Round 2 vs. Landorus…and White Kyurem EX…and Golurk

Again, I was shocked a deck like this would be 1-0, and it was at this point I knew that the Resistance Gods were not with me. What made matters worse was how monstrously bad this matchup should be on paper for a deck like mine: he ran ZERO Abilities, 35 Energy (!!!), and – in this particular game – started with Landorus-EX going first against two Trubbishes and nothing else! Was I really going to lose to a mish-mash of random attackers?

Fortunately, I drew into an N, which netted me a Sableye, Switch, Catcher, Crushing Hammer, Energy, and draw. I used all of these to begin my attempt at a lock when I was suddenly alerted of his huge energy count by his never whiffing on an attachment.

This is normally the type of theme deck a metagame build like mine should falter to, but I thought up a weird strategy: rather than lock my opponent out of Energy period, I would simply lock him out of the right Energy.

Thus, I went after his Fightings for Landy, followed by his Fires for Kyurem, and then finally his Psychics for Golurk. It was a strange move against a weirder deck, but it worked out fine, and after about 20 minutes I won just fine.


Round 3 vs. Blastoise/Keldeo (Round 2 Opponent Day Two; Round 3 Opponent Day Four)

crushing-hammer-emerging-powers-epo-92pokemon-paradijs.comI got off to an excellent lock start…Unfortunately, I had absolutely no draw to show for it. This kept me afloat for a long while, and actually gave me the lead. I began to pull ahead thanks to a good Crushing Hammer flip, but we had a controversy with the second.

Said controversy resulted in an unfavorable reflip, which conveniently gave him the exact Energy he needed to score a knockout on my Darkrai that next turn. My hand from there was trash, despite being a single hit away from winning. Rough beats.


Round 4 vs. Landorus/Terrakion/Mewtwo

I fell behind pretty quickly here, but fortunately for me, he exposed himself to a couple vulnerable Catcher targets: first, the Landorus-EX, and then finally, the Terrakion.

This turned out being exactly what I needed to pursue my deck-out strategy: lock up a vulnerable Basic; force the opponent to give up all of his Switching; and then finally either to beat the opponent’s energy into submissions or see the opponent deck out.

The latter occurred, and with that, I won my fourth straight fighting matchup thanks to decking out the opponent (I won three at this past Fall Regionals).


Round 5 vs. Shaymin EX/Giratina EX/Mewtwo EX/Garbodor

giratina-ex-dragons-exalted-drx-124pokemon-paradijs.comAnother strange deck in the field, although this was an obvious metagame move against Blastoise. This game surprisingly went much like the Fighting matchup, with the only differences being that A) my opponent didn’t catch on to the deck-out gambit fast enough; and B) I had plenty of easy options to get ahead on Prizes if I really needed to win on time.


Round 6 vs. Tornadus + ???

All I saw was a Tornadus EX and…Nothing else. Bad hands seem to be the story of every event.


Round 7 vs. Darkrai/Mewtwo/Tornadus/Bouffalant

Although the Bouffalant was a cool tech, he started with it, giving me an easy target the whole game. Unfortunately, he rushed ahead in Prizes too soon with it, avoiding both Crushing Hammer flips and me whiffing on a way to access Enhanced Hammer to tear apart his Double DCE.

He got further and further ahead, but then I caught on to the one thing that’s happened with many of my deck-out opponents: he overextended. This gave me the unique opportunity not only to lock my opponent, but actually deck him out!

Unfortunately, he had far too many cards left at that point, so I was off by a couple of minutes.


…And with that hard loss, I suffered a…12th place finish, leaving me at no new Championship Points because I had maxed out already. Although it was a rough way to end the year, I was glad I gave “The Texas Hammer” a whirl.

Regardless if I use Blastoise or not, this deck was a real pleasure to run. With some tweaks (namely those recommended above), it can stand to be a great Regionals play.


All in all, I’m really pleased with how my City Championship run went! I could have played a little better at some points, but my decklists for the marathon felt solid, and my own ability to endure so many games after each other was top-notch.

I really hope that I can attend the Winter Regional event in St. Louis, so maybe I’ll get to see some of you guys there!

It’s good to be back…

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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